029 | Grow Your Business, Grow Your Impact: Eric Crews Shares Business Scaling Strategies

Curious about the critical question that can supercharge your business success? Tune in as entrepreneur Eric Crews shares his insights and expertise. 

In this episode of the Vital Strategies Podcast, host Patrick Lonergan, sits down with fellow entrepreneur and scaling expert, Eric Crews, for an enlightening conversation on what it takes to scale your business to new heights. 

During the episode, Eric shares his expertise on creating clarity and making sacrifices to achieve your ideal level of success. He emphasizes the importance of caring for people and clients and offers practical tips for measuring success through quantified value. 

But the real highlight of the episode comes when Eric unveils the one question every entrepreneur should ask themselves once their company is operationally strong—a question that has the power to skyrocket business growth. Make sure to listen to the end where we unpack this key question! 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Developing clarity and sacrifice for achieving business success. 
  • Understanding quantified value and measuring success beyond the bottom line. 
  • Strategies for creating alignment and cleaning up the company for optimal performance. 
  • The importance of strategy in business success, often overlooked by small and medium businesses. 
  • Practical tips for setting quarterly sprints and goal-setting for business growth. 
  • Identifying proof points and levers for a scalable business model. 


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Sponsored by Vital Wealth    

Music by Cephas    

Audio, video, and show notes produced by Podcast Abundance   

Research and copywriting by Victoria O’Brien 

Patrick Longergan [0:06 – 1:18]: Welcome to the Vital Strategies podcast. I’m your host, Patrick Lonergan, and today I’m excited to welcome fellow entrepreneur and business scaling expert, Eric Cruz. Have you ever considered what it actually takes to scale your business? Our conversation with Eric is sure to give you the tools to do just that. With a rich background in founding and mentoring companies, Eric brings invaluable insights to the table. As a lifelong entrepreneur dedicated to empowering others to grow their business, Eric shares potent strategies to create clarity, paving the way to business success. In this episode, we explore Eric’s growth method, focusing on four key people, operations, finance, and strategy. We discussed the importance of responsibility, sacrifice, and caring for clients, along with practical tips for setting and achieving goals. Be sure to stay to the end to hear Eric share his secrets to scaling businesses responsibly and effectively. Let’s dive in and learn how to take your business to the next level. Eric, I’m excited for this conversation. Today we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with your organization, with some of the clients, and even personally. You guys are helping my wife out with some of her CFO function that they’re needed to get some help with. They’ve grown to the point where they need some of that. So I appreciate you very much joining me here today.

Eric Crews [1:18 – 1:24]: Thank you very much for having me. It’s a great pleasure. And thank you for being a client. We appreciate that as well, for certain.

Patrick Longergan [1:24 – 1:37]: Yeah, my pleasure. So I’d really like to dig in and just discuss a little bit about your background, what cruise and company does, and then we can really get into how you help business owners and entrepreneurs sort of grow and scale their business.

Eric Crews [1:38 – 5:51]: Okay, so first of all, I’m basically a lifelong entrepreneur. Both sides of my family were entrepreneurs and that’s pretty all I know. So, interestingly, I went to college for entrepreneurship and went and business, and ultimately ended up founding, through kind of a long journey, a company called collegiate entrepreneurs painting services that taught college kids how to run painting businesses for the summer. And it’s interesting, a lot of people that are in the college painting space also go into coaching, and there’s a reason for that. So our whole goal in that company was to teach entrepreneurship to really exceptional college students. So we would go in and we’d hire. I used to get this question about, how do you take these average college students and make them so successful? And the answer was, we did. We would hire team captains, club presidents, Eagle scouts, and all these top women and men leaders that were just already good. And we give them a place to learn about entrepreneurship so we would set them up in this business. We teach them how to run about a $70,000 business for the summer on average. And then they graduate and they’d go and some of them would stay around and run larger businesses. They’d go into finance or whatever else they wanted to do in life, and they have a tremendous resume boost. So to do that, we would have 6700 employees at a time in the summertime. And over the time that I owned that company, we had about 1112 thousand employees. So I learned a lot about scale and I learned a lot about reverse engineering. A tremendous amount of adverse reverse engineering. So, in fact, if I talk to you for an hour about just your business, it always goes in the same way, which is ultimately where you’re trying to go big picture, like, are you trying to blow the COVID off the ball? Are you trying to grow to a certain size? Are you trying to change the world? What does it look like in a couple years? What does it look like in a year? What does it look like in 90 days? And then what’s going to stop that from happening? And what can we do to accelerate that? But I got all that from teaching college kids how to run $70,000, which when you have 130 of them across on two different coasts of the country, there’s a lot of required process and management and accountability and systems and scorecards. And you’re sprinting in a business that has to do with 100 and some job sites at once that no one’s trained. So you have to do everything at once. And that’s how I learned about scale. Yeah, I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a great way to learn those lessons. So eventually I sold it. I sold that business. I also, along the way, we started a commercial painting company, which I still own. It’s a very fast growing commercial. We do large commercial buildings. It’s up and down the east coast. And I have a great leadership team in that company, and I’m very proud of. And I’m a member of a couple entrepreneurial organizations. And I got into volunteer mentoring. And then that eventually got me into, I started doing a bunch of EOS work system called EOS, the entrepreneurial operating system. I did that. I was one of the first people in Boston to do that. And I did that for about eight years. And then eventually I started my own consulting firm. And I did that because I had a lot of success in business. I had a lot of success helping companies scale. In the process of doing that, I accumulated a lot of resources. And I was constantly being asked to help other entrepreneurs how to scale large quantities of people. And I just started my own firms. And really for the purpose of making sure that small and medium sized businesses in particular, we’re usually sub thousand employees. That’s what we’re working with, sub 1000. We wanted to make sure that small businesses and medium sized companies have access to the same premium resources systems thinking as a large company would. So probably because my whole life has been based on entrepreneurship, I feel very strangely accountable to our clients success and almost protective of them because they’re basically an offshoot of me.

Patrick Longergan [5:51 – 5:52]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [5:52 – 6:22]: So that’s how I built the company. So our company is here to be a resource as a way to help companies grow what we call RPV, which is revenue, profit and valuation. We’re very focused on that and we just focus in the small and medium. Like I said, about a thousand employees is our cap. We work with companies that are as small as two or 3 million as long as they have some kind of scaling proposition that they have. And they work about 130 companies across the US and Canada. Yeah, and that’s kind of my story. That’s how I got here.

Patrick Longergan [6:22 – 6:51]: Yeah, I love that. And I don’t want to discount how hard it is to start a business and then scale it up to this coast to coast. I can’t imagine the challenges you faced thinking about like, I’ve got all these college kids, they’re untrained. We have a very compressed window to get all this work done. They got a few months. I don’t even have a few months to train them. I got a few months to like get them productive and profitable and then, you know, they go back to school and hopefully I get some of them back next year and we don’t have to repeat the process. So I’m so Patrick, you have nailed.

Eric Crews [6:51 – 6:52]: It, by the way. You’ve nailed it.

Patrick Longergan [6:52 – 6:53]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [6:53 – 6:58]: I can tell you how hard it is. Actually, if that’s your actual question. It’s freaking hard. That’s the answer to your question.

