S4E32 RJ Grimshaw Is INTRApreneurship for you?

S4E32 – RJ Grimshaw – Is INTRApreneurship  for you?
RJ Grimshaw – Is INTRApreneurship for you? My next is an advocate for intrapreneurship which is the concept of empowering entrepreneurial-minded people to thrive within an organization. In this episode, he talks about how businesses can adopt this type of culture and how employees can find these types of companies. Long story short, my guest adopted an intrapreneurial-minded culture, and his company of 15 employees increased revenue from $13M per year to over $120M per year. That’s $8M in revenue per employee which is beyond impressive. Is intrapreneurship for you? Stay tuned to find out. Please welcome, RJ Grimshaw.

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Key Timecodes

  • (00:57) – Show intro and background history
  • (03:28) – Deeper into his background history and business model
  • (05:53) – How big is his team
  • (07:12) – A bit about his numbers
  • (08:20) – Understanding his entrepreneurship model
  • (10:00) – Deeper into his business strategies
  • (20:36) – The differences between small and larger organizations
  • (22:44) – How to find people with an entrepreneurial mindset for companies
  • (28:22) – A bit about his software
  • (33:44) – A key takeaway from the guest
  • (43:21) – What is the worst advice he ever received
  • (44:14) – What is the best advice he ever received
  • (46:39) – Guest contacts


[00:00:00.320] – Intro
Hey, this is Sean Tapper, the host of Payback Time, an approachable and transparent podcast on building businesses, increasing wealth, and achieving financial freedom. I’d like to bring on guests to hear authentic stories while giving you actionable takeaways you can use today. Let’s go.
[00:00:17.490] – Sean
My next guest is an advocate of entrepreneurship, which is the concept of empowering entrepreneurial-minded people to thrive within an organization. In this next episode, my guest talks about how companies can adopt this type of culture and how employees can find these types of companies. Long story short, my next guest adopted an entrepreneurial-minded culture, and his company of just 15 employees increased revenue from 13 million a year, up to over 120 million a year. That is beyond impressive. I don’t even see a lot of tech companies with that high revenue per employee. Well, is entrepreneurship for you? Stay tuned to find out. Please welcome R. J. Grimshaw. R. J, welcome to the show.
[00:00:59.420] – RJ
Glad to be I really appreciate you making time for me to talk about entrepreneurship and what it can do for businesses as well as individuals.
[00:01:06.620] – Sean
Awesome. Well, thanks for joining me. And with that in mind, please kick us off and tell us about your background.
[00:01:12.520] – RJ
I was fortunate enough to be born into a family of an entrepreneur. As a matter of fact, my dad’s business plan hangs behind me from 1983, and they took this business plan from a concept to a $50 million company. Also on my mother’s side, my grandfather was actually a soda distributor back in the ’30s, ’40s, ’40s, and ’50s. My grandmother was a florist on the other side of the family. I had an uncle that owned several optician stores, so it was just naturally inherent for me to be an entrepreneur. And I actually owned my first business at 23, which was a bar restaurant that my dad funded for us, my brother and I, and we took that from concept to just over a million dollars in revenue with multiple revenue streams. And I ended up selling my shares to my brother Eric, who was my partner at the time, and fell into corporate America. When I fell into corporate America, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, if I wanted to even be there because I was an entrepreneur at heart. But I discovered this term of entrepreneurship, and probably a good time to define entrepreneurship.
[00:02:14.380] – RJ
An entrepreneur is a person that thinks like an entrepreneur, however, inside the confines of another business. So they’re extremely resourceful. They ask a lot of questions. They’re very driven. But again, they’re doing it within the confines. Now, here’s the upside for entrepreneurs. I had nothing invested in the organization from a capital allocation perspective. So it was really just going in with that mindset, and you have to be aligned with the business. So I fell in to, again, corporate America, and I wanted business equipment financing. So I was still working with entrepreneurs, which fed that for me, helping them finance the equipment they need. And then if I really did what I was supposed to do and add value to the relationship, I was probably overused not a word, but a trusted advisor. They would bring me in for hiring, marketing, and things of that nature. Worked my way up as an individual or individual contributor to my most recent role as CEO President for Unify Equipment Finance for the last 10 years. And we grew that company from 13 million in revenue to right around $120 million in revenue. And that primarily was all built around what we call the entrepreneur operating system, which is a company culture.
[00:03:28.880] – Sean
Very good story. I love it. To give a little context here in the business model, I like to know business models here just to go a layer deeper. This is a business equipment financing company. Is that correct?
[00:03:41.130] – RJ
Correct. So think of it as a mortgage company where you go to a mortgage broker or the bank and ask, we want to finance a mortgage. What we do is our parent is a bank and we borrow our money from the bank, but we lend it specifically and only on equipment needs. So we’ll go out to equipment dealers. So if you look at tow trucks, if you look at Yellow Iron, we go out and actually work with the dealers so they can offer financing. Imagine going to a car dealership, trying to buy a car and them not offering financing, saying, Well, you have to go take care of that. That’s a system, and it’s going to hurt your closing ratio. So we go and educate dealers that sell equipment. It doesn’t matter if it’s any widget, we call it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a CNC machine, if it’s a FedEx truck, we will go in and partner with that dealer to offer the financing. And then our goal and intent, of course, is to keep that a customer coming back over and over again every time they have needs to finance equipment.
