Today’s guest spent years as a vet, but she will surely provide tremendous value in the construction industry. In this episode, Dawn Bloomer, the founder of Productive PressureTM, shares her insights on structuring your deal team in acquiring businesses and how to remove yourself from the center of your business to position it at an advantage once you leave on purpose or by accident. She also explains that doing so will help improve your quality of life and increase your company’s value. But won’t your business collapse if you are not in your business? Well, this is a challenging conversation for most business owners that we must dive into. Let’s indulge ourselves in this conversation with Eric and Dawn to fortify our understanding of exit planning.
Dawn’s Restaurant Recommendation – MB Post: https://eatmbpost.com/
Buy Eric’s Book, Construction Genius: https://www.amazon.com/Construction-Genius-Effective-Hands-Leadership/dp/B0BKCQW11M
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Freedom! How To Remove Yourself From The Center Of Your Business With Dawn Bloomer
Improve Your Quality Of Life And Increase The Value Of Your Company
Dawn, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me, Eric.
My pleasure. You started your career as a vet. What influenced you to become a vet?
When I was six, we lived in England and I learned how to ride ponies. I remember there was a little pony we called Bay Pony with a white face. His name was Percy, and I fell in love with Percy. I decided right there and then that I was going to be a horse doctor when I grew up. I spent the next twenty-something years getting there.
Where did you live in England?
I was living in England. That’s interesting. How long were you in England?
Three years. I did the whole English girls’ school experience. For three years, I ate the banana custard. It’s funny, the things you remember that. I don’t need those anymore.
For the record, in English public schools, which means private schools, food is the worst.
There’s a lot of stuff I don’t remember from back then, but I remember that. That left a mark.
I went to a public school or a private school in England for about four years, and that is one of my deep memories, the dinner ladies and the garbage food.
I’m glad it wasn’t just me because I’m not that picky, but that stuff was bad.
That’s interesting because six is pretty young to be able to say, “I want to be a horse doctor.” When I was six, I wanted to be a pop star or a soccer player, but I’m neither of those. How did you pursue that through your youth and your teen years? What kept you focused on that?
It’s a good point because we also moved around quite a bit. My dad was a banker, and every time he got promoted, we moved. I’m originally from Canada. Our first international move was to England and then we moved back to Canada. We then moved to New York for five years and then back to Canada. Throughout all that, the horses for me were the constant. Wherever we moved to, I got involved in riding there. It’s funny you say that because I never thought about it. That’s a great question but that probably was the constant. That was the one thing because friends changed. Back in those days, we didn’t have email or instant messaging. I wasn’t a much better writer and long-distance calls were expensive. Staying in touch with friends was hard, but the horses were the constant for me.
It’s pretty interesting because your dad was a banker. What kind of a banker?
He ended up running a retail bank, but he was in an investment bank.
My dad was a bank manager as well. He was an entrepreneurial bank manager in England for Barclays Bank.
My dad worked for CIBC. It’s a Canadian bank, but it took him to all of the places. His dad was a branch manager so my dad started as a teller and then worked his way up after going to college and getting his MBA.
That’s classic. My dad did exactly the same thing. He started as a teller in a bank and worked his way up to being a bank manager.
That’s crazy. That’s awesome.
Tell us a little bit more about you getting into becoming a vet. Do you always focus on horses?
I did. There was a time during vet school when I thought for a hot minute that maybe I wanted to be a small animal surgeon because it was sexier. These small animal surgeons got to where the white coats. They seemed a lot more important than those of us who were spending half of our time with our arm up a horse’s program. We did have some appeal. I’m obviously exaggerating, but not entirely. We’re bringing a little fluffy in and you could be the hero.
I did consider, for a brief moment, switching and going into something like that. I always knew that I wanted to look after horses. That was my thing. We’re definitely in a minority. A lot less people are going to equine medicine for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s very physically demanding. The hours are constant. There is no, “It’s the weekend, there’s an emergency clinic.” Most of us didn’t have that luxury. It was a tough path, but it’s what I always wanted to do so I went after it, full on.
What’s the one thing that people get wrong about horses the most?
First of all, some people think they’re big, strong, and almost scary. They can be. You have to learn how to work around them, but as big and strong as they are, they’re actually very fragile. It’s amazing compared to cows. You can pretty much do anything to a cow. When they get something stuck in them, they create an abscess and wall it off. If a horse gets something stuck in them, they get an infection and they’ll try to die. It doesn’t take much to tip the bucket for a horse. It’s interesting that they look so big and strong, and they are, but they’re also delicate. You think about a 1,000-pound body on those silly little legs and then they get around on it. It doesn’t even seem right.
You worked with racehorses. Is that correct?
I did. I had a niche within a niche. I worked with thoroughbred racehorses.
How did you get specifically into thoroughbred racehorses?
When I lived in Canada and I was applying to vet school, I went and did an externship because it wasn’t invented at that time. I went to work with a veterinarian on the race track. It was so much fun. We got to go to one place mostly. We’re driving around at different places all day so we got to see and do a lot. There was something about the athleticism and the challenge of helping them get fit enough to perform at a high level without having anything happen to them. That whole thing about these little legs and the 1,000 pounds running around a little oval was fun.
The people who worked there are down-to-earth. People who spend their whole time looking after horses are, for the most part, pretty wholesome people. They mostly do it because they love it. It certainly isn’t for the money because most of them are not making a lot of money. I felt I was in my element. I got to do all the stuff I wanted to do and I got to do it with people who seemed to care about the well-being of the horse. It sounds a little corny, but the people were cool so I enjoyed it.
Did you build a business as a vet?
I was fortunate that when I came into the practice that I ended up buying into, it was already a well-established practice so I didn’t have to do this start from scratch thing. What I did is I bought into a three-owner practice. I became the fourth. I became a quarter partner. I was the 1 woman in the 4-men group. From there, we had a partner that went out on disability and then we had another one who decided he wanted to semi-retire. We then started thinking, “What do we do now?” It’s because we found that there’s a new generation of veterinarians who are, even if they want to buy into a practice, struggling because they have such high student debt. We had to start getting a little more creative about what would an exit look like for us.
I want to make one note because you said something earlier that’s important. You had that externship or that internship and I know contractors do those all the time with their people. They offer them all the time and it’s interesting how that one externship hooked you.
It’s one of the reasons why any young person I’m talking to in any field is looking for some sage piece of wisdom. For me, it’s going to have those experiences and for employers, offer them and offer them as early as you can, earlier than you think might be prudent because it’s amazing how it can either help someone rule in or rule out that as a possibility. It literally can change the trajectory of your life and career.
My first son graduated from high school and he spent the summer in an internship with an electrical contractor working in their prefab shop. That was totally cool for him.
That’s why I think that mentorship and internships, if you want to talk about paying it forward, are the things that can help. It keeps things going.
As you were a vet then, did you do those internships with other aspiring veterinarians?
Yes. I often had students come and ride with me. I also spent some time going and talking to some students and then staying in touch with them and trying to be a resource for them. It’s because there were so many people along the way who did that for me that if they hadn’t, I would never have ended up where I was. I feel strongly about trying to give that back.
How did you transition from being a vet to what you’re doing now?
Our practice got to the point where we had two partners and we were trying to figure out what was next for our business and for us personally. Back in the mid-2000s, I had seen the writing on the wall after a way the economy started to get a little tricky. We had always done a good job of making money by putting our heads down and working harder. We were not really business people. Fortunately, the founding partner of our practice had set things up pretty well and while business was good, we were quite profitable. It didn’t take a lot of effort, but then as the economy started to change, we had some changes in our regulatory structure. That change made us think about what we could do and how much we could do in certain instances.
