Leaving your corporate job to start your own business can be quite risky. Yet, Dan Cuprill did it and succeeded at that! From being in corporate America to running his own financial and personal finance firm, Dan has the experience and insights that will guide you to grow your businesses, even after you traded your 9 to 5 job for it. In this episode, he sits down with host, Michael Zipursky, to talk about his journey, the lessons he learned along the way, and the million-dollar financial strategies for consultants. He discusses how he set up his own financial advisory business, what marketing he utilized, and how he built his clientele. Plus, Dan then shares some advice on how you can build long-term wealth.
I have with me, Dan Cuprill. Dan, welcome.
Thanks, Mike. It’s great to be on.
Dan, you’re in the financial service industry. You run your own financial and personal finance firm. You also have another business that helps financial advisors to grow their businesses. There’s a lot that we’re going to cover here and I’m excited to dive right in. You go beyond. You’ve written books on this topic. You’ve given keynote speeches. You’ve been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, and a whole bunch of other publications. Let’s start off at the beginning or at least early on in your career. How did you first get into the world of personal finance?
When I came out of college, this would have been the mid-‘80s, the economy wasn’t all that great. I only had one job offer and it was to work for an insurance company. It wasn’t to sell insurance. It was to underwrite it, to analyze risk. I didn’t particularly want that job but it was the only one I had. It was in a city I wanted to live in. I figured, “What the heck? We’ll try and we’ll see how it goes.” The next thing I knew, ten years had gone by. The hairline was going away. I realized that I had to do something because deep down, I never wanted to work for anybody. I wanted to be self-employed. As my job with this particular company progressed, because of our product line I started working with independent financial advisors more and more.
Frankly, I started to see what they did and what they knew and became very confident that I could do the same thing. One advantage of having worked for a company for ten years where they’re paying you a salary every month is if you’re diligent, you can save a lot of money in ten years. If you do decide you’re going to become self-employed, you can do it. It doesn’t necessarily have to wreck you financially. Don’t get me wrong, it was a stretch, but at least I wouldn’t have to worry about where the next meal was coming from or jump into massive debt in order to do it. I had been mentored by a number of people about patience and I’d read somewhere that the businesses who succeed are planned for two years in advance.
I planned mine one year in advance and that paid off dramatically. When I decided to become a financial advisor, I didn’t have any clients and I was not the type of person, still not that would try to sell to a stranger or a neighbor or even a member of my family. I didn’t want to do it. I needed to find a marketing system that I was comfortable doing. At this point, we’re in the early ‘90s. The idea of doing retirement planning workshops at universities was new. It was a new concept. People would pay money to come, you rent the classroom and you teach the course. After that, people sign up for consultations. That was perfect for me because I enjoy public speaking. I enjoy teaching. That is ultimately how I got my client base. I had to find a marketing system that I would be passionate enough to do.Whatever you think you're going to do in that first year, cut it in half because that's probably reality. Click To Tweet
Before we dive in the details of the marketing system, I know that will be an interest to a lot of people. What’s interesting to me is you had a job essentially where you’re analyzing risk, and yet you decide to get involved in the business, which is one of the riskiest things from the outside world. I think you and I both know that it’s a lot less risky rather than being employed because you control your own destiny. What was going on in your mind as you’re analyzing risk, you’re thinking about venturing out to start your own consulting business back in that time? What were you thinking from a risk perspective, from a business building perspective? Take us a little bit deeper into the mindset that you had at that time.
I never thought about failure. My attitude was, “If it didn’t work, I could always go get a job.” It wasn’t something where I thought this is a crazy idea and who’s going to hire me possibly. I had enough confidence in what I knew. To me, like you implied, it wasn’t as risky as one might think, provided I could be patient enough. I knew it would take a number of years to replace the level of earnings that I had previously reached. That I knew. Where I did the risk analysis is, I looked at the amount I had saved. In those ten years, I had been a Journalism major as an undergrad.
During those ten years, I did go to business school at night. One of the things I learned from there was whatever you think you’re going to do in that first year, cut it in half because that’s probably reality. That’s what I did. It wasn’t all that of a surprise when the results were what they were. I think first-year revenues were maybe $60,000. Almost all of that went towards expense. It wasn’t something that was much of a shock, but I had measured out how long my savings would last before I could do that. That gave me the confidence. I also said to my wife many times because I needed her to be fully on board. I said, “If you’re not, I’ll get a job.” I don’t want to be one of these people looking back at 57 and wonder, “What if I had done that?”
That was the motivator. At that point, I was in my early 30s. I wasn’t all that concerned about if it didn’t work. If it didn’t work, I’d figure it out, which was quite selfish for me given the fact that A, not only was I married but B, we had a small child. I was like, “This is what it’s going to take to do it.” In many cases, having blinders like that probably was the key because I think if I internalized too much of the downside, it might scare the heck out of me and I would never have gone forward.
Was your wife fully on board when you decide to leave that comfy job and the stable income?
She said she was. Deep down, I think she definitely wished that I had kept that comfy job. It was a very corporate culture and we were intertwined in that. For at least five years, what we had was never a part of that. Looking back now, she’ll tell you this is the best thing we ever did. Having a small child, her needing to go back to work, all that stuff, no. In fact, we joked that if her mother had still been alive, she’d have talked to her into talking me out of doing it. It helps to have her on board because otherwise you are going to have those dark moments and you have to be able to confide with somebody who will support you.
This is a topic that is not discussed enough when you have a spouse that is not in the entrepreneurial world, doesn’t understand business and it’s so different. I often see and I’ve experienced it myself, my wife, by knowing me she’s like the furthest stretch from an entrepreneurial mindset. She’s from Japan and is very conservative. The way that she’s always been involved in the workforce in established organizations. It took her a long time to understand what entrepreneurship was and how I think about things differently. Knowing that your spouse or significant other, even though they may not understand it, doesn’t mean that their approach is wrong or that yours is right or so forth. Having those conversations so that you do have that support. I agree. If you don’t have the support of the people around you or especially that significant other in the picture, it’s hard. Your mind is then focused on things that are not your business, which means you can’t grow your business. Any experiences like that over the years?
It will break up a marriage or a relationship if you’re not careful because as a business owner, you’re going to work crazy hours and you’re going to have to be willing to miss things. One of the things that used to frustrate me a lot was meeting other business owners who weren’t willing to miss things in their life and yet still wanted the results that I was getting or what other people were getting. This thought of missing one of their kid’s 40 games in a season was too much. They couldn’t possibly do that. That’s fine but don’t get frustrated when you don’t get the result you want. Having said that then, your significant other has to be on board with that, that they’re going to have to pick up a little bit more of the slack.
I would argue, and I don’t think there’s any doubt about it, and it’s because we had our son right when I became self-employed. I was able to spend far more quality time with him in my entrepreneurial capacity than I ever would have in Corporate America. There’s no doubt about it in my mind. Not to mention having more of the financial resources to do real quality stuff with them. There were moments where I’m working long hours and there has to be an understanding with it. It can be a reason why relationships break up. I would argue that if that is a reason things break up, there are probably other issues and this exacerbated them a little bit more, but it is an issue. You have to think it through. She said she was on board and she was supportive, but I know that she had her moments of concern, which is natural. She should.
This is definitely not the view relationship show, but this is important.
Any self-employed person needs to weigh. I don’t know what our divorce rate is compared to others, but I’ll bet it’s darn high. Most people I know who are self-employed and have their businesses, 2 or 3 marriages are not unusual.
Communication is important. Understanding the other person and not shying away from it because otherwise, you’ll end up being preoccupied with thoughts of how to keep things moving in the household that you can’t focus on your business. Those two things need to go together. I always say that your business should be structured to support the lifestyle that you want, not the other way around. Especially in the early years of running a business, it can feel like the other way around. You do have to work harder.Even when you get monetary success, there are still a lot of areas in the business, and in your life, you’ve got to work on. Click To Tweet
You have to “hustle” the longer nights that you talked about to get to the place where you are now, where you have more financial freedom, where you have more time freedom, more ability to make choices and options. What was the point, Dan, where things clicked in your business and both you and your wife, and likely it was you who saw it even sooner, but would you think that she understood it and you felt like, “I’ve made it. I’ve proven that I can make this long-term. I’ve reached that first summit of success?”
It was such a daily, annual slow progression. I don’t think there was ever a moment where it suddenly occurred to me. When I got to where we had enough recurring revenue, one of the things I always structured my business on was not to do one-off business. You can do this in financial services. You can’t necessarily do it in other lines of work, but for the most part, you’ve got two ways you can get compensated. People can pay you a large amount upfront and that’s it or they can pay you by comparison, a smaller percentage, but you get it in perpetuity for as long as you maintain the relationship. I had chosen to do the latter.
Why did you choose that path?
I saw the long-term benefits of doing it that way. It was harder. Trust me. When you’re building something and you could make, say $40,000 and you choose to make $4,000, but you’re looking at $4,000 for over a number of years, it can take a while. That does take a risk, but I was thinking more long-term. To me it was like, “No, this is a smart thing.” To get that level of recurring revenue would ultimately do two things. Number one, it would add value to my firm so that if I ever did want to sell it, it would be worth a lot more. Secondly, it would, at some point, give me the lifestyle, the ability to not work for a period of time, except for maybe take care of existing clients and still get paid.
There were moments when I would take a long vacation and there was no decline at all in the profit to the business because of the way we were doing things. When I started to see that we could save dramatically more than we were able to do so, that was where over time I started to realize, “We’ve gotten there,” but it’s like watching a child grow. You don’t see it every day. You suddenly look back and you see those old photos, which are taken like two years ago, and you’re like, “Oh my goodness.” You start almost like, “How did I miss this?” You didn’t miss it. You were there in real-time. It’s just that it’s a slow, incremental thing.
That’s important to understand because it’s not going to be like winning the lottery. You’re not suddenly one day a failure and then suddenly you’re a success. Hollywood loves to tell those movies, but it’s a progression that takes some time. Even when you get monetary success, there are still a lot of areas in the business and in your life you’ve got to work on. I’ve never for one moment sat back and thought, “I’ve made it.” No, I don’t think that way. I have a passion for what I do and there’s no doubt that helps. That helps with the success part. It’s never going to be that particular moment. I’d love to say I remember it was on a Thursday. I was watching this and then the light went off of my head. No. It was at some point where I was like, “I haven’t done much in the last months and the revenues are still going in well. The clients seem to be happy.” That’s when I started to see the payoff. I will tell you, years-wise, it was probably ten years in before I even got to that moment. I would have been in my early 40s when that occurred.
That reminds me of a book I read by George Leonard called Mastery and he breaks down the whole idea of what mastery is all about. He has a big martial arts background and it resonated with me as I read that book that all of us in our lives, as we work towards true mastery in an area, there will be these times where we feel like we’ve plateaued or we’re not making progress. As I read that book, it reminded me of when I was learning Japanese. There would be times where I would feel like I’m studying a lot. I’m trying. I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve gotten any better. That’d be for a period of time.
All of a sudden, something would click and go like, “I’ve gone up this whole other level.” Oftentimes, what this book also talks to and I saw the parallels in business where you might set out towards a destination, you have a clear goal in mind, you’re working towards it. You don’t necessarily feel like you’re making the progress that you want. You’ve plateaued. What a lot of people then do is they give up or they jump ship or they change direction completely going like, “This must not work.” They abandon ship only to find out later on only to see others that stayed the course made that exponential game. You can’t see that gain if you give up during that process.
Let me share with you something I told somebody a long time ago and it speaks to what you said. I had mentioned that I’d seen what other financial advisors were doing and I thought, “If they could do it, I can do it.” To be candid, I was amazed at how little so many of them knew. It was almost to the point where I was trying my hardest not to be arrogant, but that gave me a great deal of self-confidence. However, I still had to answer this one question in my mind. These advisors who, quite frankly, I didn’t think were all that sharp, “How are they being so successful?” Somebody said something to me that hit it one day. They said, “They don’t think about their failures that much.”
Too often, if you’re blessed with a reasonable IQ and something doesn’t go our way, we have a tendency to overanalyze it. It almost holds us back. These advisors that I was meeting, and I’m not picking anyone specifically, but it was water off a duck’s back. If something didn’t go, they plotted on to the next one. That’s why I ultimately concluded that at least in this industry, in many ways, IQ is a little overrated. I didn’t say it wasn’t important and this is not for financial advisors but in terms of succeeding as a business owner, IQ, being overly educated, is overrated.
I’ve had the same thought where you look at somebody and you see they’re extremely successful. They don’t necessarily seem like they have the same level of experience or educational vocabulary, all that stuff, but they’re successful. How can it be? For me, the overall high level of viewpoint is that they don’t let a lack of information hold them back from taking action. They learn through actions. The way that they get information, the way they get data is by taking action. Whereas the typical business owner or wantrepreneur, the person that wants to create a business, they feel like they need to have all of the information before taking action. It means they never take action because they never have all the information.
