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Entrepreneur Brandon C. White on Building a Successful Business: The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 51

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What does it take to build a business plan that stands the test of time? On this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, entrepreneur Brandon C. White shares the key to building a successful, profitable business.

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Brandon is the CEO of a software company in Silicon Valley, but he also has a master’s degree in psychology. After completing his post-graduate studies at Stanford, he switched his focus from behavioral sciences and economics to business management. But those skills proved necessary—and even essential—as an entrepreneur. 

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While creating his own business, Brandon discovered that without a business plan to account for the financial aspect of running a business, your company doesn’t have a chance to survive. Success is something all entrepreneurs fight for. But even though so many start the journey with the pure intention of helping others, few achieve success.

Among other things, Brandon and Steve discussed:

  • Brandon’s insider experience working at AOL
  • The bison analogy—and how it applies to business owners like you
  • The difference between entrepreneurs who achieve success and those who don’t
  • Brandon’s 13-step framework to build your business plan


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You can learn more about Brandon here:
brandoncwhite.com
Listen to Brandon’s podcast: Build a Business Success Secrets


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Topics: Marketing, Podcasts

Brandon C. White: 

Because once you know that, you just pour, like, you're not guessing anymore. Now, there still may be a portion of your marketing that you can't measure. Because you're trying to build your brand and you're doing awareness, right? And it's sort of like, Oh, did I have an ROI from that or not. But once you understand that, you just pour money on it. So having your act together, in that way, is what it means to me. But to get there, there's a ton of other things in marketing, like, people seem to forget that a lot of marketing is understanding what your brand is, what your message is, and what is the one thing that you do? Not five, right, but one thing? And then how are you going to build an experience around that, that invokes emotion, not functions and features, but emotion, so that you can get new prospects hooked? And it's also so and then along with that, if you don't have that, then you can't write your copy.

Steve Brown: 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI online podcast where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown. And this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Brandon white, welcome to the ROI online podcast.

Brandon C. White: 

Thanks for having me, Steve. I can't believe I'm talking to the guy who is the author of the Golden toilet.

Steve Brown: 

Say that three times without having a big smile. I'm I, I'm just really, I was excited about this conversation. But here's what I want to start. The other day, I got this email from someone@aol.com. And I just giggled. But then when I was there is a backstory to what's going on with AOL and why that's still so smart. And when I was talking to you, I got more of the inside story.

Brandon C. White: 

Yeah, I mean, I think I don't know if it ages me or not. But I did. I worked at AOL in the early at what is considered now the early days, which was really the second generation I worked in marketing analysis, which was, I think his argument could be made probably one of the, if not the first big data division marketing analysis places of any giant internet company. I think we were worth 200 billion at the time. But it was an it was an incredible time. But the AOL thing, yes. So a friend of mine, Isaac Turk, and I predicted that AOL would even when it when dial up disappeared, would have two or 3 million subs. And, you know, people always joked about that, like, Oh, well, two or 3 million subs and two or 3 million back then was a lot. I think at that when I was there, we had 32 or 33 million subscribers, which isn't even a lot in today's day and age when you consider how many people are doing Google searches and things like that daily. But obviously, back in early 2000s, there weren't as many people on the internet. But the crazy part about that whole model was was that we were at the time. And I mentioned this to you there's a there was a string on Korra where some guy was going off on AOL and how much it sucked in this, that and the other and I was like, I find this incredibly interesting because while your opinion may be true, let me give you some insight which I'm not blowing up anything because this was when it God I worked there 18 years ago, or 15 years ago feels like forever ago, um, but just a minute ago, is our cost basis on a dial up subscriber was like $7 and 82 cents or something, I forget what I put there and quite used to have mine quicker, but so you were paying 2195 and our cost basis was 752. Last I checked, that probably could be considered a money printing machine. And that didn't include the premium services that we sold on top of it for about 395 like products like antivirus and call waiting sounds weird. But when you have dial up we actually had a US call away with your number right Steve? Um, and we were our margins on there. Were Were 30 30% or more. So it and we had generally back then not really high churn rates in general, because we were one of the main providers until the net zeros and type people like that came. But AOL in many ways, Steve was, was very misunderstood. And in my opinion, having worked there and been lucky enough to really understand numbers and model millions of imprint and the hundreds of millions of impressions that you're making and figuring out what ads work and what don't. But AOL also Steve owned an incredible amount of other properties that people didn't know, right, we owned Netscape, we built a low cost ISP to compete with net zero at a lower price point, without compromising our brand. We own just there were the quarterly, always been trouble saying that quarterly keyboard number when we had a type and do that, we own the patent. It was like seven people who worked in Seattle that was basically printing cash. And when the Time Warner going off, I feel like I'm protecting AOL. But it's just so misunderstood. And it's so funny to me, because I actually got to see the numbers. And people would say, well, the AOL Time Warner thing was a bust. Well, that depends. If you're an AOL shareholder, you might say, Well, that was true, because AOL was throwing off like $2 billion a year in free cash flow. And in time owners best business. I could be exaggerating. I'm going a little bit on memory. But I think their best business was potentially cnn throwing off $50 million of free cash flow year. So if you do the math, and Time Warner had $19 billion dollars, if my memory serves me right in debt. I think AOL was paying off the debt for the Time Warner shareholders. So I'm completely biased because I was an AOL guy and had AOL stock and all that. But there's people who still have AOL To this day, and my dad still has an AOL address.

