Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean that large corporations necessarily know more than you do just because they are bigger. In this episode, I talk to Scott Perry and he shares some valuable insights he’s gained from both the corporate world and the small business world. Big businesses aren’t necessarily smarter than you, they are human and make mistakes as well. Being a small business owner is an isolating experience for many, but it doesn’t have to be.
Scott’s websites: www.mycoloradobusinessbrokers.com
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back, everyone. My guest today on this week’s episode is Scott Perry. Scott has known the law of entrepreneurship his whole life. His father, a builder often had Scott in tow on job sites and in his office, Scott credits this experience in forming his beliefs that there are many types of geniuses among us and how important small business owners are to the fabric that weaves together our communities. After years in the corporate world, he returned to his entrepreneurial roots. Now, as a business broker and business coach, he relishes helping fellow business owners with the challenges of running a business and getting the most they can from their businesses, when they decide it’s time for them to move on to other areas of interest in their life. Scott, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Scott Perry 1:03
Well, thanks so much for having me. I’m really glad to be here.
Katie Brinkley 1:05
Well, let’s start back at the beginning. Tell us a little bit where you grew up, you and I had a brief conversation off air about Michigan. So tell us all about Michigan and life. What, like grown up there? Yeah.
Scott Perry 1:17
So I grew up in Michigan, my dad was a builder, as you mentioned, and I kind of I’m from born and 76. So I’ll give you an idea of my age. I’m 43 now, but at the time, I was the oops, or mistake baby in the in the house. So my mom was really eager to get back to work. And my dad, the deal was alright, I’m going to have this baby, you got to move your office back into the house. And I’m going to go back to work. So I was really raised with my dad in the home instead of a mom in the home, which is a little bit non traditional for that generation, not as much now, but back then. It definitely was. So my dad had his office there, I spent a lot of time hanging with him in his office, going with him in his car to go to the job sites, really getting to know the guys, you know, the plumbers, the excavators, the electricians, and I grew up with them. And I grew up in that world. I grew up in a small business world. And I, I just I always to me, they were geniuses with what they could do with how they could wire a house or you know, how they could dig a basement and I just was in awe. And as I got older and got educated i i Never discounted, you know that yeah, education, formal education is important. And it’s important for definitely for certain segments of our population, but there’s a lot of a lot of things people can do to contribute to our economy. And it requires a lot of different training and education. You know, it’s not one size fits all. So I’m a big fan, I saw the struggles firsthand with these guys who were really good at doing a craft but maybe not as good at running a business. You know, and there’s in there are different things and different skill sets required for doing that. But that didn’t mean that they weren’t intelligent, and really providing valuable service to us. So I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the the small business owners because that’s who I grew up with. And and that stayed with me to this day.
Katie Brinkley 3:04
Can you take us through your career journey where you started out and the different professional stops that you had along the way?
Scott Perry 3:10
Sure. So I, I was an undergrad when I decided to start my first business. And I was going to school at Western Michigan University at the time was walking by a construction site. And the smells just took me home. And I was just like, you know, I’m going to go back and I’m going to set up a business that my parents can have for retirement, I went back and I built a self storage business. I didn’t have any money, nor did my parents were struggling small business owners. And it really, I learned I went through many banks and many rejections to I finally found a lender who was willing to bet on me, and, you know, this college kid with no money to build a business that to this day, we are still owners of and it my parents are now in their mid 70s. And they still go to the shop even during this COVID 19 crisis and they’re still benefiting from the income from that business to this day. So it’s very good. So that’s where I started. That was a brownfield that meaning it was a contaminated site. And one of the reasons why I was able to do it because no one else was going to do it. And so I learned about cleaning up contaminated sites and repurposing them for valuable assets in the community. And so then I became a brownfield redevelopment professional, that’s where I went on and started doing I didn’t I focused on residential. And you can imagine Detroit has a lot of blight, you know, has a lot of, you know, abandoned buildings and a lot of you know, contaminated sites. So there was a lot of inventory out there and I was one of the folks who started working on cleaning it up. So that’s where I started doing that, you know, and I got me involved with building and got me involved with you know, real estate that’s I was also a realtor at the time selling my own product. And I was doing that and going to School at the same time, it took me 11 years to finish my undergrad. So I’m not a doctor by any stretch. But I learned a lot, I would go to school and go back to work. And just depending on where the demands of my time were, and it was when my first daughter was born, I was holding her in the hospital. That night, I was one semester shy of my undergraduate degree. And I said, I looked at her. And I said, you’re never gonna say you didn’t get your college degree. So I went back, got my college degree, 11th year after high school, completed that and, and then I got the bug and went on and did my masters. About the time this was all happening, we started the Great Recession in Detroit. And as a developer, that was really impossible. So
Katie Brinkley 5:46
I’m sure that was next to impossible.
