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Nov. 7, 2022

Michael Buzinski On How To Have Your Business Run Without You So You Can Optimize Your Life For Happiness (#175)

Michael Buzinski On How To Have Your Business Run Without You So You Can Optimize Your Life For Happiness (#175)

“Figure out how to scale this with the amount of people you have right now.” - Michael Buzinski 

Michael Buzinski is a life-long entrepreneur, digital marketing thought leader, and best-selling author. Dubbed a “visionary marketer” by the American Marketing Association, Michael’s sole mission is to reduce the prevalence of entrepreneurial poverty in the US. Buzz, as most call him, has simplified digital marketing success with the Rule of 26 to help business owners avoid the time drain and frustration of managing profitable digital marketing campaigns.

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Your liquidity event is the most important financial transaction of your life. You have one chance to get it right, and you better make it count. 

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Enjoy the interview!


[00:00:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Deep Wealth podcast where you learn how to extract your business and personal Deep Wealth.

I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg.

This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience.

When it comes to your business deep wealth, your exit or liquidity event is the most important financial decision of your life.

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time and your hard earned money wasted.

Of the quote unquote "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave 50% to over 100% of the deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

I should know. I said "no" to a seven-figure offer. And "yes" to mastering the art and the science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said "yes" to a different buyer with a nine figure deal.

Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event?

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After all, how can you master something you've never done before?

Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and the 9-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the best deal instead of any deal.

At the end of this episode, take a moment and hear from business owners like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience.

Welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast and we have our friend back. He's no stranger you would've heard him in one of our earlier episodes. And when we are recording that episode, right towards the end, just as the time was up, we got onto a juicy topic of how our guest was able to really make his business run without him, because isn't that the really the Achilles heel for all of us business owners who want to go onto the next chapter have this incredible liquidity event. But hold on, stop. Don't pass go. Don't collect your $200. You got a problem. Your business doesn't run without you. And so that's what we're gonna be talking about today.

So Michael AKA buzz, welcome back to the Deep Wealth Sell My Business Podcast and for the listeners who are new, who didn't hear that last episode, why don't we start with your origin story? What's the story behind the story? What got you to where you are today?

[00:02:26] Michael Buzinski: Yeah, it's been a folly of adventure, I guess. I was in the air force for 10 years. I was in sales and marketing as a teenager and a few years after high school, I decided to get outta California. And so I joined the air force for was in the air force for 10 years, got outta the air force, and originally started a recording studio.

And did that for about a year before I realized that surviving office, starving musicians was a horrible business plan. And so I pivoted the business into a media production studio and we served the media production needs for small to medium-sized businesses. And then over the years that grew into what is called a creative agency, which is basically an ad agency that actually does the creative in-house.

And right around year 15, had grown it into a multimillion-dollar creative agency. But I was miserable. Miserably underpaid. A miserable in my position and just all around, not happy with what I had built. And so at the end of 2018, I split the company up back into a media production company on one side, and then a digital marketing agency on the other side.

And that's where Buzzworthy Integrated Marketing was born, I should say. And where I spend about 98% of my time now.

[00:03:45] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so let's just do a quick recap on that because it is really a terrific story and provides the foundation because you're not just throwing some ideas out there. This is not theory. This is not academic. You actually walk the talk and you're out there and you're doing that. So for the business owners that are running their businesses, maybe we can help illuminate them.

Let's go back to you had a successful business, but from what you were saying, it just sounds like you were miserable. It just wasn't happening for you. And you had those proverbial golden handcuffs. Why don't we go back to the self-awareness side of things and maybe some cues that you can share of what happened with yourself if you're comfortable sharing that with us?

So that for our listeners, they may be going through this, but they may not realize it. You know, sometimes we have to hear someone else's journey and we're saying, oh my goodness. You know what? That sounds an awful lot, like what I'm going through. So what were some of the cues when you look back now that really had you say, hey, I don't like this direction that I'm going, I wanna do something about this?

[00:04:50] Michael Buzinski: I think the biggest cue was when around 2000. It was in the early 2018. It all came. At me at once in 2018, we had built a wonderful culture. I had studied culture. I studied how to cultivate culture, cause your employees make the culture, but you have to, plow the earth, plant the seeds, nurture the seed leans, and all the other things that go along with

the culture. And then from there, you have to make sure that you keep the the proverbial wolves out of the henhouse and all that other stuff. So I was actually on a trip to Italy for 11-day excursion, where we were shooting a feature-length documentary and day two. I got a call saying a portion of the 13,000-square-foot facility we had didn't have power. And come to find out the account, the office manager hadn't paid one of the three electric bills we had for this building. And it put everybody in a frenzy. They thought we were going outta business.

