Episode 126

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I don’t believe in life/work balance. When I was a kid, my “work dad” would come home from the bank in his three-piece suit and he’d go upstairs and my “home dad” would come downstairs in jeans, looking for his martini and the download of our day while my mom cooked dinner.

Sounds very Leave it to Beaver, doesn’t it? It really was. My dad didn’t have a computer or a cell phone. I can remember the only time the office called him at home – the bank building was on fire. But other than that – there was complete separation of work and home life.

We do not have that luxury. At best, we can strive for life/work blend. Our personal lives will seep into the work day and our work will seep into our personal time. But for many agency owners, what that translates to is that you are always on and always working.

That’s not only unhealthy for you but it’s unhealthy for your business. You simply can’t grow your agency if you have to do everything that’s mission critical.

That’s the conversation I wanted to have with Scott Beebe who is a strategist, teacher, and business coach for My Business On Purpose. He is also the host of the Business on Purpose podcast.

Scott is all about about liberating small business owners from the chaos of working in their business and helping them get their lives back by being really clear about what their business is about, what they want to get out of the business, where they have unique opportunities to contribute to the business, and where they need to get out of the way.

His background includes direct and B2B sales, designing and implementing organizational strategy, training and development, marketing and fundraising, along with teaching and speaking.



What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The two biggest non-negotiables for agencies today
  • The value in building out a detailed company vision and reinforcing it regularly in team meetings
  • Understanding what clients you should and should not work with based on your company vision
  • Your mission statement: a portable, 15-word version of your vision story
  • Why you need to have 3-5 core values that are unique to you (hint: not table stakes like respect, responsibility, excellence, etc.)
  • Scott’s spreadsheet for figuring out what tasks you can keep as the agency owner and which ones you should delegate
  • How to document processes so everyone is on the same page and can wear multiple hats
  • Using team meetings to stay on top of the week’s work and why you should end every team meeting with training
  • How to delegate to people who may not be your direct reports without throwing your agency into chaos and confusion
  • The four steps to achieving business freedom
  • Reinvesting your time into things that matter once you’ve delegated tasks away and have significant free time

The Golden Nugget:

“Saying ‘I can do it better myself’ will kill a business faster than anything.” - @scottbeebe Click To Tweet


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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast, presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25-plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, guys, welcome to another episode of Build a Better Agency. This week, we are going to talk about something that we talk about all the time. This is the whole working on the business versus working in the business. And we’re going to talk about that in terms of how to get it done, how to delegate, and some things that need to be in your business that maybe aren’t there today.

So, to dig into that topic, I want to tell you a little bit about my guest. So, Scott Beebe is the founder and head coach of MyBusinessonPurpose.com. And he is also the host … Many of you probably listened to his podcast called Business on Purpose. And his whole thing is about liberating … I love that word … liberating, small business owners from the chaos of working in their business.

And helping them get their lives back by being really clear about what their business is about and what they want to get out of the business. And also, where they have unique opportunities to contribute to the business. And where they also need to get out of the way. So, we’re going to dig into all of that with today’s episode. So, Scott, welcome to the podcast.

Scott Beebe:

Drew, man, even hear you talk about being liberated from the chaos, just gets me … I get amped. I’m that nerdy where I get that excited about it. I am so delighted that you’ve invited me. And as I told you off-air, this is a lot of work that you put into this. So, the fact that you would share the platform is a real honor. So, thank you.

Drew McLellan:

Oh, you bet. I’m happy to have you here. And again, as I said to you before we hit the record button, this is a hot topic for agency owners. They really struggle with this. So, I want to start by talking a little bit about, you believe that there are two nonnegotiables when you are running a small business. Tell us about what those are and why they are nonnegotiable.

Scott Beebe:

It’s interesting, Drew. If we were to line up a whole room of agency owners and go down the row. And just say, “Hey, what are the nonnegotiables of business?” We’re going to get answers all over the place. We’ve got to have culture, job roles, or write org charts. We’ve got to do this, that and the other. And so, you’re going to get books, the financials. Oh my goodness.

