Nov. 2, 2022

102. Scaling Your Business with Kevin Brent

102. Scaling Your Business with Kevin Brent
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How do I scale my business? When is the best time to scale my business? Can I scale my business online? We talk to expert Kevin Brent about scaling a business.
Kevin is an experienced and entrepreneurial business practitioner with a focus on strategy, business development and maximizing value. Kevin founded BizSmart in 2012 with the aim of supporting business owners to build value growth in their businesses.

Connect with Kevin Brent:
Website: and
Podcast: ScaleUp Radio
Book: The Entrepreneurial ScaleUp System: How to overcome the challenges of achieving 7-figure business success and beyond

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You can find Dana @adashofboss, @dana.dowdell and @hrfanatic
Dana DowdellBoss Consulting – HR Consulting
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You can find Russ @reliable.remediation
Russ HarlowReliable Remediation – Disaster Restoration


Dana Dowdell 00:00

This episode is brought to you by Boss Consulting HR. If you own a small business, you don't have to do HR alone. Boss consulting provides outsourced HR services such as recruiting, compliance, training and employee relations, visit boss consulting, to schedule a consultation and download our white paper on the steep cost of not having human resources. Hi, Russ.


Russ Harlow 00:33

Dana, how are you?


Dana Dowdell 00:34

I'm good. How are you?


Russ Harlow 00:35

Fantastic. Thank you.


Dana Dowdell 00:37

So we are joined this morning by Kevin Brent. He is the CEO and founder of Biz Smart, and the author of the Entrepreneurial Scale Up System, which all sounds like big badass thing. So I'm very excited to talk to Kevin. Kevin, welcome to It's Just Business.


Kevin Brent 00:56

Thank you very much, Dana and Russ, it's great to be invited on. I'm excited to be here with you today. It's great.


Dana Dowdell 01:02

Well, we're very excited to have you. So you, people say they're like a serial entrepreneur. And I think it sounds like you fall into that category, you've started three businesses. So tell us a little bit about how you got started into being an entrepreneur?


Kevin Brent 01:20

Hmm, I think I don't know of a serial entrepreneur, or serial zero or something. But certainly I've tried a few things. Some things have worked some things some things haven't. So so yeah. So I mean, I, I've, I would count myself as always having had an entrepreneurial mindset. Right, from right from early age. But I started off with a military career, I was in the in the RAF trained up as a pilot. And then went into, went into business after that and did the usual sort of big business, corporate sort of thing. Started off with sales, through marketing, through business unit management, all those good things in a corporate thing, then went across and did an MBA and then joined a consulting firms. So I've done a lot of the big career stuff, but I've always had that idea of that entrepreneurial mindset of looking out for opportunities, thinking, Oh, wouldn't it be great, you know, to do that there's, there's a, there's a gap, there's something that's missing, or, you know, whether that'd be within a company, or whether you're looking outside of it. So I've always been looking for things. And at one stage, the opportunity, the opportunity arose, actually, in the initial one was to do it within a business, we had the work for a medical education agency. So we were doing all sorts of publications and communications for both the pharmaceutical industry and for healthcare professionals. And there was an opportunity to create a patient information portal. And I led that within I drove that from the from the start suggested that the I was one of the directors there, but suggested the rest of the board that that was something that we should do. And I was given the rope to, to build that internally. So that was the first kind of business unit in a way I suppose, but business within a business that I set up.


Russ Harlow 03:17

And then did that grow into something bigger? Did you sell it off to that company? did you how did that work out?


Kevin Brent 03:25

So that was that was set up? Right from the start with the view of a potential exit for the company to sell it. Because that was we're going right back to the beginnings really of the of sort of sort of sort of sort of era. And in the in the States, you probably will be familiar with Dr. Koop. So this world and the web MDGs and they'd already started to build significant patient information portholes, but there was nothing yet really reaching out very much into the into the UK so we wanted to occupy that occupy that space and build a reasonably significant presence so that when those companies started looking across the pond that that we would be out hopefully they would look at us and go you know what, somebody's already got something up and running. Maybe we should buy them out.


Dana Dowdell 04:20

Oh, that's an interesting way to approach I don't think I've ever heard somebody approach starting a business that way of like we're going to get it establish in the anticipation of someone wanting to buy us when it comes over to this area. That's very interesting.


Kevin Brent 04:40

Yeah, I think I think it's always sensible when you're starting a business to be thinking about your potential exit option. I know that you probably heard that heard that before, but not most people don't you know, they certainly don't that the focus is on how do we get our first customer which obviously we need to we need to do, but but if we've got an eye And then exit. And that was the thinking that we went through was okay, when we're going to do this. What is the what is the potential exit strategy? And once we started looking and thinking about it, then that became a logical thing to to aim for.


Russ Harlow 05:16

So that sparked something else and you start looking for more opportunities, or how did how did things grow from you for there? Because then, I mean, obviously, you're helping people scale their businesses now. So I'm guessing the experience over the previous businesses helped you get to where you are now?


Kevin Brent 05:33

Yeah, so I think I think the we all, we all end up with a unique set of experiences, don't we, you know, as we go through life, so no, no two of us have had exactly the same experiences. So we have a very slightly different take on on life. And we can bring different things to the to the mix. And, and I think that's what I what I've done. And what I tend to try to do is bring the right back, as I say, right back from the military side of things, and a lot of a lot of the leadership stuff. But some of the principles from the from the military have helped shape me from an early from early days, you add in the mix of some big corporate career work, also then some consulting work. And also then some entrepreneurial work, as well as a bit of theory from doing an MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau in France, then you just start to get a mix of mix of things. And if you've got a passion for something, and then you bring those things together, then I think that's the most likely chance of success that you're going to kind of have when you've got that, that passion for something. But actually, you've got your unique, unique set of skills and ways of looking at things from your experiences that enable you to do something a little bit different, perhaps, from the run of the mill.


Dana Dowdell 06:45

It sounds like it sounds kind of like your experiences were just very just kind of a natural progression of experiences. Was there ever a time when you were in business or getting your masters or any of those where you're where you felt like you might have been out of place at all? Or did you always feel like this was where you were supposed to be and what you're supposed to be doing?


Kevin Brent 07:11

No, I think that's a that's a really interesting question. I don't think I'd ever found my home in any of those previous experiences. The one time that I did was that was the time that I that I mentioned to you actually when we set up this this this business it was called Health and focus in fact. And that was such an amazing experience. Because we were a small team, there were only five of us. But we were absolutely unified about what we were trying to do. And we achieved tremendous amount in a really short period of time, working together as that really close knit team. And they were handpick people that I was able to pick essentially, from people within the within the company that I'd worked with. So I saw I knew, and we had such a buzz and such a feeling of achievement, out of out of what we did that I think that was the time when I thought you know what this is what this is what I really want to do this is this is this is what I love doing. And it's and it's what really drives me.


Russ Harlow 08:08

So just kind of piggybacking on that in a time where it's hard to find great people and a players for your team. How important is it to not be accepting just anybody who can come in and fill a role and building a team that can help you accomplish your goal?


Kevin Brent 08:26

Yeah, that's another great, great question. And it's, and of course, we're, we're always tempted if we leave it too late, or we're struggling, we're tempted to take the first opportunity that we can we see aren't we it's a bit like I've heard before people say you should never go shopping when you're hungry. Because you just end up filling your basket with rubbish. But the so it but it's but it's difficult as you say, it's a it's a difficult environment at the minute and a lot of the businesses that we work with, are struggling to find good people, the number of applications for job roles, certainly here in the UK, has gone right down for particular types of roles. So yes, we've got to be got to try and avoid falling into that trap of just taking maybe who is who does come first and sticking to sticking to our guns a little bit. And the best rationale I can give for that, I think is thinking about the cost of a bad of a bad hire. You'll probably have seen all of the statistics, but it's you know, it can easily be three times or more the average SAT the salary of that role in terms of the cost of taking on the wrong the wrong person by the time you've unpacked all of it or the management time involved maybe in dealing with it, even if even if they don't actually cause you have any specific issues with clients. But if they do then of course you got to unpick all about as well.


