Transcript: How To Take Your Small Business To Multi-million Dollar Success with Donald Miller

March 23, 2023

DONALD MILLER: “Start with the problem. Position your product as the solution to the problem. Give your clients three steps they can take from their problem to your solution. Give me negative stakes: what terrible things can happen if I don't buy your product? Give me the positive stakes: what great thing is going to happen if I do buy your product? And then ask me to buy the product.  

“Those six—if it's six sentences, that's great. If it's six paragraphs, that's great. That is a twenty-five-hundred-year-old storytelling formula that invites a customer into a story in which they use your product to solve their problem. And if you use that exact formula, you will be shocked. And listen, it's not because it's manipulative or it tricks anybody into buying the thing or it's coercive or it even strong arms; it's because it's really, really clear.” 

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY PORTERFIELD: I've got a podcast recommendation for you, I mean beyond Online Marketing Made Easy. If you love this podcast, you're going to love the podcast by Scott D. Clary. It's called Success Story, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and features Q&A sessions with successful business leaders and keynote presentations and conversations on sales and marketing and business and startups and entrepreneurship, all the stuff we love, right? And you can hear episodes like “Unleashing Your True Potential: A Practical Guide to Boosting Self-worth and Wealth through Authenticity” and another episode, “How to do Content Marketing Properly.” So listen to your Success Story wherever you get your podcasts. 

Welcome to an episode of Online Marketing Made Easy 

Today we are talking about how to run your small business more efficiently. And I have a very big expert to help us do so. One of my good friends, Don Miller, is here today, and he recently wrote a book all about how to grow your small business. That's the name of the book, How to Grow Your Small Business. It's kind of genius, right? And let me tell you that Don knows a thing or two of how to do this. He started with four employees. Now he has a multi-million-dollar business. And, you know, I love frameworks, right? He's got this six-step framework that he's going to walk us through. And I really do believe this is a very important episode for you to listen to all the way through, because he's going to point some things out that you might not be focused on right now in growing your business. Maybe you skipped a few steps, or maybe you'll understand where you are stuck or struggling based on his framework. It's really, really good.  

But the reason I wanted Don to share these strategies with you is that he's in the trenches. He’s doing the work. He’s building his team. He's leading his team to do amazing things. And so he knows what it takes to grow and scale a small business, and he also knows the challenges and pitfalls we often fall into and how to get out of them. So this is an episode, if you have a business, if you're an entrepreneur, this is an episode for you.  

Now, if you're new to Don—I'm guessing you're not. He's been on the show a bunch—but if you're new to him, I'm going to give you a brief intro. He's the CEO of Business Made Simple, an online platform that teaches business professionals everything they need to know to grow a business and enhance their personal value on the open market. He's also the author of many books, including the best seller, Building a StoryBrand, and his newest book, of course, How to Grow Your Small Business. You're going to love his step-by-step framework, so let's get into it.  

Well, hey there, Don. Welcome back to the show. You are quickly becoming one of my most-recurring guests, so I’m so glad to have you here.  

DON MILLER: Well, it's an honor. It's great to be back.  

AMY: Well, I absolutely love talking to you. We got to talk off camera just now, and you are a wealth of information. And the fact that you wrote a book that literally everyone in my audience is going to find valuable, there's not one person listening to this podcast that isn't going to love it, because I have a whole audience of small-business owners. And so you are the perfect person to come on here.  

But before I dive in, there's just a few people that maybe haven't heard you on my podcast before. They don’t know a lot about you. When someone says, “Don, tell me about yourself and what you do,” what do you say? 

DON: I'm a husband and a dad.  

AMY: I love that that’s what you start out with. I love it.  

DON: Yeah. You know, I didn't get married till forty-two, and I became a dad at forty-nine. Betsy was thirty when we got married—thirty-whatever that is. She was much older when she had a baby. Thirty-seven. I should know this. I'm going to get in trouble. And, you know, kind of chased my identity, thankfully, in my twenties and thirties. And I love my business, and I love every aspect of it.  

