Are you barely surviving from day-to-day? Coach, author and CEO Joe Rojas believes that entrepreneurs should be thriving — and if you’re not, something is going wrong.
In this value-packed episode, we discuss how entrepreneurs can have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and how to derive joy from the journey of getting there.
About Joe Rojas
Respected business coach, bestselling author and CEO of RedSapiens, Joe Rojas is on a mission to create a world where all entrepreneurs can thrive. He is passionate about business building, and business builders. To date, he has helped dozens of entrepreneurs create million-dollar businesses, and then continue to see explosive growth from there.
A coach and technology evangelist, Joe helps his clients design a business that will succeed. The author of ‘How Entrepreneurs Thrive‘, Joe has been a speaker at the SAGE summit and on PTI stages nationally.
Check out this episode if you want to learn:
- How to stop grinding and start truly living
- Why you should celebrate your wins — but not for too long
- What it takes to figure out your organization’s culture
🎧 Listen to the podcast here:
How Entrepreneurs Thrive: Actionable Business Building Tips With Joe Rojas
Looking at your career to date, what are the lessons learnt that have helped you along the way?
I always have a coach — you were my coach back (in the day)! The success that I was able to get for myself, I attribute it a lot to you. I love you so much, because you were such an instrumental part of my growth as a leader.
When I look at the things that I’ve been able to accomplish that are amazing, those (include) spending time with my family, being able to take off three months to be with my son when he was born, with my daughter when she was born, and being able to right the wrongs of the past.'How do we stop grinding and start living a great life? That’s the game now.' Click To Tweet
I have an older daughter, and I needed to reconnect and build that relationship (back up). It’s been great, she spent a week with me. At the end of the day, we get to produce amazing results inside of our own lives, which is why I’m so committed to helping entrepreneurs.
It’s time to stop hustling, grinding, and start living. To do that, you have to build enough infrastructure so that you can live a great life without having to work 100 hours a week.
Entrepreneurs, on average, are required to work anywhere from 55 to 70 hours a week. People go into business to build better lives, but that pursuit means you’re spending less time with family. How do you get around this?
The one thing that we help our entrepreneurs (with) is to build a leadership team. If you’re a solopreneur, being in our peer group helps you, because they become your leadership team. They help you make the decisions that you need to make inside of your business. If you’re going to be effective at what you do, you have to have a team, or it’s you running 24/7.
The big mistake that I see is that, ‘I have to make more money to have a team.’ Sometimes you got to take a pay cut, build a team, and then that team is going to help you leverage yourself so that you can expand.
You’re sitting in that seat now, as a coach. What was it that pushed you to that point, to say, ‘I have to have a team’?
I was cranking between 100 to 120 hours a week. We were producing great results — I had 10, 12 employees, but I still don’t know who anybody in my family was, because all I did was grind and work all the time.
Now, I get to spend time (with my family. My daughter is) an artist. She’s doing this amazing painting on glass now, extraordinarily. She’s 10, and her stuff is like professional artwork.
When I (asked) ‘what is it that I want to have in my life?’, I wanted to have this family, but what I kept doing was not spending time with them. That was the moment where I was like, ‘Wake up buddy.’
I had to level up, (and) part of levelling up is you have to build a leadership team that is proficient enough to be able to run the business in your absence. If you don’t have that, then you’re in trouble. It takes figuring out what you want the culture to be inside of the organization. You have to put the time in. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
How were you selecting the people on your team?
It was about integrity, delivery, execution, friendliness and accountability.
When I was first starting, I just needed a group of people who (could) deliver. It’s about putting the values together, and then creating your interview process around those values, so that you’re finding people who are consistent and congruent with your vision of where the business is going.
As long as you’re under 50 employees, you need everybody rowing in the same direction. You don’t need people who are pulling strong in a different direction — (but) at some point, you need dissent. Dissent is important for growth, but you need a positive dissent.
It’s OK to butt heads from time to time, as long as it’s leading to something that’s fruitful.
In the beginning, you want everybody rowing in the same direction, and nobody pulling the business down. Later on, you’re going to want to get some minds in there that are challenging the status quo.
The biggest challenge that I see for entrepreneurs is they don’t build a culture. They just hire people for skills. If you hire people for skills, you end up with a group of disparate people. I would rather hire somebody for values and train them in the skills, because you can train skills – you can’t train values.
What are the values that underlie Red Sapiens?
The first one we call ‘Defining the future that we are.’ You create the future the way you want (it) to look, and then you work your way back to the present and (ask), ‘What are the actions that I need to take now to be able to fulfill that future?’