Many of the guys are going to say, “Hey, we got to have our books in order.” Many times, because either he or she has … They’re out of order. And so, they’re starting to think about what are the big headaches? What are the fires that I’ve been struggling with? So, out of the thousands of hours that we’ve had the privilege to sit across the table. And through the Zoom Rooms. And all of that with small business owners, agency owners, we’ve kind of boiled it down to two things.

And if you go into a crisis situation … We live by the coast, so Hurricane Irma just brushed us with its 60-mile-an-hour winds. And we were hundreds of miles away. But then last year, Hurricane Matthew came within about a mile off coast to Hilton Head, which is only 10 miles from us. So, we’ve seen some of this crisis over the last 12 months for us at the time of this recording.

And when you start to get into crisis mode, you really begin to focus on the necessities, right? You care less about the wants. And you really want to go at, “What’s going to keep me alive at this point?” So, when you look at rescue and response. When you look at folks who have been stripped of everything. And now they’re confronted with a situation of, “What do I need?” This is where we come up with the two nonnegotiables.

So, the job roles, the org charts, the compensation packages, plans, bonus incentive comp, the books. All those are critically important. But they’re not as important as these two things. So, if you’re in a crisis situation, number one, you got to ask yourself the question, “Where are we going with all of this?” And so, a hurricane comes through. Your tax bill just came back and you owe twice what you thought you owed.

So, you’ve got to be able to step back and ask yourself the question, “Where is it that we’re trying to go?” If you have a clear and compelling vision story. Not a statement, not on a plaque. A sentence or paragraph that says, “We want to be the world’s most dynamic agency, serving jelly beans, riding unicorns, and floating around the world,” that doesn’t compel anybody. And it doesn’t tell anybody where you’re going.

So, we’ve got to have a clear and compelling what we call vision story. And this is severe detail. Pages of detail. Three, four, five, six. We just had an agency owner. They actually build websites for RV dealerships around the country. Very selective niche. And they’ve got about a nine-page vision story. Very detailed to the future of the business. So, that’s the first one.

The second one in a crisis situation is, you’ve got to have a means to communicate. So, if you know where you’re going, and you’ve got the technology and the means to communicate with other people, what I tell agency and business owners is, “You’ll be fine.” If the books are dead. If the employees walk out. If the building falls down. If all your documents burn. But you’ve got a clear and compelling vision, and you’ve got a means of communication.

If you have those two things in place. So, the vision is an actual vision story. But the means of communication … this is where we might lose some people, Drew … is the team meeting. And I did say that right. I didn’t glitch. I didn’t even have a weak moment. The second most important thing in a small business, outside of the vision, knowing where you’re going, is to make sure that you’ve got a consistent, predictable, agenda-led, leader-led, budgeted team meetings with a clear and concise agenda.

Drew McLellan:

Wait, wait, wait, Scott. So, you’re saying that if I tell my employees once what the vision is and where we’re going, I have to tell them again? Is that what you’re saying?

Scott Beebe:

Yeah, Andy Stanley is famous for saying, “It takes 21 times to speak the vision before they hear it one time.” We had a small business owner last week and the team member came in. Actually, I was really proud of the team member because the business owner had said something. And the team member came back and said, “Hey,” I won’t give the name away, “Hey, Jennifer, I did tell you that last week.”

And Jennifer, the [inaudible 00:06:22] owner was like, “Oh, sorry.” And I stopped the room and I was like, “Hold on just a second. Team member, thank you for saying that. And this brings up a great point. So, you’ve said it once and you it a week ago. Congratulations. You only have to say at 20 more times before she gets it,” right? Because it’s what my old … my first-

Drew McLellan:

Right. Yeah, because it’s a two-way street, right?

Scott Beebe:

Absolutely, and it’s what my first Pfizer manager taught me, Skip Clarkson. And he would always say it three times. He said, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” And it’s true. You repeat things over and over again, not in a rote kind of way, just to pass a test like we did in school, right? But in a way to really grasp it.

