TMBA544: Should You Hire a General Manager?

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In our book Before the Exit, we reflected on some ‘thought experiments’ that we wished we had run before we sold our business in 2015.

One of those was called ‘The Mediocre CEO Test’, which questioned whether it is smarter, and ultimately more profitable, to hire someone to run your business than to sell it.

Today’s guest did just that.

JP Ji is the founder of Pro Teeth Guard, an eCommerce business that manufactures custom dental mouth guards.

When JP decided to shift his focus away from Pro Teeth Guard, he chose to hire a General Manager to take over the day-day-day operations of the business.

In today’s podcast, you’ll hear why JP made that decision, the challenges of finding the right candidate, and how it’s worked out just over 12 months later.

See the full transcript below

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • What kind of traits JP was looking for in a general manager. (5:32)
  • Why JP believes it’s impossible to hire the perfect person to run your company. (12:41)
  • Some of the challenges of letting a General Manager take control of your business. (21:02)
  • How long the General Manager worked for JP and why they ultimately parted ways. (27:18)
  • How the Coronavirus has affected JP’s business and why he is excited about the future. (31:24)

 

Mentioned in the episode:

Before the Exit – Our New Book
TMBA Masterminds
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Dynamite Jobs
Dynamite Deals
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Pro Teeth Guard
ProTeethGuard.com/Frontline
Udemy
Who by Geoff Smart
Finish Big by Bo Burlingham
Traction by Gino Wickman

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

TMBA432: Finish Big – A Conversation with Bo Burlingham
TMBA490: The Six-Figure Slump
TMBA532: The Middle Game

 

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Have comments about the show?

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian

 

 


 

Full Transcript

JP: We ended up I think spending probably a gently used Honda Civic I think. That amount of money on this channel that ended up not being profitable or did not return any positive ROI for us. That was kind of a big blow to the business for sure.

 

Dan: Welcome back to the pod shop, the TMBA pod. Happy Thursday morning, everybody. I got the Bossman on hand. Welcome back to the show Bossman.

Ian: Hey, what’s going on?

Dan: And welcome to everybody out there. We love doing this podcast because we love bringing stories like today’s. This is legit. This is what happens inside the trials and tribulations, the successes and the risks that we all take on to grow location independent businesses.

One of the things I’m so happy that our guests do on the show is that they come on and they provide their experience with their peers. And that I know that’s something that today’s guest also values.

JP: I mean I’ve thought about this as well as an entrepreneur. If you have a consumer brand, it’s great to get on podcasts and talk about your brand because that raises awareness. That’s a marketing ploy, right? If you want to do that, that’s fine. But when you do that and you also give advice on how to start a startup or how to run your business. That advice doesn’t come from a point of, “Hey, we’re trying to help entrepreneurs.” It comes from a point of, “Hey, I’m trying to talk about my brand so I want to get on as many podcasts as possible.”

My pet peeve, I actually thought about starting a blog like this or something like that is advice from failed founders like before they knew they were failing because there are so many companies, for example, I was just talking to a friend about this ‘Outdoor Voices’, I listened to one of the podcasts, it sounded great. This young founder with all of this vision and built this million, multi-million dollar business. Guess what? Two months later, turns out their company was losing millions of dollars and the founder was ousted. That must have been going on when she was going out and talking about it. How can you look at yourself in the mirror as an entrepreneur to give advice to other entrepreneurs when you really have no grasp of what’s going on in your own business?

Dan: So that’s the voice of JP Ji, and JP has been a member of our community, the DC for over eight years now. It’s crazy how long we’ve been on this journey Bossman. And he also contributes a lot in our online forum. And JP is a particular favourite of ours because he is a straight shooter.

Ian: Straight shooter and also could be a rapper with that name. Love that name, it just flows right out. If you want to start a record label or anything like that, you could just call it ‘JPG’.