Steve Brown: 

Well, it's crazy to think 3 million accounts.

Brandon C. White: 

I think, like I have not checked the the, I think at&t owns them now. But I'm not checked what they are, I would bet you, if I look, they they at least have a million and a half subs. That would be my bet.

Steve Brown: 

times $17 a sub?

Brandon C. White: 

Yeah. I mean, there's still printing money. That's

Steve Brown: 

think what at&t had to pay for that.

Brandon C. White: 

Yeah, I mean, I, I don't I didn't pay attention as much like an after I left AOL, I would pay attention more, because you just, it's like your family. I mean, we were really a family there. And at the time, we, you know, for an internet company, we weren't as big as the Googles and the Facebook's of of today, we had 5000 5000 professionals that worked, I believe, or there abouts, maybe 4000 professionals that work on the Dulles Virginia campus. And you know, that campus is long gone. I think Raytheon is in it. Now. Actually, I went to a Raytheon meeting in cc five that I used to work in, which was sort of a crazy. I sort of made you feel old. I'm not that old. But it makes you feel old when that happens. So it was a it was a great time. But yeah, I mean, even a little business that has a million subs that is highly profitable. Like what's wrong with

Steve Brown: 

that? Really? I mean, that's what everyone striving for. And here, here we giggle about AOL. But we would die to have, oh, that business go. I

Brandon C. White: 

own that business all day long. And I think also people in cities, especially the coasts, and unless you've driven across the United States, I mean, you live in Texas, Steve, right. So there's a there's a lot of area, if my memory serves me right, when I came across Texas that's open, is that there's these flyover Middle States that exist, that actually people in American live in, who don't have fiber at the curb, who don't have cell coverage everywhere, because it's all driven by economics. If a company can't make money, they're not going to put up a tower and drop fiber. So dial up is potentially the only option still. Well, so you know, you can if you want to build a business in many ways, looking at the at the middle stage is a great place to look.

Steve Brown: 

Totally. So you, you say you're have you're a psychologist and an analyst.

Brandon C. White: 

I I don't I don't know what to call me. It depends. And you probably talked to my wife this morning from our debate last night, but the I'm really just an entrepreneur, the I do have a master's in psychology. I do have an MBA, I did some work. It's postgraduate work at Stanford, and I'm a certified tiny habits coach from BJ Fogg, who's at the, who is an incredible guy to learn from at Stanford's persuasive computing lab. The. But, you know, I think, I think, Steve, admittedly, I call myself what I need to be at the moment to be in the conversation.

Steve Brown: 

Well, I, you explained it the other day, and I thought that was really cool how you said you like you take this data, but you apply it to where it connects with the human, the human application in some way that you can exploit it. And I thought that was really cool.

Brandon C. White: 

Yeah, and I say, leverage it. The, you know, I'm a guy who spent type of guy who spent three hours last night reading psychology journals that are backed up, by science by numbers, I don't call it science, but by numbers, and I think I'm at the core, I'm a guy who says, if you're going to run a business, you've got to do your financials. Like, first, I mean, besides the fact that, as you know, I advocate, if you don't have a business plan, you're just, you're just wasting in the wind. And, and that's really been the core of my message. But at the, at the core of that is, you've got to run your numbers, and, and especially like ROI online, that's exactly what you've got to do, you've got to understand if you're gonna throw. And you and I have talked about this, we talked about this a little bit with agencies out there that have sort of ruined the market, which I'm happy to talk about, but I'm putting your money into marketing and sales or just into the business. That there is math behind it. Now, you talk to my brother, he'll tell you, like, he always say, stop burning all your stupid spreadsheets, like it's just theory. It at some level may be just theory, but it does tell you what's possible. And if, if that's a negative number at the bottom, then I'm going to really investigate the what, what's going on there. The numbers, the psychology, how people react and things like that, I think a really connected with me when someone said, Look,

Steve Brown: 

when I look at numbers, I glaze a little bit. It's, I'm in the creative side, but someone said, Look, these numbers are here to help you communicate a very clear story. And that's what it made more sense to me. Instead of like barky, look at that number, then just what was it last time? And do I do a percentage or do I subtract and we do that. But when I saw Oh, use this to build something that tells a very persuasive story.

