Entrepreneurs have big visions. But, how do you turn those visions into a reality? According to Kathy Boyle, it all comes down to drive and planning.
In this episode, Kathy Boyle — serial entrepreneur and business planning expert — shares her five-leg strategy that helps entrepreneurs reach their business goals.
Founder and president of Chapin Hill Advisors, a business, estate, and personal planning firm, Kathy has a broad range of experience across multiple disciplines, thanks to her diverse background as an entrepreneur. Having been featured on Bloomberg Radio, Fox Business Network, and Yahoo Finance, Kathy is a top keynote speaker on strategic business planning to help entrepreneurs blossom.
In this episode she shares:
Host: Josh Fonger
Guest: Kathy Boyle
Please Note: The following is a computer auto-generated transcript and will include some inaccuracies.
Welcome to the Work The System Podcast where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less using systems and I’m your host, Josh Fonger. Today we have a special guest. We have Kathy Boyle. Kathy is the founder and president of Shaping Hill advisors, a top business, estate and personal planning firm catering to family, businesses, and high net worth families, helping entrepreneurs and families to develop risk management strategies. Kathy encourages her clients to craft clear pathways to success using integrative systems. Kathy has a regular keynote speaker and guest on national television and radio shows such as Bloomberg radio, V, Fox Business Network, and Yahoo Finance. Alright, Kathy. Welcome to the show. Why don’t you give us the history of what got you to be an advisor to so many businesses?
Josh, I appreciate that. So I have, you know, you listen on doors on these podcasts, interviews, and every single one of us has this convoluted path and how we got here. I love animals. I must have been an animal, another life I rescue animals. I started out to be a veterinarian. So I went to pre vet med in Michigan State. I’m from Connecticut, and I have been a vegetarian since I was 16. And I’m vegan so I do not kill animals and in Aggie school, and all of those companies. elle vet schools are really Aggie schools, they promote the meat industry. So I went down this convoluted path. I moved to Colorado because that’s where I really wanted to go. I became a ski bum. I had multiple businesses of my own. I taught aerobics, I had a fitness fix with Kathy Boyle. I had picked up a bunch of flower business, Seidman, that magnetic signs that depending on which business was doing those on the side of my little Datsun. So I am a serial entrepreneur, I moved back to New York, I got into the business in the late 80s. Working for Merrill Lynch, as a stockbroker, I lent money to small business to business owners. And so I learned about S corp, C corps. We didn’t have LCS back then, lines of credit retained earnings. And I got my CFP, when I was born in 1992. And I continued to work with business owners, I love entrepreneurs, I love that they are visionary, that they come up with new ideas. I’m a classic serial entrepreneur, I will have a new idea a minute, I always tell everybody. If I had more money and another 24 hours, I would have unlimited, you know, income. So I love entrepreneurs, I love helping them. And I can take my gift if I’m a big connector number one. But I can also take very complicated things. And I can bring them down to little sound bites, little bite sized pieces. So if you tell me I have to go get my wills and trust me I’m like, Oh, yeah, I know. I know. So what I do is I make little tiny appointments with people. And we make a little spoon feed. And we create this plan for the course of the year. And I help them implement it. So that’s what I like, if somebody can just say cat, all you need to do is go do this this week. And we’ll get one step closer. Great. So that’s a nutshell of how I do this.
Well, yeah, and the more I get to know you Kathy, the more I definitely, if I can think of anyone who’s a serial entrepreneur, it’s definitely you. Somebody, has so many ideas. Well, they will tell me, you know, based on all your experience, what is the number one challenge you see when you do pick up a new client? A small business or midsize business kind of business? What is the problem that they’re not seeing as they’re trying to prepare for the future?
So great question. So I think entrepreneurs, we think about the new business, we think about how we’re going to get it right and doing what we do. So a couple things aren’t many entrepreneurs come out of something that they did forever, whether it’s a family business that they just grew up in, and don’t think there’s any other choice or something done corporately and they downsized, right. And so a lot of times they focus on, you know, the entrepreneurial myth, right. It’s Michael Gerber. You know, we’re technicians, we do what we do for a living, we love to do that, we know how to do that. But all the other avenues of the business, the things that are important from operations, financial, HR, and business development, as well as the product or service you do. So I call them the five legs, right? And so not everybody focuses across the board. And so that’s what I find a lot of people come up with ideas that quite frankly, I’m a New Yorker. So I’m very blunt and their bonehead ideas, you know, and like, Oh, I’m going to open a dog food store. Well, it’s a teeny little town that has 3000 residents and nobody really shops, there’s no foot traffic. So are you really sure you want to do that, you know, unless you’re gonna have an online component to that it’s not going to make it. So that’s what I see. I see people open up sort of their dream and not really put pencil to paper, do the numbers project forward. Think about the risk. I tell everybody. I’m a glass half full girl. I love life and I will just put my boots up and just keep going no matter what obstacles in my way. I am the half empty girl for my clients. So my job is to look for risk and try to find strategies to mitigate risk.
Okay, so someone comes to you, they’re missing a few of the five legs and they’re saying maybe they’re let’s say they’re You want to retire at 10? years? What? What are some things that they need to start thinking about? Because maybe they never thought about that they’re in the business doing the business, what are some things they need to start thinking about now, so they can actually be ready for that exit?
So great question again. So really what I tell people, is think about building your business from the get go; from the business plan, think about building as a saleable entity. Even if you have absolutely no intention of selling it, or you want to give it to the kids or you want to give it to your nieces and nephews, that’s okay. Think about building it. Because then you put all the cornerstones in place, the failure rate for family owned businesses is ginormous, from first to second only 30% make it from second to third only 12% make it and then once you get to the fourth generation only 1% make it. So you take a 110 year old company that great grandparents started and you destroy it, right. And it’s sometimes it’s fighting between family members, sometimes you’ve run out of talent. So there’s a ton of reasons. Now, a lot of this is fixable studies from PwC, there’s five and a half million families in business, United States, the average age of the CEO is 60. And when surveyed, 70% of them say I’d like to transition in the next five to 10 years. But they have no plan in place. So putting a plan in place is critical. And that’s what I spend my time on. I’m not boots on the ground, I’m not the business coach, I don’t do weekly calls and help them hold their hand. I do the planning. That’s what I love to do.
So let’s go through those five legs again. Excited, wasn’t writing fast enough. So what are the five legs?
Just because I speak like a New Yorker as well, the first one is your product or service, right? Your core offering. So you offer systems, right? And that’s your core offering. Then you have operations, operations is everything from Are you Incorporated, you have partners, where’s the location, your it knees, anything that does with operating the business falls into that bucket. And many of those have costs associated with them, right accounting firms, etc. And then you go to financial, and I swear to God, I worked with an interior designer, she brought me a paper bag shopping bag full of her financials. So they were all little pieces of paper. A lot of small business owners especially have no financial system. I personally would rather be hung up by my fingernails then do QuickBooks. So I hire people to do that. So getting a bookkeeper getting the right accountant is part of it. But you have to have financial, even if you’re a solopreneur. And then the next part is HR. And again, even you always have a team, you always even if you’re a solopreneur, you have your accountant, you have your lawyer, you have maybe family members, maybe 1099, maybe vas, you know, but there’s always somebody in your circle, even if you’re solopreneur. That’s your team as you move forward and formalize that in terms of the growth, you’ve got to add capacity and add employees. And you have to give thought to that. That’s where I’ve made all my mistakes. I like everybody, and I think everybody can do everything. So, you know, I’m the optimist again. And then the final part is business development. A lot of people leave this as an accident, they don’t think consciously about how you’re going to develop new business. So those are the five legs.
Well, yeah, that’s, that’s really comprehensive. And what I’m thinking is those who haven’t really thought much about their future, they’re just thinking, well, I can just kind of do this myself. Why do people usually hit that ceiling? where they actually are, they’re stuck? Because they haven’t gotten someone like you? Like, do they get stuck at the half million dollar mark? Or the million mark? Where do they get stuck, and they really need someone to put these pieces together for them.
So that they are reached very, very much by industry, right? If your service business is doing 500,000, you are actually earning a lot more than a manufacturing company doing 500 sales, right? So the capacity issue is the issue like thinking through so let’s just say you’re a coach, and let’s just say you charge 6000 for six months just to make it easy. So 1000 bucks a month, how many clients can you handle in a day? Are you going to be able to train someone else to take them over coaching? It is very personal business. So are you really going to be able to find talent? And then how are you going once they get their Mojo? How are you going to prevent them from taking your business away? So that business would be very, very different than say you’re running the restaurant, right and running the restaurant and you’re going to replicate unless you’re going to do takeout for some you’re going to curbside now. And then you’re going to eat if you know, so that kind of business is very different. Are you going to replicate that over and over again to open up more and then you’ve got to figure out the rent, the employees etc. Right? So really berries very, very much I would say. depending again on the business people with manufacturing get stuck at the 1 million mark. People solopreneurs get to 100 200,000 and then they kind of flip out because the business is taking them over. And you know every single entrepreneur no matter what size business, the first words out of your mouth. I’m so busy, I’m so busy, right? So there’s never enough time. And that’s we all face.
So how do you get people to break the mold? Because I’ve often met people, they get to a place where they make a certain income and the income that they were, they feel pretty comfortable with their families. And they just say, Well, this is where I’m going to sit and they stay in this status quo. And you and I were talking beforehand about whether I had this friend or he said, Well, they just grew the company to this size, they will be able to exit, they will be able to retire this. So many things that could have happened, if they’re just willing to think a little bit bigger. How do you get people to do that to think bigger about the future?
So good question. Again, I think I use the Attractor Factor approach. So I use things like this, you know, podcasts, radio shows, I speak, I speak in front of large audiences of entrepreneurs, at their associations. So they’re usually attracted to my style. I love working with visionaries. So somebody’s stuck on very small minded, I’m not the best person for them, because I get frustrated, right? I don’t understand why you just can’t get out of your own way. You know, here are the steps executed, right? And I’ll give them a life coach, if that’s what they need my business coach, if that’s what they need, I have the resources to give you what you need. But if your inner spirit, if your inner soul is not there, ready to run for it and grab the brass book, then you know, then then I can’t fix that. So I think you’ve got to be most entrepreneurs I see are incentivized they’ve got vision, you know, I have a little client right now potentially free tennis coaches all successful. And they’re thinking of buying this swimming tennis club. And it has to be under an awful profit for various reasons. And they didn’t know anything about not for profit structure. The neighbors might be up in arms about us getting it through. And then I asked them, I said, so do you want to build this in? Let’s say in 10 years, it does x volume, one of you want to buy from the others would you want to sell it as an entity and they hadn’t thought through that. And that’s if there’s three partners, especially that’s a critical conversation in the beginning, make sure you’re on the same page, and make sure you have a metric for valuation. Because when you hit the right formula, and then you really start doing volume, that’s not when you want to start talking about what the company’s worth, and who’s going to get what if I get bought out?
Yes, yeah. It’s hard enough with two people, three, it’s a deadly combination. I’ve certainly seen it often. So. So tell us about some of your entrepreneurial stories. What ideas have you done over the years that really were good? And why or ideas you’ve done that are bad? And why? Because I’m sure there’s some people who are doing startups right now listening to this? And how do you evaluate an idea if it’s good or not?
So again, sometimes you’re lost, you’re in the trees yourself, right. So even as an entrepreneur plans a holiday for other people, sometimes I can make mistakes myself. And one of the examples was I started a breakfast club. And we had a little office outside in Westchester where I live. My office was in the city. And so I went ahead and opened this office because the CPA was pushing me to do it. And I really didn’t go through the numbers hard enough. There’s a lot of wealth where I live and being able to tap locally, when I got a train, I went to the city every day. So I was gone. I got left at 6:30 in the morning, got back at 6:30 at night, so I wasn’t seeing anybody locally. And so we opened up this office share to the CPA Well, part of my referral resources comes from CPAs. So now other CPAs were afraid to trust me because I’m sharing an office with the CPA. And then the employees that I put up there after we open the office, one of them quit. She decided she wanted to work local, she didn’t want to come to the city. And then we opened up the office and I have this overhead I’m paying for. And you know, and so then we have a front porch, and I decided to do a little breakfast club. And so we started the breakfast club, and I said this is the way to get it working right? Because the chambers are very provincial, back then this was an O six, and they didn’t do any online. Nothing. So $250. And you got a listing on a piece of paper, basically. And I said, I’m not paying $250 for this. So I started a Breakfast Club. I grew my breakfast club from 13 people to 250 people over a few years. And we would host breakfast once a month. And so somebody saw him. There were 72 people for breakfast. And you really think I’m crazy. I cook breakfast and it’s vegan. And so he saw 72 people, we charged $20 ahead, we got 30% charity, you know, so it’s not a moneymaker. And so he approached me and said, hey, you’ve got such a great connection. You need to monetize that. That’s what everybody says to me. You got to monetize your connections. And so he taught me just starting this online directory of experts, and he built it and I am a salesperson, so I believe other people too easily. I’m not a skeptic, and I’m really busy myself. And so he lived in a very expensive town and four kids paid a lot of taxes as he did business PayPal and blah, blah, blah. And he built this website. He rebuilt my website and designed this thing that didn’t work. And it’s kind of like being pregnant. When you have Have a group like this, you can’t be a little bit pregnant. We already started it. We had members, I had to forge forward. So we had to create a VIP membership. So I could collect directly and hire somebody else to rebuild the website the right way. And so those are two mistakes that I made that I call them stos. I think growth opportunities.