Patrick Longergan [6:58 – 8:10]: Well, and I think there’s something too, like being a business owner in general, that is freaking hard. Like, it’s statistically speaking, you shouldn’t do it. You should just go like get a job because the failure rate’s really high. And then we look at the number of businesses that never break into that mid sized business. They’re solely dependent on the business owner to hustle and make it all go and work. And they really have no ability to scale because they sort of like capped out at what the owner can sort of handle and manage. And so I think the fact that you’ve done that and been able to take all of that learning that you’ve done over all these years, running that business, the commercial painting business, the coaching business, like, and the cool thing I see, working with a number of entrepreneurs, we start to see patterns of success, right? And you’re like, okay, cool. We’ve been able to give some insight to people, but then we start to see these patterns and we’re like, all right, let’s take and build some systems and processes around this so we can make it repeatable for our clients day in and day out, because there’s some almost fundamental truths on how to manage finance well, how to scale a business. And so can we talk a little bit about the framework that you’ve developed to help businesses scale? You’ve touched on the RPV, the revenue profit valuation piece. I’m sure that is going to help us. The framework is going to help us increase all of those things.

Eric Crews [8:10 – 10:42]: Yeah, so great question. So my background while I was an entrepreneur, I had a business coach, a guy named Mark Moses. Great business coach, also from the student painting industry. Interestingly, hugely, very, very large firm he runs. He was my coach for many years, and he taught me a lot about making sure we really a lot about reverse engineering and a lot about how to scale and all that kind of thing. That was a coaching methodology that I learned and I worked with him. I became an EOS person, and I learned a lot about how to have a system of any kind, and in that particular case, one that’s focused on operations. So when we started our consulting firm, one thing we knew with certainty was we had to pick an area to focus on. And we certainly want to make sure people have great lives. In fact, that’s our mission. Yeah, but we had to lean in on something. So we said, we’re going to lean in on dollars. We’re going to lean in on revenue, profit and valuation. So, and we wanted to not just be a coaching or just a regular consulting firm because I had a lot of experience with systems. So I had a lot of experience with EOS. I had my coach, I knew a lot about scaling up and some other systems that I’d been in. And my collegiate painting company was basically a systems based company. So we’re big believers in systems. So we built our own operating system called the growth method. And we combined four quadrants. We combined. And really our goal was, it takes the simplicity of some of the systems that are out there, but also not make it too simple, that it wasn’t going to be good enough to scale at a large size. So our system focuses on four areas. We focus on people, operations, finance, which you know well about, and strategy, and are generally, when we work with a company, the first year, year and a half, we’re focusing all four of those to get the kind of the house cleaned up, depending on what level of disarray they have. But we get them all cleaned up, everybody’s lined up, everybody’s rowing the same direction. So the first couple years we tend to focus on first year, year and a half, we focus on operations, people, finance, and then strategy really starts to kick in as being super valuable once you get those cleaned up. But we’re pretty passionate that our, all of our experience shows is that if you don’t, if you just do people in operations, you may have a really clean business, but it may not be making money. So you got to bring in finance.

Patrick Longergan [10:42 – 10:43]: Absolutely.

Eric Crews [10:43 – 11:03]: And you got to focus on all those big things. And then it may be making money, but maybe it can’t scale. And that may be because you’re not addressing what the market needs. Your value prop could be off, your target market could be off, your messaging could be off. So we try and pull all four of those together, and we found out that anyone without the other three, they don’t really work for scale.

Patrick Longergan [11:04 – 11:04]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [11:04 – 11:06]: So that’s why we built the growth method.

Patrick Longergan [11:06 – 12:34]: I love it. Okay, so there’s a few things I want to sort of bring back together. And you brought up this really interesting comment. You said, our mission is to help people live great lives. And if you look over my shoulder, it says, make life great. I saw that one of our things that we really dig into with our clients is sort of our tagline is we help you pay less tax, build more wealth, so you can live a great life at the end of the day, like building more wealth just to build more wealth. Another zero doesn’t do anything for our happiness, satisfaction, that type of thing. So I’m thinking of, I love that. And it really helps direct the strategy we help our clients develop. So can we talk a little bit about that? So earlier you said, I want to know where the entrepreneur is from a growth perspective. Do they want to knock the COVID off the ball? Do they just want sort of maintained? Because I feel like those things start to, if you know where the clients wanting to go from a business perspective, you know what a great life definition looks like, it’s easy to start developing some strategy around, like, okay, here’s the direction we’re going to take for the business, because I could see a scenario where it’s like, oh, we’re going to exit this business, or we’re going to sell it as an ESOP. Those are two drastically different, you know, they’re both exits, right? But one, it’s like increasing enterprise value for these people that I care about, really enjoy working with, and I want them to sort of take and steward this thing into the future versus somebody else. That’s like, I’m just trying to get a big dollar figure because I want to go have a different impact in a different way. So can you talk a little bit about great life and strategy and how those pieces tie together?

Eric Crews [12:34 – 13:45]: So it’s a great question. And when we built our firm and we worked on solidifying our own mission and Northstar, we had to have a lot of discussion around that, because if you came into the inner workings of our company, we are very focused on individuals and teams. We have a core value of your business as our business. So when we say that we want you to hit your RPV targets, they could be small, they could be epic, they could be negative in trying just a big valuation. We just want you to hit them, whatever they are. But we chose that after a lot of conversation, because ultimately, we always start with the same question, which is where you’re trying to go, and then what problem is your business trying to solve in the world? And that goes into the strategy component. So we focus on RPV, because honestly, we don’t want to be lazy consultants who deliver a bunch of advice and have it not have ROI. Drives me nuts. So we wanted to be able to say, if you’re giving us dollars, you’re gonna get more dollars back.

Patrick Longergan [13:45 – 13:45]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [13:45 – 14:47]: But when we work with a client, to the degree that they want whatever success they have, they have to have extreme clarity around why they’re doing it, what’s gonna make them happy, the level of sacrifice that can be involved at certain sizes, and especially if they want to have an exit, which a lot of our clients do. Not all, but some. I still tell them, you want to build, to sell. I love it. Great concept, a great book. I like it. I’m not saying that’s not good, but if you’re looking at companies that really succeed, they might sell, but the exit actually becomes kind of a milestone amongst a much longer journey for that company. We try and get companies to think about, okay, you might sell. We know you’re definitely not around forever. So you’re going to. Something’s going to happen to your business unless you’re going to live forever, right? Yeah, you do. This is your whole life, right? This is your financial, right. Everybody’s like, well, you know, when I get older and I’m like, well, you’re already older and you’re already in the back nine.

Patrick Longergan [14:47 – 14:49]: So that’s what we tell people.

Eric Crews [14:49 – 15:27]: We say, well, you’re going to sell or something in the next 20 years, right? So we try to get them to think in terms of what’s going to make you happy, truly happy. Why is it going to make you happy? And then often we ground them and they say, well, we want to exit for x amount of dollars, $20 million, or wherever the number. And then usually it comes down to then we need the business then to be growing and scaling to more like a 50 to 100 million dollar business because we’re selling something that needs to be future value for the next owner. And you’re usually going to answer a bigger cause in life.

Patrick Longergan [15:27 – 15:27]: Sure.

