Momentum Podcast: 818
Gabe Arnold Part 1 - Double Business While Working Less
by Alex Charfen
I'm excited to share this first in a two-part series podcast with Gabe Arnold. Gabe runs Business Marketnig Engine and has doubled his business in just over a year. Doubling the size of any business is an achievement; however, Gabe has also worked Less in his business than he did before. This makes his story extraordinary.
In this interview, Gabe not only shares what he did but, more importantly, how he grew his business and had more time for himself.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast. Today on the podcast, I'm doing something a little bit different and interviewing one of our members, Gabe Arnold, who runs an organization called Business Marketing Engine. Now, Game has more than doubled his business since he's been with us, but he's also working a lot less to scale the company. And the reason I thought this would be such a good interview to share on the podcast is that Gabe is incredibly clear and aware and has a very high level of understanding as to what has changed his business and allowed him to achieve what he's achieved. And he shares it in such a cogent, clear way. I think you're going to get a ton out of this podcast with Gabe Arnold. I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for Empire Builders Game Changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Should we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will? We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be. Welcome to the podcast. I'm so excited to go through this interview to have you hear from Gabe Arnold, who runs a pretty phenomenal company and has had a lot of lessons and a lot of learning. And I've really enjoyed listening to Gabe talk and share. And so Gabe just said that everyone has context. Can you just share how long you've been an entrepreneur and what type of company you run?
Yeah, so I started selling all sorts of things and services, product, all sorts of things between like age 12 and 13, because that's when I had to start writing for myself and my siblings. So 20, 25 years or so. And today I run an agency called Business Marketing Engine. We've been around since 2015 or a full service marketing firm that helps people with their destinations like websites, applications, landing pages, content, whether it's written content, videos, social media, and then traffic through SEO and paid traffic. And like I said, I've been doing that for 15 years and I absolutely loved it. I lost another business in a bankruptcy. I've had plenty of hard lessons, but entrepreneurship is the only job for me because I'm pretty unemployable. But I absolutely love it.
And have a lot in common. Just full disclosure, you know, Gabe's been in, been in my program was in my program for a while. He and I spent some time at different events. We become friends. And so I want everyone listening to know that there's a relationship here, too. And it's not the reason Gabe volunteered to come on. But I just I just like to be completely upfront about things. And, Gabe, to give everybody an idea of what is the size of business marketing engine and how many team members we have right now?
We're about 40 team members, and we will land close to 2 million this year for our run rate.
So congratulations, Gabe. And so, you know, when we're talking about our program, but I really want to make sure that we draw out the strategies and tactics that have been most effective for you. But I want everyone to kind of understand the journey. So when you started with us, how many one was it? How long ago was it? How many team members and what was your your financial situation then?
So we use I started following you like five or six years ago and with like pick up what you were teaching and implement what I could. And then I started with a momentum journal two years ago and then I joined the fall program in March or April of 2021. I think that's right. Okay. We were in the program a full year when we joined. We were right around 700,000 run rate. And I even though like I was, I can push hard and I always can push hard and just make things happen. I kept feeling like the ceiling was coming down on me and I was being crushed and stuck. So implementing what what you and your team teach and the processes you teach was a huge breath of fresh air as the main thing. Like, I got a ton of space and lowered my pressure and noise and everything and you know, the numbers speak for themselves and it's a lot easier to run a business with a simple operating system so.
Well, going from congratulations, I've gone from 700 to 2 million and that's a short period of time to grow that much. And so let's try that out. So what, what if you think of like let's let's look at the top few strategies or tactics that you implemented. What do you think made such a difference in you going from feeling like the ceiling was coming down on you at 700, like you're having trouble breaking through, and then you've experienced what I would call pretty explosive growth to get to 2 million in that shorter time. That's almost 300% growth in what, about a year and a half?
