Building Your Business to Create the Exit You Want

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Ron Higgs, Founder and Principal at Wolf Management Solutions, LLC, unveils crucial strategies to “Build Your Business to Create the Exit You Want.”

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Ron Higgs, Founder and Principal at Wolf Management Solutions, LLC, unveils crucial strategies to “Build Your Business to Create the Exit You Want.”

Ron brings over two decades of expertise as an executive coach and strategic business advisor. His extensive background spans leadership, operations management, and systems engineering in diverse sectors including aerospace, defense, and corporate operations.

With a career that took flight in the US Navy, Ron developed foundational skills that he now applies to guide CEOs and business leaders toward predictable and scalable success. His leadership fosters operational excellence and strategic growth, making him a trusted advisor in navigating complex business landscapes.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

At Wolf Management Solutions, Ron has been instrumental in helping organizations enhance their leadership capabilities and streamline processes to bolster predictable profitability, growth and prepare for successful exits.

Damon excitedly commences the show with Ron. He eagerly anticipates a fruitful discussion. He requests Ron to share his background, “how you got into doing what you’re doing today.”

Ron discusses his journey, thanking the universe to guide him onto the right path. After a stint in the military and working for defense contractors, he felt a calling for something more. Seven years ago, he left his job, explored various roles, and found support among other solopreneurs. Ron wishes there were more resources available back then, acknowledging the benefits they would have brought. He discovered his passion for helping businesses and people solve problems, identifying root causes, and implementing solutions.

Do you want to know if your business is ready for your exit or what you should do to prepare? Learn this and more with our business exit assessment here.

Damon asks Ron about the valuable lessons he learned while working for various companies.

Ron says that regardless of the organization’s size or sector, human-related problems and issues remain consistent. Drawing from his experience as a COO in various industries, he maintains that even big companies struggle with problem-solving despite their ample resources. Leadership often revolves around addressing human interaction issues rather than purely technical challenges.

Damon acknowledges Ron’s point about the universality of human problems. He agrees with Ron’s observation that even big companies make mistakes but have more resources to address them. He asks Ron to share key insights on applying his coaching methods to help people.

Get the most value for your business by understanding the process and preparing for the sale with information here on our Selling a Business page.

Ron suggests business owners that consider exits from the outset. This can only be achieved if the business appeals to potential buyers. However, a structure overly reliant on the owner’s decision-making or deep involvement can make the entire business unattractive.

For efficient business operation, Ron outlines three key factors: building the right organizational structure, ensuring roles align with company needs rather than individual capabilities, and recognizing when personnel changes may be necessary as the company evolves.

Damon encourages engagement from the audience and suggests discussing the topic of roles and structure, which he views as crucial for achieving the desired business exit strategy.

Ron explains that nearly every time he engages with a company, issues with the “org chart” (organizational chart) arise. This can be dealt with by creating roles and aligning structures with the company’s operational and growth needs.

The guest further discusses building the right team. The more a team is diverse in skills and perspectives, the better it is.

Damon agrees with Ron on the latter’s views regarding the org chart. He notes how it often evolves without much consideration. He seeks Ron’s comments on the process of developing and selecting roles.

Ron criticizes that some companies lack org charts that hinder decision-making processes within an organization.

Ron gives an example of a company where a person held the title of Director of Product but did not manage people, which he suggests is a mismatch between title and responsibilities. Companies, through their org charts, must align roles with their needs and internal customers, ensuring that responsibilities are clearly allocated.

Damon is impressed by the profoundly insightful points Ron has made. He asks Ron to discuss the tools available to help match individuals with positions or develop organizational structures.

Ron believes that rather than tools, the key lies in assessing the company’s needs and preparing employees for advancement. He views it as part of his role, particularly as Fractional COO, to ready everyone in the company for their next position. He uses assessments to match individuals with roles that support their behavioral and leadership styles.

To create a desired exit strategy, Damon asks Ron to discuss his approach to reducing owner involvement in businesses.

Ron categorizes common business scenarios into three metaphorical buckets.

The first involves an owner-driven approach where the owner controls every aspect, leading to paralysis when the owner is absent.

The second scenario entails a lack of sufficient systems and processes, resulting in constant firefighting and difficulty implementing decisions.

The third scenario has excessive bureaucracy, with processes overshadowing effectiveness. Ron advises owners to delegate decisions and gradually disengage from operational control to take the business to the optimal position.

Damon inquires whether the approach to coaching differs significantly when assisting an owner not considering an exit compared to one preparing for it.

Ron explains that regardless of whether an owner is considering an exit, the approach to coaching remains consistent. He helps owners reach a point where the business runs smoothly without their direct involvement in every decision. He believes micromanagement impacts the owner’s well-being, work-life balance, and overall effectiveness.

