How David Braun was able to Spend 18 Months Away from His Business & Have it Continue to Grow and Thrive without His Involvement!

Do you want to be able to step away from your business and have it run successfully without you?

In this interview David Braun CEO and Co-Founder of Template Monster reveals the steps he took to systematize and automate the daily operations at his company which enabled him to spend 18 months away from his business, while it continued to grow and thrive without his involvement!

You will also discover how he found out about the Balanced Scorecard system; how he applied it to his business, and how he uses a unique mentorship program for the onboarding of new employees.

David Bruan CEO and Co-Founder of Template Monster

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In this Episode You will Discover:

  • How David’s business was affected by Steve Job’s open letter about Adobe Flash.
  • How David came to recognize that he needed systems in place that allowed for quick changes.
  • Why David sent two people from his company to take courses on business analytics.
  • How David was able to free up company resources to optimize business processes.
  • How David was able to apply the same management and informational standards across all of his international offices.
  • How David found out about the Balanced Scorecard system and why he implemented it.
  • Why David identified people in his company with strong management and leadership skills to help spread a mindset change in the company.
  • How David uses a mentorship program to bring new employees into the business.

Episode Transcript:

OWEN: Hi, my guest today is David Braun. He’s the CEO and the co-founder of TemplateMonster. David, welcome to the show.

DAVID: Thank you very much and hello to all of our listeners.

OWEN: Awesome. This show is all about getting entrepreneurs like yourself who have successfully systematized your business, and in your case your business runs successfully without you having to be there. And we want to share the journey of how you were able to make this happen. Let’s jump right in. What are some mind blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through the process of systematizing and automating your business?

DAVID: That’s a good question and I must confirm that I’m probably one of the many people who can tell that I was away for 18 months in the road and the business didn’t go down completely. It actually went up because I was happy to enjoy the system that I was working on to make the business work completely, autonomously.

OWEN: That’s awesome. I like what you just said. You said 18 months in a row you weren’t having to be in the business and you didn’t shut down. And we’re going to talk about why that was the case later on in the interview. I’m wondering how has your company been transformed as a result of systematizing your business.

DAVID: That didn’t happened within a couple of months or days. It took about 2 or 3 years to actually make it happen. The final result, we got a really great result because we were successful in building the company as an ecosystem. I think that it lives on its own with or without me. It automatically responds to constantly changing requirements by the market or by regulations or whatsoever. And I think there should be a final goal for any other business owner or the manager to build the business the way that it doesn’t suffer from you inexistence.

OWEN: So basically you say now it physically, automatically responds to marketing demands and reshapes itself to fit the need. You had an example that you give us during the pre-interview to reflect this.

DAVID: Yeah, for example, before we did not have a customer happiness representative whose goal is to take care of the customers and make them happy. But at the same time we’ve got quite a lot of services and departments talking to the customers. It’s like pre-sales department, sales department, tech support and so on. And everybody were serving the customers but in their own unique way. And then we started to increase our production policy and release new products all the time, so the guys made a meeting, all the department managers who deal with customers, and decided on their own to implement a new role, customer happiness representative. So they created this role, set the KPI’s for this role, define the budget, and hire the person without even asking me.

OWEN: And just so the listener know what KPI is, what is KPI?

DAVID: It’s a key performance indicator. So basically for every job or every new position that we implement or introduce within the company first thing that we do is how do we measure that this person works effectively or not?

OWEN: That’s awesome. How has your personal life been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?

DAVID: I would be a liar if I’d say that I did it strictly for business. I have four kids and I was working full-time for 5-6 years. Usually it is 12 hours a day and my kids were growing. I didn’t see them except on Sundays. I’m a Sunday papa. I even insisted that my wife build a private Twitter for me just to keep me updated about the kids, what’s new and so on, and that was insane. After we implemented the system everything is fine now. I’m a good father. My wife is happy. And we go in for a vacation four times a year.

OWEN: That’s awesome. Since you have systems in place in the business that allows it to run without you successfully what’s the longest time you’ve been away from the business. I think during the pre-interview you mentioned 18 months but we didn’t talk about the reason why, because I think it’s also important why you had to be away from the business for 18 months. Let’s talk about it.

