Are you running an old business but feeling like you're flogging a dead horse? Or are you running a new age business and pushing in the right direction where things can be done in a way that's leveraging your value but not your time?
Samantha Dean from BlueprintHQ tells us more about the innovative revenue model.
• What is an innovative revenue model? Traditionally, we go into business for ourselves or one that's built around our expertise. We don't then look at moving forward, instead we kind of look back to how everyone else has done it.
• What is the most important part of any business? We mainly work around experts and dollar businesses that have products or services that are very much needed, but the problem is they're built around one person, and then we don't even know how to look after ourselves.
• Where are we going? If you look at what's happening in the thought leadership area, they're all talking about heart-centred businesses into the future and how we shifted from muscle-style businesses to the industrial age type of businesses to brain-style businesses.
• How do you apply the transformative business model? Start with the process of finding out where you want to be personally as the leader. The business does not disconnect from the person.
What Are Innovative Revenue Models
What is an innovative revenue model?
Samantha: An innovative model is very dependent on what you want, and I think this links straight back to your podcast: Business Built Freedom.
Traditionally, we go into business for ourselves or one that's built around our expertise. We don't then look at moving forward, instead we kind of look back to how everyone else has done it.
It's shifting towards what success actually means to you—not what success should be—and towards building a habitat in your business that links all the way from your vision based on what you want to the financial statements, leadership, people, process and systems that you want. The next part of that is enveloping that in core values, safety and accountability.
The main issue around this structure is that we have not been taught how to do any of that. We've been taught how to maybe do our product and financial statements, but we haven't been able to talk about how to actually run a business. It takes 7 or 8 minutes to open up a business. Most of us spent years getting qualifications, I spent a decade learning how to be an accountant, but it did not teach me how to run a business.
It's something that should be taught more at school and as a career. I am guilty of it. I've been a cowboy trying to work out how to get to where I'm at. I've learnt by touching fire, most of the time realising that's not a good idea.
That's the problem. As technicians and as experts, we are taught not to make mistakes, but if you're building a business, you have to make mistakes and you have to make it safe to make them.
Failure leads to success. If you don't have any failure, you won't have success. If you're mining, it's very unlikely you're going to strike gold the first time you hit the ground.
Leadership Is the Most Important Part of Any Business
Samantha: We mainly work around experts and dollar businesses that have products or services that are very much needed, like IT. The problem is they're built around one person, and then we don't even know how to look after ourselves.
If you're building any kind of business, the leader is the most important person but the leader tends to come last a lot of times. First, you actually have to learn people skills. I know this because I've made so many mistakes. The good thing is I've learnt from those mistakes. I'm a very curious person by nature and I always ask myself "how can I make that better?"
It wasn't until very recently I realised that if I'd look after myself, then my people and everything will follow. That was a really big learning experience.
For me, it's to stop people who want to change—those who actually understand that it will take some changes and show that they actually have to change behaviour and skills to go forward. We think that we can just continue doing things the same way and then we can make those $ 2 million dollars.
Particularly in the expert style of businesses, we've got spreadsheets. I don't know how many spreadsheets that would say I would take this from here to here, and then you get to the end of the year and wonder why that didn't happen. It's because you actually have to make it happen and you have to have skills and you have to bring your team on board too. Nothing leverages a business faster than all in with your people.
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Safety, Trust, and Collaboration
Samantha: We have to learn how to make collaborative spaces. We have to learn how to trust. And the biggest thing to trust is to create safety.
You have to actually create safety to make mistakes, and I'm not talking about doing three times the wrong way—that's slackness. What I'm talking about is going and experimenting, rewarding that and finding ways to actually measure it. Actually say, "we're here and we want you to make mistakes," but you have to send rules and boundaries around that and actually then demonstrate it.
The biggest thing about leadership is actually leading by example. You do not get your team to do something that you're not willing to do yourself or you haven't done yourself. If you want your team to go on a high-level change, be ready to change.
I think this is the biggest mistake I made, particularly when I was in a very large accounting firm. I was trying to change, but a lot of our leaders did not. A lot of the business structures that we have now are not built for that. They're built on expertise and ego and everything else. We have to start shifting this, and I'm on a journey to find out how to do that. There isn't a lot of instruction on this, but there are ways to have really safe conversations and communication.
Building Relationships Toward a Heart-Centred Business
Samantha: If you look at what's happening in the thought leadership area around this—the ones I follow are Bernie Brown, Simon Sinek, and Jim Collins—they're all talking about heart-centred businesses into the future and how we shifted from muscle-style businesses to the industrial age type of businesses to brain-style businesses, such as IT and accounting.
We have to build relationships, but no one teaches us how to build relationships and how to build community. The way most people spend their time is in businesses, so businesses have to be safe. And by safe, I mean you can come in and bring your problems to work. There's a framework for you to have a conversation, such as if you're having a bad day, and someone else will pick it up for you. All of that sort of stuff doesn't happen.