They thought we couldn't pay our bills. All of the things, there were a couple other things that had happened before that we had some key employees that kind of fell through and I had to let 'em go and I didn't let 'em go decisively. I ushered them out with two kind of hands if you will.

And wasn't upfront with people because they were well-liked, loved in the business. And I, unfortunately, gave them too much latitude going out and not enough clarity to the rest of the people that, hey, this person actually let the company down.

And I wasn't looking to smear him or anything like that, but I think in hindsight, I probably should have not smeared him, but been more clear and decisive with that decision and why I made that decision, make sure everybody was communicated. So that was feeding things into there.

So with that said, by the time I got back had this coup d'etat happening. And so I had wolves in my henhouse and these wolves used to be the best sheep that you could ever ask for as a shepherd. They were the ones that were saying we stay here because of the culture we stay here because of what you've built here, buzz.

We believe in what you have. Just six months earlier, I thought, I'd built everything, right? but then as that all started unraveling, I realized that I really didn't own a business. I owned a job. I couldn't leave for 11 days working, literally let alone and without things completely falling apart. I had not built up a business that worked for me. I had a business that I worked for. And so I owned this title called CEO and it, to this day, I will not call myself a CEO. I'll gladly be president, but I will never be a CEO again because of the memories that bring back. And so at the end of 2018, that's when I was like I can rebuild the two thirds. I pretty much lost about a half to two-thirds of the people out that whole skirmish, like it was about a three-month process of everybody filtering out. And, because you have people who are like, I'm here because of so-and-so or I'm here because of this, or I'm here because of that, we end up, with Obamacare, we ended up

losing the ability to be competitive, with benefits. And so that was happening right at the same time. So like I said, it was this huge storm. This all came together and I just sat in the middle of my foyer one afternoon going, okay, I could, I can rebuild this in the next three to five years. I could do that.

[00:08:20] Jeffrey Feldberg: What's amazing about that is, and I like how you phrased that you didn't own a business, you owned a job and you didn't go into it with that. You went in with the best of intentions and these aspirations. And I suspect early on that at one point in the business, things were terrific.

You were living the life. The deal was being moved forward. You were smiling. You were happy, but somewhere along the line, things very slowly that proverbial frog in boiling water started to change. And then as you're sharing your story, I can just picture you in Italy. You call it day two. Maybe it was day one because it takes two days to get there.

By the time you get there with the time zones is already the next day, so you're like day one in Italy and you get this phone call and I can just imagine that feeling the pit of your stomach. Oh my goodness. I'm not there. There's nothing I can do. It's frustrating. It's scary. You're thousands of miles, a different country, different continent.

And we've all been there as leaders. So that really started your journey of, hey, I, I'm gonna fire myself from this job and I'm gonna get myself a business that actually makes me happy.

[00:09:24] Michael Buzinski: Yeah, the craziest thing was, is that all of what you just said when I took that phone call was very accurate. And the worst part of it was that I had a Judas of an employee with me during that trip and I had no idea. And so by the time I got back yeah, that, that knife found its way into my back.

By the time we got on the ground, back in Anchorage. I was sitting there You know, taking all of that in. And so there, I could build this I can rebuild it in five years and then it struck me. Einstein has a saying that I always keep really close to me, and that is doing things over and over the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. And I take that to heart because I watch people do it. People think that I'll do it a little bit different and so it'll will be different, but they end up doing the same thing. And so I really looked at it and go I could spend five years rebuilding this and lose another five years of my life.

And still not get paid what I'm really worth. Because I wasn't even taking a six-figure salary or draw, and I had a multimillion-dollar company. So I was underpaying myself, grossly underpaying myself. So I had grown, it broke. So there was more than just the culture. It was more than just me having a job.

It was the job wasn't even paying well I decided right then it was do something different.

[00:10:40] Jeffrey Feldberg: Isn't that the truth, we as leaders and particularly as business owners, we put ourselves last. And so instead of paying yourself, I need to hire somebody else, or we have this new campaign that's going, or I have this project, I'll put it off. I'll pay myself another month.

And I love what you said. You'd grown, it broke, which, what an oxymoron, those, putting those words together in, in that way. And the other thing that you highlight and, thank you just for being so vulnerable with us. How many of us as type A personalities as business owners?

Oh, another five years, I'll just I'll grow it, and not a big deal. 60 months, 6, 0, 60 months, five years of our life. And really following the same trajectory of five years later, you're gonna be back maybe instead of Italy, it'll be some other country and something else happens.

And boom. So you made that decision. Okay. Never again, I'm gonna lose a title CEO. I'm not gonna go through that again. I'm going to really focus on what I wanna focus on. So where do you start and how do you begin? And what I have in mind with that question is for our listeners who are saying, hey, you know what, this really resonates with me, but I don't know what to do.

