#024 Growing a Business Your Way with Jason Blumer

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TRANSCRIPT:

Jay:
Hi, welcome to Building a Business That Lasts. My name is Jay Owen and I’m your host on a quest towards stories, tips and ideas that will help you grow a business without being stressed out, worn out and ready to quit. Each week I’ll interview other business owners who have successfully grown businesses of all types for many years. It’s my hope that these conversations will help you build a business that lasts. On this episode I interview Jason Bloomer. Jason is the Chief Innovative Officer of his firm Blumer and Associates CPAs. The firm is one of the first to move from a traditional office to a virtual environment where they serve digital marketing and design agencies. He focuses heavily on business coaching and consulting while his team meets the technical and compliance needs of the customer.

Jason also hosts two podcasts, one of which I’ve had the pleasure of being on, the ThriveCast and the Businessology Show. He speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and design agencies and his firm is a chosen niche for many of them. It’s a pleasure to have Jason on the show and I think you’ll love this conversation if you’re curious about virtual environments, learning more how to grow a team virtually, especially if you’re in the design and marketing fields. Jason has a lot of great insights that may be helpful to you. Without further ado here’s my conversation with Jason.

Hey Jason, thanks for being on the show.

Jason:
Hey T.J. I’m so excited, you were on my podcast so I’m pumped to be on your podcast. Thanks for having me man.

Jay:
Yeah, so this is really fun. It’s a kind of a switch seats. I got to be the interviewee last time and now I get to be the interviewer. And I think there’s a lot of commonality between things that we believe in life so I think it will be a great talk today.

Jason:
Yeah I can’t wait. Your questions are always really big and purposeful. That’s the kind of stuff I like to talk about.

Jay:
Cool. So I always like to start with just kind of a question for you that’s a little bit open ended and just let you tell the audience, I’ve already explained kind of what you guys do but I’d like to hear a little bit more about why you got started. What made you start Blumer CPAs to begin with then the podcast and what’s your journey look like over the years since you began?

Jason:
Yeah. Wow, yeah so a lot has changed, really I’ve always been entrepreneurial in nature and very creative, I was just in bands growing up in college. So people wonder why I went into accounting. I don’t know, my dad was an accountant. So that’s kind of why I chose that and then became a CPA and then started working in some firms about 20 years ago and just didn’t like how that service industry was done and thought I could do it better and left and went to work in a firm that my dad had started in 1997 and I started leading it in 2003. And so I guess that’s almost 15 years ago probably. So I thought I could do better. Could not do it better. But I had to go through what I call the wilderness a little bit, trying to figure it out on my own and learning I really needed a lot of help. And it really got to a point a few years ago where it actually became pretty overwhelming to try to manage all of these things, like you Jay I’m a visionary, creative guy who has the ideas. But there’s another side to that and that’s the traction component, the execution of those ideas and all that flows out of an idea. There’s so much to it and I was just being overwhelmed trying to manage all of my mini ideas with also trying to execute it and support a team.

And so I got a partner going on three years ago and probably so in the past three years and I was maturing up to that point. But in the past three years really have matured in a huge, just a huge way of letting go of my own personal agendas in a business, letting a partner have a say, letting a partner care for me in a way because I’m a visionary, my partners the integrator and we’re polar opposite. We fulfill those roles in serious ways. So I have to give myself over to let somebody else lead me so to speak and lead me in the health, the things that keep me healthy and the work paces that keep me healthy so you know so there’s just been and I’ve messed up a lot of things but I’ve done a lot of things right but adding a partner was really probably what forced me to mature as a business leader. And now she and I are really focused on caring for a team of about 11 probably going on 12 or 13 this year. So that’s kind of the journey I don’t know if that was too long or what.

Jay:
No, that’s great. That’s awesome and lots of stuff to unpack there and that I’d love to kind of hear from you. One being let’s start with the partner aspect because that’s a big change to go from being kind of the sole person in charge if you will to well as you said letting go and turning over some of those responsibilities to somebody else who maybe has different strengths than you do. First of all how did you find that partner? How did that happen? And then how have you all learned to work together in a way that is better for everybody?