How to Quantify Value
Samantha: First of all, we have to acknowledge it. When I say success on your own terms, the concentration is I want to make money. There's no question about that. You need to make money so you can empower other people. Your profit and loss should be how much can I help and pay my staff and my family, and then your balance sheet should be what's my worth and what's my value, my asset value and cash flows, how you fund it. Surely you need to concentrate there.
But you also need to say what success looks like and how I'm feeling, how I'm working, and how my staff are feeling. If you concentrate on that, I can guarantee counterintuitively the money actually follows. It follows where the good energy is.
That comes down to passion and why you do what you do.
Listen to Finding Your Passion With Joshua Lewis
We're talking about different business models and leadership roles. If you've got a lawn mowing business or you're a solo entrepreneur, it doesn't mean what you're doing needs to go if that's what you love doing. It does not mean that the asset that you're creating or the vehicle to your success has to change. That's a big thing.
Own the Cogs
We were talking earlier about the way to shape a business and the way cogs can work in a business. I'm happy that I've written myself out of a job. I'm no longer the main cog, but I own the processes around the cogs and how everyone works together, which is a lovely position to be in.
Samantha: That's so interesting because those processes that you're talking about are your asset. If you can repeat them again and again, you've got an asset, you have a business, you have a business asset; you don't just have a job or the people in your business don't just have a job either.
Owner Alliance and Valuation
Samantha: I started this work really early on when I used to do a lot of business valuation work. The biggest thing that would hit a valuation faster than anything is owner alliance, and most businesses up to the $10 million mark have a massive owner alliance issue. Now, that issue does hit you on the valuation.
If you've got somebody who the business is relying on, not just from a technical point of view but also from their mind they're not sharing, the valuation goes. What is interesting as you look forward now is those people are burning out. They're dying early. It's a health issue as well, and you've got to think why.
How do you deal with the stress of running a business? You may also like "How to Inspire Wellness With Karen Pyke"
Samantha: Going back to your example, if you want to be a control freak—and that's okay—and you want to build a small business that makes lots of money, you can do that, too. The model of your business just needs to be built on what you want. So if you want control—although there is no such thing as control—or if you want that or you want the perception of it, build a model that suits you.
This is the problem. We should have these big growth businesses. We should have a model. We should have an online model or whatever model. Don't get too stuck on that. Ask: What do I need? How can I explore that and find that?
If you want a business that's small where you control all aspects of it, you can still make quite a good coin out of that. It's just that your systems and processes and everything will need to be worked on.
We often go, "we've got to go." Sometimes, the growth you need is internal as opposed to external. It's very hard to say this will be the model of the future. I think the business models of the future are going to be very much based on the humans who run them.
Financial Independence, Retirement Early
You're familiar with the FIRE (financial independence, retirement early) movement. It's about finding out what are those key things in your life that you want to be doing that brings you to that retirement spot.
Now, retirement to people is a lot of different things. Some people just think it's a number, 65. As for me, I'm retired now. I'm happy with what I do. Do I do too much of it? Sure. Does it give you the shit sometimes? Absolutely. But if you're retired, is everything just going to be roses? I don't think so. There are things that will still give you the shits.
I look at the income streams that I've got coming in and the way that I've distributed the eggs in our basket—between real estate and the businesses that I'm running—and I'm very happy to say that if I wanted to stop doing what I'm doing, I could stop doing it. And that really empowers you to make the right decisions. You're not dealing with C-grade clients. You're dealing with people that you can be happier to work with.
But how do you know if you've got a C-grade client or an A-grade client or if your business is running like a machine, you're running a new age business model or you if you don't have these processes in place?
The other day, I went into a business that was still using timecards. It doesn't integrate into their systems like, they can't make sure that no one's doing something they shouldn't or they're doing what they're meant to be doing, etc. And that's where finding your A-grade client, your A-grade staff and focusing on your business are really important.
The Transformative Business Model
If we're looking at a business in a transformative stage, how do you apply the transformative business model?
Samantha: The people who would be asking that question are the people we're looking for. How do we actually shift it? Honestly, it's one step at a time.
When we start working with businesses that have got blocks, the first thing we ask is what type of person are we working with and what energy do they have? Do they want to change?
We work with a lot of businesses and we start where you're at right now and we have a look at it. We always start with that process of finding out where you want to be personally as the leader because the business does not disconnect from the person.
About 10 years ago, I didn't get that. You do not become a new individual when you walk through the doors of your office, and you certainly don't become a new person when you walk through the doors of your home.
If you're dragging shit around with you, you're going to drag it all over so it's most important that you are happy and that you find joy in what you do every day. We need to start there, and then we build around that and we see where the next rock needs to go. Usually, it's around staff and actually starting to talk collaboratively with staff and then the changing skill sets.
Once you get the staff going and they're coming up, then if you are still using fax machines, then your staff will tell you, they will then take it, and they will empower it. If you hear me say we need to start working on systems, processes, people, financial statements, and all of that stuff, the first thing it probably would cause is absolute fatigue. We’ve got to start undoing that first and then you've got to bring other people on board.