Brandon C. White: 

And measure, in my opinion, what story you're telling resonates. And not just have an opinion about it. Because the numbers are not always easy to aggregate or congregate in and get through. But they do tell a story.

Steve Brown: 

So Brandon see white, he calls himself a bison. Who knows his business plans. What's a bicep?

Brandon C. White: 

Well, I I like to write these little parables, right? I found that if I tell you all the stats and figures. They're interesting. But if there's not a story behind it, and I know you're a big story, and your agency is all behind that. So I'm preaching to the choir here, but you've got to tell messages and stories. And there was a story that I read along and I save all these stories. I've got all these things saved in in my in my bookshelves and but there's a story about the difference between a bison and a cow in the Colorado plains and the Colorado plains, as you know are divided by the Rocky Mountains, almost equally there abouts. But it's one of the only places on earth where bison and cows roam together. And the storms generally come west to east. And what happens is, is when the storm starts to come over the range, the cow starts running east. And what happens is, is they believe they're running away from it. But what cows are really slow. And in general, most people really slow it as it as it relates to natural disasters wind, like here today and halfmoon Bay we have 40 mile an hour winds like doesn't matter how fast I can run or even how fast I could ride my bike. I'm not going to out, paste this windstorm that we have. So a cow will start running east. And the problem is, is that cow finds him or herself in that storm for an extraordinarily long time, because they're prolonging their, their period in it. And interesting enough for the animal kingdom, the bison actually starts running right into it as fast as they can. And that limits their exposure to that painful experience where the cow is just having do it. So are the cows just enduring it for a terrible amount of time being worn down tired, and and still in it, or the bison arguably has less exposure? So I always say, hey, look, you got to run out this thing. Run it things that you're avoiding. And look, I'm not, I'm not perfect, Steve. I don't procrastination and avoidance are human nature. But I always remind myself of that story. And I use that story. When I talk to other people, my wife had a customer this morning, who was just being a pain in the ass, quite frankly, you can beat that out. But the Ha. And she's like, I'm gonna be the bison this morning. She's a I'm just gonna run right at it. And the truth is, is when you do that, it's not that it's not painful, but it was actually less painful than she thought. And she didn't spend the day with a story in her head, which is what happens she did this, I'm using my life example. Because she, she actually really put into practice what I preach in that sense. And it's a testament because my wife is a very independently very independent ladies were like that. you'd mentioned her dogs. I say I live with three jack Russells, um, but my wife is it. She's incredibly successful, and independent. And if she adopts something, it means that you know, she really believes it. So she did the same thing the other day. And what it avoided was was that we talked about something, and we were making up all these crazy stories, why the person was doing it. And the problem is, is that that snowballs, and then, and then you're into this story that the person even, it's not even the person's story, you made up the story, and now you believe it. And now you react accordingly. which creates this sometimes bad dynamic between you and that person. So I say be the bison and how it applies to business plans, is in my experience, people avoid business plans. Yeah. And they avoid them for generally a few reasons. One is they don't believe they have the time to is they're not sure what goes in it. And three is they don't know how to do the financials. And it will be painful. But if you have it, you have the map. And at least you have something so therein lies the the parable of the bison.

Steve Brown: 

I love that. You're right. I got a scholarship from Goldman Sachs to go to this program for businesses that are preparing to scale. And it was they send you off to Babson not for the semester, but it was a semester long workshop with two one week appearances at Babson the essence of it was you left with a business plan, among other things, but it was hugely empowering to have a lot of clarity. And you knew where if you stepped on the accelerator, what it was going to impact down, down the road apiece. But they had to, like drag me through this thing for semester to get it done it. But I really grew from that.

Brandon C. White: 

Yeah, I think when you say that it reminds me of a big road bike for and you in general ride carbon bikes because and you ride carbon components, because there's not a lot of give in that carbon and every pedal stroke that you make all the power from because you're effectively transferring your power to this bike to propel yourself forward. All of that power that you transfer goes to pushing you forward. It just it pushes you forward. Now, if you ride a steel bike, for instance, which there's all types of all reasons You would want to ride a steel bike it, it's more comfortable in general is you can ride longer in general. But it can also be more painful. Because the time it takes you in a steel bike, every crank that you turn, not, you're losing a ton of power. And I'm exaggerating a little bit because there'd be some bikers out there who wanted to be with me all this crap. But the fact of the matter is that steel bikes give and bend. And that's why they're more comfortable. So when you push that pedal, you lose energy that's twisting the frame and not pushing you forward. And that's effectively what happens here. Right is, is, you realize what you just said there is, is that when you do get the plan, you realize for every crank, you take that now it's how much and all that energy is actually going to push and propel your business forward, versus losing a bunch of energy because you don't have this, this plan. And now you're going to waver I'm not saying that you might not find your way, you know, maybe you will. But in general, you know, when I go and ride 75 miles, all those little pieces, all those little advantages add up over those 75 miles, if I can stay in my drops longer if I can't avoid the wind, if every pedal stroke adds just a little bit of power, that's a lot less power that I have to do at mile 71. I'm five miles from home, and thinking to myself, I'm done.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah. So you've had a couple of successful exits, that I think has impact in your, your business that you have now that you help people build out business plans or build a business, tell us a little bit, give us some background on what impacted you from what you learned and why you do what you do. Now.