Russ Harlow 09:54

So I'm curious if we're always looking for new clients or looking to drive business always looking to sell out promoting ourselves in our business. Do you have any recommendations to for prospects prospecting for team members all the time, even when there's not an open one? Do you have any recommendations for folks? Yeah,


Kevin Brent 10:11

I mean, we follow that line of always be recruiting always be recruiting. So always be on the lookout for good people. Were talking about building a people Bank, which is not a concept that we that we invented, but it's like, you're like a subs bench, essentially. So always be on the lookout making opportunities to look for good talent. Even if you're not ready to take them on board, and maybe they're not ready to come on board, that doesn't stop you identifying them, maybe meeting up with them having a coffee, if that's if that's appropriate building that relationship. And over time, then maybe you're building up that little, that little bit of a bank of people that you might be able to go back to when you need it. So certainly always being on the lookout for, for potential candidates, but also thinking a bit differently. And because it's just like, just like trying to find clients really with our with our own marketing, if we just do the run of the mill stuff. And we're just in the mix with everybody else, the chances are, we'll, if we're lucky, we'll get a little bit of a little bit of business, but we're not going to really do anything special. It's the same with looking for our candidates. So we've got to think a little bit different where, where perhaps, would the ideal candidates hang out? So that's the first thing is who would who would we really want to want to look for but where, would they be? Maybe we could find them in places that other people aren't looking? So yes, we could stick an ad on Indeed, or on LinkedIn or something like that, but so does everybody else. So where can we where can we find them? And, and maybe if So, example, perhaps with one of one of our clients that that I've used a couple of times he runs a company looking for they have software developers within the within the team, and they program in a language called Ruby on Rails, it's quite a specific skill. And they're quite highly prized when they when they have it. And this is a small company, and you can't afford to hire somebody that's got years of experience doing this if you just can't compete with the with the bigger companies. So he thought, Okay, well, I'll tell you what, what, how do these people get trained? Now, what do they have, they start off where they get trained. So we look for those opportunities, he got himself registered and was able to then deliver some of the courses that these people were doing as part of the part of a particular university. And of course, he then built relationships with some of those young people coming through and training. In fact, they were cross skilling transferring from different types of software programming. And he was able to not only build those relationships, but he could also pick out the ones that were particularly good. And then he was able to then think about, okay, well, maybe they'd like to come on and build their experience with me. And the second thing that he did a bit differently was acknowledge the fact that they may not stay with Him forever. Because most of us think, Oh, we're going to recruit somebody, we want them to stay with us for next 30 years, well, that's probably not going to happen. So if you accept the fact that you might train them up, and they might leave in three or four years, then it's a different mindset. And you can think about, okay, well, how do we make sure that we both get the value out of those three or four years. And if they stay a bit longer, then that's, that's, that's fantastic. So he did those couple of things. And it's just helped him to then be able to find some really good people without necessarily having to pay the fortune that, that he couldn't do.


Dana Dowdell 13:23

Like taking the idea of finding opportunities as an entrepreneur and finding opportunities within the people. I so I'm an HR consultant. So you're definitely speaking my language. And I am very curious, given your military background, because one thing that I find employers struggle with a lot is taking someone's military background and transitioning that skill set into something in you know, civilian life. Ross is also a military, we've talked to a lot of people that have a military background. And so I'm really curious, from your viewpoint. What are some skill sets that you acquired in the branch of service that made you a better entrepreneur, business owner, employee, all of those things?


Kevin Brent 14:10

Yeah. I think that's an interesting question. I don't think there's one, I don't think there's one thing that I would pinpoint it down, although I would. I think most of it will be around leadership, frankly. And you, you just see people in such different lights, even just going through basic training when everybody's stripped down to the same sort of level. I mean, I imagine it's the same grace with your military background. You get people from all sorts of backgrounds and the first things they do really is designed to wear everybody down to the same level, isn't it and then they build you build you up again. So you, you learn some of your own. Some of what makes you tick a little bit and what you can and can't cope with and how resilient you can be, but you also realize that everybody already at that, then is at that same position and you treat people with equal respect. And you start to think you know what, every Everybody's got something to say here, something to bring to bring to the table. So it takes away all of your class background, all of your upbringing, all of education, perhaps all of those things, everybody at the same level and builds you up. But one of the other specific things that I remember is during the selection process, actually, there are a number of tasks and rusted you didn't same sort of thing they tell you to get from A to B across these, then that's a pond full of Puranas. And you've got it, you know, you've got a pine pole, and you've got yet all of these, all of these sorts of things. You've got an order, and we've got to get it get across. And the selection ones are all done in a big, big hangar. And we were in little groups, there were I think six people in each group. And the first task they did, they didn't assign a leader. Russ is nodding. They do that with you as well. And then


Russ Harlow 15:58

not in the military service. But I've done similar projects, similar experiences.