I don't know how to turn this thing around. So what would you be able to share with us that really helped you back in the day that we can pay it forward for our listeners?

[00:12:01] Michael Buzinski: So for me, it was about doing it completely different. It's like really just doing a 180 and so it was a matter of, okay. I have this 13,000 square facility that is basically this huge anchor on my ankle. There's nothing I can do. I had met who is now my wife now at about that time.

And I told her, I was like, I can't go anywhere. She's from Texas. She didn't, she'd only lived there a couple years when we met and I'd been there for 17. This is where my business was. This is where I, my roots were. I'm not going anywhere. And so some of that was weighing on me. As well wow, I'm really just stuck here in Anchorage, Alaska, which is a gorgeous place to live.

Don't get me wrong. 17 years did not regret any of it, but I needed to do it completely different. And so what I had built was this institution. Now I needed to create something that was anti-institution. So I needed to get rid of the building. And so that meant, I looked at everybody that was left and I said, hey guys, I'm going remote.

This is before COVID. This is a year over a year before COVID, you're almost a year and a half before COVID I told everybody's hey, you're all working from home. I'll send you home with computers. I'll give you all the stuff you guys need, but we're not gonna have this building anymore. We're gonna get back to looking at how we do business.

And this building right here is a big distraction and we don't need it anymore.

[00:13:19] Jeffrey Feldberg: And let me just jump in there for a second, because what you're saying for a lot of people would be counterintuitive, and let's just put the COVID off to the side and the remote working and everything. You're way ahead of your time. And what was it about the physical building that you said, hey, this is just a distraction?

I get the overhead part, the dollars and cents, and everything else that go along with that. But lets for a moment, we're gonna wave our magic wand, put that off to the side, I'm sure listeners are saying wait a minute. We get together in a physical place. We have the bonding as people.

It's all about the social experience and here's this fellow who is saying you know what I'm gonna send you home. I'll get all the equipment that you need, but we're going to sell the building. We're no longer gonna have that. What was behind that?

[00:14:02] Michael Buzinski: We had to do it different. And I had proven that all the culture in the world will not keep your business together. And so that wasn't the thing that kept us together. And it was also part of what was tearing us apart. And I also looked at the fact that in Anchorage, Alaska, I had grown the company to a size where it was very hard to keep good talent.

And to recruit talent. I had to go to the lower 48, which is very difficult to do. So cause we had about a 50% stick rate with folks that we would bring from the lower 48, which meant I had to take people from the colleges once they're right. As they're coming out, when the colleges were teaching them, they need to be making six figures within 24 months of them getting outta college.

So have misguided underdeveloped under experienced people coming into my business that I have to cultivate. So I'm like, wait a second. If I'm gonna do this different, that means I have to start putting myself first because we were, we cultivated so many people over the years and got them landed on in awesome jobs.

We were like the pass-through agency. This is where you went, you cut your teeth at buzz biz. And then somebody else would snatch the good ones away. And then the other ones that couldn't make it at buzz biz. They went and did something else other than marketing usually. So that was a big deal to me.

That building also means that everybody, it's weird. It has all sorts of things that come with it. You have your break room, you have the things that, people argue about, what coffee you want in the coffee maker and why isn't there creamer? And we ran at a toilet paper. All of these things have nothing to do with what we do, and at that moment for me, it was, I can do this job without this building. We can do this job for our clients better without all these distractions. What ended up happening is that I ended up going from an average of 23 to 24 age in my company to now we're well over 35 and it's not ageism that I'm looking at.

It's the experience. I am now dealing with professionals. We don't do, a lot of the things we used to do with the interns and whatnot. We don't cloud ourselves with that. We're very like, your life is where you want to be. And these are the positions we have currently, cause we're very small tight-knit.

We're doing a lot of the things we used to do with 22 people. We're now doing with eight people. So we've cut the fat. We cut the fat in having an office manager. We don't have to have a, somebody to babysit the building itself, all of the buildings and everything else that goes along with having a building, all that stuff gets cut away.

I really just wanted to get clear with what I wanted and the building was not something I wanted anymore.

[00:16:45] Jeffrey Feldberg: And for our listeners out there, what's really just screaming off the page here for me, in Michael's case, it was the building that was really holding things back.

And so for our listeners, it may not be a physical building for you, but what would be metaphorically the building that's holding you back in your business? And Michael, I love how you said look, once we lost the building. Having the refrigerator stocked with cream or with coffee or someone to look over the facilities or, I can now hire from not only the lower 48, but I imagine worldwide now you have access to worldwide talent that goes along with that.