But, you know, if I had to choose, it’d be husband and dad. And I'm having a blast. We have a nineteen-month-old. So that's that.  

And then second to that is I have a business called Business Made Simple. And we help small-business owners not just get started, but actually grow and scale their operations so that they're in the seven-figure category. So we are just heavily—we heavily emphasize growth. And people come to us when they want to make twice as much money with their small business, and that's where we pick them up.  

AMY: Well, not only do you teach many, many people how to do so, you've done that in your own business. From my notes, it says you went from four employees to a fifteen-million-dollar operation and well on your way to so much more. I just know it because you've got a lot of great things in the works. So I want to talk to you about what that journey looked like. And I really want to start with some challenges, because running a business, big or small, it’s a challenge, and there's no way to sugarcoat this. So can we talk about some of the biggest challenges you see most small businesses are making these days, or challenges they're having? 

DON: Yeah. There's a ton of them. And my small business got born out of a challenge. So I'm of the mindset that challenges are actually really good things.  

AMY: Okay, tell me about that.  

DON: You can't grow unless you're uncomfortable. Bottom line. You know, comfort is not your friend if you want to grow.  

But my business started—I was a speaker and a writer, and that's it. So I had a tiny, small business, and I had a book that hit the New York Times for almost a year and ended up taking the money and paying off my house. And then I sold my house because I wanted to buy a different house, and the different house that I wanted to buy fell through—somebody else bought it—and so I was sitting on a pile of money. I put that money, my entire life savings, into an investment. And Amy, I woke up one Monday morning, and it was gone, every single penny.  

AMY: Ah. 

DON: And I assumed that I would never see that kind of money again. And, you know, it felt like I'd won the lottery and lost it all. And that was—I kept telling myself, as I cried myself to sleep, that this is going to be the greatest thing that ever happened to you. And I knew it at the time. You know, pain causes us to grow. I decided I'm not going to be a speaker and a writer. I let go of my manager. I let go of my literary agent. And my next hire was somebody that I thought could help me start a company. I didn't exactly know what I was going to sell, but I was going to get that money back.  

And not only that, Amy, I had just started dating Betsy, who is now my wife. So imagine, like, just having the rug pulled out from under you, right, when you've met and want to marry this woman. It was a tough season, but all of that was so incredibly motivating. That was the seed that started the company instead of a guy going out and writing books.  

And the number one lesson for me of that challenge of losing everything was from here on out, I'm going to own it. I'm going to own everything. My financial life is not going to be dependent on the opinion of a literary agent or a speaking manager. It's me. I own every decision and everything that I do. And I'm not going to look for a rescuer anymore. This is on me. So that mindset is what got my business started.  

And then the second challenge, that took me from, you know, I was probably doing about a quarter million writing and speaking, which sounds like a lot, except you're splitting that with the government, and you're also paying an assistant. So probably— 

AMY: Yeah. 

DON: —down to, like, you know, 75 grand. And I built that up to about three and a half million. Again, you know, not all that was profit, but it was succeeding. What I was doing was succeeding.  

And I had a friend—and still have a friend. His name is Bill—and Bill scaled up his father's company into the billions, and then he leveraged all that money to buy other small businesses. And he mentored people like me. He didn't buy my business, but he mentored me all the same. And I said to him one day, “Look, we're at three and a half million. I’d love to go to a hundred million.” And for the first time, Bill looked at me as though that ain't going to happen. And he'd always been incredibly encouraging. And I said, “Doesn't sound like you believe in me.” And he said, “I believe in you.” He said, “Don, you are going to have to professionalize your operation. You are going to have to install systems and processes that make this business work, because right now you're winging it, and you're diving for dollars.”  

