We're talking with Simon Servino from Strategy Sprints. The topic as you might have guessed is all about sprints. You'll learn what a sprint is and how it's used to speed up everything that happens in your company which saves you money. Listen to how you can make the word higher a part of your world and one that brings results.
Simon Severino helps business owners in SaaS and services discover how to be able to run their company more efficiently which results in sales that soar. He created the Strategy Sprints® Method that doubles revenue in 90 days by getting owners out of the weeds.
Simon is the CEO and founder of Strategy Sprints which is a global team of certified Strategy Sprints® Coaches which has offers a customized strategy to help clients gain market share and work in weekly sprints which results in fast execution. He is also a Forbes Business Council Member, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a member of Duke Corporate Education.
Narrator: Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you'll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You'll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. 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 and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh Patrick: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. And you're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code.
And my guest today is Simon Severino. Simon is the founder and CEO of strategysprints.com. He has some really interesting jargon which I'm going to ask him about so I can know what he's doing. And I'm sure we're in for a great conversation today so I'm looking forward to it. Instead of me just wandering on and just talking about nothing, let's bring Simon on and start the conversation.
Hey, Simon. How are you today?
Simon: Hey, Josh. Hey, everybody. Thank you for being here.
Josh: Yeah. I really appreciate you being there.
So, first of all, what the heck is a strategy sprint?
Simon: I was a CEO. I started my own company. And I was like, “What kind of consultancy do I need, really?” Now that I'm not a consultant anymore. Now that I am a CEO myself. What do I really need? And out of that, I said, “I want something that's practical, not distant and theoretical, and I want something that doesn't hang out here forever. I want them to come, help, go.
Simon: So, out of my own needs, and this was my needs analysis that I did there, in that moment, when I was creating the company. And they asked me, “How should this company be named?” And then, I said, “strategy sprints.”
Simon: Technical and short. That's what we created because that's what I wanted, as a business coach, for my business. And that's what we have created.
So, strategy sprint is a 90‑days coaching cycle that doubles your revenue. And it mainly helps you get out of the weeds so that you have time to work on the business, not just in the business. And when you have that time to work on the business, then the sprint is, every seven days, you improve one small part of your value chain - one conversion rate. For example, from awareness to engagement, or from engagement to closing, or from closing to cross selling. So, every week has one focus. And we solve one tiny part. That's the sprint part.
Josh: So, this, in many respects, reminds me of an Agile strategy called Scrum. Is this based on Scrum?
Simon: Yes, absolutely. So, the Agile methodology which has helped so many product teams, I wished could help, also, executive teams. For some reason, nobody ever created a Scrum for the CEO, a Scrum for the executive team. And so, I said, “Why don't we just do it?” The principle are very effectful. The principles are organized around the client needs not your excitement about features. The second principle is make work small. So small that you can do it in one day, and so small that you can learn from doing every week.
And the third principle is compartmentalize work in chunks of time. Give it 14 days or seven days. So, that's one unit of work. And in that unit of work, you want to be done with something so that you can learn from it. And you want to finish something in one unit of work.
So, I put these four principles and many other things also. Of course, lean management and many other things that I saw working in my 18 years of being a strategy consultant. And so, we put these things together but for the executive team which is not building a product. It's running a business. And that's slightly different but the principles are super helpful.
Josh: Yeah. I've been an advocate of Agile technologies for use in small businesses for at least the last seven or eight years. And I've actually been working on what I call total quality management which was started by W. Edwards Deming in the ‘30s. And in 1984, which shows you how old I am, we actually installed Demings’ 14 points in my vending company.
So, this stuff has been around for a really, really, really long time. It's now ubiquitous in the software world. Any software you're buying today is being built using Scrum. That's what it was developed for but it is just an incredible tool for blue‑collar businesses and for executive teams, as Simon is saying.
So, Simon, now I'm curious, how did you come up with adopting Scrum to the C Suite because, frankly, I've been advocating this forever and it's like I'm whistling in the wind. You are literally the first person I've ever talked to who said, “Oh, yeah, yeah. That's what we're doing.” So how did you come up with that?
Simon: Out of necessity. So, I needed it for myself.
