You may have already heard the phrase “delegate and elevate” when it comes to smaller, day-to-day tasks in your business.
But what about the bigger projects? How do you know when you should hire someone to help you improve and, even more importantly, how do you build an openminded approach to your business systems?
In this episode, we’re joined by speaker and economist Andrew Busch to answer these questions and get an inside look at his speaking business.
For the last three years, Andy hired experts in various areas, including coaches for his business systems, other economists to help him produce research, a speaking coach for his keynotes, etc.
To hear him tell it, “I’m a smart guy… but I’m a LOT smarter when I surround myself with other people who are way smarter than me… I don’t know everything I need to know, but I can go to the places and to the people that can help me understand new things that are coming up.”
As a result, his business has doubled – You read that right. Doubled – every year for the last three years. Here, learn how you can do the same in your business.
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✅ Connect with Andy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbusch
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Read the Transcription 🤓
Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business, maybe it’s standing onstage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed, and time just seems to slip by? This is called the Flow State. At Speaker Flow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.
Austin: All right, boom. We are live. Andy, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate you sharing your time with us.
Andy: Yeah, definitely. This will be great.
Austin: Yeah, this is round two as well. We haven’t had that many guests come back for seconds, so I don’t know what that says about either you or us, but I don’t know if I actually want to know either.
Andy: We’ll just let that one be. Let the audience decide.
Austin: Okay, deal. Okay. So, obviously, we have an awesome show planned to talk to you about your own amazing successes over the last couple of years, we’ll get into that. I would be remiss, though; not to ask the economist in the room here, if you’re freaking out about the current state of affairs in the same way that a lot of other people are, especially on the internet. So, in a hundred words or less type of situation, are you scared? Should we be investing our time and energy in preparing in any way for a recession and or any of these other terrifying things people like to throw around?
Andy: Yeah, it’s a very chaotic time, as I always have said. When it’s chaotic, people call me all the time and to know what.
Taylorr: Good for business
Andy: Because you need guidance in this crazy world that we’re in, and it’s really the speed and rapidity of change, the momentum that’s built on so many things that happens that I think people underestimate. So, as far as I’m concerned, this is a really tricky time, no doubt. We’ve not really had a lot of experience coming out of global pandemics, right? So, I think the whole world did a great job in navigating that. Sadly, there were a lot of people that died, no doubt. But as far as from the economy standpoint, we did a very good job, a little too good of a job and generated some problems because of that.
But I’m not one to be a doomsayer; I don’t spend a lot of time doom scrolling. I actually do the opposite, I look for just really interesting things that are happening that you’ll never hear about, because that’s not what social media’s all about. They’re all about the Ukraine war, fires, obviously the terrible earthquake in Syria and Turkey, murders in the United States, that’s what is all in front of us constantly. So, I always feel that it’s my job to really kind of look at the things that are below the surface that are positive, that are driving change across our economy and really across the culture.
So, I look at a lot of this chaos that goes on and go, yeah, I’ve seen parts of this before. I’ve seen it; I understand it and I’m not worried about it. There are terrible things that are happening, don’t get me wrong, but I also see a lot of growth opportunities that are out there because of these changes.
Taylorr: Heck, yeah. Is there something that stands out to you that you’ve discovered recently that was good news, or something, to your point earlier, that isn’t really being shared or that we’d never see?
Andy: Yeah, there’s just so much stuff going on. I cover so many different areas, but I dive into areas where I see money flows. And because that gets me really fired up, I see a lot of money flowing into, and people know this already, but into the climate change area to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I see a lot of money flowing into EV batteries, I see a lot of money flowing into electric vehicles, those are all really great things. I think what people misunderstand or don’t comprehend properly is the speed at which this is going to take off. And the more I research into these things, the more I get really fired up about it. That’s one area.