It changed our top line. It was no longer a thing where we could work harder, bill more, and make more money. We came to realize that as veterinarians, we were well-trained in our profession. We never learned about business in school. This was all stuff that we were figuring out as we went along. I think we have a little bit of ego and probably thought that we could figure it out. I realized that wasn’t going to work for us anymore. What we were doing that had gotten as far as we had was not going to work anymore. I went back and got my MBA and that helped.
We were fortunate that we knew some people who were in this big group of all different types of practices across the US and they invited us to merge our practice with theirs. When we did that, they invited me to be part of the deal team. We were out looking for other practices to acquire. I loved it. It was fun. I realized that I had a strong interest in that. At that point, it already been doing a lot more managerial stuff and business-related functions than I was practicing medicine. We grew this practice to the point that we did pretty well in COVID.
In mid-COVID, we were approached by a much bigger aggregator that acquired us. At that point, they didn’t need us to do the things that we were doing because they had their own infrastructure. I decided that I wasn’t interested in continuing to practice medicine for a variety of reasons, mostly because I wasn’t doing as much anymore anyway so I broke off and decided to move into consulting. I use all the things that I’ve done wrong and learned along the way to help other people.
To be clear here. You had a small practice that was then purchased by a larger practice, which was then purchased by an aggregator. Did I hear that correctly?
Yes. We were small as far as people. We’re about 10 or 12 people. We merged/acquired by a medium-sized group and then that was acquired by a larger group.
That medium-sized group that you were involved, were you involved in a deal team? Did I hear that correctly?
They invited me to be part of their deal team. We were actively reaching out to practices and marketing to practices. We’re trying to find the right fit practices to join our group so we can grow.
Let’s talk about that deal team. I know one of the ways that construction companies grow is by acquiring and getting acquired and all that stuff. Why were you brought onto the deal team? Why did they say, “We want you guys to join that?”
Part of it was because, during our transaction, when our practice was joining the group, I had expressed a lot of interest in the process and I had been very involved in the process. Also, I brought to light some challenges with the way the process was happening. They had a very proprietary way of bringing practices in. The way that they were structuring their deals was different than the way a lot of people were doing them. It was complicated. What I found was that even though I thought I was pretty clear on what they were telling us and I’d asked a lot of great questions, when we got to the other side of the transaction, I realized that there were a lot of things that were not how I had understood them to be. I was very proactive about wanting to be part of making sure that those communications were correct.
Bringing the right people in, you don’t want to bring into a business and then have them realize after the fact that things are not as they appeared. There was nothing nefarious about it. It was that our understanding and their understanding were not the same. It all worked out but what I was excited about doing was being part of that process so that we could refine it and get better at it and make sure that the practices were bringing in understood what they were getting into. This is the thing. It sounds like you get bought and sold.
Every single deal is so different. Every type of transaction is different. The players are different and all of that stuff is important to how things turn out on the other side. The money, the deal, the dollars, and the sense of it all, to me, are the icing on the cake. The reality is when you’ve built a business or you’re building a business and you’re trying to expand, you want to make sure that it doesn’t go south because you made a bad choice or you didn’t have all the information. I think they asked me partly because I was super interested and very proactive about wanting to make it better.
Let’s talk about this deal team in a little more detail. What are some general principles that you can take from your specific experience in the vet field when putting together a deal team and when going out to acquire other companies?
First of all, if it’s possible, it’s nice to have a team of people who have different skills and approaches. I say that because if everybody looks at the deal or the practices the same way and everybody has the same perspective, then oftentimes, there’s stuff that gets missed or you end up with a group thing situation. It’s helpful when you can have people with different perspectives to bounce ideas off of. Let’s say you find a business that you think is ideal. You’re like, “I’m excited about this.”To have a team of people with different skills and approaches is nice. Because if everybody looks at the deal or the practices the same way with the same perspective, then, there's mostly stuff that gets missed. Click To Tweet
You got so excited about it that you didn’t notice that there was this and this going on and somebody else can pick up on that. It’s important to stay in your lane. I like to bring in someone who is good at crunching the numbers. I love looking at the numbers. The crunching and analyzing them are not my cup of tea so having people who are good at the different parts of the deal is important.
