Episode 2: The Three Pillars of Exit Mindset (Transcript)
[00:00:00] Rem Oculee: Welcome to the Exit Mindset podcast. I’m Rem Oculee. I spent years researching and studying exit strategies to improve businesses, and I’m here to help you increase profits, increase your company valuation, and get you more work-life balance.
[00:00:26] Welcome. Today we’re going to be talking about the three pillars that are the foundation of the Exit Mindset. Now, I want to remind you that the Exit Mindset is based on streetwise methodology. It’s not based on textbooks, or spreadsheets, or scientific data. All things that are beneficial and useful in supporting what you need to do.
[00:00:48] But sometimes in the business world, business is based on experience and real-life situations. That’s what separates you from non-business people. And there are a number of ways you can call yourself. You can call yourself an entrepreneur. You can call yourself a business person. You can call yourself a businessman, businesswoman.
[00:01:08] There are a number of things you can label yourself as. To me, it’s all about business. And to me, the business world runs a certain way. I do believe business by itself is a methodology. There are a number of factors. If you look at a business, a real business, it can clearly label one as a business person.
[00:01:24] So the experience you have comes from the trenches. One more thing about business that we all may or may not know is that every company, every situation, presents its own set of challenges that are different from the other, in a sense, even if it looks the same. So two companies cannot be exactly the same and do the same production, and the same exact output.
[00:01:55] Because the internals of the company – of those two companies are going to be completely different. Even if it’s a matter of just the individuals that operate it. That’s where, for example, you see one Facebook. You don’t see ten Facebooks. If you look at Facebook as a model, you’ll notice that there is no other one next to it, a second. If you look at Microsoft as a model, you don’t see two Microsofts. There’s really only one.
[00:02:15] There’s some fragmented competition there, but at the end of the day, they’re the ones that are the dominant force in that particular space of office suites. It’s not hard to make an office suite. I think even in today’s world where things can be done with relative ease, no company came out and said, “I’m having an office suite that’s going to compete with Microsoft in a serious way.”
[00:02:36] But what makes Microsoft Microsoft is just the internals. It has its own internals. It created it, grew it through its own processes, and nobody was able to replicate that, because you cannot replicate a company in the exact same way. So where does that relate to everything we’re talking about here? With the Exit Mindset, everything we’re going to talk about here, you must be able to apply in your own way.
[00:02:59] There’s no one model you can take that is just going to – if you replicate it 100% – is going to work out very well. There’s no manual in here. Anybody that tells you there’s a manual in business isn’t telling you the straight story. However, there are certainly different methodologies that you can apply to your company that can make your company work in a better way.
[00:03:19] If you use that methodology in accordance with what you have internally. So let me first tell you my story. Years and years ago, I started a company with a business partner who was my friend. When you have friends, sometimes you let things go. I discovered that my friend was actually taking money from the company and up to no good.
[00:03:40] So I decided to dissolve our company and move forward. What I wanted to do initially was to sell it, but I found out that I could not sell the company for the price I thought it should command, and I did not know the reasons why. It was just a mystery to me. Simply, I couldn’t sell a profitable company.
[00:04:04] Even though my friend was stealing from the company, I couldn’t figure out a way to make it sell for more. The reason I couldn’t figure it out, was because that’s what was offered. So when I was talking to business brokers – always talking to people that have an interest in it – they were just giving me a price. A price that I thought is a fraction – a fraction of what the company could do.
[00:04:16] I’ve engaged in research over the years to figure out what makes a company sell for more. Of course, I read all the textbook stuff, and all this and that, but at the end of the day, I didn’t think any of them really truly applied in a sense, because most of them were either texts or just weren’t applicable. But I wanted something real.
[00:04:34] I wanted to figure out, how can I do that? I wanted to figure out what makes it work. So I started using some of the things I’d learned from my previous experiences, and from reading and research, to see how we could figure this out. I talked to some of the intelligent brains on the planet – some of the most intelligent people out there – to see their thoughts, what they think.
[00:04:54] Many of them gave me insights that I incorporated into what I believe is the best model to make you scale your business, and to be able to command a great valuation for it. Done organically. And that is the point of this podcast. The point of the book, the Exit Mindset, is to give you an organic way of growing a company to a great valuation.
[00:05:22] So a lot of the things out there can be done by taking certain steps, even though the steps do not guarantee a specific result, of course, because companies are not built on just robotic processes that you can deploy and just would work. Otherwise, everybody could do it. Keep that in mind.