Create a Collaborative Space
Samantha: If you're a small business, that might not mean employees. Some of the business models of the future that we're working with are collaborative. So how do you work with the people around you? How do you work with your clients? How do you actually look at what your clients do and can they help you with it? But the first start to anything is what the hell do you want? Not many people ask that question.
The way you said it actually is perfect.
Why We Do What We Do
I went through a spot where I was wondering if "Dorks Delivered" is the right name for our business. Is it really relaying what we're trying to do? We were called something else many years ago, and we changed to talk to Dorks Delivered in 2009.
And then I read Find Your Why by Simon Sinek. I got whiplash from how fast I stopped and thought that I'm going to change everything around. Over the course after about 4 months as I was reflecting on absolutely everything that I was doing in life—why am I brewing beer, why am I automating the gardens, why do I have fish—what it came down to is I realised that personally, I love automating things and bringing back time. Why do I do it? Because I want more time. We only have that time once on this earth.
I've got Our Shout Marketing, Dorks Delivered, and Business Efficiency Experts. I asked why am I running these businesses? And I thought that all of them are doing the same thing. They're automating a certain aspect of your business, like using technology as a fulcrum to better your business.
Ultimately, what we do isn't transactional with a business. It's transformative. We want to make sure that we're changing the way that they're using these tools, not just calling itself to say that this tool is a bit blunt. It may be to change from using a tablet to a laptop or laptop to a tablet or a desktop to a workstation or whatever the situation is.
In reflection, I love automating things because it brings me more time and you have a fuller life. That's why I'm in business. Knowing your Why allows you to have that trickle down and impact the rest of your business and make sure that your staff are aligned with your ethos and ideas.
It was only when I was reading through notes that I made in a diary when I was 12 that it all clicked. And I've always been automating things. I started building electronics at a very young age, started automating my bedroom, making it so that I could click a button on the remote control and the door unlocked.
When I was 13, I had all these things that I have been building, like an automated manufacturing line for technically the first business that I started. I was doing it because it was making me more efficient. It allows me to earn more money because I'm more efficient.
It was only by reflecting that I realised I've been automating my processes from Day 1. I was very lucky that I was given the opportunity to earn money through product development, instead of per hour, so I looked at the fastest, most plausible ways that I could create what they wanted me to create.
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Finding Your Why Is Hard but Worthwhile
Samantha: When you're looking at that, one reason it's so uncomfortable to do is quite often people come up with something that is what they want, but not what they should want. If you've worked in a business for 20 years and you realise that your passion is actually being creative and finding change for people, it's really hard when you're in that. My passion, my Why, never changed.
The first time I saw Simon Sinek on TED Talks, I wanted to make sure that people do not compromise their personal goals for the business ones. It makes decision-making really efficient. Every decision you make from then on is around that. So you're an efficiency expert and if you know where you want to go and you don't even know how to get there, that actually puts you on a longer path.
The other efficiency thing is we teach a lot, so getting people around you who are on your Why saves not just time but also a whole lot of energy.
Finding your Why is hard. No one is saying that it's easy. It took you a long time. It's taken me a long time. But there is a process that you can go through.
If someone is thinking about changing to a new age business model or at least wants to have someone check in on their processes, how do you go about that at BlueprintHQ? How can someone get more information or more importantly, maybe a health check on their business?
Samantha: Jump onto our website and hit the free consultation. You can book a meeting with me for about 20 minutes.
For me, it's really important to build relationships straight up. And I love talking to people and really connecting to see if we can help. Worst case scenario, on that call, I'll give you some tips and tricks and give you value that's so important to us. I just love talking to people. It's one of my passions in life. My husband and my kids hate it because I'll go into a cafe or anything and I'll talk to anybody.
We have a podcast called Business Habitat. I would love for you to have a bit of a listen. We talk about this stuff all the time. We get a lot more into the behavioural issues and what needs to shift. We have really interesting people who have built businesses that are different from the normal. We're looking for really curious, interesting people. If you think that's you, give us a bell and we would love to have you on too.
Listen to Business Habitat Episode 78: Building Business Freedom with Joshua Lewis
I'm going to be having a listen because I love seeing people do cool stuff, especially around Southeast Queensland and on a global scale which can help and impact businesses.
Recommended Books: Dare to Lead and BE 2.0
What would be the most influential book that you've read that people could dive into to get more information?
Samantha: There are so many. I am a Brené Brown freak. Her stuff is fantastic. It's all about being vulnerable. From a leadership point of view, I think her last book, Dare to Lead is very operational. It tells you what to do.
And I just don't think you can go past Jim Collins' BE 2.0. It's so practical, and it has a bit of a mud map and a road map as well.
What is freedom to you?
What is business built freedom to you? Why do you do what you do?
Samantha: So I can ride my horse in the middle of the day and not feel guilty about it. That's the hard bit there.
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