GGOB + 21 Hats-1

 

About Our Podcasts

Podcasts for entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders. These messages are brought to you directly from CEOs and business thinkers to help build healthier companies, better businesses, and better lives for both you and your employees.
 

Why Would You Want to Own a Business?

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Shawn Busse, Jay Goltz, and Jennifer Kerhin respond to a somewhat depressing view of business ownership offered by an investor who buys businesses for a living. That view, essentially, is that for most owners, building a business is a daily knife fight of long hours, unexpected risks, slow growth, and meager returns. In this episode, I read most of the investor’s observations to Shawn, Jay, and Jennifer, and get their reactions, which hit upon a bunch of issues that are not widely understood—including how fast growth can destroy a business, how even a profitable company can go bust, and why a good metric to assess the health of a small business might be how many people have been crying in the bathroom this year. While Shawn, Jay, and Jennifer disagree vehemently with a few of the investor’s assertions—”Kiss my ass!” says Jay in response to one—they do acknowledge that he makes a lot of good points, which leads to an obvious question: Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of life? As you might expect, Shawn, Jennifer, and Jay have a response to that as well.

— Loren Feldman

 

We’re Making Good Money. I’m Not Sure How.

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Jay Goltz, Jennifer Kerhin, and Liz Picarazzi discuss their efforts to get a better grasp of what drives their profits. They ask how much of their finances they should manage themselves. And how much should they rely on an accountant or a fractional CFO? When does delegation become abdication? Jennifer says she’s benefitted from hiring a fractional CFO who has taken an active leadership role, including setting up a database that helps Jennifer see in real time whether the fees she’s charging cover the labor she’s deploying. “Whatever she’s charging me,” says Jennifer of her CFO, “it’s absolutely worth it.” Liz, meanwhile, thinks she should be doing more herself. And Jay says he was paying big bucks for a full-time CFO until late last year. “And it was a complete waste of money,” he says, which is why he’s decided not to replace her. Plus: Liz reveals her secret strategy for marketing directly to municipal government officials, some of whom have started to use the term “Citibin” generically. And the owners respond to a question from the head of a cost-reduction service who wonders why she’s struggling so much to get business owners to try her risk-free service.

— Loren Feldman

 

The Worker Co-Op Solution

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

In this week’s bonus episode, Cameron Madill takes us on his succession journey, which began years ago when he started having conversations with older business owners, many of whom seemed to feel trapped. They’d had a lot of success, they were proud of the business they’d built, but they weren’t sure what to do with it or how to leave it. None of the usual options seemed terribly appealing. Hoping to write a different ending, Madill, now in his 40s, started looking for better options much earlier than most owners, and the one he landed on was an unusual choice: a worker cooperative. Now, there are aspects of this model that are likely to give some owners pause. For one, a co-op probably isn’t going to produce the biggest payday for a selling owner. And if the owner wants to stick around as CEO, he or she will have to report to a board, and that board can challenge any and all of the owner’s decisions. But Madill, as he explains in a conversation we recorded late last year, before he stepped down from his role as CEO, decided to sell to his employees anyway. Not only is he glad he did, he thinks co-ops are an option far more owners, especially those struggling to find a buyer, should consider.

— Loren Feldman

 

New Year’s Resolution? Make. Some. Money.

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Shawn Busse, Paul Downs, and Laura Zander talk about why 2023 was so challenging for them and what they plan to do differently in 2024. “Last year was a year when I knew I was going to be making a bunch of investments and didn’t expect to show much or any of a profit,” says Paul. “And I absolutely nailed that goal.” Shawn, meanwhile, thinks his new marketing scheme is working, and Laura is addressing her issues by going shopping — shopping, that is,  for businesses. She’s now bought a total of six, and she offers a step-by-step guide to how even a relatively small business can grow through acquisition, including what she’s looking for (mostly companies in distress), how she sets a price (she aims to recoup her cash outlay pretty quickly), how she finances the deals (not with a bank!), and how she integrates her old and new operations (that can be a bear).

— Loren Feldman

 

This Is What It Takes to Build a Business, Vol. 2

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, we take a look back at the conversations we had last year about the many rewards and responsibilities of business ownership, highlighting some of our happiest, smartest, funniest, and most difficult exchanges from the past year. Along the way, we discuss topics such as escalating salary demands, how much profit a business should make, a new way to sell a business, the problems with ESOPs, how to sell cookies on LinkedIn, breaking a million dollars in annual revenue, escaping the valley of death, and the pain of having to fire a long-time employee. 

There aren’t many places where you can hear entrepreneurs talk about the real-life problems they are confronting right now, today, as they happen—with no guarantee of a happy ending. But those are the conversations I have every week with Paul Downs of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers, Shawn Busse of Kinesis, Jay Goltz of Artists Frame Service, Mel Gravely of Triversity Construction, Jennifer Kerhin of SB Expos & Events, Liz Picarazzi of Citibin, Jaci Russo of BrandRusso, Sarah Segal of Segal Communications, William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group, Dana White of a soon-to-be-named successor to Paralee Boyd, and Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool.

In this episode, we also highlight several appearances by special guests who stopped by in 2023 to discuss their journeys, including Muhammad Abdul-Hadi of Down North Pizza, Jeff Braverman of Nuts.com, Michael Brown of Teamshares, Brad Herrmann of Text-Em-All, Grayson Hogard of Grove Cookie Company, Lance Tyson of the Tyson Group, and Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s. If listening to one of these highlights makes you want to go back and listen to the full episode, that can be done most easily by going to 21hats.com. There you’ll find a transcript of this episode with links to all of the episodes we sample.

