Taking Control of Your Business

In this, The Faces of Business episode, Dennis Riley, Founder & Owner, Goals to Results, talks about how owners can be Taking Control of Your Business by developing strategies, reviewing business data, and establishing systems.

In this, The Faces of Business episode, Dennis Riley, Founder & Owner, Goals to Results, talks about how owners can be Taking Control of Your Business by developing strategies, reviewing business data, and establishing systems.

Dennis has been a business coach and strategist for over 28 years, helping small business owners with business and data strategy. In 2011, he founded Goals to Results. Goals To Results is a data analysis platform that enables small and medium business owners to quickly see the key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand their business performance better.

Dennis helps entrepreneurs achieve the results they desire for their businesses. Dennis focuses on the individual regardless of their industry and helps them achieve their goals. He works with self-motivated business owners that are competent in their profession but need advice to handle their business matters. Dennis helps business owners understand their performance and develop systems and business policies.

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Damon opens this Livestream with matchless energy and resolve. He warmly welcomes Dennis to his show. He invites the guest to speak about his route to success.

Dennis says that he started his first software-development business in 1994. Six years later, he worked because of a Y2K Bug on New Year’s Eve. The said millennium bug sent the world into a frenzy that the system’s data would be erased after the date changed. That put Dennis in contact with many programmers. So he decided to run another business as a strategist. Over time, he left software development.

During his business ventures, Dennis learned two things. Firstly, “creating a software product is like running a business.” That is to say, analyzing the outcome of a software product requires reverse engineering skills. Secondly, he learned about the power of data to control his business. Similarly, accessing the correct data helped Dennis implement systems into his business.

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While talking about the importance of data, Dennis underscores that any amount of data—whether small or big—can help us develop systems. Dennis analyzes it to determine its relevance and importance for his clients. Similarly, he views “which KPIs are the ones that are running your business.” He draws on a car’s dashboard analogy to make his point more understandable. “When things go wrong, you open up the hood and figure out, so you look at that dashboard.”

The guest maintains that “your data is the DNA of your business.” Business owners need to understand their data to understand their business.

Dennis talks about the biggest challenge he has ever faced. It arose when a client decided to relocate their business. The said client wanted to do it “without missing a beat.” The guest had to move the data in large bulks seamlessly. “And we did it,” exclaims Dennis.

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Moreover, Dennis shares his thoughts on business decision-making and strategy formulation. He argues that we should have quality people and systems that will tell us what we need to know. “And then we can make the decision.” Similarly, he says that we don’t have to be part of every single decision. He, too, used to do so. After a long time, he realized that his “business was plateauing for one reason” because “I was the clog.” Once he stepped out of the way, things started to take off. He believes that putting business and systems in place allows us to see all that data.

Damon requests the guest to elaborate on the idea with an example which the guest entertains readily.

He quotes an example of a client “a couple of years ago.” The client had been in business for a couple of years. They were working with multiple clients and “were plateauing.” The client wanted to get to the next level. Dennis jumped in and inquired about their day-to-day operations, asking them to “write down everything they did.”

When Dennis put the data together, he started to see a pattern. He advised them to put 1800 number. Within two weeks, the toll-free number significantly reduced the amount of work stress and let the person take control of his business.

The guest is an ardent admirer of systems. He believes that “systems run businesses, people run systems.” Similarly, systems allow people to operate in their creative genius.

Dennis sheds some light on work-related burnout and stress stemming from confusion.

Furthermore, people experience burnout and tiredness because “they put more energy into only going this fast.” Whereas if a business runs in sync, where every player knows their responsibility, “burnout is not going to happen as much.”

Damon opines that the teams will blossom where systems have been set up well. They take care of their problems and might only meet once a week to review their KPIs. The guest agrees with him, saying, “because they have a system in place.”

Dennis argues that in the Covid-19 Shutdown, only those businesses whose systems were set up competitively did well. Telling from his experience, he adds that not all systems are expensive, nor is it about price. It’s about keeping track of our data.

The guest advises the small business owners to implement systems on the day first. For those who think they can’t afford systems, Dennis has a solution—Google Sheets—which is free. “That’s where you start. Dennis further discloses that HubSpot has a free version of CRM, “which is just as good as all the other stuff.” However, he advises business owners to get custom-made systems if they wish to operate efficiently

Dennis stresses he loves helping people. He gets their data and researches it, “I get KPIs, I make a dashboard from all the other data sources they have.” He also offers to incorporate all data into their company dashboard.

Damon asks the guest what businesses should do with their data to take control of their business. Once they realize it’s their data, Dennis says, they should interpret it by joining all the pieces together. The bigger picture helps solve many problems. The companies can have insights into their KPIs, profits and losses. All of it eventually puts them in control.

The conversation ends with Damon thanking Dennis for his time.