Yeah, about a year and a half. It's about tripled. And there's a lot of pieces that have been super effective. So one that as I reflect on, you know, the full year in the program and super excited to get back in the program here soon to like we talked it was a good time to pause and keep implementing and refining because we were aggressively implemented. But the thing that keeps coming out for me over the past few months is that self-care is the ticket to breaking, you know, seven figures and beyond. And so you guys slip that into the program and you don't you talk about it all the time, which is why I probably picked it up faster. But you kind of slip that into the program because I know classic, you know, pop entrepreneurial culture is hustle, hustle. And if you're not working 80, 90 hours a week, then you suck and you'll never succeed. But I think that personally, the biggest result I got from it was self-care. Because when I'm centered and balanced and taken care of and I lower pressure and noise and everything, it forces me to delegate well. And with the delegation process and what you guys, which I'll get into those in a minute here that you teach when I delegate and let go in the right way. With process and structure. I'm not stressed out or worried that it's going to happen and it gives me time to walk every day and cold plunge and journal and meditate and have more family time and just do whatever I want to do compared to where I was a year and a half ago. So I think that the self-care that you guys teach and implement, starting with what I still don't love, but I love the result of time studies.
Is there a lot of people who love and then everybody loves the result, but rarely do they say, Oh, I love time studies. Yeah, I love I love the result. But like having to do that in the first couple weeks was like, Oh, awesome. Nobody told me about that. And I'm sure you talk if I look for that, but I didn't listen to that part. So but doing the time study gave me a much clearer picture. And, you know, to do it for myself first and now the team does it quarterly. That was huge.
That was a second game. Yeah. Yeah. I want to draw something out. You know, one of the things that I often share with entrepreneurs, but I have such a hard time getting people to believe, is that if you're having if you have a team and you're having trouble breaking through a revenue plateau, then it's probably because you're doing too much and you're working too many hours in the business. And it's so counterintuitive, given the entrepreneurial culture we live in of can get up every day, go straight to the computer, do as much work as you can until you drop, and then do it again and again and again. You get the result you want. But can you reflect on that because mean so first of all, let me ask a direct question. As you grew from 700 to 2 million, did you reduce the hours that you were working in the company?
Yeah, I did overall. I'm in a season where I am working like 35 or 40 hours now, which is more than I like to work. But if I, I have the option now to easily work 30 hours a week and everything be fine. The last thing that with your a ton of huge help from you is I, the one of the departments that I still am working on in sales. I expect to have that done soon because I made a ton of progress. I'm not going to put a date on anymore because I disappoint myself, but I expect to have it done relatively soon. And when that's done, I will be able to take two or three months off and I'll check in on my operator. I mean, I'll be around, but I will be able to completely stop working. The only reason I'm working like 3540 right now is I'm still pushing big for sales because some new niches we're going into and stuff like that. But yeah, I think what I everybody here is this. I don't think this is new information for anybody listening, but everybody hears this, at least with entrepreneurs I've worked with, but they don't understand it. And so when we talk about inside of your program, like creating your org chart, working with your operator, having weekly one on ones, the result that I got from that was that I actually understood how to delegate and force myself to get better at delegating at every level, because every year I feel like I don't know the first thing about delegation as the company grows. So I'm like, I feel like I'm a beginner at best, but in a, in a healthy way, it kind of forces me to delegate. And then what actually happens is I have to empower my team if I want to get where I'm going. And when I empower my team, they grow massively. And the results and the work and the things we put out are ten times better than they were 18 months ago, because I foolishly thought I needed to be involved or have a comment or input and all I was is a massive bottleneck in their dresses me out at some level. But that I mean, it didn't trust me. I was the point like it was detrimental to my health and I like that. But it stressed me out and what bothers me. Well, looking back, if I would have known, you know what I'm happy I changed is I was taking away potential for my team. I was taking away their empowerment, and I was taking away the level of excellence and service that we now deliver to our clients. So, like this morning on our daily huddle, I was, you know, just doing our shout outs and, you know what? People had done well and multiple leaders on my leadership, team, department leaders, everybody, they are so much better at what they do than when I was running it and starting a company. There are there are short seasons where you have to grind it out and you have to do it all. But that if you if you allow that season to extend too long, then you cross your growth and you can create a revolving door of team members or you can create a bunch of yes men and checklist people you know, and they're always coming back to you to fill their checklist. And that's impossible, you know, at some point. So the empowerment that my team has is so amazing to watch. They become phenomenal leaders. They protect me and challenge me when I'm moving outside of our guiding principles a little bit or when I'm off track, they are 100% there to protect me and we protect our clients better, you know, so everybody wins because of the charge structure. And that taught me and allowed me and in a healthy way for me to empower them and let go of things that I had no business doing anymore.