Kevin Brent 16:03

So there was no leader and it was chaos. Everybody was a first episode, everybody was vying to prove themselves if you like, and it was a complete and utter disaster because there weren't there was no leader, there was no allocation of roles, not even any timekeeping. And because we all had a preset amount of time to do this exercise. And then the following exercises, they said, right, Kevin, you're the leader for this one, Ross, you be the leader for that for the next one. And even just doing that make made a huge difference. And as soon as the leaders then started actually assigning roles and making the task out for bid for what people needed to do, and keeping an eye on the time, then you could see how much more was done. But I think, overall, being in the military, you get to see so many situations that you realize that you can be resilient, you're not fazed by things that come out of you from all over the place that you've not, not seen that not It's not expected, but also that teamwork and the working together to achieve things. And then that what as you progress, but the fact that then you need to take on a leadership role. And you can you can, again, you can be a leader, you don't have to be you don't have to be some hugely high ranking officer to be a leader. It's around how you behave within you within your within your teams. But that importance of building up your leadership skills, and being credible, then as a leader, I think is a big part of the military. military background.


Russ Harlow 17:35

Yeah, I mean, if it was legal, I would only hire veterans. But there's just that. You're right. There's a there's a an unspoken thing that goes on there. There's an understanding. When I first joined a franchise, they looked for veterans because they know that veterans can follow directions. And that's what a franchise is. They give you a business system, say do it this way. This is how it's done. And so yeah, there's a sense of leadership and duty and honor and discipline and those types of things that are not in everyone. But there's yeah, there's something that there's a commonality that goes there.


Kevin Brent 18:11

And there's a there's a work ethic, I think as well. Isn't that as a as a get it done. You're in the military, you don't kind of go on well, I'm a bit tired. I'll do it tomorrow. You get it done, don't you?


Russ Harlow 18:23

Yeah, I had a drill sergeant yell at me one time because my boots weren't polished first thing in the morning, and we had been out all day and all night. And he said, Why aren't your boots polish? And I said, Well, I didn't have time and he said did you sleep last night, then you had time. And of course if I had got caught out of my bunk doing something other than sleeping, I would have been punished then too. So it's just it's loose.


Kevin Brent 18:45

You've just reminded me of a story from my trading without boots. Exactly that we'd been out. Somebody had warned me about this beforehand and suggested that maybe you should have a second pair of boots. So we've been out on this week long exercise out in the field had been dreadful weather and we'd come back and we'd had had our inspections in the morning and I'd gone and got my second pair of boots. I was stood there at the door to this to this thing and the the inspecting officer came along and he looked at me and they looked at the guy next to me and he said Harrop it Brent can do is boots then so can you you're on a charge and it was I'll


Dana Dowdell 19:34

always be prepared. Oh, there you go. Yeah. Right. So um, biz smart. So you've had biz smart. You founded it over 10 years ago. Tell us a little bit about what you do. And I'm also curious you know, you started to franchise it. It's your only business that you have It's sold. So what? Talk to us a little bit about why?


Kevin Brent 20:05

Okay, well, I think because all the hours have led me to, I took some time out at one point to build my own house. And, and when I came when I, when I was coming towards the end of that and thinking, what am I going to do next, then that's when I thought, You know what, with everything that I've done, and what I've, I've had some experience with business had some experiences with it and good education with business, both in corporate and setting up and running small businesses. And it's, it's, I know how hard it is, I know how hard it is to, to get beyond the point where you've maybe worked on your own, or you've got two or three employees, but it's hard in those early stages, particularly. And I was thinking about it and thought, you know, I think I can bring some, some something to the table here. And that's, and that's also, it does become a bit of a bit of a mission, a bit of a bit of a passion, because I saw some of the stats, that and I think it's the same sort of worldwide that that something like 96% of all businesses have fewer than 10 employees, and less than 1% have more than 50 employees. So only, you know, only 4% Make it beyond the 10 employee, which is here, we would say that's roughly about a million pound turnover, some something some something like that sort of sort of level. And I wanted to understand why that was? And if it and is it because 96% of all business owners don't want to? Or is actually is there a big chunk of people in there that do and if there are which which which we worked out that there are then what is it that's stopping them scaling? And how can we help them to unlock the potential in themselves, but also run their businesses in a slightly different way, that means that they can actually scale?


Russ Harlow 22:02

Have you found that some of the reasons behind it are as you scale, people don't know how to like that it goes beyond their own capabilities to be able to grow the business and they're not willing to bring in somebody else and hand over some of that responsibility? Is it shrinking margins? Is it a combination?