Dan: One of my all time favourite shout outs. And speaking of rap I loved it that JP ‘shouted out’ our book ‘Before the Exit from the stage. He gave this really great talk last year at DC Austin. And it was about this concept, this experiment he was running, which was taken from the book in part, there is a thought experiment, again, the book is called ‘Before the Exit’. It’s designed for entrepreneurs to think about the prospect of what they’re building and what their exit might one day look like.

And one of the reasons so many of us think about one day exiting our businesses is that we get sick of the day to day grind. And we say, ‘Look, I’m just going to cash out of this thing, free up some mental space’. And one of the thought experiments we run in this book is called ‘the mediocre CEO test’. And the idea is just simply this: imagine, you know, everybody wants to hire great people, of course, but say you go out and you kind of biff the hiring job, and someone mediocre shows up and you got to pay them and so half of your net profit goes away, right away.

If you just do the simple math on it, it might take you six years to recover what you would make in a sale because typically, in a sale, you get three years of profit extended to you. But the thing about ‘the mediocre CEO’ test is that you’d still have ownership of that asset. I’m not saying it’s Shakespeare, it’s just a book, right? It’s it’s, it’s a thought experiment. It’s something to toss around at a cocktail party with entrepreneurial friends, you know, ‘Would you rather exit your business or experiment with this idea of putting a general manager in place?’ I gotta say the term ‘mediocre’ is just a fun thing for the book and, in this conversation, JP and I use the term General Manager which is much more apt.

Ian: Won’t be making that mistake again will you Dan?

Dan: (laughs) So, like we mentioned, JP gave a talk about this last year and today just over a year on, he’s going to share the results of a very similar type of experiment, something we all fantasise and work towards which is growing a business that’s big enough to eventually have someone else run it and I just want to give JP a huge shout out for willing to be so honest with us because it’s instructive in so many different ways as you’ll hear:

Music

JP: My name is JP and I’m an ecommerce entrepreneur. So, we have a direct-to-consumer brand called Pro Teeth Guard that sells a very niche product. We sell custom fitted dental mouth guards for people who grind their teeth when they sleep mainly. Essentially, there were a few considerations and what we went out to do was to try to hire the best CEO that we could afford and have them run the business. A bit of context, before this ecommerce business, Pro Teeth Guard, I actually had another ecommerce business that I started way, way, way back in the day. I think in 2008. So, well over a decade ago now called topcondomscanada.com. I started it with a high school buddy of mine. We had just read ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’.

Dan: We have to become condom tycoons.

JP: Right. The important part about that business is we both moved on to focus on other larger opportunities, and what we saw in that business is as we let it coast, the revenue declined. Today, it’s probably doing about 50% of the revenue that it did at its peak. Probably less than that. So I didn’t want that to happen to ‘Pro Teeth Guard’ because we were already a seven-figure ecommerce business and quite profitable.

I didn’t want to sell it either because I really saw the long-term potential. I think it’s a business that over time would actually just grow better, grow the customer base and really establish itself as a brand. We can even see this in the Google search trends, not trends necessarily but the search volume for a brand term keeps increasing.

Dan: Why not just keep being the boss? Why not just keep being the CEO?

JP: That’s another thing as well. I think this is the problem that you’ve talked about before as well, called ‘the middle game’. I really like that term. It’s that stage in entrepreneurship where you have enough success that you’re not just madly scrambling for survival and you have a little bit more perspective to think, to really reflect and look at what you want to do, right? Is it just to make money? For most people it’s never about just making money.

For me, personally, once I did that exercise of reflecting and finding out and really asking myself deeply what I want to work on, I realized most of the ideas that I’m most excited about are technology ideas or technology companies. The only reason I haven’t built a technology company was I don’t know how to code and I don’t know anyone who would want to be my co-founder. So, I decided essentially to let the ecommerce business ‘Pro Teeth Guard’ kind of run on its own and go out and learn to code and actually work as a full-time software engineer at a start-up in San Francisco to really pick up that skill set.

Dan: I have to ask you a sidebar here JP, a completely tangential thing to the story. How hard is it to become a coder?

