Get ready for some serious golden nuggets of business wisdom!
I had an absolute blast talking with my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Tom Sylvester. He and his lovely wife Ariana are the proud owners of three businesses, the hosts of the Lifestyle Builders Podcast and the authors of a soon-to-be released book called “Lifestyle Builders: build your business, quit your job, and live your ideal lifestyle.” Anybody else in love with that title as much as I am right now?! Tom and Ariana are college sweethearts and have two beautiful children.
I have read Tom’s book, and it did not disappoint! It was set up just like a roadmap with attention to detail and easy flow. I loved what Tom and Ariana did with the chapters…they opened up each chapter discussing the same story. Ariana would write her version, and then Tom would write his. You would think they were talking about two completely different things (but let’s be honest, that basically sums up marriage, right?!). But that was a really great way to segue into the different sections of the book. The book covers so many different topics, so I’ll definitely have to have Tom back for another interview on some of the other parts!
But in today’s interview, I really wanted to talk about the part of the book that had the biggest impact on me, because I think it could have the biggest impact on my clients and listeners. Tom talked a lot about how your business and life needs to become intertwined. And this really spoke to my heart because as an entrepreneur, there really is no such thing as out of the office, right? You feel me here…there’s no sick days, there’s no vacation days; once your name is on the door, you are married to your company. And for me, I learned early on that the only way to ensure a happy matrimony was to implement structured systems and processes. Tom is a top expert in this field, and he uses an amazing car demonstration breaking down each segment of a company based on a car. It’s a really unique way of looking at it, and he breaks it down into six different pieces. See below for a couple of super helpful drawings that help bring it to life! I asked Tom to take us through each of the six parts: mechanics, the team, the GPS, the dashboard, the engine and the driver.
This analogy was so relevant because we are all familiar with driving!
You guessed it, the driver is actually you! You are the leader. Often times, when people start a business, they don’t realize that they are the most important person in their business. Sometimes people don’t want to admit that or they think that seems narcissistic. But that’s not the case at all. The reason we talk about this is because, as the owner of the business, you’ve got to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, so that you can show up for everyone else around you. And that means your family, your employees and your customers. So it’s really important that you’re doing the work and you’re realizing that as your business grows, you have to constantly grow as well.
Think about the first car you had, perhaps when you graduated high school…it probably wasn’t that great. And so as the driver (and as an entrepreneur), what you’re doing is utilizing a car that gets you from point A to point B, but it doesn’t necessarily have the best bells and whistles. That’s how it is when you first start a business. You’re figuring out how to make the business work. Your role as the “driver” of that business, is to have a vision for the future. You will constantly build and upgrade the car so that it continues to get better. And you’ll take care of all the different pieces so the car can continue to run; as time goes on, it may actually run better than it did in the past.
I’ve come across this scenario so many times…a company that may have started small is still operating on the same teensy systems, despite their apparent growth and need for change. This literally holds them back! Tom offered a really great quote, “What got you here won’t get you there as entrepreneurs.” Sometimes change and risks are the best things that can happen to your business!
Tom and Ariana urge you as an entrepreneur to make sure you have support around you, not only in your life, but also in your business as you’re going through growth. And that support looks different when you’re starting a business versus when you’re growing. But what most people don’t realize is, as you grow, you actually need a lot more support.
So, since I admittedly have a little trouble “cutting the cord” when it comes to building my team, I made sure to ask Tom how to deal with that struggle.
Bringing on that first team member is the biggest step, because when you go from doing everything yourself to bringing somebody on, it’s actually going to be more difficult for you in the short term. When you were doing everything yourself, you had certain processes, even though they weren’t necessarily written down. So now, you’ve got to document your processes AND find somebody that really aligns with the values and the mission of your company. That’s one of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is they hire for talent, instead of hiring for cultural fit with their company. Be clear on the processes you want your team to use and the direction you’re headed as a company, and then let them do their jobs. Don’t micromanage. That ultimately doesn’t get you to the goal of being able to build a business that can run day-to-day without you. You can have people that are in their roles that do the things that you don’t enjoy doing, and you’re not really good at, so you can spend your time in your zone of genius, really enjoying the work you do and the benefits of owning a company.
