Business Unfiltered
An unfiltered conversation between two veteran entrepreneurs and agency owners highlighting the decisions you'll need to make in your business.
Do You Need Business Insurance
April 9, 2024 • 30 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Do You Need Business Insurance 0:00: Business insurance and its importance. Jeff believes business insurance is essential to protect against financial loss in case of lawsuits or unforeseen events. He cites the low cost of insurance compared to the potential financial repercussions of not having it. 1:54: Business insurance and its importance. Mercer agrees, particularly in protecting against unexpected events like black swan events. He emphasizes the importance of peace of mind when considering insurance, valuing it as "pennies on the dollar." 6:21: Insurance for businesses and self-insurance. Jeff argues that self-insuring for business costs, such as legal fees, can be hazardous as the potential costs are infinite. 8:55: Business insurance options and costs. Mercer discusses the importance of understanding insurance policies and negotiating deductibles to reduce costs. Both hosts emphasize the need for risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis when selecting insurance policies. 14:17: Business insurance costs and coverage. Jeff suggests business owners should consider life insurance policies to protect their businesses, as insurance can help pay off debts and ensure the business continues to operate smoothly in the event of an owner's death. 16:40: Business insurance for service providers. Mercer emphasizes the importance of having a clear understanding of insurance policies, particularly for service-based businesses. His biggest pro tip is to have a detailed conversation with an agent to ensure you understand the coverage and probabilities of different events occurring. 21:58: Risk management and insurance for businesses. Jeff discusses the importance of becoming educated and asking questions when dealing with insurance. 25:14: Business insurance types and importance. Mercer emphasizes the importance of insurance for businesses, especially as they grow. He encourages listeners to educate themselves on insurance and to customize their policies to their specific business model.
Merging Between Companies
April 2, 2024 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Merging Between Companies 0:00: Company mergers and partnerships with distinctions and examples. Jeff defines company mergers and partnerships as a legal entity and a structure, respectively, and clarifies the distinction between partnerships and other terms like co-promotions and affiliate relationships. 3:58: Mergers and partnerships for small businesses. Mergers can be risky for small businesses, but they can also bring cost savings and revenue growth if done correctly. Jeff believes mergers are an underutilized tool for companies, can help overcome skills gaps, and increase business value. 9:15: Business growth and mergers. Mercer prioritizes enjoying the game of business over the specific task or industry, highlighting the importance of personal fulfillment in entrepreneurship. Jeff enjoys solving business puzzles, appreciates good systems, and learned to surround himself with people who complement his strengths. 14:46: Leaving a business after 8 years and starting a new venture. Jeff left his company after 8 years to pursue his own goals but remained an owner and provided strategic advice for 8 more years until the business sold. This decision to leave was influenced by a desire to reach his financial goals which was not possible within the company. 17:11: Business mergers and partnerships. Mercer struggled with marketing his business, preferring long-form content like podcasts and webinars, but never feeling comfortable with traditional marketing methods. Mercer and Jeff discussed merging their brands in December, with Mercer expressing skepticism but ultimately agreeing to the idea on a call. 22:31: Merging two marketing companies. Jeff and Mercer have merged their companies, with Mercer's brand Measurement Marketing, and Jeff's brand DataDrivenU now under one LLC. Mercer is glad to be together with Jeff and can now leverage their combined experience and expertise. 25:16: Business partnership and merger. Jeff and Mercer slow-dated each other through the podcast, taking turns sharing ideas and improving each other's thoughts. The speakers realized they were a good fit after discussing a major opportunity with Profit School. 29:34: Successful podcast merger and partnership. Mercer and Jeff prioritized integrating the back of the house before the front, reflecting their careful approach to mergers and partnerships.
Power of Mindset For Growing Sales
March 26, 2024 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Power of Mindset For Growing Sales 0:00: The impact of mindset on sales growth. Mercer defines mindset as the number one thing needed for business growth, as it shifts the focus from trying to make a sale to providing value to customers. 2:24: The importance of mindset in business and personal growth. Mercer emphasizes that mindset influences the words one uses, as it fuels everything. Jeff highlights the importance of mindset in sales, emphasizing the need to think long-term and not just focus on quick wins. 7:10: Sales strategies and the importance of profit margins. Jeff discusses the importance of playing the long game in business, citing Nvidia as an example of a company that succeeded by focusing on innovation and perseverance rather than quick profits. He also warns against the dangers of getting caught up in "get rich quick" schemes, highlighting the importance of staying focused and adaptable in the ever-changing landscape of technology and business. 10:39: Ethical sales techniques and mindset shifts. Jeff shares his thoughts on sales techniques and ethics, highlighting the importance of having a good product and offer and avoiding pressure tactics that can harm relationships. 12:41: Mindset, focusing on abundance vs scarcity. Mercer emphasizes the importance of maintaining a probabilistic mindset, acknowledging the possibility of being wrong while striving for success. He describes his approach to client relationships as coming from an abundance mindset, prioritizing long-term partnerships over short-term projects. 17:07: Sales strategies and incentivizing employees. Mercer shared how he helped shift a business colleague’s mindset from focusing on what he could get from automation in his business to how he could use it to provide value to others. He emphasized the importance of incentivizing his team with pay plans to align with the company's sales goals. 22:08: Win-win mindset in business negotiations. Jeff discusses the "lose-lose mindset" in negotiation, where both parties feel like they've lost something, but the long-term goal is to win the relationship. He shares an example of offering a low-risk, implementation-based deal to clients, saving them money while maintaining quality. 25:44: Business growth, profitability, and sales techniques. Jeff highlights the importance of reinvesting profits to achieve new revenue levels and maintain margins. The supply and demand curve and pipeline management are crucial for setting prices and growing a business. 28:48: The importance of mindset in business. Mercer shares a personal experience of consistency and stability in his business through a focus on steady growth and systems, rather than quick launches and splashy marketing. He emphasizes the importance of mindset in business, suggesting that a win-win mentality can lead to better connections and outcomes.
Creating New Offers
March 19, 2024 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Creating New Offers 0:00: Creating and improving business offers. Mercer defines an offer as a way to pitch a product or service, keeping it fresh and interesting to keep the market engaged. Jeff agrees, adding that the word offer is more encompassing than sales or marketing, as it includes various ways to pitch a product or service. 4:07: Creating effective offers in business. Mercer reflects on his past approach to creating offers. He emphasizes the importance of connecting sales and marketing to the offer, rather than treating it as a separate entity. Jeff discusses creating an offer, mentioning Alex Hermoza's approach of packing in sales and marketing techniques to make an offer so good that people feel stupid saying no. 7:30: Creating effective offers in business. Jeff discusses the importance of creating a valuable offer that prompts action, highlighting the need to deliver on promises and ensure profitability. He emphasizes the importance of marketing before making an offer, as it creates a warm audience and adds to the demand for the sales component. 11:12: Evolving sales strategies for online offers. Jeff shares how his thinking has evolved on how he approaches offers over time, from a one-on-one problem-solving approach to a more structured and optimized online sales process. Mercer learned from a particular webinar expert (Jason Flattie) how to craft a more effective offer by focusing on the customer's perspective and creating a systematic approach to sales. 16:11: Creating an irresistible offer using objections and bonuses. Mercer shared his recipe for creating an offer: list every possible objection and make sure the offer addresses them. He also learned the power of using bonuses and making the bonus the main selling point. 20:52: Validating products through customer conversations. Jeff emphasizes talking to customers to validate an offer, rather than relying on worksheets or assumptions. He shares his experience of over-indexing on one person's feedback to improve his product. Still, he acknowledges the risk of failing if the feedback is not representative of the larger market. 22:39: Creating effective offers for products and services. Jeff emphasizes the importance of guidance and implementation help when using templates, citing his experience with a book funnel template. He explains the importance of making low-risk offers to potential clients, de-risking their investment, and increasing the chances of a successful sale. 28:02: Simplifying and personalizing sales offers for better results. Mercer discusses the importance of personalizing offers to individual prospects, finding the right balance between high-ticket and low-ticket offers, and avoiding generic templates to build muscle and trust with clients. 29:57: Simplifying offers to increase sales. Jeff emphasizes the importance of creating a simple, single offer per campaign, rather than multiple options.
Managing Expenses
March 12, 2024 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Managing Expenses 0:00: Managing expenses in business. Mercer and Jeff Sauer define managing expenses as pruning for profit, not just cutting costs. They discuss the trap of investing in new opportunities without tracking expenses, leading to unprofitable decisions. 3:33: Optimizing business expenses for profit margin. Mercer cites Keith Cunningham's financial training for Tony Robbins as a key insight on how to think about expenses, emphasizing the importance of making informed decisions rather than simply cutting costs. He explains that cutting expenses can be an effective way to increase profit, just like increasing revenue. 7:19: Investing in personal time-saving measures vs. profit. Jeff suggests that investing in things that make you happier and more productive at work can be a good investment, even if it doesn't directly lead to more money. 9:12: Growth and expense management in business. Jeff emphasizes the importance of business growth, stating that "if you're not growing, you're dying." Mercer seeks to improve expense management by focusing on investments and cutting non-essential costs to increase profits. 11:23: Evaluating investments in tools for business growth. Mercer discusses the challenge of evaluating investments in tools and cutting expenses that don't yield desired results. Jeff evaluates tools by asking if they provide a 10x return on investment, and if canceling the tool would result in a 10x loss of resources. 17:30: Managing finances through paper bills and credit card statements. Jeff shares a "life hack" of receiving paper bills to help track spending, despite previously using paperless billing. Mercer agrees and finds it funny that paper bills are a helpful tool for some, despite the convenience of paperless billing. 20:44: Financial management and expense trimming. Jeff mentions that he only looks at his financials when he wants to cut expenses, which can lead to overspending in the long term. He reflects on his experiences with investing; emphasizing the importance of replenishing cash reserves and right-sizing expenses to achieve profit margins. 25:43: Managing expenses and prioritizing cash flow. Jeff discusses the importance of questioning every expense frequently to preserve cash and avoid wasting money. Both speakers agree that it's important to prioritize cash and make tough decisions about expenses, even if it means letting go of things that got them to a certain point in their business. 28:18: Reducing business expenses through strategic thinking. Jeff suggests consolidating contractors into employees to reduce expenses and improve profit margins. Mercer agrees and notes that this can be a huge source of profit for companies.
Delivering Pitches to Clients
March 5, 2024 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Delivering Pitches to Clients 0:00: Delivering pitches to clients and understanding clients vs. prospects. Mercer defines "pitches" as customized offers delivered one-on-one to clients, while Jeff adds that it's about presenting solutions to the client. Jeff notes that winning business through warm introductions can be beneficial, but it also means that the necessary due diligence and planning may be overlooked, leading to a less profitable outcome. 3:29: The importance of pitching in sales. Jeff acknowledges the importance of pitching in sales, recognizing that it's a necessary step to close deals and feed the funnel. A well-crafted pitch should take potential customers on a journey from problem awareness to solution awareness, making them more likely to choose your services. 7:08: Pitching and proposals in sales. Jeff distinguishes between three phases of a pitch: the discovery call, the pitch itself, and the meeting with decision-makers. He recommends not giving a proposal immediately after the pitch, instead building the solution after the pitch and delivering a proposal 24-48 hours later. 11:09: Customizing pitch decks for potential clients. Jeff describes a common pitching tactic: using boilerplate language with customized examples to make it look like they did their homework, while also showing a personal touch to make it seem specific to the prospect. 14:32: Pitching and sales strategies for small businesses. Mercer’s approach to pitching involves identifying the customer's pain points and proposing a solution that solves their problems, rather than simply selling a product or service. Jeff emphasizes the importance of authority and audience in crafting a successful pitch, highlighting the need to understand the target audience and demonstrate expertise in the marketplace. 18:06: The importance of pitching and audience size in business. Pitching is not about being sleazy, but rather taking the prospect on a journey from problem-aware to fully aware of the solution, often through multiple follow-ups. Jeff suggests that pitching and discovery can increase success rates with unconverted individuals, with audience size determining the number of people reached at any given time. 21:46: Marketing and pitching strategies for businesses. Mercer clarifies the difference between pitching and marketing, emphasizing that pitching involves asking for a specific action (e.g., becoming a lead). In contrast, marketing is more general and builds trust over time. Jeff agrees, noting that a corporate blog post with a clear call to action can come across as pushy, while a more subtle approach can be more effective in building trust and credibility. 25:59: Marketing and sales strategies for business growth. Mercer compares marketing to a map with multiple bridges, each with its unique pitch, to move prospects from one stage to the next. He emphasizes the importance of timing in marketing, noting that asking for a sale too early can harm success. Jeff believes that sales and marketing should work together to create a seamless experience for customers, with marketing providing valuable leads and sales maximizing the value of those leads through effective pitching.
Forecasting Techniques
February 27, 2024 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Forecasting Techniques 0:00: Forecasting techniques for businesses. Jeff and Mercer discuss various forecasting techniques for businesses, including using numbers in a spreadsheet to predict future revenue. They discuss the evolution of forecasting and creating actionable plans in organizations. 3:00: Forecasting and planning for business success. Mercer emphasizes the importance of adjusting forecasts based on feedback and measurable results. He suggests that companies should focus on the end result and be open to adjusting their plans to achieve better results. 8:00: Sales forecasting and pipeline management. Jeff emphasizes the importance of weekly sales meetings for accountability and forecasting accuracy. He believes that having a clear pipeline and grading system (A-D) helps to prioritize opportunities and make informed hiring decisions. 12:21: Weekly forecasting and probability in business. Mercer emphasizes the importance of weekly forecasting to stay on track and make adjustments as needed. He emphasizes the importance of using probability in forecasting, as it allows for flexibility and adaptability in the face of uncertainty. 17:27: Forecasting and financial literacy for business success. Jeff discusses the importance of forecasting in business, highlighting the need to anticipate and prepare for seasonal fluctuations in revenue. Mercer finds maintaining weekly forecasts for multiple income streams surprisingly quick, taking only 30 minutes per week. 20:58: Forecasting and decision-making in a business setting. Mercer relies on different departments for information but pulls information manually to better understand the numbers. He doesn't automate the forecasting process because he wants to get his hands dirty with the numbers and think about each one as he types. 24:17: Financial forecasting and planning for businesses. Jeff emphasizes the importance of financial literacy in setting up a financial planning system, citing the need for granularity and regular number-checking to avoid blindly relying on summaries. Mercer offers courses in forecasting through their academy but acknowledges the challenge of getting started and achieving the level of institutional knowledge required for effective financial planning. 28:35: Forecasting for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Jeff discusses the importance of forecasting in business, sharing personal experience and tips for creating a five-year forecast. Mercer emphasizes the importance of having a plan in place for the month, quarter, and year, and encourages listeners to start simple and build muscle by focusing on the plan.