JP: It’s not easy. I basically spent about three months studying on my own, and then I went to one of these coding boot camps, which was another three full-time months. These were very intense months. They were 6 days a week, 10 hours a day kind of thing. Then, after that I did a job hunt for about two, three months and landed a full-time gig at a start-up.

Dan: You went from ‘I know about computers’ to getting a job at a start-up in nine months?

JP: That’s about right. I want to put a bit of a caveat. I went through this in 2012 when there were not as many boot camps available and there was a lot of demand. It was definitely a better environment for code boot camp grads. I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about this right now to look into the job market a bit more because I know it’s gotten a lot more competitive for code boot camp grads because there are so many more of them now.

The difficult part about coding is and I see this a lot as people are like, “Oh, I’m going to learn some code. I’m going to go learn Python and do a tutorial on Udemy,” or something like that. That’s great. Learning the syntax of code is the simple part. The hard part about coding is knowing all of the different parts that make a software run. Personally, I’m only experienced in web development. So, there’s just so many moving parts. Just an example, there’s the browser side. We call that the client side. You got the server side, you got the database, but then there’s even more, right? How do you deploy it?

You don’t just write code and say, “Hey, put it on the internet.” There’s an entire thing, there are tools that make it easier. For example, Heroku makes deployment quite simple but that’s something you need to know as well. So, how to manage your servers, not just the code that runs on the servers but the server’s themselves and all of these things all come together to make an application work and to do that on your own, you have to be a very, very, very determined person because it’s frustrating. Learning all of these things every single step is frustrating.

Dan: Part of the reason I’m asking, JP, is because a lot of entrepreneurs including myself have fantasized or thought about doing exactly what you did. Was it worth it to go off and learn to code?

JP: Definitely. The third part that would make this easier if you have an inherent interest in it because coding is a very, for me, it’s a flow activity. Meaning that I can get lost in it, it’s super engaging, it’s challenging but not to the point that it’s too challenging. I think first of all, you have to like it. But given that if you do like it, the ability to build useful things is just incredible with code in the modern world.

I’m right now working on a software company with a co-founder who’s also technical. He was actually the CTO of a startup I worked for in San Francisco and, A, I would never have found him had I not learned to code because the funny thing about finding co-founders or CTOs is if you code it’s a lot easier. Number two, I think to have two people that code who get together and try to build something, it’s kind of a superpower.

Dan: That makes sense. Let’s then zoom back to I think I really have a strong sense of you being in this middle game, this multi-year process of just a grind. You run a business that a lot of us run, JP, which is a small business. There’s only a handful of us there, a couple handfuls of us. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the type of person who’s going to come in and run that thing. Sometimes you got like scrappy entrepreneurs and freelancers, on the one hand, and then on the other hand, you got like corporate professional people, and then you got like the listeners of this podcast in the middle and there’s not that many of us. So, what kind of people were applying to run your company?

JP: Well, I’ll tell you who would be the perfect person for the job, who obviously we didn’t get, not because the person we got wasn’t good but because the perfect person is an impossible ideal. The perfect person to run a $1 million business with the goal of scaling it to a million is someone who has run a $1 million business and scaled it to 10 million. Well, guess what? That person is now head of a $10 million business. How are you supposed to compensate them properly to come run a $1 million business?

Dan: Yes.

JP: So what we have to do is we have to guess, we have to guess, “Hey, does this one person potentially have the potential?” Because they’ve definitely never done it before. Do they have the potential of taking this business and getting it from a million to 10 million? So, what we ended up doing was essentially just casting a wide net and trying to filter down and ask the right questions and actually my thoughts on hiring have changed a little bit since this experience and after reading the book ‘Who’, that’s W-H-O, which is a framework about hiring. Essentially I think a lot of hiring happens in a, “Hey, I need a person now” kind of process. “We need a CEO, let’s go out and put some job ads. Interview the top three candidates”.

Dan: That makes complete sense to me.

JP: I’m suggesting, because it’s such an important role and such an important relationship, it’s almost getting married. Would you say, “Hey, I kind of want to get married, let’s go date a couple of people, rank the top three candidates and just marry the top one?” No.