[00:04:34.980] – Sean
Got you. So I’m looking at the business play there. Probably the front-end, you want to build relationships with more of these equipment, rental, or seller companies. And then by creating a long term relationship, they are going to be able to serve more customers. And that’s essentially where you get paid. So you’re…
[00:04:56.200] – RJ
It’s truly a partnership. We don’t get paid until they sell the equipment and we So it’s all about relationship building. And again, it’s a highly competitive industry, just like any industry. So you really have to differentiate yourself. And the way that we differentiate ourselves at UniFi was as companies were trying to leverage more and more technology, the personal touch was being left behind. So we really built a culture around we would answer the phone within two rings. During COVID, it really showed, and PPP really showed or illustrated to our customer base and our partners, the dealers, on what we had to offer because we were in front of the situation and we made it extremely easy for our business owners to either defer payments or work with them, which, of course, our customers… It was the right thing to do, but our customers liked that we were proactive doing that because they weren’t receiving that from the bigger institutions. And again, we were nimble enough to be able to do that.
[00:05:53.670] – Sean
Yes, right on. Just to dive in a little more about the business, then we’ll talk about entrepreneurship. How big is your team?
[00:06:02.400] – RJ
Our team is 15 people.
[00:06:04.530] – Sean
Fifteen people? Okay. A smaller operation, but really nice revenues.
[00:06:07.910] – RJ
Actually, we shrunk that. When I first joined the organization, I was the second President. The company started in 1978. I joined in 2013, so the second CEO President of the organization. And we had a lot of… The good news is we had a lot of the original employees are still employed with us. We just had to get them to buy in and things of that nature, Because at that time, the business was somewhat stale in terms of their go-to-market. Just imagine buying a house and the people have lived there for 35 years. There’s certain things they just don’t see because they become accustomed to it. They just think that’s the norm, but everybody bought in. And again, with the entrepreneurship operating system that we deployed, it enabled us to grow without throwing bodies at it. And if you really think about the last three years, it was really difficult to do that, just to the fact that it was very difficult, one, to keep employees, your team members, and then secondly, go out and recruit and hire to attract new ones to come to you unless you had certain perks and things of that nature.
[00:07:12.160] – Sean
Yeah. Now, did you say you took it from 13 million in revenue up to 120?
[00:07:17.540] – RJ
I did not. The team did.
[00:07:19.540] – Sean
Team, okay.
[00:07:21.050] – RJ
Mission. And again, a lot of hard working, loyal people within the organization. But it It really was driven by the entrepreneur operating system. And that operating system is really about sharing ideas and ownership mentality and things of that nature. But it starts at the top of the house. It starts at either the management level, the owner level. And you could do that if you’re a manager of a certain vertical in a big company, if you’re an entrepreneur. A lot of people have heard of EOS, which is a great operating system. This is slightly off of that where it’s more people-focused than it is what EOS is focused on.
[00:08:00.600] – Sean
Okay. Entrepreneurial operating system. This is iOS, you call it?
[00:08:05.640] – RJ
We’re calling it iOS. Trade market because there is an iOS. And believe me, we’ve spent hours and hours on a whiteboard trying to figure out an alternative name for it, and we just haven’t been successful. So we’re going to stick with iOS for now.
[00:08:20.190] – Sean
Okay. Let’s run with that and let’s dive into that a little bit further. I’m probably going to ask some questions here that are actually… I have some people close to me who are They’re trying to get into a business, buy a business. They’re also thinking about creating their own business. But this is a third alternative that might be really interesting to learn about this entrepreneurial process Process. This is new. I don’t hear people talk about this every day. So dive into this iOS framework a little bit.
[00:08:51.460] – RJ
Yeah. So I love that you brought that up because my number one goal in my North Star is to have entrepreneurship be as sexy as entrepreneurship because everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and it’s a sexy, what do you do? I’m an entrepreneur. Well, I want people to be proud and say, I’m an entrepreneur, which means I have all the valuable tools that an entrepreneur has, but I’m doing it again within the organization. So if you’re an individual and you’re debating on starting your own business, and especially right now with what’s taking place in the economy, maybe you’re downsized or you just believe the time’s right, I would ask you, have you had the opportunity to do what you What do you want to do with the new business within another business? So in essence, go find a business that’s doing what you hope to do and learn from them and understand what makes them successful. And then you put your tweaks on it in your spin and add your value to the business that you want to do. But there’s no reason to go invest that dollars for those times. You can be the entrepreneur, be paid to do it, be paid to learn, and then make the decision, do you want to go start this?
[00:09:55.800] – RJ
And then you can even start it on the side as a side hustle, as a gig type of opportunity.
[00:10:01.150] – Sean
So you’re empowering your people to make heads up plays on the field. I always like to use sports analogies. If you’re on the field, you don’t need the roadmap on how to make a countdown. It’s like you’re going to figure out a way on how to do it. I trust you to do it. So it’s like that. You’re giving people, Hey, here’s ultimately what we want to do is help businesses sell more products. Go. However you figure out how to do it, go do it.
[00:10:27.460] – RJ
Well, again, but there has to be alignment. There has to alignment between- Sure, of course.person. And if you do not have that alignment, it will not work. Really, the way that you should think of this is three out of four employees within every organization across the world have ideas that can be shared to make the business better. Us as business owners and leaders have to foster that environment. So we’ve developed a software, which is an idea sharing software within the organization, and we use that at UniFi to prioritize these ideas, because what you don’t want to have is 20 employees all going doing their own thing in terms of trying to, Hey, I’m going to do my thing because R. J. Says that we’re all entrepreneurs, which means I have the freedom to go do that. That doesn’t work. We coach the businesses that we work with, which is the model We use it Unify. We call it an 80/20 rule. You want 20% of your organization to have that entrepreneur mindset, and then you want the 80 to be what we call functional employees, functional team members, which are It’s difficult to the overall success.