Dealing with Sunk Costs
February 20, 2024 • 0 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Dealing with Sunk Costs 0:00: Dealing with sunk costs and the sunk cost fallacy. Mercer and Jeff discuss the concept of sunk costs and the sunk cost fallacy. 3:05: Sunk costs and decision-making in business and personal finance. Mercer and Jeff discuss the concept of sunk costs and how it impacts decision-making. Jeff discusses the concept of sunk cost fallacy in business, explaining that it makes sense to continue investing in something if you can afford the next step, not if you're going into debt, or it's not worth the opportunity cost. 6:51: Sunk costs and opportunity costs in business. Mercer describes a feeling of tension and frustration when a project is not working as expected; that tension is released when he lets go and allows himself to see the situation with fresh eyes. Jeff reflects on how his perspective has shifted from saying "yes" to opportunities to prioritizing "no" due to the scarcity of time and resources. 12:53: Recognizing and overcoming sunk costs in business and personal life. Mercer reflects on his past experiences with saying yes to everything and recognizing the importance of disconnecting emotions from sunk costs. Mercer and Jeff discuss the value of coaching in providing unbiased, fresh eyes to help individuals recognize when they're holding onto something that's no longer serving them. 15:32: Marketing strategies and adapting to change. Mercer shares a story about a promotion they ran with a copywriter, where they repeated the same strategy from an earlier campaign with poor results. Mercer emphasizes the importance of being open to feedback and willing to adapt to improve and move forward. 21:11: Agency inefficiencies and poor strategies in digital marketing. Jeff shares his frustration with agencies that lack direction, strategy, and competence in their advertising efforts. Mercer emphasizes the importance of researching and understanding the market's wants and needs to create effective ads. 23:51: Investing and trading strategies. Mercer shares a lesson from trading: the game is not to win all the time, but to keep playing with a good system that gives you an edge. Mercer advises being non-emotional, as the market provides instant feedback on your worth. 28:51: Investing and avoiding emotional decision-making. Jeff discusses the differences between retail and professional traders, sharing personal experiences and insights. Mercer emphasizes the importance of being open to feedback and being wrong, as it solves the tension problem in decision-making.
Reinventing Yourself
February 13, 2024 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Reinventing Yourself 0:00: Reinventing oneself. Mercer and Jeff discuss reinventing oneself, with Mercer reflecting on his New Year's resolutions. 1:05: Reinventing oneself for personal growth and success. Reinventing oneself involves changing one's identity, skills, and habits to reach new goals, whether in business or personal life. Mercer shares insights on reinventing oneself, acknowledging the need to break free from past versions and embrace growth. 6:02: Reinventing oneself and delegating tasks. Mercer reinvents his mentality to manage time, unlocking new ideas and implementations. 11:35: Reinventing oneself in business to adapt to changing times. Jeff argues that bigger is better in business due to external factors like attrition and one needs to reinvent oneself every 2 years to stay in business. 15:14: Business growth and delegation. Mercer recognizes the limitations of trying to apply complex business strategies to one's own small business without first acknowledging and accepting one's current situation. 20:51: Business books and their limitations. Jeff discusses the idea of "reinventing oneself" and the potential dangers of emulating negative archetypes like Steve Jobs or Don Draper. He criticizes business books for glossing over challenges and oversimplifying success. 25:06: Personal growth and reinvention through self-awareness and self-improvement. Jeff emphasizes the importance of mindset in business success, disagreeing with the idea of trying to be like Amazon. Reinvent yourself by accepting what needs to change and taking ownership of your mistakes, rather than mimicking others.
Expense vs. Investment Mentality
February 6, 2024 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Expense vs. Investment Mentality 0:00: Viewing business expenses as investments. Mercer and Jeff discuss the difference between expense and investment mentality in business. 1:17: Expenses vs business investments. They discuss the distinction between expenses and investments in business, with a focus on how they are perceived in the sales process. 4:44: Expenses as investments, time management, and prioritization. Mercer and Jeff discuss the mindset shift from viewing expenses as necessary investments, rather than pure costs. 8:16: Investment mindset in business and sales. Jeff discusses the importance of adopting an abundance mindset in business, particularly with investments and sales. Mercer helps clients see investing in analytics as an investment, not an expense, leading to better sales and results. 14:19: Marketing strategy and mindset. Mercer emphasizes the importance of a strategic mindset in marketing, rather than just relying on tools and tactics. 16:39: Recognizing and addressing bad investments in business. Mercer recognizes and addresses misclassified expenses as investments in his business. 20:34: Mindset and investing in coaching for business success. Jeff reflects on the unsuccessful client vs the successful client and the mindset of viewing coaching as an expense vs. as an investment in growth. 23:31: Investing time and money for personal growth. Mercer shares a real-world example of how he shifted his mindset from viewing a company as an investment to an expense, and then back to an investment again. 28:10: The importance of mindset in business decision-making. Mercer and Jeff discuss pricing strategies, including raising prices without adding value.
Failing vs Being a Failure
January 30, 2024 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Failing vs Being a Failure 0:00: Defining failure and being a failure in business. Mercer defines failing as a natural part of life, happening every day while being a failure is a finality and an identity. Jeff agrees, adding that failing is feedback while being a failure is an emotional identity that can lead to a stopping point. 3:02 Impostor syndrome and comparing oneself to others. Jeff has struggled with impostor syndrome, feeling like a failure despite being successful by others' standards. Mercer has also experienced impostor syndrome, feeling inadequate compared to peers at high-level masterminds. He reflects on the importance of not comparing oneself to others, as it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a lack of growth. 7:17: Personal growth and success through embracing failure. Jeff reveals his motivation for success: overcoming feelings of failure to reach his full potential. He acknowledges the importance of stepping out of his comfort zone to upgrade his life and achieve his goals. Jeff, emphasizes the importance of mindset and defining failure and success on one's terms. 10:57: Using masterminds for growth and learning. Mercer seeks to improve by joining mastermind groups, and acknowledging his shortcomings while being open to feedback from others. 13:28: Using data to avoid failure in business. Mercer emphasizes the importance of collecting data from micro failures to inform future decisions and avoid getting stuck in a failure mindset. Jeff agrees, highlighting the need for a growth mindset and instinct to make adjustments based on data, rather than relying on a single data point to determine success or failure. He emphasizes the importance of gathering data from various sources, to inform business decisions and avoid failure. 18:32: Embracing failure and finding alternative solutions. Mercer reflects on his past mindset towards failure, realizing he was fueled by it but now sees the importance of being open to feedback and adjusting his approach. He encourages the listener to embrace the idea of admitting when something is ugly and exploring new approaches, rather than stubbornly continuing down a specific path. 21:27: Marketing strategies and failure. Mercer discusses the importance of adaptability in business, citing the example of companies that double down on failed strategies. Jeff agrees, noting that playing to win versus playing not to lose can make a significant difference in success. He emphasizes the importance of understanding failure in marketing, highlighting that it's not just about personal failure but also failing to connect with the target audience. 25:33: Reframing failure as progress. Mercer discusses the importance of reframing failure as a necessary step towards progress, rather than a personal setback. Coaching support from others who are detached from the outcome can provide valuable insights and help reframe failure as a learning opportunity. 27:46: Failing vs. being a failure in business. Jeff believes the best coaches find good in what you say and lend advice on how to improve. Mercer ends with: "Don't be afraid to ask for help, and keep learning from failures."
Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks
January 23, 2024 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks 0:00: Staying up-to-date in business as an experienced entrepreneur. Old dogs learning new tricks: Staying fresh, and open to new ideas while leveraging experience. 1:13: Adapting to new technology while preserving old methods. Jeff emphasizes the importance of updating one's mindset, skill set, and business strategies to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market. He grapples with the tension between sticking with tried and true methods versus embracing new technology, acknowledging that both approaches have merit. Mercer acknowledges the benefits of automation and AI but is hesitant to switch from a legacy platform like WordPress to a newer one without a clear benefit. 4:48: Using AI and upgrading tech stack for business success. Mercer and Jeff discuss the concept of "move fast and break things" in the context of business and innovation. Jeff shares examples of how Facebook and other companies have adopted this approach, including introducing new products and features despite potential risks. He also highlights the downsides of breaking things, such as losing valuable resources or alienating customers, and how maturity and business stage can impact this approach. Jeff discusses the importance of reevaluating technology stacks every 2 years to stay up-to-date and efficient. He mentions using Kajabi as an all-in-one platform to replace his WordPress system, highlighting the need to adapt to new tools and systems. 10:02: Evolving business strategies and team management. Mercer discusses the importance of evolving with the market and staying up-to-date with industry trends, even for lower-level team members. Jeff shares how he addressed a lack of project management skills on his team by investing in software, training, and up-leveling his team's skills. 11:57: Staying up-to-date in the digital marketing industry. Jeff discusses ways to stay up to date with industry changes, including newsletters, YouTube, podcasts, and networking with other professionals. He emphasizes the importance of resourcefulness and taking action to learn new techniques, rather than simply relying on surface-level information. Mercer recommends paying attention to emails from Google and other providers for important updates and changes. 15:56: Evaluating and improving marketing strategies. Mercer discusses the importance of constantly evaluating and improving marketing tactics, by asking yourself if the current approach is still the best possible way to achieve goals. He highlights the need to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and technologies, such as automation and first-party databases, and to continuously measure and evaluate their effectiveness. He also emphasizes the importance of asking probabilities-based questions to determine the potential benefits of investing time and resources into new tactics or approaches. 18:54: Data-driven marketing and analytics. Jeff discusses the changes in Google Analytics and how it has become more of an analyst tool rather than a marketer's tool. He expresses frustration with the new interface and the need to become more deliberate about data collection and analysis. Jeff emphasizes the importance of data-driven decision-making in marketing, citing examples of how external factors can force a company to adapt and change. Jeff shares his personal experience of using data to identify changes in open rates and click-through rates, and how this led him to adjust his marketing strategies. Using data and feedback to improve systems and decision-making. 23:54 Mercer emphasizes the importance of using data to make decisions and having feedback loops in systems to improve them. He suggests asking "What worked, what didn't, and what's next". Mercer stresses the importance of evaluating what works and what doesn't in various industries, and how AI can assist in this process. His company uses a weekly process to evaluate what worked, what didn't work, and what's next, which has helped them navigate through changes in their industry. 27:15: Business growth and adapting to change. Jeff discusses the importance of indicators to identify when change is needed. Old dogs can learn new tricks with data-driven insights.
Developing a Financial Runway
January 16, 2024 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Developing a Financial Runway 0:00: Financial runway for businesses. Mercer defines financial runway as the amount of time a business can keep operating with its current expenses, based on the amount of money it has in the bank. Jeff agrees, adding that he measures a financial runway in terms of time, such as months or weeks, to determine how long a business can continue operating if revenue drops to zero. Mercer mentions the idea of a "financial runway" and how it's evolved over time, with a goal of having enough money to invest in the business without being too conservative. Jeff shares his own experiences with hiring employees despite not having the full salary amount in the bank, taking calculated risks to grow the business. 4:26: Financial planning and emergency funds for a business. Jeff uses a 3-6-12 month runway guideline for aggressive hiring, considering payroll expenses as the biggest factor. Mercer prioritizes having enough runway to figure out the next step if everything goes down to zero, with a goal of at least 2 weeks of payroll coverage. Mercer discusses his approach to financial management, prioritizing long-term stability over short-term gains. He views financial management as more than just revenue, including credit card limits and emergency funds. He believes in setting up multiple sources of finance to extend his financial runway, rather than relying solely on cash reserves. 9:32: Financial mindset and risk management. Jeff discusses the importance of maintaining a conservative financial mindset, even when thinking that it's unlikely to go to zero. He emphasizes the need to balance being too conservative with being aware of the potential for unexpected events, such as a black swan event. 11:18: Financial runway and risk management for businesses. Jeff discusses the challenges of managing expenses during a pandemic, highlighting the need to adjust one's mindset from "it's going to go to zero" to "there's always a chance it could go to zero." Mercer agrees, noting that big, high-ticket expenses like payroll can be particularly challenging to manage during uncertain times. He emphasizes the importance of being aware of the possibility of revenue going to zero while also building reserves and managing expenses. 16:15: Financial runway and risk management for small businesses. Jeff discusses the importance of runway for small businesses, emphasizing the need for redundancy and backup plans to survive setbacks. His approach involves considering how many months of living expenses he has, as well as how many pieces of redundancy he has to see his business through to completion. 20:13: Financial discipline and business success. Jeff discusses the importance of iterative approaches and learning from mistakes in business and sports. Revenue growth in business is unpredictable and can happen slowly or quickly, and spreadsheet projections are often inaccurate. Financial discipline is key to success, as it allows for controlled spending and revenue growth. 23:30: Managing business reserves and financial discipline. Mercer reflects on growth and reserves, it’s harder to save three months of expenses now than five years ago. Jeff expresses frustration with the "curse of more," where having too much money can lead to overspending and depleting reserves. He suggests having a financial discipline plan in place to avoid this scenario, including setting a target number of days for reserves and regularly reviewing and adjusting the plan as needed. 26:33: Financial runway management for businesses. Jeff emphasizes the importance of making more money through sales and controlling expenses to ensure a business's financial success. Mercer agrees with the idea of momentum and accepting where a business is in its growth stage, with a focus on proper number analysis for decision-making.