And that ended up being the second most-important lesson that I learned, and that is that business is a series of systems and processes that can scale. And many of us, probably almost everybody listening to my voice right now, the business is totally dependent on you. If you leave, the business is going to crash.  

And so that was the beginning of this new book, How to Grow Your Small Business. That was five years ago, maybe closer to seven years ago, actually, that Bill said that to me. And over the next five years, we began to figure out what systems and processes we would need for my company to grow. And we went from three and a half million to seventeen million, and our profit margin dramatically increased.  

And so this book is me just saying, “Okay, I don't know everything, but here's how we did that.” And when we get to a hundred million, I'll teach you how we did that, because I’ll know. 

AMY: Oh, I can’t wait. Bring it on. 

DON: Well, hopefully, we will.  

But, you know, so those systems and processes, each one of them, there's six steps, that in hindsight, we went through. There were five hundred fifty things that we did wrong; there were six things that we did right, and this book is about the six things that we did right. And they all solve a mistake or a problem that small-business owners have, each of the six.  

And the first one—and I'll just give you a—I'll give you the first one. It’s that your business is not aligned around three economic objectives, which sounds like it comes from left field. “What are you talking about, three economic objectives?” Well, we choose three because the human brain has trouble prioritizing more than three things. And so literally, what we need to be able to do is say, “Look, in the next twenty-four months, we're going to sell this many units of X, this many units of Y, and this many units of Z.” And that needs to be a relatively ambitious goal. Don't get crazy with it, because you'll hurt morale if you said something crazy and you can't achieve it. But we have to actually grow our business. And the ways that we grow our business, we need to measure those against economic standards.  

A business exists to make money. Now, what you do with that money is your decision. But it exists to make money, which is a paradigm shift for a lot of people. They don't want to admit that. And I'm just like, “If you don't admit that, your business is going to crash. Your business eats cash, and you need to make cash.”  

So the first thing we do, if I were sitting down with a business, I would say, “Tell me how you make money.” And there may be twenty-seven of those ways that they make money. And I'll say, “Tell me the three ways you make the most money.” And then we usually say, “Let's double those, right? Let's have a 100 percent increase in each of those three ways. And now let’s reverse engineer how we're going to do that.”  

And every time we've done it, talked to a woman yesterday, had her on my Instagram. Actually, I just pulled up myself, and I said, “Tell the audience.” And I said, “In twenty-four months, what has your business done?” She said, “We've had 100 percent increase in revenue.”  

And if you don't sit down and say, “We exist to make money, and we're not going to apologize for it, because we offer such great value that we think it's a steal to work with us,” if you don't have that mentality and you're not focusing that on at least three economic objectives, I think it's going to be hard to stay in business.  

AMY: Okay. Then, I have a question for you. If you sit down with someone and they've got, like, ten different ways they're making money—because this is a lot of my students. They have their hands in so many different things. My motto with them has always been less is more. And the way I've gotten to a multi-million-dollar business is I just do a few things really well. And you say three things. I've got two courses and a membership. Those are my bread and butter. Would those be my three economic levers there?  

DON: Yes.  

AMY: Okay. 

DON: So your two courses and your membership. Now, at some point your two courses and your membership, they may be lumped into a digital strategy. And so you would be able to say, “Okay, one of my ways is digital, one of my ways is on stage, and the other is—” Amy, I could see you having your own television show someday, right? So the other would be “my television show.” You know, so, yeah, that changes over time.  

And sometimes your economic priority can involve five revenue streams lumped into one. But the brain really does have—if you have twenty-three economic objectives, you're not going to hit any of them. So you really do have to narrow it down to three and the whole staff has to know, we exist to grow this, this, and this.  

AMY: Do you suggest people get rid of all the others?  

