How Jean-Guy Francoeur Scaled His Business from $0 to $30 Million in 40 Months without Venture Capital.

In this interview, Jean-Guy Francoeur CEO of Black Card Books reveals specific steps on how to scale a business…you will discover how he grew his business from 0 to $30 million in gross revenue without venture capital. Today, he is able to travel the world and choose how much he wants to work on his business  and much more!

Jean-Guy Francoeur CEO of Black Card Books

 

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In this Episode You will Discover:

  • Why Jean-Guy believes in putting systems in place to lessen reliance on people.
  • How Jean-Guy almost lost one of his founding partners.
  • How Jean-Guy learned the value of systems by building and selling six different companies.
  • Why Jean-Guy sought after a technology platform that was: 1) scalable and 2) flexible.
  • Why Jean-Guy prioritizes systematizing any area of the business that has the most pain attached to it.
  • How Jean-Guy incentivized his team to use Podio and the systems.
  • How Jean-Guy mitigates the problem of multiple system chaos.
  • How Jean-Guy modularized his systems across different departments

 

Episode Transcript:

OWEN: My guest today is Jean-Guy Francoeur and he is the CEO of Black Card Books. JG, welcome to the show.

JG: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it Owen.

OWEN: Awesome. This show is all about getting entrepreneurs like yourself to come on here to discuss how they’ve been able to systematize your business, like in your case how you’ve been able to systematize your business so that it runs successfully without you. And so that we can keep our listeners tuned in all way to the interview I want to give them some mind blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through that process of systematizing and even automating your business?

JG: I think as a business owner what everyone’s looking for is time freedom and money freedom, but mostly time freedom. And today we’ve been able now to travel the world every day. And I get to work on the business as much or as little as we want because we’ve systemized it properly along the way. We get to travel the globe and work with our various teams around the country. And we get to take lots of vacation if we want. And we just get to work as little or as much as we want and that’s really freedom.

OWEN: During the pre-interview you said no one has built a business like yours at your size. What do you mean?

JG: Our business, we are the fastest growing book publishing company in the world. So when everybody else is laying staff off, when everyone else is closing offices, when everyone else is shrinking we’re growing. So we went last year from 70 employees to 122 employees. We’re doing all of this through systems and leadership. And we’re actually what we call a Cloud-based company. So we don’t have a physical office. Everyone works from home.

OWEN: Wow. How will you say your company has been transformed as a result of systematizing and even automating parts of the business?

JG: I think the proof is in the pudding. The fact is in the last 40 months we went from a startup, from zero, from nothing to $30 million in gross revenue. Bootstrapping and growing all of that without the use of venture capital or outside money. We’ve been doing it solely internally and solely through organic growth methods. And that’s amazing because we’ve been able to change the lives of not only a thousand plus authors around the world that we get to work with every day but also our 122 plus employees all around the world and that’s a great feeling.

OWEN: And how has your personal life been transformed as a result of systematizing the business? And the reason I’m asking is because as one benefit of the business being systematized and transformed that way for the business but I want to know from a personal standpoint what are the gains for you?

JG: I think there’s a couple of things but the main thing is that as a business owner you get into business to make a difference of whatever kind, whatever that is for you. And if you’re not setting up systems properly you end up just working in your business instead of on your business. I get to spend every single day as much or as little of time as I want working on our business and having that impact that I dreamed about not shuffling paperwork and working in the business and being tired. I get to work on the business and make that difference so that’s incredible.

OWEN: And you also said something about 3.5% of businesses succeed, something like that. Why were you talking about that?

JG: Yeah. The fact is that in businesses there’s such a low survivability rate. Most business owners that start never make it, something like 95% within the first five years fail. And of the 5% that do go beyond five years 95% of those fail in the next five years. So the fact that we’ve been able to have this impact and help our authors, and help ourselves get past these milestones this is really critical.

OWEN: Since you have these systems in place that allows your business to run without you I’m wondering what’s been the longest time you’ve actually been away from it?