Kevin Brent 22:20

Yeah, it's, it's, it's all sorts of things, the, in the, I think throughout it, it's, you could narrow it down to, if you want to narrow down a couple of words, you can narrow it down to focus and follow through it really the focus for me is it's got to have, it's gotta be the right focus, you've got to have that strategic framework and that way of making good decisions, but you've got to have that follow through, and you've got to get the alignment then to make those things work. But I think as you said, I think there's a there's a number of natural kind of stepping stones. And we look at it in the in that way. And that's in fact, around the random book that I've written, we use the scale up journey, and a series of stepping stones is kind of the, the overarching umbrella around which we frame everything. In fact, that's how we frame our services. And, and the logic to that. And it actually goes back a little bit to military units of team sizes and things if you. But if you think that apart from being a solo solopreneur, let's start there, you know, we could be a consultant, and we could build a really nice business for ourselves, that pays our salary quite nicely, or pays our bills quite nicely. But if we want to have a business that will support three to five people, for example, which is the next pillar that we talk about next stepping stone, then you've got to build the business in a little bit of a different way. And there's a little bit of a valley that goes in between in between those. And that if you think about the military units, as a team or a small crew is typically around about four people something like that the smallest military unit that we talk about, it's big enough that you can achieve something together quite well, you've got a bit of collaborative thinking, but not so big that it becomes a real problem to manage. But equally if you if if somebody's not performing quite well, it doesn't destroy the whole, the whole the whole team, you don't go back to back level one. So that's the first sort of steps. And the next one would be a little a little squad, which might be up to 12 people, something like that. And that's about the limit at which as a business owner or as an individual leader, is about the limit of what we can lead on our own. And then as you say, from that point on, we need to then have not just to number two, but if we're going to get to the kind of the next sort of size of 2025 people which you might call a section or whatever, you need to then have a bit of a structure or a leadership structure going on going on in there. But there's a lot of reasons why people don't make to the different pillars. And I just picked the one from going from say, eight to 12 people to then try and get to 2025 One of the big reasons there is that we've now got more at stake to lose as an entrepreneur, we probably are quite risk. We're quite happy to take take take take some risks. And in the early days, if we've got our business up to having eight or 12 employees, around 10 employees around a million turnover, something like that, we've probably got a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. And then somebody comes along and says, Well, if you want to scale to the next level of business, you got to have a senior leadership team in place. And you've got to do this and that and you've got to, you've got to go again, essentially, and there's all this investment you've got to make and all these things you need to think about. It's like, Oh, hold on a minute, you know, do I need to go again, I've got comfortable lifestyle, why would I? Why would I risk that?


Russ Harlow 25:32

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Dana Dowdell 26:07

So also, well, I was gonna say it's also like your, the more you scale, the further away from the tasks that you started the business for in the first place you get. And that's that's like a control issue. It's there's a lot to unpack there, but like, the more you grow, the further and further away from the actual work you get. And that can be hard for people.


Kevin Brent 26:31

Yes. And you mentioned, Ross, you mentioned franchising earlier on, and the moment I think you become a franchisee you your role completely changed it sorry, the moment you have a franchise or your role completely changes from delivering whatever your business was doing. But now you're out and your sole role is finding franchisees training them up maybe and looking after franchisees and it's you've just changed entirely what you're what you're doing, and, and sort of what you're saying there? Dana, I think is is right, we have to evolve. In Ross, you tend to think a little while ago, the sort of person that is good at getting a business off the ground is not necessarily the sort of person that is good at taking it through all of these stages of scaling up. And we look at do you do? Are you familiar with disc profiling, and things, things like that. So there's all sorts of profiling tools at Myers Brigg, and all of those sort of things, but we sort of use that use the use the disc one. And there's quite a lot of entrepreneurs that when we looked at the challenges at the different stages of businesses, those that between sort of North and half a million sort of turnover, the ones that actually make it to that sort of level, and to sort of half a million turnover, whatever, there's quite a lot of the dominant type of the DISC personality, they're the ones that are really driven and get things get things done. But then as we grow, and certainly as we start to need to build those senior leadership teams, we need to bring in all the people skills, all of the things that maybe come from the other personality types. And if we can't do that, if we can't transition either ourselves or build a team, with people that can do that, then we're going to continually rub against all of the sort of people challenges that we get, and we're going to be tearing our hair out and why by people not do it behaving in the way that I want them to they know they're always causing me hassle, they never seem to be really committed to what to what to what we're doing and how do I deal with all these people who shouldn't we can't transition ourselves a little bit, then then we're going to kind of kind of struggle.