Hacks for getting your time back
January 9, 2024 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Hacks for getting your time back 0:00: Time management hacks for entrepreneurs. Mercer and Jeff discuss hacks for getting time back, with Mercer emphasizing efficiency and maximizing potential, while Jeff questions the need for time hacks. Both agree that time is a scarce resource, and they share strategies for gaining control over it, but Mercer acknowledges that arriving at a state of complete control is unreachable. Mercer plans to conduct a "mental reset" by listing out all tasks and determining which ones are still relevant, delegating some to others, and finding ways to increase efficiency. The first step is to list out all tasks and have a conversation with himself about what should be continued, stopped, or delegated. 3:39: Time management and productivity for small business owners. Jeff reflects on his time management and realizes he has shifted from a balance of "maker schedule" (creating) to "manager schedule" (meetings and management), leading to decreased productivity and happiness. He plans to rebalance his schedule to prioritize "maker schedule" tasks and regain momentum, to feel more productive and in his zone of genius. Jeff recognizes the need for strategic time management and self-managing tactical people and reevaluating the role of management in the process. Jeff considers alternative approaches to management, such as hiring gig workers or focusing on discrete projects, to optimize productivity and profitability. 7:34: Managing meetings and reducing unnecessary ones. Mercer discusses the issue of too many meetings and how they can create more work, rather than getting things done. To address this, his team implemented a rule that meetings must have a clear agenda and cover only the most essential topics, with any additional ideas or topics not included on the agenda not being discussed. This simple switch helped the team become more self-managed when it comes to meetings and eliminated the wandering and tangential discussions that can occur without a clear agenda. 10:26: Meetings as a form of management and training. Jeff acknowledges that meetings can be a form of management and on-the-job training, but also recognizes that they can be inefficient and lead to a time suck. He suggests that sometimes a meeting could have been an email or message instead and that it's important to figure out the most efficient way to communicate and manage team members. 13:02: Streamlining meetings and reducing unnecessary ones. Jeff consolidated recurring meetings into one weekly meeting to free up time and focus on his zone of genius. Mercer uses 15-minute headline calls to stay organized and efficient, with a different agenda for each call to keep everyone prepared and on track. 15:29: Time management techniques for productivity. Mercer emphasizes the importance of assigning tasks with momentum, rather than just assigning them. Mercer is now adopting the technique. Jeff suggests using a whiteboard to brainstorm ideas, which can be batch-produced into a spreadsheet for later use. Jeff's process involves writing down ideas, adding notes, and then riffing on them during a 30-minute walk to flesh out content. 20:45: Time management strategies and delegation. Mercer discusses the importance of time management, particularly in delegating tasks. He highlighted the need to measure where time is spent and list tasks to delegate effectively. Both speakers emphasize the importance of strategic thinking when it comes to time management, rather than simply using tools without a clear plan. 23:46: Quarterly off-the-grid time for personal growth and data capture. Jeff recommends spending at least one day a quarter off the grid, away from work and business responsibilities, to focus on personal happiness and problem-solving. He uses quarterly off-the-grid time to write down on paper or whiteboard what makes him happy and what the solution is, rather than relying on digital data capture. Jeff believes investing in automation and AI can save time and increase profitability, allowing for double the efficiency and profit. 26:38: Business strategies and hacks for productivity. Mercer likes the idea of taking a week-long break to disconnect and think and has found value in attending conferences and events to generate new ideas. Mercer shares an anecdote about staying an extra day and finding it helpful for capturing ideas and maintaining momentum. They plan to discuss financial runways and spending money in a future episode of the podcast.
Goals for 2024
January 2, 2024 • 30 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Goals for 2024 0.00: Mercer and Jeff Sauer discuss their goals for 2024, including holding themselves accountable through podcast form. They organize their goals into buckets such as financial, business, and personal, and plan to share their progress throughout the year. Jeff emphasizes the importance of continuous goal setting and execution, rather than setting new goals each year. 3:12: Personal growth and family goals for 2024. Jeff wants to reestablish himself as a brand by starting a personal YouTube channel and being more authentic online. His personal goals include taking his family on a trip every quarter and separating his personal and business life. 5:54: Personal growth and business goals. Jeff delves into business strategies, the power of prioritization, and a visionary 10x idea of "service stacking." Mercer desires to work on his need for control, accepting that some things are out of his control, and improving his relationships through self-reflection and growth. Jeff discusses the importance of taking time to think and listen, and how it can lead to better decision-making and a more productive workweek. He aims to do less in 2024 than he did in 2023, as the team was overworked from too many projects. 10:57: Business strategy, prioritization, and 10x ideas. Jeff plans to write a book on "service stacking" and selling coaching and continuity programs. 14:15: Marketing strategies for a business. Mercer discusses the importance of creating lower-ticket offers to reach a wider audience and increase sales. He aims to triple down on lower-ticket offers and improve targeting to solve marketing challenges. 16:33: Business goals, marketing strategies, and monetization models. Mercer and Jeff discuss their tendency to overcomplicate things and add their spin to ideas, rather than simply following instructions. They both acknowledge the importance of changing their relationship with their audience and being more accepting of others' ideas. Jeff discusses his business model shift from courses to more free content with sponsorships and affiliate offers. He aims to be more vulnerable and real, while still providing value to his audience. Jeff believes this change will allow him to be more useful to people without requiring direct payment. 22:12: Business growth strategies and brand development. Mercer wants to explore new options and find new ways to bring in revenue and exchange value between his business and the marketplace. He is interested in the concept of sponsorship deals and emailing a list to promote a product demo or vendor talk. Mercer is launching a new brand called Automated in 2024, which will focus on other business systems entrepreneurs need help with, in addition to measurement systems. 25:09: Podcast goals and alignment. Jeff wants to keep the podcast light and enjoyable, with relationship-building as the primary goal. He is not actively trying to monetize the podcast but rather sees it as a way to build their brand and establish a connection with their audience. Jeff is focused on creating content that resonates with their audience and doesn't feel the need to pitch services too heavily, instead relying on anecdotal conversations and word-of-mouth. Mercer and Jeff are aligned on their goals for the podcast, including building a relationship with early adopters and growing the audience through organic means.
Predictions for 2024
December 26, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Predictions for 2024 0:00: 2024 predictions for business owners. Jeff and Mercer discuss macroeconomic trends and patterns for 2024, with a focus on navigating through them as business owners. 2:03: The state of the economy in 2023 and 2024. Economic challenges continued into 2023, with layoffs, cutbacks, and decreased consumer spending. Despite pessimism, there is hope for 2024, with potential signs of economic recovery. Mercer predicts a slightly flat to slightly down economy, with consumers continuing to go into debt but still manageable. He believes larger companies are taking steps to prepare for a potential economic downturn. 6:07: Economic recovery and potential avoidance of recession. Jeff believes the economy will turn around in the second half of 2024, potentially avoiding a recession, as businesses are more bullish now and consumers never really led the recession. He thinks it takes a year for something to correct itself, so by the second half of next year, the economy could be back to normal, like pre-2019. 8:09: Macroeconomic impact of rising interest rates on businesses and consumers. Jeff expresses concern about the current expensive money environment, predicting it will negatively impact businesses and consumers if interest rates continue to rise. He believes businesses will invest if interest rates stay low or decrease, but if rates continue to rise, it could lead to a year or six months of waiting for the impact to reach consumers. Mercer believes that people will adjust to higher interest rates as they become more normalized. He predicts a rise in micro and nano businesses due to AI-driven entrepreneurship. They agree that existing companies will prioritize profitability in 2023, with management taking a more active role in decision-making. 13:08: Acclimating to a new economic normal. Jeff discusses the concept of acclimation in business, explaining how it involves adapting to new conditions and making long-term decisions despite short-term challenges. He shares his personal experience of building a company during difficult economic conditions, which has helped him develop resilience and a long-term perspective. 15:49: Business strategies in a post-AI world. Businesses need to think long-term, making strategic moves like chess, not checkers, to adapt to market changes. Expect consolidation in AI and automation, with more features being integrated into existing platforms, and less emphasis on individual companies. Jeff predicts that AI will consolidate roles and companies, leading to pivots and new business models. AI will lower the floor on what tasks are valuable, making some people no longer valuable. He advises agencies to embrace AI as a cost-saving measure and pivot their business models to stay relevant. 21:02: AI trends in 2024, including personal AI, data privacy, and digital marketing automation. Jeff predicts AI will replace low-level writers and intern positions in the industry, leading to cost savings and new business models. Mercer agrees that AI will enable pivoting to more valuable positions and management tasks once it can ingest the right data set. AI will be incorporated into digital marketing platforms for analysis and decision-making. Jeff believes manual effort should be prioritized before automation in digital marketing campaigns. 25:13: AI's impact on workforce and data organization. Jeff predicts AI will reduce the need for a workforce in certain positions by 20% in 2024, with integration between tools being key. Mercer agrees, stating that AI will make things more efficient and replace people through attrition, allowing management to introduce AI solutions seamlessly. Organizing data before using AI will become crucial in 2024. 28:31: AI's impact on jobs and industries in 2024. Jeff expresses concern about job replacement by AI, while Mercer believes trades will see a "bump" and more people will pursue physical work. Both speakers agree that there will be a shift in job roles and industries, but AI will eventually replace some jobs, while others will remain in demand. Predictions for 2024 include a reduced workforce and increased use of AI in businesses.
Leveraging Cash
December 19, 2023 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Leveraging Cash 0:00: Leveraging cash to improve business operations. Leveraging cash to make the business run more smoothly by investing in systems, advertising, and employee retention. 1:50: Managing cash flow in business. Mercer and Jeff discuss how to manage cash flow in a business, with Mercer emphasizing the importance of keeping cash for a rainy day and Jeff highlighting the benefits of hiring ahead of the game. Jeff suggests that people often view cash as an expense rather than an investment, and Mercer agrees, noting that investing in business growth can lead to long-term returns. Jeff and Mercer both emphasize the importance of having buckets of cash to smooth out fluctuations in business income and expenses. 4:52: Managing cash flow, team, and payroll structure for business growth. Mercer prioritizes maintaining a 3-month reserve account to handle unexpected expenses and payroll, reducing stress and allowing for clearer decision-making. He has made investment mistakes in the past, such as overestimating the potential of a new role or component, and advises cutting losses early to avoid further losses. Mercer discusses the importance of payroll structure and how it can impact team performance. He suggests redistributing payroll to incentivize better performance and achieve growth. 8:57: Saving money by prepaying annual expenses. Mercer discusses how he saves money by prepaying annual expenses, such as vendor invoices, to avoid finance charges. Mercer shares his strategy for negotiating discounts with vendors, including asking for a year-long payment plan in exchange for a lower price. 11:24: Leveraging cash reserves for business growth. Jeff and Mercer discuss the benefits of overfunding a reserve account, including reducing future expenses and giving founders more stability and leverage in their business. Distributing money to oneself from a profitable business can provide comfort and allow founders to make long-term decisions without worrying about financial instability. Jeff discusses leveraging cash flow by distributing it to oneself, such as buying a house or investing in high-risk investments like Bitcoin. He also mentions investing profits from their holding company into their travel blog to grow its future potential. 15:58: Investing in AI and automation for business efficiency. Mercer discusses investing in tools to improve efficiency and forecasting, mentioning AI training programs and Chat GPT as examples. He highlights the importance of tax planning, citing the benefits of having a CPA and bookkeeper on board. 18:35: Common mistakes in leveraging cash reserves to improve business operations. Mercer shared a mistake he made with leveraging cast to make his business run more smoothly: expanding too fast and bringing in people without a strategy. He also mentions mistakes with leveraging employees, including not setting realistic expectations and not investing in training. Jeff advises against hiring someone with a "mythical unicorn skill set" just to fill a role, as it can lead to misery and failure. He also cautions against filling out an org chart too quickly, as it can be expensive and disruptive to a small business. Jeff suggests that organically adding one position at a time is a better approach than replacing multiple roles at once. 24:22: The value of mastermind groups for entrepreneurs. Mercer joined a mastermind group to get out of his head and learn new tactics but found that it also became a profit center for his business. Jeff struggled with acting on the advice given in mastermind groups but found them valuable nonetheless. Both speakers emphasized the importance of finding the right mastermind group that aligns with your business goals and provides valuable insights. 27:33: Leveraging cash flow for business growth. Jeff discusses the importance of investing in oneself and one's business through books, masterminds, and hiring experts. Mercer agrees and shares his experience of hiring others for their expertise in mastermind groups. He advises us to think through how to use money best, considering both short-term needs and long-term goals.
Getting Outside Investment
December 12, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Getting Outside Investment. 0:00: Mercer defines getting outside investment in a business as receiving cash from external investors in exchange for equity. Jeff says outside investment can come in the form of equity or non-equity investments, such as debt financing or royalty deals. Mercer shares some strategies for getting outside investment including validation, partnership, and stability, depending on the business's needs and goals. 2:55: Equity investments and their potential pitfalls. Jeff discusses the importance of keeping equity in a business, especially for beginning entrepreneurs. Mercer agrees, emphasizing the mistake of giving away equity without proper vesting or guarantees. Both suggest using cash or leverage to compensate for help rather than giving away equity. 5:38: Investing in private companies and non-traditional funding methods. Jeff discusses the pros and cons of loaning money to a business, highlighting the potential for high returns but also the risk of failure. Jeff prefers to invest in private companies, specifically in the early stages, to maximize their potential for an outsized return. Jeff discusses the concept of investment in a business, including the idea that contributions can be valued and counted as investments, not just cash. He provides an example of how coaching a business owner for free can increase the business's value, with the coach potentially owning a percentage of the business as a result. 10:36: Entrepreneurship, investment, and growth strategies. Mercer suggests that small business owners should focus on building a profitable, well-structured business before seeking outside investment. Jeff believes that outside investment can be a bad idea for small businesses, as it can lead to inefficient capital use and weaken the business. Mercer agrees that product market fit is crucial before seeking investment, and views angel investment as a lottery ticket. 13:36: Investment for business growth and timeline extension. Jeff believes investment can extend or shorten the timeline to achieving business goals, depending on the type of investment. Mercer adds that understanding your business machinery, including numbers and operations, can make it easier to get outside investment. Also having a plan and operating according to it can make it easier to get investment, from both angel investors and government programs. 16:20: Investing in businesses and cash flow. Jeff invests in companies with a 10x vision, prioritizing belief in the founder's ability to execute. He diversifies investments across cash flow businesses, hedging bets through group buys and cash flow investments. He invests in businesses through networking and trust, focusing on people with something to prove and a track record of success. Mercer asks about the hierarchy of investing, with Jeff prioritizing cash flow and conversion rates in their investments. 20:52: Funding options for a business with cash flow issues. Founders should consider various funding options, including personal loans and outside investment, to address cash flow issues. Jeff is considering an outside investment for equity in his business but wants to keep control and timeline in mind. He is fine with having a clock tick on his business but needs to think about the implications before acting. 23:58: The importance of understanding a business model in the current investment climate. Mercer highlights the importance of understanding a business model, citing the example of WeWork's failed IPO. Mercer and Jeff discuss the shift in investor sentiment towards profitability, with Mercer expressing a mix of agreement and skepticism. 26:41: Investment strategies in a post-pandemic economy. Investors are now more selective and discerning due to higher interest rates, prioritizing profitable businesses with sustainable growth. Focusing on growing profits instead of just revenue, with a balance between new leads and stability, is key for businesses in this market. Investors are looking for solid valuations and cash-generating businesses, rather than overpaying for unprofitable ones. Mercer emphasizes the importance of having a compelling story to attract investors and choosing an investor who can help grow the business. He highlights the benefits of getting outside investment in a business, including increasing valuation and shortening the timeline to exit. Jeff provides a personal perspective on considering outside investment, prioritizing the need for stable cash flow, and a clear plan for using the investment.
