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10 Biggest Lessons Learned in 23 Years of Business

Over the past 23 years in business, I have:

  • Lead a hostile takeover

  • Went from making 12K a month to losing 15K a month in a single phone call

  • Sold my house to stay in business

  • Been hit with a 6 million dollar class action lawsuit

  • Walked into a new company about to go bankrupt (and they didn’t know it)

  • Lost 90% of revenue in one week due to COVID

And through it all I:

  • Fell in love and had 4 wonderful children

  • Grew a Multi-Million Dollar Company and scaled to 12 locations

  • Sold it for Multiple Seven Figures

  • Helped scale another company to multiple 8 figures

  • Went to Harvard (During COVID)

  • Bought a building (During COVID)

  • … and started a Podcast (Actually the hardest thing ever)

And all of these things have taught me a tremendous amount about what matters in business and what doesn’t. (Plot twist: a lot of the things I used to care about, I don’t anymore. And some things I used to not care very much about are now my top priorities.)


These are the Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned:


1. Always be true to your Core Values,


The times in life and business when I have experienced the most grief, fear, anger, and frustration were due to not listening to my core values OR not clearly communicating my core values to others (especially employees). Clearly defining and communicating your core values results in alignment with employees and customers.


Tip - Spend the time to discover your core values and implement them in every aspect of your business.


2. The only real way to be a leader is to first be a servant,


As a CEO, your primary focus should be on the people in your care. But what does it mean to be a servant leader? Simply put, your decisions must be in the best interest of the people around you, even if it means you must release them from your business. You lead people by exhibiting the traits and behaviors you would like to see.


Tip - Learn what a servant leader is and the practical steps you can take to be one.


3. Never stop learning,


It’s been said, “Knowledge is Power,” but this is an incomplete statement. It is the application or sharing of knowledge that is the true power. Making mistakes in business (especially with people) can be very expensive; an intentional and continuous dedication to learning from people who have done it before can help reduce the ignorance tax you will pay while growing your business.


Tip - Allocate time and budget to learn about marketing, sales, people, operations, and finance.


4. Surround yourself with the right people who are experts at what they do,


Being a generalist in your business is a guaranteed way to stifle growth. For example, every business owner should know how to read a set of financial statements and understand the flow of the cash in their business, but bringing in a financial expert who is laser-focused on the financial inputs and outputs not only allows you to focus on what is most essential but unlocks unique perspectives you simply don’t have the capacity to spend time on.


Tip - Think about where you have the most impact, and hire the rest of the team. (maybe a Fractional CFO?)


5. Make sure your parachute is packed before you jump out of the airplane,


Entrepreneurs are unique in the fact that they create opportunities out of nothing, and they want to implement it all right now. It’s exciting and dangerous at the same time, kinda like skydiving. The most costly mistakes I’ve made and see others make is charging ahead full force without considering the risks or ability to pay for the next great idea. Not every idea is good, and it’s worth taking a little time to plan ahead.


Tip - Surround yourself with an accountability team who aren’t “Yes” people and who will challenge your unique ideas; the results will be a more sustainable business.


6. Life is too short to hate your job (yeah, even if you own the business),


The question is why? Values misalignments, not enough making money, no passion for it anymore, other aspirations - I sold my first company because it was time to move on to another chapter; I started resenting the business because I saw it holding me back. I’ve stayed too long in jobs or with clients when there was a values misalignment. The result is always the same; being unhappy in the work environment pours over to personal life. Life is too short - fix it or move on.


Tip - If you are struggling with being happy with your business, take a day for yourself (be wholly unavailable to everyone) and look deep for the why. The answer might surprise you.


7. Most fear comes from "not knowing,"


Why are we afraid of the dark? It’s because we don’t know or can’t see what monsters are lurking around. The moment the lights are switched on, the fear is gone. The monsters may still be there, but now we can see our enemies. Business is the same way; when a crisis strikes and we don’t have the ability to light our path, we are afraid of what might be. Especially with finances, having a clear set of tools to see the future removes the fear of the unknown and allows us the focus on solutions instead of expending enormous amounts of time and energy on the problems.


Tip - Write down all the unknowns in your business and work towards removing them. Power Pro Tip - see #4 on this list.


8. Money is only a tool - power comes from knowing how to use it properly,


Cash flows into and out of every business. For a business to be financially stable, you must generate more income than expenses over a long period of time. Dig a little deeper; why even have a business at all? What are your underlying goals, dreams, fear, and uncertainties? We are not in business to simply generate net income: there is almost always a bigger motivation. If used correctly, money is one of the primary tools we can use to achieve our goals.


Tip - Clearly define your non-monetary goals and think about how money factors into achieving those goals.


9. My Super Power is empowering others to achieve their dreams and goals,


After selling my first company, I went through a deep self-discovery class to clarify my purpose in life; after a 3-year journey through The Masters Program, I discovered who I really was, why I was here, and what makes me the happiest. It wasn’t money or prestige but working alongside visionaries and giving them a clear path to achieve their dreams.


Tip - Discover your superpower and lean into it; the return on happiness will be exponential.


10. And most importantly …. Everyone loves Budgeting.


Yeah… ok, so that's not exactly true, but some people do. As CFOs, the challenge is to know the audience and make the budgeting exercise relevant to them. Try changing your terminology, i.e., “Profit Plan, vs “Budget.” I think many business owners fear budgeting because they are afraid budgets constrain their growth efforts. A budget is a starting point, not a final destination; for that, I use Forecasting. Showing how today's decisions will affect tomorrow's ability to reach your goals has much more impact than “that wasn’t in the budget.”


Tip - If you don’t love or understand budgets, financial analysis, or cash flow forecasting, contact me and let’s see if we are a good fit.



- Cheers, Greg



If you need help understanding the numbers in your business, find me at ArcherCFO.com



TLDR:


Always be true to your Core Values,

🎯 Spend the time to discover your core values and implement them in every aspect of your business.


The only real way to be a leader is first to be a servant,

🎯 Learn what a servant leader is and the practical steps you can take to be one.


Never stop learning,

🎯 Allocate time and budget to learn about marketing, sales, people, operations, and finance.


Surround yourself with the right people who are experts at what they do,

🎯 Think about where you have the most impact, and hire the rest of the team. (maybe a Fractional CFO?)


Make sure your parachute is packed before you jump out of the airplane,

🎯 Surround yourself with an accountability team who aren’t “Yes” people and who will challenge your unique ideas; the results will be a more sustainable business.


Life is too short to hate your job (yeah, even if you own the business),

🎯 If you are struggling with being happy with your business, take a day for yourself (be wholly unavailable to everyone) and look deep for the why. The answer might surprise you.


Most fear comes from "not knowing,"

🎯 Write down all the unknowns in your business and work towards removing them. Power Pro Tip - see #4 on this list.


Money is only a tool - power comes from knowing how to use it properly,

🎯 Clearly define your non-monetary goals and think about how money factors into achieving those goals.


My Super Power is empowering others to achieve their dreams and goals,

🎯 Discover your superpower and lean into it; the return on happiness will be exponential.


And most importantly …. Everyone loves budgeting (NOT)

🎯 If you don’t love or understand budgets, financial analysis, or cash flow forecasting, contact me and let’s see if we are a good fit.

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