On this episode Josh speaks with Allison Maslan, CEO at Pinnacle Global Network. The talk about a variety of topics related to businesses including impediments to scaling a business.

Allison Maslan, CEO of Allison Maslan International, A Global Business Mentoring Company is the No. 1 Best Selling Author of Blast Off. Her new book, Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar hits bookstores in October 2018.

Allison’s built ten successful companies starting out at age 19. Her client list has included Ben & Jerry’s, Supercuts, Merrill Lynch and Charlotte Russe.

Now she pays it forward helping ambitious business owners around the world grow high-revenue businesses and passionate lives through The Pinnacle Global Network, her private mentoring and mastermind enterprise.

Allison’s been featured in Success, Fortune, and Forbes magazines and is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur magazine. She’s also a featured expert on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox across the US. Allison’s journey is highlighted in the documentary, Inspired by 11.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • Why do you get stuck at different stages of scaling?
  • How to build trust in the delegation process?
  • Should you grow your business without profits?
  • Is your business really different?
  • How important are mentors for successful scaling?


Transcript

Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                 Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business podcast.

Today, my guest is Allison Maslan. Allison is like this incredibly– I’ve never quite met anybody like her. She’s built, scaled, sold and continues to have a bunch of businesses. In fact, she had 10 of them.

One of her business right now is Pinnacle Global Network. She’s got a book, coming out October 16, about scaling your business. We’re going to start there. Who knows where this conversation’s going to go because she probably has as much knowledge as anybody you’re ever going to meet about how to run a successfully, done, privately-held business.

How are you today?

Allison:             I’m doing great. How are you?

Josh:                 I’m well. I’m well. I’m having fun with doing this. I’m looking at your stuff and I’m saying, “Oh, my God, where do we start?”

Allison:             [laughs] I know.

Josh:                 Let’s start with your book first because I’m assuming that’s what you really want to talk about.

Allison:             Well, I am very excited about the book. It’s kind of like having a baby. I’ve been carrying that baby for a while so.

Josh:                 We won’t talk about the process of writing the book although it would be interesting to talk about how you get a real publisher versus self-publishing. But, what is the book about? And what’s the purpose of it? What do you hope to accomplish with the reader?

Allison:             The book is called Scale or Fail: How to build your dream team, explode your growth and let your business soar. In building all these businesses, over the last three decades, and working with literally thousands of business owners, I found that they would make really good traction, they’re working really hard in their business, and then just hit a wall. They’re maxed out. They’re working 24/7 and they so want to get to that elusive next level but they just don’t know how to get there. And whether this is in the upper six-figures in their business or even at the like $3- to $5-million level, businesses can stay there for years, and years, and years. And they just keep trying the same thing over and over and it’s not working.

Josh:                 Here’s my question, why do they get stuck at different stages? Because I actually have a program around that and I have my theories around that. I’m really curious about, from your opinion, why do they get stuck?

And, to me, it’s more around how many employees they have and what the volume of the business is. You can choose volume or you can choose employees, it’s up to you. But why do they get stuck at different places?

Allison:             Well, there are many ways to scale a business. But, generally, the reason that we get stuck in business and in life is our mindset. We are creatures of habit and we like to do what we’re used to doing. It feels safe. It’s like that comfort zone.

And so, this idea of stretching ourselves and building the team further, stepping back and letting go, and stopping micromanaging which is absolutely necessary when you want to build a team that’s going to step up and run with it. That’s like terrifying for a business owner. You know, they lose sleep over that. And they’re so afraid that the team is going to make mistakes or things are going to slip through the cracks.

Josh:                 That’s the facts [laughs].

Allison:             Yes, but it’s just like with children. Now, I have a daughter. I don’t know if you have kids, but if you’re constantly jumping in and rescuing them, and fixing it for them, or giving them the answers, they never really build those wings to fly. I think, if you have a team that feels like you trust them, and you really value their creativity, and you give them an opportunity to step into their own leadership, then, you are able to trust more and to step back.