It’s interesting because you have two things there. One is different perspectives but the other one is different skills. Am I hearing that?
When you’re putting together a deal team, I understand someone who’s good at crunching the numbers, what are some essential components for that team that are going to help to increase the success of any transactions you get into? We’ve got the number cruncher. Who else do we need on that team?
You need someone who is a financial person. It could be your CPA. You need a legal person. Someone who knew not only the legalities of the deal but any regulatory concerns. There might be someone who has specific knowledge about the type of transaction that you’re getting into. Someone who is familiar with the way the business is run and how that’s going to integrate post-acquisition with your business. It’s because one place where these things fall apart is that post-deal integration piece.
You know what’s going to happen but actually being proactive about it, it’s something that needs to be managed. I believe on both sides beforehand because you have to have an understanding going into it of what to expect. Otherwise, it’s getting slapped in the face. You’ll be like, “We’ve been doing it this way for twenty years, and now you’re telling me that we can’t do that. What does that mean?” Sometimes, it was a deal breaker up front then have someone come in and you’re jamming a square peg into around the hole.
Is that where some of those communication issues came in that you were alluding to earlier?
To me, the communication piece is a big deal. Sugar-coating it from my perspective as a buyer or a seller is not helpful and being clear about what’s going to happen on the other side beforehand. I’m not saying make it sound terrible but be honest about what the changes are. If you need to spend time understanding how the businesses run right now or you’re going to acquire a business, understand how it’s run now, how that will be different when they become a part of your organization, and be very clear in communication whether it’s written or verbal.
What happens, as you know, is you have a conversation and you hear what you want to hear. I used to spend a lot of time on a number of our transactions. I became a liaison where I would spend time talking to both sides, even though I was on one side, making sure that they understood and asking a lot of questions like coaching things. I would ask a lot of questions to make sure they were very clear on what it was we were proposing would look on the other side.
As we’re putting this deal team together, you’ve got your financial person, your legal person, and someone who understands how the integration is going to help or work after the acquisition, and then someone like yourself who can be the liaison between the two parties. That’s interesting because if you’re part of the deal team that’s purchasing, then you have certain interests in mind, whereas the other party may have other interests in mind. Is that right?
It’s true and that’s where it gets a little tricky. If you are on one side or the other and you’re filling that role, ideally, you’d have someone who is a complete third party, but the reality is that’s not very practical. Normally, you’re going to be on one side or the other in a role like mine. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make an effort to be somewhat objective. When it comes to something that’s going to change the outcome of the deal for both sides, it behooves you. Make sure that the agreements about how things are going to go are clearly understood by both.
Is it hard to do it if you’re representing one side? Sure. I’m not saying that during the deal, you’re going to spill your whole hand right at the beginning. As you’re working it out and deciding, “Is this the right fit?” it matters. The other thing that we didn’t talk about is another person who is important in these types of deals. It is someone like an M&A advisor who can tell you what’s the current environment in the market. Are you getting a good deal? Some people like to work with a broker.
Some people like to work with an M&A banker. It depends on what transaction you’re doing or what X that you’re looking for. Certainly, we found in our group that it helped to have someone who was almost quarterbacking the thing and making sure everyone was talking the same language. Everybody has the same ideas and everything that’s happening is lining up with that. The other thing is oftentimes, we have great intentions. It’s not that anybody is trying to screw anybody, pardon the phrase, but it’s that they didn’t check the right box so the correct line didn’t get written in the contract.
Let me ask you this. If you don’t have an example, it’s fine. Think about an example of where you were going down the path to an acquisition, everything was looking good, and then all of a sudden, something came up where you said, “This deal is off. We’re not doing this deal.”