When to Hire a Business Coach
December 5, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is When to Hire a Business Coach 0:00: Hiring a business coach and their role in entrepreneurship. Business coaches provide objective advice and frameworks from an outsider's perspective. Jeff shares his experience with hiring a business coach, explaining that they started by taking courses and reading books before investing in one-on-one coaching. Mercer agrees, noting that there's a hierarchy of coaching options, starting with courses and books, and then moving on to one-on-one coaching. 3:05: Progression from group coaching to one-on-one coaching. Group coaching provides live feedback in a safe space, while one-on-one coaching offers tailored advice for individual business needs. Jeff describes his progression from online courses to one-on-one coaching, noting that the right coach can change your mindset and build you up as a business owner. Mercer relates his own experience with taking courses and reading books but has not yet engaged in one-on-one coaching. 6:00: Entrepreneurship, self-sabotage, and personal development. Mercer realized he was self-sabotaging his business by taking actions that were not aligned with their goals. He joined Strategic Coach, a program led by Dan Sullivan, to gain new insights and perspectives on business functioning. The program helped him reset his approach and motivated them to strive for higher highs and lower lows in his business. Mercer expresses hesitation towards investing in one-on-one coaching due to perceived high cost and lack of trust. Jeff shares his experience with paying $22,500 for coaching that didn't provide a satisfactory return on investment. 11:41: Investing in business coaching for growth. Jeff suggests that investing in coaching with him can increase revenue and profit by 50% in a short amount of time, but only for businesses with existing systems in place. Mercer questions the definition of "comfort level" for businesses, especially those just starting, and wonders how to permit oneself to invest in a coach without betting on a single solution. 15:02: Investing in personal development programs. Jeff discusses investing in a coaching program to improve their writing skills, despite not having an immediate return on investment. Mercer suggests that if you're struggling to make ends meet, it's important to work on your mindset and use free resources to improve your financial situation. Jeff agrees that it's important to do due diligence and get references before investing in a coaching program. 17:50: Hiring a business coach and evaluating their credibility. Dan Sullivan is a great example of a coach who can help entrepreneurs upgrade their mindset and business. A coach can provide a firehose of information to help entrepreneurs solve bigger problems, but it's important to find the right coach for your business. When hiring a coach, look for someone who has done what you want to do and can provide personalized recommendations based on your business and growth goals. Jeff is skeptical of coaches who lack real-world experience and instead rely on generic advice and frameworks. He shares his experience with a coach who claimed to be an integrator but provided little value, highlighting the importance of understanding the coach's experience and implementation abilities. He emphasizes the need for a coach who can provide specific, actionable advice based on their own experience in the industry, rather than simply repeating generic advice. 23:25: Personal and professional growth through coaching. Jeff fell for a trap of someone name-dropping without substance, realizing too late that the person had no credibility. He hired a personal trainer and a business coach (Ben) to help them overcome self-sabotage and hit the next level of growth. 25:38: Business growth strategies and financial analysis. Jeff believes that one-on-one coaching accelerates growth faster than group coaching. Mercer believes that group coaching provides a different perspective, helping to identify blind spots and improve results. 28:04 Investing in coaching for business growth and success. Jeff discusses the challenges of soundbite culture in masterminds, where 10 people provide conflicting advice but offer no accountability or implementation support. Mercer agrees, noting that paying for coaching or masterminds can be an investment in one's mindset, as they are more likely to take action on advice from someone they've paid for. LeBron James spends $2 million annually on coaching to maintain his athletic performance. The hosts recommend spending 5% of net revenue on coaching for businesses.
Minimum Viable Resources
November 28, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Minimum Viable Resources. 0:00: Mercer defines "minimum viable resource" as the bare minimum needed to prove a business concept. Jeff suggests using less expensive resources, such as those found on Fiverr, to complete tasks that do not require senior expertise, while still charging the same amount to clients. Sauer advocates for leveraging processes and systems to generate profits in business while minimizing costs. 3:08: Separating labor costs from system costs in business. Jeff discovers that relying on contractors without systems in place can lead to low-profit margins. Sauer suggests separating the cost of a contractor's systems from their labor rate to increase profitability. 5:54: Streamlining business operations for profitability. Jeff discusses the importance of processes and systems in business, citing the McDonald's model as an example of how a well-defined system can lead to consistent results and easier talent acquisition. He shares his personal experience with this approach, noting that he used to focus on selling products without considering the profitability of his business, but has since shifted his mindset to prioritize process and efficiency. Jeff shares a real-world story of how implementing an operating system (EOS) helped his agency reduce labor costs and increase profitability. Sauer emphasizes the importance of getting labor costs down to 25-30% of total expenses to be profitable and sell a business. 11:07: Streamlining business processes for profitability. Jeff and Mercer discuss the challenge of consistently delivering high-quality work while maintaining profitability. Sauer explains that they identified a need for a repeatable system by analyzing their business operations and determining which projects were most profitable. They agree that finding a balance between custom work and standardized processes is crucial for long-term success. 13:54: Profitability analysis for a business. Jeff identifies people as the biggest expense and breaks it down by service line, targeting $200k in revenue per 2 employees for profitability. He discusses the profitability of different service lines in his business, considering options such as specialization, cost reduction, and sales optimization. Jeff emphasizes the importance of analyzing each service line's profitability and taking action accordingly, rather than simply cutting unprofitable lines or investing more in successful ones. 17:05: Managing payroll and efficiency in a business. Jeff discusses the challenges of scaling a digital marketing agency, including managing payroll costs and finding efficiencies without adding more staff. Mercer suggests using AI tools to automate tasks and increase efficiency without adding more people to the payroll. He discusses the challenges of managing payroll during economic downturns, including the need to reduce costs while maintaining employee morale and productivity. Mercer suggests documenting and delegating tasks to reduce the workload of high-performing employees, and using AI or tactical resources to take on some of their responsibilities. Jeff acknowledges that layoffs or adding more work to existing employees' plates are also options for managing a bloated payroll, but emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between cost-cutting and maintaining employee morale. 22:06: Leadership, entrepreneurship, and automation. Jeff discusses the challenges of running a business, including the departure of a key team member and the decision to take on additional responsibilities himself. Mercer shares his personal experience with a similar situation, highlighting the difficulty of having tough conversations and the importance of being proactive in finding solutions. 24:43: Delegating tasks and improving systems in business. Mercer shares his experience of downsizing their team and leveraging AI automation to improve efficiency and productivity. Mercer and Jeff discuss the importance of striking a balance between trusting team members and stepping in as a strategist to guide them toward achieving business goals. 27:16: Hiring and managing resources during economic uncertainty. Jeff predicts a challenging 2024 with a potential buyers' market for resources, leading to consolidation and the rise of minimum viable resources. Mercer agrees with Jeff's predictions and foresees upcoming shifts in the marketplace. Jeff and Mercer discuss the concept of "minimum viable resources" in business, focusing on the idea of specializing within an organization to maximize efficiency and profitability. Jeff emphasizes the importance of having a system in place to ensure the organization benefits from the specialization, rather than simply relying on cheaper or more expensive resources.
One or Multiple Revenue Streams
November 21, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is One or Multiple Revenue Streams 0:00: Revenue streams and financial stability. Jeff defines multiple revenue streams as having multiple ways of money hitting your bank account every month. For stability, it's important to have multiple income streams, especially in personal finance, to avoid reliance on a single source of income. 2:01: Diversifying income streams for business and personal finance. Mercer compares business to a "money tree" and wonders if diversifying revenue streams is a distraction or a smart move. Jeff suggests there's no definitive answer, and it depends on scenario-playing and role-playing to make the decision. He discusses the benefits of having multiple revenue streams, including a cash flow safety net and diversification to mitigate the impact of unexpected events. Jeff highlights the importance of having multiple sources of income, such as investments, business profits, and distributions, to maintain financial stability and security. 6:19: Multiple revenue streams and financial planning. Jeff advocates for having multiple revenue streams in business and personal finances for stability and growth. Mercer shares his experience of diversifying too quickly into other revenue streams in their early 20s, leading to financial losses. He discusses his approach to managing multiple income streams, including saving a portion of each stream for emergencies and investing in other money trees (e.g., Amazon or stocks). Mercer believes that having multiple streams of income and utilizing savings as a form of multiple income can help attract more money and achieve financial success. 10:33: Expanding business revenue streams through new products or investments. Mercer reflects on past mistakes, such as diffusing focus too quickly across multiple revenue streams, leading to lost opportunities. Mercer ponders how to expand into new revenue streams, considering creating a new brand, product offering, or leveraging existing assets within the current brand. Jeff shares their experience of building a successful marketing agency, which grew by 600% and led to them becoming a millionaire. He also shares his mistake of investing in a drop shipping website,, which lost money on every order and eventually sold in a fire sale, recouping half his investment. 14:46: Entrepreneurship, business models, and investments. Jeff learned that creating multiple brands under the same umbrella company can be beneficial for sharing resources and reducing redundancy in the business. He also realized that people who are good at services are not necessarily good at making products, and vice versa, highlighting the importance of different mindsets in business. 16:41: Investing in multiple business streams. Jeff emphasizes the importance of reinvesting profits from a cash cow business into a new, innovative venture to maximize growth potential. Sauer believes in investing in businesses he owns 100%, taking on more risk for potentially greater reward. Mercer emphasizes the importance of actively working on multiple revenue streams, rather than relying on a single source of income. He suggests focusing on improving and expanding existing products or services, rather than creating completely new ones. 20:32: Managing multiple revenue streams and risk assessment. Mercer emphasizes the importance of having a rainy day fund to cover expenses during unexpected downturns. Mercer and Jeff discuss the value of having a great team and working hard to achieve success, citing examples of successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. Mercer reflects on past mistakes, such as pursuing multiple revenue streams without considering potential consequences, and now prioritizes focused effort on opportunities with higher probabilities of success. He highlights the importance of evaluating the effort required to pursue a revenue stream versus the potential reward and prioritizing minimal effort opportunities with the potential for additional income. 24:54: Passive income, byproducts, and investing in active managers. Byproducts can be easier and more profitable than creating something new but require careful consideration of potential drawbacks. Invest in the person, not the how, for steady passive income. 28:00: Multiple revenue streams for businesses. Jeff discusses different revenue streams for businesses, including time for money, money for time, and money for money. He emphasizes the importance of margins in a high-margin business and the need for active management in all revenue streams. Mercer shares his thoughts on passive income and the idea that there is no such thing as passive investing. Jeff and Mercer discuss the importance of actively managing investments and the value of leveraging the expertise of others.
Power of Saying No
November 14, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is the Power of Saying No in Business. 0.00: Mercer and Jeff discuss the power of saying no in entrepreneurship, with Mercer sharing how it's an essential skill to prioritize resources and focus. Mercer discusses three dimensions of saying no: supply, demand, and strategic value. Saying no to opportunities to focus on what's truly important. 2:52: Jeff believes quitting something that's not working can be empowering, not failing. Mercer agrees: saying no to opportunities can be a skill, not just about passing up chances. He emphasizes the importance of resources when deciding whether to pursue a new opportunity, stating that if it's not an obvious yes, it's a definite no. Jeff agrees, noting that creating a second line of income can dilute focus and require significant resources, leading to advice to prioritize one area of passive income before investing in others. 7:22: Prioritizing business goals and saying "no" to distractions. Jeff emphasizes the importance of saying "no" to distractions and focusing on one's primary business to achieve financial success. He shares his experience of helping clients reach their goals by setting a "no yes barrier" around their business and only allowing exceptional opportunities to pass through. 10:00: Prioritizing tasks and saying no to non-essential commitments. Jeff shares his approach to saying no, prioritizing personal and business tasks, and avoiding solving problems that don't exist. Sauer and his team have learned to say no to ideas that don't align with their goals, focusing on what's truly important and avoiding distractions. 11:59: Saying no, prioritization, and decision-making. Mercer struggles with saying no to ideas for improving customer experience, fearing loss of potential opportunities 13.40: Jeff offers an alternative approach to saying no, providing value even when unable to say yes. He emphasizes the importance of saying no in business but notes that it's crucial to have data to back up decisions. Jeff shares his approach to decision-making, which involves gathering information and opinions before making a final decision. He highlights the difference between procrastination and taking the time to gather quality data before making a decision. 17:16: The power and limitations of saying "no". Jeff uses the concept of "no" as a powerful tool for focus and defense, recognizing that it takes time and effort to make ideas stick. Mercer agrees, noting that "no" can be a chainsaw-like tool for cutting through distractions, but it requires awareness and control to avoid procrastination and potential failure. They discuss the importance of recognizing when to say "no" and being mindful of the consequences of misusing the tool. 20:03: Saying no to distractions and prioritizing tasks. Mercer discusses the power of saying no, highlighting how it can be used for self-awareness and productivity management. He shares his personal experience with procrastination and how he's implemented a system to encourage himself to say no to tasks that are easily postponed. He recognizes the importance of saying yes to tasks that require exceptional use of AI and other productivity tools to get ahead. Mercer discusses the importance of prioritizing tasks and saying no to non-essential tasks to focus on what's truly important. AI can be used to assist with drafting and editing copy, providing specific feedback on areas for improvement. Jeff uses AI to train a copy critic, freeing up time for more strategic feedback and improving overall copy quality. 25:52: Prioritizing "no" for personal and professional growth. Jeff prioritizes saying "yes" to opportunities for growth and connection, even if it means stepping out of his comfort zone. He recognizes the strategic value of saying "no" in certain situations to make time for what's truly important. 28:08: Saying no to distractions and focusing on priorities. Mercer and Jeff discuss the importance of saying no to tasks that are not aligned with one's goals or values. Mercer shares tips on how to say no more effectively, such as focusing on where one is saying no to things that they shouldn't be and finding systems to encourage saying yes to more important tasks. Jeff agrees and shares his struggle with saying no, acknowledging the need to be more intentional about focusing resources on high-priority tasks.
