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Today, Jeff Pugh gal joins visionaries. After 20 plus years in advertising and media sells, Jeff realized small businesses have been misled on what they need to know about growing their business. Jeff's mission is to accelerate profits and guarantee quantifiable return on investment from his hybrid marketing, coaching consulting services. Unlike 99% of coaches and consultants out there, he's only too happy to guarantee an outcome of positive results as long as his clients put in the work. Well, Jeff, it's a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks for joining.
It's great to be here. Yeah, so
tell us a little bit more about your story and jumping into business and yeah, your attorney. So
I really want to put everything if you have to have a starting point you are here it was 3am random night. So that was Mario's I forget exactly what was like 3am. In March, in 2018. I was I was I was at a start a startup company here in Cleveland here in Cleveland, trying to help them kind of get to that next level, you know, like a lot of startups, initial wave gets you to a certain level of revenue, but then it's like okay, to get to that next level, we have to shift our marketing a little bit to kind of appeal to a broader audience. And being a tech focus company there were falling into the traditional traps of talking features of the tech, not the benefits of the tech, which is kind of printing those, those moments when you're talking to prospects, like I don't get what this does, and everything. And I was I was on board, you're trying to get the marketing going of in a different direction, I kept the stalemate on board, one part of the management team loved it, the other part of the team didn't quite love it, it was just going sideways. And having grown up in the advertising agency world, I'd been laid off more times I can count and being 43 years old at that point in time having a mortgage having a family there was rumors that the investment group was going to just maybe pull the plug on things I could totally see it happening I was like I'm done with this roller coaster I'm done being like this kind of like this you know this pot and everything and that was it that was the idea of it for me again in that first step going into opening up my own company which eventually a few months later became became ignition and that really was like the founding impetus of ignition was to help similar small aspiring businesses you know, maybe a little bit beyond sort of faith get onto the right track with their marketing with their positioning with their business operations so that they avoid that deadly plateau that always happens every business and have someone that's been through it helped guide them through it so they can continue on that growth trajectory and do not get stuck in that no man's land of that you know that plateau between level one growth and level two? growth Yeah, so your early to mid stage startups seem to get stuck at
which do you feel like this is definitely born out of your own problem solving for yourself right you're like hey, I'm kind of getting going to be my best fit customer here we're at you know in like coming from the business the type of business that you're in. Do you feel like that was kind of the the mode that was inspired to have you ignite your new your new business Pun intended?
Yeah, I see where you went with that one? Yeah. Yeah, apart partially I'm always that time I was I was that type that try to solve problems. And it's like, if you want it's like the saying out there. If you're going to fail, fail fast and fail forward. Just don't get stuck in this no man's land out there. And that was exactly what was happening. It was just we're just running around in circles. And they're being us, you know, small business. You know, if you're not moving forward, you might as well be moving back. And yeah, part of it was, you know, hey, life is too short, to be stuck in neutral. So I'm going to be the responsible thing, I'm going to quit, you know, a nice paycheck job and open up my own, open my own business, and dammit, do it my way.
And that's huge. And I feel like that is really at the core of what it means to be a visionary is that you see a different future for yourself, for your family, for your business for the community, right, and you want to create that future. So describe to us more of what that looks like for you. What that vision looks like, like, do you see a world where more small businesses can experience and have X, Y or Z? Like, yeah, what does? What does that vision look like?
