The Entrepreneurs Radio Show 077 Deborah Sweeney
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The Entrepreneurs Radio Show

The Entrepreneurs Radio Show
http://www.theentrepreneursradioshow.com

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The Entrepreneurs Radio Show 077 Deborah Sweeney Document Transcript

  • 1. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 1 of 20 EPISODE #77: DEBORAH SWEENEY In this episode, Travis had an informative talk with successful entrepreneur and dynamic leader Deborah Sweeney. Deborah has a law background and her passion led her to the path of entrepreneurship and eventually becoming the CEO of MyCorporation. MyCorporation is a company that provides online document filing services to various businesses, and who has just reached its 15th year of operations. Travis and Deborah shared various insights on how to establish your business while stressing the importance of documentation and business specifics through her legal point of view. Deborah also talked about the common misconceptions that prevent business owners from protecting their brand assets. One example is that entrepreneurs find the process too complicated and they also don't find it necessary. Another would be that business owners forget the importance of operating agreements which helps define the company and how it works. These are just few of the things that Deborah shares and entrepreneurs would expect to learn from in this episode. Deborah Sweeney – getting the details right to protect and grow your business Travis: Hey, it's Travis Lane Jenkins, welcome to episode number 77 of the Entrepreneur's Radio Show, conversations with self-made millionaires and high-level entrepreneurs that will grow your business. This show is a production of Rockstar Entrepreneur Network. Today I'm going to introduce you to rockstar entrepreneur Deborah Sweeney. Deborah is the founder and CEO of MyCorporation which has been very successful. In fact, she'll share the details with you on what level of success she's had in the interview. Now I'm going to pre-warn you, Deborah is brilliant so you'll want to have a notepad nearby because we're going to talk about the top 5 misconceptions that keep guys like me and you from taking the steps, guys meaning men and women, from taking the steps necessary to protect our business and our assets, even our brand. Now I consider myself to be pretty experienced in business and there were a couple of things that caught me by surprise during this interview. So trust me, keep something close by to take some notes. Now before we get started I want to remind you that there is two ways that you can take these interviews on the go with you. First, the simple option is you can go to Stitcher.com and download their
  • 2. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 2 of 20 free app that will allow you to stream all of the shows that you like anytime, anyplace. And they have cool way of introducing other shows that you may find interesting with her interface there in the app. Also, if you're an iTunes person you can go to rockstarentrepreneurnetwork.com and click on the iTunes button and it will take you directly to the podcast on iTunes where you can subscribe to the show there. In fact I have a link to Stitcher on my website as well. Also, one other thing, be sure and stay with us until the very end if you can because I want to share some inspiration with you. Plus I've got a contest that I've been telling you about if you've just started listening to the show, love to tell you about it. It's where you'll have a chance to win $73,000 in cash and prizes plus a Lamborghini, so be sure and hangout with me until the very end. Now that we've got the introduction and all of the other housekeeping things that help you understand where we're going and the best way to use this, let's go ahead and get down to business. There's lots of great information in this interview. So if you don't mind, let's get to it. Welcome to the show Deborah. Deborah: Thank you for having me. Travis: How are you? Deborah: I am doing great. Travis: Yes, I'm super excited to have you here. I don't know how familiar you are with the format of the show but one of the things we like to do is kind of get the back-story of how you found this level of success where you're at right now. Because I think that's very illustrative for other people to understand who you are and also kind of put the pieces together for their path to success as well. Do you mind sharing that with us? Deborah: Absolutely, not at all. Travis: Cool. Deborah: I can go back very briefly to-- I'm a lawyer by trade and I have a law degree and a business degree. So my background is sort of a high grade of both the practice of law and also I'm focused on business and entrepreneurship when I was-- and a partner in a law firm, one of my clients was the company I now own, MyCorporation. We were a small business at that time. I went in-house after having two kids, so I was sort of the in-house lawyer, vice president of operations for the business. And we were ultimately acquired by Intuit, which many people know is the maker of Quickbooks and Turbotax.
