We talk scaling your business over the phone with Miha!
Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to the LA Business Podcast, a forum for business owners and senior executives to share the experiences about the elements that drive their success. Your host is Robert Brill, CEO of Brillmedia.co, an Inc 500 company delivering the power of hyper-local advertising.
Robert writes for Forbes Inc and Ad trade publications, our goal is to bring you the stories about successes and failures of people who are making big things happen in marketing, entrepreneurship and management.
Robert Brill: [00:00:42] Welcome to another episode of the LA Business Podcast. Today, we have a very special conversation with Miha Matlievski. He’s a business advisor who has helped over 3,500 people succeed with his framework for freedom. He’s an entrepreneur business owner and mentor has exited at least one company in the energy sector, and.
Our conversation was really interesting. We actually met through Reddit and, he has a LinkedIn live show and a podcast. He’s also known as the fail cote, and he helps business owners figure out, how to succeed by learning from the successes and failures of others. And, Mia and I had a really great conversation with the idea that I’m gonna.
Join him on a future, LinkedIn live, which will be happening. But the conversation turned into an hour long conversation, and I learned some interesting things about scaling businesses. If you want to reach out to him, it’s [email protected]. I hope you enjoy this episode.
And what, and what do you do exactly? Like what is, I understand the content, like what’s your business?
Miha Matlievski: [00:02:08] Well, I’ll try to give you everything in a very super nutshell. So I’ve started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 18. I flanked out of high school.
Robert Brill: [00:02:21] Okay.
Miha Matlievski: [00:02:22] And by the time I, before I was 30, I had four successful businesses doing seven and eight figures and my personal network was around 15 million US. And then in 2009 because I mean Europe, so you guys had the crisis in 2008 and in Europe it came in 2009 because of serious of, you know, past mistakes. I lost everything overnight, literally from Monday to Tuesday and, I ended up being 5 million in depth personal.
Because I had all, everything as a collateral. And, so yeah, I ended up five minutes in personal debt, no option to do personal bankruptcy. And went through depression, anxiety, you name it, the darkness, the suicide attempt and so on. And finally had an aha moment in 2010, realized, you know, what I need to do?
And then I spent next three years working on my personal development business development. In 2014 I created a startup in energy efficiency, so we were helping huge corporations save on how much electricity and gas they use. I was able to use all the lessons from the past, and I scaled that start up from zero to $50 million a month in nine and a half months.
To 700 million the next year. And then, if I had my exit, it wasn’t, you know, like a public exit. It was more like a technology takeover by a competitor, a fortune 100 company, and a paid all my debts, which accumulated almost 7 million by that time with all the interests and everything when went on a huge.
Vacation came back and I was like, what do I do now? I have the freedom of time. I have the freedom of money. I can choose what to do. My first thought was, Hmm, maybe I can try all the burgers and craft beer in the world.
Robert Brill: [00:04:32] Yes.
Miha Matlievski: [00:04:33] But then that didn’t seem sustainable. And what I do now is on one hand, I have an online program where I, really help, people who are just starting the entrepreneurial journey.
And my podcast is more connected with that audience. And then on the other side, because I still love the insane scalability and, and stuff like that. I usually take like two clients a year. And I have this like one year program. It’s very high ticket. But you know, like for example, one company from Holland, we started working in January, they were averaging three to 4 million euros, which is roughly 4 to 5 million US per year in the last three years. And now this year we will be around 17. So it’s all about, you know, like going back to the basics, making sure that all the proper foundation is there. The foundation in entrepreneurs, we had a little bit also of, I call it, marriage counseling because it’s two owners and they had, you know, a bit of a different of energy between them.
So we did a little bit of that. We worked very hard on laying down all the right foundations, you know, and the processes and KPIs and benchmarkings and all of that. And then preparing the whole thing to be ready to be scaled, really on a holistical level so that we took care of that. All the processes in the company were ready for scaling.
And then, yeah, we started with that and, yeah I’m ending. The two companies that I was working with this year at the end of December. And so, yeah, next year, two or three, I don’t like to work with more than two at once because the way I do coaching is completely different. So it’s not, you know, Oh, we have one call a week.
I’m really hands on and, and, you know, they get like all inclusive and I love that. I love challenges. I love. so I couldn’t just focus on one area. But on the other hand, I’m super passionate about helping new entrepreneurs. I dunno, it just, they deal with so many inner demons and I dunno I just love, you know, when you see that you’ve taken somebody from clueless to, you know, 20, 30, 40 K a month and, you know, now they can afford what they wanted.
