Richard B. Sanford launched eleven successful small enterprises over a 40+ year career, creating 11 successful companies during that time.
He joined the show recently to talk about how he accomplished this and his new book: SUCCESS BY DESIGN: How to Create Ever-Increasing Income, Profit & Wealth in the World of Small Business.
You can listen here.
You can read Part One of our conversation here.
You can read Part Two of our conversation here.
In his book, Richard compiled what principles, steps, tip and practices brought him this success over 40 years. His book shows the reader how to think and use "SIMPLIFIED STRATEGIC BUSINESS PLANNING" to generate ever increasing income, profits and wealth in the world of small business.
One of the things you repeat in your monthly, quarterly and annual performance reviews is you repeat the positive, you repeat the accomplishments. In fact you start all your meetings with them.
Exactly. Just praise the heck out of them.
It’s just...positiveness opens the mind to new creative responses. It gives them courage:
“I’m not going to be criticized for contributing new, greater ideas.”
Why? Because successes are praised.
Praised in front of my fellows. Wow I did good. We really iced that one. This is working!
Ok, now. What didn’t work?
Well, we had this little problem here.
Then everybody pitches in with ideas that ‘maybe if we’d don’t it this way, it would work.”
Then they’re willing to accept improvement. If you’re already a success, there’s no harm in admitting something didn’t work. You’re building a team. Creative ideas are not restricted to one team or function in a company.
You cross-pollinate it, come up with great ideas. they come up with better ideas than I have. But, most entrepreneurs have the the only idea. They’re the leader, right? So, they must have all the great ideas.
A lot of good ideas come from every direction. Seeing with a different perspective.
I worked to grow a team. I can do it alone. I can’t grow it alone. Now, if you don’t want to grow, if you just want to muck along, that’s fine. Many mom and pop stores create a comfortable living, they have good intuition and they succeed in the marketplace. they perform a service to the community and it works for them.
But, growing and expanding requires a new level of management. You can no longer keep it locked up inside your head. You have to communicate it with people.
And that’s where strategic planning is vital is you expected to succeed.
Now what you’re describing is the solution to this vexing problem with employee engagement. Statistics show only 30% of employees are actively engaged in an organization. 10-15 % are actively sabotaging. The remainder are indifferent.
Truly. But that comes out of big business; that's where that concept was germinated.
You have a simple solution.
You can take every division in a large company and turn it into a small company, couldn’t you.
I just don’t understand how these big companies put up with failure in divisions and disguise it. Bury it with the total.
" Yeah, the company overall made big profits."
Ok. But what happened to that division? It should be a separate company held accountable for what? Creating ever-increasing levels of profit, income and wealth. Or you sell it or close it down.
That takes courage.
Yeah. And if you’ve created the kind of environment you describe, one of trust and accountability, focused on the positive and correct the problems, then that kind of discussion should be manageable for everybody.
You're a very practical, pragmatic, business leader. But, we've still reached the imagination moment in our show. Let's imagine President Obama has listened to our conversation. He calls you.
Dick, he says, I like you passion for small business and your success. Would you come to the White House? I’d like to hear 3 things we can do to help small business heal itself from the inside out.
What would you tell him?
What would they be, huh?
Yeah. Putting you on the spot here.
Number one, government should never be involved in business. Doesn’t know how. Doesn’t have the right attitude about problems. They should involve themselves on public policy.
It might help by saying because government is so involved in our education that we recognize that the job creator is not big business it is small business and what can they do, what can government do, to increase the success results, lower the 80% failure rate for those first years. And if you do, then another 80% fail to make it through the 3rd to 5th year. How can we increase the odds for success?
Number one, you can go to small business and say:
Let’s create educational courses starting in high school on entrepreneurial leadership and strategic planning, specifically. And take it into college level and the MBA level. Entrepreneurial education, not big business.
That would be one thing they could do.
The 2nd thing they could do is significantly reduce the burden of taxation, double taxation. You tax the business, then you tax the leaders who make the most money, then you tax the employees. Reduce that tax burden as much as possible. You can’t reduce the Social Security and Medicare tax burden. But you can the income tax burden.
And why is that? Because the more the owners earn, the more the employees earn, the more taxes they pay to the federal government. You don’t want to tax the goose that lays the golden egg. And that’s what they do. That would be helpful.
I haven’t given much thought to going to the White House again. I did for a period of time in my life as a member of the US Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Board. And, um, probably shouldn’t get into politics - it’s personal and subjective. But those are two things that are non-political.
Start teaching what is needed for entrepreneurial free-enterprise development in the country. Recognize the really important role that small business plays in the health of our economy.
The other thing is get off the backs of small business. Get some of these regulations cleaned up.
You ever see a Congress go through regulations and say:
These are outdated. And these are no longer critical.
It’s like they are saying that:
" Once we made this law that life stops."
And that’s baloney. Our society constantly changes. And there are so many burdensome regulations that no longer make any sense at all. They just get in the way and they cost money for small business to have to perform certain regulatory responsibilities that are just unnecessary. But that are no fun in getting Congress to work on this. There’s no fame or fortune in that, is there?
No. And as you’re talking we could have bi-partisan agreement that Congress may be the last institution to acknowledge the changes that have occurred in the past 5-10-15-20-30 years.
Too bad we don’t have a law that says if you make a law you gotta find a law to get rid of.