DAVID: That was a forceful reason. I’m originally from Georgia. I was a refugee myself, and before moving to the U.S. I was in Ukraine. We have a large office in Ukraine and as you’ve probably heard in Ukraine about 2 years ago Russia invaded. Basically there’s a war starting there. Because the business could be hugely affected, and also because all of my friends and relatives were there I’ve decided to come back and basically support the country. We’ve built the most successful volunteer platform, like a crowd funding platform where we could raise up money for supporting [Unintelligible 00:05:42] soldiers, civilians…

OWEN: How much did you raise, I was wondering?

DAVID: We raised over $10 million within a year and became one of the most successful platforms in the country. I didn’t even check during that time. I was so busy and so focused on those things, I didn’t even check my business email at all. So I forwarded it to one of my associates and I had that real fear that the business would suffer a lot but it turned out it’s not.

OWEN: Now the listener is excited and wanted to learn more about your business. Let’s talk about what exactly does your company do and what big pain do you solve for your customers?

DAVID: We sell website templates for every popular platform out there, and basically it doesn’t say anything to you about. Basically for a small-medium size website owner that means that you can visit templatemonster.com, pick a template, basically a design for your future website, for your niche like restaurant, or travel agency, or repair shop, whatsoever, and buy it out very cheaply, like $65. And for less than $100 basically you get a professional looking website up and running within days, maybe even in 1 day if you’re really in a rush or got some little skills. We also have 24/7 support team supporting your needs and explaining how to do things properly. I think that’s the main key to our success.

OWEN: How many full-time employees do you guys have?

DAVID: We have more than 410 employees but we don’t call them employees because we work internationally, so they’re full-time contractors for us.

OWEN: So they’re basically remote staff, working remotely, right?

DAVID: Yeah, exactly.

OWEN: These days most companies have to go remote eventually anyway. Is your company profitable? What was last year’s annual revenue, and what do you probably expect to do this year?

DAVID: The last year’s revenue was around 15 million. It’s profitable, although later on I’ll tell you it was not profitable all the time because of market change. But anyway, now everything is good and we expect about 30%-35% growth rate this year.

OWEN: That is awesome. We’ve talked about the successes and what you’re experiencing right now as a result of systematizing and automating the business but honestly it wasn’t always like this. Take us back to when the business was not systematized and automated like it is now. What was wrong with it?

DAVID: Everything was wrong to be honest, but the main thing, you cannot focus one any strategic thing at all because you are super busy on solving operational questions especially having the fact that our teams are distributed all over the world in different time zones. So we have people who worked for us for 10 years and we never saw them in person. Sometimes it’s really, really tough to manage those cultural things. Plus the standard things, because we are working in the high-tech industry and things are changing all the time. And for me it was like every single day I come up to my workplace and I solve somebody else’s problems. Initially my first idea was that I’m doing something wrong in terms of management and managing people. I’ve been in past couple of trainings and I realized it’s not because of my management skills but it’s because the business structure is not set-up the proper way.

OWEN: You also mentioned something about when there was hiring and also you couldn’t also focus one, not like some of the strategic things. You couldn’t focus on marketing of the product and stuff like that.

DAVID: Exactly. The old businesses first of all depend on revenues and profits, right, so if you don’t have money you can’t really do anything. And instead of, because my profession is online marketer, l was the strongest marketing guy in the company. And basically instead of doing the proper marketing I had to deal with all those hiring and firing people, and setting up those KPI’s, etc. And so it’s really distracting your core specialties and then at that end of the day you will get issues for that.

OWEN: You mentioned something about a low point back when the business was not systematized. What was it? It was something to do with the Adobe Flash technology. I’m curious, what was that?

DAVID: Basically before 2007 70% of our business was related to Adobe Flash technology. You probably remember those animated…

OWEN: Flash websites and stuff like that?

DAVID: Yeah, Flash websites, right. And then in 2007 Steve Jobs wrote an open letter saying that Flash should die. And basically it was unexpected for everybody, but for us in particular, in 6 months Flash-related business died out and it was 70% of our revenue, so saw an immediate impact. So we had a very, very hard decision to make, we decided instead of firing the Flash guys and hiring new HTML guys we decided to re-training the team because we spent so much time and energy actually to build the team but it was not profitable. So we used our previous profits from previous years and finance this transition period which was over a year but it really helps, so we retained the team.

