Small to medium-sized business owners, especially those who are just starting out, make the mistake of not meeting with their key business partners on a regular basis. As a busy entrepreneur, you may often get caught up in day-to-day operations and minute details concerning so many different things. You might be spending majority of your time coordinating with potential clients, existing clients, or other members of your staff to keep up with your daily needs, decreasing your ability to see the bigger picture. As a result, communication with key business partners, the main people you work side by side with, goes lower and lower down on your to-do list, making you incapable of identifying your core business needs. Know how and why this can damage your company’s growth potential and learn how you can prevent it from eventually killing your business.
This is the podcast where Kerri and I live life. We experience things, we do things and as we see maybe other people stating something that impacts others dramatically, we write it down, take notes, and make sure we podcast on it. In this case, Kerri and I have physically experienced a lot of different situations, especially in the last twelvemonths of extreme growth, and we have been taking some notes. I’m going to interview my beautiful bride, Kerri. If some of you know, Kerri is the professional’s professional. She was a Chicago Bulls cheerleader. She’s an elected official. She’s been the Co-Founder of this machine that’s growing like a weed with now 120 employees for 25 years. She is, as Dave Corbin says often, a fount of wisdom. We are going to peel the layers of the onion of Kerri’s eight pounds of gray matter.
Listen to the podcast here:
Growing Your Business Through Communication With Key Partners
Kerri, you are a big believer that one of the biggest mistakes, small, medium and especially large growing companies make is the main people; the main founders, the main executives of the company have a lot of meetings. They have a lot of meetings with potential clients. They have a lot of meetings with clients checking up on things and they have a ton of meetings with their staff, but they don’t have a ton of meetings with their number one key partner. Not necessarily their spouse but it could be the CEO meeting with the COO. It could be the Head of Marketing meeting with the Head of Design. Everybody has a main cohort no matter what part of the business and you see one of the biggest mistakes is tons of meetings with the people under them, not necessarily enough meetings with the people side by side and even above them. Can you generally elaborate on that?
When you own a business and, whether or not you have a partner or someone that you counsel with, you’re both busy. There are two things that I see here. One is if you have a partner, like you and I, you have your vertical of what you do and I have my vertical of what I do. I trust you completely. I know that whatever your decisions are for the right of the company and I don’t second guess you. I might disagree with you. We’ll talk about it usually after the decision has been made, but I trust you have the alignment. What you want is the best for the company and you trust the same for me. If I trust you, you trust me. We’re both doing the best we believe for the company. Why would we meet? We’re both working for the betterment of the company? The second thing is I see a lot of companies too that they’re just busy. I got done telling someone what to do. I’m going to go do my job, so I don’t have any more time but I’m not going to ask you to do some more jobs. I’m not going to tell you what to do so why would we meet?
I’m thinking back on our 25 years in different phases of what we’ve done and there have been countless times where we know we should be meeting and talking, yet we are so caught in the minutia of busyness. One more week goes by, we don’t have a good meeting. One more week goes by, we don’t have a good meeting. Then, when we start meeting again weekly, we get so much more stuff done. It’s pretty exciting. It’s electrifying. What I’d like to do is shift this into more of a granular level. First question was mobile, just overarching, why don’t people meet? The second question is a little bit more detail. You talking to other people brought up my attention that there are three if not even five or six key reasons why the main people need to meet very often and be scheduled talking at the same time each week. Can you drill down a little bit on some of those specifics?
The first one is you need to have your vision. Everything that I’m doing should be to reach that goal. Everything you’re doing should be to reach that goal. Sometimes, I can see from the outside that maybe you’re going off, you see a tangent, and go down a rabbit hole because a great idea came in. When we talk about it, we can bring that idea into the vision. If you start straying away, you’re going to go to a whole different direction and that vision won’t be completed. Often, you need another pair of eyes to help show you where they need to get back in alignment. You have to have that vision. You have to always continue talking about making sure, although they use vertical and I have a vertical, are they still going to the same direction?
Second one is we see things differently. For example, one of my verticals is making sure that our company had health insurance. Could you care less about what company we got insurance from? No. My job is to make sure that we had insurance. However, my vertical does not include a daily meeting with some of our staff. When they have a question, you have the ability to answer it generally not specifically, so then you can point them in the right direction. You have to be informed of what’s going on and the only way you’re going to be informed is if we talk, we communicate. Another thing is we see things differently in terms of the experience, so I’m not involved in the actual daily build of websites and tech and whatnot, but I use tech. For example, whatever company, whatever type of product you might sell, whether you’re a dentist, a dentist knows how to drill. Great, they should. That’s what they’re being paid for. However, when the client comes in and he or she experiences the office in the front staff is grumpy, you should know that. You should be aware and have information of what’s going on in your company so that you can change it and alter it because each person might know what they’re doing. They still have to communicate because a client doesn’t know one or the other vertical. They know the whole package.