Dan: It wouldn’t be without precedent but no, I would not go that route.

JP: What I think we should have done and what everyone should do when they’re hiring a super important role is keep their eye open, get out there and interact and source candidates and really go through the entire process but never rush it.

Dan: It’s kind of like ABH, ‘always be hiring’ sort of thing.

JP: Exactly. Exactly, and only hire when you feel like this is a true fit.

Dan: It’s interesting. This is one of the takeaways from Bo Burlingham’s book and one I try to translate a little bit in ‘Before the Exit’, which is kind of crazy sauce but it’s like if you want a successor for your business that should be someone that you’re grooming like the moment you start the thing basically. You’re always grooming a successor. I think it’s an interesting process and potentially a fun one.

JP: Definitely something that I just haven’t really thought about. I think sometimes you have to go through a little bit of pain and kind of a couple of experiences for you to make some new realizations and learn things because I feel like we all learn better when we actually experience it rather than just read about it.

Dan: Well, I guess one of the implications of the general manager test or the mediocre CEO test is that more or less you’re going to be cutting your net profit in half in order to pay somebody else and that’ll be worth it because they’ll sustain the asset, right? You get paid back over six years, and then you still own the asset so it could even be quicker than that. In fact, the ‘mediocre CEO’ test if I were to rewrite it, I mean since you still own the asset this whole six year repayment thing is quite pessimistic in some ways, but I’m curious how did you decide what your budget was in terms of who you were going to hire?

JP: What happened was essentially I think we took about a third of the company’s profit to pay the general manager and part of that is also driven by the market, right? We wanted to have compensation that was competitive with the market and our offices in Southern California, San Diego. so it’s pretty competitive in terms of salary.

Dan: Do you mind sharing what the salary was?

JP: It was like close to six figures but not quite. We hired the best candidate that we could and I think he was a good candidate, good experiences on his resume that aligned with the business. We accomplished a lot actually. We worked together to accomplish and implement most of the ‘Traction’ book. We accomplished a couple of marketing initiatives. For example, listing additional products on Amazon that were adding incremental revenue.

What I realized was I, and this is the tough part of the middle game, this is unrelated to the general manager situation is, ‘the middle game’ is difficult because I think what ends up happening is people lose sight of what to focus on. They start chasing shiny objects and an example of that is for us, SEO was a large portion of our revenue and Google Ads contributed to our revenue significantly as well, and some email marketing. And when we had set up those things, our processes for those channels, we were a smaller business with less who invest in the business. So, maybe looking at the market, we were like maybe 60th percentile or 70th percentile.

What we should have done is taken all of our resources and invested in the channels that already make money to bring us up to 90th percentile, right? Then, invest in new channels like Facebook, which we’d never done before. So, what we did, the mistake that we made, and it’s a strategic mistake that I think as the owner and the visionary of the business I’m 100% responsible for is we kind of chase the shiny object as everyone was talking about how Facebook ads were making them so much money, and we got caught up in it.

The other mistake we did was instead of learning it in-house because if we had meant to make Facebook a very key channel, it would have been something we needed to be amazing at, we needed to do day in and day out and there was no cheap commodity like high-quality provider out there. All the good agencies are extremely expensive. We should have done it in-house if we were even going to attempt it as a new channel. Instead, we chased the shiny object and we outsourced it. We ended up spending what I like to say probably a gently used Honda Civic I think. That amount of money on this channel that ended up not being profitable or did not return any positive ROI for us. That was kind of a big blow to the business for sure.

Dan: On the one hand, you want a general manager to come in and be assertive and have a strong idea for how the business should go. On the other hand, what if you feel that on the surface that strategy is wrong?

