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Terminal Value

The Creative Business Blueprint with Gail Doby


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Janine Bacani


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We have Gail Doby with us today of GailDoby.com, and what we are going to be talking about is the creative business blueprint And the idea behind this is that if you are building a business, that you need to have a blueprint or a plan similar to how you’re building a house. And it’s actually kind of so I’m a little bit sensitized to this because I was recently quoting out getting solar panels put in my house, and I had to go find the blueprints up in my attic and then take pictures of all of them with my phone to send them into the rep so that they could figure out where the girders are and everything. But anyway, I don’t want to monologue for too long. I’d like to let Gail get a chance to have some airtime here. So, Gail, please introduce yourself and let’s get things started.

All right, thank you. Well, I’m one of those people I’m a little bit weird. I’m one of those half left brain and half right brain people. So I have just been very fortunate to be able to take that background in finance and combine it with a very creative profession. And I help people that don’t like numbers, and I help them get to the point they love them because they love the results that they get as a result of understanding them.

Outstanding. Well, okay, when we’re talking about things like, let’s see now, let me make sure that I say it was creative business blueprint. Right? I’m forgetting my creative value blueprint. Okay. All right. So that’s another swing and a miss. I’m just doing great today. Okay, so the creative value blueprint, walk us through how is this different from a traditional business plan? Because, of course, in a traditional business plan, you say, okay, this is what I’m going to do. This is how I’m going to do it. This is what I think my revenue curve is going to be. This is what I think my cross curve is. My cost curve is going to be you’ll start out with a negative burn. At some point, you hit break even, and then you start becoming profitable. That’s a very noninteresting business school style business plan. Help me walk through the much more interesting and dare I say, sexy business value blueprint.

Well, okay, I think part of this too, and maybe I don’t know the make up of all of your listeners, but certainly entrepreneurs, but we have 85% women in our industry, and I don’t know about you, but in our industry, what we find is that female entrepreneurs are maybe in a different capacity than maybe the men in starting a business. And if we look at the stats at 1.8% of female owned businesses ever hit a million dollars, but it’s more like three and a half percent for male owned businesses. It tells me that we have a different style of work than men do. So from that we have learned and found that the outcomes that our clients are looking for are very specific. We have three. One is they need to have a solid foundational way and approach of structuring their business. Got you. So they got to have a great business model. So that’s number one. Number two, they have to have the right mindset in the business. So this is not just all business. It’s the mindset piece because the mindset is what gets in the way of a lot of female entrepreneurs really hitting their success stride. And then the third piece is they need community. Community can be in different varieties. So it’s the right clients, it’s the right coaches and mentors and it’s also the right sort of mastermind group or support group that’s going to be there and be your friend through these really difficult, stressful times of running a business.

Okay. All right. Well, let’s continue peeling back the onion or unpacking that a little bit here because I think this one of my personally deeply held beliefs is that I think that business and entrepreneurship is the great equalizer. Because the thing is if you go out and create a business, then who your managers and whether they’re bias no longer becomes an issue because your compensation is determined by the market. And incidentally, I’m just going to go on a little bit of a tangent rant here, but we’ll steer the conversation back. One of the things that just makes me badly is how much of the popular press is focused on wanting to address compensation gaps, whether by gender, by race, by whatever, by trying to essentially say, okay, companies, government, etc. And we need you to follow this 500 step process in order to prove that you are hiring and promoting fairly well. That by definition can only benefit a tiny minority of the people out there. I’m like, why don’t we teach the people out there how to go make their own business because then we can create something that could be beneficial to the entire population instead of just this little, tiny bit that hits all the check marks for like a government or corporate career. So anyway, rant overshow, you get to do that. Yeah, but that’s one of the things that just always makes me crazy is there’s all this focus on this one part that can only possibly benefit a tiny, tiny fraction of the affected population. I’m certain, actually I know for a fact there are a great number of people out there. Caucasian males like me can include it in here. But for the sake of conversation, I will say people who are underrepresented minorities or female who could benefit greatly from starting and scaling their own business a huge amount more than will benefit from having revised rules for corporate or government hiring.

Well, I get it and I certainly appreciate that point of view. And I also do believe, and we all know, or maybe the listeners may or may not know, that the majority of GDP is really coming from small business. And so with that being the case, we need to find ways to help all entrepreneurs, whether they’re creative or email or mail or whatever, that they have the skills and the tools to be able to be successful because the results are dismal for the success of businesses. So this is something that really bothers me as I get to see how many people struggle. And that’s what really got me into what I’m doing now, which is coaching and consulting.

Well, I think there’s an analogy that I absolutely loved. So Scott Adams made he’s the Scott Adams known, also colloquially he’s the founder of Dilbert. I spent the first 20 years of my career in tech industry. So Gilbert is like Bible gospel to people in tech. But anyway, the analogy that Scott Adams made for entrepreneurship is he basically said it’s a big think of it as like a slot machine that only costs your time. And essentially what you do is you just keep pulling the handle. You don’t know which pole is going to pay off. If you just keep pulling the handle, eventually one of them is going to hit a jackpot. Exactly. But of course people get anxiety because they don’t know which one it’s going to be or oh my God, I might have to try more than once. Or oh my God, I might have to pivot. Or oh my goodness, I might do something and then it fails and then I’ll have to figure something else out. But one of the other things the numbers very clearly show is that almost everybody who crosses that million dollar mark didn’t do it on their first try. Usually takes more than one bite at the apple. The first thing is you’ve got to be willing to bite the apple more than one time.