DON: I suggest that you actually—there's a worksheet in the book, and it walks you through what we call a product-profitability assessment. And basically, what I want you to do is list all of the products that you sell, and then actually go back and list them in order of profitability. And often people are shocked because they're charging a thousand dollars for something without realizing they're spending nine hundred ninety-nine dollars to make it. And they're charging forty dollars for this, and they spend one dollar to make it. And it's very obvious what they need to do. They need to cut the thousand-dollar product and sell more of the forty-dollar product.  

So the only way I would say to cut stuff is if you do that product-profitability assessment, your bottom products that aren't profitable, unless they are loss leaders or break-even leaders, you want to cut them because they're stealing energy and bandwidth from you and your team. 

AMY: Absolutely. Okay. I love this first step. That's fantastic.  

I want to go through all of them if you're cool with that. 

DON: Yeah. I’m great with it. 

AMY: Okay. So give me number two. 

DON: Okay. So, to help you understand how I think of a business, I think of a business like an airplane. And an airplane, a commercial airplane at least, has six major parts that all work together, and they have to work together or the plane will crash. So you have your cockpit, and that’s your leadership. And your leadership needs to be aligned around, guess what, three economic objectives. So you're entering into the flight computer, “We are going to accomplish these three things.” Now, when you do that, everything else on the airplane is reverse engineered. So you're now saying how much gas do we need? Are the right people on the plane? You know, is there food if we're going to be a long haul? You know, whatever. Is the right staff on the plane? Everything is reverse engineered from the three economic objectives.  

So once you get that right, you're right engine is your marketing. And the number one thing that you want to do in your marketing is clarify your marketing message. So I wrote a book called Building a StoryBrand. It's all about how to do that. And we've seen companies, gosh, you know, the last company that I worked with went from four hundred million to 1.4 billion in two years.  

AMY: What?! That was one of your clients? 

DON: It’s a company called Calix, and they do broadband services. And in fact, there's about forty of their leaders are coming here to the house in April.  

AMY: Okay. That's cool.  

DON: Yeah. So, you know, that's the power of actually clarifying your message because—and again, they also do broadband services amidst a COVID pandemic. They're going to skyrocket no matter what. But this ability to actually sit down and understand how to communicate what you offer in such a way that people hear you and understand and pull out their credit card is a process that you need to go through. You need to be able to say, “Here's how we talk about what we offer.” And if you can do that, your right engine, your marketing engine, is going to create a lot of thrust.  

Then, the left engine is your sales engine. So your marketing and your sales engines actually push the plane forward or pull it forward through the air. If you don't have forward momentum, you can't get any lift. So the left engine is the sales engine.  

In the book, there's a chapter. It's right in the middle of the book. And I actually begged and pleaded, and finally my publisher gave in, to print that one chapter in color.  

AMY: That's hard to do. As a new author, I don't know how you got that approved.  

DON: I don't know how I did it, either. But they actually had to print that chapter in a different country and ship it to I think it was Italy, where they stuffed it into the book, and it actually turned out really, really great. But the reason I did that is that the chapter has a formula for how to write a follow-up email or an elevator pitch or a presentation or whatever. It's a formula. It's a six-step formula that you want to use. And if you use this formula to communicate in a sales context, you're much more likely to close the sale.  

AMY: Oh. 

DON: And sales training is, you know, people don't adopt sales training. They don't want to be salespeople. So I don't even call it sales training, even though that's exactly what it is. I basically say, “Look—” Here's an example. I was with two hundred fifty sales reps recently at a conference in Las Vegas, and I just said, “Hey, raise your hand if there's a client who's sitting on the fence.” Of course, two hundred fifty people raised their hand because that’s their job. And I said, “Pull out your laptop. We’re going to email them right now.” And I just put the formula on the screen, and they wrote their emails, and I answered questions, and we tried to perfect them. You can't get to all two hundred fifty. I said, “All right. Hit Send. Let's go,” and just walked off the stage, like, “We're done.” Like, “Tell me what happens.” 

AMY: Okay, this is a baller move. 