Jason:
Yeah. So I think it’s important to work with somebody for as long as you can before they become a partner to really see if you fit and mold together so Julie my partner started working with me for a couple years just managing the business side of the firm, just kind of keeping things straight there, billing, the invoicing, the payroll and she was just bent to do that really well. Then I started the journey of I mean I didn’t really know why I needed a partner but I was clear and you can hear that when you talk to people around me that are close to me. They knew I needed a partner. I said I need a partner. And I described it like this. I said I need somebody to stay up worrying about things the way I do. So I really needed somebody to love this firm the way I do and it’s hard to find now. And I’ve met with a number of partners. And then you know Julie’s there the whole time and I went wait she’s the person I’m looking for. She was already working with me and loved it already just because of who she is and so you know just took her out. My family took her and her family out and I just asked her and she thought about it and then became that.

Now, and in our first year we didn’t know what we were doing. We were not prepared to be partners. Nobody walked us through that. But on our year anniversary we had Red Rocket Fuel by Mark Winners and coauthored by Gina Whitman. I mean it was just an aha moment. We went oh I see what we are and I see now why we struggle sometimes because we did, in that first year we really struggled to figure out what, alright, I’m supposed to give you something, you’re taking something and I don’t know that I’m doing these things and you don’t know what you’re doing and the Rocket Fuel defined us, it gave us titles. I’m the visionary. She’s an integrator. Then we started rolling into our roles and understanding and having a context to discuss well why are you doing that and why am I doing this, well it’s because I’m this way and you’re that way. And so it gave us the context of you know this construct of a conversation we could have and then we started moving towards operating as really healthy partners from that point forward.

Jay:
That’s really good. For a little context for folks that may be listening. The Rocket Fuel book which I’ve not actually read that one but it’s co-authored by Gina Whitman as you said who wrote a book called Traction which is one I have read recently and if you’re in the creative space a lot of times at least for me I know one of my weaknesses is structure and process and figuring out how to get through some of these things and it sounds like that book’s been really, well team books of I guess has been really helpful for you guys as it has been for me.

Jason:
Oh yeah yeah. I mean Jay I’m just like you, the structure and processes are things that I just didn’t manage, didn’t care for, didn’t realize how important they were. But there’s so much infrastructure to affirm especially and I think people really start feeling it when you get team sizes of 8 to 10, you really start hitting this growth ceiling where these visionary entrepreneurs are really starting to hit the limitations of what they can do on their own especially with a team that size because that team requires a certain amount of care. If you have that big a team it means you have clients that are feeding a revenue size in to support that kind of team so you have more clients. From 8 to 10 those growth ceilings are, those are broken through process and structure and infrastructure and you know I’m just not good at that and probably something you struggle with so it just so happened Julie my partner’s just a really innately good at that, she can’t help but be good at it.

And so I had to learn to give up parts of what I thought should be done to her because she can do it better than I and it’s really it’s been a catalyst to our growth from there.

Jay:
Yeah, I always kind of say that I was able to wing it to 10 people on a million dollars. But after that I needed something else and it was very clear talking to other business owners that seemed to be kind of a common seal in that 8 to 10 people. So if you’re out there listening and thinking, man I’m starting to approach that size or what do I do when I do approach that size I’d strongly encourage you to check out Traction and Rocket Fuel. Great books for that. And another one somebody just introduced me to, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of I think his name’s Verne Harnish and one of his books is called Scaling Up.

Jason:
Oh yeah.

Jay:
I just got that one, another podcast interviewee actually sent it to me. Really really great book, a lot of similarities with Traction in that book.

Jason:
It is. I think we actually started with Scaling Up and it seemed kind of big and more corporatey for us because we were small and then Traction is this, I mean even the founders of the entrepreneurial operating system, EOS as defined in Traction they say we’re for an entrepreneurial company you know up to a certain team size. They even say they’re for that smaller company. And so I think Traction fit more in line with us just being a small business probably so it fit better for us.