Ron further elaborates on the idea by recounting an example where a proposal process took three weeks due to a bottleneck with the managing director. By analyzing and streamlining the process, involving all stakeholders, and delegating decision-making authority, they were able to reduce the time to 48 hours and eliminate bottlenecks.

This makes it important to implement systems and processes to ensure efficiency and consistency in operations.

Damon summarizes the discussion, recounting the key points covered during the conversation. He begins by affirming the correlation between running a well-operating business today and preparing for a successful exit in the future. Furthermore, he seeks Ron’s insights into the realizations that founders experience as they navigate the coaching process and work towards building a business capable of achieving their exit goals.

Ron reflects on the journey of founders as they overcome initial skepticism and objections to embrace changes that free them from being controlled by their businesses. He uses sports analogies to illustrate this evolution, comparing the founder’s journey to progressing from being a player to becoming the coach and eventually the visionary of their business. He leaves the audience with a thought-provoking question: Where is the owner during the game?

Ron extends his sports analogy, saying that the owner is in the box, enjoying the game and what they’ve built.

Damon concludes the Livestream by saying that the process of improving one’s business not only allows owners to enjoy a better work-life balance but also makes the business more valuable and prepared for an eventual exit, whenever that may occur.

The show ends with Damon thanking Ron for his time.

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Exit Your Way® provides a structured process and skilled resources to grow business value and allow business owners to leave with 2X+ more money when they are ready.

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Ron Higgs, Damon Pistulka

Damon Pistulka 00:03
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I am your host, Damon pistulka, and I am excited for our guest today, because we have none other than Ron Higgs from wolf management solutions in here today, and we are going to be talking about building your business to create the exit you want. Ron, thanks for being here today.

Ron Higgs 00:25
Damon, thanks for having me yet again. I look forward to talking with you all the time. Yeah, man,

Damon Pistulka 00:31
it’s going to be great today, because you know you, you’ve been helping a lot of people with your coaching using different operating systems for businesses, and your experience over the years, and you’ve seen a lot of this stuff you’re in clients now. I really, really am excited about talking about this. So first of all, Ron, you know the drill, we want to hear about your background and kind of how you got into doing what you’re doing today.

Ron Higgs 01:02
You know, sometimes the universe conspires to set you on the right path. So I spent the long time in the military, got out and worked for defense contractors for a while, and I knew that there was just something else. There had to be something else or, you know, I had a different calling. So I left my job about seven years ago, and haven’t took a little while to find my way work for a few startups. Being out by yourself is difficult, so I found the support of some other solopreneurs. I just want to say now I wish that there were some of the resources available then that there are now, yeah, you know how you could go back in time and tell yourself a few things. So yeah, I would have saved myself a lot of time, money and aggravation. Of some of these resources have been available, definitely warhead. And what I found is that I really like to go in and help businesses solve their problems. People solve their problems, help people work together, figure out what the root cause is, all of us that get called in from outside a company for help get called because of some kind of symptom, you know? Hey, we’re having problems with X, you know, and it’s our job to go in and figure out what the disease is that’s caused, causing that symptom, and fix it. And that I found that I really like, I also just, personally, I spent most of my career in the military and working for defense contractors, so this gives me the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about how things are done in other industries, and that’s exciting for me. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 02:55
yep. So what? What are some of the things that you learned working for these other bigger companies, sometimes other smaller companies, sometimes that you you think are and see that are really good lessons to try to teach your clients today and helping them get their businesses operating better.

Ron Higgs 03:15
I will say this, the problems, no matter where you are, the problems and issues are all the same. As long as there are human beings involved, some of the things that you have to deal with are exactly the same. Yeah, I was a COO of a creative agency, and I looked around and they had the exact same issues, people, problems, things like that, that that groups of engineers had, you know, in other places that I’ve been both working inside the government, you know, the public sector and the private sector. So the thing is that the big companies don’t always do things right. They have lots of resources to throw things to throw at a lot of problems, and they don’t necessarily get them solved. And so unfortunately, I saw a lot of things in the big companies that didn’t work, and it was good to be able to take some of those things that smaller companies were trying to do and say it’s not going to work on that, that largest scale, right? And so again, just mostly the people problems that I that I observed, and those of us in leadership positions know that most of what we do during the day have to do with human interaction problems, instead of, you know, solving real tricky technical

Damon Pistulka 04:39
problems. Yeah, yeah. I just think that the technical part just changes at night too. Yeah, yeah. That’s good. That’s good to know. And it is really, I mean, your experience in the bigger companies, you see that they make mistakes like like any other, but maybe they got more resources to deal with it. I. And things like that

Ron Higgs 05:01
they do. But you know, one toxic person can ruin, you know, a large team in a large company, the same way that one toxic person can have an impact on a small company. So a lot of things are the same, right? Yeah, I think from the from the larger companies, there are a lot of different things that go on in different teams that, you know, we observe and then are able to take back to some of the small companies to help them either, you know, avoid some of the problems that the bigger companies have or fix some of them. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 05:40
yeah, that’s for sure. Oh, we got Abdul Rahman here, thanks for being here today. Saying hello. How you doing today? So as we’re talking about this, you know, you and I have started looking at different things outside of this and really thinking about how, like the coaching work you’re doing with systems like predictable success and and that works together in preparation for a business exit, or creating this business that will be ready for a business exit. So when you start to apply those, things in that situation. What are some of the key things that come to mind from your standpoint?

