Momentum Podcast: 293
One Size Doesn'T Fit All
by Alex Charfen
I don't believe in the concept of ‘one size fits all' it never works in real life and when it comes to building a team, it simply doesn't exist.
Follow your own path and see how easy it can be to determine and eliminate your pain points by finding the right people for your team. Stop trying to use somebody else's system to build YOUR business.
Full Audio Transcript
One size does not fit all. Have you ever noticed that one size fits all products don't really work? They don't work in business either. In fact, every time I've ever gotten a one size fits all product, whether it's a hat or a headband or gloves or whatever it is, it's always been really tight or small or uncomfortable on me. I'm about 6'2" and 210 pounds. And then I hand it to my wife, who's 5'4" and doesn't weigh anywhere near what I do, weighs a fraction of what I do. It's always loose on her, tight on me, and it never really works. The whole one size fits all concept is not a real favorite of mine. In fact, I like customized, tailored. I want things to be built for me. I buy cars, and I look at what the factory did as a good start. I customize everything from the ground up, rims and suspension and acceleration and fuel injection and the way that the car runs and the chip system that it has, the computer that's onboard. Everything. Exhaust, intakes, because I want the car to react how I want.
See, I don't believe in one size fits all, and when it comes to a team, it doesn't exist. Here's a question I get on facebook all the time: "Alex, I'm building my team. What is the right order to build it in?" There is no right answer to that question because here's the reality about every team ever built for a successful entrepreneur, is that it is a snowflake built around that individual entrepreneur. One size doesn't fit all. Just because somebody else hired people in an order doesn't mean you should do the same thing. In fact, today I coach dozens of businesses in the same industries, and I can tell you none of them are the same, and we wouldn't want them to be. They might have similarities, but they're not the same.
Let me give you some examples. I coach one information products company where the owner of the business is an incredible marketer. So they have literally no marketing team, but they have a sales team and an operations team and a delivery team, and that team has been built right around that entrepreneur. It built around the strengths of the individual entrepreneur. If you're going to build a team, you can't follow somebody else's path because you don't have the same strengths they do. You don't have the same challenges they do. If you try and build your team like someone else did, chances are you're going to end up feeling like you're wearing their clothes, and unless you guys are exactly the same, it's going to feel like something's off.
One size fits all doesn't work. A few years ago, I was in a meeting for a coaching company called Vistage. In fact, they asked me to come. I was invited because they wanted me to understand the organizations for two reasons. One, they wanted me to speak for them, and two, they wanted to see if I wanted to be involved, like become a member of this organization. I may have preemptively judged the organization. I may have made an irrational decision to not be involved with them. But, because I know there's a lot of people who feel like they've gotten a lot out of Vistage, but my first meeting with them was so offensive to me, I could never go back.
Here's what happened. We were pulled into a small group of "new people", and because we were new, two of the Vistage leaders came over and sat down with us, and they were highly respected. They'd been around. They were like coaches in this community, and they had supposedly helped a lot of people. And the first person at my table who shared, my stomach was turning at the advice he got. He shared with everybody he had about a six million dollar company, and he had grown it on his own. He had built a small team around him, and he only had an executive leader in marketing and in sales, and he was trying to figure out if he needed operations or a ... Actually, he didn't say that. He said, "I'm trying to figure out if I need a COO or a CFO first, and I don't really know. I can't see."
Well, the Vistage coach at the table said, "Well, that's an easy answer. You can't be at six million dollars without a CFO. That has to be your next hire." And the amount of conversation that had occurred around this person's company is exactly what I shared with you. As soon as that senior coach for this organization said, "You need a CFO," I was livid. I was furious. He had no clue. He didn't have enough understanding of this organization to start making hiring suggestions, and how could he possibly have any clue whether that person needed a CFO or not? There's a lot more questions and inquiry needed to know what that person really needs.
Some questions might've been, are you experiencing financial challenges? Do you have issues getting clean financials? Do you feel like you need financial advice? Or much more likely, at six million dollars with a sales manager and a marketing manager, he probably was buried in operational activities. So later on ... I actually stayed for the full couple hours of this Vistage meeting, and it didn't get much better for me. And later on I asked the advisor, the coach, "Hey, what's your background?" And shockingly enough, he was the CFO in a entrepreneurial company, and that was his background. So for him, every problem he sees as a nail, and having a CFO is the hammer because that's who he is. But when he answered that person in the room that day, it made me sick to my stomach because it was a guess at best, but this person stated it as certainty.
So later on I pulled the business owner aside and I said, "Hey, why did you ask that question, CFO or COO?" And he said, "Well, I've had a few people look at my org chart, and they all say I'm missing a CFO or a COO, so I know I need to fill those positions," and then I started asking them questions like, "Hey, what challenges are you having? What issues are you having? Where do you think you need the most help?" And very quickly, just through simple conversation, what we realized is he probably needed assistance for his marketing manager and sales manager because they sounded completely and totally overwhelmed, and he already had an executive assistant that was acting as an operations person, and he could easily move her into a operations manager role, and change the entire complexion of the company and go from six million to well over 10 million.
In fact, when we penciled it out after the meeting, he got up and was smiling and confident and excited and felt like he had a clear path to move forward with a very low level of resistance. Had I not pulled him aside, he might've called a headhunter and started the futile recruiting for a CFO because he got bad advice from someone who didn't ask him any questions, didn't understand his business, and just threw out the ... not advice, but certainty that he needed a CFO. And here's what I would predict happens.
When you bring a CFO too early into a company, you have somebody who's looking to count numbers, sitting there all day, waiting for more numbers to happen. They become the most annoying person in the business. Sorry to all you finance professionals and CFOs, but it's absolutely true. Until there's a full-time job plus about 20% more for a CFO, you don't want them in the building. My consultant, Mason Ludlow, used to tell me you've got to be careful with bean counters because those who count beans all day get hungry, and they become a frustration in the business, especially as it's growing. They feel like they're doing more and more. And I realize these are blanket judgements against CFOs, but I've watched this too many times in smaller businesses, when a finance professional is brought in and it blows up the entire organization. I don't want you to do that. See, one size fits all doesn't work.
When I look at any organization, here's how we build out the team around the CEO. We do an analysis of what's actually going on. What are the needs that the business has? And that's an easy question to answer. You ask, what are the biggest pain points the CEO is feeling? And we sit down and we make a list of all of those pain points, and then we look at them and say, "How do we make this pain go away with people?" What I realized and what the business owner who was at Vistage realized when we sat down and we made that list of pain points together was that barely any of them had to do anything with a CFO. The people who had given him advice have looked at his org chart and said, "One size fits all. You have a salesperson. You have a marketing person. You have to have a finance person and an operation's person," and that type of advice will kill you.
So stop trying to find somebody else's system to build your business. Stop trying to follow the path of some other person in your industry and copy what they're doing, because while short term it may help you gain some momentum, long term, you must build a system in your organization so that you are strategically and consistently finding the biggest pain points, the biggest issues, the biggest pressure and noise, and then systematically building infrastructure around those pain points, around that pressure and noise, so that it goes away. One size fits all doesn't really work in real life, and it doesn't really work with a team.
If you're ready to start systematically building your business, if you want to build a team right around you, if you want to customize your organization so that it fully supports your strengths and annihilates your challenges, go to billionairecode.com. Fill out our short quiz. We will show you exactly where you are on the Billionaire Code, and you will have an opportunity to set up a strategy session call with a member of my team where we will go through your business with you and show you how you can go forward faster, build your team methodically, create a organization that you're excited about, and grow like crazy. Let us help you and your entire organization get into momentum. Go to billionairecode.com.