That’s a big reason why with our clients, we talk about this idea of imperfect action often. When we’re working with coaching clients, there are a lot of things that they’re going to be doing that they haven’t done before. Often the questions will be, “What should I do? I’ve never done this, or I’m not comfortable.” Start the process, follow the system and you’re going to start to see that you make progress. Let’s go back, Dan, to your marketing. You made the shift. You said, “I’m going to become a financial advisor, but I don’t like to sell in a typical way. I don’t like to market directly to people that I don’t know.” That will resonate with a lot of people. A lot of experts, a lot of consultants, coaches, advisors don’t like the idea of being sales-y, persuasive or negotiating and all that stuff. They do like to provide value. They do like to teach, to make an impact, to help people, which is what I’m hearing you say. Take us back to that moment you started doing in-person workshops, why did they work well?In terms of succeeding as a business owner, IQ, being overly educated, is overrated. Click To Tweet
At that point, especially they were filling a real void because people approaching retirement or wealth accumulation didn’t know where to go. Remember, this is the early ‘90s. While the internet is there, it’s still new. People are eagerly looking for help, but they don’t want to be in front of a pushy salesperson. The fact that they could be educated and then decide on their own if they wanted to extend the relationship, that was appealing to them. For the advisor, the advantage to that was they were with you for three evenings. They got to see your expertise. They got to know you as a person. If there’s not going to be connection made, then there’s never going to be made a connection. That worked well and it still does. It doesn’t work as well because there’s more competition for it. There are more advisors giving those types of workshops. There are many more opportunities.
How are you marketing the workshop? How are you getting bums in the seats?
There are two ways. First, let me tell you the traditional way and then I’ll tell you what I think is the best way. The traditional way is you send out massive amounts of direct mail and you either bribe these people to come by giving them like steak dinners or you don’t bribe them. You make it harder for them to attend by charging them tuition. When we go that route, that’s how we do it. We want to create a barrier for people to come to the workshop. That’s one way to do it, but the best way to do it is you don’t direct mail to the masses. You start by building your own list by having a tangible information product that people order. You market the informational product, and then those people, through continuous nurture, are invited to one of your live events.
If you do that, while you might get a smaller number of people because your list might be 1,000 versus 10,000, your response rate is going to be a heck of a lot higher. The interest level is going to be a lot higher. Why? You know they’re interested in what you do. They ordered the kit. With few exceptions, there’s a high-interest level. If you have multiple events, you’re much more likely to connect with them on a time that works for them. This also does work well with webinars as well. The reason I’ve gotten a little bit concerned about webinars now that we’re still in the middle of the whole COVID period. Now we’re doing a matter of necessity. One of my fears though is that when that’s behind us, people will aggressively look to make that the new normal.
That’s fine, but I’ve got to tell you, we’re still humans. We’re still social beings. We’re still into this interactive types of things. I would encourage all business owners when you can get back to doing things the way you used to do them, you should or you should at least try to do it. I’m going to tell you, there’s going to be a sector of the market. Right now, that’s going to be that older, more fluent sector of the market that’s going to want that. They’re going to want that. When advisors tell me, “This is what I’ve been waiting for. Now we’re going to be virtual all the time.” In some cities where you have massive traffic and all that, perhaps Los Angeles, for example, or Washington DC, but the rest of North America, see how sensitive I am to your Canadian roots. I was about to say America.
We have a global audience far beyond the US borders.
I was teasing you though. There’s a tendency for Americans to go with American. I wanted credit for that.
On the topic of marketing, you essentially start to build your financial advisor practice business through that channel. What else worked or how did you go about building your clientele initially? Was there anything else that rivaled that in terms of effectiveness?
No. Believe me, I tried everything. I had a radio show, massive amounts of direct mail where rather than having them do a workshop, call us. It wasn’t until I understood the form of direct mail. A lot of that was by reading a lot of Dan Kennedy books. I got a real appreciation for this idea that no, you’ve got to get people to raise their hand above the masses to say, “I’m interested in this,” and then go from there. Stop assuming just because they live in a certain zip code that they’re the right fit for you. I found the more challenging I made it frankly for them to work with me, whether it’d be pay to come to a workshop or you had to pay first to do a plan or whatever.