Brandon C. White: 

If I could offer your listeners any advice, it's that when you get that success, which everybody listening here can have. That is true. When you get the exit, it makes you realize that it's real. So what I did when it before I had my my first exit is I and it's hard and you know, this right? Is every day, I just be like I'm gonna, I'm going to do the very best I can today good, bad or equal today. And I believe inherently, that something good will come as long as I'm making progress. And and it's this belief that you have to what I tell my my quote, right, like getting a quote super hard in your life. But the one that I've, I think it came up with is an entrepreneur has to believe they can do which that which they're not sure they can do. And if you don't inherently understand that thing, then you you're not, I don't want to know if you're not ready. But it's going to be tough for you. It's sort of like being married. And I get that I think if you've been together with someone 20 plus years, you're probably going to be considered an expert. So it's sort of like telling your wife that you can't stand her, but you absolutely love her all at the same time. Right because of some some crazy thing that you are, you may have gotten to something. So unless you can understand that you don't understand, in many ways what really true love, I don't want to say you don't have true love. I'll just say that. It's endurance to get you through and as an entrepreneur, you just have to, in those ultimate moments of doubt, believe that success could come tomorrow. And what that exit does for you is it says you are right. In the meantime, if you don't have that exit, I think surrounding yourself with stories from people that have always kept that that inspiration, that belief that that knowing that there was somebody who had nothing and built it into something and I think that keeps you inspired but for me I think what it did was it just I mean and it it made that belief Steve for me so much stronger. Like even today in the businesses that I have. I'm just like something good will come and you know people will work for me like oh Brandon, this is not looking good. Keep moving forward today. Something good will come

Steve Brown: 

of that. Want to pause here just for a moment and talk to you about a program that we have just released called the ROI quickstart Academy for authors every day, I talk to business owners just like you who struggle with quickly getting their fundamentals in place. We want to create a great foundation and we want to grow our business. But the things that are in our way, our lack of knowledge about the specifics, we should put in place, what kind of technology what kind of messaging and what kind of campaigns and that problem exists for authors as well, we just chill so good with authors because, well, I'm an author, and I understand everything that you struggle with, you have a great idea, you have a great book, but what do you want to do, you want to get your book in front of more people, you want to make it easy for them to find you learn how they can schedule a time to talk with you hire you for a conference, or maybe sign up for the services that your book promotes. So what is the Quickstart Academy for authors? Imagine working with a small group of like minded authors, and the experts from the ROI quickstart team, it's a great way to get your message in clear to be confident with the technology in your marketing automation, and how to run a strategic campaign to get you more of what you want from the investment of your book. To learn more about the Quickstart Academy for authors, you can visit ROI online.com or click in the link in the show notes below. And now, back to this episode. I love that as it I think the light bulb went off for me, I read this book called Built to Sell CLL. And I'm not coming up with his name, the author of it. But what I realized was that I should be designing a business that can thrive without meaning to be driving, pushing, pedaling. And when you start to look at your business a particular way, then you start to build out systems that can accomplish that because you need to be thinking, an exit what I want something to show for all this work later down the line. And that started to make a lot of sense to me. And I think that helped me go from I don't know, it just helped me start to see better. The things I needed to be doing today, even when I doubt when you like or I don't know if we're going to make it to tomorrow.

Brandon C. White: 

I think you hit on a key point. And that key point is to me that entrepreneurs have a lot of great ideas. They have incredible passion, energy, drive belief. But you need to write down what you do in a system. And picking out that point that you made because there will be no way it will be hard, I will say No way, it will be hard to scale your business without writing down your system. And you have got to make, I'm going to point out an example you in my opinion, you need to make the first 15 or 20 sales yourself. And entrepreneurs will want to hire a VP of sales. And I made this mistake. And I paid a lot of money. Not only in time in my own personal entrepreneur experience with businesses but also in formal education. To know not make this mistake, but I made it because you want to humans want to romanticize things. And you shouldn't hire a VP of sales. I'm using that as an example. Until you have documented the process because in that case, they are extremely good at scaling when they know your process. But they are not the discovery people and you will waste your money. But having said that, it doesn't mean that you don't hire someone who is in your blind spot or your weakness who can take your brilliance in sales and write it down. Because that may be the person that you need to hire. But you do have to have these systems because if you don't have the systems, then everybody's making it up and doing the best they can. But that doesn't lead in my experience to a good place.

Steve Brown: 

Your experience you've worked with investors and you've worked with people but Where does marketing mastering really getting your act together? And the marketing side of all of this? Where do you see as like, people finally get it handled or start to address it or understand the value of it. And then how, what's the exponential impact of having your act together, they're offered you in that exit.

Brandon C. White: 

So I'm going to interpret it, you can tell me, if it's where you'd like me to go is, having your act together, is understanding your customer acquisition cost, your ARPU and your contribution margins, and whatever, and your p&l, quite frankly, because that all that falls through the p&l, so having your act together gather and marketing is understanding your customer acquisition cost because and ARPU for those who don't average revenue per user, and your and your margins, contribution margin, which is how much you make on that marketing without your GMA general administrative costs come into it. Because once you know that, you just pour, like, you're not guessing anymore. Now, there still may be a portion of your marketing that you can't measure, because you're trying to build your brand. And you're doing awareness, right? And it's sort of like, Oh, did I have an ROI from that or not. But once you understand that, you just pour money on it. Um, so having your act together, in that way, is what it means to me. But to get there, there's a ton of other things in marketing, like, people seem to forget that a lot of marketing is understanding what your brand is, what your message is, and what is the one thing that you do? Not five, right, but one thing? And then how are you going to build an experience around that, that invokes emotion, not functions and features, but emotion, so that you can get new prospects hooked. And it's also so and then along with that, if you don't have that, then you can't write your copy. And in writing copy, I'm unfolding this this thing to me, so that people don't think, Oh, I have my numbers. Well, in order to get your numbers, you got to write your copy. In order to write your copy. You have to align your whole ads like, and people would call me. I'm not a perfectionist, but I'm I, I want excellence I want I mean, if you said, Hey, Brandon, who are you? Like, what is your thing, I compete against myself every day, I love to compete. So I'm trying to be the best at this. So what I mean is, is that, let's say Facebook ads, and you're gonna have your Facebook ad, you've got to design your headline, you've got to design your copy, you have to have that copy a line with your landing page. It can't, it can't be wrong, right? It and there's some funnel people out there that will who do know their numbers, who will say that anything over 60% is really, really good conversion. Well, in order to get 60 plus percent, you kind of have everything aligned. And I would argue that you really want to be aiming for more, which is hard. But that's when you know you, you have your marketing message. Right. So I think there's all these things that have to be in it. And then you have to see what your customer pipeline is and how long it's going to take for you to get to a sale. But it's having your act together in summary is really understanding your metrics. Because once you understand that you do understand your business, you understand your marketing messages, right? You understand who your target audience is, because if you weren't tapping them, then you wouldn't get the metrics. So I think all these things built on my one friend said, is like one of the most important things in business is sales and marketing. Like the reason we have a business because we have customers, the only reason we have customers is because we've reached out to the customer and delivered them or solving a problem for them, that they'll pay us money for.

Steve Brown: 

You know, I find the stat that blew me away was 98% of the businesses in the us when we say business, we envision these big companies with thousands of employees, but 98% of the businesses out there have 20 or less employees. And so that means that the poor person running that company isn't wearing all the hats. And my experience is like they get a good service. They get a good product, good employees, good customers, and then they go I now I need to get my marketing and sales down. So I can prepare to scale. But it's like very elusive. And there's all these things, but I loved how you tied in the of the numbers to the marketing, and I get asked that question a lot because the naval agencies ROI online. Okay, but but think of Steve, how are we going to know that this pays off? And I? Well, the way I look at it is, what's the lifetime value of a new customer to you? And, you know, how many are you getting? And what's the cost of acquisition to that? This is what's going to help you speed that up. So I just look at what, how many new customers do we need to figure out? That's coming on board to help justify really attacking this scary, nebulous area that most of them are. There, they're just frustrated with this part of the business.

Brandon C. White: 

And I think yeah, I think it comes back to, to the numbers is, you know, frustration happens when your expectation as Mitch mismatched with what you're experiencing, but what you're experiencing, maybe a story that, that you just didn't edit yet, for lack of a better way to put it right, like, and you've got to, you've got to get those numbers and understand them. And more often than not, at least that I've found that when we walk people through that, or I walk people through that. They're like, Oh, my God, I never knew that. I'm like, Oh, my God, thank God, you found out today, because you just would have wasted another 10s of you know, people, you know that people come to you. People waste 10s of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because they, you know, I don't know how many people come to use it. But they always tell me, I got it in my head, Brandon. All right, well, if you got in your head, can you write it down for me real quick, and put it in the spreadsheet, and then send it back to me?