Ron Higgs 06:29
So I, I’ve always believed, and some people don’t, you know, begin with the end in mind. And I know a lot of startups and places are doing this, Hey, we’re, we’re going to build our widget with the hopes of getting bought by Google, you know, for a billion dollars, and we’re moving on. That’s our x. But you know, small, small businesses that dot our countryside, maybe don’t think that way in terms of our their exit. So if you are going to make an exit, you have in, and I’m you’re the professional, and I’m telling you this, right? You have to make your business as attractive to the prospective buyer as you can right? And is a business where the most senior executive or owner is making all the decisions every day you know, is that going to be attractive for someone else to buy. If the owners are really deep working in the business again, is that going to be attractive for someone else to buy? So for me, looking at some of the companies that I’ve worked with, there are three things that kind of stand out to help companies just operate efficiently. So when they’re ready to exit, whenever that is, you know, that’ll be attractive, attractive business to prospective buyers. So the first thing is building the right structure, you know, building the business, the structure in the organization, so that it supports, you know, the product or service that’s being delivered. And what I found in a lot of small businesses, the roles tend to be defined by the capabilities of the human being in that role instead of what the company needs. So in other words, you know, they go with names, they go, Well, Tommy does this, and Jody does that, right? And you have to graduate from that point to the Director of Finance does this. The you know, the operations manager does this. So in terms of moving from you know the names of people to titles, and those titles have to be what the company needs. And unfortunately, sometimes you know the person in that title may not be the right person moving forward as the company grows.

Damon Pistulka 08:41
Yeah, yeah, that’s and it’s a big change for people to come. I mean, first of all, because you may be talking about people that have been there a while, and the business is usually shifting away from their core capabilities, or you may have to restructure things based on the roles. There’s all kinds of things that can can affect that, but that is, is a big deal. Real quick, I want to say hello to AJ, thanks for being here today, man. So if you’re listening out there today, first of all, say hello. Let us know where you’re listening from, and also drop some questions in there. If you got questions for Ron or myself to talk about this, but we’re hitting into roles, because I think this is one of the big things. When we look at creating a business, building your business to create the exit you want, you came right off the bat with what I think is a home run thing to do is think about the end in mind, and what that business looks like when you’re ready to exit, and you talked about owner involvement and making sure your owners are not critical to the daily function of the business and are not, you know, deep in that value chain of delivering that product or service to the customer. So I. As you’re looking at companies, how many times do you run into it? Where you go, Hey, this is we really have to start at roles in structure. Almost

Ron Higgs 10:14
every time, there we go, almost every time. I always start with the org chart, because just about everyone has some kind of an issue with the org chart. And I’m not talking about people, I’m talking about the org chart, creating the roles and creating a structure that the company needs to operate and to grow or scale. Just growing and scaling aren’t necessarily the same things. Yeah, and there’s decisions to be made too. Do you want to scale the company? I mean, do you want to grow it to, you know, 10x of of what it is now? Or do you just want to maintain if you were an eight to $12 million in ARR Do you just want to stay that forever and not grow and those are two different things into you’re going to have to go to through two different paths, you know, to make either of those operations as efficient as possible. And I know we’re talking about people, so, you know, we could talk about the next step. You know, number one is building the right structure. So now that we’re talking about people, is building the right team. So now that you have the right structure. Now it’s time to put the right people in those seats. And I’m a big fan of assessments. There’s millions of them out there, right? And they’re all right to some degree, but I think the bottom line is just to make sure that you’re you’re not building a team of people who think exactly alike. So, for instance, vision. Everybody knows what a visionary is, right? Visionaries all the ideas, right? The idea people, every time we turn around, you know, we have a different idea, just like, you know, my dog in a squirrel, you know, whatever it’s coming along, squirrel, right? So they go to a conference and they come back and they got a million ideas, and they’re driving their staff up the wall with all the million ideas, because people can’t keep up. And visionaries are great, we need them. But do you want to build an entire company full of visionaries, or entire leadership team full of visionaries? Right? Maybe not, right. You may want, yeah, I think you need a mix, right? You may want some people that are data driven, right? Some people are task driven, right? So people, if you know you have a sort of a low EQ, then you may want to pull somebody in with a higher one. The bottom line, again, with all those assessments and everything, it’s just make sure that you don’t have a homogeneous group.

