Ask Mr. Biz (viewer questions) March 2024

Ask Mr. Biz (viewer questions) March 2024

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: Ask Mr. Biz (viewer questions) March 2024

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio, Biz. Talk for Biz owners. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


All right, welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio. Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth. And today we have a very special guest. He's the backbone of the show. Producer Allen's going to help us out. So today is an Ask Mr. Biz day. So the bad news is you're stuck with me. You're stuck with producer Allen. The good news is you're stuck with me and producer Allen. Okay, we're going to impart some wisdom on you today, hopefully answer some questions. We've had things backed up. We haven't done an ask Mr. Biz show for several months now.


As I was reminded by several people who had asked questions and sent it to me and said, hey, I thought you were going to answer these on air. Okay, I got you. Heard you loud and clear. And by the way, those who watched the show, I'm wearing a very special shirt, just in case you forget who I am. Those who are listening are like, what the heck are you talking about? I had this shirt made to wear to networking events or anything. And on front, it's a red shirt. It's got, like, money signs, dark behind the red.


And on the front, in white, it says, hi, I'm Mr. Biz. And there's some stuff on the back, or thought, I haven't worn this for a show before. I thought I would wear it again, but. Producer Allen, happy to have you. Excited to have you on the show today.


Thanks, Mr. Biz. I'm looking forward to it. They get to see how the sausage is made, so to speak. This is my studio. We're in Columbus, Ohio. You'll see me turning around to hit buttons and things like that because pretty much everything's behind. So now, the first question before I get to this is, did the shirt work when you were at events? Did people go, what does that mean? Or did they come up and ask you questions?


Yeah. So I took a bunch of pictures with people. So the first event I wore. So I had this guy make the shirt for me, and I told the guy what I wanted, and he sent me, like, a thing of it, right, a rendering. And I'm like, that's perfect. Because I want it to be loud. I want it to know, because on the back, I think it says, I turn problems into profits. Ask me how. So as I'm walking around, people see.


Then so people see, oh, Mr. Biz. And so then someone's like, hey, can I get your picture with you? Well, then, inevitably, when there's a crowd and when someone wants to get a picture with, know, you're walking past and you go, I don't know who that is, but they're getting their picture taken with, it must be someone I want to know. So then someone else stops and they go, oh, Mr. Biz, I think, know. And so it was a huge thing.


That is cool.


It's funny, when he made the shirt for me, Allen, he met me to give me the shirt, and he's shaking his head as he pulls it out. He's like, I don't think you're going to like this, man. And it was not cheap to have it made. It's not embroidery. I don't know what it's called, but it's not an iron on it. It's in the shirt, in the fabric. And he pulls it out and he's like, I don't think you're going to like this. And I can't take a return on this. I'm like, he pulls it out and I'm like, oh, my gosh, it's even better in person than I thought it was going to be.


So, yeah, I've worn it at some events before, and it's been a big hit.


Okay, well, anyway, we got questions, you've got answers. So we're going to start with the list you sent me. So Frank from Glendale, Arizona, says, what do you see as the biggest opportunity in 2024?


Biggest opportunity in 2024. This is going to probably sound a little bit weird, but I just was asked this question recently as well, on an interview I did just a couple of days ago. Actually, the biggest opportunity is to think from a perspective of abundance. And what I mean by that is, I don't mean that in a woo woo sort of way or whatever, but so often when the economy's tough, when things get tough, people start to think, oh, my gosh, they start to batten down the hatches, they start to shrink.


And I look at it as completely the opposite. And I learned this during my corporate days at Morgan. Whereas when things went bad, we were prepared, from a company perspective and a strong balance sheet and all that, to be able to seize opportunities and seize market share during those things. So I learned it during that. And it happened during COVID for a couple of my clients as well, that we were prepared for that. We were prepared for a downturn. I didn't know it was going to be COVID, but I had been preparing them just based on the normal economic cycle.


Things were going to turn down. Right. And we had enjoyed a longer than usual upturn. Usually it's about five years up, and then you have a little trough, then you have five years up. And we had gone almost ten years of up. And I'm like, it's coming. Okay. I'm not trying to be gloom and doom, but the down trough is coming. So we were prepared. And then COVID hits. And then there were a couple of businesses that were competitors of clients of mine, and we had the wherewithal to be able to buy those companies and grow, and we bought them for dimes on the dollar. So it was a great opportunity for my client.


And it might sound like, oh, my gosh, you took advantage of someone. Not at all. So it was actually a really good situation. We saved a bunch of jobs because we purchased these companies that otherwise would have just shut the doors. Everyone would have lost their jobs. The two owners of the companies that we ended up purchasing, they were baby boomers that had kind of wanted to get out of the business anyway.