DON: But it works. And so two days later, the chief revenue officer called my office and said that in the room, they closed 2.4 million dollars’ worth of sales.  

AMY: What in the—that is the coolest thing ever.  

DON: Yeah. And it's been fun. I've done it with another group since then. And it's really a blast. And so that formula is your sales formula, if you will.  

AMY: And you get it in the book. Like, you're going to tell us what to email. 

DON: You get in the book, and I'm going to tell it to you right now, because you're going to have to rewind this podcast in order to hear it. But basically, start with the problem. Position your product as the solution to the problem. Give your clients three steps they can take from their problem to your solution. Give me negative stakes: what terrible things can happen if I don't buy your product? Give me the positive stakes: what great thing is going to happen if I do buy your product? And then ask me to buy the product.  

Those six—if it's six sentences, that's great. If it's six paragraphs, that's great. That is a twenty-five-hundred-year-old storytelling formula that invites a customer into a story in which they use your product to solve their problem. And if you use that exact formula, you will be shocked. And listen, it's not because it's manipulative or it tricks anybody into buying the thing or it's coercive or it even strong arms; it's because it's really, really clear, that when somebody reads that, they say, “Oh, that's why I need that product. I need that product because it solves this problem, and it keeps me from experiencing this terrible thing, and it helps me experience this lovely thing. And not only that, but I buy it by clicking this button and pulling out my credit card.” And it's amazing how most of us, when we go to sell something, we are so passive aggressive and confusing that the person we're trying to sell something to doesn't even understand that we want them to buy something. That's how bad we are at this. So it really helps us create a very clear picture.  

Okay, so that's the right engine and the left engine. 

AMY: Okay. That’s powerful. 

DON: Yeah. We've only got three more.  

The next part of the airplane is the wings, and those are your products. Without products, you can't get lift. You have to sell something to get this business off the ground. And a lot of us, you know, similar to what I said earlier, are selling things that aren't very profitable.  

Let me give you an example. One of my favorite stories is a dance studio out of Salt Lake City, Utah. And they are doing extremely well. COVID was actually good for them. You know, people came in; they had free time; they wanted to dance; they did outdoor classes and all this kind of stuff. They did great, and they were ready to scale.  

And so they said to me, “Don, the only way we can actually make more money is if we open another dance studio across town.” So I said, “Okay. What are the numbers?” “Well, it's this much to rent the stuff. It's this many facilitators. It's this…you know, I have to paint the building. We had to realize that this all sounds really expensive.” I said, you know, “What do you charge for a dance class?” “Two hundred fifty dollars.” “So it's two hundred fifty dollars for six classes in which you can learn to breakdance or waltz or whatever.” And I said, “Look, two hundred fifty bucks over six weeks, what are you paying your…you know, if there's thirty people in the class or twenty-five people in class, you can see where the money is. Now you’re having to pay a facilitator, who's a part-time worker.”  

So I said, “Look, what if you actually went to a corporation with maybe fifty or a hundred employees, and one morning for four hours in their office, could you teach them to do a dance, anybody who wanted to participate, in their office?” And they said, “Yeah. That's what we do.” I said, “Could you videotape it?” “Yes. That's what we do.” “Okay. Well, here's a product. For ten thousand dollars, go in and teach everybody in that corporation who wants to participate to do a dance in which they're dancing through their office. This is three things. One, it's a team-building exercise. Two, it's a recruiting exercise because they can use it in a recruiting video to recruit new talent. It's also great advertising on their social-media feed. So for ten grand, they are getting a really, really great deal. If they learn to dance in four hours, and you film it over the next ninety minutes, you're out of there in five and a half hours, and you made ten thousand dollars. 