[00:11:31.750] – RJ
But what happens is when you deploy this culture, that 80% starts to shift where it’s 70%, it’s 60%, because all of a sudden they’re seeing the success, one of the organization. What it creates is a level of engagement increases, level of idea sharing, energy goes up because they now have ownership. It’s commission in the business. So all those things naturally happen. There’s no science behind it. It’s really just providing the opportunity to individuals.
[00:12:03.330] – Sean
This is an opportunity where I think a lot of businesses can learn from this because there’s so many people that walk in an organization, they have a standard operating procedure. This is the way you have to do it, and there’s, if no, ands or buts. And you come in and it sounds like you use a software, some collaborative tool that allows people to come up with ideas. Sounds like you agree on what ideas you’re going to use and then move forward. Can you talk about that a little bit? What What is the frequency on your meeting and discussing these ideas?
[00:12:34.180] – RJ
It really starts, again, at the leadership. And we work with the leaders in terms of what the messaging should look like. But we also ask that this is not a initiative or a quarter initiative, or this is going to be what our focus is this year. This is an ongoing culture. It’s a lifestyle, per se. When people say, I’m going to go on a diet, well, that’s probably not the right term. Let’s focus on lifestyle. This is the same thing within the business. It’s an operating system, hence why we call it IOS, and it’s an overarching culture. It again starts at the top, and then it just becomes part of everyday discussions, everyday meetings. With the software where you’re showing the ideas that have changed the business to enhance it. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. It can be slight improvements. It can be a product champion. It can be a process champion. I’m glad you brought up SOPs because SOPs are critical. I’m always amazed and shocked on how many organizations either don’t have them, they don’t update them, or they’re not easily able to have team members to get there. Now with the modern technology that we have, it’s easy to shoot a loom video for an SOP to illustrate what should be done.
[00:13:42.950] – RJ
We actually coach and educate the business owners or the manager within the company. We identify, again, entrepreneurs, but there’s what we call level one, level two, and level three. A level one employee will come in and follow those procedures to a T. That’s a functional employee. Level two will come in, follow the processes, and maybe make some tweaks or suggest some tweaks if you have an operating system that will allow that. A level three, which is your entrepreneur, they’re going to come in and understand the inputs, outputs, and they’re going to set up systems around the SOPs to help grow the business. So if you’re in a scaling function, that’s why it’s critical to have those entrepreneurs within the organization because they’re going to think just like you and commission with you. But I want to keep going back and stressing, there has to be alignment between the person and the mission and vision and the values of the organization, because I’ve seen it too many times where there’s not that alignment and it doesn’t work. It’s very frustrating for both parties.
[00:14:35.650] – Sean
How do you keep somebody… I’m going to use a metaphor here, like a swim lane. How do you keep somebody within a swim lane? I want you doing things that are creative and driving the business forward, but don’t go too far off the rails here.
[00:14:49.640] – RJ
And that’s why that software is put in place where you can track a leadership and management team and you stack rank them. And there’s actually a tool within the system where you can submit ideas and no one knows where they come from. Typically, what we have found is that a lower percentage folks do that because they want to have the accolades of the improvement taking place. And I go back to that ownership and commissioning. And then also in the software, there’s four areas. It could be either on our way from a revenue perspective. It could be just a general idea for improvement. And I’ll give you an example of that. So within Unify, we have four distinct areas of the business. One, we have sales, of course. They’re driving the oxygen for the business. The second thing is what we call our document team or our account management team. They supported in terms of entering applications, transaction documents. Then we had credit, and then we had portfolio services. So to answer your question specifically, I want to expect someone… Now, sales, we all think if you’re in sales that you have the answers for everything, right?
[00:15:53.060] – RJ
That’s why you’re in sales. You’re overconfident, most likely, and you see that they always want to get feedback. But The document team, we wanted them to stay in there within the lane. And that’s unless there was something that they saw from a customer service perspective that could assist. And when you’re transparent with that, everyone buys in and no one is ashamed of, Well, that idea came from Susie, and she’s not in my department. Remember, she’s trying to provide ideas to make the overall organization a better place to be, which means compensation will go up for everyone as well. That’s the ingredient that drives people at the end of the day.
[00:16:30.110] – Sean
Well, I’m looking at revenue per employee, 15 employees, 120. We’re getting close here to…
[00:16:37.260] – RJ
It’s a high ticket. It’s a six-figure. Our average transaction size is six-figure, full disclosure. We made a conscious decision in 2016. There’s a great book out there called The One Word. I believe John Gordon is the author, I believe. But The One Word, it’s a great read, easy read, and I would recommend it to anyone, especially as you’re transitioning. We’re in a new year. And we did it across the organization where everyone picked their one word individually for them. And then we decided as a group what the word would be for Unify, and the word was no, which is a very difficult word to say to customers or potential doing it. However, I use a metaphor, when we first opened, we were a restaurant with a great location and we would serve anyone. It didn’t matter if you wanted steak, seafood, Thai food, Chinese, sushi. We would figure it out, make sure that you had a good experience. However, However, you can’t scale that.
