Company growth is not just one thing. It takes the right product/service, the right timing, and the right people. It also takes the right systems. I can attest that systems grow your business. I would not have a podcast today without the right systems that my team executes weekly to keep the content following. Today’s guest is Trent Dyrsmid, CEO and host at Bright Ideas. Trent has been so successful in developing systems that he has another company Maverick Media Ventures, that made the 2019 Inc 5000 List at #254. Trent and I look at the power of systems to grow your business. We look at SOPs and how he aligns his team with them.
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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Everyone that was hired came into an organization where this having a system for everything was already the norm. So I didn’t have the resistance of a team of 20 people that has been operating for years this way, we’re going to now start documenting all of our processes, there’ll be a lot of pushback there. I didn’t have that problem. And I just, I’m a big believer in giving my staff a lot of autonomy. And so I say, look, you know, this is the finish line you need to get to, I don’t care so much how you get there. But you better have a process documented that shows how you get it so that if you leave or you get hit by a bus, I can easily drop someone to replace you. And they’re going to be able to do your job almost as effectively as you in a very short period of time. And it honestly makes it easier for the employees as well. Because when you have clearly defined systems, somebody else will just just work.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you could get insight from the founders and the CEOs of fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host, my name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their booth, are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:20]
Systems grow your business, the systems that define your business really will make or break how you guys operate. In fact, I have this theory to that what you have right now is based on the systems that you’ve created, good or bad. If you have things that are going really well you have good systems, if you have things that are going bad, well, those systems just aren’t working the way you want them to work. It’s this is not just the technology systems, but this is also the people systems you have this is also about the systems that really define how you guys work together, communicate, listen, or don’t listen, all of these systems define your growth. When you think about your own systems. Is it time for an upgrade? Well, I’m here with the founder of Maverick media ventures, and they were two times on the inquest have they reached 254, in 2019 662, and 2020. All because of the systems that created that business. We’re talking with Trent Dyrsmid, and he is really a powerhouse in this force of nature, if you will, around systems. He’s known as the SLP guy, or maybe I gave him that name. But we talked about some of the details behind creating systems that allow your team to play at a new level, give them that autonomy that’s necessary for them to to improve those systems, but also what the systems do to grow your business, we look at some of the software that he’s created along this journey, because he wanted a way to actually share this with others. And we talked about that business as well, which is different than the other business. Trent shares all the details inside today’s episode. Before we jump into it, let me remind you that if you are wanting to play at another level within your leadership, you want to be more strategic, more visionary, than sometimes you have to learn to let go of it, you have to take a different perspective. My job as an executive coach is to help you do that. If you want to check out some of the free resources we have there. genehammett.com if you want to actually schedule a call, you can actually try coaching out with me. I would love to connect with you and help you grow as a leader. Just go to genehammett.com. You’ll find everything you need. Now, here’s Trent.
Gene Hammett [3:23]
Trent, how are you?
Trent Dyrsmid [3:24]
Very well, Gene, thank you very much for having me.
Gene Hammett [3:26]
Well, excited to have you on the podcast where we talk about all the things that founder CEOs do to grow companies fast. You started Maverick media ventures, you made the list two times in a row. Impressive. How’d you get started in the e-commerce world?
Trent Dyrsmid [3:42]
So in April or so of 2016, a couple of my internet friends thanks to being a podcast host. I have lots of internet friends, people who I’ve known but I’ve never met. So these guys were selling on Amazon using the private label approach. And they’re harassing me, because they’re both doing well. And they were harassing me too, to get started. And I had resisted for some time. Eventually I relented, and I started off doing what people call the private label approach. And to be honest with you, I really wasn’t very successful at it, I put about four months into it. And most of our success came out of these things called Lightning Deals, which when Amazon introduced them, they were free to do now they’re not. And we weren’t really making any money. And so I was quite frustrated, I was pretty much ready to give up. And because I made bad product selections, essentially. And that’s the risk with private label. If you make a bad product decision. It really doesn’t matter how much marketing and stuff you do.