The ideal prospect for me was far more responsive to that. Truthfully, having an informational product and educating has always worked far better than anything else that I’ve done. In working with other advisors who are doing other things, when we’ve encouraged them to expand it. For example, the guys get the radio show. Rather than using the call to action to give his office a call, why don’t you have the call to action to get a free copy of your book? Those people’s success rate went up dramatically. That’s how they would do that.
For you in your business, give us an example of what was that information product that you used to bring people into your world initially? It sounds like you give them access to that, then you gave them a bunch of emails and correspondence, and then you would invite them to an in-person workshop.
Specific to the United States, most people, when they work for a corporation, have a retirement plan, it’s called a 401(k) plan, and this is money that they have saved all the years with the employer contributions. It’s never been taxed. When they retire, they may think they have $1 million but they have $700,000 because the $300,000 is going to be owed in tax. There are strategies that you can employ in order to minimize that. If you understand here, it was important that we had a message that our target market would respond to and our target market hates taxes. When you tell them that their entire retirement savings are subject to tax and you lay out a compelling argument as to why taxes may have to go up in the future, to have a book or a kit that will tell them how to have a tax-free retirement, that is compelling. That kit has a book. It has an audio CD, it’s got a few reports in it.The neediness will kill any business owner. Click To Tweet
Do you give them the kit for free?
We do give them the kit for free. I wouldn’t be opposed to charging postage for it maybe to separate a few more people out of the group. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying that at all, but we have them order the kit. As soon as they order the kit immediately, because of the automation, they get both a text and a voicemail from me. It doesn’t matter if they order it at 2:00 in the morning, they’re going to get an immediate response saying, “It’s coming.” What happens is there’s a long-term nurture process of emails, direct mail, invitations to webinars and seminars, as well as delivery of our podcasts because we have one specifically for financial services. This whole engagement goes and it’s until they either buy, die, or they opt-out.
The result of that, what should somebody expect? They’re going to have to fulfill sending this out, but what results have you seen in terms of you’re spending X amount of dollars, we see Y result from it?
The best results that you could go across all lines of work would be looking at response rates and the cost of doing this. For example, to create a kit like I described if we can ignore postage for a sec because that’s going to vary. You can easily create that for under $10. A book can be printed for $2 nowadays. The box is $0.90. The cost of doing these things is very low. Even promoting it on social media, we’ve got it down now where it’s costing us less than $3 per request. This is a low cost and a typical month, 50 to 60 will go out. I think we’ve got the message in the market. The economics for us, in a normal mass mailing type promoting a seminar, if we send out 10,000 pieces, we’ll be lucky to get between 20 and 30 people to come to the workshop. That’s a 0.2% or 0.3% response rate. With the kit, it’s 10% response rate. From there, it’s a matter then of how good are you in terms of your presentation and you do your seminars, etc. It takes a while to build that list.
The economics of the kit works good but the response rate is so much higher when you do it that way. It depends on how well you’re able to give a worthwhile presentation, which should generate the results. I will tell you, in our case, half the people come to our workshops typically become clients. That’s down by design. We used to have a much higher client rate, but we found that a lot of those people, we were bending over backwards to make anybody a client and that was a mistake. One of the things that we’ve done is at the end of every seminar, we always tell them why they should not come in for a meeting.
We describe scenarios where we’re not a good fit for, and that has driven the response rate. The people who then come in, their likelihood of becoming clients is incredibly high. We worked at a couple of different ways, but in the past, we were always driven by, “Did we make a sale?” We don’t think of those terms anymore. Now what I say is, “The people we offered our services to, how many of those accept it?” That should be close to 100% if we connect with the people the right way.
I think one big theme that’s coming out, Dan, as you’re sharing your story and best practices is this idea of raising the bar. Raising the bar to some means that it’s harder for people to jump over that bar. Those that do are going to be infinitely and significantly better for your business, more profitable. You’re going to have a better relationship with them. They’re going to be the right types of people. Even with marketing, we’re taught this idea of polarization. Some people would look at and say, “Why would you do that if you’re going to have a lower overall number of people coming?” On the front end, by doing it that way, you’re able to see a significantly better result on the backend.