“What would you pay the facilitator?” They said, “Well, I don't know, five hundred bucks.” “What would you pay to have a bunch of people sitting around with iPhones filming it?” “I don’t know. Another thousand bucks.” “What would you pay to edit it?” “It’s probably included in the thousand.” So we’re at fifty, now were at seventy or eighty-five hundred profit for one day, for doing the exact same thing that you always do, except you don't have a new facility, you don't have six weeks, and you're not recruiting thirty people to come in and pay you two hundred fifty bucks.” They ran with that and saw great success with it. 

AMY: Oh, my goodness. That's so cool.  

DON: We have to be able to look at the wings of our airplane and say, “Wait. How can we do the same thing and charge twenty-five times more money and give people fifty times more value?” Those are the questions that you want to ask about all the products that you selling.  

Another thing is yesterday I went around, because the book had came out yesterday, so I went around and I visited small-business owners. And one of the things that I asked them as I gave them a book and we talked for a minute, I said, “Hey, look in the camera for my Instagram and just tell me, what's one piece of business advice you’d give yourself ten years ago? Like, if you could go back in time.” And a coffee-cart company, Sweet Carolinas Coffee—it's a married couple. He's from North Carolina; she's from South Carolina. So they bring this coffee cart into anywhere, and they can make coffee. They said, “Don, we would have charged twice as much from the get-go. We would have just charged more money to have for our services.” And I just thought, that's a great piece of advice.  

So what you're looking for in your wings is you're looking for lift, and that means your airplane wings have to be very strong and very light. And as that relates to products, high demand and profitable. So we want to ask ourselves, is this in high demand, or is it profitable? And I have a worksheet that you can fill out in the book that helps you figure out whether or not a product is in demand and profitable. And then another worksheet before you launch a product that you fill out that tells you whether or not you should even be messing with this.  

So then, the next part of the airplane is the body, and that's the big, heavy part of the airplane. And your biggest cost, everybody listening to me, their biggest cost of business is actually labor. And you say, “Wait a second. I'm a solopreneur.” Yeah, you are the biggest cost in the business. You are the one sucking the money out of the business. And so to sort of streamline the body of the airplane, what we need is a management-productivity system. And what I give you in the book is how to operate your business with only five meetings. And they're recurring. Some of them happen every week; some of them happen once a month. But you really only need these five meetings. And if you do these five meetings on a regular, routine basis, everybody gets twice as productive, and your labor cost doesn't go down, but the amount of money that you make from your labor actually goes up. So we can't streamline the body of the airplane, but what we can do is make the right, left engines more powerful; the wings bigger; and the fuel tanks larger.  

And then, I just teased the sixth part, and that is your fuel tanks. And your fuel tanks is where your fuel goes, and that represents your cash flow. And if you run out of gas, your plane’s going to crash. And if you run out of money, your plane’s going to crash.  

So in the book, I teach you how to operate your business using five checking accounts. And I've used it for ten years, and we've never run out of money or even come anywhere close. So it's helped me as an artist get very clear optics on the cash flow and not run out of money. 

AMY: Okay. I'm absolutely loving this. What I love most about your strategy, it's very actionable, very specific. And I didn't expect anything less from you. But I'm pretty sure people are listening right now, like, “I got to get this book.” So we'll talk about where to get the book and all about the book. But I have a few more questions for you. 

I don't know about you, but my screens and feeds are covered with ads and content. And as a user, it's becoming easier and easier to scroll right past these. Am I right? And as a marketer, it can feel impossible to break through the noise and form genuine connections with prospects and customers. But I've got a solution that's been working great for my team, and that's HubSpot. So HubSpot is a powerful CRM, a customer-relationship-management platform, that has everything you need to help you stand out from the crowd all in one place. With valuable insights into customer journey, reaching new audiences, and building deeper relationships, listen, this has never been easier. And with an easy-to-use interface, it's customizable—you know I love customizable, right?—without being complicated, even as you scale. So get started for free at 

Do you call them steps? What do you call them? 