JP: Yeah. That’s the tough part. I heard it mentioned at one of the, it’s kind of the EOS concept, the EOS ‘entrepreneur operating system’ framework presented in the Traction book is the idea of a visionary and integrator and visionary. So, the integrator kind of runs with all the ideas and executes and creates processes and manages but it’s up to the visionary to really drive things on a strategic level. I think I should have taken that responsibility as the visionary to set the high-level strategy. What do we outsource? What do in-house? What channels are we going to focus on and pursue given that I have all of this context of running the business and starting the business and knowing our customers for so many more years?

Dan: JP, I can relate to this situation so much and part of me has made this mistake many times in my career because there is something a bit relieving about offloading the responsibility for the vision. So, if like a consultant, an agency, another person or your GM has this really strong vision and part of you doesn’t agree with it because you have this intuition that’s been built up over five years and theirs is five months, there is this part of me that often succumbs to the, ‘Okay, on the one hand, I’ll trust them because that means there’s some abdication of burden there in my soul’. Like, “Okay. Well, I don’t have to die on my sword like look them down they’re sort of.” Then, there’s the other thing which is at some point, you have to trust somebody to maybe just do something that you don’t agree with?

JP: I can definitely relate to the abdication of responsibility. I think that was actually one of the things that drove me to kind of not put my foot down and really like stake my ground. Yeah, it was uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be confrontational and kind of sap the enthusiasm of this new hire who had just come on to run the business essentially, right? I think being self-aware and observing when you have that discomfort and really asking yourself why you have it. Is it out of fear or laziness or is it really out of interest, a greater interest for someone else or for the company? Then, acting on it. I think that’s important.

Dan: I’ll say a mistake that I’ve made for the record. A mistake that I’ve made repeatedly is since I’m so confident as an entrepreneur and I’ve done these things so many times, I’ll often sell these sorts of hires on that entrepreneurship. We’re going to build this and we’re going to do this and test this. Forgetting that I mean, unless you’re an absolute genius like the person who can go from 1 to 10 like you were mentioning, that those things are so very hard to do unless you’ve been trained in the context for many, many months often years. And so to focus on that at the moment of hiring is often me projecting my desires rather than the reality of someone needs to love implementing these strategies and truly understand them before like cohesive visions can start to develop in them

JP: Just add a final note to this around what to delegate. I heard at a presentation, also by one of the EOS ‘entrepreneur operating system’ people, is the idea of leaf decisions, branch decisions, and trunk decisions. So, imagine you’re a tree, if you delegate leaf decisions to other people, they should probably just implement it and maybe not even tell you because losing a leaf is not a big deal.

Branch decisions, you can still delegate, maybe have a little bit of discussion and/or maybe you just let them make it, and then they update you, right, your employee because losing a branch is also not a big deal. There are other branches, lots of other branches, but then there are trunk decisions. A tree has only got one trunk. If the decision kills the trunk, your tree is gone.

Dan: I think it’s fair to say that like a lightly used Honda Civic,I’ll consider that trunky.

JP: So, to be honestly completely fair, I think it could have gone the other way. It could have been the large branch decision. What ended up happening, it was kind of the coincidence of two things that kind of hit us at the same time. We lost that amount of money and didn’t see a positive ROI. At the same time, we got hit by a Google algorithm update that lowered our SEO traffic significantly. So, our sales overall we’re down maybe 30%. Those two things together really, really made it unsustainable for our business to continue operating the way that it was. Had it just been one, we may have recovered.

Dan: Now, when the Google algorithm news came through to you, through your GA account or whatever, what was your main emotion?

JP: I have been in the SEO game since 2008, so I’ve seen some highs and lows and some ups and downs so I was more alarmed and sad than angry because who are we to say that we should always deserve traffic from Google.

Dan: But isn’t there part of you that felt like if you’re GM would have realized the importance of this strategy you might have been equipped to deal with algorithm updates.

JP: Because he was focused on executing the initiatives that we all agreed on. So, I took full responsibility for not putting a more heavy investment in our SEO channel. I felt like it was a mistake on my part.

Dan: So, how long did you work with his general manager and what were the results of the experiment for you?

