Tags: scale architecture firm
Episode 185

3 Pillars to Scale an Architecture Firm with Michael Joseph

Enoch SearsFeb 2, 2017

Today's guest is Michael Joseph, the business development manager for 3C Engineering based out of San Luis Obispo, California.

Go here to watch the first half of our interview on Strategies for Growing Your Business

In this episode of the Business of Architecture podcast, we discuss 3 pillars for scaling an architecture firm.

You'll also discover:

  • 3 pillars for scaling an architecture firm
  • Why an entrepreneurial mindset is important for success
  • The “growth lever” for growing an architecture firm's impact and success
  • How to 10x your results

Resources for today’s show:

3C Engineering
Strategic Coach

Interview Transcript and Members Only Resources:

[DAP errMsgTemplate=”SHORT”]

Michael Joseph: Having people, having scalable processes, and having really solid branding and marketing efforts is the three kind of pillars that I would highlight.

Enoch Sears: Business of Architecture, Episode 185. Hello, I am Enoch Sears, and this is the podcast for architects, where you'll discover tips, strategies, and secrets for running a profitable and impactful architecture practice. I'd like to invite you to discover how to double your architecture firm income and create your dream practice of freedom in impact by downloading my free 4-Part Architecture Firm Profit Map. As a podcast listener you can get instant access by going to freearchitectgift.com.

Today's guest is Michael Joseph, the business development manager of 3C Engineering based out of San Luis Obispo, California, that's right. Today we're going to talk about engineering, we're going to talk about the AEC industry, entrepreneurship, and a bunch of other stuff I know you're going to love. So without further ado, here's today's show. Hey, Michael. Welcome back to Business of Architecture.

Michael Joseph: Thanks for having me, Enoch. I appreciate it.

Enoch Sears: Interestingly when we were at the event in San Luis Obispo that we met there together and we were talking and chatting, it turns out that you told me that you have a background actually coaching entrepreneurs. Tell me about that.

Michael Joseph: Yeah. Yeah. Mny background is in electrical engineering, and I'm from a big family, a family of 10, which you know. Those two things of having a analytical background and the need to find out information and the need to be able to take things apart and figure out how they work and put them back together, and then also the people side, that I've grown up around so many different types of personalities and people. What I've noticed throughout the years is that combination has helped me to have some insights into the business world. For many years, what I've did naturally really is just helped the friends and family that I knew with businesses to figure out what their challenges are and where they might be able to exceed or excel in their businesses.

For years I just I did pro bono work. I just did it for free. I was just helping because that's what came out of my heart. Somebody once kind of mentioned, “Hey look, you should ask for a paycheck for some of this stuff that you're doing,” because I was helping people with web design. I was helping some of my friends with their social media campaigns, and just real tangible stuff that they would normally pay for. I figured out, “Wow, I could actually get paid to be a coach for entrepreneurs.” It really was just an accidental experience for myself.

Then although I consistently held another full-time job throughout my entrepreneurial coaching career, it was something that I just had so much fun doing I literally would do it for free. I would volunteer. That's the fun stuff, and I almost felt guilty taking a check from my friends and business partners because, gosh it was just so much fun seeing that business succeed. After a while of actually being paid for it and seeing the results, I would then share revenue streams where, “Hey look, want to help you out for a while for free, and then if you see an increase in your bottom line, then great, cut me a check.” Gosh, some of those checks were far more than I would have asked for, so it continued down that pathway. It was just like an inborn interest in my own of what makes businesses tick. From the people side, the process side, the technical side, the product development side, just across the board was just so interesting to me, and I think that's part of the reason why I've been so successful helping entrepreneurs succeed.

Enoch Sears: So did you do that professionally for a while, or was it just on a kind of a semi-pro basis.

Michael Joseph: Yeah, it was only on a semi-pro basis. I really had no marketing myself. It was all just word of mouth. It was very informal if you will, but for some reason I was really able to create some solid results. I've had some retrospects, or looked back upon what those were and what I started to figure out, “Okay, there are some systems here that I can apply.” I took those same pieces of knowledge and I then applied them to big businesses. We talked about ClickBank. They hired me on to develop and create their first ever inside sales team. Within 18 months we had produced $67 million in revenue, and within three years we were doing $350 million in sales. That was based upon just the process of trying to figure out, how do you build a scalable company, and how do you offer a top-notch service and product to your clients, and then how do you get the word out there, and do it right and do it consistently? Those were phenomenal results.

Prior to ClickBank I worked at this company called Goal Financial out to San Diego. I was hired on to be a training manager for them and train their inside sales team. What I ended up doing is I created a training CD set if you will with an accompanying web test, where you actually listened to the CD, then you jumped online and you took an assessment test of how to sell this particular financial product. Once you passed that test, then you jumped on the phones. We increased sales by almost 70% within the first year of implementing that training program. So the real-world strategies that I gained just out of a fun hobby with friends and family who were running businesses turned into an extremely lucrative pathway for myself where I was able to actually help companies expand and really have the hyper growth that they were looking for.

