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Today we’re flipping the mic and my friend, Cindy Eagar from Infusionsoft is interviewing me. Infusionsoft is best know for it’s small business automated marketing software. While they sell software, they’re really on a mission to help small businesses succeed. One of the avenues they do this through the Elite Programs, which Cindy runs.
Email your top take-aways and learnings to Casey@CaseyGraham.com
Elite Programs Stages Of Business: Text STAGES to 72000 to receive the follow-up for this conversations on the 7 stages of a business.
Apply for a Breakthrough Call with Casey: CaseyGraham.com/Action
Cindy: How did you come up with the idea for The Rocket Company?
Casey: I was on staff at a church and I saw a huge need to fill the gap of very practical steps to lead a healthy church – raising money, recruiting volunteers. After two years of talking about with my wife, I left my position at the church and started my own business.
Cindy: Did you go after your passion/dream?
Casey: Totally. My dream was never to build a big company. I just wanted to help people. As a result of helping enough people, we ended up building a company. I didn’t know anything about digital marketing and the stages of business.
Cindy: What did you end up doing in business that you didn’t think about when you started the company?
Casey: I hate administration – the follow up of calls and quotes were awful. I had sheets of paper everywhere. That’s part of how I found Infusionsoft. The numbers and finances were rough too. I also didn’t think about the weight of having employees and the responsibility of payroll when I started – the stress was more than I ever thought. I was passionate about the work, but hated the business of it.
Cindy: Who did you hire first?
Casey: A part-time assistant and part-time bookkeeper. These were the roles I was worst at and needed help. I would verbally close a deal, but had issues getting contracts signed and invoices sent so they would pay me. I needed help.
Cindy: What didn’t you know that you didn’t know at that time?
Casey: I didn’t know how to effectively lead people – as a visionary, I would have a new idea everyday and was wearing out my team because they never knew what was going to happen next.
I didn’t know anything about email or automated marketing. We grew to $550,000 revenue without ever sending an email to our list.
Cindy: Did you ever think, “I don’t want to grow because that just means more of the same problems”?
Casey: Absolutely. If four people were confused, I couldn’t imagine having 40 people and the destruction that would come. Our only focus before coming to Elite Forum was SALES SALES SALES. We didn’t have any structure and the only number we cared about was sales – I didn’t know about customer lifetime value and the other ways to grow a healthy company.
Cindy: What changed for you? How did you transition to a structure in your company that grew?
Casey: Pain! The sales grew in spite of us. We were first to market with automated marketing, so there was a bit of luck on our side. We grew to a million in sales and that’s when I came to Elite Forum. I was on a webinar and you guys were talking about a meeting rhythm…all I knew was to wake up, tell people what to do and make sales. And honestly it was working with our sales numbers. But I knew there had to be a better way and the meeting rhythm intrigued me.
Cindy: Many entrepreneurs feel like they’re allergic to meetings. Did you feel that way too about them?
Casey: I definitely hate sitting around and wasting my time with a pointless meeting. But, when we came to Elite Forum, Clate and the team leading the meetings explained the meeting rhythm as a way to take the vision of your company and make it a reality.
Cindy: I imagine you were doing this naturally though – you’re a visionary.
Casey: I did, but I did it quarterly. And I was driving the team crazy because I was dreaming with them and it was just chaos. The meeting rhythm was life- and company-altering. We learned from you how to set a vision and values and mission as a company. Then setting annual priorities that lead to what we’re focusing on monthly and daily.
Cindy: I love your term “visionary arsonist” – you would bring new ideas all the time and not moving in one direction. Were you frustrated – thinking you had the wrong people on the team or what?
Casey: Of course. Sometimes I thought it was me and other times I thought it was the team. It just felt like chaos all the time. If you don’t know the why (purpose) behind the goal you’re going after (mission), then your team members won’t care about reaching the goal.
Cindy: What did you do to get the right people on the team? And how did you keep them motivated and in the right direction?
Casey: Yeah…it’s hard! We were trying to get A+ people on a C+ budget. But…when you have a strong purpose, values and mission, it’s very attractive to people when you’re trying to recruit them. Even stronger is to have a job profile that connects the person with what they’re doing to how it makes a difference to the mission. People will be willing to work for you for less when they can connect the dots with something they believe in.
Clarity attracts the right people and it repels the wrong people which speeds up the hiring process and keeps you from wasting your time and theirs.
Cindy: Looking back – do you have a story about landing someone you didn’t ever think you could get on the team?
Casey: Oh yeah. I recruited a guy for two years and towards the end of the recruitment period, I invited him to our annual planning retreat. He came and helped us plan the next year and afterwards decided he wanted to be a part. He was able to see exactly what we were doing and what his role would be.
Cindy: We do that at Infusionsoft too – we ask candidates to come consult with us for three months and five years later they’re now working here.
You do a lot of interviews on your podcast – what would you say is the biggest difference between a 7-figure and 8-figure CEO?
Casey: The 7-figure CEO still likes to be in control. The 8-figure CEO likes to have people who are in control. An interview I just did with an 8-figure CEO said you need to own the business, but not run the business. The 7-figure CEOs often are still doing things they’re not gifted at and that they should be giving away to someone else on the team.
Cindy: So how do you process and transition from the 7-figure to 8-figure CEO? There’s mindset you have to change, but what are the tangibles to letting go of control and empowering others to run the company?
Casey: Three things:
1. Nail down Purpose, Values and Mission and how that connects to your operations. You have to get those out of your head, communicated and visible to your team and hiring to those for every role in order to breakthrough.
2. Hire and develop a leadership team. You need people who can make decisions and manage their own P&Ls. They are likely experienced and will cost more, but they will be able to lead the people who are doing the work.