[00:05:42] That’s a clearly important point of this whole thing we’re talking about. However, when you use that organic process, or when you use an organic process in certain things that just – it automatically generates the results you’re looking for. So this is really the purpose behind this. We’re going to talk about the three key Exit Factors.
[00:06:00] KEF’s is what I call them. These three key Exit Factors are the foundation of growth, and foundation of output, and the foundation of getting great valuation. Because they organically, naturally would create a positioning for you that could create a higher value for your company. Surely there are some other things you can do in between to create even more growth and more valuation.
[00:06:28] However, your primary concern is not to be sidelined with your valuation in a way where it’s massively behind. What this will do is it will take you to the problem, to the right spot. If you’re observing your valuation during the journey, you’re going to find that you will be able to go on a path that allows you to make adjustments until you get the – what I consider to be – the perfect valuation for the time you’re selling it.
[00:06:55] Again, perfection may be an overreach here, because there’s no such thing as really perfect. What’s perfect? Nobody knows. But ultimately if you’re trying to get a fair valuation for all your efforts, and your work, and what your company can do, then these three KEF’s will be your guiding principles to get there.
[00:07:14] Let’s talk about what these three key Exit Factors are. One, the product. Two, infrastructure. Three, the conversation. If you take care of these three things, your company not only will have better valuation when a buyer decides to purchase your company, it will also create a company that is significantly more profitable. That gives you more time, and that would be a joy and fun to have around.
[00:07:42] It would be fun to have. To a point where you may decide that I’m not going to sell it. So the whole point of the Exit Mindset is that you use the three pillars to improve your operations. To improve your company. To create a model that is significantly superior to the one you have right now. To a point where an outsider attempting to purchase the company would look at it and go, “My goodness, this is so much better than the other companies that I’ve seen!”
[00:08:08] Or they might say, “This is really a great enterprise. And I’d like to acquire it because every element of it seems to be in place, seems to be well-run and well-executed.” But during that journey, you might decide, you don’t want to sell the company.
[00:08:25] You might decide it’s an asset. I talked to many, many company CEOs, founders, and owners of companies that after the companies became a comfortable enterprise – an enterprise that is self-sustaining, generating results – they realized that, “Maybe I don’t want to sell this…” I know companies that are in the hundreds of millions, and in certain instances, there are billions in valuations where the founders told me that, “I don’t want to sell the company now.
[00:08:53] It just seems to be working.” And some of them say, “If I sell it, then what am I going to do with the money? Where am I going to park it? Can I get a return on my money, the way I’m getting it right now?” And in many instances that I’ve seen, the answer is no. Therefore, why not just continue here? So you might find yourself in the same spot here.
[00:09:12] You might find yourself saying, “Listen, this is great. Why do I want to go out there and sell it and do something else?” Now, in some instances definitely people are going to want to sell. For many reasons. One, they want to capitalize on their work, and move on to something else. Sometimes just retirement. Sometimes it’s early retirement.
[00:09:32] Sometimes it’s just a desire to move into other arenas. Sometimes it’s just a need for money or cash. Whatever the case might be, wouldn’t you want to have the higher valuation than the lower valuation? I don’t think anybody would say no. You’d say yes, I definitely want it. And I am confident that if you apply those three pillars, that higher valuation will come automatically.
[00:09:55] You don’t have to worry about a thing. You don’t have to go through spreadsheets. You don’t have to go through all the scientific, fancy stuff, or read all the books out there in the world that can tell you how you can get a better valuation on the company. Because by the time you start applying them, it’s just a mess.
[00:10:10] You apply one thing, and the more complex it gets, the worse your job gets to be. You’re only one person leading the company. We all know companies are made by leadership. Whether you are a company owner, or whether you’re a high-level executive – either one of those, you’re in a position where others can’t do what you do.
[00:10:29] So let’s talk about those three elements, one by one. Let’s start with the product. If you don’t have a great product – if your product doesn’t have certain things attached to it in terms of breadth, usefulness, customer acceptance, and ability to evolve, you’ve got nothing.
[00:10:51] What you need is a product that has consumer acceptance. Now, this seems very basic. But we’re talking about the product, now in this case, from the consumer perspective. Does it sell itself? Does the consumer really want your product?
[00:11:12] Many companies are under the illusion that the product is so great that people want it. But do you really, really have a product that distinguishes itself in the marketplace? If you do, then great! Then you have one element covered. But if there are things you could do with your product, then you must really consider what you’re doing in there. Because no buyer of a company when it comes to valuation, will look at your company and say, “Well gee, they have an average product, and I’m just going to go ahead and purchase the company at a premium.”
