As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Cottrell.
Rick Cottrell, CEO of BizResults.com, uses his significant entrepreneurial experience and extensive research about the science of business to help entrepreneurial business owners and their leadership teams “supercharge” their businesses. He helps them break through the ceiling and get to the next level. He is the developer of the original SalesForce.com, and has spoken and presented, internationally, on numerous topics related to business acceleration and growth. He has experience in numerous industries including manufacturing, automotive, e-commerce, hospitality, aerospace, construction, logistics, retail, printing, financial services, and more. Rick is an Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) Implementer whose firm delivers proven systems with simple, practical tools to help companies become more profitable, scalable and create more value.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I learned early-on in my career I would never be satisfied working for someone else. I was working for a large company as a business consultant and assisting very large corporations with specific ways to help them grow. Over time I learned I could lead an organization, but was frustrated because I always had to report to someone else. I asked myself, why was I doing this for others when I can do it for myself? I really wanted to do my own thing and be my own boss. When the time was right I started my own business and became an entrepreneur. Over time I have owned several businesses and now run BizResults.com which is dedicated to helping small and mid-sized companies become successful with scalable, predictable growth, while providing more freedom for the owner and their leadership teams.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
In 1995, I found venture capital to help me develop a database marketing company (startup). We developed the business off of consumer engagement research that we did in the early 90’s. It showed that an effective Customer Relationship Management or CRM strategy could increase market share. The research was focused toward the auto industry. In fact, we coined the term CRM with that research. A product that we developed out of that research, based on a request by GM, we called SalesForce.com. It was part of a suite of services that we offered that included ServiceForce.com, a customer service outsource model, and StaffForce.com a staffing model.
In 1996 Mark Benioff called us to see if he could get SalesForce.com from us and we obliged.
Little did I know what SalesForce.com would become. This taught me to analyze and explore all possibilities for future growth before exiting a potential opportunity.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
It would probably be Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it continues to be a best seller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology and focuses on timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. I practice the 7 Habits and it has helped me grow tremendously on both a personal and professional level. Entrepreneurs can focus on Habits 1, 2, and 3 on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence. Then move to Habits 4, 5, and 6 and focus on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, as they move from independence to interdependence. Then utilize Habit 7 focusing on continuous growth and improvement. You will learn a lot as your grow your business and yourself.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I had the burning desire to help small business owners reach their potential. I had some 30 years of actual hands-on business experience working with all types of businesses from the Fortune 500 to smaller firms. As a business owner I had run my own companies and realized I could help others become successful by applying many of the principles I had used in my own companies. My purpose was, and is, to help others create a system that enables them to generate scalable growth and profitability while at the same creating more freedom for the owner. That vision continues today as we continue to grow and add new services to help our clients reach new levels of growth and outpace their competitors.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
The number one principle is to stay laser focused on the outcome and long-term desired result. Focus on the goal and not the day-to-day challenges that will occur. Always ask “Who” rather than “What”. This sets up the proper foundation for success. Yes you need to be concerned about the issues of running a business but if you have the right operating system, with the right people in the right seats, and proper strategies and metrics in place to constantly measure and adjust your process, most of those issues will become less of a major hurdle and more easy to manage.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The main challenges were and are to be cognizant of peoples wishes regarding socializing and connecting. Everyone is collecting information and creating their personal boundaries and rules in these areas. It is important to be respectful of their decisions. Just being considerate about their preferences is important.
