test-fail-grade Heejin and I attended a Strategic Coach event last week, and what I love most about these events is meeting so many successful entrepreneurs who closely follow Dan Sullivan’s teachings and get rich doing so.

Most recently, however, there was one success story that really stood out. It involved a young man named Charles. I want to share his story b/c it is inspiring and interesting and b/c his principles apply to every business.

Charles told us he attended the University of Southern Illinois b/c “no other school would take me” and that “I did so poorly they were happy to see me leave.” His lack of academic skill limited his employment options, and fortunately pushed him into the entrepreneurial realm (where his lack of academic skill further benefitted him).

He is now 35 years old and owns 20 Sport Clip Haircut franchises; 3 Little Caesar’s Pizza franchises, and 2 OxiClean Carpet franchises with plans to open many more.

Here are a few takeaways:

1. Follow Recipe: He bought franchises and simply followed the recipe without question. More academic people often don’t trust the recipe and overthink things. Charles just plowed ahead.

2. Take Action: Charles constantly takes action without ever over-thinking things (similar to above). Too many business people get mired in analysis and end up doing nothing.

3. Prudence and Debt Avoidance: While Charles always takes action, he remains risk averse and avoids debt, bootstrapping his entire operation with cash flow.

4. Listen to Others/Best Practices: He belongs to industry trade groups and gets tips from more experienced operators. He told us about the advice he got to store sodas in his walk-in cooler instead of a separate soda cooler, saving him thousands of dollars over the course of a year.

5. 80% Is Good Enough: This is a huge Dan Sullivan teaching b/c far too many entrepreneurs strive for unattainable perfection before trying new things or expanding. This is another example of where Charles’ lack of academic skill helped him. He thinks a “B” grade is awesome b/c he was used to getting “D’s” :). No business can afford to get only “A’s.”

6. Know Your #’s/Control Costs: Charles knows every number related to his business – total revenues, per store revenues, expenses, margins, etc. He also relentlessly controls costs despite his ample cash flow. He told us about reprimanding a maintenance man for buying an $80 hose b/c the old one still worked, even though $80 wasn’t even a rounding error relative to his overall operations.

7. Kolbe Test/Know Yourself! This is my favorite lesson and a major aspect of Dan Sullivan’s teaching – take a Kolbe test and figure out what you are good at and enjoy doing, and delegate everything else. Charles’ business did not take off until he did this. Learn how to hire and delegate everything you are bad at. This is one of the most important lessons for business people who try to do everything themselves to either keep overhead low or to maintain control and quality.

Photo courtesy of: FastWeb.com

Jay Voorhees at (925) 855-4491
Real Estate Broker, CA Bureau of Real Estate, BRE# 01524255, NMLS# 335646

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