But if you repeat your vision 21 times in a short period of time, it’s going to start to stick. And guess what happens? In the psyche, people start to begin to go down that road.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, so I have a nine-page vision story. You’re not suggesting that I read the nine pages to them 21 times, are you?

Scott Beebe:

Right. Here’s what we do recommend with a detailed vision story. And by the way, that’s a little bit of an outlier. Most of them are going to be between two and five pages that we want [crosstalk 00:07:28].

Drew McLellan:

Okay, let’s call it a four page. Right, let’s say it’s four pages.

Scott Beebe:

So, what we want to do with that, that four-page vision, as an owner. So, you as the business owner. So, Drew is not only the CEO, the president, the executive day-to-day working in your business of coaching consulting agency owners. But Drew was also the owner of the Umbrella Corps. So, Drew flies at 60,000 feet as an owner. And he also hovers at about five feet as the CEO, the executive.

Kind of on the ground, but you still got to be able to hover to maneuver. You don’t want to get lost in the weeds. That’s why we have a team to be able to help with the weed whacking, and the mowing, and everything else that goes on with that. So, with that being said, the owner has to be constantly looking at that vision. When I say constantly, on a regular basis. Maybe once a month, because of the GPS recorrect, because what happens is, were going a straight line, eventually we’ll start to just kind of fall off.

So, it’s a simple GPS recorrect. A client will come in. So, let’s take a digital agency and a client comes in. And they look at the client. And internally, we profile, right? We’re told, “Don’t ever profile. That’s wrong.” We can’t help it. We profile. That’s what we do. We [crosstalk 00:08:39].

Drew McLellan:

Right, yeah, right. We categorize, right?

Scott Beebe:

Yeah, And we take the gut feel. And we look at them and go, “Yeah, a little bit annoying. A lot of money that could bring in. I think we would partially like the work.” So, what we do is, we either take or reject the work based on subjective gut feel. And what we’re trying to introduce … And this, frankly, by the way is why so many agency owners’ hair is constantly on fire is because we’re making emotional reactive response rather than an objective unemotional, progressive, proactive response to where we try to make the response ahead of all the emotions setting in.

So, you’ve got a client that comes. Well, you’ve got to be well versed enough in the vision to be cordless. To be out in the middle of your office, without your vision around, and go, “Wait a second. You know what? I don’t know that this fits the client portion of our vision story,” which is one of the seven sections by the way, is, what type of client do we want to work with?

And quite frankly, what type of client do we not want to work? For instance, if for us, we liberate small business owners from chaos. So, if we had a corporation that ran a $100 or $500 million, we’re going to struggle with them. And part of the reason we’re going to struggle with them is because their infrastructure is misaligned with our infrastructure.

So, to get through their corporate infrastructure is going to require a lot of hoops, and jumping, and procurement channels, and all of those sorts of things. Whereas what we would rather deal with is just the owner one-to-one. And do those sorts of things. We know that because it’s in our vision. And so, when we see different people walking around, we profile to go, “Hey, we want to spend time with those people because we can serve them.”

Whereas we don’t necessarily want to spend time with those who can’t serve them. And I guarantee, Drew, every one of your listeners has that client that they go, “I know they don’t fit. But you know what? They pay.” And they take them on anyway.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah, we actually have a tool called the Sweet Spot Client Filter that we offer agencies to do exactly that. So, going through that exercise would fill in that portion of this story that you’re talking about, which is, who do we absolutely love to serve? And who do we make great money with? And who do we delight? Who falls in love with us and starts telling everybody about us, right? Because that’s the kind of client we all want.

But a lot of times, whatever walks in the door … I always talk about, there’s two ways to get business. You can just cast a net and eat whatever swims in, or you can go swimming with a speargun, and find exactly what you want. And the businesses that understand what they’re fishing for, and go in with a speargun or the businesses that have that retained client that they keep for a long time, because they’re the right fit.

Scott Beebe:

Yeah, your metaphor works brilliantly here, because we’ve actually got a friend who owns a shrimp boat. So, he’s out on the shrimp boat a lot. And the challenge of catching shrimp is, when you bring them in the net, it’s not only that you just catch a lot of what they call trash fish. These are non-shrimp, basically. But you also have to actually take time to throw those out.