Jay:
One thing I’d love to circle back to is you had said that you really felt like you needed somebody who was you know felt like they needed to stay up thinking about things. And I think that’s one thing that a lot of folks if they’re thinking about starting a business or they’re thinking man it would just be so great for me to run my own business because then I can just do whatever I want, whenever I want. I always kind of throw a little bit of caution out there and say hey talk to some other folks who own a business because there are some struggles, one of which is not being able to turn it off. And I’m curious how you know you mentioned earlier that you know you realized early on that you had a lot to learn and you were a little overwhelmed. I’d love to kind of dig into that a little bit deeper and hear when you realize you were overwhelmed, what overwhelmed you specifically and how you’ve kind of learned to get out of that, the partner being obviously part of that.

Jason:
Yeah, probably what was overwhelming me was I have so many ideas that I would launch all those ideas. So if there was an idea I would think about it. I would launch it. I would publish it. I would put it on a blog or whatever and I would say this is a thing we’re going to do not realizing just the full list of things that had to happen afterward. I think I was just, there was a point at which I was doing things and launching things where there was no follow up to keep those things rolling.

And so after a while it becomes a house of cards, it does start falling in on you because you’re like all right you start missing things, you start looking foolish because you’re not accomplishing the things you launched and made promises to either to a team or to a marketplace or whatever it may be and maybe you launch stuff and it’s an event. Well you know the night before the event you kind of haven’t prepared as well. And so you’re staying up all night, you start to become unhealthy. And that unhealth of an entrepreneur is a key thing my partner and I talk a lot about and we actually lead other people in health related activities are huge things that are huge especially for an entrepreneur in a business that moves quickly when they’re passing a team size of 8 to 10 a focus on health becomes a big issue.

So I think I was just throwing all that to the wind and just not pulling off all the things I had promised and it just you know it crushes you because at night you’re thinking about you know 15 ideas that are not fully fleshed out or moving forward and you know they’re not. And so it just stresses you and if you don’t have anybody helping you’re bearing that in your mind night after night and it just becomes overwhelming.

Jay:
Yeah I think that’s a big deal and I think a lot of that’s not talked about enough especially the health of the entrepreneurial world. I mean I’ve heard a few people like Gary Bainertuch’s lately been talking a lot about some people that he knows that entrepreneurs that ended up in very bad situations, even ended up committing suicide.

Jason:
That’s terrible.

Jay:
I mean it’s heartbreaking because it’s the same kind of thing there’s so much internalization, there’s a lot of pressure to feel like OK I’ve got to do better than last year, I’ve got to do better than last year and not necessarily even outside pressure. I think at least for me a lot of times that’s my own personal pressure on myself. I think talking about those things is really valuable for other folks who may be listening and maybe in that boat of being overwhelmed but hey there is a way out and health I think especially, it’s easy to put it on the side burner. I mean myself last year I gained a bunch of weight because I spent a bunch of time not thinking about food and exercise like I had in the past. And I felt like I just could just put it on the side burner and I’ve realized now that put a lot more harm on me than it did help. It may have freed up a few hours here or there but in the long run it wasn’t a helpful choice.

Jason:
Oh no, no. And you know the health is the thing that just you know it goes, you just let it go because you’re trying to keep a business running so it can be hard.

Jay:
Yeah absolutely. Now one of the things I’d like to talk a little bit about is your agency is very different from a lot of CPA firms. I think in general when you think of an accountant and no offense but it seems kind of like a boring situation and it’s just not something people go oh that’s a creative space. And here you are as admittedly a creative guy in a relatively uncreative space at least for the majority of the marketplace and even in your bio it talks about a lot of coaching and consulting and you got two podcasts that you do. So how has that kind of come about and changed over the years and how have you found ways to spend the time on those things while still having a team and take care of the actual technical and compliance needs of the customer?

Jason:
Yeah so that could be a big answer so I’ll be careful how deep I go into that but probably about seven or eight years ago we started getting designers as clients and we had a brick and mortar firm at the time and we were in South Carolina or at least that’s where my partner and I are based, our teams all over the US but we would get clients in the state of Washington and it blew my mind. I’m like OK so they apparently don’t care that we’re in South Carolina. So it just made me start thinking about this industry. And of course you know you’re a creative guy you don’t really care about paper and you don’t want paper tax returns. You know you want these digitally. I thought well this could be a way to operate. So it seems that this creative space likes to do business in the way that I like to do it so we started our journey to become a virtual firm. You know we accomplished that about six years ago and then made a full focus on the creative space and it is true there are no barriers for these creative agencies, they really don’t care where their firm is located.