[00:11:49] The reason companies command premium is because of their product. Let’s face it, there are a number of other reasons that definitely matter like conversation with the consumer; however, the product is king. Product is the most important thing. The reason companies sometimes command a high value for products that aren’t even proven, is because the product by its nature has the potential to create massive results for the buyer of the company – for the people that pay for it.
[00:12:20] That’s why when you look out there you see, for example, venture capital firms paying top dollar for a company that has nothing. It has a few people. Typically what they’re buying – they’re buying number one, the product itself. Whatever it might be. And please don’t confuse the product for it being a physical product. Product could be anything. Product could be a concept being applied to a certain situation. A strategy to be applied by specialized people.
[00:12:49] Consulting is a product. If you have consulting services, your product is that consulting service. Don’t think you don’t have a product. That’s your product. Lots of times we tend to think of consulting service as just consulting. What’s consulting? It’s basically a product that gives a benefit to the other side and gives them tangible value.
[00:13:10] In many cases, some of those consulting companies out there are indispensable to other companies. The product those consultant companies provide is something that other companies prize and value. There’ve been many consulting companies that have been acquired for a top premium price. Why? It’s not a real product. It’s not a physical product. But it’s simply because of the definition. For most people, a product is something physical.
[00:13:36] What I want throughout this whole journey is to take you away from that thinking. Do not think of your product as being physical. There’s a lot to unpack on the subject of product. What I try to give you so far is just an understanding of what we mean by product in here –
[00:13:55] – to highlight to you the importance and the significance of understanding that your product is one of your most important foundations in getting a higher price for your company. By understanding that element, and applying some of the things we’re going to be talking about later in the proper way, you’re going to find that you can significantly command a better price for your company – or have a better company anyway, which is what you want.
[00:14:23] I know the whole point of this whole methodology is to create a better valuation, but really it is more of a double lane in here, where it’s a road with two lanes. It’s the same road. You can shift lanes anywhere you want. You can go in the lane where you’re doing it to create a better valuation, but it can switch immediately to the second lane, seamlessly, to implement for the sake of creating a better company.
[00:14:49] What the Exit Mindset gives you is a mind shift, where you can step away from where you are, and go to a different vantage point. Start looking at your company differently. I will tell you there’s a lot of parts to that. It’s a little bit more of a mental mind shift. Now, having said that, let’s talk about the second key Exit Factor, which is infrastructure.
[00:15:11] You could have a company with a great product, and the product is perfect. Consumers – anybody that looks at it, likes it. You’re getting demand – reasonable demand. In a true capitalist economy, in a truly free market, there’s no such thing as everybody loves your product, and that’s the only product, and that’s it.
[00:15:30] There’s always going to be a pocket of competition here and there. Small. Hopefully, you are the dominant force in your arena. You’re the dominant product. You’re the best product out there. The product that people want. If it is, and you’re distinguished in that respect, and you become the top in the field, then you accomplish exactly what we want you to accomplish here.
[00:15:50] However, you can have a great product that a buyer could look at – when I say a buyer, I mean a company buyer, a purchaser, a company, a person that wants to purchase your company – but they look at your company, and you’ve got a great product, but there’s no infrastructure. What is infrastructure? Infrastructure is all the processes, operations, and locations – anything that allows that product to get out there to the marketplace.
[00:16:16] Infrastructure could be anything. From your production infrastructure to a sales infrastructure. To your management infrastructure. To your marketing infrastructure. To the way the product goes from production to sales. To the way that the product gets serviced. All these things come into play and become part of your infrastructure.
[00:16:36] It’s a relatively complex topic, but we can simplify it. We can take an entire infrastructure thinking and narrow it down to elements that you can implement. That is the real focus – to be able to take all those complex issues, and see if you can narrow them down to your own company, to your own business, and make it work.
[00:16:57] So you have a great company, and, theoretically, you have a great product. But then the product isn’t going to the marketplace in the best way possible. Let’s say you have a product that’s good, but you’re unable to generate enough output, enough product, out there. What are you gonna run into?
[00:17:15] You’re gonna run into problems. What if your product has support issues? That’s part of your infrastructure. If you don’t have a support infrastructure, you’re going to have problems. What if it lacks cohesiveness when you take your product from one part of the company to the next part of the company? What if your research and development isn’t all there?