JG: Funny you mention that. Just last month we went on a three-week vacation in Europe. And not only did I go, we’ve taken this kind of time off before. Not only did I go for three weeks but I went as the CEO. My business partner and president of the company were also away for three weeks on the same vacation. Our Chief Operations Officer was away at the same time on that same vacation and our Sales Director was also as well. So we had four top executives of the company away for three weeks on a European vacation and we didn’t miss a beat. The last month was our best month ever.

OWEN: So you went on a boat cruise? What was that?

JG: Yeah, it was a big cruise in Europe. It was a two-week cruise and then we did another week in Scotland where we rented a castle.

OWEN: You’ve already kind of given some idea of what the business is about but let’s dive into it a little bit more. What exactly does your company do and what big pain or problem do you solve for your customers?

JG: Like I said about the low survivability rate less than 5% survive in the first five years and even less survive in the next five years. We help small business owners use a book as a marketing tool. So we’re increasing that survivability rate because most business owners don’t have anything to set themselves apart. And using a book as a marketing tool we show them how to differentiate themselves, how to attract customers to them, how to stand out in a very cluttered marketplace, that’s how we help people.

OWEN: Is that like you guys are helping them turn their knowledge into a book? I’m just trying to understand how does that work?

JG: Absolutely. All of our business owners, anyone who we work with, they’re small business owners just like you and I Owen. And what they have is they have a certain knowledge base and they have a way to help people. We turn it into a book which is the best way to separate yourself. It’s actually a lot like the same thing you’re doing here, the way you’re using podcasting Owen and having special guests from around the world come on in order to educate your clients and separate you in order to differentiate yourself. We’re doing the same thing, we’re just not using podcasting. We think a book is the best tool because of the credibility authors have.

OWEN: So you’ve mentioned regarding revenues. I’m wondering, is the company profitable? And you’ve mentioned something about your growth for the next two to three years. I’m wondering if you could share that with the listeners.

JG: Yeah. Because we’ve been able to spend so much time growing our business and not working in the business but on the business. Our company’s been extremely profitable since the very beginning. Unlike other companies that lose money for the first five years we’ve made money every single year for the last five years. And in the next, so right now we’re at about a $30 million a year run rate. And in the next two to three years we are trending towards $100 million.

OWEN: Wow. Who knows there’s so much money in books. Am I in the right business? The thing is you’ve shared with us highlights of being able to systematize the business and the benefits of it so far. I’m sure the listener’s attention is perked up now. They want to listen. But I’m sure it wasn’t always like this. Take us back to when your business was not systematized and automated like it is now, this very business. What was wrong with it?

JG: Owen, I don’t want to go back there. It’s so painful.

OWEN: Let’s go back.

JG: The fact is when your business is not systematized everything is chaos. What you’re doing is if you’re not relying on systems you end up relying on people. And the problem with relying on people solely and not systems is that then you are at the mercy of those people’s moods, feelings, and how they’re doing that day. And that creates a very inconsistent environment, and it also creates tremendous pressure on the business. What you want to do is put systems in place because that’s one of the things you can control is the systems. You can control the systems and then you have the people use those systems. Everything changes. Back in the day it was just chaos Owen. Maybe like a lot of your listeners right now, just absolute chaos, just running from one fire to the next fire. A lot of people call it firefighting. A lot of business owners live their lives that way. My message to them is it doesn’t have to be that way folks. Systematize your business and amazing things can happen.

OWEN: Okay. You said everything was wrong with it. I really want to dive into that a little bit more to kind of give the listeners some color as to what specifically was happening back then when it wasn’t systematized. Can you remember something that was going on that possibly could’ve even be a braking point? I want to give them some real specific here.

JG: Yeah, for sure. One of the things is that our current Chief Operations Officer went through several almost burnout moments where because she was working tirelessly and we were just trying it on, it’s like every other startup before you systemize. You’re just working so hard and so long and getting such little sleep that you end up just going from one thing to the next and the next. And we almost lost one of our founding partners and our COO today, Deb Turton, to that. And that was really a breaking point where her and I sat down. We cleared the plates. We stopped running around. And we just focused on systemizing.

OWEN: Okay. Let’s do this. What was the plate like before you guys even cleared the plate. I want to get some context into that.