Scott Perry 5:51
I ended my development career and I went corporate, that’s where I went corporate, I’d had a young family just starting out. And I needed to put food on the table. So I went in and put and got hired and became a turner, a business turnaround expert through my corporate experience. That’s what I did. I worked with a company called McKinley and my client, our clients at the time, or Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers. So I was on the front lines of this catastrophic financial crisis, and really got to learn through that experience a lot about business fundamentals, what it takes to turn a business around, that’s failing. And I took that was doing my MBA, then went on and got my MBA. And through that I was recruited out to Colorado, thankfully, and a turn around. To turn around a struggling software company in the mining space. I didn’t know anything about software. I didn’t know anything about the mining industry. My grandfather was a miner, but he died before I was born. So I didn’t have any really connection to that space. And these people were like, What is this homebuilder going to do in our, you know, coming into our space with technology and mining, and what’s he going to be able to do. And fortunately, we were able to do really well, we turned around a really struggling business. And I ended up doing that around the world, also led to another mining company and another technology space that I turned around. And I had done that for these other defaulting portfolio companies that they were funded in during the great recession. And I was doing that now, for these companies in a different time. And, again, different industries, different experiences, but what I learned is business fundamentals, from industry to industry are consistent. And, you know, you’re taking good care of your customers, taking good care of your team, really, you know, making promises that you deliver on, if you do those things you’re gonna do, okay. And that’s really what formed my, my belief that, again, there’s so many geniuses out there in the world, as you mentioned there in the intro, you know, and a lot of them are stifled by, you know, bad leadership and bad cultures and what have you. And if you empower them and allow them to come forward, you can really uncork a lot of success for your company. And that’s what I learned. I then, but I was traveling around the world all the time, I had three kids, my youngest son who has Down syndrome, and I was watching my kids grow up, but they were growing up in a, in a way without me being in their life. And that just was untenable for me. So I made the very painful decision to leave the corporate paycheck, and come home. So that’s what I did. I made that transition. And I wanted to figure out what to do. And so I looked around a buying a business. And that’s where I started. And I looked, and I looked, and I was really disappointed. From, you know, I had a lot of experience in mergers and acquisitions, doing what I was doing. And I was really disappointed to see how small business owners are being represented. So I decided through my wife surging to go ahead and become a business broker, and, you know, hopefully serve them in a level that I felt was more appropriate for them. So that’s how I got to where I’m at today.
Katie Brinkley 9:18
Wow. And, I mean, you started to throw out some really great advice there. And if you know if someone is listening right now, who isn’t aspiring or new business owner, what is the single biggest piece of advice that you would want to give him or her is that the journey starts
Scott Perry 9:33
being a small business owner, first of all, takes tremendous courage and fears, the biggest impediment to people becoming a small business owner. And, you know, a lot of people think they can’t do it. They they know how to do one thing, but not all the other things that go into running a business. And what I have found and what I would say to these folks, is you know what, I used to think I was a small business owner. I had this external world, crater, my ability to run my business, and I felt like a failure. And I really took it hard, it was a real personal failure for me to have this to just lose a dream that was really, really important to me. And I had this idea that these big corporations with all of the people they have on their payroll, obviously, were infinitely smarter and better at running the business than the small business owners. So I went to work and learn from the corporate world. And, you know, I worked with board of directors for both public and private companies, and CEOs for both public and private companies. And what I learned is, you know, we’re all human, we all have the same level of intelligence within a range, we all have the same level of skill within a range. And the big businesses are not any smarter, they’re not any more capable than a small business owners, they just have more people, and they throw more money at stuff, but they make a lot of mistakes. They’re not as innovative. They’re, they don’t use their money, then resources as wisely as they need to, because it’s not going to depend, it’s not going to affect their meal at home when they go home that week. So small business owners, the people, my advice to them is, you know what, you are as smart and as capable as anybody out there, go out, take the risk, take destiny, your destiny is in your control. And in the end, there are so many people out there who are resources and available to help you along the way. If you’re not good at accounting, there are so many firms out there who specialize in helping small businesses with their accounting, you know, from payroll to operate, you know, the receivables and payables and all that stuff. They’ll help you.