DON: Yeah. It's a six-step plan to grow your small business and, basically, every step is going to make you more money. So I really say in the book, this is like six books in one. Don't try to do it too fast. Just do the first thing and then the next thing. And sometimes, you know, with the five meetings to run your team, you think, “Well, I don't need that. I just work by myself.” But if you take the other steps, you're not going to be alone for very long, and at some point you're going to need to install that fourth step, which is the management-productivity step. So it's a user manual to grow a business from probably zero dollars to somewhere in the hundred-million range. 

AMY: Okay. That's what I was going to ask you. I have some more questions, but let's talk about the book for a second. Who is it for? because I was thinking, is it for someone if they're just starting from scratch, or do you need to have—you've been going for a while and you want to scale? 

DON: Yeah. It's really both. You know, chapter one, chapter two, and chapter three work for anybody who is even a solopreneur. And also, chapter four, which is the wings and the products. I think you get into chapter five, the management system, and it's really about managing people. And there's a couple of meetings that you use to manage yourself, but it's mostly about managing people. Then, chapter six is also great for a solopreneur. Everybody, every person listening to me needs to go down to their bank and open five checking accounts, and you need to name them what I tell you to name them. And if you do that, I'm telling you, you will not run out of money as long as you have a product that people want. 

AMY: Ooh. That's a good promise right there.  

And tell me this: why did you write this book? Why did you write—first of all, the title’s so good: How to Grow Your Small Business. I mean— 

DON: I can't believe it wasn't taken.  

AMY: I can't—when I read the title, I thought, “I think I read that wrong. I think I have to go back.” I looked at it twice when I was doing research because I thought, “He could not have gotten that title.” 

DON: Amy, I was shocked. I looked for it on Amazon. I Googled it. I'm like, “There's no possible way.” And we also bought, which was twelve bucks, I think.  

AMY: What?! 

DON: I know. Sometimes you just luck out. 

AMY: That is so good. That is so good.  

Why’d you write it?  

DON: I wrote it because it's the book I needed five years ago, when Bill stood in my driveway and said, “You need to professionalize your operation.” He had scaled up a multi-billion-dollar company; his systems and processes wouldn't work for me. And there was no book. I couldn't find anything that would let me professionalize my operation, whatever the heck that means.  

And we figured it out. And I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars figuring it out. I've made tons of mistakes, put the wrong people in the wrong places, had to move people around, and at the end of the day, kind of turned around and said, “You know what? I mean, we have succeeded. And by the way, I can go on vacation for a month, and my business gets bigger, not smaller.” And that’s dramatically different than what it used to be. And we've done that.  

And what did we do right? And I realized it was the leadership, marketing, sales, overhead, product optimization, and cash flow. That's what we got right. 

AMY: Boom. I mean, this is—in my head, Don, I keep thinking, “Oh, I cannot wait for my team to read it.” Of course, I— 

DON: I’ll send you a case. 

AMY: I can’t wait. I'm all about it. Yet I feel as though I've always thought I want my team—like, I'm the owner; I'm the creator; I'm the founder. I'm all thinking about business all the time. But I want, like, my leadership team to have that edge as well, and I want them to be starting to think even more strategically. I feel like this is a book that you could give to your team, not just the owner or founder.  

DON: Well, when you give it to your team, you actually have common language. So people start talking about the three economic objectives, and they start talking about deadlines, and they start talking about what they're going to talk about in the all-staff meeting. They start preparing for quarterly performance reviews. They start looking to see how much money is in the rainy-day fund, or at least the owner does. You know, there's a common language that everybody can understand so we know what's going on.  

AMY: That's what I love.  

DON: Planes are built and flown using checklists, and most small businesses, they just don't have checklists. And so these give you checklists. This book gives you checklists.  

AMY: And I love a good checklist.  

So, I guess my final question is, what you asked that woman, which was, you know, if you could go back ten years or even five years, what’s some wisdom that you'd give your younger business self? 

DON: Well, apart from “Do these six things”— 

AMY: Yeah. 