JG: As a leader if you’re spending most of your time doing the work, meaning working in the business. For you Owen for example, if you’re a leader and your business SweetProcess, if you’re the guy doing the coding and then you’re the guy going to sell, and then you’re the guy trying to do the marketing, and if you don’t have any systems to help you along the way you’re going to burnout. Several things are going to happen. One, you’re not going to make it. You will not build a successful business that way, I can guarantee it. Number two you’re going to burnout. If you start having success you’re going to eventually burnout and it’s just going to bite you in the butt. It really comes down to, Owen, making sure that you have systems in place in order to service your customers, systems in place in order to attract customers with good marketing, systems in place in order to sell those customers, and then systems in place to fulfill on those customers. Once you have the systems then you get the people to work those systems. Don’t just hand it off to people without systems. That’s a recipe for disaster.

OWEN: One of the things you mentioned was that you said that you learned the value of systems long go before this company. This was during the pre-interview. What I’m getting from that is you were taking some learnings from your previous company and bringing it into this one. You had kind of an advantage going into this one knowing that you’re going to systematize it from the get go. But I’m wondering is there something specific that you learned in some of the business that maybe you can share with us?

JG: I think the biggest thing is that I learned the value of systematizing. And the way I learned that is in the last decade I’ve been able to build and sell six different companies. And when you’re building and selling companies you can’t hand over our concept. You can’t hand over a business with people without systems. It’s never going to sell. So you need to systematize right from the get go and you need to systematize properly with the idea of selling. So when I came over to this business even though we weren’t selling it and our intention is not sell it I built it as though I could sell it. And the reason we did that is because that way you have a sustainable business that is built on systems and not reliant on people. And that was the experience I had from my previous six companies that I built and sold.

OWEN: Okay. I get how coming into this one. The theme now is given that you had this prior experience building and selling six businesses that you ended up systematizing. Going into this one, you came into it with the intention from day one to systematize it. I’m wondering what was the first step you took to systematize this very business.

JG: In today’s day and age my answer probably would’ve been different 10 years ago. But my answer today is that I like to look for technology platform that I could leverage in order to systematize along the way. But there’s one key thing is that a lot of people think let’s grow the business and we’ll… Once we get it out to five or ten million we’ll systematize them. That’s not going to work. First of all you’re not going to get to five or ten million dollars without systems. So that’s a failure point there. The other thing is with regards to it’s always easier to do it along the way. So we found a great technological platform that we like and we could scale as we grew, and that’s really where we started. A lot of people used basic tools. Like your tools for example, Owen is one example, SweetProcess. Other people use tools like Basecamp. I’ve seen those. We use that company called Podio and we’ve had tremendous success with that system. Other people use Spreadsheets and I don’t recommend that but some people use simple tasks, simple things like Spreadsheets and Word documents, whatnot. But I find especially with today’s environment with the apps that are available, with the software that are available that everyone can access them. They’re Cloud-based software so they’re everywhere at all times. I say that’s usually the first step, is find a technological platform that you can leverage.

OWEN: Let’s give the listeners some actionable learning from this whole step of finding a technological platform. What kind of decisions went into deciding when you were looking for a platform for this very business? What kind of decisions did you use to decide this was the one you’re going to use for this very business?

JG: I’ll give you two answers on that. For us I needed two things. I needed a system that was, number one, scalable, because I knew we would grow to be very big and you require very different systems when you’re a startup to when you do one million, to when you do five, to when you do ten, to when you do thirty, to when you do fifty, to when you do a hundred. As a result I didn’t want to switch systems all the time, I didn’t want to switch technological platforms, I had to find one that was scalable. That was number one for me. Number two, what I recommend for people is a lot of people start, they try to draw out this beautiful architecture, and they try to figure it all out on paper, and then they take it over to the system. I find that to be a little bit, it just takes too long for me. As an entrepreneur I want to get going. I want to do things today. I don’t work in weeks, I work in minutes. So as a result I usually like to tell people just get started where you are today. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Find a system and then just get started. There’s one caveat to this and it is the following. This is really, really key. You do not want to build your systems based on the constraints of the technological platform.

OWEN: How so?

JG: I’ve seen a lot of people try to build systems and they don’t implement the proper system. And I ask them how come this system doesn’t work properly for you. And they say it doesn’t work properly because our software doesn’t allow these following things to happen. What they’ve done is they’ve taken a technological platform and that platform has constrained them to run their business a certain way. That’s dangerous to me. That’s why I like the system we chose because I can make the system do whatever I want. And I don’t even need coders to do it. Anyone could go in and modify the system. As a result I find that to be critical. You have to design the system and run your business your way and the software has to be subservient to your system not the other way around. I find that’s a key error a lot of people make.

OWEN: Okay. You mentioned also how being able to customize the system you just talked about now without having someone technical to come involve with customizing the system for you is important. I’m wondering what was the second step you took to systematize the business?

JG: The second step is to get going. What I do is I choose the area that is creating the most pain. When I say pain I mean pain to you as a business owner. If your business is experiencing tremendous pain in the customer fulfillment area then you need to fix that first. You would start in that direction.

OWEN: In your case back then at the very beginning when you were customizing the system you found for the software to run your business what was causing the most pain then?

JG: That actually was our biggest pain as well was the customer fulfillment area. In most businesses that is not the biggest pain. Typically the biggest pain is either marketing or sales especially in startup. I don’t know how the big the businesses are that are listening to this but if you’re sort of under two, three million dollars a year especially as the owner your main job, 90% of the effort has to go into customer acquisition. And as a result you probably don’t have very good marketing or very good sales systems. I would focus there first if you’re under two to three million dollars a year. If you’re over five million the game is different then, because you probably got your sales and marketing systems figured out, so now you got to focus on really truly delivering an incredible experience for your customers so that you can grow the $10 million, $20 million, $30 million mark.

OWEN: So your pain was customer fulfillment. Talk about how you solved that then.

JG: Publishing a book is a very complicated process and we had all of the processes documented in various PDF’s, Word documents, and Spreadsheets. We essentially took all of that and we put in on Podio, our technological platform. And then we made the system transparent, and that was key for us. That’s not key for everybody but it was key for us to create a transparent system where the customer knew exactly what we were working on, our team members knew what each other and everybody else was working on, and us as the owners could see it all unfold in front of our very eyes. So transparency was very key and Podio was great for that for us.

OWEN: Great. And so you mentioned the criteria you used for every step of it was focusing on the pain. So you said the first pain which you’ve mentioned already, customer delivery. What was it?

JG: The first one for most businesses under two to three million, the first pain should be sales and marketing.

OWEN: No, I’m talking about in your case.

JG: For me our biggest one at that time was customer fulfillment.

OWEN: What was the second biggest pain at that time and I want to give them as much specifics as possible related to your business at the time.

JG: In our business we do 120 to 150 events per year. We put over 12,000 people through our boot camps every single year. So after the customer fulfillment one of our biggest pains was the scalability of our events. When we first got our systems into place we were doing about 12 events per year. Now we’re doing 150 events per year. That scalability and putting a system in order to grow to that all of this within a couple of years that was key for us. That was the second pain for us was our event management and our sales system, but more specifically our event management systems.

OWEN: Okay. I’m assuming mostly you were using the software but I’m wondering regarding documenting procedures and processes for the business what tools did you use specifically besides Podio? I’m wondering if you use Podio let me know.

JG: Yeah, it’s Podio. We don’t use any other tools. Everything that we do is logged and documented within Podio. We started with Podio about 40-45 months ago, something like that. Since then we’ve become one of the biggest Podio users in the world. We have over 1,900 people, I just checked this morning. That includes our employees, our suppliers, anyone who touches our company has to use our systems. As a result we have 1,900 people using Podio on a daily basis. We’re probably one of the biggest Podio users in the world frankly.

OWEN: Wow. At the time when you were working on systematizing and automating the business, I’m wondering what business books or even mentors had the most influence on you and why.