The second one — and I think this one is at the core of everything we do — is ruthlessly loving.
The way you say that, I’m supposed to feel warm and fuzzy inside. At the same time, I feel nervous and threatened. ‘Ruthlessly loving’, what does that mean?
It means that we’re going to love you, even when you don’t want to be loved. We are going to stand for your greatness, even when you can’t stand for your greatness. It means that we’re going to hold you to a standard that you may not be ready to hold yourself to yet.
You should be a little scared when I say it. When you’re ruthlessly loving with somebody, you tell them their zipper is open. You tell them they got toilet paper on their shoe, (or that) they got spinach in their teeth. You push them when they don’t want to be pushed (and) argue with them for their own growth.
It’s like going to a gym and you’re that personal trainer who is saying, ‘I’m not putting up any excuses.’
The next one is igniting the fire over and over. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to get excited about something, and then some other shiny thing is going to come. Somebody has got to come back and light that fire again and say, ‘Do you remember that first thing? That new shiny thing – that’s not it. That first thing, that’s what we’re doing.’Define the future and then work your way back to the present. Click To Tweet
It’s not the 20 different projects you have on the shelf — it’s this one.
Two weeks later, you’re going to do it again, and then we’re going to go, ‘Remember that?’ It’s about igniting that fire over and over.
The other piece for us is (being) unafraid of saying it like it is. ‘This idea is not going to work’ (or) ‘this business thing you want to do is a nice hobby, but it’s not a business thing.’ Sometimes you got to say the thing that needs to get said, when it needs to get said.
That couples with ruthless love — not letting your team invest in something that won’t serve them.
The last one is (being) dogged about the results. You got to be like a pit bull about it. Sometimes when you don’t see results, you have a tendency to want to change gears, do something different or fix it. You got to stick in there before the results start to get produced.
Because we merged with Engage and StoryBrand, we’re doing a lot of marketing. People think that they start marketing and in two months, they’re supposed to see results.
Isn’t that the case? I set up a website, everyone should see me!
It takes time. You have to build a presence (and) have the right content. Being dogged about the result speaks to doing what it takes. It’s doing what’s necessary, not what’s possible.
Accountability is a large part of this, too. What metrics are you looking at, to know that it’s going well?
I’ll go back to the first one, defining the future — creating what it looks like when it’s finished, so you know what you’re measuring against.
Most entrepreneurs show up to work every day, and they’re just working on whatever the hell is in front of them. It’s not heading in a particular direction. If you’re going to be dogged about the results, you need to know (not just) what the results are, (but) what they’re meant to be.
There are only four or five North Star KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that your company needs for you to know if you’re heading in the right direction. You can say, ‘As long as this is on track, I’m good.’
The second that KPI goes down — one of them could be customer satisfaction — you know you’re in trouble. Something broke in your process somewhere. Now, you need to go find where that happened. To know where in the process (things broke down), you have to have defined the process.
In order to be dogged about the results, you have to be able to articulate the results and articulate the process that leads you to the result.
A lot of people are very business savvy, but still don’t put these metrics in place. What’s holding them back?
It’s shiny things. I finished a book, Staying Focused in a World of Shiny Things. What are those distractions that keep us from living the life that we want? Shiny things come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. One shiny thing might be, you go out and do a project for a client. You get an award for that project because it’s the best. Now, all you’re talking about is that project, but you know what you’re not doing? Focusing on the next project.
That success inside of your business can become a shiny thing, the same way that any other outside influence can become a shiny thing. What happens is you take your eye off the goal for four or five months while you’re enjoying the success that you had. Now, sales go down, everything goes down, and you’re like, ‘What happened?’
What happened was the shiny thing, but you didn’t see it as a shiny thing — you thought it was the natural progression of a business. You get a result, and then you’re supposed to enjoy it for about five minutes.
There’s something to be said about celebrating an achievement, but what I’m hearing you say is ‘don’t sit on your laurels.’
Acknowledge it, post it on your website, do everything that you need to do with it — but then stop. A month in, you’re good. You’ve celebrated enough. Now, you need to start looking at, ‘What are the next projects?’
Another shiny thing that could happen is you decided you’re going to focus on a new hobby, or on a new thing. There’s nothing wrong with having hobbies, (but) if you don’t prepare your team, and you take your eye off the outcome that you created, the future that you created — you’re not delivering on that.