OWEN: Okay. You also mentioned that you had to re-train the team, so something happened out of your control in the market and so you had to re-train the team to meet the new demand of what product would be. I’m wondering, what was the first step you now took when it came to actually systematizing the business?

DAVID: This Flash thing, it gave us a very tough lesson to learn that if you don’t have a system in place which allows you to make quick changes, and not just out of the air, like some decisions, so it has to be…

OWEN: I’m glad you mentioned it now because I was wondering how this was related to systems so I’m glad you answered me that now.

DAVID: Yeah. If we would have the system where we actualize all the marketing trends and the information about the competition and [Unintelligible 00:12:35] in one place, and then we have one place to analyze this information. Because what I’ve learned the hard way there is a big difference between data and information.

OWEN: How so?

DAVID: Because everybody is calling information but in fact it’s data. Data it’s a raw piece of information that you get from everywhere and it doesn’t give you any basis for making right decisions. Information is the data which you analyze and then you transform it into things that are badly needed for making proper decisions. My goal actually, and the biggest challenge was how do you create the system which works within information not with data, because you could be overloaded with data very easily.

OWEN: That’s true. What was the first step you now took to systematize the business back then?

DAVID: The first step was actually to delegate two people from the company and we send them to take courses for business analytics. The main goal for them was to come back with a different mindset and start drawing all business processes map for the company. This was a very, very huge task. It was involving lots of stakeholders but in fact then you see on the paper on the screen what exactly happens with your company inside? How exactly the decisions are being made, and what are the processes which are duplicated? We actually identified quite a lot of duplicated processes.

OWEN: Okay. What was the very second step that you took to systematize the business?

DAVID: Once we identified those duplicated functions in a necessary and not optimized process so we started to actually cut them off, and so we got some free time by the same existing employees. So instead of growing the team and the expenses of course for managing the same amount of information and doing the same processes. We freed up a lot of resources and put them into optimization process to optimize the business a bit more. For example, we had a very complicated after sales procedure, it involves 5 or 6 people to verify the transaction then if the customer was not satisfied he had to submit the special forms. So a special guy was treating this forms and it then goes to billing and to financial officers and so on. At the end the customer was waiting so long and the satisfaction level you can imagine went down completely. We decided to completely restructure the process. And now only one guy instead of 6 takes care of the whole process, and the customer satisfaction really increased five times.

OWEN: That is awesome. Were there other steps that you took to systematize the business that comes to mind?

DAVID: The main challenge for us was how do we interconnect all international offices, because of different locations and time zones and different languages. So the idea was that we need to implement the same management and informational standards to all offices. So we work as a unified body. But since we are IT guys the first idea was to actually develop our own project management system. And then we started to draw the estimates and we saw how big it is we decided that it will take too many resources to make it. We looked at the market. We found about 10-12 different solutions. And at the end of the day we started to use Bitrix, it’s a Russian-based system which is a great mix of slack, corporate portals, social network, corporate social network, voice over IP (VOIP) solution, and customer relationship management all in one. So basically when every new employee or the old employee comes in, the first thing that he does he log in into those portal and all operations, all processes, all reports, everything is been sourced within the Bitrix system.

OWEN: That’s awesome. This sounds like a lot of things that you had to do then to systematize the business, and I’m wondering because the listener might also be wondering, how did you back then prioritize the order of steps to take? How do you decide which systems or processes was important to create first and the next one? What was the reason?

DAVID: That’s a good question because when you start thinking about optimization so many things come to your mind so you can easily get lost basically. So we got a meeting of the managers and we started with the most problematic ones. So I was doing my minutes, actually I was riding now literally, what I was doing every 5 minutes. The technology called Photo of the Day. So you’re not picturing it but you’re actually describing it. So by systematizing this then you see that the sales department for example it took 30% of my management time. So we started to think how do we optimize the process and basically we found ways to get rid of this. So I freed up 20% of my time, and my advice to everybody who will start doing this, if you can’t optimize your own time then you probably will fail optimizing the business because everything starts with people. Then we started to think about some sort of a system, to create the systematic approach and we found the management concept called BSC, balanced score card system. It’s a new management concept that where every single aspect of your company is being synchronized with your strategic goals for your company. So basically, in other words, every employee does things that should result in achieving your company’s strategic results.