— Loren Feldman

 

The Unlikely Plan That Launched Down North Pizza

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

So here was Muhammad Abdul-Hadi’s idea for a pizza joint: First, buy a building in one of the most troubled neighborhoods in one of the poorest big cities in the country. Open a restaurant despite having no experience in the food industry and do it during the pandemic when many restaurants are failing. And hire only people who, like Abdul-Hadi, are convicted felons. If that business plan sounds a little dicey to you, rest assured you would not be the first to suggest that to Abdul-Hadi. But he did it anyway. He built out the restaurant, and it opened in 2020 to lines that required people to wait as long as three hours for their pizza—thanks in part to a marketing plan that created excitement and scarcity by “dropping” pizzas the way some people “drop” special-edition sneakers. And now, Down North Pizza, which has been featured on best-of lists in national publications like Bon Appetit and The New York Times, is looking to expand. A special, year-end bonus episode.

— Loren Feldman

 

Clients and Taxes and Bears, Oh My!

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Jaci Russo explains how she put an end to her eight-month drought of new clients. Jennifer Kerhin takes us through the bureaucratic nightmare of managing remote workers based out of state (“That is a headache that I don’t wish on my worst enemy,” says Jaci, who has found a way to sidestep the problem). And Liz Picarazzi brings us up to date on her ongoing struggle to get her trash enclosures certified as bear-resistant. The common thread to these challenges may lie in these two questions: When is continuing to fight the good fight the definition of entrepreneurship? And when is it the definition of insanity? Plus: Why does it cost so much to exhibit at a trade show? And did you know that as recently as 35 years ago, there were still laws on the books requiring women to have a male relative cosign on a business loan? Those laws are now gone, thankfully, but Jaci, Jennifer, and Liz can all attest that that kind of paternalism is very much alive and well.

— Loren Feldman

 

We Haven't Signed a New Client in Eight Months

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, we meet Jaci Russo, the co-founder and CEO of BrandRusso and the latest addition to the 21 Hats Podcast team. Jaci tells Jay Goltz and Laura Zander how she went from working for Barry Diller to starting her marketing agency. Jaci also explains why she recently decided to introduce a four-day workweek and why she thinks her agency has now gone eight months and counting without signing up a new client—the longest such stretch in more than 20 years in business. “I find it interesting,” responds Jay. “You just said this is the first time you’ve ever had such a long period without new business. And, ‘Oh, we went to a four-day workweek.’ Hmm, how interesting.” Plus: Laura talks about what happened when venture-backed competitors came for the knitting industry and how stressful it is to buy and operate another business in another state.

 

Not Sold on ESOPs? There's A New Alternative

Loren Feldman


Introduction:

This week, two special guests who have built highly successful companies talk about what they ultimately plan to do with those companies. Ari Weinzweig is co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, a collection of mostly food-related companies that are an iconic part of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Brad Herrmann is co-founder of Text-Em-All, a software firm based near Dallas that helps organizations deliver personalized, informational, and emergency messages by text and by phone. Both Zingerman’s and Text-Em-All consider themselves purpose-driven. Both practice open-book management. And so, not surprisingly, the founders of both companies took a hard look at selling to an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, in the hope that the cultures they’ve created might live on. But both companies, independently, soured on the notion of creating an ESOP, one after spending more than $200,000 and coming within a week of closing the deal. And now, both have settled on a little known alternative, what’s called a perpetual purpose trust. So far, only a handful of companies have tried to create a purpose trust for this purpose, but Zingerman’s and Text-Em-All are taking the leap. As both Ari and Brad acknowledge, they’re kind of figuring it out as they go.

— Loren Feldman

Marketing Workshop - May 18, 2023

I Didn't Know It Was Going To Work

Loren Feldman


Introduction:

This week, Shawn Busse and Loren Feldman talk to John Garrett about his contrarian approach to newspapers, marketing, and competition. Garrett has built a Texas-based chain of print newspapers that has managed to outcompete established news organizations and digital platforms for both community engagement and local advertising. Not surprisingly, when he first took out a $39,000 credit card loan in 2005 and started telling people that his business model would feature a monthly print publication that he would mail to everyone in his target communities for free, he didn’t get a lot of congratulations. And not everything he’s tried has worked. An expansion into Arizona, Tennessee, and Georgia, for example, failed early in the pandemic. But almost 20 years after its debut, a period during which most local publications have been in retreat, Community Impact is thriving. And from his seat as a publisher, Garrett offers a perspective on marketing that any business owner would be wise to consider.

— Loren Feldman

About The Podcast

GGOB + 21 Hats-1

The Great Game of Business has partnered with 21 Hats to bring the 21 Hats Podcast to all entrepreneurs in The Great Game of Business community! Hosted by Loren Feldman, this podcast offers real-world business insight. Tune in to stay up to date on today's business issues, hear real stories about organizational challenges leaders are facing, and take away strategies CEOs are using in the business world today. When you subscribe, you'll receive a weekly email notification of this podcast. Plus, receive a message any time a new podcast episode is published on The Great Game of Business "Change the Game Podcast."

 

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