How I Built My Company in 6 Months – Jerry Fetta
So, there I was…it was about 3:00 pm and I was talking to a friend about my options. You see I had been in the retail financial services industry for 5 years. I had agents, employees, and clients. And I was contemplating whether it was ethical for me to stay in the industry with the company I had built. I had learned information that wasn’t apparent to me in the 5 years prior and that information had lead me to change my beliefs about money and about the rightness of the products and services I was selling. This was a moral and ethical dilemma. I could stay in the same industry, keep making money and growing my business, and be totally fine. On paper this was the “sensible” option. But my integrity wasn’t fine with that. So, after an amount of thought, prayer, and discussion I ended my company. This was November of 2016. We closed our doors, transferred our clients to another firm, and started from scratch. If this had happened two years ago I would have been terrified. I would have been looking for a stable job to fill the gap and mitigate the risk. Once again, it was just me and my wife with our dreams.
So, what did I do? First things first, I knew I needed a service that was valuable and one that I could sell within my personal ethics and what I knew to be right for people. I scheduled a meeting with a mentor of mine. This individual has decades of experience in private lending and real estate investing on behalf of investors. We sat the Windbreak Cafe in the small town of Wasilla just catching up. I did not let him see my cards and know that I no longer had a company. Organically in the conversation we decided it would make sense to work together. This was a game changer and has proven to be one of the best decisions for my clients and for my business that I have ever made. When starting out, find a heavy hitter that you can collaborate with. Someone that has experience, personal ethics, and a trusted reputation. Secondly, get a product you can be sold on. In the whole population, some clients will want your product and some won’t. Regardless, if you aren’t sold on it then nobody can be and you’d be unethical to ask them to.
Next, I called a few select people from my old company. I had 4 people that I wanted to start a new company with. Out of 15 or 20 teammates I only wanted 4. Why? Because these people had grit and personal ethics. I remember at 10:00 pm, late in November, talking to one of my former agents and explaining to him the new opportunity. He had lots of questions. I had some and not all the answers. I spent a few weeks explaining, asking questions, re-explaining, and allowing these 4 people to think things over. Ultimately, they all joined me on my new venture. They probably had doubts, worries, and concerns. But I know for a fact it was my ethical track record and my level of personal commitment that caused them to follow me. You need a winning team. The biggest mistake I had made in the past was starting too small and staying small too long. I was not going to make this mistake again. Go find the all-stars in your world. Present your opportunity to them. They can never consider you if you never ask. They will listen to you because they are betting on your track record and commitment to winning. They will join you because they are betting on themselves.
We had a team and a product! That was all I needed. Personally, my wife and I slashed every single expense we had. No eating out, no splurges, cheap rent, cheap groceries, and lots of discipline. Looking back, this helped and hurt. On our balance sheet, it helped keep our expenses low. This was not helpful for my spiritual, mental, or emotional health. Not wasting money is a smart idea. However, the quality of food I consume, the quality of where I live, and the relationship building experiences I have with my wife and those that matter to me are not things I consider “waste”. This may be the one thing I would do differently. Ultimately, I think by eating healthier, living in a nice, clean, & safe home, and spending time experiencing life with the key people in my life would have helped my success and not harmed me. Be wise with your money. Live like you’re broke, but not like you’re poor. Do not go into a personal recession in attempt to build a personal “boom”.
I knew at this point it was time to grind. I made a list. Who do I know that would be interested in my services? Who do I know that wouldn’t be interested and may know others that are? Who are my current clients? Who are my past clients? Who has told me “no” already? I came up with a small list and began getting myself out of obscurity. I contacted these people 1x per week every week for the next 12 weeks. Whenever I made a sale, I made sure to over-promise and then over-deliver. Every time a made a sale I asked for referrals. My consistency created a pool of referrals that proved to be larger than the list I initially came up with. The bulk of my success came from this activity. Every morning from 9:00 am to 9:30 am I did sales training. (Click Here to learn about the program I used and continue to use today) From 9:30 am to 11:00 am I made phone calls. No matter what. This was my sacred time block. I would lock my door, turn off my email, put social media and distractions away so that I could do 90 minutes of smile and dial. This is where most people quit or decide not to try honestly. The number 1 problem of every entrepreneur is obscurity. Nobody knows who you are. And the ones who do know who you are don’t know what you do. You’ve got to be one of the top 2 names people think of in your space and the only way to do that is to become omnipresent. The only way to become omnipresent is to over-communicate over time so that you become eroded into people’s minds. This is simply “time on task over time”. It is not glamorous and it extremely effective.
Pay dirt! We had begun to see revenue flow in the door within about 2 months. With this new revenue, we could increase our budget, we could move into a nicer place, and we could start having some more fun! We did none of that. We went broke with it. Wait, we just made money why are we broke again? Excellent question! Because we reinvested 100% of our excess back into the company. We did not save some aside, we did not go splurge, and we did increase our marketing, attend courses and events to learn, and spend money developing our people, products, and processes. The “go broke” principle is hands down the most powerful financial tool I’ve ever implemented. Because we had no savings we did not feel comfortable enough to let up or slow down. Because we went “broke” on our company the money created future revenue opportunities. We repeated this cycle over and over until the amount of money we could go broke with grew increasingly larger every few weeks. Do not waste your affluence. When you begin to see money coming into your company do not go celebrate and do not hoard it or save it aside. By doing this you invalidate the flow. Always reinvest. Always go broke by reinvesting. This is one of the biggest myths that entrepreneurs buy into. Go broke!