  • 3. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 3 of 20 Travis: Right. Deborah: I was neatly appointed to run the division and the original owners departed. And so I was running a division, and after 5 years in 2009 when the economy was turning, there were small divisions that were being divested from Intuit. And I felt that our division may be in that group in consideration so I offered to purchase the business out of Intuit back in 2009. And I guess the rest is history as they say, so since then we've been privately held and I own the business and run it. And we took a couple of steps back in terms of our growth after coming out of Intuit. But then we've been able to regain that and grow at a faster pace now since we’re on our own and can make our changes. Travis: That's interesting. That's a very uncommon way to-- Was that your first endeavor into being a true entrepreneur? Deborah: Yes. In my mind I was always going to be a lawyer. I enjoy being in-house working with business owners more than I enjoy litigating in courts so I knew kind of the business venture model; the entrepreneurship model was one I enjoyed. But I don't know that I sell myself as the entrepreneur per se. Although running the division under Intuit, you really had your own PNL, your own kind of management of the team. So I had 5 years of training I guess in entrepreneurship in the sense that well, it was sponsored and managed by a larger organization. I really had to manage my business as if I were the owner of it. So I suppose that 5 years gave me sense of, "Hey, I think I can make this happen. It doesn't hurt also that my husband's an entrepreneur and it's his own business. So I sort of had that model or framework to think about. Travis: Now that helps make some sense and shed some light on things. It's very unnatural to buy a business especially in your first endeavor and really, it's a clever way of getting beyond the curve. I forget the exact stats but an overwhelming-- I know that 90% of businesses fail, and a very small percentage of businesses reach a million dollars, and so the best way to get beyond that is buy your way through it. Buy a business, it's up and running and has the infrastructure, and make the transition yourself. So basically, since you had PNL responsibility of running that business kind of like it was your own little mini-business. That's basically what gave you the confidence beyond having an entrepreneur in the family to make a transition like that you said? Deborah: Exactly. And I think the type of business that was, was a good fit for me. Having the businesses we do in corporation in LLC filings throughout the US, and my background is legal. And so, sort of combining my legal knowledge and expertise with that of a business. So it gave me a chance and I had talked to many entrepreneurs in my practice of law, we were starting businesses and needing to form corporations and LLC's. So I knew that. The big transition for me, from lawyer to business owner was really one of management. When you're a lawyer, you manage your clients and I had a few
  • 4. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 4 of 20 attorneys that worked under me but I didn't have this sort of larger managing, 50-employees, the day in and day out of what that takes the payroll. And that was I think the biggest transition for me. Travis: Interesting. So how long has MyCorp been around then? Deborah: Actually, we're celebrating our 15-year anniversary on October 4th. So we just passed 15 years in business and then out on our own for 4 years outside of Intuit. Travis: Any regrets? Deborah: Very few in that regard. And I really feel like we tend to be a business group that we make mistakes at times. We do things and think, okay, that was probably the best idea. But I don't feel like we have many regrets so I personally, I feel like you learn from mistakes that I don't feel during the transition. We had a great relationship with Intuit, they were incredible in kind of setting us on our feet right. There was a lot of things we had to change. One of the biggest things we did under Intuit was spending a lot of money with the purpose of growth. And that was the initiative of Intuit, is its okay if you're not profitable. There's a huge billion dollar business underneath us to hold us up but you need to grow. And so, that was the mindset of Intuit and my mindset as a business owner is to grow but profitability is critically important. I don't want to grow at all cost; I don't want to spend $8 million on search engine marketing to only make 7. So I need to be attentive to those details and I think making that transition was a huge one of paying attention to those details. So maybe in hindsight if I had realized that more quickly it would've been helpful but nevertheless, I think we got there and we know what we're doing now. Travis: Well, I think that what you're describing is the difference between a venture capitalized start-up- type mentality, versus a solo-preneur bootstrap mentality. Whereas when we start things on our own dollar we try to make sure that we spend a dollar and get $2 in return, whereas start-ups have a very aggressive plan and it's all about customer acquisition, and growth, and all of that other stuff, and doesn't necessarily make sense as far as profitability. And so making that shift, there's so many things, I understand the dramatic difference between being an attorney, being a professional that you've been in a corporate mentality for so many years. And now you're in the really kind of the polar opposite of that because there's so many dimensions to your responsibilities as a business owner, right? Deborah: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's funny because like I mentioned earlier, but the biggest shock I had was I tend to be an individual contributor in so many ways. I come in, I do my work, I'm hyper focused, I make my list, I get it done. And it's not really a great framework for someone who's managing a team of 50 employees because so much during the day changes and you have to be responsive to your team members, to your customers. So there's so many constituents involved and I think that was
  • 5. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 5 of 20 the biggest "Aha" for me was that. People are going to come in, they're going to ask some questions, customers are going to need to escalate, I'm going to handle it. Those are all things that were different than my day to day as a practicing lawyer. So I think I realized entrepreneurship involves being pretty nimble and flexible, and less rigid. I don't just come in and sit down and do my work. I have a dynamic day that changes and often is unpredictable. Travis: Well, I can tell you that it's impressive because I understand the learning curve that you had to go through there. How many employees do you have now? Deborah: We have 47 employees. Travis: Wow. Deborah: I know. Travis: So you're still in the learning curve. This is like a lifelong endeavor right? Entrepreneurship. Deborah: No, it's one thing I say, is I learn every day. And you and your customers change or the economy changes, or the government shuts down-- There's different dynamics you have to deal with and different concerns from customers and concerns from employees. And how do we continue to drive revenue and be relevant, and be present in social media, and all of those things. I think we're constantly trying to stay ahead even though, I think a lot of businesses at 15 years get their rhythm. I feel like one of our biggest advantages is that we continue to think about how we can grow and think outside the box, and sell for our customers. I think that's what's kept us relevant. And like you said, the fact it's exciting and it's changing everyday. Travis: Right. Maybe without sharing revenue numbers, what type of growth trajectory are you on percentage wise? Deborah: Since we came out of Intuit, we were pretty stable, the year over for the first year out, and then after that year, so it's been 3 years of growth and about 12% -18% varying. This last year we had 21% growth, we're expected to close at 2013 around 21% growth if we maintain stability. So we've been pretty successful in that regard. Our biggest revenue growth comes from Inuity, related to out on- going filings with our customers. So when someone incorporates or forms an LLC they have annual report filings, or they need a registered agent in their stage, or they need to store their corporate documents. So those are our services that we developed ongoing relationships with our customers and built some Inuity stream which has been a win-win for both our customers and our business.