Damon Pistulka 12:35
Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s a great starting point. Is, is a, as you said, define the roles and make sure you’ve got a good, diverse set of people in within those roles. I want to back again the chats going pretty hard. So we gotta say, Melissa’s here from San Diego. Great to have you here today. Melissa Abdul Rahman, thanks for he talks about diversity. We had AJ, he was in here before, but he’s saying he’s from New York City. Aba raman’s in here from Cairo, which is cool, man, we usually don’t get that Steve, Steve Stokey, you know? Steve? Steve

Ron Higgs 13:09
Stuckey, yeah, there we go. My neighbor, See, there

Damon Pistulka 13:14
you go.

Ron Higgs 13:17
Yeah, to see you here.

Damon Pistulka 13:18
And we got Croy Thompson’s in here today, so thanks. Thanks for telling us where you’re coming in from, and Sorry, Steve about your last name. I’m not that quick when we’re trying to do this on the fly, but thanks so much for all the comments so far. So we’re sitting here. We’re talking about, you know, you like to start the org chart. I think it’s a great place, because that org chart, typically, as you walk in there, like you do, is just kind of evolved over time. And you said, started off the conversation with structure, and I think that is so key to think about that structure. And like, from your standpoint, is, is is that structure appropriate today and for where we’re going? And that’s, that’s a cool part. But then you got, you got into the roles, and you said, Okay, we’ve got people. We got positions where people are setting now. But what roles do we need for the company? Because, like you said, the Director of Finance, we need that today, and this is what we need them to do to enable what we’re doing tomorrow. This is a big exercise for companies that they don’t really understand sometimes, because these leaders, these founders and people like that, they’ve been in this over time, and these are slow changes that that happen over time, but we’re really trying to make a pretty significant switch that allows and frees up and enables them to move forward much faster to where they want to go. So talk a little bit more about, you know, developing these roles and. Then the select, you know, how you get through this part of it?

Ron Higgs 15:04
Well, some companies, one don’t have org charts. Yeah, you go in and it’s like, okay, where’s the org chart? Uh, we’re pretty flat here. We don’t have one of those. Well, I think the organization, you know, you have to figure out who’s doing what, understand who’s doing what. And the biggest thing is where the decisions are being made. Who’s the person responsible for said decision, right? And then there are other things that the company needs, right? So there are some examples where somebody has a title, and I ran into this in one company, they have the title of director of product, right? Whatever that meant. They’re like, well, this person is the director of product, but they’re not good with people, so we don’t so they’re not managing any people. Well, if you have the title for. So the company needs someone with the title of director, right, to manage managers. I mean, it’s an assumption if you don’t have a senior manager level. So it’s assuming, if you’re a director, you have managers or senior managers reporting to you, right? So how can, how can somebody, and then also someone who, with the title of director, is probably responsible for some strategic and some business development responsibilities as well, especially in a smaller company. So the company, you have to go out and look at that, okay, Director of Product, what does the company need the director of product to do and back that up. So who are the internal customers for the director of product? Yeah, and then start working that way, from who your internal customers are as you build that org chart, and who’s responsible for making what decisions? Because there are, sometimes there are there are things that that are amorphous. People go, you have project managers. Well, what’s our project management discipline? Do we have a specific way we manage products here, or, I’m sorry, projects here and nobody knows why? Nobody knows because there’s no one human being who’s responsible for it. So those of us who who look in from the outside of who are consultants, we can come in and see things like that where the company may not be able to see it, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 17:31
yeah. And you just hit, you just hit on a ton of good points here. You know, what decisions need to be made in the company? Where’s the right level to do them. You know, one of the things that that you mentioned, I think, is rampant in a lot of companies, is that people get titles just because we don’t really know what else to do. It’s like, okay, you’re a vice president. Well, if everyone that works here as a vice president, is that right? You know, walk into a bank, this is going to say, you think the big companies get it right, but they don’t. And it’s these kind of things are really important. So as you’re going through this with people, what are some of the tools that are really available to you to match people with positions or help to develop these things out that coaches may be able to bring to the table.