You are. The other thing too is when you look at who your ideal prospect is, I think one of the qualifications has to be that this person is the human being you want to work with. Do you want to have that client that when they call, you let out this big sigh and you get that high level of anxiety? It’s not worth it. I understand when you’re getting started, you have a little bit of a scarcity mentality. It’s normal. Do your best to get over it because I’ll tell you this. Where I am now in life, I would be considered the target market for my business. I wasn’t that way when I was younger, but I am now. I appreciate working with somebody who is a little bit more challenging to get them to offer me. When I travel, I could find the most beautiful looking hotel in the world. If it’s priced too low, I know there’s got to be something wrong. I won’t even go for it.
Understand what your target market wants. Very often, depending on who they are, they’re going to appreciate the person who’s a little bit more selective. I’ve seen advisors they have an application that you have to apply to have that first meeting. That’s something. They know well that they’re going to drive the numbers down, but they are established enough to where that doesn’t worry them. You can come across that way as long as you have the brains to back it up and the experience to back it up. You can be like that from the beginning. You can say, “No, this is who I work with.” It’s a risk, I will admit it, but it takes the same level of courage when you said you would become self-employed in the first place. In fact, it takes less. Use that courage.
The other thing it does too is it establishes you as a peer-to-peer relationship or as that trusted advisor. If you’re oozing excitement to try and win someone’s business without any rigor or any structure and saying yes to any opportunity that comes your way, buyers can sense that it’s like, “This person is needy. They’re hurting for business. They’re going to do anything to try and win my business.” That’s typically the first thing that’s going to then drive that person away rather than towards you.
You said the magic word there, needy. The neediness will kill any business owner. I always tell people, “Even if you are needy, try not to show it.”
Let’s now shift. We’ve talked about your financial advisory business and how you’ve built that up over the years and that you transitioned from corporate into that business, but your other business is helping financial advisors to grow their business. You coach them, you consult with them, you advise them on how to do that. You and I were talking beforehand that it’s a great example of how anyone that has expertise in a specific area can likely help others in that area to see greater success as long as they have achieved that success themselves. Otherwise, they shouldn’t be teaching and talking if they haven’t done it. You did it, you established your business and then you said, “I can now help others.” Where did that come from? When did you decide to make that shift or to create that new business? Walk us through what that looks like.Don’t let your lack of experience as a practitioner hold you back in training other practitioners provided you take the time to learn it. Click To Tweet
One thing I guess you can say about me is that I’m not hesitant to share. As I was having success as a financial advisor, a lot of advisors sought me out for input. How are you doing this? How are you doing that? Our community as advisors is good in that regard. We share ideas a lot. We’re not overly worried that we’re giving away trade secrets or anything like that. After enough of them came through, and we used even to have a name for it. My initials are DC. We used to call it Camp DC because we were getting quite a few people reaching out because they’d heard somebody else spent a day at my office. After about the fifteenth person, I said, “There’s a business here.” I went to thirteen other advisors that I knew well. I explained to them what I was looking to put together. I said, “Would you come in as like the pilot, the beta? I’m going to charge you, but it won’t be nearly as much as what people will eventually pay. I’m not making up as I go, but I’ll be fixing things as I go. Would you be open to that?”
They were like, “Yes. Let’s do that.” There’s a business there for anybody. If you’ve had some level of success and it doesn’t even have to be so much in your business. You could have a hobby, but there’s an information marketing/mentoring/coaching business there for about whatever it is that you do, because I assure you, there are going to be people out there who are going to want what you have. If you’ve been able to do it as a self-employed person, if you understand how to build that list of people, you’re going to find that to be not only a lucrative business but a lot of fun. Now, Advisor Architect, which is that information marketing business, easily uses up about 80% of my time.
The planning firm, I saw that coming. I brought in a partner a few years ago and she runs the day-to-day of the planning firm. I’m able to work on that business rather than in it, which is what we all strive to do. To answer your question, it was largely because a lot of people had sought me out initially. I floated the idea. From there, I was amazed how easy it was from the technology that’s out there to do this. Initially, I didn’t know about the technology and I was doing everything the hard way until someone pulled me aside and said, “There’s this, that, and the other thing.” There’s an information marketing business out there for everyone.
If you have the credibility of having done it yourself successfully, that helps. I will tell you this, though. There are a lot of people who train others and it’s the classic if they can’t do they teach, there is a lot of that. Here’s what I would tell you. I wouldn’t let your lack of experience as a practitioner to hold you back in training other practitioners provided you take the time to learn it. Sometimes the best skill that I have is not even so much that I’m an advisor. It’s my power of observation. I almost play the role of a psychiatrist when an advisor will describe something that they’ve been doing well and then they stopped doing it. We discussed that. That is not specific to my industry. Anybody could say that from any industry. If you are a good listener and a good teacher, a lot of the things that I teach other advisors to do, quite frankly, they had heard it before. It wasn’t like I was the first one. What was different maybe was that my process has a strong implementation angle to it so we get it done.