And they're like, I don't even want to deal with this crap anymore as far as I don't want to try to dig out of all the COVID mess. So I just want to get out. So just get me out, and I'll be happy. And so it was actually a super good win win. So, anyway, my answer, long answer, is to think of ways you can seize opportunities this year. Don't cut your marketing budget way down unless you absolutely have to, and you're not financially can't handle it, but you got to think about it from a perspective of, man. You got to really think of, this is an opportunity time. It's not time to shrink. It's time to grow, because a lot of your competitors are thinking from a shrinking type of thing or a batting down the hatches. Oh, my gosh. We got to tighten everything up while they're doing that. You hit the gas pedal and boom, you come out of this as we start to tick up again, and you're going to be absolutely flying high.


You'd be miles ahead.


Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You're accelerating while everyone else is hitting the brakes.


Yeah. So that's how races are, right?


That's right.


All right. This is from Angie in Arlington, Virginia. Hi, Mr. Biz. I'm looking to grow by adding locations. What is the biggest risk?


Oh, it's an easy one. So especially with growing locations, it is super important. And I'll use this. It's going to be dated a little bit, but those of you who remember copy machines. So you get a piece of paper with some stuff on it and you copy it, and you look at the copy and it looks pretty good, but it's a little bit off of the first one. Then you take the copy, second one, and you make copy of that. And then the third version, compared to the original, it's a little further off. Right. The more copies you make of the copy of the copy of the copy, the further from the original it looks.


That is the biggest risk and the biggest way that sometimes you'll see businesses that go from two locations to ten, and then a year or two later they're back to three or four. And you're like, what happened? More than likely, that's what happened. Meaning that your original location needs to be a ten out of ten. So making a copy of a ten, you're not making a copy of a seven, because you make a copy of a seven and it's a five or a six. And then you make a copy of a five or six and it's a four or five. Right, going on down the line. And each location gets further and further away from the vision, the values, everything that you have in that original location where you're probably in every single day. Right.


So that is running exactly the way you want it to run. But that location that's maybe three states away that doesn't have your thumbprint on it every single day. It's that copy of a copy of a copy, and it's a three or four out of ten. And then you get 18 months into it and it's just not profitable anymore. Again, you really have to make sure before you start to expand that that original location that you're expanding from, that footprint you're expanding from has to be a ten out of ten in order to copy that.


And I tell people, hey, I'm a growth guy. Let's get this. You're at an eight right now. We need to go from an eight to a ten, and then we start copying. And then we go crazy, right? And then we just start copying like crazy. But in the meantime, we got to do that. I know we got to hit a break here, but we'll get to some more questions. I know we've got a bunch of them queued up. We'll see how many we can get to today, but we'll come back after the break.


No, Mr. Biz Tip this week I'm giving you advice and tips and all that stuff during the whole show, so we won't have a tip. We'll get right into the next few questions here, so come back after the break on Mr. Biz radio.


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Got a question for Mr. Biz. You want answered on air, email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Now once again, here's Mr. Biz.


All right. Welcome back to, as they just said in the intro. Again, if you have questions, email it to us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. that's where all of these questions that I'm answering today came from. People have been emailing them in. They'll dm me on Instagram or on X or what have you, but that's what we accumulate, all these. And then periodically we'll do an ask Mr. Biz show where we answer a bunch of these questions that are common and things like that. So what do we got next?


Producer Allen, can I go back to the previous question?




You're talking about duplication. That's why McDonald's everything's the same, right? That's the kind of duplication you want, if I'm not mistaken, right?


Oh, yeah, absolutely. And that's what some of these banks experienced. This where there was a bank that was based in Detroit, gosh, I can't remember the name now. It's long since been acquired, but they opened a bunch of branches in Florida because they had a bunch of their clients and customers that would live down in Florida during the winter, and they had a terrible time with it. Because their branches in Florida operated completely different.


And then they even had some branches where someone who's been a customer of their bank for 20 years, they have a home in Florida. They go down to Florida for the winter. They go into the branch to cash a check or whatever it might be, and they say, we don't even see you as a customer. Do you want to open an account? And they're like, I've been a customer for 20 years. Their systems weren't talking to each other, and they were used to going into the branch and saying, hello, Mr.


Jones, or whatever. And down here, it wasn't the same, and it was much more impersonal. And so again, they were copying what wasn't exactly good. And you're right, Allen. McDonald's is a perfect example. I mean, when you open a McDonald's franchise, there's no margin for error. You have to do it their way or there's no way. Right. They'll shut you down. It has to be their way 100%. But that's why they're so dang successful.