Well, I would I see is I think every small business could have it out there, the challenges do they want the biggest mode, and this is where I deal with a lot with my clients. And it's funny to be asked about this, because just late yesterday afternoon, I was onboarding a new client. And kind of in our first session, it's always more about you know, it's like the first day of school orientation, type of type of session, but spent about a good 15 minutes on mindset issues. And I'm not a mindset coach at all, I want to make that disclaimer, but I've been exposed to about I've been exposed to it enough to realize it has a profound impact. And it's like, you know, there is no time to wallow. You know, things happen because they happen for a reason. It's all those type of things. And that's when it's Vegas, you come back into you know, visionaries, like helping other small business owners get through this, because what I find is, most of the people that open up a business, they are great at what they do. They came into the business because they had a better idea of doing something. It's the classic butcher Baker candlestick maker analogy there, they opened up a bakery, because they are a great Baker. But problem is along the way, no one ever taught them how to operate their business, what is going to take to run their business what's it going to take to do marketing and sales in their business they get the cash flow going which is the lifeblood of every business and that's where now then a lot of these mindset issues start to creep into place and it's he realized and I realize those are land and this one tip of advice is to have you need some other kind of on your side as a good coach to help push you through all these things. Because when you're trying to grow a business you're not going to see the forest for the trees because you're usually so nose to the grindstone and doing your day you can't do it don't see what you don't see. Yeah. And I found from from top of my own clients and being coaching myself as you need someone on site constantly reminding you of the bigger picture here. Your flight because one interesting, I found this Yeah, all this all the founders and owners I'm working with, they have something bigger in play too. Usually revolves around family and stuff and stuff like that, but it's a bigger grander vision than themselves and they you know, they they're just looking for that help to get that that was a big thing for me to move on to unisys, you know, helping others get to where they want to go. Because to me, the best success I have is, you know, it's it's when you're seeing someone else's succeed.
Yeah. Yeah, I love that kind of message, Jeff, you know, there's definitely power in helping others build what they want. And it creates a win win, right? When you can help them win, then you're winning and return whether it's a financial gain for your business, or, you know, in a, in a service, a non monetary gain, right, like you kind of win in your character building, and in how you're going out of your way to serve others. Well, in with these ideas, like you talked about, you know, these roadblocks related maybe to mindset in other areas, like, what do you find, within mindset are some of those biggest roadblocks that these types of business owners have who, once they break through them, they can see true breakthroughs? What do some of those issues look like?
Yeah, here's, here's, here's the number one issue. Its pricing. Believe it or not, they're such they're so it's, it's the money object. That's the biggest thing that's the boogeyman out there, and to get them to realize money is not because we've we've all been taught at an early age, you don't talk about money. You know, you talk you teach your kids don't talk about what your mom and dad make to other kids and stuff like that's one of those buddhu tears. Yeah, yeah, it's good. We'll talk about tons of other personal details in the lives but you start talking about money, and they clam up really fast. Yeah,
yeah. And that's that's a huge thing people need eliminate. I mean, I just think of when I was in corporate I worked for a massive global corporation. And it was hush hush around, like, what you made? What even if you're on the same, like management level? And because a big part of it, it was it felt competitive, like, oh, man, that person wise, you know, why are they making more than me? You know, there's a lot of reasons but keep going. I like.
Yes. So here's the thing you have money in business is the lifeblood of everything. It's cashflow, Nothing happens without money. And it's getting people to start to realize that nothing happens without the money out there. And so step one is usually is the biggest mindset don't walk around with a price. Because they're pricing based to a fixed cost, not necessarily to the value that their product or service gives their client out there. And great to hear that one example is working with one client, he came out of the accounting world. And it when he was on staff at an accounting firm, his bill was something like he said, $125 an hour. That's what the accounting firm built him out at, to clients. So the thinking there was okay, I open my own business. I've got my and I'm working from home, I can charge 100 bucks an hour, because I got lower overhead and be golden. Here's the problem with that. He's actually undervaluing himself because the service he was delivering had value exponentially more than $100 an hour. And was getting him and this is a common case almost colors is getting them to realize that clients come to you to solve a problem that they have, with a solution that they don't have. But know that you have a solution to their problem is I think of as like, you know, when if you're sick, you go to hospital, you're not asking the doctor how much it's gonna cost to fix