Josh:                 Well, you just hit on one of the things I consider absolutely crucial when it comes to learning how to delegate, which is what I think you’re talking about, and that is trust. Can you talk about that a little bit, why trust and how you build trust in the delegation process?

Allison:             You know, the trust is scary to take that step.

Talking about kids, I was just with my daughter, we went to a wedding. Now, my daughter’s 30 years old. We were driving over this scary mountain to get into Palm Desert and I wasn’t feeling well, so I said, “Okay, honey. You drive.” Well, this is a pretty scary mountain, right? So, it’s like I was still terrified for her at the wheel because she’s still like my little girl, right? But she ended up doing an awesome job.

So, it’s the same thing with our teams. We have to be willing to do what’s scary. And that’s really how we build trust. That’s how our team can prove to us, “Hey, I can do this. It may not be the exact way that you do it but it might actually even be a little bit better.”

Josh:                 That’s been my experience over the years, is that if you let people who want– and again, I actually put employees on a couple of things. Most employees really want to know what to do and want to have a system to run on. Most people who own businesses don’t, so there’s this disconnect that happens between the two. But when you trust people and you allow them to make mistakes, as long as they learn from the mistakes and document the fixes, you’re likely to have people who are way more engaged in running your companies.

Allison:             Definitely. And I think what you said, is super important, is building those systems so that there is a step one, step two, step three, and that you can take yourself out of the equation. I think we get frustrated with our employees because they’re not doing what we want. But, did you really tell them exactly how to do it? I mean, is it documented? And they feel that they’re disappointing you, right? But if you are real clear on your expectations, and what it is you want, and they have a roadmap to follow then they can soar.

Josh:                 Let’s talk about cash flow for a little bit because this is something that I often see is, when people hear the word fast growth or scale, they think that this is growing without profits. We were talking a little bit beforehand and one of my issues around people who teach fast growth is that they ignore the profit part of the world and there’s not a more risky way to grow a business without profits, so talk a little bit about that.

Allison:             Well, I agree with you 100% because I think so many people are focused on revenue. Revenue is great but if you don’t have a good profit margin, if you don’t have a good net at the end of the day. What’s the point, really? You’re going to get into big trouble, especially when it’s time to start investing more in your company.

I think that you’ve got to get clear on what is your profitability quotient. Like, do you want to remain at 15%, 20%, 25% – whatever that is. And so, that as you’re growing, that you’re constantly watching that margin. You know, business owners don’t really like to look at the numbers.

Josh:                 They don’t know how to. That’s been my experience is that, in my first business, I literally ran out of cash in the first years I was running. And the reason was I couldn’t read a cashflow statement and I didn’t understand the difference between profit and cash, so [laughs] I unfortunately learned that lesson the hard way.

Allison:             Well, I think you’ve got a really– you know, for some businesses, they have a hard time figuring out what really is their margin. And so, I think that’s super important is to figure– you know, what does it cost you to work with a client – to bring on a client? What is your lifetime value of a client? So that gives you an idea of what you can spend to acquire a client.

Josh:                 There’s another issue also is that– this is especially true, I’m assuming you’re talking about service businesses at that point. And a service business, especially at the microservice businesses where there’s one, two, or three people in a firm, they believe they actually have 2080 hours they can sell a year. The truth is that if they have 1000 hours that they can sell a year, they are lucky, which means they’re probably underpricing what they need to do by at least 50%.

Allison:             I love what I’m hearing you say. I tell people, double your price and then add on like another 15% on top of that because most business– it’s like, “Oh, my God.” But most business centers really are — they do undervalue themselves and they try to get clients based on price and that’s a quick race to the bottom.

Josh:                 Well, they also don’t look at the size of the pocketbook of the people who they’re trying to sell to. You know, for example, our high-end product which is me working with you one-on-one is $5000 a month. Now, I know for a fact that if you’re making $150,000 a year, there is no way in the world you’re going to hire me. I don’t care how much you want to hire me. I don’t care how much value you think I can bring, you’re just not going to be able to bring yourself to write that check every month. But if you’re making $500,000 or $600,000 a year, then it’s possible to write that check because, although it’s a big part of your profit, it’s not that big and you can see where the return comes.