I was experiencing personal success and at this point I began to look up and see that my teammates were not seeing the same success I was seeing. I was so focused on increasing my own production that I did not spend the time I should have spent teaching them how to take the levels of action I was taking. I took a course on business growth. It was a 3-day course and about 30 hours overall. This course allowed me to fly above my business and come to some important realizations. It had occurred to me that my company had a weak culture, that I was being compensated for the wrong activities and therefore I was performing the wrong activities, and it occurred to me that I needed to learn how to micromanage. Yes, I said micromanage. I’ll explain shortly. Ultimately, the solution to this problem in my mind was to renegotiate the commission contracts I had with my teammates. This wasn’t to be taken lightly so I sought advice. I went to my business coach, I asked one of my employees (big mistake), I asked my wife, and I worked through the pros and cons in my head. Against the advice of my coach, I called a company meeting and announced that commissions were to be renegotiated. With the elephant being released into the room. At this point we had 6 teammates not including myself. I spent the next several hours selling my team on how this would help them become more successful. On paper the math didn’t make sense. They were obviously going to make less money per client. I showed them the things that couldn’t be calculated on paper. I showed them my personal business, how I’d been succeeding, and how I’d spend time teaching them how to model my business rather than me continuing to produce personally at the expense of being able to train them. Your business is not a democracy or a community. If and when you hire people you are ultimately responsible for their success and failure because of the environment you create. You must be ruthless with yourself and others who attempt to jeopardize this intentionally or otherwise. For me this meant realizing that I was stunting my team by creating an environment where I was compensated to work on my own production rather than grow my teammates. It means addressing the areas in their businesses that they weren’t taking responsibility for and being willing to get dirty and help them fix it. You carry the liability and the buck starts and stops with you as the business owner. Be brave and do the right things even when you have fear.
Now, about this micromanage thing. The etymology of Manage means “to handle”. The etymology of Micro means “small”. So, we can assess that Micromanage means to handle someone or something with excessive attention to even the minor details. When you drive your car do you want to handle everything including the minor details? Yup! When you are working out at the gym do you want to handle every workout down to the minor details? Yup! When you are handling a firearm do you want to handle the firearm down the minor details? Yup! You see, micromanage isn’t a bad thing. This term was made to be negative by those who failed to control their lives and therefore quit on having control and needed to have a way to make sense of it. I micro-manage my teammates. I handle every single little detail to provide the best outcomes for them. How did I do this? We learned our metrics and conversion rates to establish quotas. We began measuring statistics for all the important areas of our businesses (database size, contacts made, 1st appointments given, closes, sales made, revenue/commission generated, and profit retained). We began doing this for every teammate including myself. We put these statistics on graphs and learned how to measure stats and trends. We then posted everyone’s graphs publicly within the company so that everyone could see each other’s graph and we could all see whether each other were working or not. Conversations shifted to discussions surrounding statistics and performance. The culture of the company began to change as people became more accountable and experiencing a higher degree of success. Next to the “go broke” rule, managing my life and business through the use of statistics has been the next most powerful tool I’ve ever implemented. We promote based on statistics and statistics alone. We also demote and terminate based on statistics and statistics alone. It is unethical to be a business owner (meaning you lead a team) and not have full control. Many people will say this is not politically correct and it may seem too direct and heavy. Do not listen to those people and instead go handle your company. You have a job to do and your loyalty is to those who are on your team and the success they experience. Do not make personnel decisions based on anything but performance. You’re in the life of your teammates for one reason: to create a stable income opportunity for them. If this exchange isn’t made, you have a down statistic that needs to be addressed or your teammates will terminate you. Your teammates are in your company for one reason: to perform the task you’ve hired them for. If this exchange isn’t made, they have a down statistic and they need managed into a higher stat or you have a responsibility to yourself and your teammates that are performing to let that person go. You are in your clients lives for one reason: to over-deliver the services you’ve promised. If this exchange isn’t made, you have a down statistic and this is technically a form of stealing from your clients. Statistics operate on logic and performance alone. It takes a sane and strong leader to be able to operate with these principles. Go be that leader.
6 months ago, I shut my business of 5 years down. 6 months later we are hitting what used to be our annual numbers with the old company monthly and we now have ten teammates. If you follow these principles your business will succeed. These principles will allow you to handle virtually any area of your life. Having a winning team, the “go broke” rule, and managing people, processes, and things based solely on performance and statistics will cause success. It did for me. Starting a business isn’t easy and won’t get easier. Don’t go for easy. Create big problems that force you to think bigger and create even bigger solutions.
If you’d like to learn more about my story, my processes, and how they might apply to you personally Click Here to speak with a Wealth Coach!
Jerry Fetta is an Entrepreneur and Owner of A.G. Capital Group, the nation’s first and foremost Real Estate based Wealth Coaching firm. We help our client’s build a Life by Design.