OWEN: So basically saying that anybody doing work they have to relate it to a specific strategic goal that the company have. Is that like having a metrics dashboard where everybody can see what’s happening for the different department and see how it relates to overall goal of the company?

DAVID: Exactly. And also, people start asking themselves what am I doing personally to actually put my own contribution to towards the result that the company looks for.

OWEN: Okay. You said something about during the pre-interview was cheap to implement. Talk about that.

DAVID: Because for us it was cheap to implement since all of the business processes were digitalized. When you have everything in digital form, this is only the process, how do you summarize those digits and put them into the dashboard. I can imagine if somebody’s running truly offline business, it might take a while and some calls to actually digitalize the result. But once you have them digital you can pack this up into different formats. For example you can have it on your mobile, on iPads, or on a special website, so it becomes much, much easier to actually work with this data.

OWEN: Okay. Back then how exactly did you document procedures and processes for the business? What tools did you even use?

DAVID: Some Fortune 500 companies are using very expensive tools specifically made for that, but because we were small comparing to them so we use simple tools available for everybody. Like Google Docs with the collaborative function where everybody could command and put his own contribution, Google Spreadsheets to put formulas and diagrams. And there is a Google drawing tool where we can draw org charts, schemes, and business process maps. Also Google allows you to collaborate especially. So we bought the Corporate Google Account for security purposes, but at the same time we have everybody in the company despite the fact where is their current location or what is their time zone could bring their thoughts and ideas into the same documents. And I think basically it resulted in creating over 300 different documents which at the end of the day you consolidate into a single one which has table of contents and hyperlinks to different sections. So you open a single master document then easily navigate through it.

OWEN: At the time when you were working on systematizing and automating the business I was wondering what books or even mentors had the most influence on you and why?

DAVID: The biggest influence I think was first a consultant we are involved because he told us about the Balanced Scorecard system. The Balanced Scorecard by Robert Kaplan is the guy who actually created this Balanced Scorecard system. And I think this should be vital for everybody who wants to systematize their business.

OWEN: That’s awesome. The consultant introduced you to the book and then you guys implemented the framework that was outlined in the book.

DAVID: Yes, exactly.

OWEN: So if we only talk about success that you had and what you did but don’t talk about the actual challenges that you experienced we don’t paint a full picture. So what was the biggest challenge that you experienced when you initially tried to systematize the business and how did you solve it?

DAVID: That’s a good question because the biggest issue when you start making changes. It’s actually that this change idea comes to your mind but the people around you don’t even think about it. So basically your mindset is being changed but theirs’ is not. So if you compare it it’s basically like you’re on different floors. You’re staying for example on the fifth floor and they’re working on the second floor. The first task should be to put everybody on the same floor. When everybody’s on the same floor and they should understand why you want everybody to go to the upper floor you could motivate them by telling that the company’s performance should increase dramatically which would affect positively their own income and the stability of the business. So we basically were working in one-to-one interviews and some meetings together, and a lot of Skype meetings to synchronize the mindset. The second idea was to actually find those agents of change, people who are really committed to make a change. And this is not an easy task I must say. There are some costly trainers and consultants, and we even ask them for some quotes but it cost lots of money. So we decided then to grow people from the inside and for this we used a DISK Technology. It’s an abbreviation for it’s a psychology testing approach which allows you to identify the strengths and the weaknesses of different people. Basically we identify people have strong management and leadership skills and gave this book, make a couple of outdoor consulting sessions with this consulting and together like strategic sessions. And we basically grew to about five people and those five people became our ambassadors to spread the change within the company. It really helped us during that time. And basically once you have the first five people they convert next 10 people, so basically after you have 15-20 people, it goes automatically after that.

OWEN: That’s awesome. I’m wondering what was the second biggest challenge that you also experienced?

DAVID: The second biggest challenge was how do you actually manage to put your time into those managing this change, because anything that you think of requires some time. And since 90% of my time was daily operations which you can’t just drop because you’re heavily involved. So finding this time to work on systems was one of the biggest challenges. So what we did was we decided to cut down to dedicate the special time slot. For example I basically decided myself to dedicate 3 hours every single day to systematize the business. So no one could call. I turned off my phone, my email, and only worked on systematizing this work. You should dedicate a separate resource for that otherwise you’ll fail.