  • 6. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 6 of 20 Travis: So when you say Inuity stream, you're speaking from a continuity stand point? Deborah: Yes, absolutely. We do these filings every year, so every year the customer is told, "Your annual reports do will do it for you." They pay us annually to do it, we have them on renewal so that they're aware when it's coming and we know when to do the filings based on the state laws. So it helps, these customers don't know when to file, they're entrepreneurs too and they're worrying about their businesses and they're not worrying about when to file their annual filings at the state and we take care of that part for them. They don't need to worry about it, they pay us $99, or whatever plan they're on for the year, and we just do it for them. Travis: Right. There's more and more businesses adding those continuity elements to their business. And it's a great way to stabilize cash flow, and growth, and all of the good things that are necessary for a thriving business. One of the things that I want to talk to you about is I believe that most people, when they think of incorporating I believe that the average person thinks of that talking to a new entrepreneur, and on many levels it does. But there's also needs to compartmentalize your business, maybe break your business into multiple pieces and create different corporations. Do you do much of that? Deborah: We absolutely do. It's very, very common. In fact, our own business has multiple facets of incorporation. Often you hear of a holding company or an ownership. And then you may have different owners that may own different offshoots of divisions of the company which are independently held. The big benefit of incorporating a separate business. It's really that you're protecting the assets of that business. So say you established a million dollar business making bracelets and then you establish a new business and now you're making belts. And you have different consumers and different ownerships of that new business. You really want to separate the assets of the two and you don't want to co-mingle. If something were to go wrong with one you don't want to impact the success of the other. And it's very common, people with properties for example. Someone owns a business and they also own the building that their business is housed in. Often the buildings were formed on LLC, they formed in LLC to hold that property and then the business will be a separate corporation. And it's extremely common to do that to make sure that you're the primary benefits of incorporating or forming an LLC are saving on taxes, separating your personal assets from those of your business. And then also separating individual business assets from other business assets. So as you mentioned, not intermingling funds between different businesses and many times why do business will have different partners or owners than another. So making sure that those remain separate. Travis: Well, is this a big business type thing or a small business. Some of these questions are rhetorical although I want you to kind of walk people down the path. I think a lot of people believe that this is all big business stuff, and it's not, right?
  • 7. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 7 of 20 Deborah: No. Our most common customer, not just as it relates to us but very frequently people form one person corporations or LLC's because they have a home. For example and they start a new business and they don't want to risk the assets in their home on their business and so they want to keep the two separate. Or they own a service-based business and they have the risk of someone falling, or an employee suing for some sort of employee-related issue. So even with one or two employees it's extremely common to incorporate or form an LLC. There are some industries that are mandated, you're actually required to form a corporation, contractors for example, architects, professional corporations, many of them their industry has actually mandate under the licensing laws that they form a corporation or LLC. And so some industries require it while others do not. But to your point it's not just a huge business once you get to $5 million now, you should incorporate. In fact, to that point it's probably too late, you need to start from the beginning and most people do it to establish themselves, not just if they're in a partnership but it happens frequently if there are 2 or more owners where they want to make sure that they're clear with the asset allocation. Who owns what in the business, who's expected to do what, how do you get out of the business if you want to dissolve it, or shut the business down, or sell the business, and all of those things. It's just really good business to think about it as your opening and starting rather than 5 years down the road and got a sale opportunity. And now you really want to think about it and everything may have changed. It's important to make sure that you're taking care of those things. And it doesn't have to be a huge adventure, I think a lot of people think, "Gosh, incorporating is going take so much time. You can go to a lawyer and it is a couple thousand dollars, but you can do it yourself with at this state or we're sort of right somewhere in between where for $99. your incorporated within a couple of weeks in almost any state in the US. And so it' really relatively quick and easy. Many banks actually require it when you open a bank account. So when you're doing that process banks will say, "Where's your corporate paperwork?" And it's super simple in the whole scheme of things. Travis: So step 1, with a business is to incorporate, to limit liability and to separate your assets and everything. How about step 2, having multiple corporations for small business. At what point does a small business need? Do they normally reach a dollar revenue or an asset. What point do they start setting up multiple corporations? Deborah: Most times the multiple corporation aspect comes in when there's a different line of business or the purchase of property, or the addition of an additional partner or investor. It often doesn't happen just because you're growing to a revenue point, but rather when there's a change in the structure formation of the business, or there is additional investors coming in, or you're just taking on a different line of business. Travis: Okay. So let's go a different direction. So let's say I live in California, and California has this state tax which I think is what, like 10% or something, right?