So you've done a wonderful job of really how you deconstructed the business to take it back to the basics and infrastructure-wise, you changed everything up. But that still doesn't have the business run without you. It went a long way to remove the headaches, to have more time back and more money in your pocket.

What would you be doing though? Some strategies that would perhaps a top one or two that really send out for you of, hey, you know, when I started doing this, that's when the business began to run without me.

[00:17:49] Michael Buzinski: So the biggest thing is when you start doing everything absolutely different, you have to rewrite all of your SOPs. And we didn't do a very good job of that as the first time around, because we grew so fast. It was just phenomenal, like the first 11 years it took to get to the first seven-figure a year.

But then it was only a matter of three years after that, that we hit 2 million. So we doubled in size in that three-year period. And we were on a trajectory for 3 million. And when you basically sit there and go, hey, listen, one, you have to take a look at their clients and say, now that we've gotten that, that anchor of the building away now, what clients are weighing us down, and then that's where you start looking at SOPs. And how do we do business? How do we do business now that we're remote? How do we satisfy the client's needs and their wishes, right? And when you start writing those SOPs, you start realizing how much waste you have in your processes.

And when you're able to start stripping away the waste, you actually find out that the clients or you uncover the clients that are wasting your time as well. And what we would call an unprofitable client. They might pay you a lot of money, but if they're taking more resources than they're paying you for, you're losing money, having that person there, and letting go of the dollar bill and looking at the time.

And so everything came down to time. Time was the new currency, if it didn't save me time it was looked at with a lot of microscopes, we just really looked at that and said, okay, is this worth it? Is this process scalable? Because we grew broke and that's because we didn't understand.

I didn't understand the difference between growing and scaling. Because growing means that you create more scaling means you leverage. And so the biggest thing that I would tell people is that within your SOPs, you're gonna decide where you want your time spent and how you can leverage other people's time without actually growing the need to have more, just to get more.

[00:19:53] Jeffrey Feldberg: And you know what, there are three key themes that are coming out here that I think are so crucial. And I just really appreciate how you're positioning things. There's a difference between growing and scaling because for a lot of people, for a lot of business owners, we'll just interchangeably. Oh, I'm scaling.

Oh, I'm growing but there's a difference that you are so eloquently really putting out there for us. And that ties into what you're saying of having to fire some clients that maybe on the books perhaps were showing a profit, but in reality weren't so I gotta ask you this question because as business owners, we've all been in this situation and it is hard. It's excruciatingly painful to say no, particularly to a paying client where it's booked business and perhaps you've been working with that client, you know, for some time and yeah you know, there's perhaps issues that come up from time to time and they can be a pain in the, you know, what, but it's revenue coming in.

So how did you get that? I'll call it on the one hand courage. And then, on the other hand, fortitude, to be able to actually follow through and say to that client, you know what, it's been terrific up to this point, but we're going in a different direction. And unfortunately, we're not gonna be able to service you.

How did you go through with that?

[00:21:06] Michael Buzinski: So I will tell you, I had a little bit of this lesson early on my first go around. I had a huge printing and graphic design client. They did mix martial arts and we did all of the design and printing for all of their events. And most of it back then I was doing on trade. And so I was pretty much just breaking even on paper.

I was really losing a lot of bandwidth because of it and it wasn't until they decided to leave us, 30 days after that, they gave us notice and we then ran into the next week that we would normally have been busy with that client. And it was always a nightmare with three and a half years, working with these people.

Great people, just it's events and you have to have a certain love for events to enjoy that process. But with us, I came up to that week and I'm like, man, why do I feel anxious? I feel anxious. I don't know why. And I'm like, what are we supposed to be doing? What is due this week, people? And they go, nothing.

Everything's up, everything's on time. Nothing's behind. And I go, what do we usually do this week? And I looked at my calendar one month prior. And I was like, oh, we're usually jumping through hoops to get this production done for this event. We don't have that anymore. And now I'll have is all this space to bring in new clients that were unlike that client.

And so if you can get past the first, no, the fortitude starts to take care of itself. And for me, my first, no, I kept that situation in the back of my mind. I looked at the situation as what am I gaining by saying no? And there's a book that says get more through no or something like that.

I can't remember what off the top of my head, but no is saying when you say no to one thing, you're actually saying yes to something else. And so if you can take a look at each of the clients and saying, what am I saying no, when I tell this person, yes, And if what you're saying no, has more value than what you're saying yes to it's time to say no to the client so that you can say yes to what's more valuable.

[00:23:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Michael, you know what you're doing so eloquently for our listeners, you know, the first takeaway for our listeners, we always like to have actionable takeaways. So when this episode is done, the first thing that they should be doing, he's asking themselves, okay, metaphorically speaking, Michael had his building.