Reinvesting In Your Business
November 7, 2023 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Reinvesting In Your Business 0:00: Jeff defines reinvesting as putting profit back into the business, such as into new products or growth. 1:45: Investing and reinvesting in a business. Jeff and Mercer discuss the concept of reinvesting profits in a business. Mercer believes that reinvesting profits is not always the best option, and it's important to consider the timeline and potential return on investment. Jeff provides a balanced perspective on the topic, distinguishing between investing and reinvesting, and highlighting the importance of managing investments through to completion. Jeff shares his approach to investing in his business, prioritizing hiring ahead of revenue and reinvesting profits to fuel growth. Sauer notes that many entrepreneurs struggle to break through a financial barrier due to a lack of reinvestment in their business, leading to inconsistent revenue. 6:46: Investing profits in business reserves vs. hiring employees. Jeff and Mercer discuss their experiences with reinvesting profits in their businesses, with Sauer emphasizing the importance of having faith in one's business and the speaker highlighting the need for reserves to account for uncommon events. Mercer reveals that they have made a mistake by investing in people instead of reserves, and Sauer acknowledges the importance of having a timeline for results and knowing how to measure success. 9:11: Investment strategies and cost management. Mercer reflects on past mistakes in investing in people, particularly failing to set clear expectations and timelines for results. Mercer aims to avoid this mistake by creating a plan ahead of time, defining expected outcomes, and having a contract-like approach to hold themselves accountable. He emphasizes the importance of staying logical and realistic, rather than getting emotionally invested in a situation. Mercer reflects on past investments, acknowledging that sometimes investing in people or training can feel like a "negative investment" if it's not yielding the desired results. Jeff shares his experience of investing in a coach for someone who wasn't working out, realizing that taking expenses lower can be a form of investment strategy, as seen in private equity firms. 14:11: Investing in business growth and prioritizing resources. Jeff emphasizes the importance of investing in the right "who" rather than figuring out the "how" for business growth. Sauer uses the Boston Consulting Group matrix to illustrate the importance of balancing market share and growth in business strategy. Jeff emphasizes the importance of investing in "stars" and "question marks" in a business, rather than "cash cows" or "pet projects." He advises allocating 80% of investment to "stars" and 20% to "research and development," citing Google as a successful example of this strategy. 19:00: Reinvesting time and resources for business growth. Mercer discusses reinvesting time and money in response to changing technology, using the analogy of horse and buggy drivers needing to adapt to cars. He suggests downgrading or moving employees who refuse to adapt to new technology, while still finding a place for their skills in other companies. Mercer says reinvest time to find obvious errors in expenses, reducing costs and increasing profitability. Jeff says working on your business is a better investment than almost anything else, as it reduces the need to solve fires and problems, leading to a more profitable and less chaotic business. 22:43: Reinvesting time and resources in a business for growth. Jeff discusses the importance of investing time in his business, including taking a week off each quarter to work on big problems and spending one day a week on business development. Sauer believes that time is the cheapest investment a business owner can make, yet few take advantage of this opportunity to reinvest in their business. Jeff and Mercer agree that investing time and energy in the right areas can lead to significant growth and efficiency in business. Reinvesting time and energy in the form of attending mastermind groups, utilizing AI tools, and optimizing processes can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and achieve better results with less effort. 27:06: Managing time and leveraging AI for business success. Mercer: Taking time to focus on tasks without distractions can lead to better productivity and creativity. Jeff: Leveraging money to buy time from others can lead to increased efficiency and innovation. Jeff shares his entrepreneurial journey and experiences, including lessons learned from building a tiny home.
Time Tracking and Team Management
October 31, 2023 • 30 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Time Tracking and Team Management 0:00: Time tracking for teams, pros and cons. Mercer thinks time tracking for a team involves using tools like Time Doctor or Harvest to measure time spent on tasks. Jeff does not use time tracking for his team, preferring to trust his team members instead. Jeff prioritizes trust and productivity in his management style, but acknowledges the limitations of not tracking time. Mercer shared their experience with time tracking in the past, but found it challenging to maintain and eventually stopped using it. He emphasized the importance of balancing trust and oversight in managing a team. 4:57: Time tracking for employees and contractors. Mercer: Time tracking is important, but it's not always necessary for every team member, especially contractors. Jeff: Contractors should be given more autonomy and respect, and their work should be evaluated based on performance rather than time tracking. Jeff emphasizes the importance of tracking time for contractors to avoid tax issues and ensure they are doing contract work, not employee work. Sauer asks full-time employees to conduct a time audit to understand how they spend their time, bucketing it into strategic, tactical, and management areas, to optimize their work processes. 10:03: Time management and productivity for businesses. Mercer: Time audits help identify if roles are performing tasks correctly, and if clients are using time effectively. Team members should spend time on activities that energize them, not just tasks they enjoy occasionally. Regular time audits can help identify issues with client setup and team management, leading to better profitability and productivity. Team members can take on too much work without realizing it, leading to burnout or inefficiency. Jeff : Time tracking is essential for service-based businesses to determine profitability and identify unprofitable clients. 15:22: Time tracking, meeting productivity, and investing in employees. Jeff struggles with balancing investing time and resources in people with the potential return on investment for his business. He has fallen into the trap of over-training and under-charging clients, leading him to question whether he is costing himself money by investing in people. Mercer believes that managing meetings is a curse, as they always see team members as their potential future selves, which can lead to pushing them harder than necessary. He calculates the cost of meetings by dividing team members' salaries by their hourly rates and adding that total, including their own, to determine if the result justifies the time spent in meetings. 19:37: Using time tracking to improve business efficiency. Mercer uses time tracking to identify inefficiencies in meetings and make them more efficient. The team uses time tracking to avoid overloading their schedules and ensure they have wiggle room for unexpected tasks. Mercer uses time tracking to help employees self-manage, inputting estimated time spent on tasks and adjusting based on accuracy. Jeff says time tracking provides common sense guard, allowing for visibility into employee time classification and spending, without micromanaging. 23:07: Time tracking for profitability in a marketing agency. Jeff explains how his agency used a billable hour system to track client work and employee productivity. The agency faced challenges when implementing a fixed project price model, as employees were not meeting their hourly targets. Time tracking is necessary for businesses to allocate time spent on tasks and ensure profitability. 26:55: Time tracking for business operations. Mercer suggests tracking time to understand where team members are spending their time and identify areas for improvement. Jeff agrees, emphasizing the importance of tracking time even if it's not initially desired, and choosing the appropriate level of granularity. Jeff discusses time tracking options for businesses, from lightweight to more complex systems.
Managing and Motivating Top Performers
October 24, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Managing and Motivating Top Performers 0:00: Mercer and Jeff Sauer define top performers as individuals who bring in significant results with less stress, providing an exponential return on investment. Both Mercer and Jeff have experience as top performers and have seen how managing and motivating them can go well or poorly, depending on the approach. Mercer felt restricted by new CEO's strategy, leading to departure from company. Mercer previously enjoyed autonomy and flexibility as top performer, but new strategy limited creativity and freedom. He realized company couldn't accommodate unique approach, leading to decision to leave. 5:22: Top performers and player grading in organizations. Jeff defines top performers as those who create their own standards and need input on the system to thrive. Sauer believes that top performers are often stifled in traditional corporate environments and may struggle to adapt to the real world outside of these structures. Jeff argues that A, B, C, D, E, and F players exist in organizations, with A players making roles significantly better and F players not belonging in the organization. 8:46: Motivating and managing top performers in the workplace. Jeff discusses motivating and managing top performers, highlighting the importance of understanding individual strengths and weaknesses to maximize their potential. Sauer shares his approach to managing a team member who excels in strategic work but struggles with tactical tasks, emphasizing the need to delegate tasks and focus on their strengths. Mercer values giving top performers control over their destiny, allowing them to have a say in their own management and development. Mercer recognizes the importance of two-way communication, where team members feel comfortable raising concerns or requesting more responsibilities. 12:50: Managing employees and motivation. Mercer: "What's motivating them? Where do they want to be in 5 years? How can we help them achieve their goals?" Jeff: "Managing is about clearing obstacles so they can be at their best. Not always about asking what they want, but getting what the company needs from them." Jeff shares his approach to developing and retaining top talent within his organization. He prioritizes hiring already formed individuals over investing in raw talent, as it's more cost-effective for the company. 17:09: Motivating employees and personal growth. Jeff emphasizes the importance of understanding an individual's internal motivations to unlock their full potential and drive growth for the company. He believes that simply offering monetary incentives or job security is not enough to motivate top performers, and instead seeks to connect their daily work to their internal power source for better results. Mercer reflects on his mentality as a manager, recognizing the importance of setting high standards and surprising individuals with personalized guidance. He prioritizes helping individuals achieve their personal goals, using their resources and expertise to co-plan and manage their progress. 22:21: Motivating employees through personalized approach. Jeff and Mercer discuss the importance of understanding an employee's personal motivations to improve their management style and increase productivity. Mercer emphasizes the value of asking employees what they want to achieve and how they can help them get there, while also considering privacy and scalability concerns. Jeff motivates his team by casting a vision for the company's future and providing meaningful educational training and resources. Sauer also focuses on individual motivation by understanding what motivates each team member and putting it in place. As the company grows, Sauer recognizes the importance of teaching management how to motivate and lead their teams effectively. 27:38: Managing top performers in business. Mercer: Top performers need to be invested in, not just given a new title and training budget. Jeff: Leading a team of 10-20 people requires visionary leadership and motivating the leaders who will do the leading. Jeff and Mercer discuss their management philosophies and share insights on visionary leadership.
Employee Compensation Strategies
October 17, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Employee Compensation Strategies 0:00: Mercer and Jeff discuss employee compensation strategies with a 360 view. 0:56: Compensation plans and their importance in business. Mercer shares stories of compensation plans gone wrong, highlighting the importance of careful planning to avoid unintended consequences. Jeff recounts his experience with a poorly structured comp plan as a minority owner in his agency, emphasizing the need for fair market value and added value to the organization. Jeff explains how sales bonuses work in his company, where he earns a percentage of the revenue above his salary threshold. Sauer's bonus structure incentivizes him to continuously sell more, with escalating percentages for higher sales amounts. 5:11: Sales compensation strategies and moving goalposts. Jeff shares his experience with a bonus structure that led to a moving goalpost, where the target kept increasing after being exceeded. Mercer agrees that the goalpost moving phenomenon is common in sales roles, where the focus is on commission-based income. Mercer also shares his experience in a non-sales role, where he found that salespeople were better compensated despite having a similar job function. 7:54: Sales compensation plans and their variations. Mercer describes his experience with a commission-based sales job, where they had to sell $20,000 to cover their $2,000 draw and could earn higher commissions above that threshold. He notes that managing salespeople with high targets can lead to demotivation, as it may be difficult to repeat past successes and maintain that level of performance. He discusses compensation plans for salespeople, including base salary, draw, quota, and bonus plans. Jeff highlights similarities and differences between various compensation plans, emphasizing terminology and outcome. 12:19: Commission-based sales structures and their challenges. Jeff shares his experience with 100% commission-based sales, noting that it can be risky for both the salesperson and the employer. He emphasizes the importance of having a threshold for bonus plans, based on revenue and profit rather than just revenue. 14:36: Compensation plans for business growth. Jeff emphasizes the importance of budgeting and adjusting comp plans based on sustainable revenue growth. Sauer's agency prioritizes recurring revenue and adjusts comp plans accordingly, with a focus on incremental business. Jeff and Mercer discuss the importance of revenue and profit in business, and how it can be challenging to measure and incentivize these metrics as the company grows. Mercer highlights the need to consider various aspects of compensation, including salaries, bonuses, and benefits, to attract and retain the right team members. 19:23: Employee compensation strategies and team member motivation. Mercer reflects on a team meeting where members were not future-focused on retirement savings, but were open to compensation strategies like 401k matching. He implements a company matching 401k program to help team members save for retirement, with the goal of providing additional compensation. He reflects on his experience with company matching for 401k and other benefits, noting that it's not necessary to have a lot of money to offer compelling incentives. Mercer emphasizes the importance of understanding what motivates individual team members, whether it's stability or the potential for growth and risk-taking. Mercer says mistakes made with comp plans include paying too much too fast, raising salaries too fast, and lack of core motivation among team members. Adjusting comp plans based on team member motivation and company growth is crucial for success. 25:21: Employee motivation and comp plans. Jeff discusses motivation, bonuses, and organizational culture in a business setting. Jeff highlights the importance of understanding employer costs beyond salary, including benefits and taxes. 28:24: Employee compensation strategies based on role and individual motivations. Jeff agrees that figuring out people's motivations in the majority can make compensation plans better. Sauer customizes compensation plans by role and person, taking into account individual preferences for stability and upside. Mercer discusses customizing compensation plans based on role, not individual performance. Jeff emphasizes the importance of role-based compensation and the overall comp plan, rather than just individual performance.