OWEN: Were there any other challenges that came to mind of what you experienced back then that you want to share?

DAVID: Yeah, that was a technical challenge as well because the information that you need to build a system they are located in fact, even if they are in digital form they are still sitting in different systems or subsystems. So you need lots of things that we had to calculate manually. For example you get some traffic information from Google Analytics, some sales information from the manager’s report, so we did not have any centralized system of data and we were hardly thinking about it. And then we found this miracle hacker guy who knows Google Spreadsheets. My idea is he create Google Spreadsheet because he could make such amazing things. He basically said, “Hey guys, I see how much time you’re spending on those information.” So basically he created the so-called collective tables. Basically those collective tables are automating all the processes connected to that. He created those aggregated dashboards for every single task that we had. Without this guy I’m not sure if we would have this conversation today with you.

OWEN: Given all the challenges that you experienced earlier I’m wondering why did you even stay committed to the goal of systematizing your business?

DAVID: I don’t think that there’s any other choice for any kind of business. To a certain point when you grow up you have a really, really tough choice whether you would get a divorce with your wife, stay away with the family. Lots of my business friends actually have this situation. Then you miss out strategic thinking time. And then at the end of the day the business goes down and basically you could be broke on two fronts, in the family front and on the business front. That’s why I think basically it’s inevitable. If you want to run the business in the long term you have to do it.

OWEN: You mentioned something during the pre-interview, you don’t need an IQ of 200 to know what’s going to happen in the future without systems.

DAVID: Yeah, exactly. Because you see people around you and you can do… I’m bad at forecasting. I play some stocks and I’m very bad at playing stocks. So that’s why I’m bad at forecasting. But for this kind of things you don’t have to be predictory. You know exactly what would happen if you don’t do it.

OWEN: Let’s go to a more recent time in the story that we’d be sharing so far. So at what point in time were you able to systematize the entire business and have it run with you successfully?

DAVID: This is a continuous improvement process, but the wire frame which means that probably 80% of it’s done was done in 6 months. The consultant that we used, he told us that that was the fastest integration that he ever saw. And it was in 2013 when it was done. So I think one of the main, key reason why we did it so fast was first of all personally commitment to motivation, and secondly because we had the digital data available.

OWEN: Now that we’re talking about currently how your business is run I’m wondering what are the different parts of the business and what specific systems you have in each part. So let me make that question more concrete. Imagine somebody who’s looking to buy a template that you guys probably sell on one end. And on the other end that same person has bought it and is raving about you guys telling the world, “Hey, TemplateMonster is the place to buy a template.” But I want to give the listeners behind the scenes of all that’s happening to make that transformation happen. And you can even start from how you even find these people in the first place.

DAVID: Basically, the main know-how for our business is we looked into web design agency work and the business processes as a factory. So we decided there are so many agencies around but they cannot scale 100 times for example, right? So we decided how do we make it? The whole nature of our business was actually to research hardly and heavily in the business processes. For example when we created templates first we created design concepts. The designer creates the concepts starting from the concept… The senior designer create a design, so the main look and feel, then the junior designer creates all the necessary subpages for this design. Step 4, it goes to coding and people do in the HTML and integration, it was all necessary plug-ins and components, and elements. Then the next step it goes for the testing. People test it out in different browsers to make sure that it works correctly. On the next step someone does the packaging of the template so it’s zipping up in special format. It’s uploading to the site and checks the live demonstration that everything is working. When someone buys the template then the sales guy validates the purchase. And after that if the customer has questions another guy provides the support. And if the customer doesn’t like the product, the customer happiness guy, this new guy who was automatic that came to the team, he ensures that the customer is happy. And then we have lots of Webmaster and search and marketing guys who are doing the promotion, presentation, and the preparation. I didn’t even think about in these terms before we drew up the business process map for the company. And then once you have this in picture it’s like a high-level plan how do you run your business. And you have a unique opportunity to take a look in your business where you’re part of it for many years as a third party basically from the top. You see and you understand what’s wrong and what’s right.

OWEN: I totally like that. Now, what systems have you said are in place to enable your employees to know what they need to do exactly?