Yes, well, that’s usually what grows the most through the problems. That’s funny. That’s a good story, too. So what? So people are listening right now? And they’re thinking, gosh, I have never planned out my future. And it’s like, I have these five legs. Which leg do you think they should work on first? Or do all five legs need to get worked on simultaneously on a business?
Well, if you have a complete gap in one of those legs, right, usually people have a little bit done in each of them? Well, I think business development is one of the most critical pieces, people don’t think actively. And when something like Coronavirus hits right, all of a sudden people are facing giant problems that they never ever thought. So if you’re not prepared, operationally, you can’t get through that you have to be able to pivot. So that’s why understanding your core offering in your profit margins, and everything is really critical. So I would say even if you want to do this back in the envelope, first of all, there’s lots of planning programs online. So you can go on and do retirement calculators and all sorts of things, you know, any other financial platforms like Vanguard and Fidelity will have platforms, so you can figure out how much is enough. So that’s one thing we do. But then we work backwards to them, look at the business and say, well, how is the business going to support this number, and the numbers to retire are really scary, and we call it going to work because you want to not because you have to. So no entrepreneur I know wants to check out at 65, right, or 60, they may get tired of their business and start another one. But you know, again, they’re always creators. So what I do is I tell people, let’s think about the number that you need. So you can go to work when you want to not because you have to. And so that number becomes your goal. And then we work backwards into the business to think about how big the business needs to be to support that. So whether it’s cash flow that you take out each year, and you squirrel away in a defined benefit, or uni K or 401k, we can run those, you can run those numbers yourself, it’s a little more complicated than that. But then you have to think about all the expenses that are coming up in the future, we put fake bar mitzvahs in, we put future weddings, we ask people how they feel about paying for masters and wasco for their kids. And then those numbers become astronomical. So if you have three kids times, four years of college alone, talking about, you know, almost a million bucks. And then when you add on grad school with future inflation that gets scary. So then you work backwards in terms of one easy way to do it. I think about it like a squirrel, a squirrel likes little, little places where their nuts are. And they’re in various places. So if a storm comes where the tree falls down, we’ve got nuts somewhere else. And so you want to think about your savings and your cash flow. One of the other mistakes people make is they don’t pay their taxes. Nobody sets up a structure on the financial side. Most CPAs are historians, they look backwards, they take the numbers you already did. And they massage it into what they have to fit in. Very few CPAs are visionary. And their skeptics are trained to be skeptics. So a lot of times they think our numbers are, you know, pie in the sky. But you want to have somebody that you work with that does future projections. And then every time a check hits, you want to break it up. And you know, one of the coaches we use is a profit first formula. So she makes sure that you pay yourself a lot of entrepreneurs to leave themselves to the end, just assume they’ll be profitable at the end. And that’s not always true, especially when we hit a major road dump, like COVID-19. So you want to make sure you’re doing a little squirrel, put away the tax money every month, every pay every time you paid, put away the tax money onto the tax bucket, put away a rainy day fund. And then pay yourself and make sure you’re paying yourself. And then you have a business re re investment fund. So if you do get an opportunity, let’s say your product company and want to scoop in and buy some cayenne, 95 masks right now really cheap, and be able to sell them to your network, you have the money to do that if you see an opportunity where somebody else is going out of business, you have the opportunity to buy them. And so and that’s one of the other things you also want to keep your credit score really good. If your credit scores gotten damaged. We have lots of credit fixtures, so feel free to reach out to me. But getting your credit in place. People don’t think enough about the rainy day. And speed bumps always happen. And if you don’t have capital, you can lose everything you work for. And nobody wants to deal with pity. All of your best friends will run for the hills because anybody with money has already gotten hit up 15 times. So you’re not going to get a banker to lend you money. You’re not going to an SBA loan, you’re not going to get your credit damaged and in need, so you always have to plan for those bad times and get a line of credit in before you need it. If you right now, rates are very, very cheap, they are going to go up, I don’t know when. But refinance your house, lock it in, get a fixed mortgage, even if it’s higher than your monthly, and you’ve just got to find a way to build that in. And then if your home has a lot of equity in it and your business is hurting right now, do a cash out refi. So take a little bit of money, put it on the side. So you’re taking some of the equity out, and you are going to pay for it. And so you have to work the numbers out to make sure it makes sense. But we have one entrepreneur that came to me for a $300,000 hard money loan, and he was doing 19 million in revenue. So he needs my help because he shouldn’t be doing 80 million, he needs a 300,000 hard money loan. And so he had a million dollar home about 500 and equity. So I suggest any cash out 150 put that money in the bank to be able to support the cash flow because his business completely went sideways with Coronavirus. So the access to capital is the golden rule. You don’t have money, you’re up the creek and your back is against the wall and you’ll be forced into a horrible situation.