Yeah. Yeah, that makes so much sense. You know? Gosh, there's like five different questions I want to ask you at once, but I think the best direction to go with this is I'm. What so so you shared self care and you know, I would say self-care is this gateway drug to success because when you take care of yourself, you actually ask for the right type of help. You see the opportunities. I don't want to get caught up there, though. What other tactics, what are their strategies have helped you get to the point where you can turn things over to your team? You know, I always say if you want people to act responsibly, give them responsibility. And I know you've done that. What else made that possible? Because what I hear from entrepreneurs so often is like, I'm insecure, I'm scared. Like, how do I just turn this over without, you know, and how do I have certainty? Is that going to fall apart? So what were the other tools or strategies?
Do you talk about the four piece? And I kind of remember all four, but process project policy on people.
Right. Yeah. Got it. So it only took me hearing that like, actually like ten times from you at the events or like I'm CEO calls and stuff like that. But I realized that everything is can be pushed into one of those things. You can give it to a person, which is good a lot of the time. But for me I feel like if I create a process then, you know, a process or a policy is where I go the most. And we and we always have projects on our waterfall and stuff like that, of course, but everything eventually moves into a process or a policy. And what that was allowed me to do by implementing like the processes that you guys teach is I can now externalize my thought process, my principles and my experience in a process document that will launch. We'll go through and test and then the team takes it so much faster than I could ever take it. But I at least can give them the foundation of like, well, the reason that we do this is, is because of this experience or because, you know, what we've learned in this process. And so we've always been a learning organization, but I think our level of learning has just accelerated immensely because we use the four piece. So yeah.
So let's, let's, let's dig into that a little bit, Gabe, because delegation outside of a process really creates micromanagement because you delegated to somebody and then you have to make sure they're doing it right. So how has it shifted for you in delegating into a process and then letting the team grow that process?
Yeah, you're right, because what I was doing before is starving the team for information, not not by intention, but like my enforcing here. And actions were like, Oh, hey, Alex, can you get this email ready for tomorrow? And then you'd go do it. Then come back and be like, Oh, well, it's not quite right. Because I didn't tell you the next three emails that I need, or the reason are like, I didn't tell you the whole thing because I'm so busy and it's a, I have 5 minutes, so I'm just going to ask you to do something in there. In my head I was delegating, but in reality I was just not even spoon feeding I think is the right term, but I was just like chunking off little pieces without giving the full picture. So generally speaking, what I do now is I will either draft a document myself, which I try not to do a lot of because it's, it's not as effective as what I normally do now is I'll make a loon video for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever, or I'll have a brainstorming call with the team and then I'll say, take this and create the dossier, which is the project scope document or the process document for those that haven't been inside your program. And then they'll bring it back and say that I capture it and I'm like, Yeah, except just tweak this, tweak this. And then they've taken ownership of it from day one, and then I say, Hey, let's run with it and see what works. And you know, we have our one on ones or we have our waterfall review actually. You know, we have our we already have pre-planned times where I can give input. And so I'm able to totally focus my attention on those calls to give support and feedback. But I've already given the ownership to a team member. And when you give somebody ownership, they just perform so much differently because they actually have a stake in it. And the other thing we can touch on is profit sharing, which was massive for us, too, because that's that's, you know, has made ownership so much different. But by doing that brain dump or that long video and and really with intention being focused in that brainstorming call or that one video of being fully present and sharing, you know, having some notes ahead of time and being prepared to communicate effectively. I can communicate 70, 80% of what needs to happen. And then really the rest I don't again, I don't have any business to decide the details of all the time because I'm not in it and I'm not doing the day to day work. And they're the experts and they're living it. So that kind of hand-off of of ownership of it and then having a clear scope document and who's responsible for what then I'm just watching, you know, and I can give some input or feedback as needed, but that's been massive and it's also helped me. It's slowed me down and also showed me the workload that I create when I come up with an idea. And so one of the reasons that I'm confident we tripled is because I'm not giving the team like eight projects a day. I try to I try to stick to like 8 to 10 projects for a whole quarter.
Yeah. And I don't use them and I don't own I, I own, I've owned two or three for a couple of quarters and that's a lot I realize. So now like even if I own it, I have a co owner because I can't, I can't move it myself. But I'm not barraging the team with random stupid ideas, honestly, because I because they're stupid. It forces me to qualify an idea, justify it to my operator or my leadership team, and then we roll it out. And so I have stuff sitting in my parking lot of my queue of stuff that I want to work on. But some of it I have like, Oh, it's Q one. So I'm like, I want to do this at some point in the next year or two, but it really helps me prioritize the focus and energy and resources of the team.