That does happen. This is a common one. Everything looked good on paper. The numbers looked good and then we started having more conversations with the actual people involved, we came to realize that they were who they said they were as people, and the cultural fit wasn’t there. The numbers look great. It. They’re making a lot of money. They ran a pretty good ship but their people were unhappy and they were not nice people. At the end of the day, there may be an instance where you’re okay bringing in a business with people who aren’t nice people but we didn’t roll that way. We were very serious about cultural fit. That’s one where we would shut it down.
When you did these acquisitions, would you keep the former owners in place?
Yes. Almost always.
Why did you choose that rather than, “We’ve bought you. See you guys later?”
Frankly, in professional service companies and a lot of service companies, the owner ends up being the center of the business. That’s one of the things that is important to keep in mind. Most of them would have a contract to stay on for a period of time, at least long enough to transfer their goodwill to whomever they were leaving behind first. There were some people who were ready to retire and they’d already done that part and then they could leave, but most of the time, it involves someone staying on for a little bit longer to make sure that the transition went well. Not always is everyone below you excited about the change. It’s important to have someone who is motivated to keep things going well and make sure that it still runs.
It’s interesting because you use that phrase, the center of the business. I know in construction, that’s often the case, even with extremely large companies. The reason why it’s grown so large and it’s very successful is because of the guy or the gal who started the business and running the business. One of the big challenges that a lot of construction companies have is that the owner is the center of the business. Your conviction is that one of the things owners need to get good at is removing themselves from the center of the business. Why is that? Why do you think? I love being the center of the business, why should I remove myself from that center?
There are a couple of reasons. First of all, whether you are thinking of exiting your business now or 10 or 20 years from now, at some point, you’re going to leave either on purpose or by accident. There are things that happen. There’s death, disability, or divorce. There are all these things that can happen to you that can involuntarily remove you from your business. The challenge with you being in the center of your business is that everyone depends on you and when you’re not there, what happens? That’s number one. Number one is at some point, you’re going to leave. It would be a lot better if you knew that your business was stable, whether you were there or not. Number two is the quality of life issue.
If you are the center of your business and you are always the most important or responsible person in the room, how do you take any time off? I get it. For me for a long time, working 24/7, 6 to 7 days a week, it was exciting and I loved it. At some point, I started to realize that my values had shifted and Now, what I wanted to do was have more time to spend with my family and kids, travel, and have some fun and adventure. I was making all this money but I didn’t have any time to spend it. They didn’t have any energy to spend it.
I’m at the point where I was trashed all the time. There’s that piece of it too. The other thing is that if you are the center of your business, your business will never be as valuable as it is if you’re not. I feel like there are so many good reasons to do it. The reason I think a lot of us don’t do it when we’re in the thick of it is because one, when you’re in the center of your business, you are usually too busy to think, “How the hell do I not be in the center of it anymore?” Number two is it’s scary to think that the business might be okay without you.If you are the center of your business, your business will never be as valuable as it is. Click To Tweet
It’s like, “If it doesn’t need me, then who am I?” At the end of the day, the bigger problem is, “Who am I if I am not the most important person in the room?” I’m not saying that we sit around thinking about it. I think that it’s in here and it’s hard to let go of. I get it. I did it. Even when I pivoted to a different career, it was like, “For all those years, from the time I was six, I wanted to be a horse doctor. Now who am I?” That piece is hard. It’s not something that’s comfortable to talk about but it’s important.
I want to make a note of that one phrase. Who am I if I’m not the most important person in the room? That’s important for business owners to think about. It doesn’t have to do with necessarily finding your identity outside of your business but it has to do with the health of your business. This idea that you had at the end that if you’re at the center of the business your company is not as valuable as it could be or as productive perhaps as it could be.
It’s interesting because I talk a lot about delegating but this piece goes beyond delegating. Delegating is the first step because it frees you up some bandwidth. We could talk about delegating for a whole hour because that’s hard in and of itself. It’s wrapping your mind around the idea that you can still be valuable and important without being the center of the whole thing without everything depending on you.