  • 8. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 8 of 20 Deborah: Right. Travis: Okay. And so I live in Texas and they don't have a state tax there. Deborah: Boy, so everyone's forming businesses in Texas. Travis: Right. And so if I'm a business owner in California, why wouldn't I just incorporate in Texas? Deborah: The primary reason is most states tax you based on where your business is located. Sometimes, like for example if you're on the internet, there's a bit more flexibility. But if you have a physical location in California for example, California could arguably say that even though you're incorporated in Texas, you have to do something called Foreign qualify in California. And then your whole goal of protecting your assets and saving more on taxes by moving to Texas is upset because you don't have a facility or location in Texas. It is not an uncommon practice though if you have multiple locations to choose the state with the most beneficial tax laws. A lot of times people choose states like Delaware where they have preferential treatment relative to the recording of information about your corporation. Nevada also has beneficial tax laws. Some state like North Carolina are giving money back basically or discounts for starting a new business in their state, or forgiveness of loans. So all over the US are trying to put together initiatives, California is the worse at it and ironically they have the most businesses. And a lot that has to be deal with the investor environment in California and the start-up business is relative to the universities in California. But many, many states put together initiatives that focus on driving growth, and business start-up, and entrepreneurship in their states. So it's super common for businesses to actually just move to Texas for example simply because the tax laws are beneficial. But the act of just filing in Texas may not be sufficient because California may uncover the N-factor, doing business primarily in California, and you're based in California. So they realize that your purpose is really to avoid taxation because your business is really here. So that is what precludes you in most cases from being in California but filing in Texas for example. Travis: So from like a technical standpoint couldn't you open up like a little bitty office, a little tiny suite or something in Texas. And then we'll legally circumvent that issue. Deborah: People do, yes absolutely. And then a lot of people, especially you’re smaller, one to two, three person business. Just don't have the financial aware with all to do that to open up a physical location in Texas, however small and still operating in California. But more sophisticated businesses absolutely do that. Travis: Yeah, I’m floored at how unfriendly California is towards businesses.
  • 9. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 9 of 20 Deborah: Yeah, it's insane. Living here and being a business owner, I feel it and I'm talking to business owners, I hear all-day long, there's no question. It's very interesting. But truth be told I think we're talking before we got on air about the benefit of working close to your home and people love to live in California. So I suppose they love to have their business nearby too. Travis: Yeah, exactly. What do you find are the top or the most common misconceptions with business owners and becoming incorporated? Maybe the top 5, you don't have to hit 5 exactly. Deborah: I think you said the first one that people think it's too complicated or something they don't need to do because-- Or that it makes sense? So I think that's the first misconception because reality, it doesn't matter what revenue you're making, if there's some sort of liability or a creditor that comes after you, and they come after your personal assets whatever revenue figure you're making, it could cost significant harm to you personally. I think other issues are that when people incorporate they have this perception that it's protecting their brand name. So for example our business is incorporated as my corporation business Services Inc. but I knew that that doesn't protect our brand, mycorporation.com. So I think that the business owners don't realize that there’s also an intellectual property component, a trademark component to making sure that their business is protected. So many business owners spend so much money to develop their brand and think that they're protected because they incorporated and where's that are area where they all should be thinking about a trademark. I think another one is the business owners don't realize the importance of operating agreements, and just the basic. It does not need to be sophisticated. It's a document that basically spells out who owns your business, where the assets go. What if the businesses were to be sold, it can literally be in prose as if you were having a conversation. But making sure that if you have a business, and that you have that documentation so that there is clarity about business ownership, asset allocation in the event of creditors, what happens in the event of your death, what happens? So I think it's really important that people realize that that is important as well. Travis: Then you called that documentation? Deborah: Traditionally with the corporation, it's called by-laws, and with an LLC it's called an operating agreement Travis: Okay. Deborah: There are partnership agreements that are entered into often if there's more than one. And again, people think of a partnership agreement as being hyper-complicated, and it's never a bad idea to have-- You dialled lawyer but on the other hand you can still clean, write down your intentions and have