All right, well, let's move on. That was my thought that popped in, was the McDonald's model. But it's perfect duplication in that case.


Yeah, absolutely.


Eric from St. Paul, Minnesota, wants to know. I own a plumbing business, and I struggle getting people to pay timely. What is the number one practical cash flow tip I should implement?


Okay, so service based business, I'll give you a one a and one b. I'll give you two, two for the price of one. So the first thing is as much. I presume if you have a plumbing business, you probably do a lot of residential, but you also may do some commercial work on the residential, get payments up front, meaning that if you've got a tech at a home and a residential, and they're doing the work, as soon as the work is done, presuming the homeowner's home, take them down, show them, explain to them what they do. I'm sure you do that already.


Go into the kitchen, give your techs the technology that is necessary to take payment right then, because it's a perfect opportunity. You've got a satisfied customer, and you ask them that before you ask for payment, you say, is there anything else I can do for you? Are you happy with it? Do you have any questions? No, I don't. Okay. How would you like to pay for that? And give them the ability to be able to take payment right on the spot. That way you don't have to worry about they're going to send you a check later. They're going to pay you with a credit card later. You're getting the payment right there as the work is done. It's number one.


Now, again, on commercial work, that's not going to happen. Right. You're probably going to have to do net 30 and things like that. But the key thing with that is invoice immediately. Much like the first thing I mentioned on residential side of, you're not invoicing immediately. You're hopefully getting the payment immediately. But on a commercial job. So what happens a lot of times is of owners that I know they'll accumulate all their jobs and let's say on a Saturday morning they'll go and do all their invoicing and typically do it like once a week. A lot of them will do it once a week. Well, if you get a job on a Sunday or a Monday, it's clear till Saturday. Now, first of all, they've already forgotten about the job.


My plumbing is working. It's all good. They forgot about it. So it's kind of outside out of mind. But the other thing is, as far as the net 30, you want to start that clock as soon as you can. And it's not being wishy washy or anything. You've completed the work, so you don't invoice them before you've completed the work. So you're being fair about it. But get the clock started as soon as possible.


That'll help tremendously. And I guess I'll give you three for the price. One, the leather thing I would say is follow up. Right. Especially on the commercial accounts, you can set things up automatically to follow up with them. So maybe five days at 25 days. If you're net 30 at 25 days, send them an email reminder. Hey, by the way, you've got this due on such and such a date because maybe they've forgotten. Maybe they pay their invoices once or twice a month or whatever you want to get to the top of that pay pile that I always talk about. So that's another way to do that. So three for the price of one.


There you go. Bonus. All right.


That's right.


All right. Question number four comes from Kim in Bakersfield, California. Hello. I'm having difficulty hiring. Specifically. I receive a lot of applicants, but most are poor candidates. What am I doing wrong?


More than likely, Kim, your job description. So one of the errors that I see often is that folks will try to write this big flowery job description and they leave out some of the crap of the job. And a lot of jobs have some crap stuff that. Right. Then I don't want to include that. Right. And you end up with getting poor candidates. The other thing is, and this is going to sound a little contrarian at first, but hear me out.


Think of, especially if you've had experience and you're getting poor candidates, what are the key things or what are the common things of the poor candidates? You're getting? They're all underqualified. Okay. So think about how you would write the job description if you were going to write it and say, if you are one of these things, you're not qualified. Write those all out. Write the job description opposite of those. Right. You don't want to put negative stuff and say, hey, if you have these or you don't do these things, you're not qualified. You don't want to say that, but you can write your job description the opposite of those things.


So maybe depending on the type of work you do, I just went through a job description with a client earlier this morning, and one of the requirements is you have to be able to lift at least 50 pounds potentially multiple times during the day. That could be a disqualifier for a lot of people. Put that in the job description. Right. You don't want someone to show up that's maybe a great candidate all around, but they can't physically do the job.


That's a poor candidate. Right. And that's going to waste your time. So make sure your job description really lays out exactly what you're looking for. And like I said, think about it from a contrarian perspective and putting in the things that are the opposite of the poor candidates. Right. We're looking for people who have this, not people who have that. Right. That kind of thing that'll do a really good job for you of eliminating a lot of the people that are just not good candidates, because we go through this with a lot of other businesses as well.


Did we have time for one more real quick, you think?


Yeah, if not, I'll pick it up in a second.


Hector from Fresno, California, says, I'm considering taking on a business partner. What are their key attributes I should look for?