Wow. Well, there’s a ton of really good advice right there. And anyone who is needs to improvise or pivot or plan during this current pandemic, whenever you’re listening to this or watching this. Certainly, Kathy, I know you know somebody, or connect with somebody who can help them. Because Oh, that’s awesome. Now, I want to ask everybody who’s on the show about systems? So is there a system that you set up with your clients or a system you use personally that has helped you in life or business that you can share with our audience?
Yes, I think one of the biggest things that people don’t think about when I speak, one of my speeches is how to meet 1000 people at lunch, maximize your network for success. So it’s a networking speech, right. And I will ask people to raise their hands, how many of you use a CRM contact management system, and you won’t believe how few people raise their hand, and then I will shutter and I’ll say how many of you using Excel, a bunch of them raise their hand, I have no idea how to keep checking your context. In Excel spreadsheets. So I think a good contact management system is a good one, and be able to have codes. That’s what I tell people to and I show them how to do this when on their network. So we have our lawyers coded as L, our accountants, as business owners as B, then we have women and the people that we send holiday cards to. We have code so I could pull up a list of women owned businesses in Westchester County in a nanosecond, because we can search it. And so somebody came to me for a small CPA the other day who works with not for profits, a lot of CPAs, won’t you have not for profit experience, and they need them from the incorporation up? So if I’m just thinking about it, I have 10,000 people on LinkedIn, how do I find it one of my CPAs, I can go through my phone, like that’s helpful. That’ll take forever. So this is the easy way to do it. I go in, I put in the zip codes, and I put in the code for CPAs. And up comes my little list. So I think any business no matter who you are using the contact management system, and they’ve gotten very sophisticated, you don’t have to pay for Salesforce is lots and lots of choices, making the choices difficult. There’s but there’s lots of services that are reading them. So you can go online and read them. So I would say that’s one of the most helpful systems to stay very organized, so that you don’t waste time if you’re not efficient. Everybody in the company can access it. It’s cloud based, so it’s remote. And so you know, if we have a speaker opportunity, and they tell us, okay, I have one gal that sells for me. So let’s say 2020, we decided not to book and we’re not set up for 2021 come back to us in October. So she takes them off the Excel spreadsheet, which were built for her to contact and then she puts them into the CRM with the date for her to pop up with a reminder to call them on October 5 of 2020.
Yeah, that’s a huge one. I think oftentimes people don’t invest in CMS because they don’t they’re not invested in their future. And there, moment by moment, day by day, the idea of planning for next month, next month, next year, five years from now, they just say start doing it. That’s great advice. Great system. I totally agree. Now, what is one question, Kathy, that I didn’t ask you, but I should have asked you.
So good point. I think that one of the things you want to think about is what if like some people I believe in the universe in abundance, and so some people don’t like to look at the negatives, right? But I think that you owe it to yourself that you really look at this COVID-19 is just the ultimate example of what we never ever thought we would have to face. You know, I have one company pending. Yes, food carts, food carts weren’t allowed to go out. So all of a sudden all his people that read Jamie Paying for commissary, right? And so boom and then the effects so I think you really owe it to yourself to to take your rose colored glasses off and think about what could go wrong, it doesn’t mean you’re going to bring it into your life but I think you need to just put it out there because things do happen and the sooner you address them and plan for them the contingency plan the better off you’ll be.
That’s great advice. So plan for the what ifs and part of that would be to have some cash on hand, some capital and have a network of people that you mentioned right and those are essential ones. Well great. Well Kathy, where can people find out more about you, and if they need some of your help, where would they go?
Thanks, shapinghill.com is my website. That’s easy. firstname.lastname@example.org is my email. I have a Facebook that’s private, but we have a Shaping Hill Facebook page, LinkedIn, easy to find me there. I’m on Twitter and Instagram as well as cheap and help.
Okay, Kathy, thank you very much. And anyone if you are interested in retiring or you’re stuck in your business, or really you just need some advice, Kathy is wealth advice, everything we talked to her, I learned something new, I get a new contact. So I would recommend going to your website Shaping Hill advisors, or shapinghill.com. And if you’re enjoying this podcast, leave us a review. There was a comment if you draw one name out of a hat each week, and we will send you a copy of the book right there behind the Work The System or you can get it for free at workthesystem.com you can download it there, the audio or the PDF version. Otherwise, stay tuned next week. We’ll be doing another live stream here on Facebook or you can catch us on iTunes or anywhere you’d like to watch podcasts, and we will see you next week.
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