So, it’s sucking your time because you’re bulk fishing instead of going in and being very intentional like you’re talking about. But your vision story can help with that. So, your team meeting comes in on a trust standpoint. Let’s say once a week. And every team meeting is not necessarily started with your vision. But it is started with your mission and your values.

And so, once you’ve got your mission statement, which for us has to be less than 15 words. Has to be a portable version of your vision story. It’s kind of like moonshine. It’s a distilled drop of a big vat of information. So, once you have that drop, then you’ve got your three, or four, or five unique core values. These are things like respect, and responsibility, excellence. Listen, Drew, I hope you have that. I hope I have that, or else-

Drew McLellan:

Those are duh. Right, yeah. Those are duh values. Absolutely.

Scott Beebe:

Yeah. So, what I want to know is, what does Drew value that Scott doesn’t? What does Scott value that Drew doesn’t? For instance, one of our core values is relentless [inaudible 00:12:36]. Man, I’ve got a lot of clients who don’t value that. They like learning, right? But they’re not going to be relentless about it. They’re not going to run their heads for a wall to get to the next latest, greatest book. We do. That’s what we run after. So, it’s good for us. It’s not bad for somebody else. It’s just something they don’t value.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Yeah, they don’t prioritize the value. At some point, if they listed a bunch of values, it might be there. But it’s not one of their top five, right?

Scott Beebe:

That’s right. Even those values, Drew, as well can become filtration that do become the filtration system for decision-making. So, “Do we take that client? Do we hire this person? Did we let this person go?” You take each one of those decisions. Run it through your vision. Run it through your mission. Run it, drip, drip, drip, through your values. And then you got a green-check or a red-check pro and con list. Then you can make the subjective call after that.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah, it’s the Geiger counter, right? It tells you it’s good or bad. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, after I’ve got those two things that are necessary, because I know when I kicked off the podcast, the minute they heard, “Delegation,” and, “Work on the business, not in the business,” they’re like, “Okay, let’s get to that, you guys. Hurry up.”

I want to take a break. But I want to come back and I want to talk about how to delegate well. And how to get yourself more time on your plate to actually work on the business. So, we’re going to take a pause and then let’s dig into that.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast. And you find that you’re nodding your head, and taking some notes, and maybe even taking some action based on some of the things we talk about, you might be interested in doing a deeper dive. One of the options you have is the AMI remote coaching. That’s a monthly phone call with homework in between.

We start off by setting some goals and prioritizing those goals. And we just work together to get through them. It’s a little bit of coaching. It’s a little bit of best practice teaching and sharing. It’s a little bit of cheerleading sometimes. On occasion, you’re going to feel our boot on your rear end.

Whatever it takes to help you make sure that you hit the goals that you set. If you would like more information about that, check out AgencyManagementInstitute.com\coaching. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

All right, welcome back everybody. I am here with Scott Beebe, and we are talking about something that plagues every business owner. But I think it’s particularly challenging in the agency space, which is the whole idea of, how do we have … assuming that we’re going to sleep every single day. And that we would like to see our family for at least an hour.

How do we have enough time to do our day job? Which for many of us feels like working in the business. And also working on the business. So, how do we begin to delegate better? So, Scott, I know that you work with clients every day on this. And that the business owners that you need are no different than the agency owners that I meet, where they struggled to get out of the weeds. So, how do you help them do that?

Scott Beebe:

What we’ve found, Drew, even though people say they don’t like systems, they love systems. So, let me give you an example. Every morning, we can count on the sunrise rising in one direction and the sunsetting in another direction. That’s a system. So, every day we live in systems, the solar system, We live, as I mentioned, on the coast. And we live in creeks, tidal creeks.

Well, every six and a half hours, the creek rises and the creek drops. And it rises and it drops. And for us, it rises and drops about in seven-to-nine-foot swings. When the hurricane came through, it was 12-foot tide on that day. The tide comes in and it comes out. So, you’ll go behind some of our houses. And right now, the tide is just mud. There’s no water in there.