JP: We ended up letting him go due to the unexpected decline in revenue as a result of the Google algorithm update just over a year after he joined. I think it was 13 months that he was with us. These are the hard decisions as an entrepreneur that you should always make earlier rather than later.

The Google algorithm update hit in June and we let him go in August. I think we should have made the decision earlier because, as most people know that have been in SEO, things don’t turn around in a couple of months. It was just a hard emotionally difficult decision because we had brought this person on to really have him grow the business and it was a failure, not just… I mean it was due to a thing that was outside of our control but it still felt like a failure on my part and I’m failing, this employee as a person by not seeing it through, right? Not letting them run the business as we promised. So, I dragged my feet and eventually, we saw that the profits were just unsustainable given our lowered revenues. So, we had to do it.

Dan: In retrospect, JP, for people thinking about hiring general managers in their business, maybe let’s say on the second edition of ‘Before the Exit’, there’s a subchapter in which you author, what are some thought experiments or ideas or questions that you’d venture to fellow entrepreneurs?

JP: Well, my only experience is doing it and not having it work out. So, take my advice with that grain of salt. But if I were to do it again, what I would do differently is follow a more thorough framework for hiring because hiring a high-level executive is different from hiring like say a customer service representative. So, as I mentioned the book, ‘Who’, W-H-O, has a great framework that I think would apply really well to high-level executives, and B, is the idea of like not rushing it, not having it be, “Hey, we need this role. That’s a very important role and we need to do it this month and let’s just pick one of the top three candidates”. It’s a longer process than that in finding the right person, even if it takes six months, if they’re going to be the person that takes your business from 1 to 10 in the next 6 years, then that time is well invested.

Dan: Do you think that you’ll hire another GM for your business?

JP: Good question. Right now I’m not thinking about it but I could see us do that maybe further down the road, maybe in a year or two.

Dan: JP, I’m reading your posts in the DC recently right now, it’s called ‘Growth during COVID-19 and Mastermind’. Do you have that thread open on your computer? Could you open it?

JP: Yeah. Sure.

Dan: I’m just curious if you could read the first few paragraphs for us.

JP: Sure. “It’s 3:00 AM and I can’t sleep. The past few weeks have been a time of incredible stress and uncertainty for entrepreneurs. My heart goes out to all the business owners who’ve seen their revenues decline 20%, 40% or even 80%, who’ve had to lay off or furlough their employees, who’ve had to close their offices due to the ‘shelter in place’ orders. I share the frustration of fellow members who applied for their disaster relief loans and PPP loans weeks ago and haven’t heard anything from their bank. We’re with Chase and we haven’t heard anything since April 8. These are troubling times but that’s not why I can’t sleep. Our business is poised to grow through the COVID-19 crisis and I can’t sleep because my brain is spinning with ideas about how we can seize the opportunity and come out of this crisis stronger than ever before”.

Dan: You’re a madman, otherwise, known as an entrepreneur. What was it specifically that got you excited because I know you took a big traffic hit when the pandemic was announced?

JP: So, initially, when the pandemic started to get serious in the US, we saw about a 40% traffic hit, and then we actually closed our office for a week when California announced its ‘shelter-in-place’, and then we talked to our attorney and based on our interpretation of the language as a manufacturer of dental mouth guards, which is a medical device, we would fall under one of the essential industries, essential infrastructure industries.

So, we opened up our office on April 1st again and started taking orders and traffic was still down but for some reason conversion rates were up. One of my guesses is that a lot of dentists are closed or people don’t feel comfortable going into dentists so the uptick in conversion rate kind of offset the decline in traffic. We were actually about even in terms of sales, and given that, we had cut down a bunch of advertising costs and other costs and actually reduced work hours for employees to increase distancing and have a staggered schedule. We were looking at a situation where we had additional money essentially to invest in the business.

Dan: It’s interesting that the three points that you wrote jumped out at me instantly because there were three things that I’m excited about too. I’m going to read them to you, and then I want to hear your reaction as to what specifically you’re excited about. You said. Because of all this”, and you mentioned, you gave a backstory, “instead of worrying about defense and survival, I’m turning my attention towards offense and growth. Insert like a madman”. I love it. “Here are the things that I’m excited about. Number one, ad costs have dropped”. Now, I’ve been hearing a lot about this, how has it manifested in your particular space?