People will always say, ah, I’ve already heard about that. What I say to these people, these board of directors that I go into, because these are really smart people. I go, yes, I know you’ve heard that, but do you really understand the speed at which this is happening? Most of them do not. So, that’s what’s interesting to me. Bioeconomy, there’s a lot of stuff going on there, not only with mRNA vaccines, but also in agriculture. There are a lot of wonderful things that are happening there. So, just a couple of spaces that I see that I really like, that speed will continue to happen and really drive much faster change that people understand.
Taylorr: Yeah. Heck, yeah. Well, there’s good news everywhere it sounds like.
Taylorr: Well, noted.
Andy: A cancer vaccine is within our grasp, that’s super cool. Super cool.
Taylorr: That’s incredible, mind blowing that, that could be a vaccine one day. There’s hope, folks, there’s hope.
Andy: Yeah, for sure.
Taylorr: All right, so to segue to this, we really want to talk about your success, over the last couple of years you’ve doubled, functionally, your business. So, set the stage for us, where were you two years ago, or so, and how would you describe your position now?
Andy: Yeah, I would say let’s go back to 2019, because I had just left the US government.
Taylorr: Yeah, that’s a good timeline.
Andy: And that’s when I ran into you two yahoos, right?
Taylorr: Emphasis on yahoos.
Austin: That’s being nice.
Andy: Minnesota yahoos. Well, Austin, you’re not from Minnesota, are you?
Austin: No, I’m in Utah.
Andy: Yeah, in Utah. That’s right. So, I don’t want to disparage just Minnesota, I want to bring Utah in disparage that distinction.
Taylorr: Sure, right.
Austin: Equal disparity.
Taylorr: Equal opportunity. Yeah.
Andy: So, back then, I made all sorts of mistakes prior to running into you, in the sense of getting back into the business and leaving government, I thought, ha, I’m such a smart guy. I’m going to put my price here. Everybody should run to me because I have this gravitas of what I do. And it was a complete disaster. And so, I had to go back and rethink a lot about what I was doing, the markets I wanted to get into, how I wanted to appeal to people, what was my message, what was my value proposition. I hammered that out pretty well. And then, of course, COVID hit.
So, that really shifted gears on a lot of people in the speaking space. For me, I had an unfair advantage because I had done so much television and done so many, I’ve been on Zoom calls and things like that previously, so I was familiar with the technology. But what was seminal in that journey, of course, was really working with both of you and developing the CRM that we have and eventually building into that. And I will tell anybody who’s out there that’s first looking at this or getting into it for the first time, it is daunting. You look at it and you’re like, it kind of is just intimidating at first, but just be patient with yourself, it takes time to learn this and it takes time to get the benefits, but once you do, then you can scale. And that’s really what’s helped me so much.
I couldn’t imagine doing as many of these presentations that I do with the breadth and depth that I do without having a CRM having my back and really something I spend so much time on, almost every day, to under better understand the clients better, understand the reach that I have in sales and marketing. So, it’s been a process over that four year window to this year, where 2019 was a little rough, 2020 wasn’t great, but it was okay. 21 was a record year, 22 was a record year, 50% on top of that. And this year is going to be a record year with at least 30% on top of 2022, which was a record year.
So, the progression has been pretty astounding and it’s been very exciting. And, again, I’m a relatively organized guy, but without the CRM it would never have happened, so that’s kind of been my journey as far as a speaker goes.
Austin: Oh, man. So great. I’d be lying too, if I said that you attributing your feeling of being organized and the ability to scale to the CRM, it makes me want to cry a little bit, because it’s the drum that Taylor and I are beating every single day. Something that I have to really call out here, though; and this, I hope, comes across with the love that I intend it to for this industry. But there are a lot of people that either come into this space or even after being in it for a while, believe that they’re pedigree, I suppose, for lack of a better term coming to mind immediately, is going to carry them the distance and your story, despite you having such a profound expertise in the area that you’re an expert in, with so much background and so much social proof of you being successful at it.
You’ve just outlined, the fact that it still is a lot of work, you don’t get to just ride off of your background or your expertise, it’s still a business at the end of the day and you still have to treat it like a business in order to be successful. You’re just a great example of that. So, I commend you for it.