Enoch Sears: So you talked about the three questions, the three things that you wanted to accomplish, that were on your mind when you were at ClickBanks. One of was scaling the business, one of them was getting the word out there. The kind of followup question is, okay what is the answer to those things? What are the lessons you learned from taking that company down that path?

Michael Joseph: Yeah. Yeah. The first really important foundational lesson is think about scalability always. If you're doing a certain task our you're trying to create a product or service, think about what it would take to create 10,000 of those, or to do that task 100,000 times. If you consistently think about the scalability of your systems and processes, then you surround yourself with solutions based upon that. Instead of just trying to get the job done and work on that one particular client or product, you want to make sure that you're consistently looking forward and looking towards what would be the challenges if we quadrupled, or went 10 times the amount of clients that we had right now? Would we be able to handle that? What would we need to change in order to accomplish that? That's one really important piece of the puzzle is scalability.

Branding is it's possibly the next piece is once you get your product or service out there, you want people to have a definition in their own minds already just by looking at your logo or hearing your business name. There's multiple different examples of that. You take Apple for example. You're going to automatically assume a higher level of quality of product just by the name itself.

As I kind of worked through these businesses, those things were fundamental, but if I were to pinpoint one absolutely critical piece of the puzzle that businesses struggle with is putting together a solid team. People at the end of the day are what makes up the business. People are challenging. Like I said before, they're dynamic. They're ever-changing. They're unpredictable in many ways. It's incredibly important to hire smart, so take a while, make sure that you have the right candidate. Interview multiple times before you pull the trigger on somebody, and hire slowly and fire quickly is a motto that I suggest often. Having people, having scalable processes, and having really solid branding and marketing efforts is the three kind of pillars that I would highlight if you will.

Enoch Sears: Awesome. You talked about working with that organization called Strategic Coach. What is that organization?

Michael Joseph: Yeah. Yeah. One of my favorite people on the whole planet is Dan Sullivan. Dan, he's gosh, he was probably in his 70s now so he's been around for a long time, coaching entrepreneurs since the early 70s. Just a wonderful human being, and incredibly intelligent. One of the smartest guys I've ever met. He started a business out of Toronto, Canada called Strategic Coach. Strategic Coach is now in multiple different locations. They have a location in London. They're here in the United States in Chicago. They have a location in Toronto. They teach methodologies for entrepreneurs to overcome challenges within their own businesses. One tool is called The Strategy Circle, so you try to figure out what your strategy is by working around the circle. You can solve problems by using tools that Dan has created. Dan's a genius, and I'm not an affiliate. I don't get any kickback for Strategic Coach. I don't work for them, but if you ever get a chance, if you own a business, if you're a business owner, that's one of the strongest entrepreneurial coaching programs that I've seen around. But there are restrictions. In order to be trained by Dan himself you have to be making and profiting more than $1 million a year as an entrepreneur. Just getting involved and learning about systems and tools that are out there is definitely worth it, but that's kind of my experience in what they are.

Enoch Sears: Great. In your experience with them, did you go through the training, and did you become a coach? I want to dive into that a little bit.

Michael Joseph: Yeah. Yeah. You know what? I went to the training. I didn't become a coach. My intention was not necessarily to become a coach for Strategic Coach themselves. I was actually working with ClickBank at the time where I got involved with Strategic Coach. What I loved about that, Dan is also heavily involved with Joe Polish who owns and runs a fantastically successful marketing company called Piranha Marketing out of Arizona. Also is a mastermind leader of the Genius Network, or it with called the 25K Group. That group of people were heavily involved with all of my clients that I served at ClickBank as well. As I developed more strategies to help entrepreneurs through courses with Dan, I was able to help my clients succeed, and therefore add more revenue to the bottom line of the company that I worked with, and therefore generate those multi-millions of dollars in revenue. That was really the strategy that I undertook and kind of executed on.

Enoch Sears: What would you say were the key insights that you took away from the Strategic Coach training?

Michael Joseph: You know what? Some of the things that I've already mentioned. One, have a scalable process. Something that I learned from Dan is that in your own mindset, if you set your goals to let's say double the size of your business in a three year period, which seems for some business owners unfathomable. “Oh my goodness, how could I do that? I'm already tapped out,” kind of a thing. But Dan challenges people and entrepreneurs to not set your sights so low but to actually set your sights on 10 timesing your business, or growing your business by 10 times. It scares people at first. They're like, “How in the world would I ever do that? Who would I need to become in order to achieve such greatness if you will?” But the point that Dan brings up is that once you actually set the goal to grow 10 times, you surround yourself with again the resources, the people, the thought processes, the mindset. You go to sleep at night thinking in a bigger vision than just doubling the size of your company, and you're thinking in ways that are much more expanded if you will. One large takeaway that I took from Strategic Coach is that magic of thinking big. We've heard that for many years, but it's so true and so important, and Dan really drives that home. Hopefully that answers your question.