  • 10. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 10 of 20 it documented with signatures by the parties involved, and it can stand up in court. It has to reviewed by a lawyer. But certainly, there are draft samples, even in my arm. Our sight, for example we have many, many samples for free operating agreements, by-laws, and partnership agreements that people can leverage as a basis. And I think it's just a great idea for small business owners to think about doing as they venture out into their business. Especially when they take on partners. Travis: Yeah. I want to go a little deeper on that because I talk with a lot of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship is my passion. And so there's an old saying, "The palest of the ink is better than the brightest of memories." And the point is-- Deborah: So true. Travis: Most people believe that they have an understanding. And in that understanding when it's spoken, one person perceives it to be this, and the other person perceives it to be that. So there really has not been a good level of communication. And when you have something like an operating agreement, it's in black and white, it's not subjective. We're not asking you if you like this color of gray. It is a clear document that says who owns what and who is responsible for what. And so there's clarity there and that eliminates all of the other disagreements, or can eliminate a lot of the disagreements that normally end up in the court, right? Deborah: Absolutely. And the truth is too that if it gets to court, and sometimes it does, there is more clarity with the written word. Then we thought we agreed on this. And like you said beginning of this was so much is unclear when people, even day to day with my kids, I think they understand what I said, and they think they understood something different. And so much in life and about business and miscommunication, and a lot of times even though the parties feel they're on the same page, having an opportunity to write down and document these things opens up the communication, creates clarity if there is a difference of opinion. And then also creates a document under which you can really govern your business. And so I think it creates a framework that's critically helpful, not the least of which if there's an argument you can point back to it and say, "Here, we agreed to." So really anticipating potential issues and thinking through those. And sample by-laws and operating agreements help you do that. You kind of get thinking about ownership and roles, responsibilities, percentages, allocation. Maybe one partner thinks it's time to take a large distribution and the other partner says, "No, we should re-invest it in the business." Those things need to be discussed in advance because it cannot be based on one partner's desire to spend more than another. And it's going to result in a disagreement. And so having that prepared in written down in advance is critically important. Travis: Right. Therein lies the problem with a partner, period.
  • 11. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 11 of 20 Deborah: It's true, my husband says, "Monarchy is sort of better--" Travis: And businesses they are, right? Deborah: That's right, exactly. Travis: Now, I jumped in the middle of your flow while you were thinking this out. And so the first one is most people tend to think that it's too complicated. And then the second one is they think that it protects their brand when actually they need to trademark their brand. And then third was the operating agreement. Did you have more that came to mind along that path? Deborah: Yeah, absolutely. Travis: Okay. Deborah: I think that another one is just the basic ongoing maintenance. I believe that business owners think that it's so complicated to manage their business. And I don't want to keep saying like it's relatively easy to file an annual report on your state every year and to file your taxes. And some business owners don't want to be bothered, and there's services like ours for example that can provide that annual filing but it really is important to remember to file your annual report and pay your taxes every year. Many small business owners don't believe much in taxes at the beginning. So there's more of that trepidation of actually filing and getting it done. But I think it's important that people realize that there are annual requirements. While they exist they're also complicated that a business owner can't do it, or even can't outsource it or have an in-house person, their finance manager. Many CPA's will help with that process, and that's critically important. And then finally I think business owners believe that getting the right network of people is expensive and I don't necessarily think it has to be the case. I think there are lots of resources available. So for example I mentioned CPA's and lawyers, I believe that business owners just get overwhelmed with the potential for all the cost involved with that. And I think the neat part about the internet is that so many resources are available online, whether it's resources for accounting professionals, people who can give advice on sample by-laws or operating agreements, annual report filing services. All of those are things that literally if you spent a couple of hours one day to investigate and think through what you need to know, you can find it relatively simply. So the thought that owning a business and all the legal requirements can be so out of control are really quite manageable once you get your arms around it and realize that it's not as complicated as one might think. Travis: I think finding the right team is expensive if you get a hold of the wrong people.