[00:17:32] By the way, please don’t think with research and development that you have to have a whole department for it. It’s about processes for research and development. What if all that isn’t done in a way that lends to an operation that is moving very smoothly? That’s the part of the company that lends itself to scale. When a buyer of that company comes in and looks at it, and sees that the company is running in a very smooth fashion, that everything in their company is well-coordinated, that it has got all the infrastructure elements that it needs to produce the product, and to have the product that is already good and thriving, your valuation becomes higher.
[00:18:12] It’s only logical. Think about it. Would you give a high valuation to a company that’s got a good product, but the infrastructure is not so good? You’d go, “Listen, it looks like you’ve got a good product, but the infrastructure you have in there is not so great.
[00:18:26] Therefore, we’re going to give you X amount of dollars for it.” Which is one-tenth, let’s say, or one or two-tenths of the price of it. 50% of the price. Why would a person do that? Why would a buyer of your company decide to buy your company, despite it having bad infrastructure, and give you money for it?
[00:18:46] Maybe not an entire valuation. Let’s say they give you 50% of your valuation. You spent those years putting this company together, you get this product perfectly, but then the infrastructure isn’t great, and they give you less for it. It’s really simple because they know they could probably take that infrastructure, rebuild it, and make it better.
[00:19:03] They would be able to do more with your product. Maybe they can double your infrastructure capacity, and then they double your product sales because of it. Well, what if that happens? They would be calculating that I can take that and demand a premium on it. So you got 50% for something that if you just invested time and energy into fixing, you could get that 100%, and they would pay you for it.
[00:19:28] But they pay you for double the production that they would be getting, had they taken it themselves, and did it. So you’ll do it yourself or you’ll let somebody else do it. That is one of the most significant points in this whole thing – that if you engage in those three pillars that we talk about in the Exit Mindset, and you create that higher valuation, you’ve done it.
[00:19:51] You don’t need to take a cut on what you would make on your entire enterprise. To have somebody else do it for you. You do it while you’re working. The best part of it? You’re going to have fun. It’s going to be a little bit of work, of course, but we all know that anything worthwhile you have to work for, and at the end of the day, you’re going to find that you will have a much better company, and you’ll have a much better life. Because with great infrastructure is where your time is going to go better. It’s where your life is going to get better.
[00:20:22] Where your time with your family, doing the things that you like, is going to improve. Why? Because infrastructure done correctly means you don’t have to be hands-on with everything. You don’t have to work every day on a hamster wheel just to get things moving. Things will move. Part of great infrastructure is building great systems.
[00:20:42] These are some of the things we’re going to hash out over the future podcast. We go in detail in some instances with it in the book. Let’s go to the third key Exit Factor. Let’s talk about the conversation. I define the conversation as the totality of verbal and nonverbal communication and cues you give your consumer. That’s the conversation.
[00:21:09] So I want you to understand that my definition of the word conversation, when it comes to the Exit Mindset, is expanded from conventional verbal communication. Typically the word conversation means I talked to you. I talked to you through words, which are sound vibrations. Or I talked to you through written content, which is paper and ink, and/or digital content. That is not all we’re talking about here.
[00:21:35] The conversation is a much bigger piece that we project to the consumer, to have a conversation with them, to have a dialogue with them. I propose to you that everything we do with the consumers is a dialogue. How you dress is a dialogue with your consumer. They’re called nonverbal cues. We all know how a person dresses – when you walk into an establishment and you see people dressed up, it speaks to you volumes about what the place is. That’s one. The location of the facilities is another piece of conversation.
[00:22:10] You go, “Well, how? How could that be?” Where you look at yourself speaks to who you are. Think about it. If the establishment is located in one area versus another, you would have a definitely different perception. You can imagine that, without going too much into it. We can go into it later. We will go into all these things later, I will say. I’m just trying to give you a synopsis of what this is about.
[00:22:35] I’m trying to give you a high level, 44,000 view of what this is about. So the conversation is the totality of everything. You communicate with the consumer through your actions. Through your physical appearance. When I’m talking about physical appearance, I mean locations where you are. It includes your communication with them in terms of advertising. It includes what you say.
[00:22:58] It includes what you print. It also includes branding, positioning – all sorts of things that create that unique thing that your company represents. Because if you don’t believe your company has anything unique, or you do not want anything unique within your company so that you would have significance in the industry that you’re in, then probably there’s no need for you to go through this.
[00:23:26] But if you are looking to really be known, to be pointed at, saying, “This company, this CEO, this business owner, this executive has created something better, he’s the one who did this, or he’s part of this enterprise that did that,” then you made a name for yourself. If your interest is making a name for yourself, so people would look at you with reverence, then you need to have a company that is highly valuable. But a valuable company in terms of product or infrastructure doesn’t necessarily communicate to people who you are, what you are.