You want to really get clear on where you want the business to go. When you get in a car, you set a destination, where you want to go. And then you set a starting point, where you’re starting. The GPS builds you an initial roadmap. Along the way, it is constantly checking in. “Are you still on the path that’s been set to get you to your destination?” If you divert off the path, it then tells you that you need to reroute. In business, you’re going to set goals, but then you’re going to constantly check in on those goals. When you realize that you’re a little bit off, you then have the ability to get back on track quickly.
But in order to achieve the vision that you have, you have to actually do the work. And so this is where we talked about building your business engine.
In a car, there’s different pieces of your engine that work together to make the car move. It’s the same thing with business. In business, you have four major components to your business engine: marketing (attracting the potential ideal customers to your business), sales (converting them into paying customers or clients), finances (collecting money and then allocating the money to where it needs to go and making sure that you’re financially healthy), and then operations (delivering the results that you’re looking for). When you’re spending your time trying to do all of those things, you can’t really excel or grow.
Periodically, you want to take your car to the mechanic to get the oil changed, get an inspection, etc. You’re being proactive to make sure your car can continue to run. But you’re not changing your car, you’re simply optimizing it. Your business is the same way. You want to really optimize your business so that it’s constantly getting better, and so you can get a better return on all of the resources you put into it. As the leader of your team, it’s important to realize that you can’t solve all the problems. You need the people with the knowledge, time, and resources to either solve a problem or ensure that no problems arise. You’re not going to have one coach or one company that will be able to do everything. You want to first identify what is the issue you need to solve, and then go and find the right resources. Ideally, if you have them on your team, that’s the best. But in some cases, you don’t need them on your team, you just need to periodically go to them to get help to solve an issue or to improve a part of your “car.”
When you look at the dashboard in your car, you notice a handful of simple metrics or gauges that give you key information letting you know how the car is performing. But it’s not an overwhelming display. As your business grows, one of the ways that you’re going to be able to make sure you’re still doing the right thing is having your own dashboard for your business. This is a couple of key numbers or key things that you can monitor easily. You can take a quick look and understand overall how the business is doing. Keep this simple! When you find there’s a problem, you can dive down deeper and start looking at more of the details.
So how do you start analyzing the “car” that is your business?
It all starts with you, my friend…you are the driver! Track your time to be sure you’re not wasting away precious hours (or dollars!). When you start wasting time doing something that could easily be outsourced or passed along, it’s time to build a team! Create a well-oiled machine so that you can have that life you envision for yourself and your family. Build the life of your dreams and make the business fit around that. Often times, it doesn’t start out easy. Tom shared with me that when he and Ariana first started out, they were investing in real estate. That involved Tom working nights and weekends on this venture. It’s not an easy road, or everyone would do it. You have to put in the time and work…trust me, it will pay off!
I thoroughly enjoyed my chat with Tom. We spoke further about he and Ariana’s new book. He told me that he and Ariana had such a great time brainstorming the structure and stories in the book together. Let me tell you, you’ve simply got to pre-order it! It hits the bookstores on October 29, but I can guarantee it will get gone fast.
Pre-order yours here: LifestyleBuildersBook.com
Be sure to subscribe to Tom and Ariana’s podcast, The Lifestyle Builders Podcast, here: LifestyleBuildersPodcast.com
And you can definitely keep up with all things Tom and Ariana on their website: TomandAriana.com
Lastly, here are the fun graphics from Tom’s book that we spoke about at the beginning. Check them out!
Thanks for joining me again today, friends! Here’s to you and the beautiful “car” of your business. Let’s grow!