JG: Two things, the book E-Myth is kind of like the bible of business systemization. And I read that book 10-12 years ago. That was a fantastic book. I recommend everyone read that book three times. I still visit that book on a fairly regular basis just to make sure. E-Myth was a key factor for me. And then the second one is there’s another company that we’ve grown side by side with and that’s Infusionsoft. They’re a sales and marketing automation software. I’ve known the founders and the various leadership people there for the last four years, and as a result they’ve grown a lot. They’ve started out, I think their story is probably longer than ours. They’re probably about ten years old now, maybe a bit more, and their valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. I’ve watched them go through their automation process. I’ve watched them go through systemization. ??I’ve watched them from afar and they’ve been mentors to me and they don’t even know it.

OWEN: If we only talk about kind of the things you did back then when we you were trying to systematize and automate parts of the business and we don’t talk about challenges that you face I don’t think we give a full rounded interview. What was the biggest challenge that you experienced when you initially tried to systematize and automate the business, and how did you solve it?

JG: The biggest was probably what I call user adoption. And everyone has his issue where you system into place… Say you have 15 employees. You put a system into place and only one of the 15 actually use it. That’s a problem. Now, you have a system, you have a software, you have everything you need but no one’s using the system because they’re just going about it doing their way. And we have the same problem. Everyone goes through this. So user adoption is a big thing. And what we did in order to solve it is we really focused on just pushing it. As the leadership we were very, very clear on going to Podio. So we eliminated things like email. Within our company nobody emails each other. We only use email for outside supplier communication. Everyone within our company speaks on Podio. So as a result of that as the leadership we forced people to go into Podio and use those systems. And if they didn’t, obviously that wasn’t good for them. But more importantly we put incentive programs into place in order to incentivize them to use the system. So the more they use the system the more incentive they got. We rewarded them with various reward programs. And then it became second nature, it became the culture of our business to use the systems and use Podio. And as a result now today we don’t have this issue anymore because of our 122 people, all of them, use it. There’s nobody that doesn’t use it. If they don’t use their systems they don’t last.

OWEN: You said you wanted them to use… I’m just want to get some context into that. What kind of rewards were those?

JG: Gift cards, gift certificates, team dinners, celebrations, there’s a lot of rewards you can do. I wrote a lot about reward systems in my book Messy Manager. There’s a lot of things you could do for rewarding people. And this is going to sound really bad but it’s just like training a dog. I know it sounds bad but if you see the behavior in the animal that you want you reward the animal with a treat. It’s the same thing with employees except you don’t give them a pat on the head, you write them a handwritten note and you tell them how great they’re doing. And you send them a quick message you say, “Hey, congratulations.” Or you send them a video and say, “Thank you so much for using the systems. I appreciate it.” You recognize the behavior that you’re seeing as a result of doing it more often. It’s actually very easy.

OWEN: Okay. You also mentioned the other challenges. I’m wondering what was the second biggest one that you experienced then, something about the multiple system chaos.

JG: Multiple system chaos is still one of our challenges today. I think everybody goes through this. We have four or five different major systems that interact together. We use Infusionsoft for our marketing. We use Podio for everything else. We use another system for financial reporting. We’re constantly flip flopping between these systems and we’re still in this phase where we’re having those systems communicate, we’re having those systems automatically transfer information between each other and you could do this with API calls and… I don’t want to get into all the technical stuff but that’s what we’re doing. We’re really merging all of these things together into one massive system instead of them working separately, we want to make them work together. So multiple system chaos is always key.

OWEN: How do you glue those different tools you’re using together?

JG: Like I said, we’re using coders and we’re having them access the API of the various systems in order to communicate.

OWEN: And just in case someone was wondering what API means can you just give them a quick explanation of what that is?

JG: Sure. I’m not a tech guy but my understanding of an API is it’s essentially a bridge. It’s a bridge in and out of an application. If you’re using Infusionsoft and you’re using Podio and you want those two things to talk you need an API on the one side, Podio, and you need an API on the other side, Infusionsoft. And then the coders can make them talk. I don’t know how to do that. That’s coders that do that. But luckily there’s a lot of good coders out there so we let them do their job.

OWEN: Okay, great. You’ve mentioned some of the challenges. Another thing that you mentioned that was a challenge was the challenge of customization. Talk about that.