Josh: Well, I understand out of necessity but how did you make the leap from, “Okay. Here's Scrum, built for software companies, how do I take this and apply it to my C suite?” How did you make that particular jump?
Simon: Some people have already started this. So, I'm not the first one to start it. Some people have tried in hardware companies. Some people have tried even in automobile. These cases are not very known, but you can google them.
So what I did is, “Okay. Let's just show people that this works.” And so, I started the first project that I had anyways because I was 17 years in business at that time. And I said, “Hey, people. Can we do this more Agile?” And they said, “No.” “Would you like this to be done faster?” “Yeah.” “Okay. I have something.” And because everybody wants something to be done faster, right? And so, on time. “Do you want projects to finish more on time?” “Yeah.” “Okay. I have something.” I didn't call it Agile at all. So, I called it a sprint. And everybody wants a sprint.
So, CEOs, they think like sprinters. In every organization, there are sprinters. At the top, sprinters. And in between a mix of things. And then the doers are also sprinters. You have just in between the coordination zone that finds some funny ways to not sprint. But every CEO is a sprinter. Every business owner is a sprinter. And every doer, who builds something, is also a sprinter, as you say.
Now, the problem was how to align the in‑between. So, we have come up with a setting that works. And, for example, our promise is to double revenue in 90 days. And 90 days is quite a short time for some companies.
This month, a company in North Carolina who builds houses - hardware, houses, has printed. And, on the 90th day, we always do a summary. So, I come to the summary and say, “How was your experience with your sprint coach?” We have 14 certified strategy sprint coaches. And they say, “Simon, we have quadrupled our sales.” And I say, “Wait a minute. Is this good or bad because now you have to deliver four times more houses? Can you deliver four times more houses?” And they go, “Sure.” “Well, how can you deliver four times more houses?” “Yes, Simon. Your sprint coach has also simplified our processes.” And I was like, “How is this possible in three months? Come on, tell me everything. I never saw something like that. It's really hard in hardware to do it.” And they said, “Look, Simon. Your sprint coach said everyday we have to write down how we use our time and where are the time wasters. Every week, we have to get three numbers - the three marketing numbers, the three ops numbers, and the three sales numbers.” This part was magical because--
And you will recognize the Agile principles behind that. So, every seven days, they have to get three numbers. And so, that was new for them. And so, it helped them. Of course, first week, they hated it because they had to change every reporting system. But, in the second week, they said, “Wow! Everything's popping up now. We know what's not working and we can solve it. And we know what's working and we can do more of it. So, we have much more knowledge now during the week.” And that has helped them solve their main problems. That's why they--
Josh: Simon, I want to stop you there, just for one second, Simon, because you just glossed over something which is incredibly important that our listeners need to know about. You talked about fixing the things that were wrong. But then you talked about magnifying the things that are right. And my experience with Agile or with any operation I do is, if I get my people I'm working with to focus on what works and just manage what's not working, we are going to go a lot faster and get a lot better results than if we just focus on fixing the bad stuff. Does that make sense?
Simon: Yeah. You've got to do both.
So, it depends. What we do at the beginning is simplify. So, usually, they are measuring too many things but not often enough. They are doing too many things but not impactful enough. So, we have to find what are the few very relevant things. If you find something that's broken and it's not relevant, I'm with you, let's just not do it. So, we say cut, systemize, or delegate.
So, if it's not relevant - cut, just don't do it anymore. If it's very relevant and it's broken, then we have to repair it. For example, if the conversion rate from engaged people on the website to closed deals is broken, that we need to fix. But, if the awareness stage from-- I don't know, from TikTok to the engagement stage is broken. Okay. Then, let's stop doing TikTok.
Josh: Yeah. Well, the key is, obviously, if something is broken, you may want to stop doing it and try something else. I mean, that's-- you know, you talk about a thing you call fail fast and try again. I call that fail fast, fail cheap. Essentially, those are small experiments. And if I'm doing an experiment and it doesn't work, well, I'm more likely than not going to just drop it and not try to fix it. If it's a key business process and it's broken, well, I may not fix it myself, I may have people who work for me fix it, or hire outsiders to fix it because I, obviously, don't know how to fix it. Otherwise, I would’ve or done that already.