That was his anchor. What's my version of that building? But then the second question for our listeners to be asking, and every business has these types of clients. Who are the clients that are also another form of an anchor they're vampires in terms of your energy, your joy, maybe even your profits, but you just haven't had, if we're open, you know, and honest about it, you haven't had the courage to say, hey, thank you.

But no, thank you. Here's another company that can help you, or, we wish you all the best and you know, we're gonna be going in a different direction.

[00:23:54] Michael Buzinski: And a lot of times you don't even have to do that. If you have reoccurring revenue for us, a lot of its reoccurring revenue, so it's easy to be, get to the end of your contract and say, so the new contract looks like this and you restructure your scope of work and your pricing to fit your new model.

And they end up saying no.

[00:24:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: Very clever. That was gonna be my next follow-up question. How do you say no? And so in your case, it sounded like when the contract came up, I'm gonna make this up. If the contract, if the index price was just a hundred, just you know, throw some numbers out there. The new contract, the index price, perhaps it was 200 or 250 or 300 that on the other end, they're saying, what are these guys crazy?

We're gonna go somewhere else. And so they, they really did it for you and you kept, you just kept everything intact and it wasn't confrontational. And, you know, off, they went.

[00:24:44] Michael Buzinski: And the thing is that you're, as you're going through transitions, people are going to be talking. And there was a lot of misinformation going on about my business during that and me, that was just, it's interesting. The thing is though when you start hearing those, you think everybody's saying it and it's really just a handful of people.

And so that was one of my takeaways is like people I ran into people three years later and they're like, hey, when did you move from that Eagle street building three years, I've been doing business with some of these people for three years. They didn't know that I'd moved outta the building.

So your communication is definitely there. I could have probably communicated to my clients a little bit better, as far as that goes, but I was going through hell. I had to go through personal bankruptcy to get out of underneath the building and all the other things while keeping my business intact.

I took on all of that so that my business could be standing, after all, all of the financial and legal stuff. And I think that it's really important to understand also that if you have ad hoc work, The other way is that when they come back and they ask for their quote and you give them the new quote and they're like well, why is this more expensive?

And then you have to show them the value that you weren't charging for before. And if they don't understand that, then you have to let them say no.

[00:25:57] Jeffrey Feldberg: Very Very courageous, but very true in terms of what you're saying. And really, as you're moving along here, you're shedding this excess weight or these anchors that are holding you back the building, the clients. But then I like what you said and really it's all tied together very nicely because when you remove the building from the equation, it meant you needed a different type of employee, and the type of employee that you had really fit more of the type of lifestyle that you wanted.

But now you're talking something very near and dear to our hearts here at Deep Wealth and our nine-step roadmap in step number two, X-Factors one of the X-Factors that insanely increases the value of a business. It's the four points of clarity. And under the four points of clarity will be your standard operating procedures, your SOPs, but documenting them and writing them out and having a written record of that.

And so it sounds like you really outta the ashes, this Phoenix is rising and you're reinventing yourself in terms of, okay. Here's how we do it, but without all the commotion, without all the overhead and the headaches, can you talk to us a little bit about the discipline? Because documentation isn't difficult per se, but so often we just put it off for another day because we feel we're just too busy or it's not that important or yeah, yeah, yeah.

I'll get to it. How did you get through that?

[00:27:15] Michael Buzinski: Documentation sucks, that's the word. I hate it and I don't do it. One of the things that I really learned was is that I need to stop doing the things that I suck at. And so I start hiring people that can do it for me. And so when I was hiring account managers, that was one of the things. What's your documentation methodologies?

How do you keep things straight? And when I found people who were really organized I grabbed them and I said, okay, here's the job. And while you're doing the job, you're gonna document the job. Because a lot of the stuff we're doing is brand new.

So it's not like I can sit there and just go, this is how we do this.

And this is how we do that. You know so as we were doing the new things boom. Then it came to the point where, okay, now we have that set. Now there's a new opportunity to do something new. I had to show restraint on not offering new services, being very clear on what we do and what we don't do so that we outsource the things we don't do. and that reduces the amount of SOPs you have in your back pocket for one number two, it helps you standardize how you do the things you keep hold of. And number three, you get better at it. The more you do it. Or the more your people do it. So I'm a strategist. I just took a personality test and it says I'm a Sage.

So I like to teach. I like to pontificate. I like to explore. I like to create. So when it comes to SOPs and organization and all of those things and keeping things in siloed in, in a row. I can create the architecture for it. And I can say, this is how I want it to look. This is how I want it to act, but actually being the person in, in, and, you know, basically driving the continuity, gotta have somebody else to do it.

And that's where I learned that you have the creative in your business, the president, and you need that COO or CEO in your business. Or if you're the CEO COO type person, then you need a president in your business. And understand that there's those two sides of every business. And then you can only really be one side of that coin.