Yeah, well, and I think too, and this is really the thing that’s so interesting, and I’m sure this is not unusual just for our industry, but what I’ve noticed is most people start the business because they have a passion for what they’re doing and not because they had a plan for it. So they come into it and they say, oh, I’m going to start a business. So it’s easy enough to go down, pay your $50, register your name, get your sales tax license if you need that and then all of a sudden you hang out your shingle and you’ve got some business cards and in the old days stationery, maybe you don’t even have business cards anymore.

No, you just do a virtual card sync.

Exactly. So things have changed a lot. But the reality is people do not give as much thought to starting a business as they do to getting married or having kids. So the sad part is you’re spending more time running your business than you are at home with your kids and your family. So it deserves some attention and time to think about how you’re going to get to where you want to go and have a real plan with some numbers behind it so that you understand what you’re shooting for. You’re going to fail miserably. And I have had my moments where I’ve had to learn my stuff the hard way too. And I’ve made my mistakes. And I would tell you that today I’m looking at a three-year plan where I’ve got a three year model completely done. I know exactly what our team is doing for the next three years, and I’ve got structure in it. And if you have that, you’re more likely to hit your goals than if you just wing it.

That is absolutely correct. And so I think that’s actually a good segue to kind of the next step, which is forcing yourself to carve out the time to put something like that together. Because if you’re going to do something like that that’s meaningful, it will take longer than an hour.

Well, I agree, and I think one of the things that I did this last year is I took six weeks off. I got an article at the end of the year and it freaked my team out. I gave them over a year’s notice and I said, okay, I’m taking off the end of the year. And so I took that time and I read probably 20 books during this time and I came back with clarity about what I was doing and why I was doing it. And I kind of refocused because I’m looking at the next phase of building succession planning in my business. So the key is to me is that you take that concept that I just shared with you and just carve out 2 hours a week, even if it’s just 2 hours a week and you’re thinking about your business that is going to get you to that plan. But take that time, do that, and consistently put your time for your business on your schedule because you cannot put that last in your day.

Yes. And what I would advocate to is get up early in the morning. I’m not 100% on this, but one of the things that I endeavor for as many days as I can possibly get away with it. My wife and I have two kids, our daughter’s 16, sons 13. So sometimes nights run late, but as much as I can get away with it is to get started at 04:00 04:00 A.m., because you will be groggy and sleepy. But that is magic time when nobody is trying to get a hold of you. The moment the text messages start going off, your time just burns up like a bonfire.

Yes. Well, I’m a 05:00 A.M girl and I believe in that. I start my day with meditation and then exercise. And then from there I’m working on a project. And I also read. I also try to get an hour in the morning to read and then I’ll dive into a project. And so, for example, today I was working on things I needed to do to support the marketing team for the future. So this is really future planning kind of things, but it’s there to support them because I know that stuff in the back of my head. So we as entrepreneurs need to get that out of our head and into some documentation so other people can execute for us and we can expand faster.

Yeah. And as far as putting that documentation together, at least what I found is most helpful is instead of thinking or instead of worrying about all the documentation you need to build, just worry about one document. You need to build the next one and then put one more together after that. Because everything that you document and you can essentially either outsource to an actual an actual subcontractor or can get out of your head to somebody who works for you, then that helps to leverage your time.

I totally agree. And we have odd business and our business, we’ve been in business 13 years, and 14 of those we’ve been virtual. And we also operate with contractors, fulltime people and parttime people. And so we have a way of communicating after 14 years. That’s very efficient. And we got more work done in our little tiny company than a lot of people do because of the reality. It certainly served us well during COVID because we were all working from home. But it’s part of what we do. I work constantly on the business, thinking about it, strategizing, figuring out where the problems are in the business. This is really good fodder for anybody that’s thinking about this is where are you stuck? Figure out where you’re stuck and then figure out why you’re stuck there and keep asking that question until you get down to that root cause of it.

Yeah, I think that’s really important because that’s the thing you’re not going to do. Just a growth curve where you just go up in a nice straight, smooth line, bottom left to top right. What will happen is you’ll make some strides and then you’ll kind of get stuck and you’ll probably backtrack. And then you’ll make some strides and you’ll get stuck and it’ll backtrack. And that’s how that whole cycle goes. And so really you’re going through a growth trajectory is really a continual sequence of getting stuck, unstuck, growing, get unstuck and then grow. The other thing that I would think, too, is that when you’re thinking about doing your planning, just understand that whatever plan you make, once you get stuck, you’re going to have to make a new one. Because I’ve found that most plans are not good for getting unstuck more than once. Maybe twice, but usually not more than once.

Well, I’m going to tell on my stuff here and.

Okay. All right. All right. No secrets. No secrets.