All right. I think I can answer this in a little bit of time. We have. So, of course you're going to hear all the things, and I'm sure you've googled them, you've read things. You want to look for people with good work ethics, your values, all that kind of stuff. I'm not going to go through that because you already know those things, I'm sure. Here's what I'm going to tell you, and this is going to sound a little shady or not. Not shady, but a little negative.


Everything needs to be in a contract. Everything needs to be legal. If someone's bringing you on as a partner, do not cheap out hire an attorney who deals with these type of contract partnership contracts to review it for you. Sometimes there's things out there, and it could be a lifelong friend. Oh, they would never screw me over or whatever. You never know what's going to happen in people's lives. People do shady things, sometimes out of character when they get into bad situations in life, bad financial situations. You just never know.


Always. Always. I know I'm a big handshake guy myself, but when it comes to legal contracts and business partnerships, you have to put it in legal, all legal, all contract and all that kind of stuff. Do not make that mistake. I got tons of examples of people who've gotten burned with the handshake. I've known this guy since grade school. He would never screw me over, and he got in a bad spot and screwed him over. So we got to hit a break here. We'll come back and we'll get through as many as we can. In this last segment on Mr. Biz radio.


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Welcome back to the show. We got one more segment. Let's see how many these we can get through and try to get some help. I want to mention I did. Look, I'm attention to detail here. Producer Allen. I did notice the last two were from California. We got some cali people in the house.


Well, get this. This one's coming from Salvador, Brazil.


Oh, wow.


Brazil. All right.


Awesome. That's awesome. I got to get down there.


You and me both. All right. I need a vacation.




Aurelio from Salvador, Brazil says, hi there, Mr. Biz. I'm a new first time business owner, and I'm overwhelmed. I'm doing okay, I think, on the operational side, but I'm lost on the financials. What are the top few areas to focus on there?


Well, I know a guy who could help you. Okay. I do, too. Let me introduce myself. Hi, I'm Mr. Biz. No, look, other people probably heard me say this before, but Aurelio, the first three things, and I do this with every single one of my clients, whether you've been in business for six months, six years, 60 years, it doesn't matter. I always start with. I call them my three pillars of financial success.


So if you're looking for just a few areas to start in, these are it. Number one, cash flow. We talked about cash flow a little bit earlier in the show on another question. You got to get your cash flow right. You run out of cash, you don't have a business. So you got to get that right. And this is a shameless plug. I do have a book called how to be a cash flow pro. It's only, like, 70 pages long. It's pretty inexpensive. It's on Amazon. Check it out.


I want to say there's 50 cash flow tips in that thing. So certainly you'll be able to get some things out of that if you're struggling on that side. The second financial pillar that I'll mention is budgeting. And I know, especially if you're overwhelmed on the financial side of things, you don't want to hear that, because a lot of people, especially if that's not in your wheelhouse, you're like, I don't even know where to start.


What I would say, she's tough to answer. But again, I'm not just doing this as a plug or whatever, but rather than in the interest of time, go out to my YouTube channel, Mr. Biz, and I think we have a playlist on budgeting. Go out and check out some of those videos. I don't think any of them are too long, but you can go out there in several of those videos I walk you through. If you've never done a budget before, how to set one up, what are some key things or whatever. But you got to have a budget. Helps you monitor how you're doing against what you want to do on a monthly basis so you can see quickly what's not working, what is working, how to make things, how to accentuate the things that are working and how to fix the things that aren't working.


But you don't wait until the end of the year to go, holy crap, we're not going to hit our sales goal or whatever it might be with a budget you're monitoring every month. And then the third pillar is pricing. And or I'm kind of changing to margin management. So when I say pricing, a lot of people say, oh, so you're just saying increase your prices? Not at all. It's more along the lines of margin management. And again, that might be a little bit in the weeds for you if you're overwhelmed on the financial side. But same thing.


Our YouTube channel has a pricing playlist. There's probably, I don't know, there's got to be a dozen videos on pricing that talks about margin management and how to go through that because you want to make sure that you're pricing your stuff, the services, the goods, all that stuff at the correct margins. You don't want to sell it below those margins that you need to be a viable business. People will try to do that sometimes and undercut on their price and their margin is too low and they got a business because they might have sales but the sales aren't profitable sales.


That's the worst kind of sale you can have. You'd rather have no sales than an unprofitable sale. Right. So those are the three areas. Again, cash flow, budgeting and then pricing or margin management are the three areas, I would say, to really hone in on those. And again, if you need some help with that, check out our YouTube channel. All free, obviously, but hopefully there's some good stuff out there for you.