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data, business, people, systems, burnout, clients, kpis, business owners, dashboard, software development, put, dennis, talking, working, run, results, problem, person, picture, week


Damon Pistulka, Dennis Riley


Damon Pistulka  00:00

All right, everyone, welcome once again, the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I’m excited today because today I’ve got Dennis Riley, and we’re gonna be talking about taking control of your business. Dennis, welcome.


Dennis Riley  00:15

Thanks for having me, Damon, appreciate it.


Damon Pistulka  00:17

Yeah, we’re gonna have some fun today. So, Dennis, let’s like we like to do on the faces of business. Let’s learn a bit more about your tell. Tell me about where you started. What really got you into business? And and you know, helping people?


Dennis Riley  00:33

Sure, yeah. I’m Dennis Riley goals to results of a business strategist. But that’s not where I started. In 1994, I decided to do my first business. So software development, and this was before the internet well, before in fact, then six years after that, guess what? New Year’s Eve I was it working because of a Why 2k?

Remember that? Yeah, the world was gonna end because that two digits, you know, and yeah, so I’ve been for 20 years, I did that. And then halfway through that, I decided that when I was talking to a lot of my clients, a lot of business owners, I started asking where they’re going to do it strategy, where are you going to do this? How are you going to make systems and all that stuff?

And they were, you know, they were listening and all that stuff. And I just started to do another business. So I had two businesses go and one was consulting, which was business strategist, and one was software development. I, I let the software development go with course it went 20 plus years. It Oh, and now we’re in year 11, of the consulting part of things. So life is you know, it’s it’s hectic, it’s fun. I love it.


Damon Pistulka  01:43

Good. Good. So when you’re, you’ve been consulting nice. I spent a dozen years almost it looks like so what did you learn in the software business that you think you brought into the the consulting business that really helped you a lot?


Dennis Riley  02:02

Oh, definitely two things. One was, I learned that creating a software product is like running a business. Because what you do is when you create a software product, the first thing you have to do is reverse engineer it. What is what is the outcome?

And it’s just like a business, you know, what are your goals for the year? Where are you want to go and all that stuff. And then you reverse engineer all the way back and you start. And also what I learned is really is about the data, you better know what’s going on with your data? Because if you don’t, you’re just flying by the seat of your pants, and you know how long that lasts? Yeah, so that’s definitely the first thing.

The second thing was, when I first started my business, I did everything myself. And it was like, you know, the 1000 hats on. And even when I hired we I hired people, and I still had to be a part of every single decision, every single meeting, guess how that worked out, you know, stressful city, and you know, me, like not doing very well. It’s like, you know, my business started to plateau. And then I realized I can’t do it all myself.

And I had the people who I hired, I gave them responsibility. I gave them direction. I implement systems into my business. And guess what things just took off? And I said, that’s what I’m going to tell people. And that’s what it is those two things, you know, what it like data, you know, brighten it like a bit when your business like a software development project, make sure you have your data and have systems please have systems.


Damon Pistulka  03:38

That’s funny, because I spent a couple hours today with clients working on data and systems. It’s it’s, it is definitely, especially as your organization’s get bigger, I mean, little data and system requirements get more complex and more important.


Dennis Riley  03:55

And is also so much think about how much data the average small business owner has at its disposal. It really is overwhelming. And so how many user IDs and passwords do I have to log in to see different parts of the data? It’s like, everyone goes Screw this. I don’t know what I’m doing. I could do I do, I don’t know what to do.

And I come in, I say, look, first we got we got to take all that data, we got to see which one is more important to you. Which one which KPIs are the ones that are running your business, and we’re going to put those in front of you all the time. And then just like a dashboard in a car, when things go wrong, you open up the hood and you figure out so you look at that dashboard. If you see a little moving here and there. You figure out what’s going on. And I get people to that point.


Damon Pistulka  04:45

On this, I’m just sitting back I’m here and the skies are open and the angels are singing. Yeah, yeah. Because that’s I mean, people have people ask me asked me I’m I’m having a conversation with another They’re big data guy on Thursday.

And, you know, they just want to puke tons of data. And I said, No, nobody’s looking at 17 spreadsheets every day. It better be and about as big as I can cover with this. Now I’m talking a little piece, there’s a little hole in my finger and thumb, or people aren’t reading it. And it’s got to be that fast. And it’s because like I said, if there’s a problem, we can always drill down.


Dennis Riley  05:33

Yeah. And the interesting thing is that when I talk about people, when I talk about their data, first thing people want to go, Oh, I know my profit and loss. I know my financial stuff. Yeah. Like, if you’re looking only at your financial that is the last domino to fall. Yeah. And you know what, you’re already behind the eight ball, you better know, the first a second domino that fell, how to switch that. So that doesn’t get to the profit and loss.


Damon Pistulka  05:57

Exactly. Those first dominoes, you know, it’s like, it’s gonna be as simple as how many customers call us this week.