  • 12. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 12 of 20 Deborah: That's right. Travis: Or if you're not plugged into a network that-- Because there's so many people out there, when I started becoming parts of masterminds all of a sudden I was plugged in to a really high level of competence and capabilities on many levels, with many different services. But the case for most people is, is they're not at a place where they can afford high-level masterminds so they really fall victim to what Betty down the street said, or they pass the CPA on the corner. And so by default they find these people. And so, that's one of the reasons why I like to interview people like you because you can help connect them with highly competent people and with the proliferation of the internet, it is much easier to get outside the corner CPA and find someone that's highly competent, right? Deborah: Absolutely. Even just webinars and plugging yourself in with local groups. For example, entrepreneurship groups and there's types of things where you can get connected. And I think the other maybe piece of advice that I feel like I've learned quite a bit about is learning when to heed advice and when not to. And when I first became the owner of this business, I received a lot of advice. And now, curiously I receive a lot of people interested in investing in the business. And I used to take every single call, listen to every single person who want to invest, and everything they wanted me to give them. And I started thinking, "Well gosh, there's some things from which I can learn a lot and that are worthwhile to listen to and then noodle on and take pieces." But I think that being selective and making sure that you're listening to the right people who have the right intentions." You know it's not black and white; it's not always easy to figure out. So I guess initially I tend to be one who listens and thinks people have the best intentions. And sometimes I think, "Oh gosh, that person really wanted to get a good deal on 50% of my company." But there are many people who have given me advise that I think, "Gosh, well that was really well framed and really thought through, and there was not intention at the end." So I think it's interesting as an entrepreneur you get so much advice and just trying to filter what makes sense to integrate into your business and what does not. Travis: Right. I actually think that there should be a tax on advice. If you don't know what you're talking about you should be penalized, for giving it. Because so many people get lost or go on a tangent because they listen to advise from someone that doesn't know. And so there is a difference between advice that comes from wisdom and opinions that comes from guessing. Deborah: Right. Travis: I think that's a little bit of the sum of what you're talking about. And then some of the advice is just outright malicious, they have a hidden agenda. And so they're giving you inaccurate advice for some other hidden purpose. And so I completely understand what you mean. I've experienced it on all levels. Let's go back a little bit because I want to highlight some of these things. You make some great
  • 13. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 13 of 20 point. So number one, it's too complicated. I've spoke with a lot of people that are not incorporated. You could start a simple business and have someone-- Maybe it's a lawn-mowing business. And on your first day the guy cuts his foot off, that's helping you. Your home will be the target because if you don't have any money they're going to go after everything that you do have. Deborah: Yes. Travis: And so it doesn't matter that your business is just starting, okay? We need to make absolutely crystal clear. Or it doesn't even matter that your business is not big. So this is about putting a dome of protection around you and the assets that you do have. And then the multiple corporations are about compartmentalizing these different businesses so that one can't cause collateral damage on the other. So I just want to make extra sure that everybody's getting that. And then number 2, you said you think that it protects your brand. And that's a great point. I'm pretty advanced in business and I've built a several successful businesses, and I've never thought about trademarking my brand. That's brilliant. Hello. Deborah: It's extremely common. And I think a lot of times people use their business name and brand interchangeably, and then they go and promote themselves on the internet, or they spend a lot of time at social media marketing, branding, etc. Creating their physical product or marketing their service. And then someone else pops up and thinks, well, that's a great name, and they start using it too. And without that trademark protection it's difficult to prove first used and the ownership, and who's using it where, and all of the laws related to the Patent and Trademark Office. So when you're thinking about getting started it's very common to think about your business name and domain name, but not often about protecting one of your most valuable assets which is the brand under which you're doing business, and investing so much time and energy to grow and associate your good will. And so that good will is so valuable, and in many businesses, frankly they're just ultimately selling the good will with their brand. Travis: Right. Deborah: And the service is not so new or novel, or the product is not that unusual, but the brand itself is what's developed. And I think that people miss in many instances. Travis: Yeah, exactly. How expensive is it to trademark a brand for a small business, or for any business? Deborah: Around $500. So for example, if you're paying a law firm a couple of thousand. If you're like a service like ours, I don't want to sound like I'm plugging our business, but we charge $149 and the U.S.
  • 14. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 14 of 20 Patent and Trademark Office charges about 300. So you know, about $450 total. And can walk through the process. It's a really simply simple application, what's your brand name, what are your doing business and association with and who are the owners. So it's not a complicated process. The biggest thing is making sure that there are other brands that are the same as yours that already filed that you may not be aware of, those types of things. Just being aware of your marketing industry and making sure that you don't pop in and you're infringing on someone else. The next thing you know, thank goodness you're incorporated because they would be going after your personal assets as well. Travis: Right. And so I would imagine that due diligence is part of what the fee is for? Deborah: Exactly. Travis: Yeah, okay. Alright. And then the next, number 3 is operating agreements that document, the who, what, why, where, how, right? Deborah: Absolutely, so important. Making sure that you're in an agreement, even if it's just getting done on paper with your partners, and or about your process and plan for running the business. It's really an important step. Travis: I brought a partner into one of my businesses, and we had documented everything. And he didn't perform up to the level that was acceptable. And so it was very easy to eliminate him from the line-up because everything was there, right? Deborah: Yeah. Travis: Again, no arguing, no fussing, no raising voices, no nothing, all of it was documented. We presented the case and it was resolved. And that's the benefit. So I just want to personalize some of these examples and how they've played out in my life and so we can convey the importance of getting things done. Number 4 is the ongoing maintenance of quarterly filings. Now for me that sounds like a CPA function, is that what you're talking about? Deborah: Some of it CPA-based, so for example your corporate taxes or your annual tax returns. But some of that is, for example when you're an incorporated or form an LLC, the state require you to fill out many are calling it an annual report or annual filing, basically documenting what the current status of the corporation or LLC is. So in many instances it's a one page document, a lot of it is just about remembering, and a $20 annual fee or something for filing. So it varies based on the stay, but it's a low cost annual fee indicating, A, you're still in business, who your owners are, if anything has changed,