Ron Higgs 18:25
Well, it’s not, in this case, it’s not necessarily tools. It’s really just going through again what what the needs are. Also, I looked at it when I was doing Fractional CO work. I also looked at it as part of my job to prepare everyone in the company for their next job, right? And so where is it in this structure that we’re going to build? Do you have secession? Meaning when you go on vacation, whatever your job is who’s going to fill in for you, who’s going to make that decision for you, and then how are you growing the next person to take your job as you move on, you know, to your next job, right? Do you want to go in a company where there’s no clear path of, you know of ascension, okay? What’s the next step to increase responsibility, right? So we, we also look at that. So systems, I also, again, use assessments. Again, there’s some people say you have a visionary, right? Visionaries are, you know what we talked about before, but detail work and precision work, and say, finance work, just really getting into the weeds and finance and, you know, tax, tax things so that that requires somebody who’s more data driven than a visionary. So if you put a visionary, even a person who’s great at their job, but they’re great. At doing visionary stuff. And if you stick them into a role like that, they may not succeed, because that’s not where their superpower is, not the way they’re wired. So tools like that are good to help match people and their you know, behavioral types, leadership types, whatever you want to call it. Two, yeah, goals,

Damon Pistulka 20:19
yeah. That’s a great point. You know, matching people with their their innate skills into a position. You know, as you talked about, you got to know what we need in roles and then getting that right person in. And as you said, you wouldn’t want to stick a visionary into a into a precision role that like an accountant or an engineer or something like that, necessarily, you also touched on something I think we’re getting into, you know, the topic, the really about creating that exit you want, and that is succession. Because one of the things that I’m sure that, when you’re coaching, I know that when we’re looking at businesses, that that would need to be prepared to sell or sell is owner involvement from a coaching perspective. What are some of the things that you look at and how do you help those owners really get to the right place in their business?

Ron Higgs 21:18
So, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, go into a place and look, and I typically run in. I’ll just put the situations in the kind of three different buckets, right? The first bucket is the owner’s just driving everything. Owner makes every decision. Drives everything place is completely paralyzed. You know, when the owner’s not around, right? Right? The other the next situation is that they don’t there’s a lot of complexity in the organization, right? So there’s insufficient systems and processes to deal with that complexity. So the norm is firefighting. So you got a lot of firefighting. You got a lot of infighting with people, and one of the things is decision implementation, right? So you can some the people at the top make decisions very quickly, and then they meet again a month later and say, Hey, where are we on that so, and nothing’s gotten done, so they have trouble implementing those decisions, right? So that’s sort of one, you know, fees that a company, yeah. And then the other one is maybe when they’re over processed and bureaucratic, yeah, meaning the company’s just a bureaucratic of bureaucracy, sorry. And they have, they have a system and process for everything, even things that don’t necessarily need systems and process. So in other words, they’re so focused on getting the checklist done that they missed the point of why the checklist is there to begin with. So let’s take onboarding for example. Hey, here’s the onboarding checklist. This is what you have to do, right? And they’re so focused on making sure that that person gets through the onboarding checklist, but they don’t check to see if the onboarding is actually effective. Yeah, right. So they’re more focused on that process than they are on, you know, whether things are really working or not. So as you probably know, one of the biggest is when the owner is driving everything. So that’s the big thing. If you know, stepping in, or looking in from the outside and going, if you’re making every decision in the company, how are you going to sell that? Who’s going to buy it? Right? And some, and there’s a lot of nuances here, right? Because some people, their entire identity is wrapped up in that company and doing that and being the hero and making that decision all the time, but when it’s time to move on, that’s that’s going to have to change, then we have to make then we have to really work with the owner to start pushing decisions down to, you know, working on that structure, getting the right people in that place, so we can push the decisions down to the to the lowest level possible, you know, operating with an executive team, you know, making decisions as a team, things like that, and having the owner slowly extricate him or herself from all of that. And that’s easier said than done. It’s a challenge. It’s the biggest one, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 24:22
yeah. And it is that owner, you know, making all the decisions and and if they’re a critical resource to the business, when you look at that, from building your business to create the eggs that you want, and you think about building your business value, where is your business value? Then, you know, usually your business value is in your your sales, the the revenue stream. It’s in the the team that you’ve built, the assets that you have in the business. But when you build that business around when that owner builds that business around themselves, that much. In terms of an exit, there are a lot of the value of that business today, but if they’re leaving tomorrow, how much does that affect the value of the business? And that’s something we talk about every single time when we’re talking about selling a business. Is that owner involvement? Because it’s so critical, so sales

Ron Higgs 25:17
big time, right? Because that’s relationship driven. So if the owner owns all of the relationships when it’s time to move on, how’s that going to work? And how’s that going to work with the value? That’s just what you’re hitting at with how the value the business. Yeah. So we want the owners to get as much as they possibly can from the business, and so to drive up that valuation, they’re going to have to start extricating themselves from every facet of this. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 25:45
and, and I, so let’s, let’s take a little step back here. Now, when you’re not coaching someone that’s thinking about exiting your business is this much different your approach of getting the owner into that, into that spot, or is it a lot different?