Eric Crews [15:28 – 15:46]: So that’s what we’re focused on. But it starts with that owner. And when a company comes to work here, we track all results, every single company on a chart. And if we can’t identify those actually what a person cares about, it makes the engagement.

Patrick Longergan [15:46 – 15:47]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [15:47 – 15:56]: Very difficult. So that’s what we say when we say we’re focusing on people in their ideal lives, and then it’s the whole team. Are you all living a job that’s amazing to you?

Patrick Longergan [15:56 – 15:57]: Yep.

Eric Crews [15:57 – 16:09]: Are you in the right seat? And if you’re not, yeah. How can we sensitively and with caring get you into another company or a different seat in this company so that the company can continue to accelerate.

Patrick Longergan [16:10 – 18:32]: Yeah, I love so much of this. So my first introduction to cruise was actually through a mutual client. And I loved the way he was interested in his mission around his people. He cared so much about his people and he figured out, like, if I, if I love my people really well, take really good care of them, I start getting the outcomes that I need inside of my business because this thing is way beyond his ability to run it and manage it. And so I love that piece because we’ve also talked about that internally. Like, my whole goal when I hire somebody during the interview process is I want to put you in a position to thrive. Okay. And there may be a point where we can no longer provide that for you. And that’s okay. You’re obligated to go pursue the best thing for you, for yourself, and the thing that I find it neat about that is like, when I care about the individual, the people on my team, you’re seeing it in your team internally, and your clients that you’re working with is when you care about your people, they tend to show up and like, perform for you. You know, they do a great job of putting in the work. And so I think that’s fantastic. Another point I wanted to touch on is we love quantified value. Like most of the clients that end up coming to us, we have four cornerstones of wealth building. It’s cash flow, tax, investing, and protection. Okay, they all sort of fit together, but most people come to us for the tax problem. They’re like, hey, I either owe more money to the IR’s than I have cash to pay for it, or I’m paying too much money. I don’t like these six, seven figure checks I’m writing. Help me figure this piece out. And then we started putting the other pieces together. But the thing I like about our business model is you pay us a fee and we save you a multiple that in tax savings. Like, it’s. It’s pretty easy and we do all of these other things. So I love that you’re so focused on the RPV. You know, we’ve got revenue, profitability, and valuation of the company that you can point to. You can say, here’s where you were when you started with us. Here’s where we’re at today. Like, I think that’s a fantastic thing from a coaching perspective to be able to say, hey, we’re going to be able to measure our success and we’re going to be able to look at this and really see quantifiable value change in your business. So one thing I’ve got a question about, like, we talked about the people, the operations, the finance, and then the strategy. I think my question goes to sometimes cleaning up the people, operations and finance doesn’t necessarily drive a lot of money to the bottom line because we’re like, fixing a mess eventually gets there.

Eric Crews [18:32 – 18:33]: You’re now my favorite podcast.

Patrick Longergan [18:33 – 18:55]: Yes. All right, so can we talk a little bit about sort of the timeframe it takes to go from engagement to like, hey, this is when I’m starting to see these changes happen because I think societally, we like a drive through breakthrough, right? We like the five minute abs, you know, the makeover shows that happen in a day. It’s like we all want that, like, instant.

Eric Crews [18:55 – 19:15]: Oh, yeah. So you’re a genius. You got this one. I’ll give you a bit of a public service announcement because you have a great, I like your own, your quadrants, your methodology. It’s very specific. So if you’re listening to this podcast and you haven’t looked at your methodology and how you have broken down the steps, I think it’s very, very well done.

Patrick Longergan [19:15 – 19:15]: Thank you.

Eric Crews [19:15 – 20:47]: Now to your question. So first of all, clarify. I love you set up at the drive thru. So we are like the gym. We are either like the gym or asparagus, whichever of those you like more. We are vegetables. So we are the least sexy firm you could ever work with. In terms of breakthroughs, our clients grow directionally upwards almost continually. There are obviously some exceptions, but almost continually, almost through any market. And they do get breakthroughs along the way up and they certainly have downtimes too. So I’m not trying to say they don’t, but our goal is constantly breaking them up uphill. So ideally it’s smooth and fluid and we try and take as much pain out of it as possible. But the reality is that people always ask me, like when does this ever get really easy? And my answer is, you keep growing to areas you’ve never been before. Easy is really not something that’s going to happen to you. You might hit scale points that should launch you, but you’ve never grown a business as big as this one you have right now, ever. So it’s something that people got to understand. It’s much like going to a gym, in my opinion, scaling company, you never had that kind of weight on you, so when you lift, it’s going to be harder. And when you’re running a scaling company, you’re adding weights every week in some cases. So that’s one thing. And I’ve never, there are people. So I’m going to go to your other question, which is a fantastic question about strategy and how that plays in.

Patrick Longergan [20:47 – 20:48]: Sure.

Eric Crews [20:48 – 22:17]: And so there are some exceptions, what I’m about to say, but not many. We work with hundreds of entrepreneurs. There is no breakthrough. That is this magic bullet, as my coach tells me. He reminded me once when I was whining to him, he said, eric, if it was easy to make a million dollars, everybody would do it. So stop whining. These are difficult things we need to figure out and we’re going to figure them out. And you need to own that and be excited about it. And I’ve never forgotten that statement. Your first question, I say this and people always throw rocks at me when I say this and then I say, well, challenge me on it then. So the companies that most people look up to and idolize that are super successful are generally super successful because they have built a better, smarter, faster, more innovative mousetrap of some kind. And that’s how they do it. So it’s not that you can’t run a well run business and really scale and get really. But you don’t love the companies you love because they’re well run companies. Like, in fact, most of those companies are run pretty badly that a lot of us with. So in answer to your question, we’re very cautious. We tend to go in first and clean things up. We clean the operations or not even. They’re not always messy. We just get them aligned. We get everybody aligned. We get everybody talking in a language that’s consistent. We get everybody focused on setting 90 day targets, annual targets.

Patrick Longergan [22:17 – 22:18]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [22:18 – 24:17]: Because that gets them into a methodology of going to the gym and having a way to frame things. We get them on scorecards and processes. We use okrs, objectives and key results, which are phenomenal for aligning big organizations. However, once we get everything, we make sure right people are in the right seats and we have a plan for evolution of those people as well, and training and, you know, but I always tell people, I say once in about a year, year and a half, about a year, year and a half, you’re going to get all everything lined up and you’re going to say, wow, we are running like a champ. But that’s not usually what catapults you into being successful. It can certainly help with organic. Okay. And I’m not dissing it by any stretch, because what we do for a living. So there is no, I’m not trying to say to anybody, don’t operate a great business, but you’ve got to really ask yourself, what problem am I trying to solve in the world and how am I going to take away market share from somebody else who’s already got their version of trying to solve that. You got to go out and do some competitive analysis. You got to think, if you’re anything over six, eight, I mean, depending on the size of your space, if you’re anything over 6810 million dollars in revenue, you’re going to have different questions to ask yourself. And if you start getting 2030, 50 million in revenue, you’re taking revenue from somebody else. You got to ask yourself, why is that? And then you got to figure out, we focus a lot on value prop strategy. Why are people buying from us? What are we solving? And then lining the entire company up internally to make sure that the internal. All the team members know this is the market problem we’re trying to solve. In the market, this is how you need to behave internally and the customers need to see externally. I want that because that is what is going to satisfy whatever I might need, my pleasure or my pain or whatever. And that answering that question, once youre operationally strong, thats when a company goes like that. Jeff.