They can spend more time with the family. And I’m specially good when it comes to, you know exiting for the entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily need to mean you sell your company, but but exiting in a way where you can take yourself from your PR, like the way I describe it, you have the freedom of time, the freedom of money. But then those two freedoms. What we’ll give you is, there are three freedoms in my opinion. So the first one and the easiest one is freedom of money. I mean, when you don’t have it, it seems like the hardest one, but you know, later on in the intrepreneurial journey, you see that it’s the easiest. Now the second one is much harder.
It’s the freedom of time where we have to learn how to just let go. Trust that you’ve built, you know, the right foundation and, and, you know, to let go certain things. And by doing that, you, you come to the freedom of choice, where, you know, things become, you don’t have to do them. You choose to do them.
And so it’s, I mean, I know it just one word, but it’s a huge mental difference whether, you know. You can say, Oh, now I want to go, you know, sailing for next six months, and you know that everything will be okay in a company. We’ll keep growing and scaling. So yeah, those are my two, two different passions.
Robert Brill: [00:08:28] That’s interesting. I don’t have that.
Miha Matlievski: [00:08:31] Okay. Well, I mean, it depends if you even want that, you know, like, that depends at which stage you are. What are your ambitions and so on.
Robert Brill: [00:08:44] We have really great infrastructure, so now it’s up to me to like, meet new people and get more business. All of our business has really been on, my relationships, I need to scale beyond my relationships.
Miha Matlievski: [00:08:58] Yeah. I mean, I know a lot of companies have, you know, yeah, like relationship marketing, or referral. Which, which is amazing. I mean, what, what’s better than, you know, somebody referring you, but it’s not scalable because you are not in the driver’s seat.
It’s not, you know, you start the traffic and it goes through a proven funnel, system, journey, whatever you want to call it. I hate the word funnel because it’s just thrown so much around. But yeah, you need to have a system. And even for the sales often, you know, entrepreneurs. Take on the role of the salesperson, and usually they say, Oh, I’m the best.
And I mean, of course you are the best in sales in your company because you know it’s your heart and soul and all of that, but that just means that your sales process suck. And I’ve learned a lot from him. And when I help companies, I try to get them as close as possible to running like a McDonald’s restaurant.
It’s not always, I mean, you can’t always do that. I mean, you know, if you’re working with an IT company, you can’t find, you know, developers on the streets. So there are differences. But yeah, trying to get them as close to that with, you know, processes and validating them. And then it’s very important to measure things.
You have KPIs, obviously you know, all about KPIs being in marketing. But for me, even even more important thing is benchmarking. You know, what do we benchmark against? Because only benchmarking gives you the full story. And so things like that, you know. And just the whole company culture, how to structure the HR processes.
For example. You know how in marketing you have ideal client avatar. So, you know, with HR process we tried. So first we do the processes and KPIs and benchmarking. That’s kind of like the first layer. And then once we have that and we see how the flow goes in the company, I usually help them to get company structure based on that flow. So still keeping it as lean as possible and so on and based on the flow, once we have the structure, so now we can start doing what I call ideal employee, because, you know, an accountant would, you would look for different things in an account and then maybe in a salesperson, you know.
And so we do this ideal employee for each role and, you know, there, you have skills. You, have that internal knowledge base, how you get them from junior to media, for media to senior and, and so on. And at which point you want to take them in. And, it, I mean, it’s, it’s like a whole revamping of, the system.
But once you do that, and then what, then you’re gonna punch the hours and stuff like that. I mean, who wants that? I was able to walk away from, from the exit, but for example, my business partner, my co founder wasn’t, he had to sign for five years, but it was all because of his ego. Because, you know, he was always me.
I did that. I created that every information needs to go through me. And I was constantly telling him like, dude, like, you know, you’re shoveling your own grave. Because we started the company with exit in mind. You know, we weren’t going for cashflow. We were just pumping money from investors in and we were going for just insane scalability.
And, then the exit, the buyer will cover all of that opportunity. So we were in the going for monthly cashflow or things like that. So he knew from day one that we want to sell as fast as possible, but he was doing everything to be seen, you know. As you know, I’m so important and so on. And a very important thing is to let go of the ego, you know, even when, you know, yes, sometimes it didn’t feel really good, you know, not to be mentioned or something like that, you know, and praised.
But you know, at the other hand, I knew well, okay, but you know, when, when, when I sell it, I can walk away. And I was able to walk away on day one. And I’m now really enjoying that freedom of choice. And he’s not, and you know, now he calls me every two or three weeks and just bitches, you know, like, Oh, because the company that bought us is a huge energy efficiency company from Germany.
So she had to relocate and he has German bosses because, you know, that’s a huge. I mean, he’s, that, that’s a fortune 100 company. So he’s not a cultural,
Robert Brill: [00:13:40] It’s a very different type of culture.