My big thing is when we don’t meet, we’re off on our own spheres and when we’re off in our own spheres, when we don’t go off in our own spheres, were working and working and working. It’s just like being in an island because you’re doing your own thing and then you keep going and you keep going and keep going. You have to have some form of communication in order to communicate, to say, “I’m working on this for a reason with the person you’re working with,” assuming that it is your partner, whether or not you’re married, or it’s two guys, or two girls, or a guy and a girl, whatever. If you have a partner, you guys have to communicate because you’re going to go insane. You think you’re doing it on an island all by yourself and you’re not. They might be feeling the exact same way. Then when you feel alone, you feel isolated. Especially if you have a partner, your brain, unfortunately, doesn’t go to a happy place. It usually goes to the negative. You have to communicate to make sure that you touch base.
Also, it’s when you don’t meet things fall through. They fall through and you don’t want something to fall through. You don’t want something to get missed in terms of what should be going on in the business because the vision is there, so you’re redirected. Often, what happens in that meeting is you’re enlightened to what has to happen next because you now discover whatever way you are going. The first route might not be working, or your partner says, “I did some studying or I just heard this, so let’s redirect to go to a different route.” You get to wherever you’re going faster but when you have a meeting, you luminate what happens next or what could happen next or what the next potential might be, and you might change your vision for the year. It might go to a different direction based on new information. It’s also enlightening to have a meeting. It’s something you need to do.
Give me one or two reasons why key partners shouldn’t meet sometimes: lawsuits. Politics is on right now. It’s pretty hot and heavy so sometimes you need to get away from someone who’s going through some personal drama. We don’t want to be dragged in it. Often, that happens. We’ve had people that we’ve known who, for whatever reason, got into a lawsuit personally, whether or not it was bad real estate investment. You have to have that separation while they’re going through their stuff. Otherwise, you’re guilty by association and that’s not fair if you’re not guilty. It’s totally not fair, but we are a litigious society. You need to be careful.
I know the situation Kerri’s referring to. There are definitely times when I know that we should be meeting about something, but it’s not my domain. It’s totally your domain. I then say to myself, “Why would I waste time having a meeting when Kerri’s got this on lock down? If she thought we should talk, she’d bring it up.” Would you agree that in certain cases, I have wasted countless hours of your life having you share things that have nothing to do with me?
Yes, there’s times where it’s not necessary. It can wait. Sometimes, we think some things are more urgent than they are, but if we had structured meetings, which we do now, but at the time if we had had structured meetings, it would have been discussed at that time. I do want to say there are times where you need to put the pause button on and that is if you’re finishing up something for a client and each of you are very well aware because you’ve had meetings that you have a project that’s due. Sometimes, you might need that extra day to do it and you have to reschedule and that’s okay. Not omitted, just reschedule.
I see a lot of leaders, and I especially want to talk to the twenty employees or less company where say there’s a founder per se or visionary and there are nineteen, twenty people in there. This individual typically or partners, they’re going to meet all the time with the key staff and meet with the potential clients, advertisers and at the end of the day, they’re flat out exhausted and they don’t necessarily want to take another half an hour and do a weekly takeaway, wrap up this or that. The very first thing Kerri mentioned so often gets overlooked and I’m going to hopefully dig a dagger in and turn it a little and create some pain. How many of you in the audience with your key partners in January, set a yearly agenda, yearly goal, yearly “Here’s what we’re going to do?” It’s now early May. How many of you in the audience have not had even one single meeting with your key partner discussing the vision for your year? It is so easy to set a goal like losing weight, and then all of a sudden, you don’t meet on it regularly with the key people, you get busy talking to the employees and the vendors and this and that, and the key vision for the year literally evaporates.
Meetings, especially between the two key partners or the three or four key partners, expose the next need for the company. If you don’t meet and one of the two or one of the four main key people knows the next need for the company, how often is it possible that busyness and minutia can get put in front of that need and sometimes that need can be forgotten and never brought up again and sometimes that need can take down a company.