Patrick Longergan [24:17 – 25:38]: Yeah, thats great. Theres a couple things that come to mind. Seth Godin, hes a marketer. He was writing a blog before, and I was reading it before I knew what blogs were. And he showed up and he wrote every day. But one of the concepts he talked about was the purple cow. I live in Iowa. We have lots of cows driving through the countryside. See your first Holstein cow, you’re like, oh, cool, it’s white with black spots. You know, that’s kind of neat. Then after a while, all the spots, all the cows look the same. But if you run across the purple cow, you’re like, that’s different. You know? And I think what you’re talking about here is like, be a purple cow. Stand out, have a unique offering. And then I think there’s also something that I think you’re saying, but I want to hear your thoughts on it. Like, focus matters, right? Like, having a niche, and Toyota’s done a great job. But if I’m selling beige Camrys, right, and I’m trying to compete in the beige Camry market, that’s hard because there’s a million of them out there versus, you know, a Lamborghini, for example. There’s only a select few number of people that want it, and you sort of love it or you hate it, and that’s okay. And so I think there’s a level of focus, like, let’s know exactly who we are. I think you were saying this, like, align all of the people up in the organization to know exactly who we are, know what kind of customer we serve and what our value is we deliver, versus, hey, let’s have all of these different products sort of diluting our. Not that you can’t have a lot of products, but it should be serving that one sort of avatar that is out there. So, yeah, I’m curious your thoughts on that.

Eric Crews [25:38 – 26:42]: Yeah, so one, that’s absolutely the case, in our opinion. So small and medium sized businesses don’t often talk about strategy. And one of the biggest reasons they don’t talk about strategy is that they often are very focused on running a clean business. And there are operators, and they’re good at it. And they can get the 510 million, 15 million, 20 million, and they can do well financially. But the big businesses only talk about strategy because they are gobbling stuff up like they don’t have the luxury of running a great business and being able to do that. So what I’m saying is you got to pick your camera. Example is perfect. So I meet so many companies, and they say, well, I’m amazing. Well, why are you amazing? Because I’m the best at X, Y, and Z. Yeah. Okay. That company over there says that, too, and. Well, yeah, but we really are. Okay, well, if that’s the case, I need to see numeric proof of that, and I need to see your competitors numbers also. And I need you to tell me the delta between you and the competitors, because what you’re telling me is basically that you’re bigger, faster, or stronger.

Patrick Longergan [26:42 – 26:43]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [26:43 – 27:47]: So if that’s the case, you got to prove it. And then your whole company needs to work on becoming bigger, faster and stronger. If you have a product or an innovation that’s a little different, because then you say, well, I’m not big or faster in trauma. I have a Tesla. Oh, yeah. Well, so if you invented the Tesla, you’re going to win this game, right? Yeah, because you have a Tesla, or I invented the iPhone. Everybody says Steve Jobs is incredible businessman. Maybe, maybe not. He’s definitely a great innovator, definitely built a great product. That’s for certain. Bill Gates certainly built a great product. Howard Schultz under a little bit of fire right now, but he certainly built a great place for us to go hang out. So these people have chosen a strategy, and it is very clear on what they’re trying to do. And in most cases, it’s very simple. And they said the market has a hole, and anybody can do it. Doesn’t matter what size your business is. And you find that hole and you say, that’s the hole I’m going to satisfy. And that’s what the market needs. Everybody lined up behind that. Operational.

Patrick Longergan [27:47 – 27:47]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [27:47 – 28:08]: Now, what is interesting is so we use a. Another reason small, medium sized businesses struggle with a strategy so much is because, honestly, they don’t always need it. So people, I work with companies and they’ll say, well, I want to figure out my niche. And I say, you know, what’s your target? 15 million. What’s your space? This. You’re good to go. Just run a really good business.

Patrick Longergan [28:08 – 28:08]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [28:08 – 28:12]: You’ll suck up 15 million just because the owner is charming. Right?

Patrick Longergan [28:12 – 28:12]: Yep.

Eric Crews [28:13 – 30:17]: You’re great at marketing. Like, there’s enough business for you to do 15, 20 million. But if they say they want to be $100 million company, I say we’re taking revenue from somebody else. To do that. I need to know how we’re doing that. So for our strategy section of our system, we use our source material is two books, good strategy, bad strategy, and playing to win. Playing to win is the source book for Deloitte also and McKinsey and all you can google playing the win and the diagram. And that’s what these companies use. And in those companies, they, they ask you, they say you got to answer five questions and you got to answer, what is my winning aspiration? What is the big thing I’m trying to accomplish? Who am I going to sell to? Basically, who’s my market? How am I going to win in the market that I’ve chosen? Like, what is my strategy to actually win? And it’s funny, if you read the book, there’s nothing in there around I’m going to run a great company. It’s just like they kind of assume that. So what are you going to do to win? Like actually win? What capabilities do you need in order to win? And then lastly, what business systems do you need in order to win? And we try and provide a part of that business system answer. But what’s interesting about playing the win is they say there’s only two ways you can win in a market as a company. They say there’s only two ways you can ever win. And that is you can either find a cheaper way to, to do something so you can then lay off that cost to your clients and you can do a cheaper product, or you can just have a cheaper cost and then have better customer service or whatever you want to do and still be a premium product. So one is you can deliver something less expensive, you find a way less expensive way to do it. And the second, you need to have a better product or service. It’s the only two ways you can win in the market. And the degree to that you can answer those questions becomes the degree in my observations, to the degree you get those questions right, assuming you run an operationally strong company, is the degree to which you will grow quickly.

Patrick Longergan [30:18 – 31:13]: Yep. I’m going to share some of my bias. Like, I sort of hate the idea of finding a cheaper way. That sounds like a terrible way to be in business that’s commodities based. You are, you’re moving into commodity. Like how and the efficiencies I have to create. And if anybody comes along and figures out how to do it cheaper I am screwed. Our goal is to be the most expensive product in the market, to deliver so much freaking value that people can’t help but write us checks to help deliver that value. And so we’re constantly trying to deliver a better product or service. And the interesting thing about doing that is we start off and we’re like, oh, we are like light years ahead of our category and how we do things. But then we start looking around and we’re like, huh, there are a few peers out here that do this. How do we get better than those people? You know? And we, we’re just constantly trying to level up in how we deliver the value. Do you have comments on which of those two strategies you like better?

Eric Crews [31:14 – 32:41]: It’s interesting. We have a lot of companies, so I try and stay pretty agnostic on my answers. Believe it or not, I always start with the philosophy that the business owner knows way more about their business than I do. And also it’s their business, not mine. So however, what I do care about is that whatever their choices, whether they’re going to try and run a less expensive way to deliver their product or whether they’re going to have a better mousetrap or a better service, I care that it matches up against their vision and what they’re trying to accomplish in the marketplace. And I care that I can visualize that it will actually beat their competitors. So there are companies that lean into commodities thinking that do really well. For example, here’s one that people is interesting that people don’t think about is at least I didn’t think about it until I did more research. Amazon. So Amazon is in no way, other than their cloud stuff and everything else they have going on, they’re in no way that interesting of a company. All they really do is sell you a wide variety of now commoditized weird off brand stuff. Honestly. So tremendous variety. So that’s their first value prop. The second value prop is that it’s so simple to buy. I think the thing knows when to get a new credit card without even entering it at this point. Like it’s so simple. And they got drones flying over us, dropping boxes on us like five minutes after you buy stuff, right?