Dan, before we wrap up here, I want to ask you about wealth building. You’ve worked a lot of clients in that regard, helping them to achieve more financial freedom and more wealth essentially. If you had to hit on one area, principle, strategy, and it’s fine if it’s US-specific. People can extrapolate from it. When you look at your most successful clients and the best opportunities that are out there, a business owner and a consultant who might be a solo consultant, they might be a small firm owner reading this now that wants to build long-term wealth? If you could offer one thing for them to think about or to look into, what should that be?
This may sound a little odd, but investing in your own business, in my opinion, is not a great idea. I hear this line all the time. “I had a profit and I’m going to invest it back in the business.” If you’re publicly traded, if your business is Microsoft, I understand that. You’re buying more of their stock. What you need to do is to dedicate a percentage of revenue, not profit revenue. Top line every year towards your own personal net worth, which means whatever your sales were, they should be 90% of that. Ten percent of that has to come out and has to go towards building your own net worth independently of your business.Don’t go hire another person that you don't even need. Click To Tweet
If you build your business to the point of success where someone pays you millions and millions of dollars for it, great, but you’re going to be fine if you only have 90%, rather than 100%. You’ll get by. If you take that attitude, which Mike Michalowicz in his book calls it Profit First. If you take that attitude and you give up a percentage, if 10% is too high, go 5%. You can’t tell me anybody can’t give up 5% of anything and miss it. If you’re willing to do that and get away from this myth of, “My business someday will go public.” It might, but the odds are it won’t. It’s like when kids are playing sports. I tell the parents, “If you can accept the reality that they’re not going to play professionally, you’ll enjoy watching them play. As long as you hold on to that, it’s going to get in the way.” The odds are overwhelming that they won’t. Do the same thing with your own revenue.
One distinction I want to make on that because I completely agree. I’ve had this mindset from a young age. My father instilled this idea of investing and the importance and thinking of the future, thinking long-term. I benefited from that and I completely agree the importance of taking a percentage of what you’re making and then building your net worth or investing it. That’s when your money goes to work for you rather than you having to work for your money, which is what you do in your business. However, you mentioned one thing, which I want to put a distinction on it because I think some people might misconstrue it which is, “It’s important to invest into your business.” What we see a lot is when it comes to marketing, people are hesitant to market. You said you do a lot of marketing.
We have a specific budget for it and maybe that’s the key.
It’s not going, “I’m making more money. I’m going to go in now, get the fancy chairs for my office or I’m going to redo the sign outside.” Pouring money into the business. I completely agree with you on that.
Don’t go hire another person that you don’t even need.
The other thing that I think you’re saying as well is it’s not about keeping money in the business with the hope and trying to scale and grow it rapidly and one day you might make money from it on an exit or a sale. It’s about maximizing the profit in the business to reinvest in a smart way to grow it, but pulling out money so that you can build your wealth and then have your money work for you.
Remember that there has to be a balance. For what it’s worth, I recommend that your marketing budget equals what you’re keeping for yourself. If you’re pulling out 10% for yourself, you’ve got to put 10% towards the business towards growing it. I don’t mean it from that standpoint, but too often money sits in the bank account and it gets wasted on things that they don’t need. Remember this. I know this will sound incredibly capitalistic guilty. The goal of a business owner is to enrich the business owner. I maintain that if you can do that, you can do a lot of great things for society. I don’t view it as being a bad thing at all. When you lose sight of that, you start making decisions that can endanger the business. Keep that part in mind. If you don’t read The E Myth by Michael Gerber every year, you should.
Dan, thank you for coming on here and sharing a bit of your story and some of the best practices and lessons that you’ve learned. Where would you suggest that people can go? I know you have two different sites at least, but where would be the best place for people to go to learn more about you, your journey, and what you’re up to?
The best place to go would be DanCuprill.com. If you go there, you can subscribe to my almost daily email where I’m sending out business tips. You would also get a free copy of my newsletter, The Profitable Advisor. Go there and that’s a great place to start.
Dan, thanks for coming on.
Thank you, Michael.