[00:29:19] Jeffrey Feldberg: And where do you, you know, really what it sounds like you were doing. And I don't know if it was intentional at the time, or it just happened to fall into place this way you recognize what your weaknesses were you know, good for you because how many of us just tend to slog through it? And as you're hiring people, you're looking for that skillset that you just don't wanna have, or you don't have, or you don't wanna be doing. And what you know was nice about that is for the new people that you're hiring and is new to the culture.

They're new to the organization, but now they have a sense of ownership. Because they're documenting it. I mean, talk about a terrific way of having people drink the proverbial. Kool-Aid, they're writing it as they go along. So of course they're gonna take ownership into that. But then for our listeners, you know, Michael said something for me, that's just a complete game changer.

And oftentimes as business owners, we don't do this. And Michael you're saying, Hey, I knew what we did really well. And I stuck to that as difficult and as challenging as it was to wanna expand and go into other areas and have some fun with those new shiny objects, I didn't do it. I just outsourced it and kept the core things that I'm really good at no more, no less.

And you glossed over that because for most business owners, that just doesn't happen. So how'd you have that discipline one to recognize it? Two to stop it. And then three to keep on going in the direction that you're going of keeping things simple. And just focusing on your strengths.

[00:30:43] Michael Buzinski: What the first thing is that you have to stay cognizant of where you came from and when things start looking like a lot alike of what you've already done. You gotta start going. Am I just doing things the same way, cloaked in a different dressing? And so when things started looking chaotic or I found myself writing so many SOPs.

 I was writing SOPs on a regular basis, or my people were giving me new SOPs on a regular basis. I'm like, why do we have that SOP? Why is that there? And that really, having to review all of that as you're building it and going, wait a second, this looks like we're adding new services every week.

And when you start productizing your services your scope of work becomes very solid. And when people ask for other things outside that scope of work, that means you have to change everything. Because you have to go in and create another version of that. And so when I saw that my agreement list was longer than one page on my computer one scroll on my computer.

I'm like, we're slipping back. We're getting too custom. And that was one of the things like, if you go custom, you're gonna sacrifice scalability and profitability. And so when I started seeing that, I'm like, whoa, we need to scale this back. And for the people who slip through the cracks, those couple of clients that are there, they get it.

But anybody new, we're not doing it that way. They either go into these slots here or we'll find them, somebody else who can fill the slots they're looking for and just be okay with that. And then from there though, you are creating better referral networks, not trying to be everything to everyone will allow you to have more solid network a more far-reaching network that can allow you to do a lot more because you're doing a lot less.

[00:32:34] Jeffrey Feldberg: And what's interesting and it sounds so simple, but it really isn't, you know, I'm gonna venture to say, obviously I wasn't there, but looking from the outside in the old saying, you know, you're working on the business, not in the business. So because you were very mindful of that when you did version two, You had the fortitude to say, hey, wait a minute, we're getting some feature creep here.

Some scope creep is coming on here. We're going into these different directions. Let's stop this right now versus, you know if it's pandemonium and you're in there day in, day out and things are going crazy and you're with the team and you're trying to figure everything out. Things are just gonna happen.

You're not even gonna see it by the time you realize it again, back to that frog in boiling water analogy, it's already too late and you're immersed in that. So it really sounds like you created a very positive feedback loop, the right kind of employees not having the building, the center to operating procedures as you're going along, knowing what your strengths are and sticking with that.

And Michael, let me ask you this, you went through this whole transition period. How long did it take? To really get to the point where the business ran without you. And when did you have that epiphany of the business, for the most part, it's really running without me? I could be abducted by aliens tomorrow, come back five years from now, and the company will be the better for it.

[00:33:47] Michael Buzinski: I dunno if five years it would make it. So I read a couple of books when I was restarting. The first one was, and they're both by Mike Michalowicz its the first one is profit first and that really restructured how I looked at my money as it came outta my business. In and out of my business, I really should say and that really allowed me to start paying myself first, which has been a game changer. I keep more money. We're just over 20% of what we used to bring in and I actually make more money and my clients get better services. They pay more money, but they get better outcomes.

And my employees don't complain about anything cause they're working, how they wanna work. So that book right there set the tone. Then I was like what other books does this guy have? And he is another, one's called clockwork. And clockwork basically at the beginning of the books, Mike says, listen, you're gonna put a time limit on this because if you give yourself a week, it'll take a week.

If you give yourself a month, you'll take a month. You take yourself a year. You'll give yourself a year. Once you give yourself no more than 18 months. And I said, okay, I'm starting fresh. I've got a lot of bruises and cuts and stuff like that. I'm still kidding over. Let me go ahead and get myself full 18 months.

At the end of 18 months happened to be my wife's 40th birthday. We spent three weeks in Peru, no computers, no communication with my company. I came back. Everything was doing great. We actually had signed on new business while it was gone.

[00:35:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. If that doesn't say it all, then I don't know what does that's. That's absolutely terrific. That's absolutely terrific.

[00:35:16] Michael Buzinski: But putting that timeline on it and putting that deadline is I would say that book if you just did that, say, hey, listen, you have to replace yourself in 18 months. And that was the whole book. You would figure it out. Like most business owners know how to figure this stuff out. The books just make it faster.

You find a book that's solving the problem that you're looking to solve. Boom. All right. I understand this methodology. I agree with their philosophy. Let's try it. And as you're going, you're making it your own. Do I do profit first the way that Mike does every day?

No, but he also says every business is different. Did clockwork work like clockwork? No, we had different things that came up in our business that wasn't covered in the book that's business. But the one thing that is constant, you give yourself the deadline to get out of your business. You will make that deadline.

[00:35:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: And let me ask you this with the deadline based on how you're describing it. My best guess is you didn't just pick 18 months and write that down somewhere, walk away and never visit it again. So how did you keep that 18-month timeline, that deadline for you, this role, and top of mind for you, what were some of the techniques or strategies that you were using?

[00:36:18] Michael Buzinski: It's really simple. You tell your wife, you're taking her to Peru for their 40th birthday. And she plans it all cause you give her a budget and you say here, here's the budget now, whatever you want you were there. You book the plane tickets and all the other stuff you tell your wife, I'm sorry, I didn't do what it meant, what it took so that we can take that vacation.

You tell her that cause I am not.

[00:36:41] Jeffrey Feldberg: Oh, I love that. That external pressure.

[00:36:45] Michael Buzinski: Top of mind awareness. Oh, the excitement on your wife's face is everything that's the motivation that's inspiration. Like I cannot let her down on this. Cause letting her down, letting myself down is now letting her down. And everybody has family around them. Whether it's close friends, significant others, children, wives, it doesn't matter.

Promise them something that the freedom you're creating impacts both of you. Okay.

[00:37:08] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. And that's such a powerful tip. And for listeners out there, you know, whether it be telling your significant other, hey, we're gonna go on this life-changing trip to celebrate your birthday. Here's the budget. Go plan it or to what you're just saying right now, Michael of to your loved ones, what this freedom is going to give you, pick a date in the future, put them in charge of it.

And now it's really outside of your control, but man, oh man, you better hit that. If you know, what's good for you. And it's amazing what we can do when we have the right kind of pressure, positive pressure working for us, not against us.

[00:37:41] Michael Buzinski: So I'm gonna give you this on top of that. When you give yourself a deadline to be, have that type of freedom. It really restricts how much you can grow in that time too, and grow your business. And that's one thing that I never gave myself time to do was strategically grow, create plateaus of growth, and then reassess.

So when I restarted, I said, I don't know how big I want it. I didn't understand whether I wanted a lifestyle business and I was just gonna chill out for a while and do that. Or I was actually gonna scale another business. Okay. And so I had put plateaus of growth for myself. So at that 18 months, if I had beat the sales goals before the 18 months I told myself if it's within.

Three months of that date, we don't grow anymore. If I wanted to take on another client. One of our other clients had to be replaced. So any legacy folks you remember talking about the oops? And we go, okay, well we need to re-renegotiate that contract. So if I have somebody who's knocking the door with a new contract style with the profitability that we're actually looking for, then we have to ask the other one.

Hey, you have first rider refusal. You don't tell them that, but basically, first-row refusal says, Hey, this is how we're doing business now. Is that okay with you? They say yes, then. Okay. Then they stay and you have to tell the other person, no, and you find them another home, but you have to be okay with that because otherwise, you will grow yourself to break that promise.

It creates this little gate for you when you put that goal on there because if you put too much on there, you'll never meet your goal.

[00:39:14] Jeffrey Feldberg: What's amazing is you just had the clarity to do this, but for our listeners, what's really important. The rocket fuel from Michael. And again, I, it wasn't there. This is my best guess. Michael, you can tell me if I'm on base or off base, but I suspect it was the pain that painful experience of version one.

You probably set yourself. Hey, never again. And when you had perhaps doubts or I don't really feel like doing this today. You went back to, Hey, what did it feel like when I was in version one? Well, It didn't feel so good. So you know what, I'm gonna put an end to that, and version two's gonna be that much better.