Companies that are under $500,000 in annual revenue, that are one to three employees, the biggest thing that I see missing by far, every single time, is a plan. There is zero plan. Nothing. No values, no vision, no mission, no quarterly planning, no five-year plan, no six-month plan, no two-week plan, no plan. As cliché as that sucker is, ‘Fail to plan’ — everybody knows the rest.
‘Plan to fail.’ You’ve helped businesses achieve million-dollar successes. What is it that Red Sapiens is doing well?
We’re following our own process, and it took us a while. One of the things that we weren’t doing from 2018 to 2019 was following our process, (even though) we were training our process to other people.
One of the things that we did in 2020 effectively is to follow our process. We’re stepping it up and that is what’s driving the growth. If you follow a process and you set up some good objectives, you’re going to be effective. It doesn’t matter if you do it from my book, from Gino Wickman’s book, from Patrick Lencioni’s book or ‘Think and Grow Rich’ from Napoleon Hill’s book.It doesn’t matter where you get your process from. Pick one and stick to it. Click To Tweet
Pick a process (and) stick to it. If you (do that), then you’re going to produce results. That sounds simple, but that’s where it falls apart. People pick a process and then three weeks later, they change it to a different process. Two weeks after that, they change it to another process. You got to pick one process to follow.
It’s about having patience, knowing you won’t immediately see results. How do you communicate that to your clients at the start of their journey?
What we help our clients do is the short-term results, so they (can) see something. You set goals every week that you’re out to accomplish, without taking your eye off the outcome. The goals have to serve the outcome, because you can’t get the methodology confused with the outcome. What I mean by that is that you have to always keep your eye on the outcome — (but) the methodology sometimes will change. Sometimes your process for producing a result might vary a little, but it’s all inside your intended outcome.
If you’re focused on that intended outcome, and you’re using a process, you may vary that process — but don’t change processes in the middle of it. You have to stick to your guns. If you can do that, you’re going to see long-term results every single time.
Like I said, it’s simple but it’s not easy, because people want those short-term results. You have to have a good series of short-term goals. You shouldn’t celebrate that much — ‘You finished that report, yay!’ — that report (or) piece of content (is) going to drive the next step. You have to celebrate those short wins, but not for a long time.
What is that next win for you that you would celebrate?
We started a program called Thrivers360. We’ve been perfecting the process, and we’re now ready to launch it as a product. For me, having that group with 15 or 20 people in it, that’s the next short-term (goal). That would have me be excited and celebrating for about a week, and then I got to look at the next (goal).
What is the ultimate goal for you with everything you’re working with?
It’s to create an ecosystem (where), if you want to build a $100 million company, I’m not your guy. If you’re a solopreneur and you’re making somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, and you would like to have a $4 million or $5 million company that produces consistent results and lets you employ 15, 20 people, give to charity and have a good life — I’m your guy.
I want to build an ecosystem where, when an entrepreneur enters that ecosystem, that’s what’s going to happen for them. They’re going to build a $4 million or $5 million company. It may take them two, three or four years. It depends on when they enter, what their product is and what they’re doing. They’re going to have that life.
That’s what I’m up to: (helping) people live great lives, because they can employ people. They’re doing the thing that they’re passionate about, (and they’re) making sure that the people who are in their business are happy in their life.
Why is that important to you?
Because I remember how much it sucked when I wasn’t (happy). I had a job where I made a ton of money, worked a ton of hours, but I was unhappy. It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.
Now, I do exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it, and I love it. I want everybody to have that experience of loving what they do, getting up in the morning excited, looking forward to what’s the day going to be like — they’re going to make the difference that they were put on this planet to make.
What advice would you share with an entrepreneur or even an executive, looking to make that next step in their career?
If you’re under $1 million, find a peer group. Have a group of peers, whether you put it together yourself or join a peer organization, like what we’re doing. Get around people who are like-minded, who are looking to head in the same direction that you’re headed.
As an individual, you’re the sum of the network of conversations that you’re in. I know that sometimes we don’t think that, but that is the way it is. Those ten people who are around you, who (you) are constantly talking to — you’re the sum of that. Sometimes you have to upgrade those ten people. It doesn’t mean you cut them out of your life — it just means you have to have other people who are up to something different.
If you’re over that ($1 million) threshold, have a plan, have a clear-cut destination where you’re going in five, 10, 15, 20 years — that’s how we plan around here, because if you don’t have a plan, you’re in trouble.
Those are the two things: have good peers, and have a plan.
📌 Important Links:
- Red Sapiens
- ‘How Entrepreneurs Thrive’ by Joe Rojas
- ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill
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