[00:17:31.160] – Sean
[00:17:31.840] – RJ
We made a conscious decision, went through an exercise to identify who we thought we were, who we could serve the best, and then scale it from there. When we made that pivot in 2015, where we started saying no, it was hard in the beginning because just as a human, you want to serve everyone. But we put in a procedure where if we had to say no, we made sure that we had somewhere to refer that customer to. It was still to take care of them. It wasn’t just strictly, no, we can’t help you. It’s, no, we don’t do that any longer. But here is who we would highly recommend. If you like, we can make an introduction or we can give you their contact information.
[00:18:05.260] – Sean
You look like the hero either way. I love that. Can you give us an example of a no situation? It’s like a customer asking you for It’s a $5,000 transaction. Got it.
[00:18:19.170] – RJ
The interest that I would have to charge them because of my overhead costs, first of all, I wouldn’t do it. It’s not fair to the owner. But that’s an area. It could be asset-specific, what we call chunky transactions, where you could do a… When you’re working with the dealer, let’s use an example of Volvo or a cat dealership that sells cat equipment. That cat piece of equipment, unless we’re in 2021 or 2022, where we had supply chain issues, is typically sitting on a lot. That dealer wants that piece of equipment to go. So there’s urgency on the dealer, there’s urgency on the purchaser in essence, and there’s nothing to be built. You’re You’re not waiting for it to be shipped in. Sometimes it is. And there were certain verticals where it would be a six-month lead time, from approval to building out the equipment. It’s very chunky, and you can’t scale that. So that was an area where we said, Well, it’s a good business. However, we can’t scale that business. So we need to find a partner who can do that, that we can refer to, and that’s what we did.
[00:19:23.250] – Sean
Sure. Right on. I really love this model. It gives entrepreneurs out there a little… It gives them an option they’re probably not thinking about. Like, Hey, again, I want to start a business or buy a business. I’m not finding a good fit. However, by finding an organization that is open-minded to this type of thinking, then you can thrive. You can have some fun and flex your muscles, the entrepreneurial muscles, if you will.
[00:19:47.190] – RJ
And I have an example that I was working with a person here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that came through our course on individual entrepreneurship coaching. She said, I can’t find the business I However, I’ve identified a business that’s very similar. She went and got a job there. She’s still employed there. Now she’s thinking about how does she buy the company and learning the company. So that’s an alternative. Now, that’s an aggressive route. I applaud her. I mean, she was a go getter. She actually cold-called on the company. There wasn’t a job posted. She walked in with her portfolio of products that she’s done, and she was hired on the spot. So that’s thinking like an entrepreneur. But now she’s being compensated to learn the business and have open discussions with the owner, really understand what’s under the hood before she makes a buying decision.
[00:20:35.620] – Sean
Right on. Do you find that it’s a little easier to adopt this entrepreneur-type philosophy at maybe your size of business? I’d say your business is probably that small and been sized business as opposed to a large publicly traded Corporation.
[00:20:53.190] – RJ
Great question. And typically in a large corporate Corporation, which we’re starting to receive more and more calls from larger organizations because, again, it goes back to culture, it goes back to engagement. I just read a stat today that 71% of the workforce today is out looking for another job, which means they’re not happy in their current role.
[00:21:13.410] – Sean
[00:21:14.750] – RJ
A level of engagement, it doesn’t matter what stat you read. It could be 80%, it could be 60%. It’s bad. It’s terrible. So these larger organizations are coming to us and saying, How can we get our employees engaged? And I always say, It starts with you. It starts with Are you willing to change and not say, We’ve always done it like this, and this is the way we’re always going to do it? If you’re willing to make that change, you commit to it, we have tools, processes to do this, and you’ll watch magic happen.
[00:21:43.940] – Sean
Right. I want to get to the software here in a second because I know some of my audience, I can almost feel them asking questions because I know them well enough, but we’ll get to that in a second. Here’s one for you. You probably don’t get asked too much. As somebody who, let’s say, is interviewing at companies, what is a good question without being on the nose with, Hey, do you support entrepreneurship? But good question or two that people can ask in the interview to their potential employer to qualify them as being open-minded to this type of thinking.
[00:22:16.400] – RJ
I’m actually going to reverse engineer your question. Okay. People should be doing is searching for job descriptions or job postings that have the word entrepreneur in them. And you will find them. You’ll be shocked when you go look in Indeed or LinkedIn. We coach businesses to actually add that, entrepreneur mindset. We ran a beta test at Unifying. We ran one job description without the term entrepreneur mindset and the other one with entrepreneur mindset. Same exact job, except for that one change. The quality of the candidates, and this is for your business owners or hiring managers, the quality of the candidates that we saw from B, which is where we added it, versus where we didn’t have it in the job description, it was two to one in terms of their background, quality, attitude. It really vetted down when you’re looking for that special candidate. And that’s what entrepreneurs are. They’re special individuals that are going to give you everything they have in terms of discretionary effort and always be thinking about how they can improve their business.
[00:23:19.220] – Sean
Yeah. Love it. Love that strategy. I had never thought about that, people actually adding entrepreneur to the applications.