I want to call out three things that I think you said. There were just a couple of things that you said were brilliant. So first is if you're delegating chunk at a time, you don't you're not really turning over ownership. And turning over ownership is where people actually step up and start acting entrepreneurially. They take initiative. They know that they own it. The second thing that I think is just awesome is, you know, I talk to entrepreneurs all the time and they're like, Alex, I need to create all the processes in my company. How do you do this? And so many are literally trying to do every single process to show every person how to do it, to show exactly what needs to happen. And what I just heard in this dialog is you sit down with your team, you explain it to them, and they document the process. They come back to you, verify it, and so it doesn't have to be you. In fact, what I think I heard reading between the lines there is that when they're doing it, it's better than when you do it that.
Way, the hell better. There's no comparison because even even at the the way I'm operating now, not working a ton, you know, I've reduced my hours year over year and working with you and your team in the program, I reduce them so much more. But even where I'm at now, like being an entrepreneur, my focus gets split or I'll get distracted, or there are actually important things that will randomly distract me that I need to go spend a day researching or a week researching because it takes massive value for the company and the team in the future. So foolishly thinking that I have the time and focus to deliver excellent process documents or clarity on things is why our quality was not at the level it is now. And so yeah, my team is so much more equipped for it and I have entrepreneurial folks on the team, which I love, but they're not for entrepreneurs because, you know, that's not typically doesn't work that way and are using their interpreters and their leaders and they totally own what they're doing, but they don't lay down at night sometimes and have like 14 new business ideas. Yeah. Or, you know, at lunch, I'm watching TV for a minute. I'm like, Oh, we should do that. Like, their brains don't work that way. And so they have the ability to focus in a different way than I focused. I have maniacal extreme focus, but it's different. And so yeah, when, when you try to chunk information out or when you're thinking that you're going to write all the processes, I have never met an entrepreneur that loves writing processes. I don't love writing them. I can do a little diagram or put some notes down or like give the framework, but it's, it's only over half done, you know. So it's the quality and the clarity and the security that it gives the team is so much better because unintentionally I was freaking them out all the time. I would say, here's the, you know, the grand plan, but I have no steps to get. There is was that was what I was communicating at some level. And so there's such security and peace and contentment with a healthy drive and a desire for attainment on the team. And so they push me more than I pushed them now, which is why I like it.
I love that I always you know, I always reflect on the times where I've tried to create process documents in my company because, you know, I used to fool myself into thinking I was really good at it. And then I would create process documents, distribute them, then my team would update them and bring them back. And I would think, Why did I even do this in the first place? Like, clearly they're better at this than I am. And I love what you said is that, you know, there's different personality types in a company and I met some of your team and they are definitely intra preneur, as I would say. A lot of them are entrepreneurial personality types, if not all of them are ABD is yeah, they have, they, you know, you have this maniacal focus on this big picture of growing the business like most visionaries do. But one of them might have that maniacal focus on an individual process that creates a completely different outcome.
Yeah, that's exactly what it is, because then they are all enterprise entrepreneurs. And no, I don't have side hustles and I love hiring people like that because I can see what there are. And I have had some team members go on to start their own businesses and it's the greatest thing in the world. It's so clear for them business that's, you know, not a fit. And like we fully support that. And yeah, it's it's awesome to see that same level of focus from my leaders on my team on one thing. And it gets better and better and better and better. And I don't even recognize it, like you just said, in a matter of a few weeks or months. And we create really useful, really productive tools. And. Processes from it.
I love this. So we have the things that have been most effective. So first, self care. Second is ownership. And I want everyone to just hear from you. It's ownership within a process, within an operating system. Right. It's not just scanning things over like you have an entire system that's now managing the company. Can you speak to that a little bit? Again, if you're a listener of the Momentum podcast? You know, our episodes are typically under 20 minutes, so I'm going to cut this one in half. We've got about half of the conversation with Gabe left and he will speak to that in our next episode, which will release in about a week. And in the meantime, if you want some help growing your business, if you want to be able to get your team to step up in the way that you've heard games team does, if you want some helping, putting an operating system in your business so that you can achieve more in less time for yourself, go ahead and go to simple operations dot com, fill out the simple form, set up a call with our team and let us show you what we showed Gabe and how we can show you how to grow and scale your business without having to do everything yourself.