Hiring Top Performers
October 10, 2023 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Hiring Top Performers 0:00: Jeff defines hiring a top performer, a 10x employee, a top 1% employee, and three other hires who are a great investment for the business and make you proud. 1:58: Top performers are born or they are molded. Top performers are born. They are either a top performer or they are not. The organization or the role that supports and nurtures their top performance is how they mold it into a way that affects the company. The Minneapolis public school district is a great example of a top-performer. It is up to the organization to really tap into that and utilize it. Hire top talent and give them a role in some kind of expectation and mold them. 6:09: What is a top performer? Top performer is someone who gives extra energy to the organization and takes you to another level. Top performer has to be someone who helps your business transcend. Three ways to hire, job description, task list and recruiting techniques, and how to confirm they are a player. Behavioral behavioral questions are the questions that people submit when they submit their job and resume. They have to answer questions and then grade them based on those questions. 10:10: The hiring funnel and job descriptions. It is up to the leadership structure to mold them into how they can harness that energy and catch that lightning in a bottle for the organization. The hiring funnel: where the job description is written with three key elements. They need someone detail-oriented. They need to be able to list out the seven mistakes that were in the job description. They are looking for someone who is a top performer, a top-performer, and would be honest about where they are right. 14:44: Are they the person already vs the potential. The biggest mistake most people do with hiring is trying to hire the potential instead of the person they want to hire. Hire the person you want, not the one that could be the person that just doesn't work out. The questions are purpose-built to make sure they are the person they say they are and the person Mercer wants in his team. The person that makes it through the interview is the person and they are an easy hire, assuming everything else makes sense. 18:48: Hiring for one role vs 10 roles. Hiring for one role is easier than hiring for 10. Hire for one position and get the A player, versus letting the market bear that, which is what big companies have to do. The biggest disqualifying factor for candidates is that they are the best paper candidate. Hiring a top performer who can be hired right away and not have to nurture them at all. Hiring the number one candidate, the number two candidate, and the number three or four candidate. Hiring an acquisition apprentice and a project. 22:58: Hiring the right candidate. We ended up having the second chance, and I never closed the door on the finalists. I don't even tell a finalist that they didn't get it for the first few weeks. We kept the conversation going and checked in with her every three to six months. Julie Brody, director of measurement, was hired as a DMA, digital marketing assistant, almost 10 years ago. They hired someone else, but they didn't have a place for both of them. Julie was shocked that she didn't get it. She was so into this thing that she was requested. 26:22: Hiring a top performer. The second candidate was a top performer. She went through the exact same hiring funnel that the other person did, and she eventually left to go start her own thing. Talent is talent and top performers are going to be top performers for the rest of their life. Surround yourself with top performers. You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. You want to spend some time with them and want them in your life. The first thing is to build a bench. It is so important top performers already are top performers, you cannot take someone who's not and turn them into what they already are.
Roles vs People
October 3, 2023 • 31 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Roles vs People 0.00: The biggest piece of advice is to separate person from role. A person is an individual talents, a role is what you want them to get done right, and a job description is the other thing. 3:15: What is the minimum viable resource? One person can do three or four different roles, but the org chart looks smaller when there are four people for four pieces. The minimum viable resource is the unicorn, the person who can do a bunch of stuff, like editing videos or writing descriptions. Separating the person from the role allows you to put a business structure that has been proven by every MBA program out there and every successful business in the world. 6:52: How do you look at the org chart? Mercer is systems-oriented and wants to make the system visible so he can fix it if it's not working right or make it better or optimize it. The org chart is basically the map of how the company performs right with all these different roles organized. The importance of having an org chart for entrepreneurs to see what roles are needed to replace and what is required for that role so that they can effectively replace it. How the org chart gives visibility into what is needed for the next generation of employees. 10:50: The importance of having a business partner. You don't realize how many hats you wear in business until you have visibility. Every company has to solve these things and every company has a hierarchy. Sometimes the only other unicorn you can find is your business partner, and that can accelerate a business early on. 12:55: Roles within the marketing department. Easier to recruit for someone who has a role like analyst or marketing assistant or associate, rather than a generalist or social media strategist. Separating the person from the role. Using the roles within roles concept from a management standpoint, they went down the list of marketing roles and where they were spending their time. One of the other roles that a marketing team has to produce is offers. They were spending a lot of time in infusionsoft with all the campaigns that build these campaigns, but it wasn't actually producing the results that they need. They were wasting their time on creating offers, not creating money. 17:34: Leadership helps keep people on track and on track. Paid media starts becoming a little easier, and writing copy is a lot easier now. Making an offer for example in marketing that is the biggest thing they can do, but they don't want to make a commitment to being wrong, so they copy other people's work. Marketing's goal is to make either more top of funnel or bottom of funnel. Sales and marketing don't like each other. How to fill a role with an employee or contract when you don't have enough resources to address it individually. 22:36: How to rank success. Start with what is going to make us enough to use. The answer is almost always to make more money so we can afford these other things. The third thing to consider is the amount of success. It takes a lot of effort, but it's a high-level success. The company did not have management training in place to help them understand how to manage a team. The CEO is a business geek and has been reading all the business books since he was 12. He wants to be better and better at management. 26:42: Teaching people to be better business owners. The second wave is teaching people how to be better business owners and more effective in an organization. In a traditional organization, the only way up is management. To get paid more, you have to manage those different areas of a business. One minute manager is a great book to get started with. It's simple and easy to read, and it gets the conversation started. Separating people from the role and giving them the training they need to be good at it and be very clear with how that role fits into the organization.
AI How are businesses using it?
September 26, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is AI How are businesses using it?1:08: Using generative AI for research. AI is most likely using generative AI in order to come up with research ideas and write content to save time in the process. AI is another way to automate stuff, even if it is just automating words, like writing 300 word blog posts. Mercer uses chatbot for brainstorming and creating new ideas for the human side of the process. He also uses it for code, code rewriting, copy and editing. Mercer is good at using chatbot to rewrite code and copy, which is 60% 70% percent done. Chatbot is used as a copy chief, and editor. 6:41 : How to use AI. Everyone on the team is super awesome about wanting to use AI. No standard, but everyone uses all the tools mentioned. AI gives us a bunch of ideas, and then the human filter goes through and then it goes to market. The low-level copy club doesn't have a lot of value right now, because they're not production-ready. The first draft is the greatest first draft in the history of the world, and is used as a first draft for everything they do. 10:48: How do you use AI for technical work? AI seems to use a lot of words and not say anything, and it is super noticeable. The human element is why the human is involved, and the two together are pretty good. For an instructor, using AI helps find gaps and fill in the gaps. BigQuery can be used for gap analysis and teaching people how to build an API. BigQuery is becoming a new tool that a lot of businesses are starting to get into because of the idea that they all need to have their own data. 14:20: Google’s role in the workplace. Google is a great example of an AI assistant, but it is not all the way there yet, and with time there will be all of the way to it. Google is committed to this, and has a lot of experience working with it. 18:55: The next level of prompt engineering. Prompt engineering is the next level of business, getting good inputs to it and telling it what to do to get there. Google search was successful because they had a better layer of the prompt. The entire Microsoft office suite is obsolete because of Google, and how much Google has replaced it. There is a new tool called Notebook LM that is coming out. 22:44: How to train ai to be more effective. It's like marketing. The first step is getting email, and the second step is segmenting the email list. AI is being used internally versus what many people are moving into, which is seductive, but paranoid about AI bot giving out wrong information and no one knowing it, because it is independently working. AI creates new jobs, wealth and efficiency, and will never replace the need for humans. 26:08 : The power of having a database. Having a catalog like Google Drive and AI and being able to use that catalog to train a model is basically immortality to a certain extent. There are so many steps that need to happen to connect to each other, but everything will be on Google Drive. The more data that they get to train the model, they will get better at different dialects of how a word is spoken. They will also be able to capture that word in a wide variety of ways. They are looking at using it for marketing, like Opus. Jeff welcomes his AI overlords to the show. He encourages listeners to use AI as a second opinion and get it into their life so they can always run something by it and be better off than they were without it.
Working With a Bookkeeper
September 19, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Working With a Bookkeeper 0:00: What does it mean to work with a bookkeeper? Mercer shares the way he has approached it over the years, the different phases of his business, and how he has learned a little bit about it. A bookkeeper is someone who keeps track of your financials, the accounting of your business. The bookkeeper's job is to organize everything so it's in the right slot. He had been freelancing for a while and making money on the side, but didn't know what he was doing. It wasn't until six months after he had his own business that he finally got around to incorporating hiring an accountant and installing Quickbooks to keep track of things. He was the bookkeeper from 2006 until 2012 or 2013, when his wife took over and was the legal bookkeeping until 2020. 5:59: How much does it cost to run a company? The company service is a company service, assigned to an individual individual in the company, but for us it is running around a few 100 hours a month. The bookkeeper is looking at a certain expense, and they give us a little spreadsheet to put in the right slot and Quickbooks, but at the same time, it's like I could also do that in Quickbooks. Working with a bookkeeper. It would be penny wise and pound foolish to not work with a bookkeeper or to do that yourself. A bookkeeper is a gatekeeper of financial information. They need to zero things out and look at every transaction. They also need to classify new expenses that aren't normal or aren't obvious. In year two, it gets pretty easy to re-engage with them and say what you need to be doing differently. 12:12: Jeff discusses managing different divisions of the company. Each brand is a separate division of the company, with different divisions like Profit Pillars being one of those divisions. The bookkeeper is the Quickbooks person, helping us decide where things go and proactively reaching out for financial advice. They are a value added service. Jeff shares the importance of not having to think about spending money and how it triggers him to a certain extent, and why he trusts a professional to do it. The concept of remembering the early years of the company, and how the goal was to make $3,000. 16:49: How do you know you’re getting the most from your bookkeeper? How to think about who can do this for you when you start thinking about how to do something, and how to reclassify your books into different things, not how. A bookkeeper is your tracking code, your workhorse, the person who is looking at the marketing data and looking at marketing data. The chief financial officer is not just an accountant wondering about tax liability. They are more concerned about the overall liability of a company. 20:51: Treating a bookkeeper like a virtual CFO. One thing that is missing is a virtual CFO. Jeff has a coach who gives him great virtual CFO advice. Jeff believes that the virtual COO is what created profit pillars. Having an analyst in place. 23:47: The importance of working with a bookkeeper. Working with a bookkeeper requires a conversation about what types of actions to take from the numbers and how to see revenue opportunities. The bookkeeper is a super important piece because they are not setting things up properly to see the problem. Most bookkeepers will wait for the entrepreneur or owner to come to them for direction. There is a misconception that the bookkeeper is going to tell them about their business, but they are not the only person who makes decisions. 27:41 : Where to find a bookkeeper? A bookkeeper is a financial analyst. They can't do their job if they don't have good data coming in. They need to have good frontline collection of data and classification of data. Custom dimensions and custom metrics. Most people don't know what they need to do for custom dimensions or metrics. Jeff suggests finding a local person who is doing bookkeeping on the side or using a service like Econbalance or the Mom Project. Jeff encourages listeners to leave a comment, leave a review and tell a friend what they've learned from this episode.
Contracts How and Where Do You Use Them
September 12, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Contracts How and Where Do You Use Them 0:00: What is a contract and why is it important? Jeff defines a contract as a formal agreement between two entities, people, companies or whatever you want to call it. 1:56: Using contracts as a sales tool. A contract is useful in the beginning, because when things go poorly, emotions creep in and the contract is written at a different time when everybody is in a different emotional state. A course has terms and conditions and terms of sale, which are how they expect to use it. The difference between a proposal and a contract, and why a contract should not be mixed in with marketing, because marketing is in sales and always sells it short. How a contract is formalizing all the things that are discussed in the intro. 6:15: The difference between a pitch proposal and a contract proposal. The first step to onboarding as an actual client is the contracts, where you see more of that legal side of the proposal. A master services agreement is an agreement between two companies. It's more work upfront, but easier to do because it's never boilerplate. The master services agreement is an add-on to the existing relationship between the two companies. It allows you to get your next contract approved sooner. Using the master service agreement with exhibits can be a strategy for stickiness with the clients. 10:00: How often an attorney would be involved in creating contracts, and whether or not to use an attorney. The risk of using a template for free from the internet, and the bigger implications and challenges that come along with it. It is almost always money well spent. It's almost always what should be done because you can reuse them, that's the idea. Jeff has never litigated a client, or even gotten close to that. He has never had to enforce anything, regardless of the client. Risk vs reward. Litigation is expensive, and lawsuits usually have to go to court based on spite or a lot to lose. Pricing mistakes are almost always because of the rose colored glasses, and that's why he had to develop his own method for pricing. 16:07: How do you use google analytics prior to litigation? The importance of having a spidey sense of who the best clients are to take, and how to fix things when things start to go weird with a client. How to use contracts as a tool prior to litigation, barring the litigation. If the contract was written wrong, shame on you. Don't let it happen again. For any one service that you sell, you can break it down into anywhere between four and 10 sub services that go into it, based on the roughly on one page. 20:30: The problem with auditing goals. Jeff had to do a bunch of implementation work that he thought he was going to get paid extra to do because of the way he wrote the contract. Jeff is grateful for the first customer, and thinks that it is important to give a minimum, but right away you go that's a mistake. The statement of work is a little more nebulous, because they're saying they're going to regard it as an implementation. The retention model is almost a built-in sound, so if it's a little bit too nebulous and they're asking for things that are slightly outside of scope, they're okay with it. 25:15: How to use contracts better. Most contracts are basic and have very little changes. There are only a few minor changes that are seen in the back and forth. The biggest problem for Jeff is not being able to get paid when he thinks he did the work. A lot of it is just in the services provided and who he chooses to work with. 28:59: The importance of contracts. There is no way around the fact that the contract is legal, but it is also a boilerplate template. It looks like every other contract that everyone else has already seen. The worst thing is when the client comes to you and asks what is in the contract. Jeff shares his thoughts on contracts and how they can be used for business valuation. Jeff shares that the more that he teaches someone else, the more people are learning about contracts and what they can learn from him and the podcast.
Pricing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
September 5, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Pricing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 0:00: Mercer defines what comes to mind for him when he hears a pricing mistake. Jeff talks about pricing mistakes, including not putting the pricing on the buy button, and how that can lead to communication issues. Pricing for services is based on an estimate of effort and the team trying to get a margin in there, and also trying to maximize the profit. When providing a service, it is more about bidding from a pricing perspective, not getting the product market fit right. 3:35: Pricing and the value of the product. There is a little bit of science and a lot of art when it comes to pricing. Part of the thinking behind pricing is what is the point of the product. The 47-hour course for the brand is a low-ticket, high-quality lead that is involved with the brand. They discuss the importance of recurring revenue and recurring retainer model pricing, they don't like doing project work because they don't want to go back to the client for 10 times as much. And delve into the value-based pricing stuff, and how it covers up the mistakes that might be made. 7:10: Pricing the product. Selling the same service to a small business for $3,000 and to an enterprise for $30,000, because that is how they will buy it. How to handle stuff like that, because you don't want to feel like, you're selling to the wrong person, and they don't buy. From a service perspective, it is a lot more nuanced, because it is its value, its level of service, and it's what you can get away with. One of the big mistakes that people make is they think that it's the same service yet it's not. The biggest difference between a $3,000 service for a small business and a $30,000 services for an enterprise is the amount of back and forth to get the contract signed. 12:46: The difference between small business vs major business. 80% of the core product is the same, but the 20% that is different for small business vs major business is different. The small business trap. The challenge of working with an enterprise that is chaotic and siloed, and the importance of hiring someone who enjoys it. The definition of a small business, and why working with small businesses is a good way to make a faster impact. 16:29: Building a margin into your pricing. Pricing is a combination of three things that work together, the margin, the time and effort and the effort put in. The profit first mentality is a permanent banking solution to a problem that is a mental mental problem or a mental process. Jeff used to charge $500 an hour to do an audit. Now he was hearing no more often, he got ghosted way more at $10,000. The next evolution is to have someone follow a process and spend 80 hours doing something at five to $10 an hour. 20:50: Pricing and making mistakes. The importance of just getting started with pricing, and how it can help you find the sweet spot in what the reins of the market is going to bear for the service you're providing. How to get past the fear of charging too much or charging too little. The first step is to take what you got paid at your last salary job and divide it by 2000, multiply it by four, and add in the margins. If you want to have a profit and you want a margin, multiply that by effort and that's how you come up with your quote. The next time you do it increment by $500 or you know, 10 to 20% each time. 25:50: Pricing mistakes. When Mercer first started, he created a training video site for Wordpress to teach people how to do Wordpress. He also created a membership site in two hours. The moral of the story is when you're getting started, it's more important to get moving than to be right. The biggest pricing mistake is being afraid of making mistakes. Every time that you make a mistake is data, at the very least you are getting data. People are so afraid of failing that they sell themselves short in order to win, but those wins are just like eating a candy bar. Jeff shares his final thoughts on the topic of pricing mistakes and how to avoid them. Jeff encourages listeners to subscribe, leave a review and tell a friend what they've learned today and connect with him at Business Unfiltered.