Dennis Riley  06:07

What are you prospecting? What is your pipeline look like? Yeah, yeah, it all goes down to that. It’s like, and people don’t understand that. And I don’t understand why they don’t understand. It’s like, you know, what, it’s, I will my season, say you don’t know it, let me see it. I’ll get your data. I’ll do all this stuff. And then we’ll talk because then I’ll ask them questions.

And the picture they paint about their business is different than what the data paints about the business. And it’s amazing that, you know, the two should go together. And I always say to people, you know, your data is the DNA of your business, just like everyone has DNA on a fingerprint. It’s just a data. That’s what business does. If you don’t know your data, you don’t know your business. Simple as that.


Damon Pistulka  06:57

That is correct. That is correct. So wow, you hit on a bunch of stuff there already. We’re seven minutes into this thing. And it seems like an hour because you’ve hit so many things ready. I gotta I gotta write some more here. So let’s go back. Let’s ask them for this. Ask some fun questions here to get us rolling to, we always want to talk about so what is the biggest business challenge you have ever faced?


Dennis Riley  07:27

Oh, you know what the biggest bit I had a client that, again, it was in my software development days, that they had to move their business from one platform to another without missing beat, and we’re talking 10s of 1000s of data had to get moved. And they and it was in the couldn’t you if you missed one data, it would have been a failure. And doing that.

That was that really took a lot of people really rowing the boat together, making sure that the systems were in place at how we were going to do it, when we were going to do the switch over making sure that that the old data was making sure the staging data was in sync with the live data. So when we switched it over, nothing missed a beat.

That was probably the biggest challenge from a client standpoint, by far. And we did it. We did it. So you know, and no data got lost and nothing. So that was a very, very rewarding on my part from a biggest challenge. From a business standpoint, my biggest challenge was me realizing that I didn’t have the part be a part of every single decision. And, and I always just say, no, no, no, no, come on. I’m the buck stops here.

I’m the business owner, I have to make sure that I’m a part of every decision and nothing gets by me blah, blah, blah. That’s the furthest from the truth. You know, you should have quality people quality systems in place that will tell you what you need to know. And then you can make the decision. Is it a good go, you don’t have to be part of every single decision. You want to be part of every single meeting.

And I was for the longest time. And then I realized my business was plateauing for one reason and one reason only me I was the clog. And once I stepped out of the way things started to take off. So many times with business owners when they’re growing when they go I love a growing business. I love that first couple stages of growth because I see myself in them like there’s no demo because I’m like dude, you gotta step aside.

We got to put business we got to put systems in place that allows you to see all that data and just like you said, just a little little things that moves up and down and you go after that’s when you jump into it don’t jump in and few see things are going fine. Jump in when you see a little issue. Yeah, you know, and and I love I love the thing that people say, you know, I’m just running on my head cut off.

I’m in firefighting mode, putting all these fires. I love saying to people do you know a fire person environment does not put out fires every single day. Think about it. When they go to work, they’re in the they’re in the firehouse, waiting for a fire alarm, and then they put out the fire then then what they do after is they go back to the fire station and wait for the next one. It’s not one after another. So when someone says I’m in firefighting mode, no, you’re not. You’re you’re way past that.


Damon Pistulka  10:30

Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Because they might they don’t fight 17 fires, and maybe two, maybe three. Exactly.


Dennis Riley  10:38

Me. Yeah, you have to split up because two are going on at the same time.


Damon Pistulka  10:41

Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great one. I love it, though. You’re talking about waiting for the financial data is just way too late. I always thought talked about that. And I learned it the hard way, honestly, honestly, in running investor owned companies years and years ago, you get surprised by financial stuff. And the only way to honest, honestly, to stay employed is is to not let that happen too many months in a row, otherwise you won’t be I mean, it’s there’s not that tolerance for it.

So out of necessity, we would develop ways to almost do, you know, operational measures on a weekly basis. Sometimes even if the, if we’re in a turnaround situation, we would almost do full financial closes every week, just to be able to understand where are we at? Because it is so key to understand and be able to adjust if you need to.


Dennis Riley  11:39

And look, you know, a two no one knows when they jump into business, there is no manual how to run a business, there is no, if they do have one, guess what? It’s obsolete by the time you open up page one. Yeah, you know, so the thing is, it is trial by error. And you do make mistakes. And you you learn from those mistakes. Oh, my goodness, you’re right. Think about all the different times you all the ups and downs I was in when I was in the toughest part for me when I was in the software development industry was when things went global.

And a lot of my competition said, I’m laying off all my developers, and I’m gonna hire them overseas for five $10 an hour. I said, No, I’m not doing that. So my profit margin went from here to here, right away, because that’s one business thing that I said wasn’t I do? I’m glad I did it that way. Yeah. But you know, you had to adapt and say, Okay, I’m not going to do it this way. Let me do it another way.