JG: Customizing a software is key. And we’ve been very fortunate. Infusionsoft’s a great example of a system that is not very customizable. There’s an element of customization available but it’s not 100%. As a result I have to use Infusionsoft the way they designed it to be used. This is always a challenge because as you grow your needs change. And as your needs change you need to customize your systems, you need to customize your processes in order to meet the demands of the new expanded business. You have to think about this before you choose a system. Because if you choose a system early on, say you’re brand new. You’re doing $100,000 a year in sales. You’re just a little guy. And you choose a system that isn’t very scalable and that isn’t customizable. As a result of this you get to a million, you’re now out of runway. You have no more choice in terms of growing. Then you have to change systems. Every time you change a system you’re taking attention away from the critical parts of your business like sales, marketing, production. And this makes it very difficult for you to continue to grow. Picking a good system on the upfront makes this whole process easier.

OWEN: Okay. And I think you also mentioned something being freedom. How does freedom play a role as a challenge with what you’re trying to do back then?

JG: This is really good today because a lot of the applications, a lot of the systems are accessible everywhere. You have access on your mobile, you have access on your laptop, you have access at your desktop, you have access where you are. And this is key for us because our employees work from home. As a result of that they’re on the move all the time. I have 30 people that travel. That’s all they do is just travel. They need to access these systems wherever they are at that moment. It can’t be a spreadsheet that you’re emailing back and forth. That decreases the freedom. So freedom of usage is very key and this helps with user adoption like I said which is one of those key things up front, the key challenges you’re going to have. If you give people a chance and the freedom to access the system from multiple angles like mobile, laptop, desktop, so on and so forth you will increase your user adoption. As a result the system will be more successful.

OWEN: Let’s come to a more current time in the story. I’m wondering at what point in time did you feel like the entire business was systematized and it can actually run without you?

JG: Great question. I’d say probably about two and a half years in was when it started getting good. My role is to continually grow the business. As the CEO I provide the vision for the employees, I provide the vision for the customers. I provide the vision and the execution of that vision for the business. As a result of that I’m always growing and always looking at the next step. The people that are working in our business today are working at the $30 million mark. I’m building a $100 million business.

OWEN: Okay. So basically new systems are going to be made even though right now you have that $30 million working on the current systems you’re looking to build it all the way to 100. That means you’re always going to be improving and making your changes too.

JG: Yeah. But in terms of running our day-to-day operation our team is 100% systemized and that’s happened since about two years.

OWEN: I think during the pre-interview you also said something about when you can modularize your business so that the departments are working together but they’re not crossing. Can you explain that?

JG: Sure. One of the things that we did at about the two year mark. We started out, we’re about three to six months in. It became very difficult to keep up with all of the work. We did our first round of systematizations. And that was very, very good. We continued to grow. And at about two and a half years we modularized everything. Think of this Owen like a manufacturing facility. When you’re building a laptop, the laptop is going from one module to another module to another module. So first you start with the internal components and they assemble all the silicon parts and they put that together into a motherboard. Then it goes to the next module or department so to speak where now it’s going within the casing and it’s being installed in the casing. Then it goes to the next department which is the keyboard department, they’re installing the keyboard. Then it goes to the screen department where they plug the screen together, blah blah blah. This is modularization, so where you’re going module, to module, to module. We did that in about two and a half years in where we made our people experts within certain modules. We didn’t want everybody doing everything. We wanted people to become specialists at their job and that was critical to systemizing to become… at that point we went from five million to thirty million. And that’s how fast it happened and that was a big reason why.

OWEN: Okay. My listeners like it when I get the guests to talk about what’s happening behind-the-scenes in the business today. Imagine your business kind of like a conveyor belt. And I want you to kind of talk about the different parts and how they’re working together today. Imagine some entrepreneur is trying to get exposure for his business and got the idea that maybe your book might be the right way to go about it. But now the new issue is how do I write the book. On one end is this entrepreneur I’m talking about. And on the other end is the entrepreneur, they have a book launched and they’re raving about you guys because you guys helped them with the process of launching the book. What’s happening behind the different systems working behind-the-scenes to make that transformation happen. And feel free to talk about how you get the person to know about you guts in the first place.

