I had the pleasure of discussing several key insights of small business ownership with Anthony Campo, Leadership and Organizational Development Consultant at Battle Ready Business. Campo believes in exploring all the elements involved in building a successful, Battle Ready Business. Those elements encompass Sales, Marketing, Leadership, Finance and Personal Development. On his Be Battle Ready podcast, he does the interviewing. We traded places for this blog.
Your business is called Battle Ready Business. What’s the concept behind this? It’s a great name, can you expand upon it?
Business, in itself, in the private, the civilian sector, is the highest form of collaboration. Especially when you get into a small business. Everybody on your team has to be versatile. A lot of times small businesses are playing in spaces where there are a lot of bigger players, right? So, they have to be at the top of their game.
The idea around Battle Ready Business has to do with special forces. Special forces are small teams that perform at high levels and are able to take on giants without having a big force. If someone goes down, they are cross-functional, and they know what to do and when to do it. They are the most highly trained, highly prepared people on the planet. We don’t have to go to those extremes in small business but imagine if you were to utilize a fraction of those ideals. And if you look at how they do it, they have a purpose, when they go on a mission, they have a plan, they have a playbook, and they have the positions intact.
The plan details who’s doing what and what’s going on with those positions. So, imagine if you in your business attacked the coming year in quarters, where you laid out here’s where we are going, this is the mission we are taking on, this is the war that we are going to win this quarter. These are the missions that we have to accomplish to get there, here’s how to do the missions, here’s when the missions will get done, and here’s who is responsible for that. Breaking it down in the most simple, effective way, we’ll get the business owners to win at the highest level. And be the most efficient, the most effective team.
What is the number 1 mistake small business owners make?
In my opinion, they don’t look at it as an investment and as an asset they can build that will sustain them long term, and be something that they could eventually own, instead of working in. And, possibly, also that they can build an asset they can sell.
They look at it as an expense. There are business expenses, but there are also investments that you can make. For example, investing in marketing, in teams, in systems and the software and in just leveraging their abilities. They end up getting stuck, and they don’t invest the time and the energy, and also the money to transfer their knowledge and unpack their knowledge so that someone else can support and do what they do. They think they are the only ones that can do it, so they don’t make the effort, and they think it’s too complicated.
In summary, they are not investing in their business in a way for it to become an asset so they can grow it and potentially sell.
Number 2, you noticed I always talk about having a playbook. Can I explain what that means and why it’s important? Part of what I mentioned in the first question is that small business owners don’t take the time to unpack what they do. They think they are the only ones who can do it, so they don’t systematize and put a playbook in place of how they actually accomplish what they do. I’ve created a playbook of how to create a playbook. So, if you step back and think about that, I’ve thought through the process of creating plays and playbooks. I think in terms of how I, personally, transfer that knowledge so that I can have somebody else come and do it.
The playbook, comes down to, ‘do they view themselves as a player instead of a coach?’
If you look at a sports team, they have players, they have coaches, and they have the owner. Most business owners get stuck into just being a player. They are creative, they are good at what they do and they don’t transfer their knowledge off. So, a playbook actually details how to do things at what level, what time, and at what level of execution that you are looking for. It also controls the culture inside of it.
That’s what a playbook is, and it’s important because it doesn’t matter if it’s your marketing, sales, client fulfillment, leadership, or finance roles; all that requires a playbook, so it’s done on time and on an efficient level, and it’s important because it provides the owner situational awareness, giving you the clarity of thought to see the field. Think about it. If the coach was having to throw the ball, snap the ball, run the play, do all the other stuff, they couldn’t see the field and call the plays they need to call. So, that’s one of the main reasons.
Also, a playbook is important so that you have excellent execution in what you do. That will add value to your customer, that’ll add value to your team, cause they don’t have to deal with guesswork, and you getting pissed off because you didn’t do it right. You have clear communication, and it’s another reason why it’s important; and you provide the most, you maximize your capacity in your business. Capacity has to do with time, team, talent, and technology, and the more capacity you can have in your business, the more efficient you can be at what you can do. The measure of capacity is how much can you get done in correlation to the results you can produce.
What’s the biggest failure you’ve made in business?
I would say two things:
First, not fully believing in myself or fully trusting in my own voice and playing other people’s playbook. You know, it’s valuable to have an outside counsel, coaching, and all of that, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to make sure any advice is in alignment with what you do. In the past, I’ve suppressed what I’ve done, not gone after or developed that skill as a business owner.
I’ve learned when it looks like you should go left, but you know you should go right, and everybody says go left, and you know you should go right, then you need to go right. Even if you risk higher failure, you need to go right. I would say, that’s one of the biggest things.