Damon Pistulka  12:38

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great example, too. And I think it’s an honestly, I do a bit of work in manufacturing. And you look at that, how that’s changed in the last three years with COVID and the supply chain problems. We have a great reawakening in that industry, that’s that I think is going to continue on for some time, because of the fact that the supply chain, we can’t live with those kinds of supply chain problems forever. Yeah, so at least it’ll go on for as long as I’m around. Worry about it.

There you go. So as you’re as you’re out there today, and you’re helping people in business, what are some of the the biggest challenges you’re seeing people look at now today with with data, the start with data,


Dennis Riley  13:27

the sheer overwhelm of it? By far, by far, that’s not there’s nine and a close number two in my book, because what happens is, people even if they have that little dashboard in front of us, the sheer the sheer depth of data out there, it’s amazing how much data is out there not for your not just for your company, for your industry for your competitors. Hell, if I want to go online and see what my competitors keywords I can, you know, I mean, there’s so much data at your disposal that the business owner is now saying, okay, yeah, fine.

I understand my data, but what stuff Am I looking at, and guess what, that could change month to month. And so the sheer moving back, I mean, I love I love the analogy that of Lego pieces, you know, your data right now, if you don’t have control of it, is just take the box and dip it upside down. That’s your piece. If you start making making a different, you know, a house or whatever, that’s the pattern you see in your data. That’s your goal. Your goal is to find patterns. If you can have a if you can make a picture of that data, you are in control of your business.


Damon Pistulka  14:40

Wow. Wow. So I was I’m thinking about that here, if you could make a picture of your data. So give me an example of doing that.


Dennis Riley  14:52

Perfect, okay, I will give you okay, here’s one example. I had a I had a client a couple years ago, and this client He’s just starting out in business and they’ve been in business a couple years, you know, and they were plateauing. They didn’t understand how to get to the next level. And I said, I said, Look, do me a favor, I want to know what you’re working on every every day. So to me, if it was just for one week, I want you to tell me you write down everything you do.

And you’re gonna give that to me. And so they gave it to him looked through it and went, Okay, so what’s this? Oh, this client, this guy, they were they were working with different clients throughout pretty much most of their week. And I said, Okay, good. And I started to bucket, I said, Look, you know, what we’re going to do, we’re going to take all these clients you have, and they will get a report saying,

how the each client was, you know, the commission, they will get from each client, they had those reports, I said, I’m gonna take that report, I’m gonna bucket even more, I want you to tell me which clients are the most pain in the butt clients, they’re on you 24/7. I want to know which clients on a scale of one to 10, how you can help them out the most. And then we saw their commissions. I put them all together, the people with the lowest commissions were the people that were always in that person’s back pocket.

So finally, what happens? I had all this data, we made some other data, I put it together. And I started to see a pattern and I said, Look, is there like a one 800 number or an FAQ place you can send these people to? And they’re like, oh, my god, yeah, this was one of a number all the time, but I usually interfere and do it. I said, No, you take these people you put to one 800 Number. And that’s it. They did that for two weeks, this person came back and says I have 23 hours a week now?


Damon Pistulka  16:42

Yeah, yeah.


Dennis Riley  16:45

What we did is we found the pattern. And once we found the pattern that did not work with the business, we had a system in place to shift the pattern. So that now it was well on its way in a different picture.


Damon Pistulka  17:02

Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Because, yeah, the data, I said this to somebody else, and I didn’t even realize they were like, wow, I said, the data will set you free. Yep, the data will set you free, a pattern will


Dennis Riley  17:17

set you free.


Damon Pistulka  17:18

There you go. There you go. So the, as you’re doing this now, and you’re helping these people understand business, they understand what they’re doing. I mean, that’s the one thing I universally any business you walk into, I think they’re generally pretty good at what they’re doing. If they’ve been in business for a while. Always everybody can get a little better here and there.

But as you’re teaching these, these business owners and these people in these businesses about business, and they’re starting to develop the patterns and understand the patterns in their data and their business more because of that, what are some of the things that they’re telling you? You said extra time, but what are some of the things they’re saying I never, I really hadn’t thought about or just the kind of awakenings that you you see in them.


Dennis Riley  18:13

Sure, yeah, there’s a couple of them. One that I love is that I love this line that says systems run businesses, people run systems. Okay, so when we put the systems in place, people would say, Oh, wait, now this person isn’t going to do what they say what you know, now they’re their, their way, when we’re going to take someone’s business away someone who’s doing those tasks away,

because we’re automating, or something like that, what we realize is, is when you systemize, someone’s task load, they now have more time to be creative, and use this zone of genius to get better at their job or what they’re trying to get across. So now what happens is, and what we I’ve heard this a lot is that the workflows going better, more ideas are coming.

Because now people are not spending so many hours on the things because now there’s systems and they’re reading the system, seeing the data and going oh, we need to do this. And it’s not just the owner doing that. Now it’s other people going Hey, did you know we can do this differently because I’ve saw this as a result. And now all of a sudden, people are now doing a lot more for a lot less time and you get a lot more out of everyone and everyone seems to be rowing the same way that the boat and it’s going father


Damon Pistulka  19:49

Wow. Wow. I just in what you said earlier here I just wanted to repeat again systems, run businesses and People run systems. I think that’s Oh, that. And then the second thing you said about it allow systems allow people to operate in their creative genius.