[00:23:27.190] – RJ
And we actually have tools that we provide the businesses free of charge. So if there’s any businesses that reach out or would like to reach out to me, I’ll send the PDF. We suggest to add it to your website, add it to your job descriptions, if you’re truly going to make it part of your culture. But if you just want to try that experiment, again, we have examples that we’ll share for you. We can send you and share you. Now, to answer your question, specifically in terms of you’re interviewing and you’re already interviewing, you might not want to come out and ask, do you support an entrepreneur culture? Because a lot of times, they won’t know what that means, unfortunately. That’s my job to evangelize and educate. You might want to ask, tell me about idea sharing in your company. How does that work? Tell me about, is the organization open for change? Or are we’ve always done it like this and we’re not going to change? Those two answers probably give you a pretty good idea if you’re walking into an environment that wants to have your voice be heard. That’s really what it comes to.
[00:24:30.780] – RJ
Also, corporate America, the number one reason why people aren’t engaged or people are looking is their voice is not being heard. They know they can make improvements to the organization, but there’s no vehicle to allow them to do that, so they feel frustrated.
[00:24:43.630] – Sean
I see that a lot at the corporate level, especially people who are customer-facing, salespeople, account reps. They’re hearing the pain on the front line, and then they take that back to their manager or upper management and say, Hey, customers are struggling with A, B, and C. I They said this, this, and this would solve that problem. And management goes, We’ll think about it. That right there sends people out the door.
[00:25:08.570] – RJ
It really does, because what you’re doing now is you’re hurting their brand, sales or a customer you’re facing, you’re going to hurt your own personal brand long term. And at the end of the day, that’s all we really have is our own personal brand in the marketplace, whatever marketplace you might be in. And that happens all the time. And even at UniFi, where we maybe had an idea or someone shared an idea and we decided not to go with it, we made sure that we went to them and told them why and did the best job that we possibly could to articulate the reason why either it didn’t fit now or it wouldn’t fit or it’s just not who we are. But again, it goes back to really educating your entire organization around your mission, vision, and values of who you’re serving, how you’re serving them. And then we were very transparent also with our financials, and we shared in terms of… And we shared in terms of, and I would recommend that to any business owner as well. I’m not saying you have to show everything, but you can retract some of it. But let them understand what levers you’re trying to have them pull so you can meet a financial plan, so Again, you can pay out bonuses, you can pay out profit share, and things of that nature.
[00:26:20.110] – Sean
Love it. It’s a team effort. And I do agree with you that being transparent, like you said, you don’t have to provide every detail, but the top-line revenue is like, Hey, what were we a year ago, and what are we now? It’s like we’re a team. It’s like you think about football or basketball or whatever, it’s like we’re all driving towards the common goal. Let’s be transparent.
[00:26:41.650] – RJ
And at the end of the day, it was always promoting my team to my management upwards to make sure that they understand how valuable the team is. And back to your sports analogies, at the end of the day, everyone plays on the same football field. It’s 100 yards, okay? Same Same dimensions everywhere you go. Pretty much everybody has the same darn playbook. There’s not a lot of creativity. Who does it come down to? The leaders and the team. And that’s the differentiator. And if business owners don’t believe that, you’re going to have a long road in front of you in terms of trying to grow something special. You want to find it for you and your family and your investment, for the people that you’re surrounding yourself with. Because when you surround yourself with these type of individuals, they’ll follow you anywhere you want to go and run through walls for you. Again, because they have a voice that’s heard in the business, and they have ownership from a mentality perspective in commissioning with you again.
[00:27:39.620] – Sean
Right now. I agree. Let’s take a quick commercial break. Hey, this is Sean. I’d like to Hey, thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast. I know there’s a lot of other podcasts you could be listening to, so thanks for taking the time to listen to this one. I have a quick request. If you have a moment, could you please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a five-star review? The reason is the more ratings we get and the higher those ratings are, the more Apple will share us with the world. So thanks in advance for doing that. And then I have a quick comment. If there are any questions you want me to ask the guests, please head over to our Tykr Facebook group. You could drop a question right there. I’ll go ahead and make a note, and I’ll do my best to ask that question on the podcast. All right, back to the show. All right, let’s transition to the software you were talking about. Is this a software you guys built, or do you use something like Google Sheets?
[00:28:28.950] – RJ
Yeah, so I I’ve searched high and low, and I’ve actually looked at probably a half dozen organizations that have something like this, and each of them have their own little nuance to them. And we finally found a company out of Ireland that we’re JVing with that’s been doing this to the UK, and we’re going to bring it to the United States, and we’re putting customers on it now. We had Unifies on it as well, so I beta test everything there. And again, it’s user friendly. We use QR codes where if someone doesn’t want to log, if a bigger company doesn’t want to have logins and things of that nature, all they do is take their phone, take a picture of the QR, it pops up, and they can share their idea at the time right where it’s taking place. Because what we want is those ideas when it’s happening at the moment, not, oh, jeez, two weeks go by, let’s think about this now, especially if it’s a customer interfacing arena. And then what happens is that idea goes into the champion people. It could be management or a product champion or a process champion.
[00:29:29.610] – RJ
You can identify, and then they would go through and vet those. What we do is we tell our companies we work with, and what we did at Unify, is that someone should be looking at it on a daily basis to acknowledge it. And then there’s automation behind the software in terms of updating the person who supplied it if they want feedback on it, which most people do, 100 % of people want feedback. And then there’s also where it falls in the line with all the other ideas. So you’re really looking at from a management perspective, making the decisions on ROI of this improvement. I’ll give you an example of this. A gentleman that was an entrepreneur in our office, he had all the signs of entrepreneurship. Hands down, the best candidate I’ve ever interviewed. He came in with a binder, all the achievements, all his letter of recommendation, his business plan, everything. And he was actually interviewing for a credit analyst position. So we brought him in the organization. I said, I’m not sure if you’ll end up staying in a credit analyst, but you’re going to add so much value to this organization. If your job description is the same a year from now, I haven’t, we haven’t, as a leadership team, done our job to allow you to be the entrepreneur that we want you to be.