DAVID: Basically, we started to think how to make it to the most effective way and we decided that it starts with the mentorship. So whenever the new guy comes in… We don’t look at skills. The mentor basically has experience in our system so he does the introduction. And within one week he has a goal to prepare the new hire to pass the exam. If there is no exam passed the mentor gets punished and the guy goes out.

OWEN: Let me interrupt you real quick. Before I even like that is that the fact that if the system is based on mentoring people it means you can literally get anybody who has a desire to learn who’s probably even still a newbie and groom them to how you want the employee to be.

DAVID: For example we have designers who are receiving international design awards who 5 years ago they knew nothing about design, so everything that they know they got from inside the company.

OWEN: I love that. Granted you have to have that mentorship part in place otherwise you won’t be able to bring in someone from scratch to come in if that mentorship program was not already in place for them to go through.

DAVID: Yeah, exactly. It was not coming out of nowhere. But when we faced the huge challenge that there are not too many people around available for immediate hire with all the necessary skills. So we decided we have only two choices. Number one, to kind of re-buy people, pay them much more than on the market so they come to you firstly, or to grow people. And growing people initially we really sucked in this field. We didn’t really do it properly. And then I started to actually watch… A friend of mine he owns a kindergarten. He was telling me how they basically work with kids. So kids at the end of the day know how to behave properly, how to do little handmade stuff. I think why should it be different from basically preparing the skills stuff. It’s no different. It’s just different ideas, maybe less time because people are adults. So if they really have a motivation to learn they would do it. So you just need to give them the right information in the right place and the right time.

OWEN: After the mentorship program you said within 1 week they also have to do an exam. Continue from there. Sorry for interrupting you, I was just so excited about the mentorship program.

DAVID: The first week exam, the primary goal for this exam is to validate our pre-interview process. So basically the mentor decides if we should take the student or not. So if he passes the exam that means that the mentor has a skill to successfully select bright candidates. Then it goes to the level 2. The level 2 exam should be passed within 2 months. During this 2 months the mentor works with him, teaches him specific skills. For example for designers those are Photoshop, the color theory, the composition, and so on. And after 2 months of those probation he should pass the exam. Once he passes that he gets promoted. And we have internal gamification system, people really love it. So you get the badge. You always get badges. For example you did something beyond your daily routine and help somebody because he asked it, this person can send you a special thank you badge. And once you collect five thank you badges in a row the company gives you a special price.

OWEN: You also mentioned something about once the person has gone through the training and mentorship, and gone through the exams, gotten the badges, they become a veteran where they get like a KPI table. Talk about that.

DAVID: Once he passes the 2 months exam, so he’s basically a good guy who knows what to do and we want him in the team and he wants to work with us, he becomes a veteran. He gets specifically made for him the KPI table where he sees in real-time in the dashboard what kind of metrics, how do we measure, he’s affecting this. And he sees the next day, for example he does an extra mile and the next day he sees an improvement so he knows for sure that in the next paycheck this improvement will be reflected.

OWEN: How do you track and verify the results being delivered? You already mentioned that at this stage where the person is a veteran now they get a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) table, for their own specific role. But during the pre-interview you also mentioned that there are three other levels beyond this. Talk about those three other levels.

DAVID: Basically a person’s KPI is the first level to kind of give… The whole idea for this is to actually try to give to the person a real-time instrument to influence his own productivity and his own paycheck. The second level is actually the managerial level. The manager sees the individual KPI’s within his department and sees what’s needed to actually reach his own department KPI. And then the guy on the top level he has the company KPI and he makes sure that the individual KPI and the department’s KPI are in line and so we are actually targeting and reaching out the biggest KPI. And then all those KPI’s start being validated by the financial department before it goes to financials for the paychecks.

OWEN: And so since now that you have more free time I’m wondering which areas in the business do you focus on now and why?

DAVID: I recently passed my MBA course, Master of Business in Administration because I wanted to refresh my management skills, get some new insights. Right now I’m working on the trends because what I’ve realized is if you don’t watch the trends, remember the flash situation for example. In just a blink of an eye you could lose the business or grow the business, vice versa. So you just need all the platforms that we are making templates for, they’re constantly changing. One gets more popular, another gets less popular. So without specific research all the time we risk ending up a broken company. Also the management learning course in the past, it’s actually giving you special insights on the behavioral mechanism on your site. So basically I kind of try to look, because internet business gives you a lot of metrics, who are the people, where they come from, and so on. So basically I’m trying to make an automated selling machine. So what we did within the company, I want to do the same with sales and marketing. So I want the website to sell in the best way to every single customer.