Dennis Riley  20:15

Yep. And it works every single time. And what you said earlier about that, you know, no one gets into business, because they want to run a business, they have something of value that they want to offer the world, I tell all the business owners, you stay in that value, be that and what happens is, so many business owners can’t do what they they want to, or they are more beneficial in their business, because they’re doing all this other stuff that’s piled up on their plate.

And because they don’t have systems, or they don’t see their data in place to realize I can push this over here, move it around here, I now have more time to do what I was made to do. It’s not just the business owner, it’s all the other people in the company.


Damon Pistulka  21:06

Yeah. Yeah. By having those systems to, to efficiently do what they need to do and allows them to, like you said, operate in their creative genius. Yeah. It’s interesting, because I was in a business last week, and they were talking about burnout. And I could tell after doing some interviews around the around the business, my thought is that the burnout is because there are no systems.

Yeah, or very few systems. And everybody’s doing the way they think they should on on these things. And it’s not not I mean, there’s 50 plus people in this business, and the systems bring order and order brings, brings efficiency.

And when people understand what they need to do, because I’ve always believed that burnout, beyond, you know, just putting too many hours in, right, if burnout, if you’re working a normal day, and you got burnout, it’s something it’s it’s something taxing your mind or your people’s minds working. And systems will reduce that a significant amount, because everybody has a better idea of what they should be doing.


Dennis Riley  22:21

What’s the worst thing about burnout, and what’s usually one thing is confusion. So they’re not sure where I’m at, because I love the analogy of of those crew racing, those crew races, oh, yeah, like six or seven people in a boat.

And they all have to row the same time, because then it starts to move forward. If you have six people rowing one way, another way, now they, they were just gonna go round in circles, and they’re gonna get so burnt out and so tired, because they put more energy into only going this fast. Whereas if you are all if a business is running in sync, and every player knows their responsibility, and what they need to do to do their job, burnout is not going to happen as much.

Yeah, communication is huge. And also responsibilities. And so if the PBX usually what happens is the people who were in charge, they don’t know, either what their, their, what the, the tasks they’re giving out, they don’t know the results. Remember when 2020 happened, and like, the big thing was, some of the people were saying to me, some of the businesses was, everyone’s working from home now, how am I gonna?

What am I gonna do? I don’t know what they’re doing. I’m like, you give them tasks, and you look at their results. You don’t care how many hours those people working? You know, this is a task that should have this result. You see the result? If you don’t see result, you talk to that person say, Okay, why aren’t you doing the result? You don’t need to go into someone’s cube or someone’s office and say, Hi, are you working on that?

And there was a mentality of No, everyone has to be in the same place. Because now if anyone would have to question then come right down the office and see me. It’s like, no, set up a system that everyone knows what they’re doing. And everyone has different tasks. And here are the results that you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re side by side, in the same state in the same country in the same world. Data man.


Damon Pistulka  24:33

Yeah. And that’s true where I’ve seen system set up well, and good measures on your data. You can have the teams will blossom because all of a sudden, your could be a warehouse team. It could be your marketing team could be your sales team.

They know if they’re doing well or not. They take care of a lot of the problems before Are you and see him because you might only talk to him, we might only have a meeting once a week to review our KPIs. But you can bet that they’re looking at him if they can, every day to make sure they don’t come into the meeting. And and not be where they want to be.


Dennis Riley  25:15

If they know what they’re doing, they know the effects of each KPI. Which one is domino effect on every single one? Yeah. And so the thing is, is that, like I said, communication, everyone works in the same way. That’s how you get things go. And the interesting thing is, that’s the first step, setting up the systems, knowing the results.

But guess what, you have to constantly look at that data. Because if you just say, Oh, my systems done, I don’t have to worry. And you go to another plateau, you need new systems to get to the next level. Yep, yep. So you can’t go, I’m telling my system, I’m good for 20 years. Now. Whenever you now if you do more impact, and you’d go to another level, and you grow another level, the system that got you to this level will not get you to the next level.


Damon Pistulka  26:04

Let’s just stop and think about that minute. Kurt Anderson. Know, I live stream with him a couple times a week, he always likes to say this. He says, Let’s just save that for a moment. Let’s let that sink in the system that got you there won’t be the system that will get you where you want to go. This is something that kills companies. Yep. They kill them, kill them,


Dennis Riley  26:31

because they think they have a system in place. And they don’t have to worry about it. Because it’s on autopilot. No systems on autopilot. Okay, that’s why you need the KPIs. To look at things because guess what? You seen it you think about managing being 2019 Going into 2020 on March. And then all of a sudden, boom, I have a system. I don’t know why things are going wrong here. My systems in place, and it’s worked great. For two years. I’m fine. I don’t know what the problem is. The problem is everything changed.