JP: For us, our main advertising channel is Google ads and to be honest, this is one of our quarterly goals or rocks as we call them in EOS is to improve our Google ads. I think we’re maybe 60th percentile good. We can get a lot better. So, what we’re seeing in Google ads is typically we achieved three to four times ROAS or return on ad spend, and right now, when I wrote this it was like eight times ROAS but right now it’s like six to eight times is what we’re looking at. So, almost twice the return on ad spend.

Dan: Now, a ROAS is that in sales volume or in profit?

JP: In sales. It’s typically measured in sales.

Dan: Okay. You spend $1 on ads and $8 comes through your cart?

JP: Correct.

Dan: So your ROAS has more than doubled?

JP: It’s about doubled. Yeah. Over 8x ROAS was for like two weeks. I think we’re seeing it kind of return to the mean a little bit but it’s still much higher than before.

Dan: You mentioned that. “This may be the best time to hire great talent or get work done by an agency for cheap”.

JP: There are probably very talented marketers out there who through no fault of their own, were working for let’s say like an outdoor brand or a brand that sells wedding supplies or something like that and they’re probably out of work. This is a great time to bring them on board and give them some financial security, but also find the best people that would take our business to the next level.

Dan: The other thing you mentioned, which resonates with me quite a bit, and I haven’t even pieced it together as to why, but you said, “Creative marketing opportunities”.

JP: I’m still trying to figure this out as well, but given the situation, I think there’s just a lot of, everyone’s looking for ways to market and I think there’s more opportunities to collaborate with other brands. One of the things we’re looking at is email collaborations with other brands that maybe their store revenues have declined but they’re trying to pick up some affiliate revenue, right?

So, we have an affiliate program. If they have a relevant audience they can email their brand if they sell something that’s related to sleep or health or dental health, they could earn additional income that is not restricted by their office being shut down. The other thing that we’re doing right now actually, it’s an initiative to give back to frontline workers by offering all frontline workers, this includes not just healthcare workers but grocery workers, drivers, delivery people, restaurant workers $100 store credit on ‘Pro Teeth Guard’.

We just had a big response to it so we’re going to have to limit the capacity but we’re offering everyone who is a frontline worker to be considered. Essentially, we’re going to lose money on these individual orders because we’re giving such a large like over 50% discount but, A, it really helps them. It was actually inspired by an email we got from an anesthesiologist who was working in the ICU and she had emailed us and said, “Hey, I have to separate myself for my family and quarantine myself and I’m sleeping somewhere else and I don’t have access to my night guard and every day I’m waking up in pain because it’s such a stressful environment. Is there anything you can do for me?”

We discussed it, at the time, when she emailed us, our office was shut down but we had a discussion with the business owners. It’s me and my mom actually who are the main people involved in this business. We said, “Hey, this is a time for small business to really step up and help and contribute to the community, especially if we have the resources to do so.”

So, yeah, we came up with this program to really try to help people, but, hey, I’m a marketer too. If I have this program, I’m going to try to get as many people on our email list as possible, get it out to as many media outlets as possible, maybe get some juicy backlinks for our SEO, but it’s a win-win situation.

Dan: It also does feel like since there’s no such thing as ‘business as usual’ right now, I just have this entrepreneurial sense that more people are just game. People that would have otherwise just kept chugging along not questioning things, all of a sudden everybody seems open to new ideas right now. Am I just living in a fantasy world or do you feel that sense too?

JP: I think it’s true. Yeah. I think everyone’s more open to connection as well because we’re so cut off and kind of sheltering in place and not seeing anybody. I’ve definitely had more catchup calls and Zoom calls with my friends who are not local in LA. They could be all over the world. I had more opportunities to connect than before.