It’s not a thing they care much about and it’s because how they do business right. They have contractors all over the world. There’s just not a location issue for them. And so it really has just worked out that I’m creative. But also this space is, they like to do business in the way that we like to do it too. And of course I’m creative too and I love to talk through ideas. But one thing we’ve had to do is we’ve had to focus our business model in a very specific way to serve this market place and we’ve kind of taken a lot of hints from the agency space. So we have a role called a customer ally which is an experienced accountant that maybe a CPA or they just have a Master’s in taxation, a lot of experience and we assign clients to that customer ally and so it’s like an account executive or something like that and so that customer ally their job is to fulfill the contract with that creative agency, with our firm.

And other changes we’ve made to our business model is we only contract in the name of businesses so we’ve cut off ourselves to individuals. Now we do the individual taxation and planning of the owners. But we are decidedly about a company and because of that that’s allowed me to do things like coaching and consulting with companies to help them grow. And so all the things I’ve learned through growing you know a creative service based company which is what our firm is I can apply to these creative service based agencies too. So we’re a growth firm that does all the things that CPA firms do; accounting, tax, bookkeeping, payroll, pay your bills, be your controller, taxation, corporate, individual. But it’s for a business. And there are requirements, we’ve got to work with a business that wants to grow. And our model of pay is a little different too, people have to enter in to a 12 month contract. We have to draft our prices every month on you know the 1st or 15th of the month because we then pay a percentage of our revenue from the client to the customer ally, to this technical team. And so they’re fully paid based upon the happiness and service and pay from the clients, it’s being tied directly together.

And so one education issue we run into in the market space is people come to us and they say well your price is $1500 a month. Well that’s what I paid my CPA for the whole year. And so we have to educate people that they’re buying something different. They’re talking to a firm that’s not a CPA firm so to speak, that we do all the things that CPA firms do. We actually train and lead our team in a way to challenge owners to grow and it takes a lot of time you know to do that, to train our team that way and to build a team. To do that we have to educate people we’re not a CPA firm in the way that you think we are, that’s why the prices are different because you’re buying something different.

But it’s a hard, it’s a thing we’ve got to educate about. So that’s where there’s a little mismatch. And it’s just misunderstood so we just have to explain that to people who want to be a client.

Jay:
Because to some extent you’re really more of a partner or a real part of their business versus someone who just shows up and does the taxes once a year or balances the books.

Jason:
That’s right. Yeah. And so we have to explain there’s a different value for that, at least we perceive it as a different value and the prices are going to be different because the value is higher.

Jay:
It’s a similar thing for us, when we enter into marketing engagements I always tell people we can just do what you tell us to, I can come in and build you a website or design your logo or whatever but that’s not really an ideal client for us anymore, we want people that kind of say hey here’s what we’re trying to achieve. What kind of things can we put in place to do that and we’re almost coming in as like partner alongside them in the same way that you are and I really believe in that model.

Jason:
Yeah. And so what it does is it forces you to, you have to limit a little bit about the number of clients you can take on. You know because you go so deep to serve these clients so deeply you can’t just you know take on a huge number of clients. It’s important to take on so many that you can serve them well. So that’s what we have to do.

Jay:
Few things I want to dig into related to what you just talked about. We’re going backwards. First it’s going to be team pay, the percentage idea. Second is a distributed or virtual team. The third is going to be about niching up. So let’s start with the team pay percentage because I think that’s interesting primarily because I just actually moved two of our account managers to basically manage our marketing accounts, a portion of their pay is actually directly attributed to now the scale of the clients that they manage which helps them have kind of ownership of the responsibility of that client and caring about them staying with us. So I’m curious how you kind of came to a similar model, it sounds like some type of a percentage of the work, I think figuring out compensation for team members that keep people motivated and make sense is a really hard thing for a lot of business owners.