Let’s pursue this then. I’d like to talk about how you can remove yourself from the center and you use the word delegating. Let’s dive into it because I know this is a tremendously important aspect of what we’re talking about. What do you mean by delegating?
Delegating has a lot of levels. To me, the big thing about delegation is sometimes people set themselves up for failure with delegation because they’re like, “I can get so-and-so to do this.” They then tell so-and-so, “Go do this.” They don’t give them the resources and the training and they delegate and abdicate responsibility. It’s this idea that if you want to delegate well, ideally, you want to find the right person for the thing. First of all, what do you delegate? I have had a lot of conversations with business owners about behaving as an owner rather than an employee because they spend a lot of time doing things that employees could do.
It’s because they think they can do them better and faster. That whole idea of, “I can get it done and then it’ll be done.” Yes, then you’re doing twenty of those things and then you don’t have any time to do any of the high-level stuff. It’s one of the reasons why we don’t spend enough time working on our business. We spend too much working on it. When delegating, first of all, pick the right things to delegate it. Anything that is not you adding value at your level should be done by somebody else.
“You’re not adding value at your level.” Tell me what you mean by that specifically.
I struggle a little bit with talking about pay grades because I feel that sounds a little demeaning to the people in the lower pay grades. At the end of the day, if you’re not adding value in a way that only you can add value, then you should be letting someone else do that. For example, when I was running our business, I used to spend a lot of time in QuickBooks adjusting transactions and looking at reports. The problem was I was good at it but it exhausted me because it wasn’t fun for me. We got a bookkeeper that was a level above the one we had and I didn’t have to check everything she was doing.
She did all that and she was good at it. It freed me up all this time to look at our forecast and budget and make decisions based on that. I was paying her a lot less than what I could bill out doing my work and it freed me up time to do even higher-level work than what I was doing when I was billing. My higher-level work was strategy and making new plans. It’s this idea that I want people to add value where they should be adding value.
I understand where you’re coming from. It’s important. One of the frameworks I use with my clients all the time is this idea of your aspirational hourly rate. If you’re the owner of a construction company, that hourly rate probably should be around $500 at least. What you can think about as you are going about your day is how many of my tasks that I’m doing hit that aspirational hourly rate. If it doesn’t hit that rate, then I seriously need to think about delegating that.
I heard you talk about that on one of your episodes and I was like, “That is a good way of putting it.” The other thing that it does is when you think of that high hourly rate, you realize that if you are operating at that high hourly rate, you shouldn’t need to work as many hours either. The idea isn’t to figure out how you can jam more hours in the day at that hourly rate. The idea is to keep feeding the things that are not at your level to people below you so that they can keep adding value and you can keep expanding.
One of the challenges that some owners have is that the tasks that are below their hourly rate, they actually enjoy doing. They feel productive as they’re doing them.
It’s almost like productive procrastination. You’re procrastinating during the stuff that’s important. You’re getting stuff done so you’re like, “Look at me. I got all this stuff and I checked this whole list.” I catch myself doing that. Sometimes, it’s low-hanging fruit, “I can do that,” then I’ll feel I did something but I didn’t move the needle. It’s that idea of getting up to the point where you’re looking at the 30,000-foot view of your business and your life and what you want out of it rather than getting caught up in the weeds. It’s hard because it involves a certain amount of trust in the people that you’re delegating to.
For me, delegating is about describing the outcome you want and less so the process. Dan Pink talks about motivation. People are more motivated when they have autonomy, mastery, and purpose. If you can delegate in a way where you give them some autonomy over the way they do the task, you can explain to them clearly the purpose of what they’re doing, and give them resources so that they can get good at it, the person you’re delegating to is going to benefit as well.
What’s the difference between delegation and abdication? You use that word.