Patrick Longergan [32:41 – 32:41]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [32:41 – 33:31]: So that’s an example of a company that leaned into commodity metrics and said, what if we’d made it as fast as humanly possible for the delivery? What if we made the sale so fast it was literally buttons? And then what if we expanded variety and then they had to build a distribution channel and all this other kind of stuff but that’s a commodity way of doing it. Yeah, but that is also. You got to be an extremely good operator to have that kind of leverage. Yeah, so I do what you do. So I tend to lean in on, my competitors are offering this. I think the market needs this, and here’s why I think the market needs this. And then we test it. We test those theories. So I tend to agree with you.

Patrick Longergan [33:31 – 34:04]: Yeah, great. So you also, I’m putting my own words in this. The table stakes for the two books you mentioned, good strategy, bad strategy, and playing to win, are running a good business. You got to be running a good business. And would you say that when we look at the four foundational pieces that you have, the four quadrants, we’ve got the people, the operations, the finance, are those pieces sort of the critical components to running a good business? Is that where we have to start?

Eric Crews [34:04 – 34:33]: So I don’t like to say many things definitively. That one I’ll say yes to. So when we work with the company, if you get right people and right seats, and you have beyond that, you need to have a way of thinking about what right people, right seats looks like as the organization evolves. Also, because most people get right people, right seats. Right. If they do it, and they say, okay, great, now I’m good. And I say, yeah, you’re good for about two, three more million, maybe.

Patrick Longergan [34:33 – 34:34]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [34:34 – 35:02]: And then you’re gonna have to change it. So we actually document all that path out to give people a little more confidence. So you gotta nail right people, right seats. You gotta have some kind of managerial rhythm at some point. You gotta have some kind of goal setting system, whether it’s annual meetings or quarterly meetings, because otherwise you’re just. It’s too slippery. So you gotta have that. You gotta have a scorecard of some kind. You gotta have processes that are documented.

Patrick Longergan [35:02 – 35:03]: Yep. Sure.

Eric Crews [35:03 – 35:16]: You know, there’s a whole bunch of other things you need as well. And you got to have a vision that’s all mapped out and a roadmap, and you got to have a clear North Star. And then we think the whole company has to be aligned on those things, top to bottom.

Patrick Longergan [35:16 – 35:16]: Yep.

Eric Crews [35:17 – 35:27]: You check all those boxes. Our issue with our clients, believe it or not, even if they’re, quote unquote, badly behaved or difficult.

Patrick Longergan [35:27 – 35:27]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [35:27 – 36:14]: Okay. And if I was a client of us, I’m not sure I wouldn’t fit into that box. Actually, even for the badly behaved, difficult clients, we can get them to be operationally strong, and I mean, like, strong beyond their, even what they thought, and in a very long cycle, two to three years, very long, that’s cleaned up the whole business. The biggest issue becomes, I tell them, I try and tell them this early on, I say, look, you’re going to get to a point where you’re running like an operational machine and then you’re going to realize that really wasn’t your problem. Your problem is, what’s the delta between 30 million and 100 million. That’s going to be the problem. You’re going to have to answer. And that’s when we start release and we try and get them to start working on that early, but that’s ultimately where they end up.

Patrick Longergan [36:14 – 37:28]: I love that. And I’m tying back to some things you said earlier. I love the quarterly timeframe. The 13 weeks that encompass a quarter, I think are a perfect amount of time to create some sprints for us to really go. All right, here’s our 13 week target. Let’s hustle to get there. Let’s see how we did stop, recalibrate, figure out where we go onto the next thing. Because I think sometimes as business owners we can step back and we can go, I’m standing at the foot of the mountain, this looks impossible. Versus if I go, hey, if I just walk up to that tree and then we make it to that stream, if I break it into these small little chunks, it makes the process a little more manageable. It can be exciting to everybody to really have some focus for those next 13 weeks. I sort of like twelve weeks, the 13th week we can use to like recalibrate, you know, and then we’re off on the next one. So I wanted to just bring that quarterly piece into figuring out all of the operational stuff because I think it’s important. And then once you, I think you said this, once you get there, like, okay, cool, like we’re operationally okay, but now we’ve got some bigger targets. We’re going to just continue to have to work on some of these things to continue with our strategy. You know, I might have a controller, but I’m going to have to hire a CFO or yes, some of these other people.

Eric Crews [37:28 – 38:36]: It’s interesting because I have three companies. We have the finance company, we have the consulting company, and then we have the commercial painting business. I don’t know any other world where we’re not meeting every 90 days. So it’s almost become a weird thing for me to talk about it because people say, well, should I do x, Y and Z? And all I think is, I don’t know how else you do it. Like, what do you write down? Like, where do you put stuff? When do you follow up? Are you just trying your best? Which I don’t discount. I’m not trying to be flip about that. Like, I actually do wonder. It’s. So I have an interesting experience because my partner in the commercial painting business, who I’ve been with for 20 years, and it’s a relatively sizable business, we do all of our management consulting stuff inside that company. And he’s like the cynic of all cynics. So even him, we started doing this years and years ago, and he says, okay, Eric, we’re going to do these stupid quarterly meetings, and we’re going to use okrs to set targets. And then even to him in the past year, he said, all right, let’s do a state of the company address every quarter. And this is a commercial painting company with a bunch of project managers and site guys in it.

Patrick Longergan [38:36 – 38:36]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [38:36 – 41:18]: He’s like, let’s do it. And then he said, all right, you’re right. Let’s start doing the quarterly meetings with the project managers, too. And when you start getting in alignment and we start saying objectives, so our objectives can be broad, the reason I love oKR so much, and I used to use rocks because I was in my past life, EOs, we use OKRs because objectives allow us to set broader statements, which we can then carry quarter to quarter or years if we want to. So in our company, like right now, for the commercial business, we have a big education initiative. So in education is we’re trying to become the number one go to firm for painting schools the country. So that’s an objective. There’s a lot of other objectives that are underneath of that. But that’s an objective that is broad. It’s an important part of our business. It doesn’t really have a timeline, but then we set a bunch of key results against it. And those key results are due very specifically every 90 days. So I can take that objective, go to my project management team, my site supervisor team, and say, we’re trying to build this education thing and this quarter, you got to focus on the following to do that. But what do you think you need to do this quarter to help us out with that? Because I have this broad objective. They will give me ideas. They’ll say something like, okay, well, why don’t I do a mailer for schools in my area? Or why don’t I stop by these five colleges? So we take these broad objectives, operationalize them with very specific things over 90 day periods, of time. And those 90 day times become our sprints and we’ll keep objectives alive until they become the DNA of our company. And it’s very, very valuable. So it keeps us strategic, yet also operationally strong. In regards to the 90 days. We just wrote an article about this, actually. I’ve had so many different experiences where what happens is if you start to follow up on stuff at ten weeks or eleven weeks, it’s too soon. It’s not enough time to get anything done. Yet. At the same time, when you start following up at 110 to 120 days, people start to lose connection around themselves, to each other, and around what they’re doing. So what’s interesting is the standard planning cycle for private equity and other companies at this point is somewhat starting to become every 90 days. But instead of just doing annual planning, now they’re doing planning every six months because the world’s work is running fast. So when I work with a private equity company firm, we’re still doing 90 day meetings, but they’re replanning their business every six months because that’s how fast they’re moving.