Russ Harlow 28:38

So and I and I think it's just human nature, right? That kind of tends to get in the way for most of us. We seek comfort, we don't seek pain, or discomfort. And it's uncomfortable to get out of our box and scale beyond what we've built that oh, this is a nice little lifestyle. But the problem is if we're not innovating and growing, eventually our business is going to become unhealthy. Or many of us are just happy with oh, I've created a job for myself, and that's okay. But I wouldn't call that a business. That doesn't classify as a business to me.


Kevin Brent 29:18

I would I would agree. I think that's only that's owning a job. And not all business owners or entrepreneurs. You know, many of us fall into business because we just want to do that particular thing that we're that we're maybe we're passionate about it. And I think Michael Gerber and the book, the E Myth, sort of sum those things up really, really nicely and how we need to change our mindset really and evolve as a as a business as a leader. As an entrepreneur. We want to be a true entrepreneur rather than just owning a job creating and owning a job for ourselves.


Dana Dowdell 29:54

So we've talked on this podcast about joining a franchise so we have had Eric Aleta and Ross talked about it. And then we had a conversation with Ross about exiting a franchise. And I would love to hear about what it's like to start a franchise. And what were some of those decisions that you made along the way that made you choose that path for Bismarck?


Kevin Brent 30:19

Yeah, one word was set up at the moment, which is expensive. I think if I if I, if I had realized how expensive it was going to be at the beginning, we may not have may not have got it got as far down the route as we, as we as we have. But we made the decision to franchise because we are, we really are trying to move the needle on that dial that I was talking about, about the 4% and only scaling. And if we just worked with a few people on a one to one basis or something in a particular part of the country, then we're not really going to impact that we might make a difference to a few people but not on the scale. And then of course, you got to say, Well, how do we do that on any kind of scale, but maintain the quality. And, and there's something about there's something about franchising, and the fact that individual franchisees are their own business owners, which means that they are more committed, then to build those businesses. And if they're, if they're the sort of people that are able, you were talking about earlier on about, about following a system and will stick to a system, then that quality can be ingrained in them. But then they've got the work ethic, because it's their own business, and they're not just an employee working on the clock, that makes quite a difference. And that's what we're after. And it's funny that Ross that you should you said, you know, if you can, if you're allowed to only recruit veterans, you know, you word, they are top of our of our profile of the kind of ideal franchisees that we'd be we'd be looking for because it's not necessarily they don't necessarily have to have the and know everything about business. It's much more important and particularly in the way that we work with our with our clients is much more important that they have the work ethic, but the all of the all of the all of the stuff you you'd expect the integrity, the trust, all those good things, the honesty, but also they've got that leadership, and that they can because we do a lot of peer working a lot of mastermind type working with business owners, and we need our people to be able to be credible and respected and hold that hold the room and be seen as a leader within that within that within that room. So that's the sort of what we're looking for with without it has been really expensive and costly for us to get all of the franchise agreements in place all of the original work that needs to be done in the operations manner that does take time. But I think the lesson that I probably didn't really understand early enough, and that we're finding now is that doing all of that stuff is only the bit that only gets you to the table. Right? That's the that's the starting point. And you've got to at least double that investment, if not more. So in terms of thinking about how are we actually going to find franchisees because they don't just land on your lap, it doesn't matter how good how good your model is, you have to invest significantly and particularly at the early stages. Now, I mentioned the stepping stones of the business of employees, one, three to five, eight to 12, and so on. Were right in one of those danger valleys at the minute we've got a bit of literally at the starting point of our franchisee journey I was saying to you earlier, we've got two franchisees. So we're at that we need we need really, I don't want to sound desperate, but we need we need two or three more franchisees to convincingly get to that three to five staging post, that means that we're probably then from that we'll be able to build because if one franchisee doesn't perform perfectly, then it's not going to ruin the whole the whole the whole model, but equally, you've got three to five franchisees that will be driving each other. Whereas that one or two franchisees, it's, it could very easily slip backwards again if things don't quite work out. So that's our focus at the minute and it is it is tough finding franchisees finding the right marketing that works finding the right people.