JG: Sure. Thinking about it from a conveyor belt perspective like you mentioned there are six major components to our conveyor belt. The first part is our marketing systems. That’s the part that brings people in. Without the marketing component nobody would know about us. Nobody would come to our events. Nobody would even be able to engage with our company because they wouldn’t know about us. So the marketing component is critical and that’s that first part. We spend a lot of time and in order for us to go from 30 to 100 million it is now the number one thing that I’m working with is our marketing team in order to elevate their system to the next level. First one is marketing. The second one is our sale and events team. Once people know about us the first thing they do, the way they enter our organization is they come to one of our events. Like I said we do 150 of them all over the world. We operate at every corner of the world. Every English speaking corner of the world we work in. So if people go to publishabookandgrowrich.com. They click on our events, they will see all of the events that we have going on. And they can come to an event. And then we’ll show them how to publish their own book and they can either do it on their own or they can work with us and we’ll help them do it for them. It’s 100% up to them in terms of how they want to do it but that’s a very, very key part of our system is the sales end events team. Then once somebody comes in this is where we’re now publishing their book. We call this production. We’re now producing this book. We’re getting it out. That’s obviously where I’d say probably this is the biggest part of our systemization up to now because we have a thousand authors in there right now at this very moment. So it’s a huge, huge, huge component.

OWEN: When you say a thousand authors do you mean like writers writing on behalf of your customers? I’m confused.

JG: We have thousand authors publishing under our label Black Card Books.

OWEN: Okay.

JG: But in order to get those books out we have a lot of work to do. And the way we do that work is through our systems. That’s why I’m saying it’s such a part of our business.

OWEN: Okay.

JG: Then the fourth part is that we variety of support systems. All of the administration that goes along to support those three components is obviously also a big part. And now in the last 18 months a huge effort has gone in to a support. So we have an entire department on supply chain management. And we’ve systematized all of that. All of this has been done by our team that spread all around the world. They are led by Deb Turton our Chief Operations Officer. We have an impeccability manager Louis. She’s absolutely incredible as well. All of these support systems and these admin systems are supporting. And our fifth department is our tech and what I would call engineering. Just like a manufacturing facility that is continually upgrading their conveyor belts, and upgrading their bearings, and upgrading all of this stuff. We do the same thing but we do it for our systems. Obviously we’re not upgrading physical machinery but we’re upgrading our softwares. We’re having these, like what I was telling you a while ago Owen with the API’s and the systems talking to each other. We have budgets on a monthly basis that we allocate to improving our systems. Where every single month even if they’re working perfect we’re trying to figure out how to make them better.

OWEN: Okay.

JG: And then the last departments are post-production, which is now that the author has their book, and they’ve been published, and they’re out there in the public space we help with what’s called post-production which is how do you use the book. Because everybody thinks getting the book’s the easy part, when in fact getting rid of the book and using the book as a marketing tool, that’s the tough card. And we have entire department. in the last six to eight months this has become our key focus especially for our Deb Turton our Chief Operations Officer, and Marybeth Haines who heads up that whole department. They’ve been focusing extensively on systematizing that. So it’s a never ending process my friend.

OWEN: Awesome. You’ve mentioned product plays a role in getting everybody do know what they need to do but I’m wondering in terms of tracking the results that are actually being delivered to the employees is the same audio as well?

JG: Everything’s a podium my friend.

OWEN: And I’m just wondering what kind of reports are you looking for, so that the listener who is listening they might now be using Podio or whatever. But I’m trying to understand kind of the results that you’re tracking.

5: It’s funny you mentioned that about reports. So results and reporting are two different things. The thing with Podio is that it’s 100% transparent. Everybody sees what everybody’s doing at all times. Everything is tracked. So if someone makes an update on a particular customer’s book or file, or whatever, we know who’s made the update because we can see the systems tracks the accountability of everybody and makes it available to… It’s transparent. If you went into Podio, let’s say you worked for us Owen and you are publishing consultant and you went in and modified one of our event titles, or you modified the date by accident let’s say. We would see it. It would show up in the log. We’re just transparent to everyone. So that’s key. We could see what everybody is doing from a results perspective. A reporting perspective that’s different. And our fourth department that I was just talking about, our fourth conveyor if you will is that support and admin systems, and that’s something that we’re currently working on in order to upgrade those reporting so that we can have these systems automatically generate reports for me as the CEO, for our President, for the rest of our executive team. Right now our systems don’t do that as well as we’d like which is why we’re investing in that engineering component.