But the other thing I like is that you're talking about doing small pieces because I know, especially in smaller blue‑collar businesses, the person that owns the business has almost no time to work on the business. I don't care what I say. I can say, working on the business, don't work in the business, till I'm blue in the face, and they don't have the time for it because they don't have middle management. They're too small. But what they do have is a couple of hours a week. And if I can get them to focus that couple of hours a week doing the sprints that you're describing, they're going to get incredible results. In fact, I know they get incredible results because I've seen people do it. Does that make sense?
Josh: Does that make sense?
And so, if you start with two hours, the next thing that I would do is that you write down, every day, how you are allocating your time.
Simon: So, do that in the evening--
Josh: A horrible thing everybody hates but you have to do it.
Write down how will you spend tomorrow's time. And in the evening tomorrow, let's reflect, just for five minutes, on two questions. One, of all these things that I did, which one could somebody do tomorrow better than me? And the second question, If I would live more intentionally and more freely, what would I do tomorrow? With these two questions, every evening, five minutes - not more than five minutes, you start carving out, per week, the first hour, the second hour. And until now you can hand over one task. Let's say this task has created you now four hours.
For example, you have delegated now the bookkeeping. You have four hours more per week. Now, of these four hours, now, we talk. Now, we can work on the business. We continue doing this exercise of the five minutes every day because this is where we find the time wasters. We find what takes energy, instead of giving us energy. We find what is low leverage instead of high leverage.
And so, bit by bit, you get the buy in that, “Oh, I shouldn't do this. Oh, I would like to hand over this. Oh, how can I do it?” And now you get asked as a coach. And this is the moment when we then share our own templates. But you need first the awareness. And then, as soon as they ask us, “Hey, how can I delegate my podcast system like you have done?” “Yeah, sure. I'm happy to share my template with you.” And then they have six hours more per week.
And then, a positive loop starts. They start to experience that, when they hand over things, that life is better and that business is better. And this is a positive loop that you want to keep reinforcing. That's why we have weekly coaching because you're creating now a new habit out of a new mindset. The mindset is now, “I am not the business. The business is, in itself, intelligent, adaptable, and I am watching it, owning it, enjoying it.”
Josh: Yeah. You just hit another thing which we talk about a lot which is there's two sides to a business. There's personal sustainability and there's economic sustainability. Everybody knows about economic sustainability because that's what all consultants talk about.
But the personal sustainability which is, “Are you burned out? Are you doing the right things at business? Are you having a good time running your business? Do you love your business?” Those are things that are just as important as economic sustainability because, if you don't do that, you're going to experience burnout and, after 20 years, you're going to go screaming into someone's office saying, “Get me out of here. I can't take this anymore.”
But if you do what you're recommending, you're likely to be able to work to your 80’s or 90’s and still love what you do because what you're doing is not hard on your body, or on your mind, or your life. Is that what you call this?
Simon: Yeah. Absolutely.
Most business owners, they start with the dream of being free. Then, they run the business and they feel the opposite of freedom. They feel like the business is running them. And then, after a couple of years of this hustle of the growth stage, they think, “Oh, that's supposed to be like this. It's supposed to be stressful. It's supposed to be a ton of hours. Who am I to expect that my business works for me? I have to put in the hours.” And this mindset is maybe, for the first two years, an appropriate mindset because the growth stage is a hustle. It's tough and you have to put in the hours.
But then, comes the scaling stage. And scaling stage is not a hustle at all This is when it becomes fun. And usually the bottleneck, the tipping point, is when you fire yourself from operations.
So, I, as a consultant, I had to fire myself from coaching myself. And so, in January, I said, “Guys. I'm out. I cannot be booked anymore for the core fulfillment. I will now do only CEO work. And I'll tell you what this is. It's the vision, the culture, the hiring, the firing, and the performance metrics. That's my job. Everything else it's not my job.” And everybody went, “Yeah, sure.”
And the clients said, “Yeah, sure.” So, it wasn't tough at all. It was just inside of myself. It was the inner work of becoming a mature CEO which we all have to do when we are the founders - moving from being the business doer to being the business owner. And it's not that hard. It feels dramatic. It is not. It's quite a normal transition. And, afterwards, you will have a lot of time.
Josh: Well, you're actually not giving yourself enough credit. What you're talking about is the hardest thing a business owner ever has to do which is learn how to delegate because what you're talking about is, “I'm going to delegate all the stuff I was doing to other people.”
