This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Jeff Dudan. Where to start with Jeff? Jeff is the founder of a massive franchise, Advantaclean which he started in 1994, built it to over 240 locations in 37 states and exited just last year. He then went on to start Dudan Partners, a company that partners with clients to help them start new franchise businesses, grow existing ones, and invest in potential opportunities.
He is also a former D1 college football player, was featured on CBS’s Undercover Boss, a Forbes Contributor, speaker, consultant, and tireless advocate and supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
And if that wasn’t enough, he went out and wrote a best-seller called Discernment, The Business Athlete’s Regimen for A Great Life Through Better Decisions and this is the major area I want to focus with him today – how our daily decisions as entrepreneurs make such an impact on us, not only now, but for our future. So, let’s jump in.
Jeff has always been a Misfit. He grew up in Chicago and was a great athlete. He originally was basketball star, but found football and loved it. He walked on at University of Northern Iowa, but was a terrible student and after 1 year, could not make the grades. He went to a Junior College, got his grades up and went to play ball at Appalachian State. When he got there, he realized that he was interested in learning and there was a path for him. He started a painting business painting student housing to pay for college and by the time he graduated, it was doing so well, he didn’t need a job. Then, in 1992, a friend from south Florida called and asked if he would come down and work with a restoration company to help get things rebuilt.
He originally thought it would be 3 weeks, but it ended up being 3 years. He cut his teeth in the restoration business and ended partnered with a few others to create the business that would become Advantaclean in 1994. Over the next 10 years, they built out the business with locations across the south. Along the way, Jeff bought his partners. It was in 2005 that he was coming back from being on the road for Hurricane Katrina and drove through the night to make it to his son’s football game and had a realization that he could not continue being away and doing things like he was.
He realized that “Our true values are what we tolerate and must have.” He knew that building this business further would require him to be constantly on the road, so he decided to franchise. In 2005-2008, he sold all of the locations he currently owned as franchises and then in 2009, they launched to market and built it to over 200 locations in 37 states. Then in 2018, he sold the business in its entirety.
What are your values now in business and life?
- Your values are how you operate.
- Then need to be an authentic reflection of your true self and believes.
- Values are choosing.
- You want diversity in your business, but you don’t want diversity in your values.
- Your vision is the dream, then your mission is how you will do it, your values are your choosing – how you decide how you operate, hire, etc.
- Each business needs a value set that works for that business that everyone understands throughout the organization and honors them.
- There is not one set of values. There are personal ones and business ones, but they should and will overlap.
Define Discernment and explain why it is so important to understand…
- At the core – Discernment is a principled, effective, experience informed process for making decisions.
- There is never a 100% success rate with decisions.
- It is all about probabilities and the quality of the good decisions over time can be meteoric on your results.
- If you are business athlete meaning your are going to show up and put the work, you need to define the things you need to sturdy and continually refine to become a better athlete. Decision making is one of the big things.
Is there a process for how to make good decisions that consistently work?
- The first step is knowing your values and using them to aid in your decision making.
- Jeff looks at things like a personal balance sheet and at the 14:30 mark talks about this in detail. It’s best to listen.
- Everything you do as a leader creates a positive or a negative. They both go on your “balance sheet.”
- You have to control your inputs – the things that go in between your ears and through your eyes because they affect your outputs. Make sure your inputs are helping be the best in your outputs.
At the 18 min mark, Jeff talks discusses how he learned to understand the power of his mind and how to shape his thoughts.
- Sports and visualization helped him early on.
- Our brains like to take everything and put it into a pattern and routine.
- Changing these routines take a lot of brain power vs. just the automatic patterns of the subconscious.
- Be intentional about the changes you need to make is hard and if you don’t stick at it, you will revert back to the old pattern.
- Understanding that and looking for these patterns in our lives is critical to changing and growing.
How do we know we are making a good decision and are on the right track?
- You don’t. You just don’t.
- It can take a while to see if a decision was really good.
- We do the best we can and cannot criticize ourselves for taking action based on the best information available.
- People are the biggest variation. They are the X-factor. People create all the variation in our life and this where your gut, intuition, listening skills, and discernment comes in to help make the best decision.
Any daily habits people can practice to make the best decisions?
- Reading and personal growth helps you not only learn, but see others and how they handle problems/challenges and get inside an author’s head is a great way to develop yourself.
- Push yourself to be uncomfortable and get different perspectives. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
- You have to get out on the edge. If you aren’t, you are just taking up space.
What is advice your can give a 1st time franchise to help them be successful?
- No genius attacks for 12 months. Follow the plan.
- Franchises have a track record of success – you change and adapt to the model, don’t try to adapt it to you.
- One of the best reasons to franchise is to learn to be an entrepreneur with guardrails. Franchises allow you to put your entrepreneur toes in the water and learn following a system that is already developed and proven vs. having to do it on your own.
- Talk to a franchise consultant to help you if you needed.
- Make sure to leverage your passions into a business you would be proud to show up everyday.
Advice for someone thinking about franchising their business?
Do your homework.
- Franchise is a completely different business.
- It can be costly to get off the ground.
- You have to be incredibly responsible with the opportunity you are giving to people.
- At the end of the day, it is a people business. Your customers are now your franchisors and you need to develop them and help them to be successful.
- Franchise is also inverse to the general economy. When unemployment is up, more franchises are sold because people are not as secure in a job and look for something else.
- Crises accelerate trends. Franchise businesses during Covid have survived at much better rates than small businesses.
What are the most important things you learned in your sports career that translated well to entrepreneurship?
- Grit. How to persist. The ability to keep going and make it.
- Seek coaching. You’ll never push yourself as far as a coach will push you.
- Keep things simple. Simple metrics that can be measured make all the difference. 80/20 Rule.
Anything else to share?
- Entrepreneurship is something that everyone should think about and we are coming into a renaissance for it.
- Entrepreneurship will rebuild the middle class and grow it even larger.
- When it comes down to it, if you can’t figure out a good, solid reason to say know to entrepreneurship, then say “yes.”
Best Quote: Discernment is a principled, effective, experience informed process for making decisions...
Jeff's Misfit 3:
- Half of life is showing up. Nothing great happens until you show up. How you show up matters, but just showing up is the first step.
- You can make a decision today and have a different life tomorrow. It doesn’t happen overnight, but changes start to happen and the dream happens faster than you think.
- The person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you. We are not victims unless we choose to be. There is nothing that can hold us back except us.
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