DON: —that would be the first thing. One thing that I would say, and I tell myself this every day, is that no amount of success in business is going to give you as much meaning as your family. And you know, that's not the best advice to give when you're trying to sell a book about growing a business. But at the same time, it's just true.  

AMY: But it's so you. 

DON: It’s just true. And, you know, especially for a driven person like me, who's probably somewhere on the spectrum, you know, I have to tell myself, “Look, Betsy's fine. If I get hit by a bus, she's fine. Emeline’s going to be fine. At this point, probably, Emaline’s kids are going to be fine. They need you. They need you. You know, don't hide behind your business.” And I never took that so far that Betsy had to sit me down. You know that moment, where your spouse is sitting you down, saying, “Hey, I think we've got a problem”? 

AMY: Oh, I've had that. So yes, I get it. 

DON: Yes. But I think I've been close, and somehow, I self-corrected when I saw the look in her eye.  

AMY: Good for you. 

DON: And, you know, that would be the thing that I would tell myself five years ago, and I tell myself every day. And I only say that because there's a lot of people listening who are struggling in their business, they're struggling to get it going, and I want to tell you, “Look, there's systems and processes to do that.” I love helping people make money. I don't know why, but I absolutely love it. But money just cannot buy meaning. It just can't do it. And so I would say, “Look, take this for, you know—” it's kind of like people getting really upset about baseball or basketball. I’m like, look, it's a sport. Give me a break. And business is just a sport. What really matters is your friends, your family. You know, that's what really matters. 

AMY: Ah. Amen to that. What a great way to wrap up.  

Well, one more final question: where do people go to get your book? And are there bonuses involved? 

DON: There are, yeah. So if you get the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, wherever you buy books, take your receipt number and go to And there's some bonuses there, including what we call a digital flight plan. So the digital flight plan—let me just give—there's six aspects of a digital flight plan. One of them is the sales script. So you can literally type in your sales letter to the sales script, and it will color code where you are talking about the problem, the product, the negative stakes, positive stakes, the call to action. So you can look at it color coded to make sure that you're saying the right things in the right order. And then, if you just cut and paste that, make sure it's black and white when you send it in an email, you're going to get a statistically impressive higher rate of responses, for sure.  

AMY: I can't wait. We have launched a coaching program, and I'm dying to get my hands on that and give it to my sales team. So I'll keep you updated. 

DON: There you go. 

AMY: Yeah. Can’t wait.  

Thank you so very much for coming on the show. I cannot wait for my audience to get their hands on your book. And you're always such a gracious guest. So thanks again. 

DON: Amy, thank you. And thanks for trusting me with your audience. I know you love them. 

AMY: Always. 

All right, my friend. How great was the six-step framework that Don shared? He's such a wealth of knowledge, and he has so much heart in all that he does. And I really like the way he teaches his content, just overall, everything he does. I am absolutely going to share this book with my team. That wasn't just—I wasn't saying it just for the sake of the podcast. I can't wait to—I'm going to start with my leadership team, and then see if they think maybe everyone in my company should have a copy of this book, because I love a great framework. I think that's what I take away from this episode more than anything. I love a great framework. I like to focus on a few core areas of my business at all times. So when he walked through the six steps, I could get behind that. And I really do believe, my business is fourteen years in, I can get a lot out of what he's sharing to scale at a higher level. But for those of you just starting out, I think it's a great way to build a business from the ground up, with really tried-and-true marketing and sales strategies and system strategies that absolutely work from a guy that used all of these to grow his own business. I think that's powerful.  

Okay, if you love this episode, please leave a five-star rating for this podcast and leave a review. The more reviews that you leave, the more my podcast gets pushed out into the algorithm to find the people that absolutely need it so that I can help them build their businesses as well. And that's my mission. So leaving a review would go a long way, and I would greatly appreciate it. 

Thanks so much for tuning in, and I can't wait to see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now. 

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