To me, abdication is when you tell someone, “Do this,” and then you never follow up with them to say, “Do you have the right resources? Are you hitting any stumbling blocks?” Maybe you’ve given something to someone you always did. Now the people that normally would have been interacting with you or having to interact with somebody else and that’s making them upset, they’re putting roadblocks. If you tell them to do it and then you never follow up and you never check back in, to me, that’s abdicating. That means that you said, “You do this and I’m not involved anymore.” That’s not good leadership.
Another thing is sometimes leaders are good at doing a particular task but they don’t understand why they’re good at doing it. They do it unconsciously.
It’s true. That’s why sometimes it’s hard for them to teach someone else how to do it too. It’s because they don’t know how they did it so well or they’ve done it for so long, they can’t explain the process. Not everybody is a teacher. I learned that the hard way along the way too. Not everyone can explain what they do well. That’s why I think often that it’s better to give someone else the outcome that you want. Give them some guidelines and then let them figure out the best way that works for them, especially if you’re not that good at telling them why this way works for you. Sometimes, they have a better way. Often, they have a better way.It's better to give someone else the outcome you want, give them some guidelines, and then let them figure out the best way for them. Click To Tweet
How can someone who is a high performer overcome their reluctance to delegate because of their perfectionism?
I’ve struggled with this a lot. Coming from an industry, not like construction, the details matter. You actually have to do the thing well and right or bad things can happen. It makes it easy to get up and caught up in that perfectionism thing but at the end of the day, is it good enough? I’m not saying that you should do a bad job, but is it good enough that the end user is happy with it? That’s the litmus test. Assuming the end user is your client or your customer. Is it good enough that they’re happy? Me spending an extra two hours messing with something to make what I think is perfect. It probably doesn’t make any difference at the end of the day to the person at the other end who’s receiving it.
Right there again is another key principle. Is it good enough? What is good enough is the end user is the customer, and then that requires you again to lay aside your ego a little bit.
The ego gets in the way again. I have to tell you. When I got into consulting, I thought this was all going to be about numbers, processes, systems, and things. At the end of the day, 80% of it is mindset. It’s changing the way you think about things. That was one of the things that I enjoyed. It was surprising because a lot of the reasons that people don’t do things in an efficient way or in an effective way is because they can’t wrap their minds around it.
Tell us a little bit more about your business and what you’re doing currently.
Right now, I spend my time mostly helping people remove themselves from the center of their business so that they can have a more valuable business now, not in the future. I talked quite a bit about exit planning only because I think it’s a good vehicle for improving your business strategy. Let’s face it. A business that someone else would buy is probably a business you’d like to run because the buyer wants a business that’s well-run and doesn’t require you to be in the middle of it. If you can work toward that goal, then you’re helping yourself in the present and you’re helping your future self at the end of the day.
What is your ideal client?
I have two pieces to that. Professional services are where I’ve been focused. My ideal client would be someone in the services industry who is already successful in doing the thing but can’t figure out how to get out of their own way. They can’t take a week off or a month off because they feel like everything will fall apart. They don’t have a plan for the future. They don’t know what’s next or maybe they have some idea but they have no idea how to get there. Those are the people that I enjoy working with because they’re invariably high achievers and action-oriented.
They may not know what they want, but once they figure it out, they’re prepared to take action. Here’s the thing. I can talk strategy, planning, and all these things until I’m blue in the face but without execution, none of it matters. It’s all a novel. If you can’t step up and do the things that you need to do to make it happen, then it’s pointless. I love to work with people who are interested in making things work better now and building value for the future.
When you’re working with one of your clients, what is your favorite question to ask them?
One of my favorite questions to ask them at the beginning is, what’s their vision for themselves personally? We spend a lot of time focusing on our business. We spend a lot of time talking about what’s good for the business and what we need for the business. At the end of the day, my belief is that the business should be supporting our life. We pour our hearts and souls, blood, sweat, and tears into our business.