OWEN: What is the next stage of growth for your business. What do you plan to achieve next and why?

DAVID: Our business during this 13 years was transactional. People come, buy one template, make the website, and they probably never come back. Or they come back in 7 years when they need to refresh the design and so on. Since customer acquisition cost are doubling every year so there is no other way whether to start switching from transactional marketing into relationship marketing. So you retain the constant relationship with your customers and you’re basically trying to make recurrent revenue. So I’m trying to find out the best way to transform our business into a recurrent business model. Imagine we sort over 1.5 million customers during this time, imagine if everybody would pay $1 a month for example, it would be a much better business model because you don’t have to focus on bringing new people on the board, basically you focus on serving existing people and that makes you happy.

OWEN: If you’re trying to summarize the key points you’ve actually discussed so far today so that the listener can actually transform their business so it runs without them, just real quick as we come to the close of the interview, just summarize it for the listener.

DAVID: Okay. I would start immediately with drawing the business process map. You could just Google how it looks like and I think on a personal level you can do it for yourself. Just try to set-up and draw the business process map for a personal daily life. And then for 3 weeks in a row I would write down every single thing that I’m doing. And then I group it into different categories and then you would see I’m sure that you can optimize your workflow at least 25%. Once you optimize your own time as I said, use this freed up time to optimize your business the same way.

OWEN: Is this what you’ve summarized now, kind of like the very next step the listeners should take to get started with systematizing their business?

DAVID: Yes. This is the first step, and if you have employees you probably have managers, so you give the managers a straightforward task to do the personal workflow optimization for them themselves, so they free up 25% of their time, and then everybody who freed up their time should work to optimize the business process within their organization. So basically you inject an optimization virus into the company.

OWEN: I can see how that can work from you the owner, to then the execs, and then to the managers, and eventually even down to the employee side of things as well, optimizing all the way. So far we’ve asked a lot of questions but I’m wondering, is there any question that you were wishing I would’ve asked you during so far during this interview that for some reason that we missed and I didn’t ask you. Go ahead and ask the question and give the answer,

DAVID: One of the questions, probably sometimes people ask me, “Don’t you basically feel that you might become a robot because you systematize everything and you become less emotional?” Absolutely not. Actually when you systematize the business you also basically see free spot with the time and we spend it with enjoyment. We do lots of beer parties inside the office because we freed up 20% of time for example, so we could celebrate this. I think it shouldn’t be a fear for any person who wants to optimize the business.

OWEN: What is the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?

DAVID: First of all thank you for the very interesting questions. The best way to connect with me is actually to visit my Facebook David Braun. I’m very active in LinkedIn. In LinkedIn, for example, I have a mobile application and I’m responding all the time because I’m a super connected person. I have over 7,000 connections. And also don’t forget to visit TemplateMonster. My email address is david@templatemonster.com. Feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to reply with any advice, idea, or whatsoever.

OWEN: Now, I’m speaking to you the listener who has been listening all the way to this point. If you’ve enjoyed this interview like I enjoyed interviewing David please go ahead and leave us hopefully a 5-star rating and also a positive review on iTunes. To do that go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes. And the reason why you want to leave us a review is because when you leave us a review other people will check out the review, find value in the review, and come and check out the podcast. So you’ll help us attract more listeners. Also if you’re at that point in your business when you’re personally tired of being the bottleneck and you want your employees to be able to know exactly step-by-step how it is that you do those repetitive tasks so that they can do it predictably without you having to be there, well, signup for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. David, thanks for doing the interview.

DAVID: Thank you very much and I’ll definitely go and leave a positive review on iTunes.

OWEN: That would be awesome. And we’re done.

Noteworthy items Mentioned in this Episode:

  1. Bitrix24 for corporate social network, VoIP and CRM
  2. Balanced Scorecard for management

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

  1. Draw out a business process map.
  2. For 3 weeks, write down every single thing you’re doing and group them into different categories.
  3. After you optimize your own time, use the time you’ve freed up to optimize your entire business in the same way.

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