Systemize Your Business Towards Freedom And Profits With Josh Fonger
Business owners always have a business plan or strategy that aligns with their business goals. But implementing business plans could be a hard task, and without proper execution, it will get them further away from their business goals. In this episode, Josh Fonger, CEO of WTS Enterprises (Work The System), discusses how they help business owners systematize their business with a simple yet effective approach to business success. This simple task is just by having a good system and documents. Listen to have a deep dive knowledge on how to work this out!
Listen to the podcast here
Systemize Your Business Towards Freedom And Profits With Josh Fonger
I have something special for all of my coaches and the audience. If you’re a long-time reader, you knew that I talked about this before. It’s called ClientFol.io. It’s my system that I had built to automate my coaching practice, take better notes, make sure my clients are performing at the highest level and get the results that I promised. This system is unlike any other coaching software you’ve ever seen.
It takes care of session notes and hallmarks, but we also provide a client portal so your clients can log in and get all of this information from the time they spent with you. It’s only $20 a month. You can even try it for $1, so go to GetClientFolio.com and give it a whirl. Now, onto my guest and his incredible story. Some of us see things differently. That’s why this guest and I have this incredible common bond because we’re systems.
As an electrical engineer specializing in Computer Science, I build stuff for a living and I use a system to make sure what I build works, so does my guest, except he does it from a different perspective. He studied with the master of system building, Sam Carpenter. When Sam retired, his best student became the teacher.
Based on Sam’s book, Work The System, my guest bought the company and took his concepts even further with time and refinements that have produced a jewel of a systems approach, which you’re going to hear about that can benefit any business out there, including yours. Welcome to the show, Josh Fonger.
I’m glad to be here. Thanks, Mitch.
Josh, go into some detail. How did this all get started for you?
Probably like most of your guests, it wasn’t on purpose. My background is in real estate development. I had my undergraduate in Architecture. I wanted to be an architect. I got my Master’s in Business and thought that I would go on and work in commercial real estate. In 2008, that changed for me because I lost my job, as with all my friends who got laid off at the time. I had to figure out something else to do with my skills and ended up that was not real estate. After applying for jobs around the world, the only thing that landed for me was to be a consultant with a boutique firm, helping flooring store owners.
At the time, I did not want the job and be a consultant. I wrote my thesis paper about why you should not hire a consultant. I wasn’t that interested in doing it, but I fell in love with it. I loved the challenge of solving complex problems. I loved working with business owners in helping them grow their leaders or pillars in their community and solving this problem. It became something I got addicted to. As I was flying from company to company around the country, I got to a point where I was getting burned out from flying and being away from my family.Love the challenge of solving complex problems. Click To Tweet
I was starting to see that the problems I was solving with these companies, whether it was cultural change, financial model, inventory management or sales management, wherever we were training the company, I eventually noticed that the problem would come back. Once that person I trained left, the problem would come back or once enough time went by, they would have the same recurring problems come back again. What I was doing wasn’t working long-term and that’s when I met Sam Carpenter.
I met him in Bend, Oregon. I was living up there and went out for coffee. He was at the phase in his career where he didn’t need work and the money, but he wanted to get his book out there and make sure people learn from his mistakes and major success of going from 100-hour workweeks down to 2-hour work weeks and how did he grow his income by 20 times while he did that. I was intrigued by this methodology. It’s called Work The System Method. What I realized was the piece I was missing in my consulting was I wasn’t documenting the systems of the business.
We were teaching them and hoping that they would remember it. That wasn’t a good way to go about it. After working with him for years, we’ve gone in and come up with a methodology to help any business, whether it’s big or small, to think differently about business, document the essentials of their business and then allow those systems to improve with time because people come and go but the systems, business and infrastructure are going to stay. Ultimately, that’s where the freedom and value of creation come in all business.
That’s a very common process. We’ve seen over the years when you train people and Tony used to say this all the time. People come back every year to the same training because although he changes their state while in that room when they leave, they don’t have a process. Tony gives them a process, but generally, people don’t follow it and 6 months or 1 year later, they’re back for a recharge.
In my opinion, it’s not just learning. It’s all experience being with Tony Robbins, but it’s because he didn’t implement a full-blown system to keep people in that state all the time. All of us as coaches have the same thing in common and that is how we get our clients to not just benefit from the work we’ve done with them but to keep those benefits over time. Your story is fascinating because everybody has been there.
Think about it. How many of us got either fired, quit a job in disgust, hated our lives, go searching for jobs, can’t find anything and then the one thing that comes along, we’re not even that thrilled with, yet it leads to and opens up a world that we never imagined? I’m certainly glad you took that pathway and I’m sure you and your family are as well. For everybody reading, they want to know, what is it that you do that they can do? What is your process they can implement to change and improve their own business?
I love talking about the simple steps for you to understand as I go through them but more challenging to put into practice in real life. There are a few key pillars. The first one is you need to change your mindset and this can be done in an instant. We call it the systems mindset. For Sam Carpenter, this happened in a dream state one night after not getting enough sleep for years where instead of reacting to his business, taking things as they came to him and trying to solve the problems in real-time, it’s to see your business and life as separate pieces.
In the book, he details how he had this dream of a table. On this table were the separate pieces of his business like the sales over here, how they hired was over there and how they would deposit the checks in another place. He realized that his business was built of these separate little systems. If he took each of these pieces, which were not very difficult to solve individually, he documented, systemized and put them back together, he could have a perfect business.
The first step in our methodology is you need to see that you’re in control of your business, above your business and get a different vantage point where instead of you being the operator where you’re there, you being the owner where you’re above looking down on the actual work that’s happening, identifying the separate pieces and separating them enough, so you have a chance of having others come in and help you with those pieces. The first piece is having that systems mindset. The second core piece is you need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. You need to write it down.
Oftentimes, I’ve talked to owners and they say, “We know where we’re going and everyone knows how we’re going to get there,” but they haven’t taken the time to write it down in a succinct enough way where their team can look at it, buy into it and be a part of making that happen whatever their day-to-day work is. We call it a strategic objective. Other people out there have books written about how to write these documents. The main thing is you need to do it and take some time.
The reason owners don’t do this is that they like to be nimble, be flexible, have gut reactions and change course. If you’re an owner, operator, solopreneur of one person and you always want to be that way, that’s fine. If you want to move beyond you being your entire company, you have to get organized, be consistent and go in a straight direction for some time or at least your business does. As you step away, your business can continue to go on that trajectory.
It sounds like what you’re saying is you sit down and think about your goals for your business and write them down. Other people might call that a business plan in a more detailed way. Some might simply call it your goals and objectives, where you set some goals, put some timeframes in place and attach a few tasks to each like, “One of my goals is to get to $1 million by the end of 2021. I want to get there because I want to advertise more on Facebook or add another product to my product mix. I want to acquire another company that has revenue already.” Is that what you’re talking about?
There are some elements there that would overlap. When I work with a company, they have some documents like this over the years that they’ve put together. The difference is this would be a strategy for the operation of the business forever for the next years. This document is still going to hold. It’s a little bit higher level and it’s going to identify your core product or core customer on how you do what you do and how your team is going to work to make that happen. It’s not you. It’s your company. It’s describing that North Star and how your company is going to get that place.
That doesn’t necessarily need to be you. It’s separate from you. You want yourself and everyone in your company to follow this plan. As an entrepreneur, you can have other plans for other companies, but this one business is all about this one thing. Having some clarity there, we try not to make it short-term. Short-term goal setting and having those tasks to get there is great, but this would be broader, higher, and hopefully more strategic.
Whenever something comes your way where you might have an opportunity to buy another company or to partner with somebody to allow you to open up a new product or service, you will then take that idea, run it by your strategic objective and say, “This doesn’t fit. This takes us off-course by 5 or 10 degrees.” A lot of the friction and inefficiency in businesses is when owners say yes to too many ideas and dilute what is going to be their direction. They try to do too many things. We want to simplify your business as much as we can so it can scale complicated things. That’s a big part of the strategic objective.
We create the simplest version of our future with definitive objectives and goals as a start. What’s the next step?If you want to move beyond you being your entire company, you have to actually get organized. Click To Tweet
Once you have that strategy, you’re going to have people ideally growing and who are going to be involved in making that strategy happen. That’s where the principles come in. Some people would say values but we call them operating principles or guidelines for decision-making. As you are building up your team, you and everyone on your team want to align by the same ways of thinking. Not just generic terms like customer service and integrity but also describe what that looks like and means in your business.
Every person will bring their history, baggage, and ideas about what these words mean. Therefore, it’s going to cause friction and dilution. What we want to do is in our business, this is what these values mean and how they play themselves out so that everyone’s bought in and you have a smooth reaction. Also, it prevents the need to procedurize and document every nook and cranny of your business because a lot of the little things will be solved with a principle.
If somebody calls you on the phone on your written working procedure, you don’t need to write down, “This is how to be friendly. Smile. After that, do this and shake their hand.” You don’t have to add in all of the other nuances because the principle covers those soft skills that you want to be part of the culture of the business.
You had read my book. In this book, Power Tribes, we talk about creating a culture. One of the things that we have found to be extremely valuable is not to have people memorize anything but to align their values. We call that the Code of Ethics. The values that we’re aligning are the values of the CEO.
It’s not your values as the coach. It’s your clients’ values, the company owner or the owners of the company. Their values are what must be aligned with those who work for them. That eliminates detailed work and tries to document the smallest and silliest little steps. That makes a lot of sense. I like the fact that you incorporate it into your systemized process. What’s next?
As you’re repeating back to me, this is not something new. Why it works is because people have figured this out before. You can read a lot of business books and come to the same conclusion. This is a key element. The next element is what sets us apart as a differentiator and how we fix companies as part of the working procedure.
Once we have the mindset, strategy, and principles, we go through in each person and department what they do daily, weekly, and monthly. We start to identify all those separate things and figure out ways to systemize, document and be consistent with them. How are you going to be more efficient, effective and improve the quality of something, unless you’ve taken the time to write it out or record it so that others can scrutinize it and so that you can use it for training, cross-training and all the other benefits or quality control that happened through documented systems?
The quote that Sam coined years ago was, “The difference between small struggling businesses and large successful companies is that the small ones never document their systems and large ones do.” They documented systems so that they could improve efficiency, quality, training, cross-training and delegation, but the small companies don’t do it. We try to encourage those small companies to start somewhere. The way to get there is to get these systems documented.
We’re going to help coach, train, teach and give you ways to do that. A lot of times, it starts with the owner who is working way too many hours and wearing way too many hats. We will start to extract what they do into a documented form so they can finally free themselves up and be the leader that the company doesn’t currently have because they’re an operator and doing all the work. That’s the big shift.
Josh, I want to tell you about a little trick I learned from my ex-partner, Chet Holmes. When Chet and I were working together, he had this idea that I thought was pretty smart. He said, “The problem we had is we had 1 or 2 positions that people would come and work for a couple of months or maybe even close to a year and then they’d quit. We had to start all over again training them.” Chad had this idea, which I loved. He said, “Why don’t we pay them to document their job and we’ll call it a job book?” This was before we had learning management systems, but now, you record a bunch of videos.
Back then, we would take a new person and say, “We’re about to train you on your entire job function. We want you to document it as we go along and create procedural maps so that others can follow it. The way we use the position is that when we add people under you, you won’t have to train them as much as we’re training you.” They would love the idea of getting a $1,000 bonus a month later for having done that. It sounds like this is a similar process that you’re talking about but more modern.
That’s exactly what it is. This concept is not that modern. This is a 1,000-year-old concept. It’s about being dedicated. The culture in training, what’s done for you and all the services that we do are focused on this because we know it’s not always the most fun thing to do. It’s not one of those things where you do it and the next week you have doubled the sales where you have massive results. The results are slow, steady and exponential.
No one in your field can compete with you because you’ve taken the time to build the infrastructure. The hardest thing is getting the people to all engage long enough to see the transformation and success because the first couple of procedures are not going to do that much, so you say, “I’m going to go on to something more fun.” What you described is tactically one of the things that we do.
Give me an example of some of the clients you’ve worked with. Tell us a couple of war stories. What was the worst client you ever walked into and had to pick them up, shake them out and get them all straightened out? Add some color to this process.
There are a lot of directions we could go with that one. We work with a variety of clients, whether they own a hair salon or they have a SaaS company. One particular person called me. They had a nuclear power plant repair company and would be these $500 to $1 million jobs. They would repair nuclear power plants, which I don’t know anything about the industry. He said, “Josh, I don’t want mindset shift. I want strategy and all this stuff. I want one procedure written. Can you help me with one procedure?” I said, “Sure.”
We’re following the golden rule, “He who has the gold makes the rules.” He wanted this one procedure. I said, “I’ll be here with you.” The one procedure he wanted was how to bid on these jobs. Once we broke out the bidding process, we realized that there are a lot of processes involved in bidding out. These are complicated and risky jobs. He was the only person who knew how to do it. Even though they had 40 employees, he was the guy who’d been at the jobs.It's the implementation of something very simple which is going to allow your business to scale. Click To Tweet
After flying out there and dissecting every single thing that came into bidding out one of these jobs, we realized there were 100 different components to it. It was 95% of those components where somebody else immediately could do and not him. He never took the time to document those little aspects and then hand them off. After we took that very complicated process and segmented it into sub-tasks, he realized that he didn’t need a bit on these projects anymore. He could do the final check at the very end to make sure nothing was haywire.
He said, “Let’s do the whole work system method, do the rest of the company, take this philosophy and go company-wide.” It took a single win in solving that biggest problem for us to help him see that. Often the case, documenting the systems of your company might not sound very sexy, but there is a problem that’s been recurring and you wish it would go away. If you took some time to solve that one, it’s going to free you up to say, “There are other ones we want to solve too.”
You have a defined process and it sounds like it’s been in use for many years. I would like to know how you would contrast this to other business systems like EOS and Gino Wickman’s book, Traction, like the Gazelle system and Empire system. How is this different than those?
There are a ton of systems out there. We get most often compared with the book, The E-Myth because the book is very similar to Sam’s book. Sam’s book might go into a little more detail on documenting systems. One good news is that any one of these methods has been tried and true. That’s at least a step in the right direction. The big difference between us is that they’re often for larger companies and have more complicated implementation than ours. Ours is much simpler. The biggest differentiator is simplicity.
I had one client where I did a workshop with them and I said, “What else is there? Let’s implement this and see how easy it is.” It’s the implementation of something very simple, which is going to allow it to scale, not putting some complicated philosophy that has so many different bells, whistles and new things to change. Owners are okay with change, but the further down you get from the owner, the less likely they are to enjoy change, shifts and ambiguity in gray areas.
We try to say, “This is very simple. Everyone can get it and be involved in making this happen. You don’t need to be a $5 million business to do this. You can be doing $50,000 a year and start doing this.” One of my clients was a pre-revenue and he’s used this methodology that’s always doing $100,000 a month. It can start right where you’re at. That would be the easiest or the biggest differentiator.
That is a great differentiator because you could pick up the book or watch your videos and get a feel right away for what needs to be done even before you start. One of the things that I run into when I implement certification systems within companies is the fact that the owners and team members below the owners get it, but the staff does not. We learned this the hard way in the beginning when we started coaching and consulting on certification. Later, we started introducing a series of training classes for the other people in the company that was going to indirectly be involved with the certified coaches or consultants that were about to onboard. That changed everything.
Many people thanked us for making this available because they realized that they were going to be lost once this new thing started and they didn’t even understand it other than what the owners told them. I agree with you. It’s important to do that. The easiest way for someone to get started should be step one: putting a list of your goals and objectives together and potentially what you are going to do to make them happen. Would you say that would be the best starting place of all?
That’s one way to do it. For people who buy-in, I would list out the things you do daily and weekly and then pick a couple of those that could easily be transferred, if they were documented and start there. Document those particular systems, hand them off and you’re going to say, “I saved myself 1 hour or 2 hours a week. I should keep doing this.” That’s where I started. Keep it very simple, practical, pragmatic and then you can move on to the broader need for the strategy. That’s what helps people get it.
To follow back on what you said about the team, one of the reasons people like to work with us is that once the owner gets the idea and understands the strategy, all of our work is with the lowest level staff on up to mid-management. They’re the ones that are close to the action and doing the daily tasks. Once the owner believes and leads with this strategy, the loaner doesn’t have to do any of the documentation.