it, just like fix it. And Bill me later. It's the same thing. A lot of times in business, especially when you saw the larger company. So talk about this, it's a walk through this whole mindset around money. And I challenged this one client as Okay, next proposal. don't charge don't fill it out at your normal $100 an hour. Bail it out at what you think the value is to the client. And it took a lot to get through like putting in the value. Let's put it this way. Okay, let's we have to do a diagnostic that you know, you've been on the inside there. You know how much this was costing them in terms of total man hours and all that crossways? So yeah, so if you ever put a ballpark number on that, would it be I think something like God tossing internally firm $100,000 a year in this, okay. And you said it's going to take you this amount of hours of copy, I think this company has something like adds up to $8,000 for this for the service, like, Is that good? That's good. But don't you think you said it's costing them? $100,000? you're offering $1,000? Don't you think you could probably price it more? based on how much you're valued delivering those? I think so. So I gave them permission. Next time. I was like, Okay, next proposal, Bill it out, like at 7500. If you get an executive or something like that, and report back and what happened, you know, a couple days after they bought it. So do you have dollars a great next one, we're doing $10,000. And we're still climbing the ladder because it showed here is the value he's providing his people are buying the value and not the necessary dollar amount. Because we've really have explored here that the problem is $100,000 problem. As long as you're not getting obscene with what you're charging, you could probably go up that value ladder to 510 1520. And still do that good. Yeah. And that way, you're not gonna devalue yourself now, which is a mindset that's and this is where the problem is, from so many small companies again, this mindset issue, I can only be at $125 an hour. Well, here's the problem with that is you get more efficient over time. So use five hours now it takes you four hours. But if you're still billing at 125 Well, you've just cost yourself $125 an hour because you got more efficient. Oh, I didn't realize that. So it's getting to three think you know how they think about money, which is a lot of people coming in open the small businesses, no one ever taught them that not at all way and you got to kind of grapple with that bogeymen. And that's once you finally get Over that mindset issue of money, and realize it's really a means to an end and it has a very different feel about it. That is like the floodgates open up at that time now you're really allowed to be a businessman and go forward and really charge what you're worth. Yeah and business now to get to that next level.
That's so that's so powerful, you know, and, and this applies for those listening or watching this applies to any type of business you're in, right? Being a service provider consultant. Selling physical goods as well, like, I just thought about this the other day, I was like, okay, you can go to Walmart and get some of the cheapest items out there that are okay, right? Like, maybe it's $100 table, a Walmart kitchen table. But then you can go to a specialty store, online, or even offline, or at a brick and mortar, usually online, like online, though. And you can buy that same table that looks similar, but the perceived value and the actual cost value is 10x. Plus, right, it could be 1000, or $2,000. Table, yet, there are going to be still that people that buy that, because oftentimes you equate quality, often with the price, or value with the price. And so you know whether you're going to charge 100 $100 an hour for your services or consulting, you know, your knowledge or $1,000 an hour. There are clients for each level. And so it's like you're speaking to Jeff, it's all about approaching and attracting those people that you want to. And sometimes, you know, the people who end up paying more to work with you are oftentimes a higher caliber type client where they appreciate and trust you at a higher level as well.
Yeah, no, that's that's spot on.
Yeah, that's something I recognize, like, you know, early on into the business world, right? It's like, Oh, yeah, I'll start at this price. And then it's like, wait a minute, like, they said yes to easily, like, I should up that see, you know, quicker. And, yeah, go ahead.
Yeah, it's funny, you mentioned that, because talk about this. So the same client, I was on a call with him last week, he just had, he literally landed a new client that's going to be transformative for his company, this cut this time is always like, take my money, take my money and solve my problem. It was literally like, I can't believe it's finally happening. But then the follow up thing was, and I just had to pop the email here, as you're saying is like with that, we need to start thinking about having a package for a client where money is no object, because that client is trying to buy something else out there, there's going to be those companies where price is no object. That's why you have so I think, you look at some of these law firms or some lawyers charge $1,000 an hour, on top of a $10,000 a month monthly retainer. And these corporations like I don't care, you know, I'm paying it. So it for them, it's like, you almost need like this triple platinum level package available. Even if you don't sell it, you have it available, because there's going to that one point somewhere along the way that's going to buy it. And now you're going to be sitting praying, because that one client money is on object money is a means to an end for that and your skin, you're helping them to essentially scratched her edge along the way, and and that's a very different viewpoint.