Katie Brinkley 11:51
And I think that that brings up a really valid point, you know, there are so many other small businesses or businesses out there that one can help you or to, you know, they can offer you advice, and, and help you in that way. And there’s no reason that as a small business, you need to do everything on your own. There are accountants out there, there’s marketing people out there, there’s so many other routes that you can go if something’s not your strong suit, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask for help.
Scott Perry 12:22
Yes. And that’s your right, Katie, you know, so many people are, being a small business owner is an isolating experience for many. They feel there, they have to do everything on their own. They wear all the hats, you’ve heard that how you know how many hats in the kitchen is that Chef wearing and what have you. So there’s people who are helping you with a great marketing expertise, great accounting, expertise, great, you know, team management expertise, product, expertise, you name it, there’s people out there, and the more these small business owners open themselves up, to getting help from people outside of their business, the more successful they often become.
Katie Brinkley 13:01
Absolutely, you couldn’t have said it better at that was a very well put. And I think that a lot of small businesses just need to realize why they’re there in the business that they are, if they have a passion behind it. And there’s no reason that they can’t raise their hand and ask for help. Because they’ll they’ll just end up being more successful.
Scott Perry 13:21
There is I mean, LinkedIn is a great platform for that, right? I mean, there’s so many of us out on that platform. We’re out there making ourselves available, letting people know, we’re here to help. You know, and a lot of business small business owners worry about the resources it’s gonna take to get that help. You know, and so they go off, do I buy dye pay this person to do that? Or do I pay an employee to do it and what have you, and that’s so often a big challenge. And look, I, what I learned, as I told you growing up, if I’m going to build a house, if I’m gonna build a deck, you know, if I’m not a good carpenter, I’m gonna hire a carpenter to build the deck. I can do the demolition, I can dig the hole in the earth For He can put the wood in, you know, but as far as the carpentry, I’m gonna hire that expert. You know, and for small business owners, I think one of the greater challenges for them is saying no, staying in their lane, do what they do well, and what they don’t do well get help.
Katie Brinkley 14:21
Exactly. I mean, if you if you could go back and do anything differently in your journey to where you are now. Would you change anything? Is there any way that you would have either left the corporate world sooner? Are there certain things that you would have asked for help on when you started your small business and entrepreneurial journey?
Scott Perry 14:37
Yes, God, I could, I could write a book on that. But to answer your question, yeah, I would ask for help earlier and more often. You know, I I’m always astonished when I do ask for help. And I get that help. I always say to myself, why didn’t I do this sooner? You know, I mean, you want to grow a business you want to be successful now? every business owner has a different level and a different measurement for success. But ultimately it’s able to it’s to preserve your independence. It’s to be to be your boss to have the control of your destiny not to have the outside interfere and dictate what you can and cannot do on a daily basis. There are so many people who are dedicated to helping you realize that dream on a daily basis, engage them, talk to them, reach out, figure out who best to help you and have them help you and your business will benefit more often than not leaps and bounds.
Katie Brinkley 15:31
What does your model look like for finding and engaging and selling to your ideal clients and customers these days? Have you moved a lot more work? Online? Have you offered? Like webinars or anything? Or is business kind of business as usual? For you?
Scott Perry 15:46
That’s a good question. You know, one of the things when I when I started this business was I wanted the ability to have flexibility of where I work, you know, and I wanted to be able to work from home a great deal of that time, because I wanted to be around for my children. So that was an important piece. So I still do I just work from home more now instead of going to meeting with clients, or going to our offices or what have you. But yeah, so I’m definitely working from home more. But what a different world we live in today, working from home and working remote is so much easier than it’s ever been. And it’s only getting easier. So, you know, as far as having to, you know, be on a plane or you know, to go meet with people face to face, which is my preference. There are a lot of alternatives that are viable in this day and age, and we’re being forced to learn them. I, for example, there’s a client I have who is a, it has a counseling business. And their counselors were very reticent to to do remote service provide their services via technology, they wanted to be face to face with that person. And there’s a lot of value to be face to face, no question. But what they have found through this crisis is they’ve had to pivot and had to provide these services through different platforms. And they’re astonished with how effective they’re being. And so that’s going to change their business model going forward. And what I have found, sorry, to ramble, but what I have found is that during that the businesses that I have sold in the last couple of years, the best ones survived the great recession, changed how they adapt, they adapted, they adapted their business model, they adapted what they did, they learned, they said, I don’t want to be in this situation. So they changed. And their businesses were beautiful and stronger as a result. So, you know, we often think of Darwin is survival of the fittest, but it’s not. It’s it’s those who adapt the best. And if you remain adapt, I’ll go ahead.