Jason:
Oh man yeah it is. So you know we wanted to do a little more risk sharing with our team and we would openly say this is not the best model for everybody just because we did it. But it’s taken us, we’ve been on a journey for I think six or seven years to really flesh it out and vet it out and it does, it works well for us, it takes a lot of management internally because we have to be, we want to be transparent with our team. So if they’re getting a paycheck we’ve got to show them the draft revenues, where it came from and the percentage calculations of you get this much percentage for tax, this much for accounting, this much for tax planning, this much for consulting and payroll. And we want to be able to calculate that and show them where we got it but we’ve tied it into the way we get paid from our clients too. Because we can’t tell a team member or no smart team member would be hired into that situation if we then also said now we just invoice our clients and hopefully they’ll pay their bill. So we’ve turned around and made it a requirement to a client, you cannot work with us unless we draft your price monthly. That’s the only way we will do it because of the business model.

So really to our team it feels like a salary because they’ve got here’s your seven clients. These are their drafts. Here’s the calculations, your pay is basically the same every single paycheck. Now if we lose a client your pay will go down. Now if we get a new client, we want to give you a client, your pay will go up. So you know there’s always these movements going in and out and we don’t have a lot of movements of clients leaving but right now we have a number of leads we’re bringing on and they come on so slowly we have to educate them as to how we do it. And then there’s onboarding, there’s kickoffs, so we’ve figured it out and it’s taken a lot but it does, it helps us decide who we can hire because not everybody wants to be hired under that kind of risk sharing model. Some people are like no way. You need to pay me. But now we have a team also that is a support team, marketing people, admin people, you know some director positions. These are decidedly salary so we don’t want them to be paid based upon what a client pays because we want them to love and care for the firm no matter what.

Whereas we want the technical team to be solely focused on their clients and making their clients happy. And so we’re trying to make this model work depending on what the role is supposed to be doing and so these internal support people are supposed to be loving and caring for the team and the firm. We don’t want them tied to a client. We want them caring for any team member no matter what client they’re working on. We don’t want them to have some personal agenda, oh well they don’t pay as much as this one so I’m going to serve them better. So the support team is salaried and then the technical team is all about service to that client. So we want them paid directly on the happiness of the client and what the client pays them. It’s kind of the construct of what we think about it.

Jay:
Yeah, I love that. That’s actually a very very similar to how we’ve kind of shifted over the last year or so and so far it’s working, we got a lot of kinks still to work out but it’s, I mean that idea I think is really brilliant and the other one that you mentioned there was you know getting clients to commit to a period of time and then autopay that amount that’s due every month. That can radically change just about any business developing a strong recurring revenue model that’s autopay. That has changed our lives as an agency. That’s huge.

Jason:
Oh man. And you know you can commit to that and it can change your business model. It can really be such a blessing to your revenue, your cash flow, but you know what not all clients are going to love it the way you love it so don’t be surprised that when you implement things that change your business model some clients and even employees may go you know what that’s not for me and so just don’t let that surprise you when you do make those big business model changes.

Jay:
Yep absolutely. But I think it’s kind of a two-way street I tell clients too is that we’re asking for a commitment from them but that also means that we’re committing to them as well. So it’s a two way commitment, it’s not just them committing to pay us, it’s us commuting to serve them and I just think that’s an important distinction.

Jason:
Definitely.

Jay:
The next thing I want to talk about that you mentioned earlier was this idea of a distributed team. There’s lots of talk in the news about remote teams, companies that are allowing remote work, some that aren’t, those types of scenarios and I’d love to hear from you things that have worked really well and how you’ve learned to work as a remote team.

Jason:
This is probably some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made and probably some of the biggest wins is managing and leading a virtual team. It’s a huge deal. I would say it’s not for everybody so I know there’s a lot of talk about remote teams and it’s just not magical. You go remote and you know everything’s wonderful and beautiful. Managing a remote team is way different and much harder than leading and managing a team on site. You know when I first went virtual probably six years ago I think we made a lot of assumptions that our processes would run the same way in a virtual situation than they did in brick and mortar and it’s just not true because you don’t realize in person there’s a lot of processes that are happening in real time and it may be leaning over the cubicle wall and going hey did you code that out, can I jump on. Well if you’re saying things like that it’s all got to be planned and virtually posted into a room somewhere or documented in a process or keyed into a workflow system so somebody can check it off and you just don’t realize how big the asynchronous piece of the communication is you know and sometimes it can be frustrating. [inaudible 00:25:20] are posting things in our chat system online and then somebody replies when they’re available.