Trent Dyrsmid [4:41]
If it’s too competitive, you’re just going to get your clock clean. And that’s what was happening to me. So I interviewed this guy named Dan Matters, who introduced me to an entirely new way to sell on Amazon, which is the wholesale reseller method where you’re not doing you’re not getting products in China, you’re not coming up with your own brand. You’re literally just forming. It’s a b2b business, you’re forming a relationship with the manufacturer to be an authorized reseller of their goods, I Amazon, some of the biggest Amazon resellers like pattern and net rush etail. Since the model that they follow, these companies are all doing over 100 million a year. So what I discovered that from interviewing and I literally turned to my wife, after the interview is over, I said, Hey, honey, we’re gonna do that, like right now. And within five months, Jean, thanks to the particular tactics that I employed, we were doing over 100,000 a month, we did an over a million in our first year, we’ve been on the Inc 5000 list up near the top end of it for two years in a row.
Gene Hammett [5:42]
Well, you didn’t get there alone. So you built a team around you, but you have a unique approach around this. It’s not your traditional. Let me hire a bunch of local employees and go work in my warehouse because you have a different type of business. Give us an idea of how you structure your team.
Trent Dyrsmid [5:58]
Yeah, so thanks to being a podcast host and, and a guy who’s making a living online. For years, I’ve been using virtual assistants from the Philippines for quite a while now 10 years. And I’m very methodical, and fanatical about business processes. I’m known in my corner of the internet as the ESOP guy. So P stands for standard operating procedure, which is really just a way of describing having a documented business process describes exactly how to do a thing. And so what made us so successful was in this business, and Amazon, wholesale reselling, there’s a, the product sourcing aspect of the business is very laborious, it’s so laborious, because you’ve got to find products, then you’ve got to find the contact information for the company that makes the product, then you need to reach out to them and you’re going to fail 99 and a half percent of the time, so maybe 99% of the time, so you’re only going to get one in 100 wins. You have to spend a lot of emails, to get enough appointments, to have conversations with these brands, to basically pitch them on why you should become one of their authorized resellers, because none of them want any more authorized resellers, they all will say no, we don’t want any more go Wait, much like if you are a marketing agency, and you’re pitching for, you know, restaurants, most of the restaurants you get a hold of they’re like no, we don’t want we don’t go away. Bye, bye, bye, go away. So you just have to deal with a lot of failure.
Trent Dyrsmid [7:26]
So the way that I did handle that was I wrote down all the procedures for everything to do with prospecting. So I had systematize the hell out of it. And then I hired a little army of folks in the Philippines to do all this work for me. And so all I had to do was come into the office each day, log into my inbox and see how many replies that I received from all those hundreds and hundreds of emails that we were sending every single week. And then I would deal with I put my little sales guy hat on, and I would deal with the replies. And I would if somebody said no, I would work on changing their mind to a yes. And occasionally some people would say yes, right out of the chute. But if they’re saying yes, to me, they’re gonna say yes to everybody. And the profit margins gonna very quickly disappear. So really, the success in the business comes from the ability to help a brand, understand why it’s in their best interest to reconsider their position and say yes to you, and no to everybody else. Particularly.
Hold on, Trent just talked about systems, the systems that you have in your business give you the results that you are getting right now, I said this in the beginning of the podcast, but if you have good systems, you may be getting good results out of it. If you feel like you’re not getting something out of the business, then it’s probably because your systems are working perfectly. But they’re bad systems, you’ve got to look at those systems with a keen eye, you got to look at different perspectives. And you got to see what is working and be willing to change that be willing to get your other employees to change as well. When you think about your own leadership, the systems that you have created right now have given you exactly what you have good or bad. Back to Trent.
Trent Dyrsmid [9:09]
So, Trent, you talked about the power of systems there. And I think every leader knows that the systems that we have in our businesses really define our ability to leverage these ideas and really leverage a team. You’ve been known as the SLP guy for a while, when you think about systems, is this something that you have to keep reinventing or your team and now at the point where they actually can improve the systems without you. Secondly, how do you get to a place where people are improving the systems, you know, from your baseline to just continue evolve as businesses do?
Gene Hammett [9:48]
Well, having had the benefit of you know, everyone that was hired came into an organization where this having a system for everything was already the norm. So I didn’t have the resistance of a team of 20 people that has been operating for years this way, we’re going to now start documenting all of our processes, there’d be a lot of pushback there. Yeah, I didn’t have that problem. And I just, I’m a big believer in giving my staff a lot of autonomy. And so I say, look, you know, this is the finish line you need to get to, I don’t care so much how you get there. But you better have a process documented that shows how you did it so that if you leave, or you get hit by a bus, I can easily drop someone to replace you. And they’re going to be able to do your job almost as effectively as you in a very short period of time. And it honestly makes it easier for the employees as well. Because when you have clearly defined systems, everybody knows what to do. And it just, it just worked really, really well.
