This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Karl Maier. Karl is a serial entrepreneur with a knack for doubling and tripling the size of businesses quickly. He’s done it 6 times either as the founder of a company or as part of the leadership team, including 7x’ing one company in less than 4 years.
Currently, he’s on his 3rd software company, Abunden, which helps internal and external business advisors be even more effective in helping their clients to grow and succeed. The software was created from the frameworks for success Karl has tested and applied in his businesses over the years.
Needless to say, Karl has some amazing wisdom for to grow and scale businesses and I’m excited for him to share his secrets with you in this episode.
Karl’s journey was not a straight line. He learned about entrepreneurship from a young age from his grandfather and it created a curiosity in him as to why one company would succeed, and others would fail. As he grew up, he would see and be part of companies and see where they get stuck. Karl developed a passion for helping these companies and that is what he has done.
From his experience, he put together the Abunden Framework to help companies have a platform of the knowledge needed to get unstuck and grow.
Where do businesses get stuck? And from those you see succeed, what are the patterns or consistencies they have?
- In the beginning, it’s about getting the sales and making it repeatable. The entrepreneur gets comfortable with this, but inevitably has to hire.
- It’s once they begin to bring on employees and grow the business around and with them that causes challenges because the entrepreneur has to figure out how to let go and must let go to be successful.
- The breakdown comes in the transfer of information to make that shift. It becomes helping people to do their job rather than the entrepreneur having to do everything.
- The issues occur when the systems, documentation, and processes are not solidified.
- It’s the behind-the-scenes small details that makes the difference – not the “sexy” stuff.
Talk to us about the Abunden Framework and principles you use to build a business?
- Start with “why?” Where are we going? What are goes? Mission? Values?
- Next is deciding when and where people fit in and how you make decisions as a leader and management team.
- Training. You need to train everyone so they can manage, monitor, and develop employees to perpetuate the business.
- Training must be repeatable.
- Systems, processes, and documenting them must also be done.
- When you put these all together, it becomes much easier to run the business and the entrepreneur can delegate more and more.
At the 12 min mark, we talk about deciding what type of businesses people must choose to have.
What is the starting point to go from self-employed to a bigger business?
- You have to be willing to make some changes. If you won’t change, the rest of the company will not.
- Picture yourself as the CEO of the company you want to have and what they will do. Their habits. What can you do to start doing that now?
Talk about how you’ve been able to double sales some many times. What should people know about selling in today’s world?
- Sometimes selling is not enough.
- You have to look all facets of the sale. For example, keeping more of the sale or increasing retention rates increases sales.
- You also not only have to sell to customers, but also to employees to get good ones and keep them which helps your business run better.
- Customers are not just buying your product, but what you believe in and stand for. People buy identity and cause as well nowadays.
Customer retention strategies?
- Making sure you have the right people in the right positions to serve clients.
- Make sure people can be and do their best and love what they do.
- Develop processes to follow up and “check in” on clients.
- Developing service culture within the company.
Talk about navigating pivots. What advice can you give?
- First, you must be willing to admit things aren’t going right.
- There is a difference between an up-hill battle and a lost cause.
- Karl gives an example of business that pivoted during the pandemic, but then also had to pivot back.
- You have to understand what business you are really in.
- It is easy to get distracted with opportunity, but you must know what you do really well and choose the best overall ones to focus on.
- Look at what you promise to clients and what your values are to ground you.
- Communication is important – especially with your leadership.
How do you see leadership?
- What is leadership? Leadership is about motivating people and showing and leading to the vision.
- Management is not leadership.
- Getting people to see how they can help the world and the customers through what they do and how they fit in – their small piece – important.
How does a business set itself apart with customers and distinguish themselves?
- It comes back to the “why?”
- You must communicate why what you do makes a difference and the ways it makes a difference to both the employees and customers.
What has surprised you most on your journey?
- There is a good list!
- The fact that sales is not the end all/be all. It is really important but building a team to deliver is equally important. It’s not just about the sale.
Advice for new entrepreneurs starting out?
- There is a lot to learn – listen to your customers and listen to your people.
- Become an amazing listener.
- Things are not static. What is true today is not the same as a year or a few from now.
- Things constantly evolve and you must continue to adapt.
Best Quote: Sales is not the end all/be all. It is really important but building a team to deliver is equally important. It’s not just about the sale.
Karl's Misfit 3:
- Every time your company doubles in size, everything breaks. Be ready to fix it.
- Motivate people. People are how things get done.
- Listen more than you talk.
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