Allison:             Definitely. We work with business owners all the time in our Pinnacle Global Network. Part of it is also learning that idea of investing in yourself which is different than just spending money. I think that when you talk about cash flow, it’s important to understand good debt and bad debt. And if you’re just going to go out and have a shopping spree and spend all your money, or you going to invest in yourself and your business so that you can create a good ROI.

Josh:                 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

So, tell me about your CEO group, your Pinnacle Global Network. Now, I’ve been involved in CEO networks for years. I’ve done peer-to-peer where we had no leader. I’d been in YPO. I used to speak for Vistage. I spent a lot of time around that world and truly believed that if you own a business, you must have a CEO group that you’re involved with, of some sort. So, tell us about yours and what’s unique about yours.

Allison:             I started this nine years ago. And, really, from my own experience of being in a mastermind, a peer-to-peer group like you’re talking about. And I also had a mentor – a coach for myself for many, many years.

When I was looking to scale this business, I wanted to bring on mentors that had run successful companies. They weren’t just people that had gotten a coaching certificate. Nothing wrong with that. But, for me, I felt like, “If I was going to mentor business owners or if I was going to work with someone, I wanted someone that had been in the trenches. And so, we combined the private mentoring and the masterminding.

We have 150 business owners, all over the world, and we come together for live events in San Diego, three times a year. But we also do virtual masterminds with about five or six business owners. And this is on a video conferencing call, kind of like this, every two weeks.

And also, the mentor is facilitating those calls. And you bring your challenges, your opportunities, your questions – whatever that is. And so, that within that hour, you get the support, those road blocks are removed, and that team that you become very bonded with, as you know because you’ve done this, they are holding you accountable. So if you said, “I’m going to do this or I’m going to make this sale, or call these people, or hire these individuals.” They’re going to say, “Hey, like you said you were going to do this. What’s going on?” And to help to keep you focused. You don’t feel alone. You’re around people that really get you. And you have momentum all year long. And so, there’s no way that you can’t grow without that consistent focus and momentum all year long [inaudible 00:13:55].

Josh:                 So the 150 CEOs, are those mentors or are they members of your group?

Allison:             They’re members of our group. We have nine CEOs.

Josh:                 You have nine mentors?

Allison:             Mm-hmm.

Josh:                 Okay.

And what kind of training do you put the CEOs through because, in my experience, many CEOs are really good talkers but not especially good listeners and they’re terrible at asking questions.

Allison:             That’s such a good point. And this is also a good example, when you want to scale your company, and when you’re starting to multiply who you are, you still want it to be your systems, your signature way of doing business. And so, over the years, we have developed a training program for our CEOs. I love that they bring their wisdom to the table and their style but we have a way of mentoring our clients on revenue streams, on marketing, on sales, on leadership, on hiring, on building company culture – all of those important things. We have our own tools. We have our own strategies. So, everybody’s on the same page and you’re not having a different experience working with one mentor or another.

Josh:                 When you bring nearer 150 CEOs together, three times a year, what kind of things do they get to experience?

Allison:             The focus is that we want them to leave, at the end of our time together, with a strategy for the next 90 days. They know exactly what they need to focus on. Business owners, we have ADD. I mean, let’s face it, right? And so, there’s a thousand things with want to do. So, it’s really getting them focused on what needs to happen now. But we also– I bring in top experts from around the world that are teaching on any topic in business.

That’s one of the things that I do. I’m constantly sourcing those experts. And so, they get to come. They get to learn. They get to have major breakthroughs. And brainstorm, kind of like a think tank with the other business owners from all different industries.

That’s unique too because sometimes we feel like that we should just learn from people in our own industry. I don’t know what your take is on this, but I find that business owners move forward faster when they can learn how other industries are doing it, other business models. And so, that they can stand out in the crowd.