Steve Brown: 

What kind of tool they use to help them build out this just business plan that helps them get clarity on what's going on in their business?

Brandon C. White: 

Well, I I, through a lot of failure. And having been a venture capitalist, having seen a lot of pitches and and doing some angel investing, came up with 13 slides to build your business plan and a formula. To do that, that, frankly, I just used myself. Um, and I did it so that I could vet ideas, and that businesses really quickly and I came up with these 13. Everyone, as an aside, people like oh, well, 13, unlucky, actually wrote a whole article like 13 colonies, 13 stars, there's like 13 arrows on the dollar bill, it's actually quite lucky if at least, you and I are here in America, which, in my opinion, is greatest country in the world. So 1313 pretty lucky. But what I did to come up with that was a lot of trial and error. And also looking at the experts. So I took Sequoia Capital, who is arguably the preeminent venture capital firm in the world, there are many, there are a few others that are up there right with Him. But let's just agree they're in the top and they have a formula that they say when you pitch them. And then there's Andreessen and then there's some famous entrepreneurs out there like Peter teal, who's the founder of PayPal, first investor in Facebook, go down there, go down online, who have all taught these and then my professors at UNC Chapel Hill who say, Hey, if you're going to build a business plan, here it is I took all those. And in my geeky analysis way, I laid them all out, Steve. And then I said, Okay. How does this work based on my experience, that I've, in the experience, meaning out of the God knows how many times I've pitched or heard pitches, which ones worked like and float, and I built 13 slides and they, they're theirs. It looks super simple. It unfortunately took me 15 years to build. But it works and I know it works because people who I've taught have, who listened and follow the 13 slides. I have one student Steve, she she making dog beds. credible lady had never raised money before ever, had never even written a business plan. Follow the 13 steps. We went to a three day conference where they had investors On her first pitch, he got an investor. I'm not just for the FTC out there claiming that that is always possible. All I'm saying is, is it's happened more often than not, and it's happened with me. And just like, I think you've come up with Steve, for your agency is a story framework, I've come up with a story framework for a business plan that people don't, it's a new way of looking at a business plan. And that new way leads a person down a journey, that I don't want to say it's impossible to get to know. But it makes sense. And here's the deal. If you have a business, and you get to the 13th, the number 13 slide, and it doesn't make sense, then you got to go back and edit your business. Right? If you get to the march sales and marketing slide, and you can't put anything down for sales and marketing probably means you probably should call you up higher ROI online, to get their sales and marketing done. Right. So

Steve Brown: 

this framework that you've designed that the 13 slides, I watch Shark Tank, and I just cringe. I think of myself in that position, how would I answer that? Where would I get the information that those guys are coming at you? Pretty hard. But does it give you the data where you could clearly communicate better and an advantage in a situation like that? Obviously, in the example you gave, it's a yes. But in the shark tank?

Brandon C. White: 

Yeah, it actually. So I used to teach for daymond, john, and Robert helzer check of shark tank. And that's why they at the time came up with their programs was that they see all these pitches. And it doesn't always work. As as you see on Shark Tank. So mice, this this system gives you're prepared. I mean, to your point, it's like you, you know the story. And it's not that someone might not, it's not that you might not, might not be able to answer all the questions with a definitive answer. But you know what the questions are? And most of if you know what the question is, and you know what it means. And you say you don't know, because then the investor or that person, whoever that you're pitching, whether that's a for a big sales accountant, whatever, will respect you and understand that versus getting caught off guard, because getting caught off guard, as we see on Shark Tank, it, you have the best product in the world. But if you don't know what that question means, are you and then you're talking around it. What entrepreneurs don't realize is that at that time, it doesn't be it's not a test on Do you know the answer? It's a test on Do you understand how to run a business? And then you don't get that right. And the sharks basically are like, Oh, if I make this investment in this person, I'm going to either have to teach this person or they're just not aware. So I think there's, it's peeling the onion back, you know, at first glance, you're like, Oh, they got caught off guard. And they just didn't know the answer. Well, they really, there's a there's another question that they just answered at me putting my investor hat on saying this is probably a red flag, right? as an investor, you're not looking for reasons to invest. If you believe it's a good business, you're looking for reasons not to. Well,

Steve Brown: 

that do you think I always struggle with? I want to start a business. So do a business plan NASCAR, these forecasting, and things that you just, I felt I was guessing I didn't really know the answers, but I'm supposed to put some data down here. But I found it empowering. Being in the middle of a business. I was able to answer have more context around what my answers would be and why I wouldn't want to go to the future, even though I'm still not knowing when's the best time to do a business plan.