Well, I think this is valuable. And I think it’s best to be a little bit vulnerable about these things because sometimes you learn it late in life, and I certainly can say that I have because I’m in some of the later decades. But what I would tell you was that I’ve always been the ultimate optimist. I believe that the best things can happen, and I’m getting.

Pessimists rarely become entrepreneurs.

Oh my God yes. The only reason there are new businesses because of optimist.

Yes, I’m sure you read the same memes I have. But it’s more or less in order to become an entrepreneur, you more or less have to believe that I don’t care what the odds are, I’m going to figure out a way to do it.

Exactly. And so what I did for many years was I would just focus on what my plan was and where I was going, but I wasn’t thinking about the what ifs. Yeah. And that’s not my favorite place to be because I’m such a positive person. Well, guess what? You better have a what if person on your team that is going to say to you, you know what? That’s crazy, or, that’s too much money. You can’t spend it on that. No, that’s not a good idea.

you need somebody to hold you accountable and to hold you back from doing stupid things.

That would be a piece of advice I would give to anybody that’s an entrepreneur. Make sure you’ve got somebody who’s going to make you terribly mad and tell you you shouldn’t do things. You’re still going to go out and do it because you’re an entrepreneur and you’re positive.

Yeah, exactly. And then they’ll come back and told you and say, I told you so. When they don’t work.

They always do. I just read a book on a huge reader. So there’s a book, I can’t remember the exact title, but if you look it up on Amazon, it’s about understanding that basically everything is a bet. Everything that you do is a bet. And if people want certainty when they are starting a business, that is absolutely impossible. So what you can be certain of is your ability to think well and make good decisions, build the right team and pivot when necessary, which is often in any business. So if you can do that and really take that to heart, you’re going to have a more successful business. But you cannot look at it just from the positive viewpoint.

Yeah, correct. I think unpacking, that idea of basically viewing everything as a bet, I think that is a completely accurate and truthful, because I think the way that a lot of people will see something is, okay, well, you’ll have, say, one of two outcomes. You’ll either win or lose. It will be good or bad. Okay well but the way that you will do the best is not to avoid every negative outcome because then you really won’t do anything that has any upside. It’s to figure out where the opportunities, where the amount of upside relative to the risk, where that ratio is the highest. Because not all of them will pan out, but some of them will. And so what you want to do is you want to figure out where do you have a risk, opportunity, advantage, and then just be patient. And then just be consistent and patient, which is hard. That’s not easy.

Yeah. And I would probably add in here to this, to this whole idea is whatever you think your positive outcome is going to be, take it back 20% and increase your cost factor by 50%. It might be closer to where.

It might be getting there.

Yeah, exactly. Because if you don’t plan for that I can tell you many times I’ve been disappointed. We have tried different things that didn’t work. So that’s our bet. And people look at me and my team and they say, wow, doesn’t that bother you? I said, no, that’s just a business person.

You’ve got to take the risk. But take calculated risk and think about it and try to mitigate that in advance of executing on these things. Really thinking through before you execute.

Yeah, well, I was going to say, on the other hand, if there’s something that worked out, say 10,000 times as well as you thought, would that bother you? No, of course it wouldn’t.

Of course not. But how many of those do you get out of all the decisions? Not that many, but you only need one. That’s what we all think. We might wait 15 to 20 years. That overnight success.

 Yeah, exactly. Look, you just had that one deal. Overnight success. Yeah, I just need to endure 15 years of perpetual failure with absolutely no signs of hope in order to get to that one.

Right. Think of all those sleepless nights and oh my gosh, the stories we could both tell, right?

Exactly. Precisely. Alright, well, let’s see. So I think we’ve unpacked the idea of the value planning framework. What should I have asked you that I didn’t?

Goodness, probably what I would do differently.

Okay, what would you do differently?

Well, what I would do differently is I would have a very clear plan with all of those things that we just talked about and I would have started with a complete understanding of what I was getting into. So business.

If you did that, you never would have started.

I know I probably wouldn’t have 15 years ago. Oh my God.

If I knew exactly what I was getting into, no way. I’ll just go back and get a job.

Well, if I could just share we started in 2008 and so in October we had our first event and we did $86,000 in this first event and it was unheard of at the time. We did these three tele seminar days. So that was the days when you would just call in on the phone and listen all day for three days. Can you imagine? So we did this $86,000. And that was the exact month the stock market crashed. So what I would say to people is,

Just understand that your business is going to go through cycles. You need to plan for those cycles. You need to be prepared financially for that. You need to be prepared mentally for that, because it is very intense and very difficult when you have those cycles and you haven’t prepared.

Got it. All right. Well, Gail, it’s been a great conversation today. So let us know, where can people go? Of course, there’s your website that’s named after you. That’s GailDoby.com g-a-i-l-d-o-b-y.com. But which social networks are the most active on? Where else can people find you?

Well, they can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn almost all the time. Is on Instagram and Facebook for me. If you want to connect with me, connect on LinkedIn. And if you’d like a copy of my book for free. It’s just a shipping charge at scale.Doby.com/designbook.

Outstanding. Gail, really appreciate your time today.

Absolutely. My pleasure. Thanks, Doug.

Thank you.

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