And then you’ll come back out in six hours and there’ll be eight feet of water in there. And that’s a system. Every six and a half hours, that thing moves. So, the reality is, we really like systems. I like the Zoom system. I’m glad somebody built an algorithm, so you and I could hop on a podcast to be able to get this in a recording. I like your record system. Everything’s a system. But we always say we don’t like it.

So, let’s make this a methodical system. So, because we’re on Zoom, I’ll just share my window and I’ll talk through this. But if you happen to use this, then jip it. And you can use the video portion of this as well. But we’ve created just a simple spreadsheet. So, we followed the wisdom that nothing we do is rocket science. And nothing we do will blow your mind in terms of its design etiquette, all right?

We want things that work, things that are functional. So, we encourage agency owners to do is to go simply using … You can make your own. Make your own little spreadsheet and it just needs four columns. That’s it. Well, one column for what the activity actually is. So, what you want to do is, you want to take everything that is in your head. Every single thing that you do as an agency owner.

If you take out the trash, I want you to write it down. If you do invoicing, I want you to write it down. If you do initial sales calls, I want you to write it down. If you do follow-up, whatever it is, write it down. Exhaust it. Every single thing that you do on one sheet of paper. You talk about both freeing and wanting to make you throw up all at the same time, because you see all this stuff and you go, “Oh my gosh, how do I do this?” And then the four columns-

Drew McLellan:

Right. No wonder I can’t get it all done. Yeah.

Scott Beebe:

Yeah. And the four columns you want to put next to it, Drew. Number one, we rank each one of these with a one, two, or three. Again, you can just write this out on a sheet of paper. A number one means, “I am the only person who can do this in my agency.” There shouldn’t be many of those, by the way. So for instance, owner responsibilities. You’re the only person that should be able to do that, right?

Now, what we find is a lot of agency owners will have a lot of ones by these tasks. And usually what that means is, no offense, but you kind of think of yourselves a little higher than you really are. And you don’t think other people can come help you.

Drew McLellan:

What it really means is, no one does it exactly the way I do it, right?

Scott Beebe:

Great point. So, a number two is, “I woke up this morning thinking I was the only person who could do this. But I could be persuaded that somebody else could do that.” That’s number two. And then the number three in your rank, this first column after you write the activity down is, “I should’ve delegated this a long time ago. I just haven’t. My fault for whatever reason.”

Then the second column next to the activity that you want to put down is what we call the energy column. Just put an up arrow. That means, “Man, I draw life from this.” So, when you say, “Liberate small business owners from chaos. I’m in. I am all in. That juices me. It gets me excited.” Things like podcast interviews. That’s on my Delegation Roadmap. That’s an up arrow. It gives me energy. I love spending this time with guys like you.

Now, the sideways arrow is like a, “Whatever. It’s neither here or there. I don’t mind doing it.” Doing things like putting a graphic together. “It doesn’t bother me. It’s fine. I would rather have somebody else do that. But if I’ve got to do it, it’s okay.” A down arrow is, “Oh my gosh, just put me in the bed and put me to sleep. This stuff drives me up the wall.”

Bookkeeping is a great example for many firm owners. We hate doing bookkeeping. So, you’ve got these two rank columns. One is, “Who can do it?” The second is, “Does it give you energy?” The third is, “How much time does it take?” Ooh, now the heat’s getting turned up a little bit, because you’re actually having to put real numerical values to this and. You can time it out however you want. Time per day, time per week. I actually like to put it in minutes.

And then the fourth column, and this is where the oven gets turned to broil is, once you put a dollar figure value to your time. And you realize how much money this task is costing you. Now, here’s what I want to make sure everybody understands. Your time as an owner is not worth $25 an hour, or $35 an hour, or $50 an hour. On average in studies, agency owners’ time are worth anywhere between $200 an hour and up.

So, you’re usually $200 to $1,000 an hour. So, all of a sudden, if you’ve got a 10-minute task or let’s call it a 60-minute task.