The other thing is not fully going for something, not focusing enough. Being spread, idea-wise, too thin, and trying to go wide too soon, instead of going deep.
You moved from Southern California to Utah. Do you think once you have the right business skillset, anyone can operate from anywhere they want to be?
The fundamentals of business are universal, and they are not changing. When it comes to business formation, you got ’a have the right idea, but you also have to validate your idea. Then, you have to have your messaging right. You might have identified the problem, but if you don’t know how to communicate the problem, in the prospect’s words, into how they would describe the problem, then you have a big challenge. You’re not going to resonate. You might be the most amazing at what you do, but it’s not going to work.
Clear communication is key. Then, if you have the plan, the playbook, and positions, and the right purpose, that stuff will fall into place. That’s why that framework I’ve created is important. It’s all the stuff I’ve followed and learned from, but being honorable, being honest, providing a great service, keeping the customer’s needs first and not your own, will eventually get you earnings. So, those principles are universal.
I noticed that people who are good at an organization are better at running businesses, now if you’re naturally an onerous, difficult, impatient person, you’ll have challenges. So, you’ve got to work to become better. It’s a longer learning curve and a growth curve for your business if you only rely upon yourself, so, one of the fastest ways to move forward is to get someone on your team to counterbalance any weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
Gino Wickman wrote a book called Rocket Fuel, and it talks about this specific problem. A lot of business owners are visionary, you know, you have two people that are crucial. If you look at all big businesses, from Ford and Edison, all of these people who built amazing businesses, to Rockefeller. They all had two key/core people in their organization, they had the visionary and then they had the integrator. The visionary is ahead of the curve, ahead of the industry, sees things when they’re coming, and has a million ideas.
The integrator is the one who keeps the trains running on time, keeps the plane, you know, operating well and within its boundaries. I think that if you don’t have that person, you need to hire them, so you can basically build the organization to overcome your weaknesses, and every small business owner should be doing that. Personal involvement is great, but at the same time, it can be a poison to growth in the business.
What’s your best advice for someone starting a business?
The purpose of why you started your business is essential.
If you’re going to start a business, you have to decide what this business is for. Is it a serve-you business? That will serve your lifestyle and what you want to do?
Or is it a purpose-driven business? Meaning that you want to create something visionary like Apple.
Because the expectations and the work and all that goes into it is completely different. If you’re going to build Apple, then you’re going to sacrifice, like Steve Jobs did, with his health, his family, and anything else outside of that.
He built an amazing company, but I don’t think that a lot of people want to do that. They want to own a business, so they can live, have joy, and experiences in life. So, if that’s the case, you start there, that’s your purpose, and then develop a purpose for the business that supports that and keep that in alignment.
Then decide where you’re going, how big are you going to be, get down to why you want to do that, at its core. And really be 100% honest. It’s the hardest thing to do. Hopefully it’s not because of somebody else who wants to do it, or you want to ego-build something.
Plan, have a structured process of how you plan, have a cadence of planning. Have a way to control and organize all the work that it has to get done.
Playbook is the how-to. If you’re in the New England Patriots, you have to have a playbook. The difference between every team in the NFL is their playbook, and it’s how they do it, and if you have a Patriots’ playbook, that’s a part of, and the reason why they win is because they have a culture, they have a commitment, and they have the training. They practice. They don’t always have the best talent, but they have all of that together, and the playbook brings them together and utilizes the best people on the team where they’re the best fit. So, having positions, mapping out what that looks like for you on your team, where you’re currently at, and where your business is eventually going.
Finally, validate your market, your messaging, and your product/service/experience with the market. Go to your potential customers and ask them questions. Solve their problems, don’t solve yours.
You used to run a CrossFit gym, how important is health and exercise to being a successful business person?
Honestly? I can say yeah, you have to be healthy, but you know, you just have to be in alignment with who you are and what you value, that’s most important, right?
Look at Warren Buffet, look at Trump, look at all these guys, right, these older businessmen. Some people want to pitch that you have to be a morning person, you have to have this morning routine, you have to do this, you have to do that. Will it provide you a more holistic, happier life, and feel different? That depends if it’s a value to you, but most likely, in my experience, yes. It has to really deal with you. Do you value being fit? Do you value being healthy? Do you value doing it? Is that connected to business and success. No, like specific business success? No, I don’t think so. Could it provide you with more clarity and more centeredness, more understanding, more awareness? Yeah. Right? But at the end of the day, you would have to pair that with the effort of putting in the work to build a successful business.
Now, I think it would help being a successful human being, a holistic human being, absolutely. I, personally, prioritize my health, fitness, and exercise. It’s one of the first things I do in the morning, but that’s because I value my own physical capabilities, my own vitality, my own physical appearance, and it’s a part of who I am. So, it’s an individual choice.