Josh:                 That’s my experience also. In fact, what I tell people — because I have finally decided to start narrowing who I serve. But I can literally help any business I’ve ever looked at. And the reason is 80% of all businesses are exactly the same. The 20% is the industry knowledge that comes in. And I’m not working on a tactical level with businesses, I’m working on a strategic level. So, when it comes to strategic activities, I can tell you 100% of what I do is applicable across every single business I’ve ever seen.

Allison:             I so agree. I do. And so many business owners will say– and I’m sure you’ve experienced this, “My business is different. Well, my business is different.”

Josh:                 Yeah. It’s sort of like this, “Oh, really?” Shall I tell you what– I’m going to talk with you for 10 minutes and I’m going to tell you what the drivers are in your business.”

Allison:             Yeah, for sure.

You definitely have your own creativity and your own challenges that come with your specific industry but the framework is generally– you know, every business, you have a revenue stream. You have to market. You have a target market. You’ve got to convert sales. You’ve got to learn to build a team and be a leader. All of those things apply.

What I feel we do uniquely is that we really customize the process so it’s a cookie-cutter experience for everybody. And there are many ways to scale a company. Some people want to acquire other companies and buy them. And we’ve helped many companies do that, actually do it well.

And then, there’s – I hear you laughing. And then there’s– you can multiply even by creating monthly recurring revenue. That’s another way to scale. So–

Josh:                 That, in my opinion, is the most important way to scale.

Allison:             Yeah.

Josh:                 The fun thing to do is to take a traditional non-recurring revenue business and teach them how to create recurring revenue out of what they’re already doing.

Allison:             Yup, you can do it with any business – any type of business.

Josh:                 I used to work with a carwash – a chain of carwashes and they had this unlimited thing. When they were first introducing it, the CEO was having a major fight with everybody else in the company about doing this. I said to him, I said, “You know, you’ve got to think about your business like it’s a ski area.” He kind of looked at me and said, “Huh?” I said, “Well, ski areas have a lot of excess capacity, especially in the middle of the week. What are you seeing in the ski industry today? Seasons passes that are good for everyday except peak times. And the reason is the ski areas have all this excess capacity. Well, so did he, because his carwash was never running at 100% capacity.

If somebody got their car washed four times a week for a fixed rate, or two times a week for a fixed rate, or once a week for the ticket, he was leaving a lot of money on the table. So, almost every business can figure out a membership of some sort that they can use. So, I agree with you on that. I think that that is absolutely true.

So, Allison, we’re out of time, unfortunately, in the podcast. How do people find you? And if they want to join the Pinnacle Global Network, what would they do and how would they get your book when it becomes available on October 17th?

Allison:             Yup, October 16. You actually can order it. It’s available on Amazon. The book is called Scale or Fail. Or you can go to scaleorfail.com. And when you buy your book, you get lots of fun bonuses that we’re giving away some trainings and like a quick start guide, kind of cliff notes.

This is a book that will be a great resource like somewhat of a bible for your business. And if you’re interested in finding out about Pinnacle Global Network, you can go to my website which is AllisonMaslan.com or just email us directly at support@allisonmaslan.com and we will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Josh:                 Cool.

And I also have an offer for you. I recently just launched a new product. It’s called Cracking the Cashflow Code: How you can become cashflow free from your business. There’s five steps to the Cashflow. This is a nice little infographic that talks about the five stages of cashflow, going from “I can’t pay myself” to “I have excess cash” and there’s five steps along the way. If you get the infographic, you’re also going to get an invitation to a three-part video lessons that I did on what the different stages are, what you’re probably saying to yourself at each stage. But, more importantly, what do you have to do successfully to move to the next stage along the way?

This is Josh Patrick. We are with Allison Maslan. This is the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@askjoshpatrick.com.

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: allison maslan, scaling, mentors, profit, sustainable business podcast, trust, Sustainable Business, business growth, cash flow, delegation

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