So for our listeners, another actionable takeaway. Is really, what don't you like feel that pain and remember that when you're trying to change for the better, because really for all of us, it's our responsibility to optimize our life for happiness. Now, speaking of happiness, Michael I would be more than happy to keep on going, but once again, I find that we're bumping up against some time. You've answered this question before, but I wanna ask it again because it's a tradition and I don't wanna break the tradition here. Every guest asks that I get to ask this question and they give the answer. So let's go back to that thought experiment and you'll have a second kick at the can here.

So you'll remember the movie Back to the Future. And in the movie you have that magical DeLorean car that takes you to any point in time. So now once again, Michael is tomorrow morning, you look outside the window and there it is not only is the DeLorean car there, but the door is open and is waiting for you to hop on in.

So you hop in and you're now gonna go back to any point in your life, Michael, as a young child and adolescence, teenager, whatever it would be. What does it sound like? What are you telling your younger self in terms of life, wisdom or lessons learned or, Hey, Michael, do this, but don't do that.

[00:40:57] Michael Buzinski: So in the context of our conversation today, I would go back to the day that I decided to spend literally I spent $22,000 to buy myself out of a lease that I had in a smaller office because we were growing. We were growing and too fast. And we had outgrown the space. We had an eight-year lease or something like that.

And we were only like year two and a half, or, yeah, it was like two and a half or three years into the lease. And had I, if I could tell myself stop growing. Now figure out how to scale this with the amount of people you have right now. How can you scale this? That person right there I'd have that conversation with.

[00:41:43] Jeffrey Feldberg: I love that.

[00:41:44] Michael Buzinski: Because that would've alleviated all of that headache.

And I tell people, I was like, they go well, are you sad? You did it. No, I'm not sad. If I had it all to do again, I probably would change that one thing because I had met my wife by then. So that was okay. But I always say, the pain that you had yesterday is what made you, the person you are today.

And without it, you wouldn't anything you're proud of might not be have come to fruition.

[00:42:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific insights, wonderful wisdom. And once again, just being so vulnerable and putting yourself out there. Oh, Michael, thank you so much for spending part of your day with us here on the Deep Wealth Sell My Business Podcast, and I'm gonna put this in the show notes. It'll be a point-and-click for our listeners.

You know, Michael, if someone wants to get a hold of you, what's the best place online to do that?

[00:42:29] Michael Buzinski: You can check my website is I also have a book on digital marketing called The Rule of 26 and that is

[00:42:38] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific. I'll have that in the show notes. I'm gonna have our previous episode in the show notes. It'll all be there for our listeners' point and click doesn't get any easier. And as we wrap up this episode, Michael, as always, please stay healthy and safe.

[00:42:49] Michael Buzinski: You too. Thank you for having me.

[00:42:51] Sharon S.: The Deep Wealth Experience was definitely a game-changer for me.

[00:42:54] Lyn M.: This course is one of the best investments you will ever make because you will get an ROI of a hundred times that. Anybody who doesn't go through it will lose millions.

[00:43:04] Kam H.: If you don't have time for this program, you'll never have time for a successful liquidity

[00:43:09] Sharon S.: It was the best value of any business course I've ever taken. The money was very well spent.

[00:43:15] Lyn M.: Compared to when we first began, today I feel better prepared, but in some respects, may be less prepared, not because of the course, but because the course brought to light so many things that I thought we were on top of that we need to fix.

[00:43:31] Kam H.: I 100% believe there's never a great time for a business owner to allocate extra hours into his or her week or day. So it's an investment that will yield results today. I thought I will reap the benefit of this program in three to five years down the road. But as soon as I stepped forward into the program, my mind changed immediately.

[00:43:53] Sharon S.: There was so much value in the experience that the time I invested paid back so much for the energy that was expended.

[00:44:03] Lyn M.: The Deep Wealth Experience compared to other programs is the top. What we learned is very practical. Sometimes you learn stuff that it's great to learn, but you never use it. The stuff we learned from Deep Wealth Experience, I believe it's going to benefit us a boatload.

[00:44:16] Kam H.: I've done an executive MBA. I've worked for billion-dollar companies before. I've worked for smaller companies before I started my business. I've been running my business successfully now for getting close to a decade. We're on a growth trajectory. Reflecting back on the Deep Wealth, I knew less than 10% what I know now, maybe close to 1% even.

[00:44:35] Sharon S.: Hands down the best program in which I've ever participated. And we've done a lot of different things over the years. We've been in other mastermind groups, gone to many seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, read books. This was so different. I haven't had an experience that's anything close to this in all the years that we've been at this.

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[00:45:02] Kam H.: I would highly recommend it to any super busy business owner out there.

Deep Wealth is an accurate name for it. This program leads to deeper wealth and happier wealth, not just deeper wealth. I don't think there's a dollar value that could be associated with such an experience and knowledge that could be applied today and forever.

[00:45:20] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?

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