Brandon C. White: 

So the way that I, the way that I see it is you got to do a business plan early in your process. And I would start with a one page business plan as soon as I had the idea. And here's why. I wouldn't leave the house without Google Maps or Apple Maps. And I would want I want even when I go to we call it over the hill, I go to San Mateo from halfmoon Bay, which is a About nine or 10 miles not that far. But I use the map, Google Maps, because Google Maps tells me what the traffic is. And they tell me a way around it, even though I believe I know how to get to Costco. And I think what happens is in that business plan, and I agree with you, in fact, my brother would totally agree with you and why he called me a total geek is stop building numbers. We don't know the numbers yet. But we do know the numbers that we need to get. And knowing what you need to answer helps you get there. Because otherwise you just don't know. And that was a I don't know if that's like a politically, maybe I've been watching too much political stuff lately. It's a politically correct answer, or politics answer. But the longest short is you should do a business plan as soon as you have it to vet the idea. And as part of that process, part of that process. In slide number two, in this formula is the problem slide. And in the problem slide, it drives you to get out and say, Hey, Steve, I've got this cool software product that that I'll use one of my common file finder, file finder, it helps you find files that you know, you have that you can't find, like, Are you interested? And you would say, Well, yeah, man, I, I can't find files that are in my email from six months ago, or remember where they are. Now, what that that business plan is starting to do is you're having to answer these questions. And do you are you solving a problem that people currently have, and it leads you through that process versus guessing? So there's a lot of debate about this? You know, there's some guys in Silicon Valley like Steve Blank, who are all about Lean, right? Forget the business plan. But but but he actually does build a business plan, but he's saying, Get out there and test your idea immediately, and figure out if it's a problem. And I think, going back to my jeet kune do idea is, I think you got to have the business plan, because the business plan lead you to get in front of those customers by saying, What's the problem? And is the problem you're solving big enough that someone would pay you and test that? So I say you got to do it right out of the gate? And I'll help you. Because otherwise, what if you? I mean, how many entrepreneurs have you met Steve that swear they have the best mousetrap known demand, and they don't test it, they just believe right? Because they want to believe they don't write the business plan. They went out and got it patented. And spent, God knows how much 30 grand and it, they're nowhere, five years later, they got a patent that just doesn't matter. Because they on the business plan that they and, and you know, in fact, it could be, it could appear to be the most unique way to build that. But no one cares.

Steve Brown: 

So what's it look like working with you? Who was like them best fit for what you do? How do they?

Brandon C. White: 

So yeah, we segment people who come to me in in really, three buckets, which is you're just starting, so you got to get a business plan. That would be the startup entrepreneur, our ideal customer is someone who has at least several hundred thousand dollars in sales, mainly because they've sort of gotten themselves through and they're beginning, I don't have to convince them, you have a book. So you know, your book, when it when your customers come to you, they believe usually a customer who has a few hundred thousand dollars $100,000 in sales believes that they have a good product, but recognize they need a business plan, because they've either wasted too much money getting there, or it's been painful. They want to scale. And then there's customers that that we do that do come to me and say, Hey, I have a $3 million business and I want to take it to seven. That's a very, very different model with a different business plan than these other two. But in general, our ideal customer has several hundred thousand dollars in sales. But if you're just starting a business, then getting this framework and having us help you without making a huge investment is generally the types of people that come to us.

Steve Brown: 

So is it one on one or is it like a course I'm taking

Brandon C. White: 

Oh, yeah, sorry. I appreciate you asking that. It actually it is an online course and then there's coaching involved that would that we offer but what I really want people to do is I want them to take the course, it's very short term, which helps you so you're not spending, you know, four weeks taking the course you if you concentrate, you can take the course in a week, I've made it as simple as possible, and at least attempt the business plan. Now, if you can't get the business plan, then I'm happy to offer some coaching along with that, which may be me or one of my coaches that our program here is that I like to have coaches that have at least 10 years experience. Most of them have taught MBA, and have done it before, and are doing this because they can make some money and they do enjoy helping people. And then the last option is, we'll do it for you. But I am not open in general, to just having someone come to approaches and say do the business plan for me, mainly, because we're not that I'm going to have to go to them, or we're one of one of my ladies or gentlemen are gonna have to go to them. And they're going to get annoyed, because they're gonna say, Why are you asking me all these questions because I don't even understand what's in the business. But I thought you were just going to build it for me, well, if I was going to do that, and I thought it was a great idea, I'm not going to take your money, I'm just going to build the business myself and go make a bunch of money like so I really want people to understand the process. And and we have a program that that basically says, Hey, if you've invested in the course and you do eventually want us to build it for you that will apply that credit for you so that you didn't lose money. I really want people in this. Frankly, candidly, it's it's not my day job. I'm actually CEO of a of a software company, here in Silicon Valley. I want success. I'm that guy like I want, I don't want you to success for me. I want people that I teach to be successful. So that I can brag about them. And I can talk about the lady Nancy, who has smart adaptive clothing, who followed the business plan, and got to pitch to home shopping network. And he's seen success, like that's my currency. And yes, we charge for it. And yes, it's a business. So we want to make money, but I want people to be successful in it. So I don't want to say that we're super picky and choosey but if someone comes to us, and it's just sort of, I'm not going to sell you the program, if you're if it's just going to be something that you shell for don't care about, and then come back and say, you know, this was not good, or you're not going to really try to make work.