Ron Higgs 26:04
Nope, not at all. Right. Because if you walk into somewhere and the owner’s running everything again, we have to get them to the point. I mean, even for their sanity, where, where the where they’re running, you know, the business isn’t running them. You know, with the you know, they own the business, at some point, the business owns them. They can’t get away, even if they want to, wish I could take vacation, I can’t right all of that stuff, right? So it impacts everything. Impacts their work, life, balance, all of these things. And so that happens whether folks are thinking about making a sale or not. So that’s why, you know, having that business running like a well oiled machine without, you know, direct everyday owner involvement in every decision. I think that that’s good wherever they are in their journey, whether they’re just, you know, a year into it, or, you know, six months from an exit, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 27:04
yeah, I agree. And we it’s, it’s interesting, though, and I don’t think a lot of people believe this one is coming from me as much as it would be from somebody else. It’s like, Listen, if you prepare to sell your business today, it’s it’s very similar to what any good running business should look like. It’s, it’s, doesn’t have too much owner involvement. It’s got good, solid growth and and it runs well. I mean that those are the simple things of of that. So when you’re looking at this, and you’ve gone through now, we got roles and got right people in the roles we we discuss this with the owner. They’re moving into their right roles. What are some of the other things that you you get to deal with in these in these clients, typically,

Ron Higgs 27:56
creating or refining the right processes. So in other words, you know businesses, when businesses are small, you know things are easy. They’re delivering a product or service in a in an environment of relative simplicity driven by the numbers of people, the numbers of clients and the number of products or services. So in other words, if you’re just starting out, you have one product, and you have five or six people, or, you know, less than 10 people, well, it’s pretty easy, and it’s pretty easy to deliver that product, yeah, and it’s pretty easy to kind of make things up as you go along, and it’s pretty easy to use anecdotal data, you know, to make decisions and gut feelings to do that. But when the company starts to grow, when you have more people, now, you have 25 people, the way you communicate with five people totally different than the way you communicate with 25 people. We talked about decisions. When you have five people, you can make and implement decisions very quickly, because the doers and deciders are the same people. When you have 25 people, right? The doers are a different group of people than the deciders. So the deciders can say, Yeah, we’re going to do that. Well, how do you float all that down and get that done? Right? There’s elements of communication buy in, you know, all sorts of those things, right? So you have to start putting in systems and processes, and you have to start making data driven decisions instead of anecdotal decisions. So Right? Building those systems and processes are a big deal. So there’s one place I work with just a system just to get a proposal out, took them three weeks to get a proposal out, and the managing director was the bottleneck in that. So if the managing director was out, or, you know, how quickly that proposal got done was a direct result of how busy the managing director was, yeah, okay, so let’s involve and so, you know, you break down all the steps and all the things that were needed to get a proposal out. You. Okay, the managing director would go to, you know, a project manager and the account manager and a couple other people to start asking questions about the proposal. Well, not, why not? Let’s look at the entire process, look at the entire inputs and see where those where you can build that proposal without the direct involvement of the account counting that, or, I’m sorry, of the managing director, and to do it as quickly as possible. So once we did that, we were we looked at that, we involved everyone who touches the proposal. We sat in a room, and in about two hours, we sketched out a process where every human being in the process had a backup. We also had three people that could, that could sign the proposal out right, that included the review. So no, the proposal could not leave the company without at least a review from two, you know, with a bunch of sets of eyes on it, right? So we were able to get that down from three weeks to 48 hours. We even got one out by the end of one day. So in the morning, we were asked, and we got it out by the end of the day. Why? Because we just sat down and worked through who needed to be involved in it. And there’s another thing that we did too, which was we we pushed down some decision making responsibility. Those of us who who do these things are familiar with change orders, scope creep, all of these things, right? So if there was any kind of a change order, they would also flow that all the way back up to the managing director. So what we did is we gave the account managers the authority to say it, to sign change orders. Well, it was a big deal that that got things happen quickly, and if the the account manager was uncomfortable with it, then there was a there was a way to help, you know, to escalate it, to get help with that decision. But the bottom line was that through process, we took something that took three weeks and reduced it down to 48 hours and made it consistent and made it not dependent on any one human being. There were no bottlenecks, believe it or not. Again, sat in a room for two hours. That’s all it took to change that process.