Patrick Longergan [41:19 – 42:59]: Sure, I love it. So there’s a few things here that I think are great. So one thing I want to highlight, you talked about in your painting company how this started off as a top down initiative. We started looking at this quarterly and we just kept bringing these quarterly sprints down to the different levels and it really created results. I think that’s cool because you’re finding people on the front lines that are able to solve problems. They’re seeing things that you’re not seeing and being able to like, handle those in a way that are really good. A question I have, we see it with our clients. We also see it internally, is, I think, as entrepreneurs, we’re overly optimistic on how much we can get done. And so we set some of these targets on a quarterly or annual basis, and then we can see that halfway through we’re not going to get there. And that can be demotivating, I think, to the team go, geez, we didn’t make it again. We also see clients that project their annual revenues and we’re like, okay, 35% growth. That’s really impressive. And then we’re on our way and we’re not getting there. And I’m going to tie this to a book I just read from John Acuff called Finnish. And he had an interesting perspective. He was like, take your goals and cut them in half. And I’m like, ah, john, this sounds crazy to me. Like, it sounds like we’re pouring water on, you know, my dreams and excitement as an entrepreneur. And he goes, the interesting thing that happens is when you hit your target, like, you’ll keep going, right? Like, when you cut it in half, you’ll keep going. But if you see this goal and you’re not going to make it, oftentimes our human nature is to, like, quit and, like, sort of stop trying to get there. So I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts on how entrepreneurs should go about setting some of these quarterly sprints? Because I think we get a little excited and then, yeah, so, so, one.

Eric Crews [42:59 – 45:38]: So do I start with that? I do the same thing, and I’ll also say I have no patience, which I think is a strength, and then it’s not. So I have an answer to this one, but I didn’t for 20 years plus, and I languished in this answer, and I finally found the answer that works best for us anyway. So in our company, we are continuously going for it. Okay? That’s our culture, to be clear. So not everybody’s culture has to be that. And we encourage it. So we encourage going for it. We encourage going for it over perfection for the most part. And our standard is about 80%. Now, I’ll be very clear on this. We set committed targets, and we set aspirational targets where it’s appropriate, especially around revenue, profitability, margin. Sometimes new logo counts. We’ll say committed is this. We call it the bank. That’s your bank number. You missed that. You got problems that are different. We got different issues. And it’s important to set that number because you got to know this is the bottom that can be. So the team knows that. But then we kind of put that in a little box and we say, there’s the bottom. It’s written on the screen. We know what the bottom is, and then we’re really going for this number or getting this project done. Generally speaking, we get a lot more leverage out of our business by going for it. And if we fall to 80, 85%, the stretching creates innovation and new ways of thinking, and we’re just falling uphill and over time. We’ve been setting goals from a quarterly basis for many, many years now. You get better at it, so you don’t. The swings aren’t as bad. Like, we’ll now miss by 15% and it’ll feel like it’s 50 at this point, sure. But we don’t usually miss by more than 15% or 20% on an absolute, really bad quarter. So you got to have some limits, but our clients are going for it responsibly and I appreciate do what you say you’re going to do. I appreciate accountability. In fact, we try and create that accountability, but we get paid for growth, so growth is appropriate discomfort and innovation. So our governors though are what is the committed number and then what is the aspiration? And we manage towards the aspiration and call B’s at the committed number.

Patrick Longergan [45:38 – 46:03]: I love it. Thats fantastic. I appreciate that. There are a couple of points that we see consistently with our entrepreneurs is the two things you mentioned there, theyre not patient, which I think is really good. I think thats a fantastic thing. Lets strive for more and thats where the aspirational number comes in. Were going to set this target, were going to hustle to get there and if we fall a little short, we will just keep making that progress in that direction and its great.

Eric Crews [46:03 – 48:14]: Preston whats interesting Patrick, is it comes down to I get asked in these podcasts a lot about my regrets, which I don’t have many of, honestly, and I’ve had some big dinger failures too. Like you could entertain your audience for an hour on, they’d feel real good about themselves. After I talk for an hour about some of my mistakes, the only regret I have in business is I think I spent too much of my time flogging myself against a wall to be successful without enough strategic thinking and intentionality behind what I was doing. Yeah, and about 15 years ago, or maybe ten years ago, a switch went off in my head and I said, you know, just cause I can get something done, I’m not sure it’s always smart to get something done. And the question I now look at is, I don’t just set numbers anymore. Like we’ll say we’re gonna double the company in the next year or two, whatever their number is, and that’s a good place to start. So don’t get me wrong, that’s a good place to start, but you then have to say, how are we going to do that? We’re not going to like put on a cape for the first time ever. We’re not going to like become Einstein when this meeting’s over. And I don’t think we’re going to add more hours in our day. So we now no longer set a plan for numbers unless we feel like the activity and the changes, the strategy exists to almost guarantee that plan is going to happen. And that’s one of the biggest things I end up doing with companies. They send me this plan and I say that looks like hope. I don’t buy it. I need to see the difference between here and here and some years, actually some quarters. I’ll work with companies and I’ll say, I’d hold the number this quarter if we can. Let’s hold the number. Let’s focus on building these things. Because right now you’re trying to run when you should be trying to build, and you got to know when you’re building, because when you’re building, you want to be building well and still running a great business. And if you’re trying to push while you build foundation, that impatience can end up taking your time frame, which would have been one year for something and make it five years for something. Right.

Patrick Longergan [48:14 – 48:20]: To take it a step further, we’ve seen businesses go out of business because what got them to this point, they don’t change any of the foundational pieces.

Eric Crews [48:21 – 48:21]: Yes.

Patrick Longergan [48:21 – 48:36]: And they keep trying to build the business bigger and bigger and bigger and then the whole thing just falls down. It just is. It’s a disaster because it’s okay. You know, we think of a flywheel like it’s okay when it’s spinning slow if it’s a little out of balance, but you spin it up really fast and soon it just wrecks itself. It falls apart.

Eric Crews [48:36 – 50:10]: That’s exactly right. So we call those levers. So we say, I’ll look at a plan and they’ll say, well, I’m going to go from 18 million to 30 million in the next two years. And I’ll say, okay, I can buy about 5 million of that from operational efficiency, which we can pull out of the business. I think we can increase sales success rates, I think we can increase average job size, blah, blah, blah. I said, I don’t buy the 7 million, though. I don’t see the levers because I know I can see the five. But what are you pulling to get the other seven? And they’ll say, well, it’s going to sell more. Through what mechanism are we spending more on marketing? Are we hiring sales reps? What is the average rep going to give us? What is our cost of acquisition? Do we have the cash to scale? Do we have the proof that that’s going to be good ROI? But it’s those levers that companies often miss. They just say, well, I’m just going to grow. And I say, it’s not going to work. We have to figure out what’s the scalable model, what are the inputs that we need to make sure we’re doing. If the inputs are known, that’s good. If it’s just a matter of I’m creating 50 widgets and the market’s strong and I need to be able to create 100 widgets. Well, we can do that, but if it’s I’m creating 50 widgets and I don’t know how to get to 100 widgets from terms of sales, then we got to focus on that. Our number setting is rooted in what is the big thing we’re trying to accomplish. Let’s use those numbers as guidance, but now let’s install the proof points and the levers to make sure we can actually get there. And thats where people struggle.