Let’s go back. What’s the biggest change in thinking you have witnessed over the past 40 years with regards to small business?
One. The awareness that small business is not mom-and-pop cornerstore business. The awareness that it is the job generator, an economic booster, in our economy. It was always big business. But big business is touted only after a single person creates an idea that builds a big business. Every single one of these giant business, these big businesses, all started with a single American citizen’s idea for a better way to serve the needs of society. For a better product, a better service, a less-expensive way of performing it.
You can’t think of a single company. Take a look at Jobs, take a look at Henry Ford. Take a look at Thomas Edison. Every one of them. Great inventors. It was a single person’s idea. And that’s true today.
So, what aren’t we spending more time on improving the garden that grows small business? Because one by one a small business is not that influential. I think the biggest change was in small business recognizing it rattled the chains and forming the Small Business Administration. Unfortunately, those people are not small business people. They don’t have a clue about what the demands and responsibilities are for creating a successful small business. Based on which administration you are serving, they think they have the ideas. And they don’t. And they become arrogant. They don’t know. They’re guessing. Which is typical of government. They never look forward, which is why we have a funding problem with social security and medicare.
But in any event, changes in small business administration occurred in Jimmy Carter’s administration when he promised if he was elected he wouldcreate the first ever White House conference on small business. And, he failed to keep his promise until the last 6 months of his administration. And then the hoop and holler of small business forced him to conduct the first ever White House conference on small business.
And what did that do? What it did for us is we became acquainted with each other. Think about the character of a small business leader. We operate in our cocoon, in our little market area at home. Pay attention to our business and we don’t go looking for trouble.
But if you aren’t a collective force you can’t bring about change in this country. So, we became acquainted with each other, city by city, state by state. And out of that came the creation and growth of small business associations in most all states. And now there is a Small Business Association of America United. Many of the states small business associations can participate. And now you have some political muscle to attempt to inform and bring about positive change.
Beautiful. Great answer.
Readers are leaders. Jim Rohn says that. I just like it and use it with these shows. You're a leader. What are you reading these days?
I read for both entertainment and to improve my mind. Stay current. I read Lee Childs murder mysteries. They’re great. I like the discipline of solving crimes.
Right now, on the self-improvement side, I’m reading a text: George Steiner’s Strategic Planning. It was published in the 70’s. I was hoping it had a partial focus on small business. But as I read into it it is a typical big business book. You oughta see the graphs...you need a math degree to even understand him.
But, I read it because I want to see if there’s something I can use to improve my model. And the most interesting thing I’m reading right now is The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success by Wayne Breitbarth. He’s from Michigan. It’s a primer on social media, social networking. I found that I signed up for LinkedIn and don’t know how to use it. His book is a primer, how to do it, step-by-step. How do you get a password, how do you log in, how do you update it?
Young people intuitively know how to do this. But, I’m not a young person. But if we can get the how-to books.
So, that’s exciting. I’m going to expand that. A lot of people are following me but they don’t know what I’m doing. They don’t know I’m having this radio interview. And they need to know, those who are interested in.
I smile when you say Young people intuitively know how to do it. I tend to agree with you. On the other hand, I know that as they grow up, with the 10-15 years headstart on us, I’m 56, in using all this so that it looks so natural. But behind the scenes they went through the same learning process we go through right now.
You include in the back of your book a number of great quotes from business leaders and writers. What’s your favorite one?
Calvin Coolidge’s treatise on persistence. Just never ever ever give up. Keep searching. Keep digging. Keep looking. Keep reading. Keep learning. Just persevere. Never give up. And I love that.
But all the others work as well.
- You got to be committed.
- You got to think like a leader.
- You got to attract people.
Are you speaking anywhere?
I use to when I was really active in the Small Business Administration of Michigan that I founded in 1969. More recently, no. I’ve started getting a few inquiries.
At my age, I only have so much energy. I’m 80 years old. You have to know who you are. That’s why I’m not marketing to bookstores. I just don’t have the energy to travel around and do book signings. I pick the markets that I can reach electronically.
But, I do speak occasionally at Rotary Clubs on these issues.
I might consider...there are some of these Success Seminars where they bring in a whole group of speakers. Most of it is on attitude. You know how can you speak to a big audience on anything specific. But some of it is informative and I might consider something like that.
I enjoy Arizona in the winter and Michigan in the summer. Mrs. Sanford and I are so blessed. We’re so fortunate. Our family, 4 girls and 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. We enjoy that. We enjoy each other so I don’t want to act like a younger person with that time commitment.
I will do what I can to help promote your book and the solutions you provide for small businesses. It’s such a well-organized, clear, concise manual that any business of any size, even the bigger ones, could take and implement and begin to chip away at that failure rate of 80% in the first 3 years, another 80% in the next 3 years. We can add a few jobs, get the unemployment rate down around 45-%, see the economy grow.
Well, thank you for the compliment. If anyone wants to learn more specifically about me or the book they can go to my website. www.SSBP.biz and that stands for Simplified Strategic Business Planning.
Excellent. Your daughters or your grandkids will show you how to get on Twitter?
Nah, I haven’t done that. One thing at a time, Zane.
Well, when they do let me know. I’d like to connect with you there. I’ll connect with you at LinkedIn.
Dick, I’ve enjoyed the conversation, it was as rewarding as the book.