Damon Pistulka  27:02

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You have


Dennis Riley  27:05

to shift in adapt based on the data and also based on the environment. Yeah, and if you don’t, you’re screwed.


Damon Pistulka  27:15

Yeah. Again, and you came up with a no, and you even know what you might ride by? No system is on autopilot? None. Yeah, that’s for sure. Because it’s one of those things, man that, that that system is going to run into limitations that are going to cause you to have to do changes, you’re gonna have to change it, whatever. But yeah, it’s yeah, good stuff. Good stuff. So any new mentioned crew racing to, as you said, crew racing and like, Man, I am getting a video of that.

I am using that with clients. I think that’s gonna be awesome, too, just because it is such a good example. Perfect example. Yeah, cuz it’s just one of those things that it’s like, if if someone’s out of sequence, or the the, isn’t it, the Coxon? The guy that’s called the guy or gal is calling? If they’re not doing it, right? Everybody’s like, you’re losing it think


Dennis Riley  28:13

about the guy who’s calling and saying, you know, shift to the right. And all of a sudden, you’re supposed to go this way. And that the guy calling you listen to and your other race? Yeah. And it’s like, so there’s so many tangible things that could go wrong. But if you’re not in the communication, it’s huge communication and expectation. And then you need a system to do it all. Yeah, and the people to run the system.


Damon Pistulka  28:38

So and yeah, this is this is great. I love talking systems. Love talking systems. So in your experience, are the best systems expensive? No. Awesome answer. No, we didn’t. We didn’t talk about that beforehand.


Dennis Riley  29:04

The smaller No, the smaller the business, the more systems they people think, Oh, when I get when I grow to this point, I’m going to implement systems. And it’s like, no, no, no, no, no. Day one, you’re implementing systems. Because guess what, as you grow, things are going to happen and you have to adapt the systems. And the thing is sometimes, like I I can tell you one thing, I go into some people and they’re literally have no system, and I say okay, we’re gonna start and they’re like, I can’t afford a system.

I said, Really? You can’t afford Google Sheets, which is free. Okay, that’s where you start. Yeah. Okay. So you can make something in Google Sheets for free that you start doing that and guess what, if you have you know, some people go, oh, a CRM, I got to do a CRM. I’m not spending all this money. You’re really HubSpot has a free version, which is just as good as all the other stuff. And you get to track your stuff. So it’s the implementation of a system.

And then as you grow, yeah, you’re going to outgrow a Google Sheet. You’re going to outgrow the free version of HubSpot, you’re going to outgrow something else. And then you spend the money. But the people who say Oh, as someone who even a bigger company that says, Oh, this system cost me 10,000 hours, I’m going to do this. It’s like, Oh, yeah. Guess what is it? Is it a cookie cutter thing? Because guess what? That cookie cutter thing? When you put a square peg into a round hole? What do you do with the leftovers?


Damon Pistulka  30:39

Yeah, doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. And I like I liked that. And I had an idea you would answer that way. Because, you know, people, honestly, people come in, and they they they do they say, well, we can’t afford a system like that. But it the simpler the solution. I always have had, and seeing clients implement some scrappy things, very simple to help them visualize their data, see it however, they want to track it easily, whatever it is, and, and perform better than a gazillion dollar, whatever you want to put together.


Dennis Riley  31:25

Yeah, cuz I would come in, like I said, I love helping people. And I get their data, I research it, I get KPIs, I make a dashboard from all the other sources of data that they have. And I get to pull in all this stuff. And they have a dashboard. And there’s some ones that they don’t have data for. So guess what, I grab a Google sheet and we figure out what data this person has to manually put in. And then the results of the cumulating of that will go on this big dashboard. And and then as things go, okay, yes, you might do some human error in there. Let’s get a software package.

That’s not human error. Okay, but it I don’t stop and say, Oh, well, I can’t do this. Because there’s no software, you have to pay X, I seriously will go into Google Sheets. I’ll ask these questions. I’ll put time I’ll even show them in zoom. Okay, I’m making the Google Sheet. Now column one is this column two is this. And then I take that data, I put it into my export it on a daily basis, automatically overnight, into my dashboard, and they see it first thing in the morning.


Damon Pistulka  32:29

Yeah, yeah. And I’m grinning, because a few years ago, we had someone that wanted them, they wanted us to help them. And, and they needed dashboards, and said, Alright, great. This is the kind of company you are, I’ve looked at your financials, I’ve looked at your operational stuff you’ve got, here’s the, you know, my Excel version of the dashboard, we should start with, oh, we can’t do that.

We have to, we have to get that it’s got to come automatically out of our systems, we can’t manually put that in. That’s, you know, that’s, I forget, it was probably a dozen fields, right? We had to run reports and fill this out. I said, Yeah, that’s what you got to do. Well, we can’t do that. We got to we got to get it program. So it’s all automatic. We can’t do that. Three months later, they still couldn’t figure out how to do it. And finally, I just said, you know, I think when you’re ready to do it, let us know.