Patrick Longergan [50:10 – 51:17]: Thats great. And weve talked a lot about finance and I think one thing that you mentioned, but we havent spent a whole lot of time talking about is the finance arm of cruise and company. So im going to give you the evolution of an entrepreneurs finance system. It starts off and theyre just trying to get some revenue coming in and they might be doing the books themselves, then they hire a bookkeeper and that person might be internal, might be external, but theyre managing it. They’ve got their CPA, then they might move from cash accounting to accrual to just sort of grow up into like really understanding how my finances are working. Then I may need to bring a controller in and then CFO, but sometimes there’s a right time to do all of those pieces. Right? Like I don’t need a CFO when I’m not making any money, right? Like I don’t need strategy, you know, from a finance side, it’s like, just go sell more stuff. So I don’t know if you have any thoughts on like that evolution and when people should bring some of those different pieces in, how your firm can show up and be involved and sort of add value to clients lives there.

Eric Crews [51:18 – 53:43]: So it’s interesting when we started to build other offerings to sell to our clients because they needed other capabilities and that’s the reason why we did it. When I started to add the finance offering into our business, I did it because I had people in my commercial painting business that could do the finance work and I just had them do it for my clients. I’m like, I can’t consult these people anymore because they’re missing so much foundation that I can’t do the planning, which was, I’d lived that before myself. So the first thing we did was build a finance company. So it wasn’t by accident. We weren’t just trying to say, let’s make some money here. We built that company, because I had been through so much as an entrepreneur and difficulty in finance. Now that I was working as a consultant, as a coach, I was struggling to have these companies connect these dots on the plan. So my answer to your question is twofold. One somewhat regardless of size, but amplified as they get bigger. They need to have companies, in my opinion, and we live this. We have three versions of this and our companies, three different companies, three different plans. I believe you need to have a minimum, a one year set of cash flow and budget tools. No matter how big you are. You do an excel document. You can have 20 entries, something around cash flow and budgeting. And then I believe that once you start hitting even over that $2 million or $3 million mark, you got to now add a three year as well. And depending on what you’re doing in the three years, I’d like you to have broken down by either month or by quarter. And I’d like it to have cash flow and profitability attached to it. Now, why does that matter? It matters because if I’m trying to build a three year business plan and I’m trying to make an appropriate investments, I have to see, make sure I have the cash flow in the next three years to make those investments. I then have to be able to look at the P and L and make sure I’m getting the ROI out of those investments. The combination of those two things, one or the other being wrong, is deadly, and I’ve done both. I have invested in things that I had cash flow for, which were dumb investments that did not trigger ROI on profitability. I’ve also had things that triggered ROI that I didn’t have the money to really do. And then you run out of cash.

Patrick Longergan [53:43 – 53:44]: Yep.

Eric Crews [53:44 – 55:47]: So I’ll answer your other question about staffing next. But I stick to the tools first. We think you need four tools. Those are two of them. But you got to know that one year and three year picture. And you can do it on Excel. You can have a controller do it now. In terms of what you actually need staff wise, you could use. If you’re smaller, you can use a controller or a super bookkeeper sometimes to make these charts with you. Sometimes you can make them yourself if you’re really small. But as you get bigger, you start needing a controller usually. And then as you start getting bigger, if you start getting into the eight to $10 million, $10 million plus range, sometimes smaller, you need some kind of CFO’s. What people don’t understand is the differences between those. A bookkeeper puts things in the right place on the balance sheet and P and l. Yep. Quickbooks. A controller says, here’s what this looks like. Let me tell you what this looks like. Here’s what I’m seeing. A CFO tells you what to do. Those are what you’re buying. That’s it in a nutshell. So for us, we agree with you. Don’t buy what you don’t need if you’re small and you know what you need to do. You don’t need a CFO and you don’t need an expensive controller. Get a small controller or use us. Get somebody fractional. Get a fractional controller. We can run the books of a company for a bookkeeper. We can throw in a controller and a small amount of CFO services to make sure we know where to hit the ball to. And bookkeeper services for not that big amount of money, because we are using, we’re helping small and medium sized companies. We’ve set these offerings up for that. So I care more that they have the tools done. If they can do it themselves, great. And then to the degree that you scale into a controller and CFO is going to be the degree to which you need to know those things, and then you can use fractional and cobbler altogether until you hire. And then in our case, we have people that use fractional for a long time, and then they’ll call us and they say, can you hire us somebody to do this full time at a controller level? And we’ll do that too.

Patrick Longergan [55:47 – 55:59]: I love it. And I think you make a key distinction. I love the definitions you applied to. Bookkeeper gets the things in the right boxes, right? Controller tells you what’s happening. Like, hey, this is what I’m seeing. And CFO tells you what to do.

Eric Crews [55:59 – 55:59]: Correct.

Patrick Longergan [55:59 – 56:09]: Because oftentimes we see these fractional CFO services, which are bookkeepers. I’m like, that is not fractional CFO work. You know, so it’s the worst.

Eric Crews [56:09 – 56:46]: And we’re not perfect either. But the difficult one to flag is the controller who thinks they’re a CFO. That happens a lot. And I say, you know, you don’t just get to call yourself a CFO. It’s a thing. So there’s a lot of learning there. And I see a lot of small and medium sized business people who were like, I have a CFO. And I look at him and I say, you have a really good controller, but you do not have a CFO. We’re lucky. I get to work with companies that are small and very, very large. So I see people that are phenomenal, and I say, yeah, that is really phenomenal. So I get the perspective of degrees.

Patrick Longergan [56:47 – 56:58]: Yeah, this is great. Okay, so I want to take all this and sort of distill it down. And let’s talk about, let’s say, results a little bit. What are you seeing from businesses that commit to the process?

Eric Crews [56:59 – 58:13]: So our goal, and we track all this on a spreadsheet, is to not only increase your revenue, profit and valuation from where it is now, it’s to increase it more than it would be if you weren’t working with us. So there’s a distinction. So in the last few years, I mean, our clients killed it. So did a lot of companies. So I hear a lot of consultants putting their numbers out there, and I say, I don’t know if that beats the market. So the first thing we do is try and benchmark the market. So we say, what is your space doing? And we’re going to try and beat that by, if we’re conservative, I’m going to say five total percentage points or ten percentage points more, period. We’re going to try and beat the market, but we’re finding that our clients are growing at a 25% or more higher than when they didn’t work with us. And a lot of that is we have tremendous amount of resources we can bring on board to help. So our consultants are pretty smart, but they have a lot of people around them that they can bring in and say, well, let’s fill that gap. And also, I think because we make people go to the gym and eat their broccoli every quarter, we force a level of intentionality that just creates success.