You know so there’s not a lot of real time. And so those things threw us for a while, we thought everything was going to be the same. But it’s not the same as far as the processes. And then we started learning how to hire inside of a virtual company better where we made a lot of assumptions where everybody would just love virtual and they would just work really well. Well the larger you grow you start running into team members who kind of go rogue, they may disappear and not purposely disappear. But they have a perception that I mean you’ve got to put yourself in their place. They’re at home and there’s a laundry basket beside them and there’s a dog and kids, there’s the outside, there’s a window. So they are at home when they’re supposed to be at work. Now that’s really easily defined when get in their car and leave and drive to an office. They are obviously at work in an office and so they work in different ways.

We’ve even discovered I work drastically different in the co-work space my partner and I occupy than I do at home where I have a little office. I work completely different. I get distracted in different ways and so does our team members so onboarding a team member into virtual firm means we have to really set them up for success, we have to ask how do they get distracted. Where are they going to work. Can they let their family know they’re at work when they’re actually at home. What are they going to do with that confusion you know and so we have infographics to help them know how to work virtually successfully since we don’t track time. You cannot know what anybody’s doing because there’s no time sheets being keyed in anywhere. So we have a lot of project management tools we use to try to follow work. You know we have a project manager watching the theme of work and so it just takes a lot more oversight because it just can be really confusing when you’re sitting in your house in your pajamas and you’re really are supposed to be at work. They act like they’re not at work sometimes.

Not everybody but if you don’t onboard a team member to a virtual workplace the right way they can be confused and so you have to do a lot of work to prepare them up front.

Jay:
Yeah absolutely. I think you and I probably could have an entire podcast [crosstalk 00:27:43]

Jason:
Oh yeah.

Jay:
For sixteen years. We could have a whole episode just on this. I got like 1000 questions but I have to move on. But those things or ideas we may want to have to an episode 2 and just focus on [inaudible 00:27:52] because that would be fun.

Jason:
Well I would love to hear your views on it because we’re still learning and growing through that man. If you did it for 16 years it’s like man there’s so much to learn around a virtual team.

Jay:
It is interesting because it’s all I ever knew and now we have a physical space we put in two years ago and that’s a whole episode and a half.

Jason:
Oh my gosh, I bet.

Jay:
We’ll come back to that another show I think for sure. I’m going to put a note on that. The last thing I want to look out before we kind of start to land this plane here is the idea of niching up or focusing on a particular vertical. I heard a story the other day that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were at dinner one time and somebody at dinner asked them both to write on a sheet of paper one word that was most important in their success and independently without seeing it they both wrote the word focus. And so I’m curious from your perspective, it sounds like you kind of got into a niche and now you’re focused on that vertical somewhat. How has that helped you guys focus and how has it improved your agency over time?

Jason:
I mean yeah that’s definitely true. Focus and a niche is the way to do it I think. But Jay you know this, as your clients try to niche and focus that that comes with things right. It comes with certain processes so you can’t just say we’re focused on a niche, what you’re doing when you’re saying you’re niched is you’re making a marketplace promise to an expertise, you’re basically saying we’re niched because we’re better at it than anybody else. And so that’s really a promise to a marketplace. And so what you got to do is fulfill that promise. So your team has to be part of delivering that higher value. So I think a claim to a niche is a claim to an expertise. You’ve got to be ready to make a claim to that expertise but also niching is a marketing thing too, right.

You can actually have a bunch of different types of clients inside your firm. When your website says your niche in a certain vertical, well and maybe that’s the majority of your clients but it’s not all of them but those things confuse people like what is a niche as you’re claiming it on a Web site as compared, I mean you might go well man we say, we have agency client where we’re niched in that marketplace or we may have a creative interior designer as a client. Well and then you go oh my gosh is that part of my niche, I don’t know, should I fire them and so it can get confusing and it is right. I think niching is a way to claim expertise. It certainly is a way if you do it right to make more money. If you’re claiming expertise you get to claim being paid more for it. You just have to deliver expertise services when you’re claiming that. So that’s a big deal so I think niching and focus is right but it comes with something, it comes with a team who can deliver that promise and with you being very focused on growing in those areas. So I think you have to be able to deliver expertise in a different way. So that’s a really important, but I do think it is right to niche if you can pull that off.