[00:30:40.260] – RJ
So he came to me, and this was actually pre-software. He came to me with an idea. He said, Arjay, I firmly believe that our customers would like an online payment portal. Again, business started in 1978. I came in in 2013. I’m introducing all these fresh ideas, and it was a blind spot to me for that. And I said, I agree with you. However, we don’t have it allocated in the budget, and I would assume that’s very expensive. He said, Well, can I run with it? Can I run with it for a little bit? I said, you know the rules. You have to keep up your production, maintain your responsibilities. But if you want to do this as a project, by all means, it took him three months. And think about what he had to do. He had to influence our IT team, which this was not an initiative. But however, it’s part of the iOS operating system where the IT team knew, okay, if management is supporting this idea, then we have to buy into it. Secondly, he had to influence the vendor, the provider of the such software. So there was two people. Then he had to do his full-time job.
[00:31:42.660] – RJ
Last month, so that was in 2014, last month, we processed over $100,000 in monthly recurring payments from our customers through that platform.
[00:31:52.450] – Sean
[00:31:53.440] – RJ
And again, it had nothing to do with RRJ, it had nothing to do with IT. This was an individual in the organization that identified a significant blind spot. I would have never caught that. And again, my CFO has been there 25 years. She was used to just always being like that. And we made that pivot. And then we actually expanded on that, and we went to paperless invoices. So we were playing in the whole ECO and the go green. But honestly, people would rather see an email with their invoice or their statement than going to the mailbox and getting it. So it’s just adapting with the times.
[00:32:26.340] – Sean
Right on. This shows that not just small but big changes. You guys are nimble enough and open enough to say, Hey, okay, so we see the cost benefits here, and you can make big things like that happen.
[00:32:40.730] – RJ
It was more about the customer interfacing than the ROI. It was more, we need to serve our customer better than what we are today. We give them the alternative in order to do that. And also it helps the company from a cash flow perspective. You think about it, you write a check. In our mail service, I’m not knocking them, but there’s some crazy stats out there that 30 % of all mail doesn’t actually make the destination that it’s supposed to go to. And it’s very challenging when someone to mail a check, we didn’t receive it on time, they’re excessive late fee, and they’re calling in, Well, I mailed the check on the 20th, I thought it would be there. We don’t control the mail. And the last thing we want to do is charge a late fee. We don’t want to do that. So we would pivot and say, Here’s an alternative. You can pay online. And that’s where the growth came from. So there was more to it than just building a platform. It was the education of customer service, education of sales, education in the organization. And this gentleman did that as well.
[00:33:38.200] – RJ
He, troops to nuts, did everything. It wasn’t where the CEO was involved, I wasn’t involved. He was influencing all this behavior. He tried it. Yeah. Tried it.
[00:33:45.790] – Sean
Love it. All right. I want to ask one more question here before we transition to the rapid fire round. What is one key takeaway you can give to anybody who are looking for an entrepreneurial position?
[00:33:58.840] – RJ
Okay. If they’re looking for it, so we’re going to talk about the individual first, but I also want to talk about the business owner if they’re looking for it. So if you’re an individual, like I said, the first thing to do is look for job descriptions that have that word, entrepreneur, in the job description. Secondly, if you look at the company’s website and their culture, their social media and things of that nature, and you see a company that maybe they have their visions and values and mission statement and employees, teamwork, a lot of that is in there, most likely they’re going to have a culture that you’re going to be attracted to, which would be for the entrepreneur. Now, if you’re the business owner, and if any of this has resonated with you, but you’re still not sure and don’t want to make a big pivot or try something new, identify your entrepreneurs. Think about the word inspire? Okay, inspire. It’s an acronym for identifying your entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs have innovative thinking. They’re always thinking about how can we improve things. They’re nimble. They’ll pivot. They don’t get caught up, Well, we’ve always done it like this, or we’ve done it like that.
[00:35:01.280] – RJ
They’re quick to move. They’re strategic in their thinking. Again, they’re aligned with your vision. They’re strategic. They’re looking long term and just not about, Well, I have to follow the process today like this, and I’m not going to look to make improvements. They’re also very influential. We talked about influencing behaviors of other people that don’t report directly to you. So they usually have a personality in order to do that, but they’re very, again, back to strategic. And then risk-taking. They actually do take risks, or they’ll take risks, but in a controlled environment and they’re resilient. And the last is E, they’re a life learner. They’re experienced life learners. That’s what I am. I love reading, just like yourself, books, podcasts, audiobooks, just consume Almost to a detriment at times where it’s like, okay, you need to take action. It can only get you so far. It’s the action piece within your daily behaviors.
[00:35:55.070] – Sean
I got to tell myself the time box. It’s, Sean, you’ve got half hour, you got 45 minutes, and you’re cutting yourself off. You got to drive business here.
[00:36:02.820] – RJ
And, Sean, it’s so hard nowadays because there’s all these, I call them darts, coming at you all day long between social media, text messages. You’re connected all the time, and it’s very difficult to get that critical thinking time to go or do something that you need to do without being distracted. So I’m the same way. My desk here says, Clarity comes from engagement, not from thought. So if you’re working on something and you’re not sure if it’s good, take action, and the clarity will come from that. And I don’t want to sound too corny or out, but the universe will tell you. I get it. If it’s going to work or not. The universe is going to drop you signs if you’re on to something. If you’re interviewing with a company and all of a sudden you read something on social media that’s a positive, that’s the universe telling you something. Keep going. Keep following that. Go after it. Go for it.