Enoch Sears: Yeah, it does. I'd like to talk about, Michael, your experience doing the coaching and work with entrepreneurs. One thing that I am always looking for is the big levers that produce massive results, so always looking for the hacks, or the 20% that produces the 80% of results. I know that in startup firms, startup businesses, there's always two or three that you can find, where you tweak these little things and they see exponential increases. What would be those things? If you think back to your work with some of these young entrepreneurs or these young companies I guess, what would be those things? If you haven't already touched on them, let's just dive into that little bit.

Michael Joseph: Yeah. Yeah. In any business, no matter what you sell or what you're doing in life, its about your network of people that you involve yourself with. You can have some champions out there that multiply your business because they're out preaching your product or service for you, so finding those champions and finding those multipliers if you will is incredibly important.

But even more so, as people launch a company, they sometimes forget about the importance of just collecting those email addresses of people that they ran into once that they had a good conversation with but forgot about, and just try to make sure that they don't lose touch with the thousands of people that we all rub shoulders with over a five year period or a 10 year period, and to maintain relationships with that “list” if you will. One of the large levers for all of the entrepreneurs, most all of the entrepreneurs, I've worked with is having a substantial list with a good relationship. A list meaning just a list of people with contact information, email address, cell phone is better, having some memory, some recollection of who they are and maybe what demographic that they fall into if you will, and maintain some sort of communication with that list, and keeping it healthy, and keeping it vibrant and relevant to that individual.

Then taking that same concept now, well if you've collected those individuals, if you really keep a open communication and develop a relationship with those individuals, you're going to see that there's natural segmentation to your list, to your group or your network. Not always do you want to send the same message or communicate the same news to every single person on your lists or in your network. It's important to start to decide how to segment that and what's important to your different segments, and paying attention to the value that you're providing, because obviously one piece of information could be extremely valuable for one segment of your network and it could be irrelevant to another segment. Just paying attention to that, I think that's a huge lever if you will is really segmenting your network and your list of people.

Enoch Sears: Love it. Anything else about entrepreneurship that you want to touch on before we end our conversation?

Michael Joseph: Sure. Sure. Entrepreneurship is such a near and dear topic for me, and would love to explore more into this. But once you taste the taste of earning something for your own, of building something with your own hands, and really promoting that and it is you, I mean, this is you as a brand, as a product, as a service that's out there, as an entrepreneur who's changing the world. I firmly believe that entrepreneurs are changing the world every single day, and so to keep doing that. The message that I'd like to deliver to all entrepreneurs out there, architects alike who are trying to build their businesses, is keep that passion alive. Keep that drive. Keep doing what you're doing because entrepreneurs change the world.

Enoch Sears: I love it. That's such a high note, I would love to end there. However, you reminded me of something that I do want to touch on before we end.

Michael Joseph: Sure. Go ahead, [crosstalk 00:18:02]

Enoch Sears: It was last episode. You talked about scarcity mindset versus abundance.

Michael Joseph: Yes. Yeah.

Enoch Sears: I just wanted to ask you, let's end on that note. Tell me about that and why you brought that up as potentially being another conversation?

Michael Joseph: Sure. Sure. Really to kind of anybody who hasn't seen the last episode, just to kind of bring you up to speed a little bit, we talked about competition versus abundance, or scarcity versus abundance. A lot of business owners, they'll look at other architects as being their competitors. It's really incredibly important to hold the truth really that the world is abundant. There's so much opportunity out there. Once you start looking as someone as a competitor or that the world is so scarce, and you adopt that scarcity mindset and you close off so many more doors than if you shift your mind just slightly to believe in abundance and to believe not in competition, but developing allies.

Those competitors are competitors because they love the same things that you love, and why deny that? Hold that so clear and true. Most of the time when we find something in common with somebody, we love it. We develop friendships with people who love to do the same things that we do. Whether or not that's golfing or skydiving or surfing or skiing or whatever it is, once you find that in common, you tend to like that person more. And yet, in business, when you find a group of people who are doing exactly what you're doing, in some cases you look at them as enemies and competitors, which closes doors. Not to drill this one too deeply, but it's important for me, and I think it's important for every business owner to realize that the world is abundant and you can do a world of good for your own team and your own business if you really adopt that philosophy.

Enoch Sears: Thank you for that, and thank you, Michael, for bringing it here on the Business of Architecture podcast.

Michael Joseph: Yes. Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much for having me, Enoch. It's been a pleasure.

Enoch Sears: And that is a wrap. Thank you for listening today. If you're looking for more time, freedom, impact, and income as an architect, get instant access to my free 4-Part Architect Profit Map by visiting freearchitectgift.com. The sponsor for today's show is ArchReach, the client relationship management tool built specifically for architects. If you want to systematize your marketing and business development, ArchReach will help you do it. Visit archreach.com to learn more. The views expressed on this show by my guest do not represent those of the host, and I make no representation, promise, guarantee, pledge, warranty, contract, bond, or commitment except to help you conquer the world.


SHARE this episode:



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.


How To Double Your Architecture Firm Income In The Next 12 Months

Please fill out the form below to get free, instant access: