Oftentimes as entrepreneurs, we get caught up in the many aspects that are involved in running our small businesses. In this episode of Rocky Mountain Marketing, we speak with Jessica Fialkovich, owner of Transworld Business Advisors. Jessica explains the importance of managing your finances and not getting caught up in the many other aspects of running your company. Paying attention to your financials will help you not only grow but figure out how much your company is truly worth.
A great episode for all small business owners that might be putting their financials on the back burner.
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 is Jessica FIAC KOVITCH. Jessica became a first time entrepreneur at the age of 25, and has since been able to successfully establish develop and sell multiple small businesses and a number of different industries. In the last eight years as a co owner and president of Transworld business advisors, Rocky Mountain, Jessica has been able to build her business brokerage firm from a two person team to one of the top firms in the country. Jessica is also the founder of exit strategy, which teaches business owners how to buy and sell businesses for the most profit in the least amount of time. As an entrepreneur, Jessica is passionate about small businesses driving our economy. She is an active member of Entrepreneurs Organization, serving as president of the Colorado chapter this coming year. Jessica is originally a Jersey girl that now lives in Colorado with her husband and two dogs, moose and sailor. When she’s not working. You can find her either enjoying the outdoors or attending a Bruce Springsteen concert. Jessica, welcome to the podcast today. Thank you, Katie, thank you so much for having me. Yeah, so I grew up in a small town in southern New Jersey. So unlike what everybody thinks New Jersey is like I actually grew up on a farm. I grew up with horses, cats, dogs, my mom used to nurse deer back to health, like whatever kind of wandered into our yard. Awesome. Yeah, so I grew up in a very small town. Not many people are familiar with it. But it’s in the Cherry Hill area. Like if you put adopt between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, kind of like in the middle there. Yeah. And I was very active in sports. I rode horses. I played field hockey. You know, all that good stuff. That’s awesome. How did how did your career bring you out here to Colorado? How did that affect your eventual professional journey out here? Yeah, so actually, like you, I worked in sports, coming out of college. So I worked for the Philadelphia Eagles, and then the Philadelphia Flyers. And during my time there, I reconnected with my now husband, we went to high school together. And we weren’t friends. Sorry. My husband and I both went to the same high school and reconnected after college also. Yeah, yeah. So a couple years after college, and we got introduced via email. And so he was working in Aspen at the time. And he’s like, okay, so I could quit and move back to Philadelphia, or you could quit move to Aspen. I’m like, I’m coming to Aspen. Like, who doesn’t want to do that? Yeah. So. So I was fortunate enough to get a job in commercial real estate development and Aspen. And that’s kind of what originally what brought me out to Colorado, but have left briefly went to Florida for a couple years, but came back but you know, have felt fall in love and was Colorado and never leaving again. Now, tell us a little bit about your education to get into commercial real estate at the beginning. Yeah, so um, you know, I went to school for international business and PR, which I kind of use, but not really. So my background is really in marketing. And I got into commercial real estate on the marketing side. And we were big developer at the time. And you know, from that, I learned a little bit more about the transactional side to and after that job kind of ended. So that was, it was with a developer, like I said, up in Snowmass, and we were financed by Lehman Brothers. So in 2009, you know, we all got laid off, like everybody else.
Jessica Fialkovich 3:36
So I used that experience in marketing to actually open a wine store to start with. And that was, that was my first business on my own. And I really loved it. But I honestly in like two years, I decided that I wanted to get out. So use my real estate background to learn how to sell businesses to so that’s kind of like the parlay of like, Alright, how do we go from this marketing background into selling businesses for a living?
Katie Brinkley 4:03
Now, why wine?
Jessica Fialkovich 4:05
So it’s a funny story, and I can talk about this because our friends are totally no story. But so we’re living in Aspen and, you know, two of our most like fun friends and we thought most successful business owners owned a little wine store, and downtown Aspen and we’re like this is seems like the perfect job to do like Who wouldn’t want to sell wine all day. And that’s about as much thought as we put into the business plan. So, um, you know, so we kind of stole a few of their ideas, and they helped us and we opened basically a duplicate version of their wine store in Naples, Florida. And I learned along the way, it wasn’t as easy as it looked, obviously. But we did have fun with it. And I learned a lot about wine to
Katie Brinkley 4:46
take us through your career journey, after the wine store and you know, from where you started out and the different professional stops along the way that led to where you are today.
Jessica Fialkovich 4:55
Yeah, so so like I said, we’re in Naples, Florida and operating the wine store. Two and a half years into it. I was skiing in Aspen back with our family. And I was like, You know what, I just want to get out of this. So we went to try and sell the company and nobody would really help us do it. So we went to and we talked to a bunch of different people. They’re like, Oh, well, you’re too small. And, you know, we were a small company. But we’re doing about two and a half 3 million in revenue annually at the time. So not super small, right? Oh, yeah, that’s great. Yeah. So we ended up having to figure it out. And when I say we, me, and my husband had to figure it out ourselves of how to sell the company. So we sold our wine store. And then we took six months off and did this long road trip or trying to figure out what we were going to do next. And we knew we were going to land in Denver. So randomly in Denver, there was a business brokerage firm for sale. And I said, Well, I think I think that could be interesting. I think that could be our next business. Since we just sold our company, we helped my in laws sell one of their companies. And so we ended up buying the firm in Denver, and started that in 2013. And like you said, just the two of us, so me and my husband, sharing a small office in our apartment, you know, building the company from scratch, and really start focusing and helping small business owners like ourselves. So our first few deals were in restaurants and liquor stores and things we’re familiar with, if someone
Katie Brinkley 6:18
is listening right now, who is an aspiring or new business owner, what the single biggest piece of advice that you would want to give him or her as the journey starts.
Jessica Fialkovich 6:26
So I always say that the first year you start a business, it’s gonna be the hardest year you’ll ever have. And then the second year is gonna be the second hardest year you’ll ever have. It’s totally worth it in the end. But a lot of the stories that you hear about now of overnight, and online millionaires and things like that, it’s just, it’s just not true. Like, it’s just luck, right? So my biggest piece of advice is, you’re going to have to work harder than you even think hard work is in those first couple years. And if you lay a good foundation of hard work, you really will reap the rewards and years, three, four, and five,
Katie Brinkley 7:02
if you could go back and do anything differently in your journey to where you are now, what would you change, if anything.
Jessica Fialkovich 7:08
Um, I got a serious, so I don’t think anything like I mean, there’s obviously, you know, missteps and things you’d want to do differently, but I have become a strong believer and that everything builds to where you are now. And you wouldn’t be where you are. Now, without that journey. And some of those missteps on a non serious note, I always say I would have gone to more Bruce Springsteen concerts, specifically these ones in October in 2009, I missed one, he was closing the spectrum in Philadelphia. But that’s not serious note.
Katie Brinkley 7:40
I mean, you get to deal with a lot of people that are looking to sell their businesses. Do you think that you could give like any advice for or what what do you think the biggest mistake that a lot of these businesses owners make, when they’re, they kind of decide to sell as, as opposed to trying to grow and sustain the business?
Jessica Fialkovich 7:57
Yeah, I think the biggest mistake is even when the start is starting out, is not paying enough attention to the financials of the business. So oftentimes, as entrepreneurs, and I, myself, too, we get caught up in the sales and the marketing and strategy. And we’re like, oh, our bookkeeper or CPA will just take care of the financials. But financials really play the biggest part in selling your company. It’s not just selling your company, but it’s understanding how to grow your business, if you have a good strong understanding of your financials, you can grow much, much more profitably, if you need to get alone like your financials have to be in order. So so really paying attention to those and understanding very early on how the p&l interacts, the balance sheet interacts with your cash flow and your bank statements. And I know it’s not super sexy, it’s not the funnest part of the business. But it really is hugely impactful, especially when you go to sell clean financials make or break deals every day.
Katie Brinkley 8:53
What does your model look like for finding and engaging in selling your ideal clients and customers these days?
Jessica Fialkovich 9:00
Yeah, so these days, you know, we’re actually focused in the baby boomer markets. So about half of all small businesses are owned by the baby boomer generation. So that’s, I mean, that’s our target demographic right now. And we reached them a number of different ways. But, you know, that generation and I think even in small business and Colorado, especially, we’re, we’re a face to face community, right? We build relationships. So no matter what we’re doing, the whole point is trying to build a relationship with our customers. So whether it’s, you know, a podcast that we’re doing or a webinar or networking meeting, the point is to try to engage somebody into a relationship and then deliver them value have conversations like we just did, like, how can I prepare my company for sale? How can I get more money, you know, give value show that we’re in the relationship too, so that eventually we will be the broker selected to do business with them.
Katie Brinkley 9:53
Now for our listeners that are listening to the podcast right now. We’re right in the middle of the Coronavirus. You know, work from home, everyone’s under lockdown right now, how I know that you mentioned that you have the podcast and you’re doing webinars, have you found that you’re increasing your, you know, virtual and like zoom meetings for a lot of your sales?
Jessica Fialkovich 10:15
Yeah, we I mean, everything’s on Zoom. It’s almost zoomed out, right. So, but yeah, we’ve moved all our internal meetings to zoom. Fortunately, we so we have five offices up and down the front range, and we work virtually a lot as a team. So that’s been really easy. The internal side. On the sales side, it’s, like I said, especially our target demographic, there are a lot of face to face people. So it has been challenging for us to do sales, virtually, we still been doing a lot of conference calls, which we’ve always done a few more zoom meetings, we’ve done even like a few showings of businesses through FaceTime and things like that is definitely a pivot for us. And it’s been an eye opener of how we could use our time more efficiently. But it’s also solidified how important that face to face interaction is with our clients to
Katie Brinkley 11:02
what type of marketing Have you found works best for your business.
Jessica Fialkovich 11:06
So we I mean, we do a number of different things. But like I said, again, face to face, older demographic we’re trying to really reach reach them on a relationship level. So referrals and networking is by far our number one. So we almost treat our referral client referral partners like clients, right? So we’re catering to them on a regular basis, we’re making sure we’re providing value to them as well. So we’re continuing to get referrals out of that relationship. And then obviously, delivering results there. We do some social media marketing tools, specifically through LinkedIn, since we’re trying to reach reach business owners, we spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. And then we have, like I mentioned, we’ve pivoted into podcasts and webinars, actually, our demographic really responds well, to podcasts, online videos, they use that as a resource and education pretty heavily.
Katie Brinkley 11:55
What do you like best about living here in Colorado and work? I mean, you you left for a little bit. And you know, you said you came back? And you’d never do that, again, mistaken leaving? What’s the appeal to having your business and life here?
Jessica Fialkovich 12:08
I love the community, right? So I originally came from for the skiing for the sunshine, like all the stuff that you hear about, like why you should live in Colorado. But what I’ve grown to love about our state is that we’re such a tight knit community, and we’re such an entrepreneurial community. And the two of those combined is super powerful, especially as a small business owner to know that you have a group of colleagues and peers that are going to support you. And you know, you mentioned in my bio, I’m a member of Entrepreneurs Organization, which has been a huge asset for me.
Katie Brinkley 12:44
But can you talk a little bit about that organization for us?
Jessica Fialkovich 12:48
Yeah. So Entrepreneurs Organization is a peer group of business owners that own businesses that do more than a million per year. We also have an accelerator group for businesses between 250,000 A million. But we get together once a month and what we call forums. So there’s seven to nine people. It’s kind of like a super deep, intimate mastermind. So we talk about the highest of highs and lowest of lows, things you can’t share with your employees, your parents, sometimes even your spouse, you know, all that kind of stuff. And then we also have learning events and personal development, things like that. But what I love about Colorado is Entrepreneurs Organization is just one of tons of those types of organizations in our state. And I have never seen a more supportive environment for people no matter what stage of business you’re in, whether you’re in startup growth exit, everyone’s just so caring for each other.
Katie Brinkley 13:41
Now, you said you know you had more of a marketing background. But granted you had a degree in International Business. What did you have a mentor or anyone that really kind of helped you learn a lot of things along the way to buying businesses and starting, you know, the successful brokerage firm?
Jessica Fialkovich 13:57
Yeah, so my my brokerage firm actually as part of a franchise on so we own the franchise offices for the state of Colorado. But the current owner of Transworld business advisors, global, he’s on the business for over 25 years. And he’s been a very big mentor for me, and really coached me on how to build a business brokerage firm how to be successful. His partner in the business also has built a huge he’s on the franchise side. So he’s built a huge one of the biggest franchise companies in the world. So they both helped and coached me along the way. I also have a really great friend, Heidi Kunal, who’s a local entrepreneur, she started and founded Camp Bow, and she’s been a great mentor to me, not just on the business side, but like, life is being you know, a woman in business. And as we’re thinking about starting family, how do we balance that stuff? So, I mean, those are the three mentors in my life right now that have really supported me over the last 10 years. But all along the journey, you know, I think you always have different mentors and I have to, you know, at different stages In my life,
Katie Brinkley 15:01
I think that a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs kind of have this brilliant idea. And then they find, like you said, you know that they haven’t been keeping up with the books correctly or something, and then they can get discouraged or overwhelmed. And then they decide to go back to corporate America and having somebody that’s a mentor, or, you know, that you can reach out to and just ask for advice from it’s so important.
Jessica Fialkovich 15:22
Yes, yeah, it really is. And I have a good friend, and he told me, life’s too short to learn all the mistakes yourself. And so to be whether it’s being surrounded by peers or mentors, I mean, it’s so right, you can’t you can’t make every mistake yourself in business, like you have to learn from others, if you’re going to one survive into thrive.
Katie Brinkley 15:44
One passion that so many business owners and entrepreneurs have is to build a business around their lifestyle, not the other way around. How has that played out in your story and approach to running your business?
Jessica Fialkovich 15:55
Um, I think it ebbs and flows, right. So when when you’re in the startup phase, or your first Bio Business, like, I just don’t think it’s realistic to have that ideal lifestyle, or you hear like this work life balance all the time. And I really don’t like that term. I like this more like, you know, ebb and flow, because there’s some days where you just have to focus more personally. And there’s some days where and some times in your business where you just you have to work 80 hours a week. And again, it really depends on your goals, too, right? If you’re trying to build a million dollar company, and you want to work 20 hours a week, or the four hour week to various bottle, right? It’s probably not gonna work, right. But you could also build a very successful profitable company that maybe doesn’t scale a million dollars, but provides the lifestyle that you want. So I think it’s looking at the goals and figuring out, what do you really want, and then you’re going to have to adjust your lifestyle, if you’re chasing some of the bigger goals. So that that’s kind of my philosophy on it, it’s really comes down to, you know, if you want the work life balance, you’re probably not going to have the multi million dollar company. If you want the multi million dollar company in the first couple years, you’re not going to have that work life balance.
Katie Brinkley 17:06
And I guess that dives right into my next question of what the best piece of advice is that you’ve ever received, and how has that impacted your business or your life?
Jessica Fialkovich 17:15
So great question. You know, I think the best piece of advice I’ve ever received, it’s been more reason it’s been a lesson I’ve, I’ve learned in the last few years, actually, I’m started continuing to learn it, especially through this COVID 19 crisis is that don’t focus on what you can’t control. So in my past, like I’ve focused on what my competitors are doing, or what the government’s doing right now shutting down everything, right. And it, it takes your attention away from your business and from your goals. And not that it’s like, yeah, you should know what’s going on in the economic environment, you should know generally what your competitors are doing. But you can’t control any of that you can only control your actions day to day. So that’s what I’ve tried to focus on this also reduce my anxiety a lot. So that’s been helpful.
Katie Brinkley 18:04
Before we finish up, is there anything that I didn’t ask you during today’s discussion that you think is important to share?
Jessica Fialkovich 18:10
Um, no, I guess this we’re still in this like, whole COVID thing, too, and whether, you know, maybe this airs, and hopefully we’re all allowed out of our houses at some point, sometimes. But I’d say, you know, one of my mentors, tells me to ride the road roller coaster with a smile. And you know, as an entrepreneur, whether it’s a crisis like COVID, or your revenue goes down, or you lose a big client, or you get a big client, you know, it is a roller coaster ride if you just enjoy the journey, it’s a lot easier along the way. So that would be the last thing I’d end with. Jessica, this has
Katie Brinkley 18:43
been such a great conversation. Where can we find out more about you and your business online? Yeah, thanks.
Jessica Fialkovich 18:49
So you can find me at Jessica fer kovitch.com That’s FIA LK, O V ich. And then I’m also on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn at Jessica FIAC
Katie Brinkley 19:00
KOVITCH. Wonderful. Thank you again so much for coming on the show. Thanks, Katie. 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.