Katie Brinkley 17:43
Oh, I was gonna say, yeah, it that brings up a really strong point, I think that all small businesses right now are trying to pivot and change the way that they’re doing their business online to more of an online platform. And they’re being forced to think of new ways. And this, I only see this benefiting in the long run. Because once we are all able to go out and get haircuts and go to a coffee shop and go to a restaurant, all these places are going to have things set up online to just hopefully, they’ll keep them active. And they can just have another form of income coming in.
Scott Perry 18:21
Absolutely. And you know, and that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing restaurants, who are finding ways to grow their takeout business, for example, like I have a client whose was restaurant was 70% in dining and 30% takeout he really ignored his takeout. Well, now he’s forced to do 100% takeout. You know, I have another client who owns a bar, and they do live entertainment. So now they’re providing live entertainment, via the internet, you know, and I’ve suggested that they do a subscription model, maybe $1 a month to participate in the trivia nights or $1 a month to watch the shows on Friday nights or what have you, that doesn’t have to go away when we are able to return and go back to their business in person. They can be an additional revenue stream that’s on there and that they’re supporting. There’s a lot of things that people will do to pivot and to change and adapt and those who do will find a great success long term.
Katie Brinkley 19:13
What type of marketing Have you found works best for your business?
Scott Perry 19:17
The best for us is doing anything through SEO Pay Per Click the digital outreach is definitely works best for us. And I think what I’ve noticed and I’ve been in many industries now over my career is that that isn’t going away it shifts you know, from month to month or year to year what what is more important SEO pay per click Facebook ads, Instagram campaigns, brand ambassadors, you can continue to go on and on. But the new normal is definitely going to be digital. It is it is digital. And so you better find companies that can support you in navigating and it’s dynamic. You know what happens is when the SEO everyone starts putting Other resources and SEO, that becomes harder and more expensive. So then people find that pay per click has become cheaper. So they go there. Well, the problem is everyone goes over there eventually. And the SEO is now cheaper. So it’s it’s ever shifting, dynamic. And you have to be with people who can, you can’t run your business 100% focused on your business, and focused on things like that is too much going on. It’s changing too fast, you need experts who you can count on, who can really focus and keep in help you guide you to the changes that are happening on a daily basis. Now, I
Katie Brinkley 20:35
know that you mentioned that you left the corporate world to spend more time at home and be more available for your family. And that’s one passion that so many business and small businesses and entrepreneurs have is to build a business around their lifestyle, not the other way around. How’s that played out in your story and approach to running your business?
Scott Perry 20:53
Well, it does. It’s not, it’s not easy. You know, like, you know, my wife would, before all this, she was traveling extensively for work. So you know, I have three kids, and I’d get the call from school and have to go pick up a sick kid, you know, that’s hard, you know, I’m sorry, I need to run, my kid is sick, and there’s no one else I need to go pick them up. So you know, it, our lives are complicated. And this is a complicated world we live in, and that’s not going to change. You know, for me, though, my gratification comes from, I get to have a lot of say, in when and where I’m at, and what I’m doing. It’s not dictated by somebody else, I’m able to participate and coach my kids in their sports. Yep, help them now, even as a state, you know, with the homeschooling that we’re all forced to do now, you know, my wife and I are tag teaming, you know, she, you know, she’s doing a lot of it, you know, because her her thing is shut down right now. And I’m still trying to keep moving forward. And but I’m here, when the kids need an extra hit, when they get more than one needs help, they’re coming to see me and I can take the time out and help them out. And it’s fantastic. I feel so grateful that I get to do that. And that’s the thing I learned from my father, you know, I mean, he was able to take me with him into his office, take me with him in the car and the job sites and I do the same thing with my kids. And that, just that being around that environment and seeing, you know, having that realize, you know, you can do, you can work differently, you don’t have to go to a retail store or an office building or something like that. To get paid, it’s so it’s so gratifying to be able to have your work on your terms, even though your customer you have to work. It’s not like you work less, you often work more, but at least you’re in control of when and how you
Katie Brinkley 22:42
work. And I think that that brings up a good point of sometimes you do end up working more as a small business and entrepreneur, different hours and having to try how do you establish boundaries for your customers and clients?