Russ Harlow 34:28

And I don't know how it is in the UK, I'm guessing is pretty similar, but franchising is heavily regulated. There's a lot of legal hoops to jump through. There's a lot of reporting and everything else. There's weird dynamics between franchisors and franchisees and employee models, et cetera, et cetera. So I can't imagine kind of the hurdles you've had to go through. I do remember talking with another franchisee and another program and in and I'm wondering if you are doing this, they when they first start To the franchise, they looked for a certain type of franchisee, and it was one who is kind of like the one who could start it up, get it going and then sell it. Whereas, and they needed those in the beginning. Whereas they needed somebody who could promote business, build business and grow and scale it quickly. And after about, I say, five to seven years, they started looking for different types of franchisees to those who could take an existing business and then grow it from there. Because there are different types. There are different types.


Kevin Brent 35:33

That's a that's really, that's really interesting. And it, we were remarking the other the other day about the two franchises that we have, because they're very different. One is one I think, is much more the former that you're talking about getting off the ground, getting it running. And he's very ambitious about then taking on the next territory and doing all of that. The other one is much more about working with the clients and doing the getting their processes, right. And he's much more into that side of things than necessarily going out prospecting and finding, finding new clients. And I, that's a really interesting way of looking at it. Actually, Ross, I hadn't really thought about it that way in terms of activate the beginning going out for people that will that will build it. And it's a challenge that I would say we have, there is of course that they have to be able to deliver the work really well. Because our reputation, everything relies on the quality of the advice, the quality of the support that we're giving, giving to people, so it kind of have to have both.


Dana Dowdell 36:45

I'm really curious about your thought process. Like, I think about my own business, right? Like it's my baby, right? So like the idea of putting that in someone else's hands is fucking frightening. Did you experience any of that fear that like someone's going to take what I have created? And just dismantle it or ruin it?


Kevin Brent 37:11

Yes, absolutely. But isn't that the same isn't that doesn't that go back to something Ross was saying about why some businesses don't and owners can't scale because they can't trust other they can't put their trust in other people to do it. And we have to, we have, we have to we can't ignore that we can't abdicate that responsibility, which one of the reasons why we went down the franchising route, because we can train people up and make sure we keep the quality rather than, say, a licensing route when you lose a bit more control of the quality. But equally, we have to, as business owners, we have to accept that if we want to progress our businesses, we have to allow other people to develop within the businesses and therefore we have to give, give them a bit of free rein, and they may not do things in exactly the same way as we would. But that doesn't actually mean that it's going to be worse, it could well be could well be better. But and we've got to have that little bit of confidence to do it. And, you know, we're not suddenly going to give people the keys to the whole plant and just go and let them do it. But we've got to gradually build people up. And we talk a lot about in the early stages of building a business. We have to most of our focus has to be on developing ourselves as a leader on our own our own skills, leadership and delegating, learning which things we can delegate and what we should delegate, and trying to get things off our plate that distracts us that we maybe shouldn't be doing to allow us to focus on the things we should. But there comes a point. And, you know, it's generally around about that eight to 12 employee level, where we really have to change our leadership style to be developing other leaders within the within the business. And if we can't make that transition, weak, and we can't delegate well, we can't hand to other people, because we should then be delegating even the things that we are best at within the business. Because if we become if let's just say we're the one that is, I'm the only one that can go out and sell to the big corporate clients, let's just say if that's can only be me, if I can't teach that skill, or I can't find somebody else that can do that, or trust somebody else to do that. We'll never get beyond the number of people that I can call in a day or go and go and go and see in a day and I become the I become the roadblock and the natural seating for the business. So and that's just that, obviously that encompasses any other role as well. It covers any, any other role if we're the one that is the is the roadblock to that. We've got to try and find some way of getting past that and we want to scale.


Russ Harlow 39:50

It sounds like you could write a book on for business owners and entrepreneurs.