Damon Pistulka 32:19
Yeah. I mean, you look at the impact of that kind of thing over the long term for that business, and then also the value that that creates to the next owner by being, you know, being able to a people have gone through the process of redesigning a process and and implement it and doing it, which is huge, because a lot of companies get kind of fixed on how they’ve done things. But the second thing is, with that kind of speed and flexibility, compared to where they were before, the business is going to be much more successful,

Ron Higgs 32:49
right? We also instituted their feedback, right? We got people a lot more comfortable with, you know, with with providing feedback, there was also a feedback loop for the process to see how we can continuously improve

Damon Pistulka 33:04
it. Ooh, that’s really good. That’s really good. Ah, so we started out, we’re talking about, when we talk about, you know, building this business from First of all, we, we just recently confirmed, hey, if you want to build a good business, you’re probably doing some of the right things to create that business or to create that exit you want, because a good running business today is much closer to the one that you you want to take with you through the exit tomorrow. And started out, you said, I like to start by people showing me their org chart. We worked through roles and responsibilities. Then we talked about succession, and we worked through the different challenges, where the owner controls everything, where there’s too much complexity, where there’s nothing gets done because there’s really not decisions getting done and over processing. And then you just ended up with a great example of how processes and systems getting those things in place can really help to free up critical resources and streamline to get things done faster. And when you look at these changes that you’ve talked about, these are some of the things that in the market when you’re going to get ready for an exit that next buyer is going to be looking for a lean Well, operating company that they can take to the next level, because they make their real money by growing the value over time, and you really by doing what you’re Saying, sets it up nicely. So as you’re going through with with clients, what are some of the realizations that these founders have working, you know, through the process of coaching, through the process of of really building that business that’s running better. And can create the eggs that they want.

Ron Higgs 35:03
You know, one of the biggest things is overcoming some objectives, like, how am I going to do that? How are we going to do that? And then when it happens, you know, first people start off as sort of skeptical. It’s like, believe me, this is going to work, and by the end of it, when one they see that the business is no longer owning them, and that they’re getting to, you know, that work life balance that they that they desired in the first place, right? That impact, the emotional impact, to be able to spend time with their families, you know. Somebody said, I’ve never been able to go to my son’s soccer game before, you know. I took him to the game early, stayed afterwards, you know, and now I’m an assistant coach for the soccer team, because they were able to free up all that time. So I like to use sports analogies in this case. And I think, you know, at some point you are, you know, let’s say you’re a player, and if you’re a person that started your own business, because you retire to work, and for somebody else, at some point you’re a player, and you decided to leave, like, I don’t want to do this, right? And you go somewhere else, you start your business, and then you become the team captain, right? At some point, you have to step off the field and be the coach, right? Coach doesn’t make plays. The coach coaches others. And then you evolve to the head coach, which means you have to find an executive team. You have to use that team and lead the business to do that team, right? So head coach, well, what’s next? Owner? Where’s the owner during the game?

Damon Pistulka 36:48
Wherever they want. They might be in the box. They might be sitting on vacation somewhere else too,

Ron Higgs 36:54
right? The owner’s in the box, just enjoying enjoying what they built, and watching it go, what do you want to be the owner? Yeah, right. And if you really look at a sports analogy and go from that, if you’re the coach right now, you know looking at making that, you know that eventual evolving to the owner really is where you want to be. And again, the owner is the one. You know, the teams get sold all the bought and sold all the time, right? And that’s done at the owner level. Yeah, yeah.

Damon Pistulka 37:33
It is. It is, I want to say real quick, Curtis Tompkins is here. Curtis, great seeing you today. Man says, Love the convo. Gentlemen, can’t beat receiving these golden nuggets. Thank you so much for stopping by and dropping a comment. Curtis, uh, always appreciate it. I’d love your analogy. Ron, from player to coach to head coach to owner, because sometimes you, I don’t know if this happens to you, but you come in and you set or that that sit down with that founder, that owner that’s been in there a while, and they go, Well, if, if I do this, and they’re all doing that, what am I supposed to be doing?

Ron Higgs 38:18
Well, that’s finding their way, because their entire identity is wrapped up in the business. So they’re asking themselves that question, right? What? What is it? As I have I gone as far as I can go, right? Should I should I sell? That may be why they’re talking with you. Should I step down? Should I hire somebody else to run the business? I mean, that’s kind of a normal, a normal progression. The thing is that what they can do now is do only the things that they can do, right? Because there’s a bunch of things that only they can do now, you get to spend time in your zone of genius doing only the things you’re you know want to do, and all the things that you’re best at. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 39:00
yeah. That is that is in in, in my experience, when they understand, as you said, that player to coach, the head coach to owner role, when they really get to that head coach and then ultimately into that owner role, things get a lot more interesting for them, because they can, especially if they’re looking at an exit, they can really envision themselves after the business, and they can envision the legacy they’re creating, and they can invade and they can really help to mentor people today. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. So as we’re talking about this, we’re getting about to the point that we we wrapping up here, what are some of the things that you enjoy the most about being able to go out and coach people and work with their businesses.