Managing for Profit
August 29, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is Managing for Profit. 0:00: How do you think about managing for profit? The whole purpose is to exchange value with the marketplace, and at the end of the day, it should cost us less than what they gave us so that we can have that extra for profit. The team has a lot of say in the finances of the business right now. 3:54: Managing for profit by setting expectations. One way to manage expectations is through KPIs and expectations, telling someone what their expectations are and having them go out there and improve upon or get to those expectations. Another way is to make good choices and put healthy stuff into the system and get healthy stuff out. The rule of five-for-one approach to marketing, and how it was introduced to the Dial team. The two ways to build profit, revenue and expenses, and the goal is to have a 20% profit margin for every $5 in revenue that is brought in. 8:05: Managing for profit. There's a way for you to reduce expenses, because if you don't, you're not going to reduce the dollars of expenses. The 541 rule is either get $5 in revenue or trim $4 in expenses in order to get profit, but either way, it's one way or the other. The goal is to manage for profit, not for activity, and not just to pay the bills. 12:07: Do we need this tool anymore? Tough decisions to ask the team if they want to use the tool or not, and if not to use it, get rid of it. Investing in education and education. 13:27: Managing for profit and expenses. The team is structured to not have to worry about the expenses, but they do talk to their profits coach. Any business has less than $10 million, the answer is almost always revenue, because there's almost no expenses you can cut. The problem with looking at expenses is that it discourages people from looking at the expenses, and they don't see the fact that they're paying out to campaign for two years. The big challenge he has had with numbers, and he's close to solving it. 18:15: What should your profit margin goal be? The importance of having a profit margin goal for an agency, and how to think about what a goal should be. A good profit margin for a agency is around 15% net profit, and anything less than 10% means that you are over-delivering and overdelivering. 20:38: Having a plan for when your business will be profitable. His business is in a weird flux point right now. He's making major team investments to get himself out of the day-to-day, and that's made achieving a profit margin nigh impossible. He's in a major reinvestment phase right now, which means that one business is profitable, but it's feeding another business. The importance of having a time limit on forecasting and having a plan ahead of time to avoid a sunk cost. How to know when this is when this isn't working and cut when it's not working, and how to know that it's time to cut and cut, because people don't want to think about the failure aspect. 25:58: What if the bet doesn't work? It's great if it works, but what if it doesn't. It's hard because you have to have faith when you make a major bet like that. Putting an all-in bet, you need to be all in on it. All-in means either you're going to lose the entire hand. There is a use case to think about shutting down a new offer if the market doesn't want it in any way you want to pitch it, even if it's low probability. A brand is a organic living breathing thing, so if you fail, failure is only when you give up. The only time that you fail is when you pack it up now, which is a sign that you should fail. 30:55: Being a failure vs. being a failure. Fail being being a failure versus failing versus being a fail. The final thoughts on this is that it takes skill and muscle, and it's not something intuitive to everybody. The goal is to keep moving on and dealing with what's in front of you, not ignoring the signs, because those signs are telling you what to do next and how to fix things if you're willing to look at them.
Working With an Executive Assistant
August 22, 2023 • 34 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is the idea of working with an executive assistant. 0:00: What is an executive assistant? Mercer shares his thoughts on having an assistant and what it can do for you and the value you get out of it. Jeff talks about the misconceptions around having an an assistant. The difference between a virtual assistant and an executive assistant, and how they are different. How hiring an assistant is a life hack and exponential life hack, because it frees you up to do everything, even if you don't trust someone to book travel. 5:17: The difference between an executive assistant and a Va. The need for an executive assistant, and how it differs from other roles in the company. The need to change the level of trust and be open to being vulnerable in order to accept a virtual or executive assistant or EA. The connecting of the wires. The person who needs to make decisions is the one who has the ability to think and make decisions. The importance of having a good hiring process, a good interview process, and a good environment to earn trust and earn trust. 9:23: Onboarding your executive assistant. Onboarding with executive assistant, email and calendars, how to respond to emails, and how to manage email in general and calendar. The email GPS, a Dan Martell thing. Jeff looks at his email once an hour and puts it into six different folders or labels in Gmail. Jeff is inbox zero every day from 8am until 5pm. How much of a full-time job it is to check emails once an hour, and if it is a full time job. The three levels of tasks, daily tasks, weekly tasks, get it done by the end of the week, and when they can. 14:53: The importance of having an assistant. The importance of having an executive assistant to manage the sales pipeline, manage the calendar, review work, and be a buffer for the executive. An executive assistant is an extension of the executive, helping the executive get this or that task done for what their role is. The need for an assistant is to have a process in place so that the executive knows how they want it to be done. There is a huge difference between what needs to be done and being in the zone of optimal genius. The ideal day is nearly every single day because of the executive assistant. The executive assistant is for the person, not the company. 20:42: Trust is earned. The EA is not part of the company. The EA comes with the executive who has sold the company and is not involved. The personal aspect of the business. The speaker is handing off tasks that they don't like to do during the day. They are trying to figure out why they are not able to benefit from offloading. The feeling of not being important enough to talk to an executive assistant, and how to avoid it. 23:51: The difference between a personal email and a non-personal email. The rule-based way to do it is to say this is what a personal email looks like and what a non-personal email should look like. The email went out almost immediately after that call was done, and then she did a follow-up saying and she sent it as me. Jeff wants to make sure his assistant is doing it right. He wants to know his preferences and has a rolling preference document. Jeff has more time now after investing two to four weeks in onboarding his assistant, and it makes him more efficient. 27:47: The importance of having an assistant on all team calls. Jeff has a private email that can go back-channel to him directly for anyone that needs it. He takes notes and does the administrative stuff on it as needed. Jeff wants to eliminate the possibility of stuff where he is not trusting or if someone is doing something wrong. People trust too much to their email and too much of their email, and then it just sits there for 30 minutes instead of two or three hours in email. Shifting the mentality as to what can only go through you now, and how much free time you get. The hourly rate is such a delta difference that it's totally worth it, and it makes a ton of sense. The big big takeaway here is what you were having to work on and realizing that parts and pieces of that might have to be pulled back to be put under one roll.
Hacking Project Management
August 15, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered, today's topic is Project Management. 2:32 : Project Management Learnings. The story of how they started working together. The idea of the ideal workday. Why a task should never be completed. A hack to change the language process. 6:22: How to create a virtual desk. The second half of the story. A productivity reporting system for the team. Using project management terms to have a better conversation. Creating an evergreen, evergreen environment. Everything is in one place now. A big simplification of the tools is necessary. 12:11 : The stigma of project management and Clickup. Three things Jeff has never heard of before. The stigma of project management. Going back to spreadsheets for the whole world view. Introducing a second brand. 15:45 : How to change the status of a task. The status hack, done but not complete. The first status, assigned but unaware. The process of checking for errors. The process is called TBV being right. 19:35 : Transitioning to a digital file system. The process of TBV. Using the assignee section to define whose desk it is on. Building a shadow system in Google Drive. Organizing the hierarchy of Google Drive folders. 22:11 : Hacks by nature aren’t permanent. Reorganizing Google drive and other areas. Championing the system for ease of use. Day-to-day management of the project. The shadow system with Google Drive. 26:19 : How to use the working on date field to improve productivity. Working on this today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year. Working on dates. Being willing to be wrong and having back-up. The importance of having a weekly meeting. 29:52 : No more babysitting. No more babysitting, just now. Blocked status, see comments and see comments. Never automate a system before planning it out.
Planning Your Ideal Work Day
August 8, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome back to Business Unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer today's topic is planning out an ideal work day. 1:48 : How do you plan your ideal day? How to plan the day. Evaluate yourself and how to be productive. Balancing time and energy to end the day with energy and accomplishment. The importance of time blocking and having control of your time. 7:04 : Planning for the end of the day. The importance of planning for the end of the day. The biggest challenge is planning for more than just one thing. 9:33 : Energy ebbs and flows and how to plan your day. Energy ebbs and flows throughout the day. How talking to people gives Jeff more energy. Code switching and the two-hour block. Two questions to ask yourself. 13:59 : Giving yourself consequences for procrastination. Procrastination and consequences. Getting better at scoping and being realistic with goals. 16:33 : The story we tell ourselves about procrastination. Tinker with the procrastination system and perfect it. Stories they tell themselves to motivate themselves. Setting up a schedule to gamify productivity. Creating a system of positive constraints to push you in the direction you want to go. 21:24 : How to break down your time block into hours. The pomodoro technique and time blocking. The two-hour block and the productivity book. One hour of time blocking for Jeff. How time blocking helps with procrastination. 25:12 : Warming up to the task. Giving yourself 30 minutes of warm-up time. Defining what goes in the two to four hours. Why an assistant is important for prioritizing tasks. Delegating 15 minute projects. 29:07 : How long does it take to do a video? How long it takes to create a training video. Planning for the warm-up. Doing one thing in four hours. The $5,000 rule and blocking off time.
Social Media Strategies for SMBs
August 1, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome to the Business Unfiltered Podcast 0:00: How do you define social media strategies? How Jeff defines social media strategies. Focus on one social media platform. The shiny object syndrome and how to overcome it. 3:41: How to choose a channel. How to choose a YouTube channel. The importance of research before choosing a channel 6:22: The value exchange of value on You Tube. Tribal marketing and co-producing content with other brands. The importance of consistent brand content and an exchange of value. On-demand workshops for members in the members area. Consistency is key to membership retention. 11:24: How to use LinkedIn content to draw new subscribers? Using LinkedIn as a channel supplement to email. Using LinkedIn to add value to free channels. 12:49: Why tactical learning doesn’t always lead to social media? Tactical learning on social media vs problem content. Three main niches of social media. How to choose the right channel for your business. How is different from YouTube. 16:33: Is YouTube a tactical social network? YouTube is a social network, but also a tactical network. YouTube is both search and discovery. The difference between email and LinkedIn. How email is like social media. 21:24: How to be tactical with your marketing strategy? How to use Quick books vs Market IO. How to choose the right social media channel. The 10% of society that is not a hunter. Hunting is mostly failure. 25:15: Social media is starting to fracture. Social media is starting to fracture into smaller groups and communities. Building a community. Making a commitment and making it a habit. The new wave of buying power. 29:27: Sketching out the future of the company. The importance of sketching out the future. Using Reddit from a tactical and strategic perspective. Discovery vs search, and how to say no to social media. Three things to take away.
Buying Your Time Back as a Business Owner
July 25, 2023 • 32 MIN
Welcome to business unfiltered with Mercer and Jeff Sauer. 0:00: What does it mean to buy your time back? The idea of buying time back. 2:23: Strategies for buying your time back. Categorize the strategy by category at a time. Hiring a generalist to balance you and your business. Finishing out day-to-day activities. 6:06: A perfect use case for this technique. Invoicing for high-ticket clients. The mental energy that comes from sending invoices. Half of people are still sending their own invoices. How to get paid for invoicing. 9:56: How much does it cost to do video editing? Replacing a bookkeeper for less than $1,000 per month. 10x offloading tasks. Hiring an outsourcer in the Philippines to edit videos. Mental energy is the biggest release. 14:05: Hiring a video editor and executive assistant. Offloading website design and scheduling. 16:34: Hiring an executive assistant. How the idea of an assistant has changed. How to respond to hundreds of emails. Understanding how an editor thinks and what the editor might need before giving it to a specialist. Understanding measurement and how measurement works. 20:48: The best entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs. The best entrepreneurs are the best business owners. The book buying your time back. Being an entrepreneur is not farming, it is hunting. The hunter farmer. 24:28: The problem with thinking everyone is like you. Hiring the right team members for the job. The hunter farmer analogy. Nine to one, farmers to hunters. Who can do this for you vs you. 28:52: The importance of having a to do list. Moving up the topic of the V.A. Delegating tasks to others to make it a to-do list. Recognizing the pattern.
Keeping SOPs Up To Date
July 18, 2023 • 32 MIN
0:24: What is an sop? SOP, the operating manual of the business. Why sops need to be updated. 2:59: The difference between a sop and project plan. The difference between an sop and a project plan. Keeping an SOP up to date. 5:25: Do you attach sops to every task on a project? The distinction between assigning sops and trust. Putting more trust in the individual. The broken windows theory with subway cars. Taking out the trash everywhere. 10:01: How often do you keep your sop up to date? Building sop into the culture. How to keep sop up-to-date. 12:31: Would you take out the trash? Taking out the trash and paying for it. Similar to taking out the garbage. 16:59: Keeping up to date with technology. Keeping things up to date is a legacy thing. An sop for the podcast to streamline the delivery of the podcast. 19:38: Should teaching be separate from the checklist? Should teaching be separate from the original video. Teach people how to do the job. 22:37: Pleasure to be alive. A quick recap of the episode. A quick summary of the conversation. 24:53: Organizational structure is key. Organization is key to enforcing SOPs. The 1000 list, brand standards and mission vision. 26:45: Define the culture of your company. Championing the new way of doing things. The importance of clear organizational structure and enforcement. Next step is to make it explicit. Taking out the trash is for everyone.