Yeah. Well, this is so good. So so when you take clients or you recognize that when people break through this money barrier, what becomes available to them? Like what are some additional levels they reach or growth? Like what? Yeah, what's available to them on the other side of this? Yeah,
yeah. So here's the interesting thing. Okay. So cash flow is, you know, as I said, it's the lifeblood of the business. But I one of the ways is, you know, like any sane business, you got to be keeping an eye on things. And one area where I see a lot of companies not really focusing on are their margins, their gross and net margins. Most companies if you ask them what their gross and net margins are, they have no idea what they are. But those managing your margins is the secret now of leveraging that increased cash that's coming in through the door. Now because if you can, if you can hold everything else steady, you're not increasing margins, and that increases your profitability. And it's all about what flows to the, to the bottom of that balance sheet every month. And that's what really matters because, okay, think of it this way. Money is a means to an end. It allows you to do other things and it all comes back to why why are you it's what why are you doing what you're doing in the first place? You know, what are you building? Are you trying to build a home Any business that spins off cash, are you building an asset that you're looking to sell later on. So whatever that pool of cash that's accumulating will allow you to then take steps to whatever your ultimate goal may be out there, that's the key thing. And it's gonna be different for every person along the way. And that's why I always say, when you first start off and answer your questions, a couple of key questions is, what's your WHY? And why are we doing this? And what what is enough out there because those going to help can give you your guideposts to do before while you're doing what you're doing, ultimately out there and and so some people may be like, Okay, this actually has a will allow me to hire three more people, which will then allow me to step away from the day to day operations of the business, to spend more time with my family, or the others, like this will allow me to do that. So it's really, it's a very individualized question. It just comes back to establishing a very, a very good, why are we doing this? And, you know, what does these levels of success, what does this mean? What What happened, but that one that helped me, helping clients, realize, whatever, whatever that goal is, that they're working towards?
Yeah. So it sounds like it's really an enabler. You know, as they break through that money, mindset, those money blocks, as far as value based pricing, then it opens up a world of opportunities to them to achieve the success as they evaluate it. And as they want it. Be that financial freedom, time, freedom, availability, and access to be with family, more things like that. Yeah, they're really personable. Yeah, yeah, I like that. I like that.
Yeah. And here, I'll actually share one one tip with you too, on this way, which is, most I find most small businesses don't realize it is this common mistake that most made him for tying in money. So I'm going to bring it up as it's how they're incorporated from a tax basis. Now most companies think, okay, I'm establishes an LLC and stuff like that, and they're accountable do and that's fine. But and here's the thing, most of them, nope, that may not be the most advantageous tax status for them for talking about cash, there's maybe other ways to get to that bottom line cash. So you know, if you had a certain level of income, it's usually around 100,000 or so a year. And obviously, I'm not attacking I'm not a CPA, so can say a pot of coffee, a local tax friendly tax professional on this, but for a lot of businesses, it may make sense to be taxed as an S Corp. Going forward, you're still technically an LLC from a legal status. But from a patent basis, you're now an S Corp. And the benefit of that is, you're able to defer payroll taxes legally, and a good portion of your income, because now you'll be taking proceeds as dividends at the end of the year, which are not subject to payroll taxes, and depending where you're at, that can add 510 or so $1,000 a year to the bottom line. Just Just like that,
yeah, and it's those little tips that really can change the, the profitability, but the outcome of what you want out of your business, because this is something I recognized, you know, I've, I've actually around the same timeline as you I left my previous employer in 2018. And with that, like the amount of growth I've had, personally and professionally, and recognize the importance that that the business we're building as entrepreneurs, is meant to fuel our own life lifestyles and support us and not us the other way around, which sometimes, especially as business owners, and entrepreneurs, we get so chained to our business, that it's hard for us to break away and actually create that autonomy that part of us are motivated by and getting into our own business. And it sounds like the cash flow that money pursue is a huge enabler.