Ron Higgs 39:50
All right, this is going to sound weird, but the org chart thing I actually really like doing. I really like going and building a. Charts and building that structure and helping people, you know, put the right people in the right place. But the biggest thing is that I really like as a coach, fractional coo all the things I’ve been doing is to see somebody when they actually get it, when something happens, when they either make a change, they make an improvement, they make a decision, or they have this moment of self, self reflection based on some guidance that I’ve provided. Yeah, I like to see people succeed. I like to see people thrive. And I like, really like the guide people to do more than they thought they were able to do. That’s

Damon Pistulka 40:42
awesome. That’s awesome. Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, parting thoughts for the day. Ron, parting thoughts for the day. Well, we

Ron Higgs 40:53
talked about a couple things, but you know those three things? Let me summarize those right so, you know, building the right structure, building the right team and creating or refining the right processes, you know those three things,

Damon Pistulka 41:06
oh yeah, the right structure, the right team and building the right processes. Because that is great from day one, I’m telling you, and it will continue to serve you all the way until the end, if you just keep working on those things. Like,

Ron Higgs 41:23
let me, let me say this, I met someone about a year ago who owned his own business for more than 20 years. Asked, you’ve ever thought about, okay, you ever thought about an exit? No, hadn’t really thought about that. Well, you know, maybe you should give us some thought. I mean, how do you want to leave? Are you turn it over to your kids? Are you going? Do you want to sell it to someone else? Do you want to get acquired, you know, by a larger company? What is in that, you know, spark some thought, which was good. And I think that, again, just being able to guide people from something they hadn’t thought about to like, oh yeah, maybe this is something I should think about. So if you’re out there and you then you’re aren’t thinking about this. Whether you want to exit Damon, this is your this is your territory, right? Whether you want to exit in, you know, a year you would exit in 10 years. It’s not too early to start planning for that.

Damon Pistulka 42:26
Well, yeah, and as you, as you said, the the process of working on your business allows the owners to really work on one they want. And you made a great example of the the owner is now able to go to their soccer game with their kids, or whatever. The thing is, they can spend more time outside of the business, as well as being more valuable to the business when they’re there. And I think that’s the thing that people get owners honestly get confused, is like having a business that will really create the eggs that you want runs well today, and as you said it earlier in this is ready to exit whenever the time comes, because we don’t know when that time to exit comes is going to come. It’s not like we’re going to do it next Tuesday at 345 because you can’t control when a buyer is ready to buy your business. You can’t control when the market’s right. You can’t control when you’re what your health does. You can’t control what nature does. There’s so many things you can’t control that, preparing for your your eventual exit by running a good business today, doing the things you talked about is is good at any point,

Ron Higgs 43:38
right? Yeah, and I do want to, I have to throw in a plug for coaching, because I am a coach. If a lot of people realize that, may realize like, wow, I do have my hands in every cookie jar, you know, in this business, and I am making all of the decisions, it’s really hard for them to say, Okay, I’m going to stop doing that. Right? Yeah, so their coaching can help. Coaching can help with that. Coaching can help hold them accountable. You know, in the step by step, things they have to do to get there, right? And so then coaching provides, again, that outside perspective, because everybody in your business and everybody around you may be too close to the problem to be really objective. So your coach is getting to know you. The coach could also look at your business objectively. And so coaching is a really good way to help start that that change if you’re looking to get to that owner status, yep,

Damon Pistulka 44:46
yep. And now, just like you use the the athletic or the sports analogy, listen, there’s a reason why high level athletes have a strength coach. It could be a position. Coach. Could be a mental coach. Just name it right social media coach, you know, or PR person. I mean, it’s there’s a reason why people have these because we don’t see what we don’t see, and when we can help and when others can help us work through those things and and get on the right path can make a huge difference. So good stuff. Ron, so if someone wants to connect with you, Ron, what is the best way for them to get a hold of you? LinkedIn, there we go. Ron Higgs, on LinkedIn, the profile picture I will never forget, because that is you in that plane, jet. We didn’t get to talk about that much, but it is thank you for your service as always, and thanks for all you do helping these businesses.

Ron Higgs 45:48
Well, it was a privilege and an honor for me to serve my country, and this is something that I really enjoy. I’m glad I decided to leave corporate America what I did, and I’m happy for those experiences. But I’m much happier on the path and I’m on that. Thanks to everyone out there supporting this, who came out to support this, this show. I really appreciate it. Croy, good to see you. Steve, good to see you. We have to catch up soon. Curtis, everybody else, thank you. Yeah, yeah. Thanks

Damon Pistulka 46:20
everyone for stopping by today. I really like as Ron says, appreciate you stopping by, putting your time in, listening to us and and really, if you know of someone that would would benefit from this, maybe forward it over to them. Have them come by. Take a look at it. Also, if you got in here late, want to start from the beginning, just roll it back and get going, and we will be back again next week. Ron, hang out for a moment. We’ll finish up offline.

Ron Higgs 46:47
All right, thank you again for having.

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