Miha Matlievski: [00:13:42] Yeah. And I mean, he’s not, you know, like a C level of, you know, the main corporation, he’s down there in middle management, you know, because that’s just one part of their business, what we were doing.
And so, yeah, I mean, his ego got in the way and now he’s paying for it. So just, you know, when you will consider really exiting, start making an exit strategy based on very solid foundation where you can really take your, but you know, you have to do that in a transitional way. You can’t just do it overnight and then things can fall apart.
So, you know, the new CEO, you need to mentor them, coach them through the process and, and so on. So it’s, it’s very important how you. How you do that process. And, I always suggest everybody to, have, when you have the strategy you need about one year to really implement that validated, tested so that you know that you can feel secure in really letting the reigns.
And that should be done before. So all of that needs to be completed before you even start conversations. Because the moment you start conversations, you know the, document room and they come in and they started to doing the due diligence and all of that. And by that time, you must be the least important person in the content.
Otherwise you’re screwed and you are locked in. And, I mean, what’s your value proposition? So like, let’s say if I’m an agency or a consultant, like, you know, what’s your proposition to me?
Robert Brill: [00:15:22] I’ll tell you it’s because, I need, in order for that to be, for that to be interesting to you, I gotta just give you like a, like 30 seconds of framework. The framework is the largest ad agencies in the world. They have these tools and capabilities that we’re deploying called programmatic advertising data and automation. I did it for large brands like Bacardi, Toshiba, PetSmart. What are general these tools and capabilities that are generally available to the largest brand you’re familiar with?
We’re making available to small and midsize brands. So literally any company, like if you said, I want to start an advertising agency, all you have to do is partner with us. And you’ll make money on top of us and you get to sell to your clients.
Miha Matlievski: [00:16:04] So you’re like white label, white label thing. So if I don’t want to do that part and I want to offer that in, in my agency as part of my agency.
Okay. Which agencies are usually interested, in adding your portfolio of products into their mix?
Robert Brill: [00:16:28] Digital out of out-of-home television, radio creative and consultants who kind of like understand this but, and have relationships and want to do strategy work. Okay, let me do the strategy. We do the activation.
Miha Matlievski: [00:16:44] Just one, one quick story I want to share with you. I mean, I have heard this story when I was once in, in Stanford, and I went to hear a lecture and the lady was telling the story of firemen. I dunno if you’re familiar with it. So firemen, you know, during, like most of the day they spent in the firehouse, they train, they practice LA, LA, LA, LA, LA.
And then, you know, when there’s fire, they go to the fire ground. And the more time they spent in the firehouse, better, safer, quicker, everything they are on the fire ground. And then she turned around and looked at all of us and said, well, what do you use? How do you spend most of your day? Are you on the fire ground constantly chasing fires?
Or. Do you spend enough time in the firehouse and for you as the CEO, as the owner, for you, the most important part is the firehouse time because on the firehouse, fire ground, you’re just solving current situations. But, you know, eliminating them so that they don’t come back and the growth and all of that and testing and trying and innovation, all of that happens in the firehouse time.
So, you know, try to, I don’t know how much time you spend on your business now, but, you know, whatever it is, try to limit it. I see a lot of entrepreneurs, you know, they go into this into a day with the abundance of time they can spend on business, you know, like, Oh, I have my whole day to spend for business.
And then you’re super unproductive and you get caught in, you know, Facebook and this and that because Hey, you, you have the whole day. So I’m always challenging CEO’s to, you know, limit and say, okay, I just have four hours. Now I have to start thinking with the arrow, why. You look like? What are the activities that I can pull in four hours that will produce the biggest ROI and spend the rest of the time in the firehouse?
Robert Brill: [00:18:39] I mean, a lot of what I’m doing is, is creating content. Day to day and I’m answering questions on Reddit and Quora, partially as a market research thing to understand what people are, what’s happening. What people wanted from us I how to talk about it and to understand the types of questions I probably could spend more of my time devising a holistic strategy to reach agencies and consultants, and I’ll tell you, when I started my business, I had a really nice win early on. I spent probably 15 months on Twitter and I paid someone to do some like following and unfollowing stuff for me around programmatic and digital advertising. I thought it wasn’t working until one day I got a call and this person’s been a client for three years now and spent a lot of money with us.
Miha Matlievski: [00:19:26] Okay.
Robert Brill: [00:19:27] It takes a little bit of time.
Miha Matlievski: [00:19:30] I mean, any, anything in life? Consistency, consistency, consistency. And I mean, when, when I come into companies to, to coach, to coach them. Most of the time we are trimming the fat. We’re not adding, so we are constantly trying to find the 20 that brings in the 80 and then double the 20.
Robert Brill: [00:19:50] Yeah. That’s what I’m trying to like, in a less organized way. That’s what I’m trying to do.