OWEN: Okay. And so moving on. Now that you have as much free time as you do I’m wondering which areas of the business are you now focusing on now and why?

JG: When you get free, when you become free from working in the business. It’s amazing how much fund you can have working on the business and growing the business. I’m spending all of my time now continually growing the business and expanding it and getting us to $100,000 which of course is not an easy task. As we upgrade one of the things we’re doing now and this is very exciting because at the six-month mark we did our first round of systemization. At about two and a half in that six month Mark between two and two and a half years we went through our first revamp where we revamped all of our systems which got us to where we are today. Now we are preparing for the next revamp which is probably going to take a solid 12 months. We’re revamping so that we can go to the next level. I’m involved in that. I’m not leading that. Our Chief Operations Officer is leading that, Deb Turton, but I’m involved in that. So I spend part of my time there. But mostly my goal is to continue to grow the business so that we can have more of an impact on using incredible authors.

OWEN: That’s awesome. You’ve already mentioned this, your next digital growth is $100 million in the next two to three years, that’s awesome. As we close out to the interview I’m wondering if you were to say for the listener who’s been listening all the way to this point what would we say is the very next step that they should take in order to get started with getting the business to the point where it actually runs without them.

OWEN: Yeah. I would say if someone is listening to this interview, this a new concept they’re thinking. Wow, I should really systematize. Your next step has to be to read E-Myth. It’s a phenomenal book and really it’s written in a style that everybody can read and it really gives you a good perspective in terms of why some businesses succeed and why some businesses fail. And a lot of that has to do with the systemization. So that’s the next step I want people to take this. Pick up that book, E-Myth. It’s a phenomenal book and read it, devour it, read it three times. And then probably take a look around and see what kind of systems you could use to look you at your pain point and create that first system. At least get started. Take some action.

OWEN: Is there question that you were wishing ?that I would’ve asked you during this interview that I did not ask? If so post the question and the answer as well.

JG: I’ve been interviewed now all around the world by everywhere from ABC News all the way to podcasts and YouTube interviews, and I got to say you’re one of the most in-depth interviewers I’ve had. I think you’ve done a great job.

OWEN: Okay. Now I have to put my head back together. I’m wondering what’s the best way for the listeners to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview.

JG: They can find me on social media but I think the best places for them to go to publish a book and growrich.com. So publish a book in growrich.com. So publish a book in Growrich.com. And if you go there you’ll see all of our events. I’m often at our events. I’m often speaking at our events. I think everybody should find an event closest to them and come to this event. We have some complimentary tickets available for some of them. Get registered to an event. Come and let us show you how you could publish a book, use that book to differentiate yourself, separating you from everyone else who does what you do, and attract customers to you, and that’s really a key, so publishabookandgrowrich.com.

OWEN: That’s awesome. Now, I’m speaking to you the listener. If you’ve enjoyed the interview all the way to this point I want you to do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes, hopefully a 5-star review. To do that go to this link, sweetprocess.com/iTunes and that would redirect you to our podcast iTunes channel and you can leave your review on there. If you know other entrepreneurs that might find value from listening to this interview feel free to share with them. And finally if you’re at that stage in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you want to have everything out of your head, document it so your employees know what you know, well, sign-up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Jean-Guy, we’re done with the interview.

JG: Thank you. I appreciate it.

OWEN: And we’re done.

 

Noteworthy items Mentioned in this Episode:

  1. Podio for project management
  2. Messy Manager by Jean-Guy Francoeur, Michael Francoeur, Paznor Group Inc.
  3. Infusionsoft for marketing
  4. Publish a Book and Grow Rich for author events

 

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Here are 3 Steps to Take After Listening to the Interview:

  1. Read The E-Myth.
  2. Look at your pain points.
  3. Start creating your systems.

 

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