Scott Perry 22:56
That’s a great question, Katie, it’s a tough thing. You know, it’s an eternal struggle for a small business owner. You know, I think, you know, when you’re, when you’re in the corporate world is the company politics dictate a lot of that pressure to be available to be accessible to be getting things done on the deadlines that they said, when you work for yourself, your customers, replace that pressure, and make sure that you are still doing what you need to do to make a living. But you know, when you’re a small business owner, you are able to say to them, Look, I’m only I’m not available at this time to this time, you have to make those hard choices about your work life balance and what works for you. You may want to be available on weekends. But if you’re available on weekends, make sure you take a day or two off during the week, every week. That is for you. Because the hardest thing for a small business owner is self care. You know, we were so concerned about our business, we’re so concerned about our families, we often come in last place when it comes to taking care of ourselves. And I’m as guilty of this as anybody and you know, so finding ways to block out time and say, you know, I’m really busy in the app after 12 to 12 to six o’clock is one of the busiest Okay, well then before 12 o’clock, why don’t you take a time from 10 to 11. That’s your gym time or your run time or your bike time or your yoga time or what have you. You can force you can control your schedule. So make I’ll make non traditional times when less people are doing it. And you can have more access to the stuff that helps you feel better to get through the day.
Katie Brinkley 24:28
Yeah, I’m the same way. I definitely was one of the people that put myself last and I kept saying, Oh, well, I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to go to the gym and I finally just had to be like, Look, I still I still matter. I had to set a time in my schedule and be like, alright, well, these days, I’m going to the gym or I’m going to go for a walk or I’m going to go that’ll be my time to go have lunch with my mom, you know, so it’s definitely one of the things I think a lot of small business owners do is because they’re trying to gain clients trying to gain customers and bring in the income, because it’s just you that you can count on. So you got to keep yourself in mind with with all of your business decisions.
Scott Perry 25:14
Well, you know, and there’s there’s three core things that matter to a human’s ability to maintain a lower than Ness lower than high stress level, which is your mental health, your physical health and your financial health. And as a small business owner, what I do is each day, I make sure I do one thing that’s for my mental health, at least at least one thing for my physical health, and at least one thing for my financial health. And I feel at the end of the day, if I’ve at least on one thing in each of those categories, I’m better off than it was the day before, you know, and not to overwhelm yourself.
Katie Brinkley 25:49
Absolutely. I think that’s a go three things are really important. And I’m actually going to make sure I write it down and try and implement that in my own life. What is that? I would say? That’s some great advice right there. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? And how has it impacted your business or your life,
Scott Perry 26:07
I would say, you know, my father, drilled into my head, never burn a bridge. And you know, that, and if you want to change something, do it from the inside, not the outside. So those two things have really stuck with me, you know, over a career, you’re going to encounter different difficult buyers, customers, difficult bosses, difficult, difficult co workers, difficult employees, and what have you, it’s really hard not to burn bridges. And I work really hard not to burn bridges. And I’m not perfect. I mean, human, there’s some, there’s some bridges that I’ve torched along the way, but I really tried to preserve them. And I often find that when you, you’re surprised, as as you go through this journey, when you need help, or you need something, a bridge that you would have wanted to burn years ago, and you didn’t becomes a valuable connection. So that’s one. And the other one is, you know, it’s easy to judge and to say, hey, you should do this, you should do this. But unless you’re involved in the, in what they’re doing, when they’re shoes, you know, you’re better off, just to keep your opinions to yourself. So I try to do those two things. It helps me not burn bridges. And it helps me have a good network of resources that you know, and I need them
Katie Brinkley 27:24
from time to time. It’s always good to keep a good resource in your back pocket. Yeah, absolutely. Scott, this has been such a great conversation. Where can we find out more about you and your business online?
Scott Perry 27:35
Sure. My website is my Colorado business brokers.com. That’s my business. I’m here to be a resource for business owners, I can coach I can help them as they navigate, decide to exit their business and sell their business. That’s a real complicated process. But you know, as more than anything, I have a lot of experience I’ve been I’ve seen a lot of things in this world. I’m happy to be a resource to any small business owner who’s looking for some
Katie Brinkley 28:02
help. Awesome. Well, thank you again, so much for coming on the show. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for Katie Brinkley. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.