Yeah it's it's a classic Are you working in your business or on your business? That's I think what you were you just kind of summed up as to where are you at? Are you in are on working in or on and then realizing Where are we trying to ultimately get to? That's what I say is vices that I kind of tell myself early on and someone else asked me Hey, what's that one bit of advice that you know, older Jeff would tell younger Jeff out there it'd be essentially get the help early on because it's like it's like you know, if you're golfing and new corporate golf course for the first time, you might get a caddy because they know the course they're going to tell you hit the ball over they're not over there. Or if you're climbing Mount Everest, he was giving a Sherpa because they've ascended the peak. dozens of times before and I think that's the biggest mental big mistake I see a lot of small businesses make is that they don't get that professional help early on thinking oh my god, I don't have the money to pay for this coach. I like to reframe it. What's it costing you not having that help? Yeah, what's a coffee it for you to not make this mistake on your own in tonight in terms of time, but money that if you had just paid a professional that particular would have helped you avoid that you might have been you could be three to six, nine months further down the road than where you are today.
Yeah, which is something that you exactly do right, Jeff, you help step in as a coach consultant, and help these businesses do that? Where can people learn more about what it looks like to work with you and get on this path?
You can visit me on my website over at ignition that LLC Also, you can find me hanging out over there on LinkedIn just under Jeffrey fugle and yeah, both places are usually normal Hangouts. We're gonna do some of them reach out and reach out and say hi
introduce themselves be like I totally resonate with this message that you're sharing Jeff helped me out. Well, this has been so powerful um, one thing I would love as like a final message is and you provided many great nuggets throughout his I, what would you say is the next right step someone can take, in order to start eliminating some of these money blocks and removing these barriers to be on the right path for further growth in their business.
Interesting, we're talking about money, money blocks, a lot of it comes back to our parents, and their viewpoints on money. And what I've found as a commonality, so far in my journeys, is that most of the entrepreneurs and small business owners I'm working with, they are first generation entrepreneurs and small business owners, their parents probably have a corporate job their entire life, so that their parents don't understand at all, the concept of working for yourself and therefore talking about money, and this and that, and I'll close with it. So just really coming to grips with that and realizing you're on a new path now. And the money is really it's to parents, that was the that was the scorecard how much we have in our bank and how much we've saved for retirement. Whereas if you're running a business, any CEO, any CFO will tell you it's essentially your scorecard and it's the lifeblood that helps the business grow. So it takes a very different perspective of what money is and therefore you just got to let loose let go of those whatever those money stigmas are the impact of being great so as a kid growing up with parents probably will I think we've all been there and just we have different outlook on things you know, Mom and Dad probably aren't going to align with that but I'm walking my path and to get to where I want to go I need a new viewpoint on money it's not the Bugaboo it's not this private topic that we that we don't talk about because that money nothing happens so you got to just you just got to address the elephant in the middle of a room that's that's the the biggest hurdle just you know to get over is shutting that that baggage and most of us
Yeah, yeah, we're getting to the root of the core problem and unpacking that. Yeah, that's so good. And I as you're saying that I mean, really thinking about and evaluating my own experience too are like Oh, like, I can relate to that I definitely in that mode where I had my my dad come You know, baby boomer, you know, corporate structure and in that mode, and, and so that totally resonates. And there can be a lot of positive aspects that are inserted around like how you think about money, but also ones that need unpacking? And to figure out like, why is this influenced the way I think? So Jeff, this has been so good. I'm so grateful that you shared all of this wisdom and this knowledge and definitely again, in the show notes and information down below. We will share resources and information all about Jeff and what he has to provide and how he can help you out.
Thank you again for having me. I have had a great time here.
Yeah, likewise, thanks.
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