Kevin Brent 39:56

It's funny you should say that


Russ Harlow 40:00

set you up for a Kevin have set? Yeah. Tell me about the entrepreneurial scale up system,


Kevin Brent 40:04

you throw the ball up and I'll work it out the park will still try. The AI Yes, exactly. And what you mentioned that we've been in business 10 years, we spent most of the 10 most of the 10 years honing our model. And because we're all about scaling up and around understanding that scale up journey, we've been able to think, okay, well what happens at this point? And what are some of the things that we need to do. So we put an overarching framework, if you like, have things that people need to do and over the years that's gone through webinars, and we sort of pull those together then into manuals and resources that our clients could use and programs. And that's now eventually come into now. That to me writing a book, capturing it all in in a book called The entrepreneurial scale up system, which is a bit of a mouthful, and a bit much to type into Amazon or whatever else. But I'm sure if you type in Kevin Brent, you'll probably find it but it's the entrepreneurial scale up system. And what we're trying to do there is to is, it's not we don't want to didn't want a theoretical textbook or anything like that. It's practical stuff, everything we do has to make a difference. And we've tried to distill things down into real practical things that that everybody can start to do, right the way through, you know, we say right at the beginning, for example, before you read any further, there's two things that you could that you can do. And you don't have to get these rights straight away, but just start and if you're not doing it already, put a date in your diary for every 90 days, where you sit down and you make a 90 day plan and you just go, what's gone? Well, the last 90 days, what hasn't? And what are our top five or six things we need to do in the next 90 days? And how are we going to address those right, that's the first and then on the back of that. Put in a weekly meeting, which you probably already got a weekly meeting, but you're probably just talking about clients and individual problems that you've got, but have a weekly meeting that includes how are we doing against those priorities we've just set for them for the 90 days. And if you do those two things, you're you will do better than you're doing now, if you're not doing those two things.


Dana Dowdell 42:21

forward progress, forward progress. All right. So Kevin, we do a lightning round at the end of every one of our episodes, I have four questions for you. And so the first one is, what is one thing that you wish you had known before starting a business?


Kevin Brent 42:42

But every time everything takes three times as long cost three times as much, and you weren't a third of what you what you thought you would


Dana Dowdell 42:49

the power of threes, okay.


Kevin Brent 42:53

Or it could be the power of four? I don't know, maybe it's worse, but it's certainly about it's certainly something like that.


Dana Dowdell 43:00

What about your favorite way to market your business?


Kevin Brent 43:04

So the, the favorite, a favorite way is I like running sessions with groups of groups of people. That's what I enjoy the most. And the book is proving to be a reasonably effective way of marketing through LinkedIn and using that as a credibility tool and, and that we're enjoying doing that. And that's, that's working quite well.


Dana Dowdell 43:29

Awesome. What is one business platform that's changed your life.


Kevin Brent 43:34

So I suspect that this, probably most businesses across the globe would say this, but it's a bit boring. But zoom has definitely changed it for change it for us we were doing using another platform before lockdown happened, actually, but zoom has just made things much more, much more accessible for us, we also use a CRM that has made a big difference. And but there are lots of good CRMs out there. But the one that we use is Ontraport. Which works nicely for us.


Dana Dowdell 44:04

Yeah, that came up in one of our most recent episodes about CRMs. And I'm shopping so I like to hear about other ones. So I've checked that one out. When did you feel like you had made it?



I'll let you know.


Dana Dowdell 44:22

Fair enough. That's a common answer we're getting.


Kevin Brent 44:24

Yeah, I I definitely don't feel like I made it. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what point if you do feel like you've made it. I certainly feel that I've got a fair way to go yet. Before I would say that I have.


Dana Dowdell 44:37

Fair enough. Where can people connect with you?


Kevin Brent 44:42

Brilliant. So do you want to find out more about what we do in the book? The easiest way probably is to go to ESA s group dot code at UK says E S U S which is short for entrepreneurial scale up systems or ESUS group dot code at UK that's Great you can you can actually reach out and contact me through that, or find me on LinkedIn. You know, that'd be great. Kevin, Kevin Brent, you should find me just by using that.


Russ Harlow 45:12

Well, I really appreciate you being here and taking the time to share with our listeners and with us. You know, it's easy to forget that Dana and I have run our own business. And we ask questions based on things that we're going through. And we love meeting other entrepreneurs. And we love learning from their process. So you know, thanks for stopping by. We really appreciate you.


Kevin Brent 45:31

Thank you. It's been a it's been an absolute pleasure, great fun on a Sunday afternoon, so or Saturday afternoon, even got the rock better week. But visually great, fun, thank


Russ Harlow 45:41

you. And here, it's morning. So this is the great thing with Zoom and everything else, you know, using those platforms and the technology. We want to thank our listeners for being here. Everywhere you can connect with Kevin Brant on you can all the links will be on the show notes. You can connect with him. You can connect with us at it's just business podcast at all the places send us you know, give us a review. Send us an email, let us know what we're doing better. Let us know what we need to do better on. It's not personal. It's just business.