Steve Brown: 

what's what's like the top confession that people tell you or that you hear after they go through this slide process?

Brandon C. White: 

Um, I thought I had it all in my head. But I didn't even realize what I didn't know. And basically, I didn't know what I didn't know. But I thought I knew it. If that makes any sense.

Steve Brown: 

Totally. And where can they find this particular course?

Brandon C. White: 

They can just reach me. They can jump into my podcast and build a business success secrets or just my website at Brandon C. White calm?

Steve Brown: 

How do they get access to your Facebook group? Oh,

Brandon C. White: 

you remember that? Yeah, so we have social media training group is a private Facebook group. And you can just Google, Brandon, our Google social media training group, Facebook, or go to Brandon c white.com. And we have it listed there.

Steve Brown: 

So what's the what's the one question that nobody ever asked you? But like you'd love to answer.

Brandon C. White: 

Wow. Gosh, the one question that no one ever asked me. But I love to answer. Wow, that is a good one. Steve. I got you might have stopped me. Um Oh. Well, I want to say no one asked me. But someone did ask me recently actually talked about it. But when people ask me how and I don't know if this gonna answer your question, but as best I can do right now having prepped for Steve. So you have to flow with this one. But the when someone asked me how I'm doing, I'm always like I'm never better. And someone actually asked me the other day, but no one ever asked me that. The question that I would say is, are you really never better? And no one ever asked me that but somebody did ask me that on a phone. Call the other day. Because I think they were our zoom call zoomed out. And they said, This guy says, He says, In firm, a bunch of people, by the way, he said, Brandon, are you really never better? Like we're in the middle of a pandemic? We've been stuck at home. Like, are you really never better? Is this just like your line? I thought about it for a minute. I said, I don't know. And by the way, she I don't know how I came up with this. But I think I came up with it because it's true. I said, Well, I live at the core. And all my peoples, my company started laughing. They're like, this guy is just open. He is, he is about to get amelanchier that he doesn't even realize what's coming. Because what Brandon, really, when Brandon says that, it's real, like he's not making it up. And I said, I'm going to leave this person's name out. I said, Yeah, I'm actually never better. And here's why. And I think that it's a little overdone in our society. But it's true. I don't know how to say it without being cliche in many ways, but you need to be grateful for what you have. And I've found that happiness, for me, at least, is wanting what I have. And I think most people don't want what they have. And I think if you can, if you can get there, then you'll find happiness. And the truth is, I do live at the core. Why? Because the sun came up, we've got another chance. I'm still alive. A lot of things can happen. Like the body is a really complicated thing. I've had three knee operations, ACL reconstructions, I can still walk, I can still ride my bike, the doctors looked at my knee eight months ago. And they were like, We don't even understand how you do what you do. Like so. And there's a lot of people who aren't lucky enough to get out of bed and walk. And you can say all Brandon sounds like a bunch of worship. But I honestly, I do. Think about that every morning. And and live at the core. I'm not suggesting that it's always easy, right? Because it's always easy to look at. Well, Steve driving a Ferrari, and I want the Ferrari well, but I do have a very nice car. And it starts and it gets me there in a good way. Like, let's just be grateful for that. And if you can live at the core, so I'm admitting that one person has asked me the question, but in general, the question is, hey, do you really live that way? And the answer is, I really do.

Steve Brown: 

Love it. You brought some really good what we call golden nuggets. To the the this is great, great interview. Your great guests, Brandon. Brandon, see why we'll help you get your business plan all squared away. He's got a great podcast. Success Secrets.

Brandon C. White: 

build a business success. Secrets.

Steve Brown: 

build a business success secrets. He's got a book coming out soon. But

Brandon C. White: 

with your help with your help,

Steve Brown: 

with my help. I love it. I just see it pays to do podcasting. Brandon, thanks so much for being an awesome guest on the ROI online podcast.

Brandon C. White: 

Hey, Steve, thanks so much, man. Enjoy your week.

Steve Brown: 

All right. And that's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI online podcast. For more be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better. Be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden toilet at surprise that golden toilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI online podcast.