It should support the rest of our life. I feel like the first place to start is, what do you want? What’s in this for you? Even when it comes to an exit strategy, valuing your business, and all those things, if you don’t have a plan for what’s next, even if it’s in ten years, if you don’t have some sense of what your ultimate goal is, then it’s not going to feel good. I think it’s about 75% of owners who sell their business regret it within a year afterward.
Why is that?
It’s because they didn’t plan for what was next. Now, they don’t have their business or even if they’re still working at it, it’s not the same as it was. Their cashflow isn’t the same. Even if they got a chunk of money in the bank, it feels different when you don’t have that paycheck coming in and control over how much of the profits are flowing to you. There’s that piece of it and then it’s like, “What’s next?” For some people, it’s easy. Some people are serial entrepreneurs so they’re like, “I can’t wait to get rid of this one to move on to the next one.” Some people are happy to retire and play golf. A lot of people think they’d be happy retiring and sitting on a beach in Bali and then six months later, they’re like, “What am I doing?”
How often do you find that people are unclear when you ask them that question about their vision for themselves?
Why do you think that is?
It’s because we don’t take the time to stop and think about it. Most of the time, we don’t have time or we don’t find time. One of the things that I encourage people to do even if I’m not working with them is set aside an hour a week for thinking time. When I say thinking time, I mean thinking about the possibilities of not trying to solve problems. This is an hour dedicated to, “What are the possibilities? What could happen?” I had a mentor who had me do that late in my career. I wish I’d started it earlier. At that time, I said, “I don’t have time to eat lunch. I’m going to find time.” I was resistant.Set aside an hour a week for thinking time. To think about the possibilities, not trying to solve problems. Click To Tweet
I was like, “I can barely find time to go to the bathroom. How am I going to spend an hour thinking? Are you crazy? I think all the time,” but he made me pick a time and then he would call me at the end of the hour for fifteen minutes to make sure I did it. He held me accountable and I will tell you that the better I got at it, the more it changed the game for me. Otherwise, I don’t know that I ever would have left. I probably would have kept working at what I was doing until I couldn’t because I wouldn’t even take the time to think about what else I could.
That’s a nice little takeaway there. Take an hour every week and think about the future without any specific agenda. I like that a lot. Dawn, tell us a little bit more about how people can get in touch with you.
The easy way is to go to my website, ProductivePressure.com. I’m mostly on LinkedIn. I try to check my LinkedIn fairly often. Social media for me is a necessary evil. It’s the things we do for our business. People could find me magically. It would be terrific. My website has all my contact info, some blogs, articles, and some more resources. I like to share some.
The last question. I know you’re down in Manhattan Beach, California. Give us your one restaurant recommendation when we’re in Los Angeles.
We have so many great restaurants, but I’ve had to pick one. I would say MB Post for their cheddar baking biscuits.
Magic words, cheddar and bacon.
To tell you, they’re this big and they’re warm. They serve them with honey butter. You die for it.
I think it’s where the post office used to be for a long time. Those biscuits, they even kept making them through COVID so we could order them and pick them up. It was great.
Dawn, I appreciate you joining us here on the show and I do wish you the best.
Thanks, Eric. Same to you. Take care.
Before you bounce away, I want to thank you for reading this episode. Feel free to reach out to Dawn on her website. Connect with her on LinkedIn as well. Quick reminder, if you like Construction Genius, I would appreciate it if you could give us a rating and a review wherever you get your podcasts. The more reviews we get, the more the show is seen across the interwebs, and the more people can benefit from reading these killer interviews. Thanks again and I’m going to catch you on the next episode.
- LinkedIn – Dawn Bloomer
- MB Post
About Dawn Bloomer
Dawn is the founder of “Productive PressureTM” a philosophy and method that masterfully balances the drive for success with a safeguard against burnout. Her experiences in nurturing her veterinary practice, spearheading growth, fostering strategic alliances, and orchestrating its successful acquisition by a large aggregator, have fortified her with an understanding of the intricate dynamics of business expansion and exit planning.