3. You need a meeting rhythm – a structure that will create control for your team so you don’t have to control everything. Nothing changed my business more than that one process.
Cindy: At what stage do you need to recruit other leaders into the business?
Casey: As you approach the 7-figure mark, you need to be recruiting people and then bring them on after you hit a million in sales.
Cindy: How did you get excited about your day once you were doing less and leading more?
Casey: I had much more fun when I accepted the fact that it was my role to motivate the team around our purpose, mission and values. It was a transition when my to do list was a lot shorter, but I enjoyed it more and more. I evaluated my job based on how the company did at accomplishing our goals, not did I get everything done on my to do list.
Cindy: After working with so many business owners, what do you see as the biggest lie entrepreneurs tell themselves?
Casey: They say, “It’s going to get better.” Whether it’s about the team member they’ve have issues with or getting to the next revenue level. Things don’t just get better and hoping they will is NOT going to work. If you don’t address the issues, they don’t just go away. Every day the leader has to step up, even when it’s tough, and make the decisions to make things better. Things don’t get better unless you get better as the leader.
Cindy: So, it’s about taking action and taking responsibility.
Casey: Yes. Our tendency is to blame the market or people, but the reality is the buck stops with you, the leader. You may not be able to fix it today, but you can address it today and start moving.
Another lie is that a bigger business is a better business. A bigger business is more responsibility and risk than even when you stepped out to start the business because you have more to lose and more people on the team. All your problems aren’t solved when your business grows, they’re solved when you solve them!
Cindy: What kind of lies do you tell yourself?
Casey: I tell myself that I suck. I say, “Maybe I just got lucky” because I’m scared that maybe my best days are behind me.
Cindy: How do you manage the self-doubt and keep going?
Casey: If I’m left alone, it gets worse. I have anxiety and depression, so I have the manage those with exercise, counseling. Working out helps me feel good about myself, which improves my state. Being able to talk with a counselor and admitting what I’m feeling gets it out of my system and releases it. Being with friends and not isolating myself is huge for me. It reminds me that I got in to business so I could have the freedom to experience life with my family and friends.
Cindy: When you focus on these life hacks to help manage your self-doubt things seems to be better?
Casey: Yes. When I take responsibility for what I’m thinking and choosing not to have expectations of others, things change because you change.
Cindy: When you were building The Rocket Company, what did you have to say no to so you could focus on growing the company? In your career, family, hobbies, etc.?
Casey: During the early stages, I said no to myself most often, which was totally unhealthy. I was obsessed with growing it. So I’ve had to recover a bit by my drive where my soul suffered. I was doing crazy stuff in order to keep the business alive. I had to fire the staff in one day because the account balance was low and the line of credit was tapped out. I outsourced the business operations to the Philippines and flew there with our last money in the bank. Because of the time difference, I would work all day and then all night when they were working to make sure our customers were taken care of. It was just crazy! I said no to friends and missed a lot of stuff that I really care about.
Cindy: Was it worth it?
Casey: Some of it. I have regrets about the things I missed like missing my daughter’s preschool Daddy Night because I was sitting in a hotel in another state. Those are the things I sacrificed that I regret. The flip-side is that now I get to take my daughter on an annual trip.
Cindy: All we have is the present, so right now, what do you do to deal with some of the regrets you have?
Casey: I would say I don’t dwell on them even when they come back. I feel the regret for a moment and then I just decide to change it. Pain motivates me to take action more than anything. So if I hate the way things feel, I will take action.
Cindy: What are you most proud of?
Casey: I think I’m most proud of the people who I’ve had the opportunity to work with that have enjoyed what they were able to do and enjoyed their time working with us. We don’t always get it right and it’s not a perfect place to work, but I’m proud of providing a great, learning environment for people. I’m proud of my daughter who is a hungry learning and loves entrepreneurship. I’m proud of my son who loves taking care of people.
Cindy: Let’s do some rapid fire questions…1. What’s one thing you do everyday?
Casey: I text about Alabama football with two of my best friends. 365.
Cindy: 2. What’s the most money you’ve ever spent on yourself at one time for coaching?
Casey: $25,000 at once
Cindy: 3. What’s one goal you’re working on right now?
Casey: Buying industrial real estate that has amazing recurring revenue that will be around for years to come.
Cindy: 4. What’s one bad habit you have?
Casey: Talking bad about myself
Cindy: 5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Casey: My mentor helped me see that I was a manipulator and helped me see the real reason for life and what brings the most joy was helping others. Instead of kicking me out, he took me under his wing to mentor me and gave me a chance in his organization. When I look back, I realize that when I started businesses to help people that’s when the business was most successful.
Casey: Let’s talk about Elite Forum a little bit. What is it? What do they get to experience?
Cindy: Elite Forum is about transitioning from doing everything to having people who do things. It’s like an intervention for controlling entrepreneurs. We give them tools to let go with confidence. We teach the way Infusionsoft grew from $1MM to $10MM – from hiring to meeting rhythm. Elite Forum is an event at Infusionsoft headquarters for business leaders who want to grow their companies. It’s amazing to see the transition in the business owners to implement what they learn and empower people in the organization to think and act like owners as well.
Casey: If someone wants to take the step to learn about it and come, what can they do?
Cindy: If you text STAGES to 72000, we will share with you the STAGES of business we’ve discovered and how to get to the next stage. You’ll get a PDF and video from our CEO, Clate Mask, explaining the stages and helping you determine where you are.
Casey: Elite Forum changed the direction of our business and even my life and I highly recommend you checking it out and connecting with Cindy about their programs.
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