  • 15. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 15 of 20 your registered agent so that if any documents need to be serve on the state or from frankly a creditor, or someone who's serving you in a law suit, that that documentation and information is up to date. Travis: Does it include minutes and all that other stuff? Deborah: You do not ever need to file your minutes anywhere. I think that might go in line with your right, the annual requirements do include when you own a corporation, not in the case of an LLC, it's not required. But your basic corporate maintenance for a corporation requires you to do minutes. And again, I mentioned online resources. But our site for example has a full access for free to hundreds of sample minutes. So basically we had our annual meeting, we agreed that our by-laws are up to date, we approve our annual report and we filed it in a timely manner. There are your minutes, you throw them in your corporate binder, or we offer a document storage service. If you don't have a corporate binder, you just want an online thing, you still upload it to your storage vault and you're done. So just the basic forces you sort of to sit down, make sure your documentation is up to date, record it in your minutes in a one pager and you're finished. So again, it needs to be done, it's not super complicated, but it's just really good to have an annual time. Ours tends to be in October where' we sit down and say, "Here's what happened with our business this year. Here's our plan for next year." And it can coincide with your annual corporate planning for, you know, we do our strategy meetings, and where we plan on going, and what's our growth trajectory for next year all at the same time. And then we just go into a document and the greetings are operating agreement on par and off you go. Travis: Very cool. And these are all things that I think get neglected because like you said most entrepreneurs are busy with business. And so these things are things that need to happen above and beyond the daily functions of the business to keep you up-to-date and current with everything. Deborah: Right. Travis: So let's see. Now, getting the right team is expensive. So that's number 5. And going deeper on that and team is a very broad word. When you say team are you talking about CPA's, bookkeepers, attorneys, what does team encompass for you? Deborah: I think it can vary. For our business it incorporates all of those, it incorporates our employees, and the whole gamut of what it requires on a daily basis. But I do think for a small business, it's important to realize that you can have advisers, and you said it, you don't need to spend a ton of money. The best advice may be slightly more expensive than you wanted but it may be worthwhile. So just really making sure you're working with people who are trustworthy. And who you trust and who are actually valuable advisers. And I feel like over time in a business that may change. So sometimes someone who was incredible with us as an in-house accounting person was great while we row $1 or
  • 16. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 16 of 20 $2 million business. But now there were 10 times that size. It's important that we have someone who can handle books related to that. And so sometimes your advisers may change as you change. And sometimes the best connections are those of similarly situated entrepreneurs who have grown with you, or grown before you. And you can give me recommendations of trusted advisers that they have. Travis: Right. And you know, growing a business to a million requires one skill set, growing it to 5 requires some other skills, growing it to 10 requires another set of skills. Those are very tough humps to get over, and so to your point I think we all tend to think that the road that got us here will get us to the next level and that's very rarely that accurate, right? Deborah: Absolutely. I think always being open. That's why I kind of when I was talking about the right team, I always tend to listen because I think, "Gosh, I'd never been at this revenue stage. Or I'd never have this popular here. I'd never had this happened. I'd never taken a company private, from a publicly traded company. So, I was always open to ton of advice and then I started realizing that some advice was valuable and some advice was a time sec, and some advice frankly just was like you said, malicious or not with the right intent. And so, weeding through all of that and figuring out what can apply to your business and what can make you a better leader versus what, listen and move on. Travis: Right. So, do you guys publicly share what revenue you guys are at? Deborah: Yeah, I don't have a problem sharing. We're just under 10 million in revenue. Travis: Nice, great job. A lot of time and effort that goes in to keeping a business running. The more revenue you do the more organized you have to be. And most people don't realize this, when you don't have systems, the lack of systems is normally what prevents people from getting to a million dollars. And then following those systems is really what gets you to the next 5 million and 10 million level. And it requires a lot of time, dedication, and a great team. Did we lose you? Deborah: No, I'm here. Can you hear me? Travis: Yeah. Okay. Hey listen, we're running a little long on time. Are you ready to segue into the lightning round? Deborah: Sure, yes. Travis: Cool. So, what book or program made an impact on you related to business that you'd recommend and why would you recommend it?
  • 17. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 17 of 20 Deborah: One of my favorite books is Onward by Howard Schultz, basically do telling the most to the factors, recession, consumer behaviour or over-expansion that led to a company's downturn and then ultimate change. For me it reminds us a lot of my business, not at the size or level or Starbucks for example, but certainly at a level that's smaller and making difficult decisions can also result in more success. And so it resonated with me and not just about a feel-good maxim about small businesses, but really about how do you change and restructure things to improve your business and grow it to the next level. Travis: Interesting, I've heard of that book before, I'm going to have to get it. Deborah: It's excellent. Travis: What's one of your favourite tools or pieces of technology that you've recently discovered, if any, that you'd recommend to other business owners and why? Deborah: I can honestly say there's nothing that's new or noble that, as a business owner, staying organized is critically important for me. And so whether it's my iPhone, or Outlook, or just literally staying organized allows me the time and flexibility to focus on my team members. And I think that it has been the single best asset of-- For example, I'm also a parent and I want to occasionally pick my kids up from school. And so having access with my iPhone and being organized has enabled to be an entrepreneur but still enjoy my time with my family. Travis: Right. So your piece of technology is your iPhone? Deborah: My iPhone and my organizational skills from Outlook. Travis: You're still using Outlook? Deborah: I keep no more than 50 emails. I get so many emails a day, I'm sure everybody does. But I try to keep no more than 50 and keep it below that. So I'm taking action on everything that comes in and out. Travis: Oh, you're an inbox zero girl then? Deborah: I am. Travis: Right. Okay. So what famous quote would best summarize your belief or attitude in business?