Dan: On that point, JP, what I want to end with is – part of the reason you were inspired to share this particular story is that you wanted to pull together a mastermind, which I thought was really interesting. So, the idea was that you have over a million dollars in annual revenue. So, you posted this in the DC to pull together a team, but what really jumped out to me was a few values that you posted here and things that I share. You wanted to focus on businesses that have, “a 10-year horizon over 6-month fads, candor over being nice, openness and trust, and an abundance mindset over scarcity”. Did anything surprise you about the types of people that responded to you?

JP: No. I mean I think we were having our first call, a kind of meet and greet next week and I wanted to keep it small as well so we only had four members. But, yeah. I’m looking forward to it. It’s people who are all seeing anywhere from a 50% to 100% uptick. This means like compared to last year, they’re doing 150% or 200% of their regular revenue. That’s a really exciting group of people to have the resources to really reinvest in their business right now.

Dan: Well, JP, you’ve contributed a lot here today. I appreciate you coming back on the show. I hope you’ll do it again sometime soon.

JP: Yeah. Thank you for having me on and before I hop off here, I would really appreciate it if you know any frontline worker or any kind of person who would benefit from our offer of $100 store credit. So, you can go to proteethguard.com/frontline, one word and you can see the offer there and share it with someone who might benefit.

Dan: JP, always a pleasure, man. I’ll talk to you soon.

JP: Thank you. Great talk.

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Dan: Big shout out to JP for swinging by the show. I hope you felt it, I enjoyed this conversation so much. I like JP’s thought process. I like how he’s such an implementer. He’s this really awesome mix and I know he’s done podcasting in the past, you can tell he’s like this awesome mix of practitioner and then he’s able to turn that experience into ideas that can help others and certainly I felt inspired getting off that call. And this is what it’s all about. By the way another shout out to proteethguard dot com slash frontline. That’s a cool offer.

That’s what this is all about is you listen to a podcast like this on your jog, while you’re driving around, while you’re on your bike. A little bit dangerous but I’m not against it.

Ian: One bud out.

Dan: One bud out, the bud towards the traffic. Anyway you hear an idea about from someone like JP and it sparks a creative thought in your mind and you go implement it in your sandbox and you learn from it. This whole idea of experts getting on podcasts and laying out some foolproof system and you’re the big idiot if it didn’t work out. Look, JP is one of the smartest people that I’ve ever met and not everything’s gonna work out for him, not everything’s gonna work out for us. That is our job. And I love sharing stories like this. I love that JP was willing to come by the show.

One final takeaway from this one is something that reminded me of what you said: sometimes like when it comes down to employees, like it’s hard to be so systematic about it. You can feel when things are off like when you’re in a relationship and most times people don’t regret it when you just take action and end the relationship sooner rather than later. And I don’t think you need to rationalise it this way, but the employee themselves can get on with their lives and move towards something that’s going to be a more flourishing situation for them rather than sort of hanging around in a bad relationship and trying to make it work.

Ian: Totally. I mean, it’s like that’s your job as an entrepreneur is to relieve everybody, including yourself, of their duties when you see things aren’t going right. I mean, most people do feel relieved. The owner feels relieved, the person in charge of the business that’s maybe not going so well feels a sigh of relief, ‘Ah, we can finally move on with our lives’.

Dan: Speaking of relief, after listening to this episode, you’re considering becoming a client of JP’s.

Ian: Well not myself directly but here’s one of things that I realised, when you’re in a relationship, like I am, and one person wears the tooth guard at night, and that’s not you, well then maybe you are the person that is responsible for the stress. That’s kind of the situation I just realised listening to this episode. ‘Oh wait, I don’t wear the guard, therefore I must be providing the stress’. So I think my call to action is get on the website and get something gift wrapped, you know? (Laughs) Maybe send a little, ‘Sorry’, note in the box it comes in.

Dan: Thanks JP for swinging by the pod and thank you for listening. Hopefully something you heard here today can inspire you to go run an experiment this week in your business. We appreciate it. We’ll be back next week as always, Thursday morning 8am Eastern Standard Time.

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