Because what you just said is so key is to figure out a way that you can look at that data day after tomorrow. Rather than wait for some solution to look at it three months from now. Even if I only get half the data, tomorrow, I will make enough improvement because of what I know that you’re going to be farther ahead for someone that waited to get some mythical perfect solution. In three months.


Dennis Riley  33:57

I remember what I said about the Legos, they’re all scattered there, I need to pick a picture. I don’t have time to just look at all these these all scattered pieces on the ground, because that’s what data is scattered pieces on the ground. People have no clue how to read it, because they don’t know what to looking for. So you make the picture, you make the pattern. And that’s they see that results. Yeah. And all of a sudden, the bulb light bulb goes off and says, Oh, that’s my issue. Yes.


Damon Pistulka  34:30

How many times do you have clients that when you’re visualizing, I’m just coming up with that. This is great. How many times you come up with you’re helping clients you’re you’re building this picture with the data, and they go oh, my God, I didn’t I didn’t know that. That was that was our that that is the thing that we got to fix. Hands down. And then their company just does this like 90 degree pivot into in the grid.


Dennis Riley  34:58

And it’s so true, and that’s why as people go Oh, come on, it’s all about data. No. So I have all this stuff. It’s like, look, I would put money on, you do not know. And now what I’ll do is I’ll ask these random KPI questions. I said, you know, this, this, this, this this, if they don’t know the answer like that, I say you have a data problem.

And then they’re like, No, I’m like, I just asked you random ones that you couldn’t give me answers to. If you knew if you knew that your company like the back of your hand, and you knew the day like the back your hand, you’d be answering those questions like this. And since you don’t know that you do have a day a problem. And guess what that data problem when I show you that picture will not be the picture that you think is going on your head about your business right now?

Yeah. And it’s always and that’s why I say to people, Look, I don’t promise the moon to people, you know, I can’t promise results. But I can tell you, you’re going to get results once you know, the because like you said, once you know that pattern, you’re gonna go, Oh, my God, I didn’t know we were leaking right there. And they fix that leak way at the beginning. And all of a sudden their revenue will go like this, because they fixed that leak way at the beginning. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  36:09

yeah. Just as thinking about that, again, that’s good. That’s really good.


Dennis Riley  36:18

And getting back to what you said about burnout. If you fix some of these data problems, and all you solve is burnout. That’s much more better than solving revenue. Because now everyone’s on board. And now that like, Okay, I’m now thinking with a clearer head, because I’m not burnt out. I always think about the, you know, the gas tank on empty, if your gas tank is on empty, you’re burnt out. So what we’ll do is fix the issue so that you go at least to half full, and let’s get you to full.


Damon Pistulka  36:47

Yeah, yep. Yep. Wow. So, as you’re in, in businesses, and you’re doing this, and you see people moving on, and they’re moving into these systems, do you run into times where, where there are systems that, you know, people literally don’t can’t find the system that they need? And they they end up building their own?


Dennis Riley  37:23

Oh, yes. In fact, it like, there is some times that you do have to build your own depending on your business. I don’t like when people go, Oh, no matter what business you’re in, I’ll have a system for you why off the shelf, it’s almost like you know, be being a tailor a weight, your size 42.

Okay, here you go. Sometimes there is no 42, it’s 42 and a half, you’re not going to take go like this and do that, what you’re going to do is say, Look, we can get you 90% there, but other 10%, we can do it one way that a system doesn’t work for you. But maybe we can build our own system with a 10%.

Or maybe we find something that’s custom made to the whole 100. And either way works, it doesn’t matter how you get to 100. So if you find a whole solution, that’s 100% custom made great, but like you said, it’s going to take a lot of time, it’s gonna cost a lot of money. But if I have a system that’s 80% working, but that 20% isn’t BB I make a system for that. 20%.


Damon Pistulka  38:27

Yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a good point. So as you’re working with clients, things are happening, you you’re getting the systems in place, they’re seeing their data picture, what what is the changes you see in the owners? What are some of the changes you see in the owners? Are they are they happier in their business? Do they feel like they want to go out and grow their business? Now? What are some of the things that you see them happening? Once they see their business differently?


Dennis Riley  39:02

There’s a lot, it’s kind of funny, the answer to that is depending on who the person is, you know, some people like Oh, my goodness, this is great. I now get to take some time off. Okay, that’s one person. Another person says, Oh, my God, if I could do this with this, imagine where I could do it. This is Oh, and so again, it’s the ad.

That’s why I love working with the owners. Because the owner is so different. It’s like, you can have two people exactly one in the same business, that the owners are different. So therefore running that business is going to be different. Because it’s the owner is the owner is putting the footprint on it. And some people want to be all hands on and even though you say look, we’re gonna run systems. So your hands off. What you’re doing is you’re hands off on the day to day, but now you’re 100% hands on and the direction where you’re going with your company. And that excites many people because they’re like, look at that.