[00:36:51.550] – Sean
Yeah, right on. All right, let’s transition to the rapid fire round. This is the part of the episode where we get to find out who R. J. Really is. If you can, try to answer each question in 15 seconds or less. You ready? All right. What is your favorite podcast?
[00:37:06.760] – RJ
I listen to a slew of podcasts. What happens is I get too consumed in one, and it’s over consumption. So I really spread myself around the Joe Rogan business podcast. It’s really what the topic of the day is or the week is that typically I’ll search out, and YouTube makes it so easy now. I don’t even go to a podcast. I just watch everything on YouTube or listen to everything on YouTube, especially when you pay for the subscription. It just plays and it goes to the next one. And I go to bed with it. Starting with a podcast, it could be, again, whatever the topic of hand is. I’ve been recently doing a lot around cash flow analysis and things of that nature. But sometimes it’s personal, sometimes it’s business.
[00:37:50.670] – Sean
Cash flow analysis, what would you recommend there?
[00:37:53.240] – RJ
I have a good CPA and a good operating software in terms of Quickbooks or Microsoft Great Plains. Know your numbers. I receive every single day an updated balance sheet income statement. My bank statements, know those numbers. Every business owner, you get so distracted and so busy with the day to day. Time block that. Review your numbers.
[00:38:20.540] – Sean
Is there a particular podcast that focuses on cash flow analysis that you’d recommend?
[00:38:26.490] – RJ
There isn’t one I would recommend. There’s just YouTube Just YouTube, search it.
[00:38:30.220] – Sean
Just YouTube, sure.
[00:38:31.810] – RJ
Jj, the CPA is a guy that I love because he has a great personality and he makes it fun. And he’s not your typical CPA. He’s got a cigar and he dresses nice. And he really helped a lot of businesses. What was tracking me to him, he helped a lot of businesses during PPP. He was out in front of it, educating, learning, helping people. I actually engage with him during that because I just saw, again, his passion. He wants to help people.
[00:38:56.650] – Sean
Right on. What’s his name again?
[00:38:58.530] – RJ
Just Google JJ the CPA.
[00:39:01.870] – Sean
Jj the CPA, okay.
[00:39:03.720] – RJ
Great name. I’ve been following JJ for probably for eight, nine years. And matter of fact, I show my CFO him all. I’m like, Hey, could you be like JJ the CPA? He starts laughing. He goes, Yeah, that guy wasn’t cut to be a CPA But he is, but he is. But that’s what makes him different.
[00:39:18.170] – Sean
Yeah, and marketing play.
[00:39:19.930] – RJ
And his advice is sound. That’s the other thing. He has that deadly combination where a lot of guys, you see the flash and the sizzle, but there’s no substance. He has a substance behind it. So he has that great combination.
[00:39:30.010] – Sean
My logic. That’s awesome. All right, what is a recent book you read and would recommend?
[00:39:34.590] – RJ
I am reading right now, which is a real easy book, You Two. And this book, have you heard of this, You Squared?
[00:39:42.320] – Sean
I have not. To the audience out there, if you’re listening to this, yeah, it’s a cool looking title there. It’s You, Y-O-U spelled out, and then two, like the squared, so two in the upper right.
[00:39:52.370] – RJ
Yeah. And the author of it is Price Pritchett, PhD. And again, It’s an extremely easy read. I would highly recommend it right now. If you head into a new year, sit down. And this is not a Kindle type of book. It’s a book where a lot of notes, a lot of highlights. I think at the end of the day, this is probably going to be one of my top five that I’m going to keep in the rotation. I love stream ownership.
[00:40:19.250] – Sean
What’s You Two about?
[00:40:21.480] – RJ
It’s primarily a high velocity formula to multiply your personal effectiveness in quantum leads. So what it’s saying to you is to really just read re-invent yourself on how you look at things because we become a creature of habits and we do the same behaviors every single day, but we want different results. So it really plays into the term entrepreneurship, too, where a business owner might be thinking about, I know I have to do something, but what is it? You have to really… I have a buddy that he wrote a book called Torch This Business. He had $120 million business. He torched it to the ground and rebuilt it up. Now it’s $250 million. He’s not burnt out. He’s not stressed out. He knew he had to do it. He had the financial workflow to be able to do that. And this is the same type of idea as the way you’ve been thinking about things and the way that you’ve gotten to it. And it’s written by a PhD, so there’s a lot of science facts behind it. It’s just not a philosopher or somebody that decided to write it. And that’s why there’s no fluff in here.
[00:41:17.090] – RJ
It’s straight to the point. Action items. He has a book or a teaching book that goes with it, an exercise book that goes along with it as well. I would highly recommend it.
[00:41:26.190] – Sean
I am very interested. This is right up my alley. So thanks for the recommendation. Yeah. All right, next question here, the movie question. What is your favorite movie?
[00:41:34.850] – RJ
Wall Street. I’m not a big movie. It drives my wife nuts. And anytime I have her say, Hey, there’s a movie I’d like to go see, she’ll know it’s either Auto Racing or business or a great motivational type movie. But that’s really it. Yeah, Wall Street, anything with business, Wolf on Wall Street, anything to do with business. We walked into that movie right in that one scene, if you remember, in in the beginning, where he’s doing some things he shouldn’t be doing. We walked in in the movie that we were late. My wife said, What the heck did you bring me to? I go, Honey, it’s got to be only one scene. We’re okay.