  • 18. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 18 of 20 Deborah: There's a quote I heard a while ago from Mary Kay, she said, "People are definitely a company's greatest asset. It doesn't make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps." And I truly believe that our success in business, my success with the company has been from my team and the people that work with me every day. They make it fun to come to work but also, they are the face of our company to our customers and it makes all the difference. Travis: I completely agree with you. Do you have any special superpowers that you like to share with us? Deborah: Oh gosh. I talk fast and I move quickly. I run everywhere I go and I attribute it to having two boys who play sports all the time and keep me on my toes. Travis: That's probably what makes you so productive or helps you, right? Deborah: Yeah, absolutely. Travis: One last thing, if you had to start over today what would you do to get the fastest results? Deborah: I think if I had to start over I would start with my team, get the right people on the boat. I would really focus on products and services that I mentioned earlier are newly services that serve the customer. So high-focused, customer-driven services that can renew on an annual or monthly basis. And that has been the biggest success for our business. Travis: I had the same epiphany. I can be a slow learner at times. It took me 20 years before I adopted the reoccurring revenue business model. Deborah: Well, it's what gets me investors calling every day, right? It's exciting, it's easy, but also I think not just the reoccurring revenue in of itself but the service that backs it and the people need and realize they need. It's a double win. Travis: Yeah, I completely agree with you. How do people connect with you? Deborah: Online, I am on Twitter @DeborahSweeney and most people connect with me on LinkedIn, same thing DeborahSweeney@Linked in. Or I'm open to emails if you got questions, dsweeney@mycorporation.com. Travis: And so your website is MyCorporation.com?
  • 19. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 19 of 20 Deborah: Yes, it is. Travis: Okay, great. Can you hangout-- Deborah: We have tons of great resources on there for entrepreneurs. So I think it's a really good tool. Travis: Yeah, it sounds like it-- So we'll definitely, can you hangout a couple more minutes? Deborah: Absolutely End of Interview. Travis: I'm going to wrap things up. Listen, I want to remind you that you can find all the links to the books and resources, and Deborah's website, how to connect with her. Just go to RockstarEntrepreneurNetwork.com, it's a brand new site that we’ve been building out that's completely focused on giving you the resources to grow your business. Now earlier I told you that I had something really exciting for you. I want to tell you about a program that we've put together to help you apply a formula that basically shows you how to create an extremely profitable business when you combine this formula with your great service or products. It's called the business breakthrough program, and it's free to join, where you enter the sweepstakes, and you have a chance to win $73,000 in cash and prizes and a Lamborghini. It's kind of a crazy contest, and the formula's exactly what we've used to build several multi-million businesses, with very little money. Now the reason for the grandiose prizes is to generate buzz around the show that you're listening to. But most importantly it's about motivating you to get out of your comfort zone while showing you how to reach your true potential. We need more great entrepreneurs right now more than ever before I believe. For more information just go to rockstarentrepreneurnetwork.com and look for the sweepstakes promotion. My quote for today comes from Henry Ford, and the quote reads, “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” This is Travis Lane Jenkins signing off for now. I want to personally challenge you to dream bigger and take constant action because as an entrepreneur, you are the role model that other people are watching. To your incredible success, take care.
  • 20. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show Page 20 of 20 How We Can Help You We know that finding someone that you can trust online today is hard and that so many “so called gurus” are self-‐appointed and have never really even done what they teach you to do. That’s exactly why we created the Double Your Profits Business Accelerator. This is an exclusive offer for our fans at a fraction of its normal cost. Here's what to expect. We'll Schedule a 'One on One' private session, where we'll take the time to dive deep into your business and tell you what is missing, so that you can have your best year ever! We'll do this by performing a S.W.O.T. Analysis. This tells us your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within your business. This will be an eye opener for YOU, for several reasons, however some of the most common reasons are. As the 'Business Owner' it’s difficult to see the big picture of your own business because you’re in the middle of a daily management. And you are too emotionally involved to completely impartial. This is a common problem for EVERY business owner. It doesn’t matter if you are a one-man army, or an army of 150, the problem is still the same. Travis Lane Jenkins Business Mentor-Turn Around Specialist Radio Host of The Entrepreneurs Radio Show “Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs That Grow Your Business"