Damon Pistulka  39:59

Yeah, now I can now I can actually go out and navigate rather than maintain.


Dennis Riley  40:05

Exactly. And trust me you put in it, most business owners will say I want to navigate. Yeah. Is this something about a business owner? It’s like, you know what, give me that. You know, I don’t want to sit still. I sit and still to me is going backwards. Yeah.

So I need to go forward. So therefore, if I’m being dragged down, because I’m doing all the day to day stuff, and I can’t keep up, I can’t move forward, therefore, I’m falling behind. You fix that part. Now. They get to move forward in the creative side comes out. And it’s always okay, Dennis. We were going here. Now you’re with us, right? You’re going to help us with this next level, right? I’m like, Yeah, I’m there. I’m not going anywhere.


Damon Pistulka  40:48

Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. So we’re, I can’t believe we’ve been here. 40 minutes already. This this is great, man. So if, if, if you had, because we’re gonna wind down, we’re gonna wind down. If you had one piece of advice, someone’s think of like, yeah, I want to take control of my business. And yeah, it starts with my data. What what do you think they should? What do you think they should do?


Dennis Riley  41:22

I think the first thing they should do once they realize, yeah, it’s my data, you got to ask yourself, are you the person to fix it? Are you going to have someone else fix it? If you’re gonna have someone else fix it? You better know what they’re doing? And I’ve seen that have I’ve come in, where others have said, hey, look, I had someone do this. And they made a mess of it.

Yeah. It’s like, yeah, because you got to know what you’re looking for. I don’t care. I’ll come. Like I said, I’m the type of person that walks in and sees all those Lego pieces and says, Okay, I don’t need the picture, we’ll figure it out. You know, and some people can’t do that some people can’t problem solve. And that’s what is, is problem solving.

So people in my business, they better be good at what they’re doing for problem solving. Because each issue is different. And you can’t just put a template on every single one. And so usually, I would say that if you know, your data is an issue, find someone who at least you can know, okay, I can handle this with them. And, and they can they know that they can move forward with this person.

Because what’s worse is if you it’s really tough for a business owner to trust someone, okay? Especially, they know the data’s problem, or maybe they don’t know the problem. They know something’s up. But it like I said, that’s why I come in right away. And I don’t say, oh, it’s your data. I ask these questions to people, like I said, I come out with tell me about this, this this, then I say, let me ask you some questions. It’s like five or six KPIs.

I always start with, you know, your profit and loss. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I see it all the time. And I said, Tell me your profit and loss. And right away, they go like that. And then I just go through like four or five other ones. And I see them not answering as quickly. And then I said, Majan, if you knew this answer, imagine how much more you can do with that. And that’s all I have to do. Instead of coming in saying it’s your data.

No, I come in and say, I just want to know a little bit, but what are you struggling with? And then I asked these questions that might not even look like data, you know, like, you know, like, I say, Hey, do you have like, multiple services or multiple things of generate revenue? And they say, yeah, like, do you know which one works for you the best?

And like, Yeah, I think it’s I said, you think do you know, you know, and I start with those things. It’s not like, give me this data point. I just say that, but it is a data point. But I don’t see it in a one plus two equals three way. I do it in a conversational way. And then I say them look, you just you do have a data issue. And then once it that, if I if they know that that I can see that problem, then they’re more willing to say, Okay, I’m gonna help you. I need your help. Alright, we’re gonna come in, we’re gonna do it for you.


Damon Pistulka  44:11

Yeah, yep. That’s a good point. Because i you i come in behind people that drop a template in there and say, Oh, you’re going to be able to go on the beach and you’re going to get this email, it’s going to tell you how your business is running and you don’t have to worry about it again.

And and that was the wrong people putting that in and wrong data being used and a lot of other things that don’t make sense. It is a it is a challenge and a challenge for others to come in behind it. Well, Dennis, this has been awesome talking to you, man. So if someone wants to reach out because they want to take control their business, what’s the best way to get ahold of you?


Dennis Riley  44:51

Best way to get a hold of me then go the web my my website goes to results.com or if they just want to email me it’s Dennis at goals to results.com It’s TOGOALS to results.com. And let’s have a chat.


Damon Pistulka  45:05

Very good. So Dennis set goals to results.com. And, man, it was awesome talking to you today Dennis about taking control your business talking about data, talking about systems talking about how you put those pieces together to make that picture. So business owners and executives can make great businesses. Thanks for being here today, man.


Dennis Riley  45:27

Thanks a lot.


Damon Pistulka  45:28

All right. Well, thanks. We had a can dial. Hey, thanks for being there being there and listen, man, if you want to see somebody that is motivational helping kids, love your stuff, man, keep it common. We’ll be back again later this week on the faces of business. Thanks so much everyone. Dennis hang out for more.

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