You might have answered this earlier, I think sort of. Brad from Mesa, Arizona says, given these trying economic times, how should I determine what to spend on marketing? I think you kind of delved into that a little bit earlier.


Yeah, I guess specifically on marketing. Yeah, I talked about, think about abundance and things like that. But one of the things again along those lines is when people start to shrink up and think about this. If you're a local business, let's say you have a plumbing business or something like that, just because that was an example earlier and you're doing, I don't know, radio spots or you've got a billboard or something like that that people locally are seeing or hearing from you on a regular basis, and all of a sudden you pull it away and it's a tough economic time. People are going to start to think, oh, I don't hear from Ken's plumbing anymore. He must have got out of business.


It's the worst thing that could happen to you, especially in a trying time. So, generally speaking, just to give you some guidelines on the marketing side, I always advise to spend between two and 8% of your gross revenue on a short term basis. You can go up to nine to 15%. Like if you're opening a new location, you're really going to kind of carpet bomb a new place with marketing a new area, or you've got a new product, something like that, a new product line.


Short term, you could do the 9% to 15%. But I always tell people, try to stay in that two to eight, and even when times are tight, really try to stay at the 2% so you still got something out there that's regular, even if it's less frequency. So that's what I would say on the marketing side.


Well, I work in a radio station. I've been at radio for umpteen many years. It's one of the hardest things over the years, I've worked in radio to convince people not to pull all the way off, because if Joe blow down the street is still out there, they're going to think you're out of business. Things keep rolling forward.


And it was just like, it's a good example. Producer Allen because like I was saying earlier with the earlier question about seizing opportunities, that example I gave of if I'm doing a bunch of radio spots and I'm Ken's plumbing, and all of a sudden I say, I can't afford it anymore. And maybe you can't afford it. I'm not saying that if you can't, you can't, but really try to stay to something. If I'm running a bunch of radio spots and all of a sudden I pull all of them, but Bob's plumbing down the street says, I'm going gas pedal down and I'm going to start.


Really, all of a sudden, people aren't hearing from Ken anymore. They think Ken's out of business, and they go, I'm hearing Bob all over the place. He must be killing it. Right? So that's like a real life example of what I talked about earlier.


Yeah, I've seen it a lot. So that makes me sound old, but I am. Okay, let's see if we can get this. Two more, maybe. Don from McKinney, Texas says, I heard you mention the silent biz killer during a recent interview. That sounds scary. Ha. Can you please elaborate further on what that is and how to avoid it?


Yeah, so, McKinney, Texas. By the way, I actually got a client who has a branch down there, so I might be down in that area sometime. Maybe. I'll have to look you up. The silent business killer relates to what I mentioned. One of my three pillars, the pricing and the margin management. Silent business killer is a product or service, maybe multiple, but at least a product or service that a business owner has that they have unknowingly priced to be. At best, break even.


But oftentimes, unfortunately, it's actually a loss. It's a loser. Meaning that you're selling widgets and you're selling the widgets for $15, and it cost you $17 to actually produce it and get rid of it, to sell it all in, it cost you $17. Now, I know that sounds silly, right? That's why I call it the silent business killer. Almost every business that I've ever worked with has at least one of these. And again, why would you do that on purpose? You wouldn't.


That's why it's a silent business killer. And if you think about it, if you've got a product like that, especially if it's a widget, let's say it's, I don't know, a shirt, some fancy. It's a red golf shirt, I don't know, whatever. And you're selling it at a discounted price, right? If it's a business killer and it's unprofitable, you're probably underpriced versus your competitors. Well, guess what you're probably going to do? You're going to sell a crap ton of them, which is why it's going to give you this false sense, because you're selling a bunch of them. So your revenue is going up.


But for everyone you sell, you're losing money. As your sales are going up, your income is going down. You're like, this makes no sense in the world. I feel like I'm running in quicksand. Right. And that's exactly why I call it the silent business color, because you obviously wouldn't do it on purpose. So you just don't realize they're there. So you really have to dig in to your pricing, make sure the margins are there, all that good stuff. So that is a sign business killer. Same thing again, shameless plug for the YouTube channel. But I know there's several videos out there about signed business Killer and ways to avoid it and things like that. More specific.


I know we're out of time here, Allen. Well, I think we got through a good bit of them there.


Got eight of nine.


Okay, cool. And it was awesome having you part of the.


Thank you.


Yeah, thanks for watching.


I'm sure I broke a lot of cameras out there.


Yeah. There you go. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening, guys. Have a great rest of your week. And don't forget, as always, cash flow is king.


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