Hold on one more second here, Francis talked about autonomy. Well, employees want autonomy. When you hire people, they want to be left alone, they don’t want to be micromanage. They don’t want you to look over their shoulder. Now, no, you don’t do this all the time, because you probably have too many employees, for you to look over everyone’s shoulder. How do you take that autonomy to the next level? Well, one of the things is you upgrade your ability to empower them. Empowerment comes from a place of you allow them to have their own ideas, their own opinions, you allow them to make their own decisions, you allow them to pick up the pieces when things fall apart so that they own the results. Because those people that really do own the results and own the process are going to own every piece of it, not just part of it, they need to own all of it. And your job as a leader is to make sure you’re consistent enough with your empowerment, and you trust them enough to allow them to have that autonomy. And one of the things I’m really bringing this up over and over again because it’s such an important piece for you to play at another level, to be the strategic leader and visionary leader that you need is to give others the chance to do all these other things that you don’t need to be doing anymore. You need to play at a higher level. And so this allows you to do that if you do it right. Back to Trent.
Gene Hammett [12:13]
One of the things I’ve seen with a lot of businesses is they’re afraid to ask people to document their systems because they’re afraid, oh, that we’re going to replace you. But that’s not the case, you’re actually asking them to document the systems in a way that they can, you know, have some control of their own job and own the fact that if it starts to break down, they can actually improve it themselves. That’s the kind of autonomy you’re talking about. Right.
Trent Dyrsmid [12:39]
So in many cases, like early on, when, you know, when I hired, Laura was one of my first hires, and then I hired another fellow Jared, I just said, Look, if you find if you identify ways to improve the systems that I’ve created, hit the edit button and make the changes and update them because you’re the one doing I don’t do this job anymore. Now you’re doing this job you own, you’re being held accountable for the results. And your compensation is being influenced by your ability to achieve those results. So Far be it for me to micromanage you along the way other than to have one guiding principle. You must have a documented business process for what you’re doing. And periodically I would spot check. So they would know that I was looking.
Gene Hammett [13:27]
Well, I know you’ve kind of evolved into creating some other lines of businesses around this. But before we jump into that, give us a picture of what it looks like today and Maverick media ventures because last time I talked to you, you’re like, I’m really not involved.
Trent Dyrsmid [13:43]
I’m not involved at all I have no, I’m a shareholder. I’ve literally had no day to day role. Other than giving the occasional asking a few questions here and there. Because I still pay attention to what’s going on that in that industry. And then being a sounding board and causing debate where needed, maybe making the occasional introduction. But that’s about it.
Gene Hammett [14:11]
It how many people are on the team now.
Gene Hammett [14:14]
It’s very small we have my wife is a part-time managing partner in that she does this one meeting per week with the one employee that pretty much runs the company. And we have maybe five or six, seven virtual assistants. I don’t even know the exact number. And that’s it. Now, if I was if I didn’t have other business interests, I would put more resources behind it. But as we’ll get into in this discussion, that business has now led me into other businesses that are more lucrative and have more upside and not surprisingly then I devote more of my resources to those But to that business by software company, because it just makes good sense to do so.
Gene Hammett [15:05]
Well, let’s go right into this software company because I think you’ve set the tone for your thoughts around these SLPS. The systematization of a business has been what allowed you to grow. And you wanted to get into this new area that basically provided software for those that wanted to create these SLPS. Right. Tell us a little bit about Flowster.
Trent Dyrsmid [15:29]
Yeah, so the background was, I didn’t sit down one day and like, have this epiphany of an idea for a software company didn’t happen like that at all. I stumbled into it. And I stumbled into it because of the success of my Amazon reseller business. So I got invited by Dan, the guy I mentioned earlier, to come to his conference after a year in the business. So we’re doing we cracked a million in a year. And he said That’s incredible. How the hell did you do that? And I explained it, whatever it explained to you a single, would you like to come to my conference and talk about that, and I said, That sounds fun. And there were about 500 or so other Amazon resellers in his audience sitting there, this was before COVID.