The lowest level staff who has documented their systems is getting approved by their middle management. They are then working the system and the owner is giving them the resources, time and technology to make it happen. We don’t want the owner to top-down and tell everyone what to do. They might, at first, if it’s a small company because the owner might have it all in their head. Ultimately, the owner does not generate what allows us to grow, scale, and provide freedom. It’s generated from those who are doing the task, learning, enjoying, improving, monitoring and policing their systems. That’s what we want to happen.
Let this be the beginning of your systemized future. Everyone who begins this process of implementation will benefit greatly from listening to Josh and I talk about it. That’s a good place to start. What we’re going to do is we’re going to transition to the next part of the show. This is the part of the show in which we get to know you a little bit better.
I have a couple of questions. Some of my long-term readers know that I ask every single guest these questions because sometimes the answers are very revealing. Here’s the first one. Who in all of space and time would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
Jesus Christ would be the person that I would spend my time with. For a lot of the same reasons that your guests say before, I’m a Christian, so meeting God in the flesh would be a pretty awesome thing and getting a chance to ask questions about election and predestination. I can get some healing for my family. Some of my kids have chronic illnesses. It’s several things. I tried to cram as much as I could during that hour. That would be a pretty awesome thing. Also, I will find out when he’s coming back.
I could see you sitting on that park bench and asking him a question. About a few minutes later, you’re saying, “Excuse me, Jesus. Can you talk a little faster? We only have an hour.”
That’s funny because when my kids hear me walking around the house, they go, “I can tell dad is here.” It’s because I’m usually listening or watching something, but it’s usually a 2X to 3X speed. That’s my speed.People come and go, but the systems are going to stay. Click To Tweet
This is for the next change the world question. What is it that you’re doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to change the world?
I’m doing it but a fraction of what I want to be doing. Your book, Power Tribes, was a big help in me realizing what I have, what I know and what I’ve experienced over the last years of doing this consulting, which changes lives and families. It allows owners of companies, which are leaders, to get that time and money back to do good and impact the world.
I’m just one guy. I’ve been spending the last few years focusing on certifying, coaching and training as many consultants as possible around the world and in as many languages as possible, knowing that it’s a massive impact that we can make in the world. You don’t have to look very far to see the need in the world for those in leadership and those who have access to time, money and mental space to make a difference. The fraction of a good thing I’m trying to do is to get that message out there, help as many as I can and therefore, they can have an exponential impact.
We did talk a little bit about the free giveaway. Tell me what you have in mind for our readers.
For a limited time, this book, Work The System, which you can get on Amazon, a copy is still available on our website, WTSEnterprises.com, for a free download. Sam Carpenter doesn’t need the money and wants people to have an impact, so one of the things he wants is for you to get the book, take the first step and change your life as he did. Go to WTSEnterprises.com. We have other tools, gifts and things along the way on the website. You can start with the book.
If you download this book and get some value, it would be nice to send Josh a little note and let him know what the book has done for you because that’s the only way we, as authors, get feedback. Josh mentioned my book and I hope he wrote a review on Amazon. Do the same thing for Josh as well. If you liked the book, go on Amazon and write a review but more importantly, take something away and put it to use.
One of the most gratifying things an author of a business book can ever hear is, “I bought your book, read it and changed my business for the better because of the information in your book.” I want you to do the same. Get Work The System. I knew Sam before Josh did many years ago. Sam and I had some great conversations together, but Sam didn’t like me because I was friends with Jay Abraham and he had a beef with Jay at some point. I don’t even know what it’s about, but all I know is, “I can’t talk to you. You’re friends with Jay Abraham.” I said, “Sorry.”
I’ve been to Jay’s house. That’s resolved, but there’s probably more to the story.
Josh, this has been a pleasure. I’m so glad we got a chance to do this show, learn more about the system and encourage a few folks to get involved. Thank you again for showing up and sharing what you know. It’s very important to us all. I can’t wait until we get a chance to talk again soon.
Thanks so much, Mitch. I appreciate it.
- Josh Fonger
- Work The System
- Sam Carpenter
- Power Tribes
- The E-Myth
- Amazon – Work the System
About Josh Fonger
Josh Fonger is a consultant, coach, and speaker. Developing and implementing systematic solutions to complex business problems, he is the sole worldwide licensing agent for the Work the System Method, based on Sam Carpenter’s book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, now in its fourth edition.