[00:42:13.770] – Sean
Yeah, Wolf of Wall Street is great. You probably love the founder, Michael Keaton.
[00:42:18.810] – RJ
Oh, the founder. That’s one, too. You can watch over and over again. I also like Tommy Boy. It’s crazy that that sounds because there’s so much that you can relate with as a salesperson to Tommy Boy. I mean, It chuckles, but there’s so many learnings and takeaways from that movie.
[00:42:35.390] – Sean
Totally. And it is very much in support of small business, just that Midwest small business, family business. It’s a good call.
[00:42:45.340] – RJ
And that’s what I love about what we do at UniFi and my North Star. I want to work specifically with small businesses, and I don’t care how you define it. You look at the government, they define it this way. Other people define it that way. But anyone that has the passion and wants to get better, to make their life better for them and their families, that’s who I want to work with. That’s who I want to help support. And that’s what we’ve done at Unify. And I would always remind our team, because sometimes you get caught up in the four walls, you don’t realize the tens of thousands of people that we’re helping on a daily basis with their financing.
[00:43:21.040] – Sean
Right on. All right, a little more serious here. What is the worst advice you ever received?
[00:43:26.520] – RJ
The worst advice I’ve ever received. The worst advice I would have received this primarily just around being complacent. Just be average. And the entrepreneurs hear that a lot because they come in with a different philosophy. That girl that I was mentioning earlier about buying the company, she was told, Hey, milk it. And she’s like, I don’t milk things. I’m here to make money. I’m here to serve the customer. I’m here to serve the company. They’re not work for me to do. I’ll go home. I’m not going to sit here and milk it. Now, she was in a good enough situation that she could do that. I understand that several people you’re You’re not able to do that because you need that cash flow and that money. But don’t be complacent. Don’t be average. You only get one time to live. Be the best version you possibly can. Every day, you have to wake up with that mentality.
[00:44:13.350] – Sean
Awesome. Love it. Flip that equation. What’s the best advice you ever received?
[00:44:17.610] – RJ
Best advice I received was from a gentleman by the name of Paul Larkins. I was early in my corporate career. I was tapped on the shoulder as a up and comer within the organization. This was with Key Bank, Key Equipment Finance at the time, individual contributor, invited to a dinner. I’ll never forget this. He went around the table, there was six of us. He said, there’s no right or wrong answer. He said, would you be willing to relocate for a better opportunity to improve your career, improve your family? He went around the table and I answered yes. Some people answered no. And he said, again, no right or wrong. However, I will share with you, if you want to move up the corporate ladder, if you want more responsibility, most likely you will have to move in order to do that. I received that invite or that information in 2002, 2005, we were moving to Houston for a director of sales position with American Express Business Finance, which Key acquired. And that, quite honestly, put me where I am here today, and I moved here for this opportunity. We get sometimes too stagnant in where we live or we believe we have to stay there.
[00:45:23.140] – RJ
This time, the world that we live in today, go where the opportunities are presented to you. And I understand there’s I understand there’s a lot of attributes. For example, we moved from Houston back to New York, and my wife asked me to stay there for 10 years. Let the kids grow up around the family, and then she’ll follow me anywhere in the world. Year eight is when we move to Ann Arbor. So it’s a plan. It’s going to pivot. It’s going to change. It’s part of the process. Enjoy the journey. But that was the best advice I’ve ever received, is you have to be willing to relocate really for career growth if you want it.
[00:45:56.340] – Sean
Love it. Great advice. All right, last question here, the time machine question. If you could go back in time to give your younger self advice, what age would you visit and what would you say?
[00:46:05.520] – RJ
Don’t waste time. Go all in. Make sure that you’re valuing your time where you’re spending it, who you’re surrounding yourself with. Pick your friends wisely, invest in yourself, feed your brain, which I was doing all that at 17, but I wish I did it more. I wish I was maybe in my 20s not partying as much or losing weekends and being focused and disciplined. Discipline is That’s a big thing, and I would highly recommend that. Discipline drives everyone. We all have a choice every single day in our behaviors, and discipline plays into that.
[00:46:38.710] – Sean
Right on. All right, last question here. Where can the audience reach you?
[00:46:43.720] – RJ
Rj@rjgrimshaw. Com. If you just Google, R. J. Grimshaw, you’ll find me. My website is rjgrimshaw. Com. Send me an email. I typically will respond the same day, if not the next day. It could be any questions around business, equipment financing, entrepreneurship, marketing sales, anything. And if I can’t help you, I’ll at least try and get you the person that can add value to your question and help you out.
[00:47:07.600] – Sean
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time, R. J.
[00:47:09.890] – RJ
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
[00:47:12.750] – Sean
Hey, I’d like to say thank you for checking out this podcast.
[00:47:15.470] – Sean
I know there’s a lot of other podcasts out there you could be listening to, so thanks for spending some time with me. And if you have a moment, please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a five-star review. The more reviews we get, especially five-star reviews, the higher this podcast will rank in Apple. So thanks for doing that. And remember, this show is for entertainment purposes only. If you heard any stocks mentioned on this podcast, please do not buy or sell those stocks based solely on what you hear. All right, thanks for your time. We’ll see you.