Trent Dyrsmid [16:15]
So we were all at a physical conference. And because of my podcast, and my YouTube channel, many of these people knew who I was, but I didn’t really sell anything. And so I got on stage, and I said, Hey, everybody, this is not a product pitch, I don’t have anything for sale. He said I’m just gonna explain to you how I accomplished this result. And you know, you should make a lot of notes because I’m going to give you a lot of information. And I proceeded to fire hose them with a very high level of detail over the next 90 minutes explaining how I sourced all my products, how I bought hired vas how I implemented at all and, and obviously, the talk was all about my standard operating procedures. So the end of that people lined up with the microphones, or they send me an email or a message on Facebook, or whatever. And they all said the same thing. I know I need what you just talked about. But I don’t know how to build it, or I don’t want to spend the year that it took you to create all this content. I just buy a copy of yours. And that hadn’t occurred to me that people like I knew people sell lots of training courses. But it hadn’t occurred to me that because I don’t think anybody has ever sold way. But at that point time had never sold any SLPS that I’m aware of, not in our space. And so I thought, well, I said to Dan, I said, Look, people seem to want to buy this thing.
Trent Dyrsmid [17:43]
I said, What if I make a copy of my purse processes, we’ll give the product a name, which is now called webs stands for wholesale eCommerce business systems. I said, if I create this thing, would you promote it to your audience? Because they seem to want to buy it? And he said, Yeah, I think that would be a really good thing. So we did some math on the size of his customer lists, I assume that if a quarter of his customers bought my webs product, that in our in our seven day launch of that product, we would do a quarter million in revenue. And we ended up doing 412,000. So I was pretty stunned. Dan was pretty surprised. And I realized right at that moment that there was been there’s no better vote and a vote with a credit card, that there was significant demand for this product. And I realized that I was always going to keep selling it. So I then called my new CTO who’s been a friend of mine for a long time. He’s a very technical guy, he’d already built and sold a software company. I was his roommate when he started it. And so you know, we knew each other really, really well. And I said, Look, this is what just happened. And for the first release of the product, we didn’t own the software, we just literally put it in somebody else’s software application. And that had a bunch of negatives to it for us. Like if somebody wanted a refund, and how do we get the content back?
Trent Dyrsmid [19:06]
There was just a bunch of stuff that was not ideal. But for the first launch, it was good enough. And he said, Yeah, I mean, and so in little fall of 2017, he started hiring developers and we started writing code. And it took us a full year to get our software to the point where we could release it. So in the fall of 2018, when we launched webs, we released it on our own software. I had been using it now for like six months, but when I was using it originally was bugs all over the place. So he’s fixing bugs constantly. And then, since then, you know without even a dime of advertising, although we’re about to start. We’ve there are 5000 people now using the flow software platform, and I look at my reports and 34567 people sign up a day and I haven’t even started to run ads yet. It’s Literally just because I get interviewed on podcasts like yours, people hear the story, and it resonates with them. Or they listen to my own show, and they go sign up for it.
Gene Hammett [20:12]
When you talk about the standard operating procedures, I think a lot of business owners go, yeah, that’s what I want, right? So that it’s no surprise to me that you’re getting demand for this, because we all want to have more control without having to manage the people because managing work is actually the easy part of leadership. Have you found that?
Trent Dyrsmid [20:34]
Managing work is the easy Yeah, yeah, I’m actually reading. So as the size of my team grows, and, and I suppose expect that it will grow significantly this year, as we start to, like, I’ve hired a VP of Marketing, and we’ve given her an ad budget. So we’re probably going to start going off the blade of the hockey stick and up to handle, I realized that yours truly needs to really brush up on his leadership skills, because, with a small team, it’s not that hard. Or at least I haven’t found it that hard. But as the size of the team grows, I know it’s going to be harder. So there’s this transition that I as the CEO, I’m now going through of, Okay, I need to put myself in the position because of being a better leader. Because as you build a team, you stop doing the things in the business. Like I’m not doing customer service, I’m not doing product wireframes I’m not even writing the marketing anymore. Like there’s all this stuff that is not done by people I’m hiring. But I still have to leave them. And I still have to have vision. And I still have to, you know, there’s things you got to leave. So I am I’m studying intently, how to become a better leader.
Gene Hammett [21:41]
Well, to that effect, Trent, we met and connected a few weeks ago, and we decided to, to do a little bit of a cross interview process, where I’m going to actually coach you through this on our next call together, which is two days from now. I don’t know when they’ll publish, but I will let the audience know. I’m going to be coaching you kind of life for your audience. Is that still on? target?