[00:24:07] You could have a great product and communicate that great product. You could have great infrastructure by telling people all the things a company can do for them, for the consumer, and show them how it can be. Because there are two things there. You tell them and show them. So they hear and they see, and they feel all the things that you represent.
[00:24:23] And that’s great. But maybe there aren’t enough in terms of the conversation with them. Maybe you’re missing something. Maybe part of how you’re communicating with them on some element is incongruent with your overall representation. I’m going to give you a simple example. If you are Costco and you put valet parking with somebody with a bow tie in front of it, you just created the wrong conversation with them.
[00:24:50] That’s a piece of the conversation, whether they believe it or not. Because Costco does not represent high-end, white-glove service. That conversation that Costco gives you is that we are a warehouse. You’re going to get prices at warehouse price – you get them in bulk. Once they put a valet parking with a person with a bow tie, and people running around trying to take your car, in that way – in a high-end way – they just violated the type of conversation they have with you.
[00:25:19] They basically became incongruent in terms of the conversation they have with you because the conversation they have with you is we are a no ruffles warehouse. All of a sudden, you see this valet and go, “What is going on?” And that’s just an example, a simple example. This is just a small slice of what could be the wrong piece of conversation you have with your consumer. So the conversation in totality would create that additional leverage for your company to have high value or high valuation.
[00:25:57] To tie it all up – when a buyer of a company comes in, and he looks at your company, first of all, he looks at what they sell. What’s the product? Whether it was consulting, whether it’s services, whether it’s an exact physical product, whatever it is, they go, “Okay, well that looks great. And I see where it’s going.” They see where the potential is, and they see how you’ve designed the whole thing with an Exit Mindset. That it’s going to take them into the right place, and that they could take the product from you and do more with it with relative ease.
[00:26:32] Now they’re going, “Well that’s great. Well, let’s look at their company. What does it look like on the inside?” They look at your company on the inside, and they find out, “Wow, this is nice. They got it all figured out. Perfect. I don’t see problems here. All of this is good, but what are they doing out there?
[00:26:47] How does this look to the consumer?” They find out you have an optimal conversation with the consumer, which creates people that are fans. They see that. They see that through the interactions, and there are a number of ways we’re going to talk about how to measure all that. How to measure the conversation.
[00:27:03] They see all that and they go, “Okay, hold on. This is a great enterprise. If I pay them less than what this is worth, they’re not going to take it. Actually, I’d love it. I’d like to take this because it is going to give me the return that I’m looking for on my investment.” Remember, a buyer is usually looking for investment. So if they’re going to offer you 50%, you’re going to say no.
[00:27:25] Doesn’t make sense. There’s another buyer down the street that wants to give me the right price I might actually want. If you want to give me a bit more than what they’re giving me, maybe I’ll give it to you. But not a lower price. And that’s what you’re looking for. That’s what you need.
[00:27:38] That’s what you want to see. When you get that final check for your company, you want to go, “You know what? All my work, all my efforts over the years, everything I’ve done, here’s my results. It’s worth it.” Look at the other way where after ten, twenty, thirty years, or whatever the number is, even if it’s two years working your neck off trying to get this company to work, and then you get a measly check for it.
[00:28:07] You get a fraction. How disappointing is that? I can tell you I’ve seen that disappointment, when I had to do that with my other company. It was not a happy day for me. It felt like all the work that I put in – it felt like all the efforts I put, all the energy, all the heart that I put into it, it’s just gone nowhere. Somebody just took it, and then they could do something better with it.
[00:28:31] Don’t be there. I’m here to prevent you from getting there. I’m here to help you get on the right track. I’m here to make sure that you don’t make my mistakes. I’m here to show you how implementing what I’ve learned has helped me massively. As much as it’s going to help you improve your company and get the right direction.
[00:28:52] Hopefully, you can have a measure of that success, which is in the dollar value someone is willing to offer your company. Like anything else in the world, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. I’m Rem Oculee, and I’ll see you in the next episode.
[00:29:11] Mae: You’ve just listened to the Exit Mindset podcast with Rem Oculee. If you haven’t yet subscribed or followed, please do so in your podcast listening app. Or better yet, visit ExitMindset.com to join the conversation, access the show notes, and discover our bonus content. Lastly, we want to help as many business owners as possible. If you know anyone that could benefit from the information given in this podcast, please feel free to share it with them. Until next time.