We typically visit our children two times per year in the cities where they reside. We have not been able to do that and turned to Zoom to keep in touch. We have found that we could do it more frequently and actually became closer during this process.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Obviously the pandemic impacted our business. The biggest challenges were dealing with clients who wanted to postpone or delay projects due to the uncertainty of how the coronavirus would affect their businesses. Travel was an issue and the mandates for home-based quarantine also slowed things down. Still we had many business owners ready to on-board with us and that process was temporarily delayed. Now, as the economy begins to reopen, we have reengaged with nearly all clients and brought on some new ones. Business is picking up and we continue to expand base of clientele.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I have told our friends and loved ones to stay confident, this will pass. I have been through two recessions and the economy always bounces back, stronger than it was before. Though the economy is suffering for many right now, this is not an economic based crisis but rather a pandemic, basically out of everyone’s control. I would urge everyone to stay connected. That is to maintain communications with friends and family. Most are using the technology to make it happen. Many are finding creative ways to use Zoom and other virtual vehicles for dinner parties, group exercise, religious services and more. Things are beginning to open up and many of us are eating at restaurants, starting to travel, and resuming many of our normal daily activities.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Sure. We deal mostly with companies in the B2B sector and there is a big opportunity for those companies to greatly enhance their digital presence to increase sales and revenue. The sales process was already turning from a boots-on-the-ground methodology to one that is more virtual, and the pandemic has sped up that transition. Companies will need a strong digital presence to be found and get on the invite list to be part of the pitching process. This will include a variety of processes from better identifying and focusing in on high value targets, understanding a prospect’s “personality” and communications style from both a professional and personal level, and utilizing the right mix of marketing tools which can include strategic emails, enhancement of their website, search engine optimization, public relations and CEO/leadership positioning to stand out from the crowd. We believe firms, such as BizResults.com, that can assist in this process will have a great opportunity for growth.
Another opportunity exists for those who develop the technology to properly test employees for virus infection as they enter and leave the workspace. This will be an ongoing issue until a vaccine is developed and distributed. That could be one year or two years down the road. Meantime the economy is opening up and many offices are welcoming back employees. Those who can create some type of automated system for temperature scanning and related screening, with strong corporate adoption, will have great prospects for success.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Business will surely be done differently. The pandemic has proven that many of us can work successfully from home. Business owners will surely operate with more remote workers. This will result in fewer on-site team members and less office space.
As many workers work remotely, most will save money on clothing designed for office wear. The cost of gas and car maintenance due to long commutes to and from the office will also be reduced. Less time spent in traffic will reduce stress levels.
Many of us will travel less for business and perhaps for pleasure. This will enable more families to spend more time at home together and engage in creative activities that actually brings the family closer together.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
We have a plan in place at BizResults.com to survive and thrive for the long term. We call it bulletproofing your business. In fact I have book coming out called Bulletproof Your Business-How To Survive And Thrive In Any Economy, which will be published this fall. Our team had a foundation created to deal with emergencies and whatever challenges could occur. I look at our situation as one that is properly positioned for the Post-Covid economy. In fact we are enhancing our offerings and bringing aboard highly skilled specialists in management training and human resources to help our clients quickly recover from the downturn and build a foundation for success for the long-term.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I would tell business owners to look for ways to bulletproof their own business. This is similar to what they should do at the outset of the creation of their business to establish a plan for long term success. This includes installing a business operating system such as the Entrepreneurial Operating System® or EOS®, one we have used in our businesses, and a hiring strategy to put the right people in the right seats with highly skilled leadership to help the business grow at a rapid but manageable pace. It also includes employing a customer nurturing program, we use Hubspot for example, and ongoing sales and management training, with the right metrics and KPIs, to measure targeted growth. Over time this foundation will help the business through any downturn and position it for continued growth even when competitors are falling by the wayside.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The great motivational speaker Jim Rohn said,
“Fortunately, following the turbulence of winter comes the season of activity and opportunity called springtime. It is the season for entering the fertile fields of life with seed, knowledge, commitment, and a determined effort.
However, the mere arrival of spring is no sign that things are going to look good in the fall. You must do something with the spring. In fact, everyone has to get good at one of two things: planting in the spring or begging in the fall. Take advantage of the day and the opportunities that spring can bring.”
The pandemic has surely been a business winter. I have faced a few “winters” over the years and have always followed Jim’s advice, making a solid commitment and determined effort to rebound in the “spring” and be better than ever before. That advice has paid off handsomely over the years.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Visit our website at https://bizresults.com. I am on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/rickcottrell/. Also watch for the release of my book, Bulletproof Your Business-How To Survive And Thrive In Any Economy on Amazon.