Trent Dyrsmid [22:02]
Gene Hammett [22:05]
I appreciate you playing with me because I don’t get a chance to have recorded coaching conversations. So I’m letting people know here that are listening in that when we put this together, we’ll kind of get them to come out close together. And I will definitely be giving you everything I’ve got around this to help you improve as a leader and you guys get to experience what coaching is around leadership.
Trent Dyrsmid [22:27]
I look forward to.,
I want to break in here for a second. If you haven’t already checked out our message on YouTube, make sure you go to genehammett.com/YouTube, we put some content on there that you won’t find anywhere else. We put it exclusively there so that you can go find the content and video format. They’re short videos, you can get exactly what you need, get in and out, become a better leader. Just subscribe. Now go to genehammett.com/YouTube. Now back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [22:54]
Trent, I want to ask you one more question. You know, looking back at the success you’ve had in this business and other businesses, you What have you learned the hard way and SLPs that could help others that are really trying to think about how do we put more system inside of our business.
Trent Dyrsmid [23:14]
So people always want to know where they should start. I was having a conversation last night on my porch with a friend about who’s looking to make the transition into being a business owner. And this would the advice that I gave him is largely the same as the advice that I would give to answer your question, the most important thing is to just start. And his objection was, well, I want to just randomly started maybe waste five hours on something that would have been better spent on something else. And that risk always exists. Its part of the journey of an entrepreneur, the advice that I can give you with respect to developing SLPS is this. Look at the area. So I love to grow. So I always start with what causes growth, first of all? And then what are the most repetitive activities that are required to cause that growth? And am I doing them? Could somebody else be doing those activities? So if the answer was yes, and yes, yes, I’m doing them and yes, somebody else could be doing them. And I’m in a phase-in of my business where growth is really important.
Trent Dyrsmid [24:28]
I’m going to start documenting those processes and I’m going to start delegating those processes to other people. Now another entrepreneur might he might be it 10 million, 50 million 100 million and maybe growth isn’t the issue, maybe execution is the issue. Maybe that particular person is still being dragged too much into the hamster wheel of working in their business. So then look at those areas of execution. Look at the things that you are doing and develop a stop doing list. And then prioritize your stop doing list and figure out what areas could you create processes for ideally, maybe what areas could you put your team to be responsible for creating processes for, although if it’s something you’re still doing personally, you’re probably going to have to be the guy creating the process or the cat or the gal as the case may be because nobody else is doing that job yet.
Trent Dyrsmid [25:23]
So I guess, to sum up, figure out where your time’s getting sucked up. And ask yourself, is that working in the business activity? Or is that working on the business activity, the former working in the business, I love them, I don’t want to do any of that stuff. So I delegate like crazy. And so I focus my energies on making processes in those areas so that those areas are feasible and relatively easy for me to delegate to somebody else. And they’ll get a similar level of results, maybe not as good as me, but you can have growth, or you can have control. I’m more interested in having growth than I am having control. So if someone is only 85%, as good as me using my process, I can live with that. Some people, they’re control freaks, they can’t live with that. So they will forever be running a very small business.
Gene Hammett [26:16]
Well, I appreciate you sharing that. I think that’s really great advice. I’ve got some similar kind of frameworks. I use a raptor stop doing list, especially if you’re too busy and, and you’re really kind of stressed out. So Trent, thanks for being here. Sharing your journey from your one business, leveraging opportunity for a new business, and sharing all of the ins and outs of that.
Trent Dyrsmid [26:37]
Well, thank you very much for having me, Gene. I obviously love talking about this stuff. And I love seeing entrepreneurs become more successful and gaining more freedom in their lives at the same time. So it’s, it’s always a treat for me to get to spread the message.
Art Saxby [26:52]
But this wraps up another great episode of Growth Think Tank, I wanted to recap a little bit. What Trent talked about is you know, that stop doing list is a very important piece to you letting go of the day-to-day becoming a more powerful leader. Because if you continue to hold on to everything that you’re trying to hold on to now, you’re probably limited in the company, you are the bottleneck. And that’s really a dangerous place to be if you want to continue to grow, you want to continue to evolve into a stronger leader. So my job as an executive coach is to help you understand those things. Look at those blind spots of your identity hold you accountable for it. If you have any questions, make sure you check out the free resources we have a genehammett.com when you think about growth, you think about leadership, think of Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. See you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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