Patrick Longergan [58:13 – 58:32]: I love that. A couple of points. So we’ve interacted with members of your team, and I love the depth that we have. You’ve got two pieces that I think are. You’re awfully wide, you know, on lots of different topics. And then when we need to go deep into something, the right person shows up and just is like, that’s amazing.

Eric Crews [58:32 – 58:33]: Yeah.

Patrick Longergan [58:33 – 58:51]: I shared with you, like, some numbers from. I was looking at the P and L. I’m talking about Darren. We had a conversation with him. He was in the back of an Uber. I share some numbers with him. He’s, like, doing some analysis and giving me some feedback, and I’m like, that’s amazing. So I just look at the depth and breadth at cruise, and it’s really, really impressive.

Eric Crews [58:52 – 59:18]: I’m glad you’re having that experience. We focus on practice areas. So we have a practice area that we’re trying to build, whether it’s coo or finance or whatever it is, we try and break it into buckets so that we say, all right, that practice area has to run exceptional, this practice area has to run exceptional. And then the engagement itself has to link all these exceptional things together. So we try and kind of silo it and then bring the silos to work together.

Patrick Longergan [59:19 – 59:21]: Well, yeah, yeah.

Eric Crews [59:21 – 59:22]: I’m glad you’re having that experience. That’s good to hear.

Patrick Longergan [59:22 – 59:41]: Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. So I think one of the things we talked about was focus. And I want to know, what does the ideal cruise and company client look like? You know, if somebody’s listening to this, they’re like, hey, this all sounds really interesting. I want to get engaged. Can you tell us what the ideal client looks like for cruising company?

Eric Crews [59:41 – 1:01:25]: So our ideal client, first of all, is growth minded. So they have this idea that they are something and they want to be something else. They don’t have to knock the COVID off the ball, but they want to get someplace where they aren’t right now, and they’re either struggling to do so or maybe they’re not, but they just want a more unified way of doing it. We also deal with that. So the ideal client for us is really once again scaling scalable. So $2 million are up with some kind of repeatable process. We usually take clients on when they, when they’re, on average, it’s probably eight to $10 million in revenue. We’ll take them on board in that spot, and then we accelerate them. So our client is committed to growth. They are in that dollar range. They are somewhat scalable, or think they’re scalable. If they are pretty well run, they usually want a system of some kind to give them a more unified language, so it’s much easier. Yeah, a lot of clients, they don’t have the resources. So they want the resources so that people say, I want to grow. I need the resources, I need a system. And the last big thing, they got to have some degree of self awareness. And if they don’t, we are not a lot of fun, honestly, because we are not an easy crowd, honestly. We are deeply caring about our clients, and we get paid to make sure they get what they want out of their lives. And that usually if they’re coming to us, it’s because they are at one state and they want to be in another state. So that requires different activities. And we tell the clients, look, we’re going to. And our clients are like family. So we say, look, we’re going to get very close to you. We’re going to help you. We’re going to be committed to you. Just make sure you really want to win because we’re going to latch on.

Patrick Longergan [1:01:25 – 1:01:30]: I love it if I just extend out your jim and asparagus analogy, right?

Eric Crews [1:01:30 – 1:01:30]: Yeah.

Patrick Longergan [1:01:30 – 1:01:49]: If I’m overweight, don’t want to move my body, and I’m smoking, and I think all of those activities, keep doing those is going to help me, you know, lose weight and get healthy. Like, this is not going to be a good fit. I need to be aware that I’m overweight, need to be aware that I need to move and stop smoking, and then I can accept the changes that you’re proposing to me, so.

Eric Crews [1:01:49 – 1:01:59]: Exactly. And then honestly, if you are those things, the work that we do, and this is very true, it’s not easy, but it is simple.

Patrick Longergan [1:01:59 – 1:01:59]: Yeah.

Eric Crews [1:02:00 – 1:02:06]: We take the most difficult things and it’s simple. So we’d love to work with anybody who’s a listener of yours.

Patrick Longergan [1:02:06 – 1:02:32]: I love that. And you’re right, you know, going to the gym, it is simple, correct. It’s not easy, right. Move your body, eat well. Like, those are two simple things. Right. But it’s not always easy to do. So I also want to highlight, I’ve enjoyed some of your free resources. I’m a part of the, I get the newsletter. I’ve been on some webinars. What is the best place for people to go get plugged into some of those things? And we’ll make sure we’ve got show notes that have all of these links. So if somebody’s listening in their car, I appreciate that.

Eric Crews [1:02:32 – 1:03:23]: So cruiseandcode.com, you can go to the Insights tab and you’re going to see all the library of all the past webinars that we’ve done on that tab. They’re categorized by title. There is a lot of great information in there that we get asked about a lot, and we try and go deep on all those topics so that people can use that experience that we have from working with our firms and have that as a library to them. And then we have the voice of the entrepreneur newsletter and that you can just click on the website. You’ll see a link to the voice of the entrepreneur that comes out every Thursday, I believe, at 530 in the morning. And whatever time it comes out, everybody makes fun of us for that. But it comes out every single week. We have a great writing team, and I spend a lot of time with them coming up with these stories and anecdotes that come from our clients and come from me. Our goal is to shoot people straight. This is the entrepreneur way and this is what we see. And our goal is to serve as much as we can.

Patrick Longergan [1:03:23 – 1:03:30]: Fantastic. That’s great. Thank you. All right, Eric, is there anything else we should be talking about before we wrap up? Because I think this conversation was, was great.

Eric Crews [1:03:30 – 1:04:05]: I enjoyed it, and you asked questions that I’m not surprised. You’re dealing with a level of client that has achieved a lot of basic stuff and you ask questions that reflect that, which I really appreciate hearing. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 30 plus years and I get a lot of people say, well, I’m going to do X, Y, and Z, and which was me, you know, for many, many years. And I get frustrated because sometimes I think, you know, our whole purpose of our firm is to make small and medium sized businesses say, I know you’ve been told that that’s not going to do it, but here’s what is going to do it. And your questions were good around that, and I’m grateful to be able to talk about some of those topics.

Patrick Longergan [1:04:05 – 1:04:08]: Eric, I know you’re busy. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Eric Crews [1:04:08 – 1:04:10]: Thank you so much. Greatly appreciate it.

Patrick Longergan [1:04:10 – 1:04:11]: You have a great day.

Eric Crews [1:04:11 – 1:04:12]: Take care.

Patrick Longergan [1:04:13 – 1:05:02]: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Vital Strategies podcast, where we help entrepreneurs pay less tax, build more wealth so you can live a great dont forget to check out the show notes for todays episode where youll find links to all the resources we discussed. Visit vitalstrategies.com tools to gain access to our library of free resources designed to help you pay less tax and build more wealth. If you enjoyed todays episode, please take a moment to rate and review the podcast on your favorite platform. Thanks again for listening and being a vital entrepreneur. Youre vital because youre responsible for being the back in our economy. You are vital in creating opportunities for your employees, and you are vital to your family for creating abundance, not just financially, but in all the areas that matter. Finally, you’re vital to me because you want to build more wealth and live a great life. We look forward to catching you in the next episode.

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