Jay:
Yeah, that’s really helpful advice. It’s not something we’ve done extremely, in a lot of detail but we’re kind of heading that way in a few different areas, interesting to see how that fleshes out for us and our team over the next couple of years.

Jason:
Nice.

Jay:
The last thing I always like to kind of end on are two questions. The first one is going to be about kind of family and life for the old work life balance question and the last one is going to be about your personal development. So to begin with and I know you’ve got three daughters and you know like to work out and you also run a business and there’s all kinds of other things going on in life. And I always say it’s not a work life balance, it’s a blender. You just got everything in there and it all kind of gets mixed up.

Jason:
That’s right.

Jay:
So what kind of things have you learned over the years as you’ve grown the company that have helped you find harmony if you will in the right mixture of your life?

Jason:
Yeah, yeah this is something we have grown a lot. And one thing we’ve learned is that the lifestyle of an entrepreneur needs a lot of support. Didn’t realize how much so really as an entrepreneur when you’re in business your whole family is in business so to speak. So they’ve got to have a support role for you that’s really very solid and strong. Or you could go home and be run to death too. Right. So you’re at work and maybe you’re just working so hard and you could go home and just work so hard too. I believe you do need to do that as a husband and a father. I want to do those things but it’s a me being called to be an entrepreneur is a big call to my wife and my kids too. Because it relates to how they get to interact with me and support me.

And so I think that’s always something to be working on. But just understanding the level of support an entrepreneur needs is a huge deal to have those open and honest conversations with a spouse, a family at home because in an entrepreneurial business, entrepreneurial businesses are decidedly very fast. They move very very quickly. And so with that comes a lot of disruptions, you know just last night we had a disruption with a huge client, an agency in Virginia and we had to jump on some things and just care for them and we had to have some meetings with our team late, build some last minute processes to clarify things. And you know I got home about 8:00. And sometimes that happens and you just got to have open conversations that entrepreneurial business moves so fast they often do those kinds of things.

But you also have the freedom to make health choices and my partner and I do this a lot, we try to construct our business in a way that allows us to eat well, that allows us to exercise. We carve out time to allow us to do that because it’s very very important to do. So that is a hard balance but I think it does require really very open and truthful conversations with all the people involved in that entrepreneurial founder’s life or everybody’s going to get disheartened about it probably or get disillusioned and go well I thought this was I’m an entrepreneur I can do anything I want. Well it also means everything’s on your shoulders too. And so if you do that wrong it means you’re not going to see anybody ever. You’re going to work all the time. An entrepreneur has the freedom to balance really is what I like to say, an entrepreneur has the freedom to balance their life in the healthiest way. But they still sometimes have a lot of work to do especially if they’re a growing business but you can balance that in ways to turn that growth off at times.

And my partner and I do that, like even today we were going you know what, this things happening but let’s put it off because we just can’t focus our mental energy on it. It’s a big deal. So I even wrote a health blog post on our website. I don’t know if it’s out yet but it’ll be coming out pretty soon. And it’s about the six components of health that have to be managed. It’s not there yet. Maybe that’ll be out that you can link to by the time you publish the podcast. But health is a big deal, managing health is a big deal.

Jay:
Yeah and I think that idea of you talking about your family kind of playing a support role, I mean I always say my wife doesn’t have an official title in the company and she’s not technically a partner of the business but she is. I mean there’s nobody that plays a bigger support role than her and there’s a lot of, there’s more value in that than anything I could put on paper.

Jason:
Yeah.

Jay:
Last question and then we will call it a show and that is around your own personal growth. You spend a lot of time teaching other people how to do things, you spend a lot of time pouring in to your own team. You spend a lot of time doing all kinds of stuff that has to happen if you’re an entrepreneur and a business owner. But how do you kind of refill your own cup so that you can then overflow that information and knowledge in to others, whether it’s leadership or technical or personal or spiritual, how do you kind of continue your own growth individually?