How to do Cold Outreach Without being SPAM
July 11, 2023 • 33 MIN
Welcome back to business unfiltered. 0:02: When you should generate leads using cold outreach. 1:33: The difference between spam and cold outreach. The definition of spam and cold outreach. Cold outreach is not a bad thing. Strategies to get over the lumpiness of revenue. How cold outreach could be used. 4:46: Cold Outreach as a way to bring in new people. Using cold outreach as a way to create relationships. Relationships are more important than just sending messages. Spam is a numbers game. Why GDPR exists and why it's illegal. 9:36: Hiring a cold calling person. Hiring a cold calling person multiple times. Shifting from cold calling to account based marketing. 10:52: Account based marketing vs. Cold Outreach. High-quality account-based marketing vs cold outreach. Cold outreach is a way of scaling a business. 14:04: How to know if a copywriter is a good copywriter? How to identify a good copywriter. What to look for in a copywriting coach. Working with one or two clients at a time. Working on referral basis with copywriters. 18:11: Going to the accounting firm Psi. Going on the accounting firm PSI. The accounting firm, PSi. 19:32: How to reach out to accountants. Outreach about two things, tax credit and payroll credit. Cold outreach vs cold outreach. Cold outreach with an offer is a sign that you want to build a relationship. The best relationships. 24:03: The difference between cold and tepid outreach. Tepid outreach is better than cold outreach. The importance of the first introduction. Not cold, but not warm. First impression. Cold email takes a lot of time. 27:44: Cold outreach vs. warm outreach. Wrap up, summarize the conversation. The difference between cold outreach and cold outreach. The scale between cold and warm outreach.
What is the minimum level of team members you need?
July 4, 2023 • 31 MIN
0:00: How do you define your team? How to determine the size of a team. The importance of team size. 2:05: How to shorten the runway for your business? The two ways to get out of your comfort zone. Hiring outside of comfort zones. 4:56: The good news is that you have money coming in. In business, there is money coming in. You have to have faith. 8:30: The first level of decisions are about the founder. The timeline element of the decision-making process. How the timeline affects the decisions. The first level of decisions are always about the founder. Hiring for the person you hired. 13:18: Hiring employees as an expense vs. an opportunity. Being on defense versus being on offense. Hiring employees is not an expense. 14:57: Leveraging a line of credit for capital. Community moneymaker is a moneymaker because of retention. Leveraging a line of credit. The level of certainty that comes from having a long-term plan. Bets on yourself. 21:02: How did you become an agency owner? How Jeff became an agency owner. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and the challenges. 23:16: Putting all your eggs in the same basket. Putting eggs in the basket and setting yourself back three years. The downsides. The marketing guy wanted to be a copywriter. The importance of team continuity. 26:19: What’s the difference between the two? A quick recap of the episode. A quick summary of the conversation. 27:42: Can I have done this sooner? Trial and error is the least effective way of doing things. Profit center vs expense.
Is Your Business Profitable?
June 27, 2023 • 37 MIN
Welcome back to the Business Unfiltered podcast with Jeff and Mercer. In this episode we discuss how do you know if your business is profitable? 0:01: Two strategies around profit. 2:45: Strategies for maximizing profit. Strategies to put in place around profit. A lumpy revenue trap. How to get paid twice a month. The main strategy for profit is margins. 7:13: The difference between an agency business and a training business. Two different business models, agency business and training business. The top and bottom line. Cost of goods sold is 25% to 35%. Healthy business margins are important. 11:39: Reinvesting in your business. Reinvesting in the business to prevent burnout. Taking 25% of leftover money. 14:57: The three ways you get paid. Three ways to get paid, salary, profit and book value. 17:52: The difference between a startup and an agency. The importance of having a minimum salary. 19:35: Profit vs. Expense. Expenses are the number one expense in the agency world. How much to invest in growth. 23:34: The importance of retainer consistency. Retainer consistency of revenue is key. Revenue projections are a big part of predicting profitability. Selling a strategy project as a retainer. Selling the retainer as the continuity and ongoing piece. 28:21: How to qualify leads. Qualifying leads and choosing who to work with. Non-negotiable times to be profitable. 33:02: The fruit tree analogy and its value. The fruit tree analogy to the kid analogy. The low-hanging fruit. Holding it to a monthly profit. Final thoughts from Mercer on this topic.
What To Do When Referrals Dry Up
June 20, 2023 • 30 MIN
This week's episode talks about what to do when referrals dry up for your business. 2:11: The difference between referrals and word of mouth. Word of mouth vs word of mouth. Expectations, expectations and strategy. Top of mind awareness is the key to word-of-mouth referrals. Getting referrals is not a strategy. 5:29: Top of funnel and bottom of funnel strategy. Top of the funnel, top of mind strategy. Separating strategy and tactics. 8:07: Top of mind marketing is very inefficient. Top of mind marketing is very inefficient in the beginning. Podcasts work really well. 10:42: Top of mind awareness and referrals. How to generate both leads and top-of-mind awareness. How to network with super connectors. The next level of the system to replace. The mechanics of running the system. 14:04: It’s actually less expensive than you’d think. The first thing people cut out once they start trying to make money. One out of every 10 things has a chance to go viral. How do you measure referrals? How Jeff measures referrals. The organic percentage of people buying from his site. 19:15: Getting granular with your marketing efforts. Time constraints and time constraints. Top of mind and awareness style marketing. Reach out to people you haven't heard from in a while. Create a system. 21:58: How to leverage referral traffic. How Jeff uses social media as a referral generator. The difference between high-ticket and low-ticket referral traffic. 24:44: Top of funnel awareness and top of funnel marketing. Improving top of mind awareness and top of funnel awareness. The five stages of awareness. The four awareness stages, top of funnel, sales and referrals. Endorsements vs referrals.
Remote vs In-Person Teams - Pros & Cons
June 13, 2023 • 32 MIN
This episode discusses the differences, pros, and cons between remote teams and distributed teams within your home country. 4:00: How do you build out a permanent business? Early on, using subcontractors is the only way to bootstrap a business. Remote is flexible and flexible. The ROI of the dollar spent on remote work. How to manage remote teams. 8:25: The importance of the permanence of the role and the benefits of having an in-person team. The importance of the permanence of the role. The benefits of in-person meetings. 10:49: How often do you get your team together in person? How often the team meets in-person and remote. How they manage remote work. 12:43: The importance of having quarterly team meetings. Quarterly meetings with the four team leaders to discuss the budget and problem-solving. The importance of getting people face-to-face with each other. 15:08: Have you ever gotten your team together from around the world? How do you keep the team together? Meeting people from around the world. Meeting with people in person to sell the company. The challenges of in-person meetings with remote teams. The challenge of moving from a remote to a distributed work environment. 20:07: The cost of remote work is expensive. Pushing paperwork is expensive for remote work. Zoom is 65% of face-to-face meetings. 22:03: The importance of in-person meetings. The importance of face-to-face meetings for team building. The biggest challenge in the business, being 100% 100% me decisions. 24:50: How do you show someone you value them in a way that is remote? Empowering the team to make every idea 20% and 30% better. The importance of purpose-based communication. Three times a day, point to a cliff. The importance of speaking up.
Managing Team Members With SOPs
June 6, 2023 • 33 MIN
In this episode, we discuss how to manage your team members using SOPs, and when they can be leveraged based on your teams growth plans. 1:34: How do you take the repetitive tasks and make sure they are done consistently and to your level of standard and satisfaction? What a strategy is and how it works. The importance of a belief system. The corporate culture of negative feedback. The importance of listening for and evolving feedback. 5:52: How to create a feedback culture in your company. The final frontier, creating a feedback culture. Over-delegating and over-delivering. Working with spreadsheets in the past and the future. Hiring a spreadsheet expert. 9:59: The best case scenario is when you find a diamond in the rough who comes in at one level. The best-case scenario, a diamond in the rough who comes in at one level and jumps on. Specific tactics for the sop. 12:40: The CEO is not going to be the one to do the work, it’s the worker who will. Make it 10% better each time. Create a culture where people feel empowered to make their own. 14:44: What is the balance between delegating too easily and micromanaging? Creating a culture where KPIs are empowered to make changes. Delegating too easily or micromanaging. Focusing on the result, not the result. Evolving templates and making it your own. 18:40: How do you know that they’ve made the process their own? How to measure if someone has made the process their own. How to offload repetitive tasks. 20:51: SOP’s can be a mistake when managing individuals. Jeff shares his thoughts on sops and why they are important. Jeff explains how to balance between teaching and telling people what to do. Breaking down into defined roles makes it easier to find a replacement. The levels of sops, beginner, entry-level, intermediate, advanced and high-end. 26:25: The three levels of hiring: the lowest level, the highest level, and the middle level. The three levels of conversation. Taking ownership of the role and the company. Hire them to get the job done. Hire someone who knows marketing. 29:37: The importance of hiring Rocket Ship people. The importance of hiring a rocket ship. Hiring the rocket ship person. The one percenters and the 10 percenters. Time management and recording time.
Creating Proposals For Services
June 6, 2023 • 34 MIN
In this episode, we discuss how to create a proposal for your services. 0:13: What is a proposal? How do you create one? Define what a proposal is to Mercer. A general recap of what's already been delivered in terms of the value. The confusion around proposals. 3:31: What are some strategies around proposals? Strategies for proposals and putting forward a proposal. How to keep a proposal simple. Using sales language, not contract language. How to handle when things don't work as planned, a risk assessment. 8:59: Why Jeff doesn’t use fancy tools for his calls. Jeff shares his strategy for communication and how it works for him. Jeff talks about the strategy of not using fancy tools for communication. An advocate of not skipping steps and follow-up until they do it. Building a whole quote builder, line item by line item estimate. 15:13: What is a statement of work? Proposal is a statement of work to write. Keeping it general, not detailed. 17:32: Using the proposal as a way to reinforce value. Using the proposal to reinforce the value of the business. Calculator in line items. How he arrived at his own method for proposals. The all in one proposal. 22:11 What’s building muscle in your business. Building muscle by going through and mining the sales process. A different style of using proposals, a seven-page pdf with client statement. 24:47: How to use proposals to get clients that last more than a month. Using proposals to flatten the sales timeline. Limiting beliefs around pricing. Under-charging vs over-charging, and why it's a numbers game. Raising rates is one way to do it. Raising rates to keep the client longer. Why proposals are important in proposals. 30:38: How to optimize for long-term relationships . Optimizing for long-term relationships is the way to go. Final thoughts on proposals. Proposals are a small but important step in the process. The biggest killer of satisfaction.
How To Get Referrals
June 6, 2023 • 32 MIN
This episode defines referrals and discusses strategies for how to get them for your business. 1:46: The definition of a referral. Why referrals are a tricky part of a business. The challenge with referrals. The definition of a referral. How to make referrals happen more often. How to measure marketing academy. How to take advantage of a lucrative channel. 8:09: Differences between ads and referrals. Why referrals are easier than paid media. The awareness stage of a referral. 10:35: How to get referrals? The two things to do when someone leaves a client company. The best referrals come from someone who is fully aware of your capabilities. A referral is creating your own luck. How to get inbound business. 15:33: How to create your own luck. How to create your own luck. How to get other people to talk about you. 17:51: The modern version of measurement marketing. The modern version of referral marketing. Most referrals come from a handful of people. How to measure the buzz from referrals. Quantitative and qualitative measures of buzz. 22:28: Tribal Marketing and Brand Marketing. Jeff talks himself off the ledge. Tribal marketing and creating a buzz. Every opportunity leads to the next opportunity. Every opportunity is just leading to the next opportunity. How to get more referrals. An example of a referral call. 29:02 The importance of being helpful. The expectation of an ad 20 in the beginning. The importance of serving others. You can always be helpful. Being helpful is free. One or two nuggets from this podcast.
When To Create SOPs
June 6, 2023 • 33 MIN
This episode covers when you should create SOPs for your business and our experiences working with them. 1:27: Have you ever had to hand over your business to someone else? Two different businesses, agency and consulting shop. One-on-one training, one-on -one training. The mid-2000s, when solopreneurship almost imploded. The danger of doing it too early. 6:13: The importance of having a plan. One of the biggest misconceptions about SOPs. The importance of documenting processes. Three levels of resources, advanced, intermediate and outsourced. Separating tasks by role. 11:06: Do you have sops for certain roles or do you have them for every role? Sops for certain roles or for every role. Maintaining two systems. 13:06: How do you do the risk vs. reward of this? Ditching a project management tool in Google suite. Documenting processes informally. 16:52: Never say never, never. Never say never, never say no. Simple, simple, simple. 21:30: How do you hand over a project to your team? Creating a sop video to hand over tasks. Creating a checklist for each task. 23:38: Steps to add to your marketing campaign. Steps added at the beginning of every marketing campaign. Hiring an operations manager. 27:01: What’s the middle layer in your business? The progression of SOPs, starting with the CEO. Sops for education and agency businesses. Different level of project management for a product than an agency. Book Recommendation: E-Myth revisited. 31:03: When you have a million dollar client, they’re not going to let you choose your sops. No sops for a million dollar client. What to do every day during search marketing.
Hiring Remote Employees
June 6, 2023 • 20 MIN
This week, we discuss hiring remote employees, answering key questions, and defining what goes into hiring remotely. 1:24: How do you handle the idea of hiring remote employees over a business? 3:50: The pain of hiring in the first place. 6:19: How do you find good talent? Hiring someone remote for the first 13 weeks. Hiring the first hire. 8:29: Hiring for success vs. hiring for success. Entrepreneurs expect instant success and perfect people, but it can happen. Hiring for specialty roles in the early stage. 11:18: How do you know who to hire? Hiring employees from alumni and network. Hiring people who work well with remote people. 13:50: Write the job description in a way that attracts the person that likes the company culture. The job description should attract the individual that likes the company culture. Hire someone who is already doing the job, not just the job. 16:54: Hiring mistakes we’ve made and what we would do now from them. Hiring mistakes they have made and what they would do now. 18:09: Final words on hiring. With no data, you’re going to make the wrong decision. The importance of data-driven decisions in hiring. Understanding people's environment and setting rules. The best they are ever going to be. 20:05: Biggest Tips. Be skeptical when hiring remote workers. Jeff shares his thoughts on remote work.