And the problem with delegation is, when you first do it, you're going to be an abject failure. I have never seen anybody who delegates right out of the box. And I also see a lot of people who don't have enough trust in their people. And they don't have a toleration for mistakes. And if you can't learn from mistakes and you can't handle mistakes that other people make, and help them learn from them, you're never going to grow your business. You're always going to be in that loop of having to do everything yourself because you don't trust anybody else. And those are the sorts of things that happen.
Simon: You don't start with delegating the core fulfillment. You start with delegating to virtual assistants, and then personal assistants, executive assistants, then the admin staff, bookkeeping, financial staff. And then, you go to delegating marketing, delegating sales. And, quite at the end, I would say delegating operations when you are out. And now you are like Bernstein who is not who is not telling his orchester what to do. He's just observing the orchester, enjoying, and giving a positive feedback saying, “Hmm. You are doing this in a wonderful way. Please, continue. I am joyful in seeing you doing so well.”
Josh: Yeah, that makes perfectly good sense to me.
So, tell me something. And we're going to have to end here, most likely. How do you double sales in 90 days? What specifically do you do?
Simon: Yeah. So, this company just quadrupled. So, it's not even that hard to double.
The first thing that we do in the first month is to simplify. Usually, people do too much. So, we have to find the few things that really move the needle forward in their context, in their current situation. And that's what we do at the very beginning.
Then, we help them with this daily practice and the weekly practice to find what works. When we have found what works, we now connect the things that work and automate them. Now, this becomes their standardized process. So, if they're a service business, that becomes their main productized service. And when we have that, now, we go and improve every single part and we align operations, marketing, and sales. So, the whole machine, if you want, is running smoother. And when it runs smoother, now, you have the livers to amplify the reach. So, sales and marketing optimization These are the three things.
And, at the end, the outcomes are a higher conversion rate, by 25% of existing leads, a higher frequency of conversion. So, a better upsell and cross sell system and a shorter sales time from beginning to closing, from awareness to closing. And the third thing is to improve the price by 25% which usually is easy as a consultant because you see how they can position themselves better. And you see where they are not charging enough and not charging the right way.
So, these are the three levers - higher conversion by 25%, higher frequency by 25%, higher price by 25%. And when you add these three things, you have a revenue increase of 99%. Now, you have doubled.
Josh: That's pretty impressive. I will say that almost every business I ever run across is underpriced and owners are always scared to death of testing pricing elasticity which simply means how much can you raise your prices before people stop buying from you? So, I always encourage people to push the needle on this and test it.
Simon: They are afraid.
Simon: There is a way to put out the emotion from this testing because it's a numerical game. And so, one thing that you can do is, with every new user, you increase by 5% until you reach a point where 60% say no. Now, you have a conversion rate of 40% which is probably a very nice sweet spot for you because you're just picking the right clients and you have enough profitability and cash flow. And now you have found your upper price.
There are eight things that you need to do before, in terms of positioning homework, but you can do them in one or two weeks. And then you start increasing by 5% until you find the sweet spot, until 60% of the people say no. This is, if it's too emotional for you, you can use this system. It has helped many entrepreneurs.
So, Simon, unfortunately, we're out of time. And people who are not watching this on Facebook or on YouTube will want to know how to find you. So, how do they find you?
And I've got two things I'd like you to do. First is really important. The first is I’d like you to go to wherever you're listening to his podcast and please give us an honest rating and review. If you love us, say you love us. If you hate us, well, I hope you don't. But, if you do, you can say that, but I hope that's not true.
And the second thing is a new book has been recently released in the world. And we have a book website set up where you can get the book for $7.95 which is actually free and you're just paying shipping and handling. And, if you get the book, you'll also have access to our book bonus section where there's nine or 10 extra bonuses that you're going to be able to get to tell you how to use all the stuff that we talk about in the book. It’s really easy to find. You just go to www.salereadycompany.com. That's www.salereadycompany.com. And you can get the book, The Sale Ready Company.
So, this is Josh Patrick. We're with Simon Severino. You're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You've been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”
If you've liked what you've heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co, or you can send Josh an email at email@example.com.
Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.