Jason:
That’s a huge deal. My partner and I again we’re big on health related activities. Again I think that happens when you get to a team size of 8 or 10. Like you said you wing it up to that point. After that you’ve got to be really methodical about everything that adds to the growth of your business and the health of the founder, the entrepreneur, becomes a huge deal. So we calendar everything like my calendar drives a lot of the things that we say, that we do, that we teach. My partner and I we actually calender, we block out my calendar for a whole year is what we do. And obviously those are just, that’s an idea of what we think this day, you know my life is going to look like over the next year. We tweak it and change it as we go. But what that does is it says to the administrative team member that manages my calendar is you know Tuesdays are meeting days, you know Thursdays are content creation days, Mondays are strategy days where my partner and I focus on higher level strategic things, by half a day Wednesday that’s team related day.

And so what we work in there is ways I’m creative, there are things that make me healthy. And one thing that makes me healthy is being creative. Having the downtime to think, to read, to write. So we have a whole day weekly dedicated to content creation for me. And so I’m alone, I’m writing, I’m in comfortable places and I’m focused on just outputting and reading and taking in the things that make me most creative. So you know I would say as you grow your business anything you want to do that that allows you to grow or be healthy or anything I think calendaring those things is a really strong strategy to do it or you just won’t do it if it’s just up in your head or at least I won’t and I think a lot of entrepreneurs are the same. They’ll just kind of think they’re supposed to do it and run themselves in to the ground. Well we have to block it off and you know we follow some other books by you know Gina Whitman that talk about clarity days.

So quarterly my partner and I will just take a whole day off. And we’ll think about very higher level things and that’s when I’ll go and walk in the woods because I love to be out in the woods and we’ll just think more clearly about higher level things and then we’ll come back and talk about what was the thing you gained clarity on and so those are real important. And so we have to calendar almost every related health activity you know to make our lives healthy. That’s very important.

Jay:
Yeah I just love that. I think the biggest takeaway for me in all that is just the intentionality of it all. It’s so easy as a business owner to jump from one fire to the next. And that’s the easy way to get burnt out and I’ve done it before and I’m getting better and better at what you’re already doing which is intentionally blocking out my schedule and saying hey I’m taking this block of time for myself. Whatever that may be. Maybe it’s going to the gym, maybe it’s like you said taking a walk in the woods, maybe it’s reading a book. Because if we don’t block those times on our schedules something else will consume it, that’s a guarantee.

Jason:
Yeah. And I’ll say I’m not very good at these kind of things, my partner isn’t innately good at them, she’s automatically good at them so she drives a lot of this calendaring and health and it’s really important, like I never probably would have done it. So I mean there’s a point at which an entrepreneur needs help. They can’t do everything on their own though you know we entrepreneurs think we can. There comes a point when things just get too big and you can’t wing it anymore. And sometimes you have to let somebody into your life that says hey I don’t think that’s good for you and you’re going to have to fight how that feels because entrepreneurs don’t like to be told no but somebody often can see from a different perspective what’s crushing that entrepreneur. And so that’s what a partner and that kind of partner is all about.

Jay:
Yeah I just love that. If you’re out there listening and want to read a little bit more from Jason or hear a little more from him you can find him online at blumercpas.com. You can also check out his podcast Businessology Show. Really cool stuff online, you have another podcast as well. It is the …

Jason:
The ThriveCast, yeah.

Jay:
The ThriveCast, yep.

Jason:
Yeah and that’s for the accounting firm profession. So a lot of those guys listen to that for the past seven years so I don’t know if anybody would be interested in that one so.

Jay:
Hey, you never know. Definitely check him out online. Jason, you’re the kind of guy that I probably could talk to all day long and just gain insight after insight from so I just greatly appreciate you being on the show. It’s been awesome.

Jason:
Well Jay, thank you for having me. I know you do a good work too in your firm and the people that listen so thanks for letting me share some wisdom man.

Jay:
Thank you sir.

I hope this episode has given you some ideas or inspiration that will help you grow your business. If you found it helpful and you know somebody else who might benefit from it as well I would greatly appreciate it if you would take the time to share this with them, maybe on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or even shoot an email over to a friend with a link to this podcast in it. And if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for our email list at jayowenlive.com.

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