Andy: And I think that’s the thing that opened up my eyes. Whether it’s the speaking business or any business, using a CRM is the key to this whole thing. HubSpot, Salesforce, there’s a reason why these companies are growing rapidly and continue to grow because, businesses are using them. You cannot see what’s going on in your business unless you are utilizing one of these systems. In the speaking world, there are a lot of different aspects to it, there’s how do you present onstage? That’s something that I worked with another consultant, Jane Atkinson, at first; understanding that one of the best pieces of advice Jane had to give me was, you have to figure out who you are and let that person out onstage and have fun with it.
That took me a while to figure that out, but now that’s really part of my success. Part of my success is understanding the content that I need to deliver to people. Part of my success is the 40 years I’ve been in the business, for sure. And you combine all of that, you can have it great, but unless you have the CRM, you don’t know where sales are going to come from. You don’t know who’s looking at your website. You don’t understand any kind of momentum that you get. You don’t understand what people are searching for and how you can assist them to find you, so that you make the sales process actually easier and the discovery process easier for potential clients.
So, all of it wraps together, you have to do a lot of things as an entrepreneur, as you all know, and all of these things are challenging, but they’re impressive in the payoff. It’s hard to think back to 2019 when I first started getting educated by you guys and the struggles I went through and just trying to understand where it was going to take me and the importance of the knowledge that I was gaining. So, yeah, it takes a while, but, yeah, it’s been really great.
Taylorr: The ball rolls at some point and it’s just compound effect really. It’s almost like investing to a certain degree, we put all of that time in and make it all happen and it starts to roll. You’ve actually outlined already in the conversation, there have been a few reasons why you’ve found the CRM to be helpful. But what do you think specifically, if you could narrow it down to one core idea, how is it helping you? Is it simply the organization? Is it the data? Is it something else entirely? Think about that moment it clicked for you in that journey, right? Because we went from CRM, little abstract, super intimidating, and at some point it just clicked and it really started working for you. What was that moment and what would you say is the defining characteristic of why it clicked?
Andy: Well, I don’t know if I had an aha moment. I have many aha moments with you, Taylorr, where you go, Yeah, Andy, that’s great. I’m glad you got that because we’ve been talking about it for two years, Andy, two years.
Taylorr: Anyone who has worked with me who’s listening to this show knows exactly what Andy’s talking about. So, I want to just put that out there. There are many who can relate to your pain.
Andy: Yeah, it’s great because the thing is it takes a while for you to understand all of the different components, but where I think it’s been most beneficial is really integrating everything together. You have all of these disparate things, you bring them under one roof and you go, okay, did this sales outreach work? Did people pick up that email? Did they click on anything? What does that sales funnel look like? How many emails do I have to send out? How does that narrow down and what’s the final outcome? Because what we’re all trying to figure out is what’s the most efficient way to get the next sale, right? And can we get repeat sales?
So, in that journey, I think the CRM has just been so seminal; it’s just the place that you have to start. You can do all these things separately, you can put it all in a spreadsheet if you want, that makes it almost impossible to track what you’re doing. So, I would say once you gain some understanding of the scope of what this thing does, that’s really when you’ll have your aha moment and you go, whoa, that brings everything in and I can see the picture, I can see the sales. I understand the length of time it takes to get a sale and I can project out additional sales down the road. I know how many holds I have and what percentage of those holds will actually translate into a speech right now.
So, I can look at those and those are, obviously, potentials, and then you can go back over the year and say, oh, if I had a million dollars’ worth of holds, what’s the percentage of those that I’ll get actually translated into sales, so into speeches. So, that’s the kind of stuff that really gets me excited about using the CRM. It takes a little while, so I would say each day is an aha moment to some extent.
Taylorr: Yeah, sure.
Andy: Because I’m always learning stuff, which is great because I always have it in the back of my head and go, oh, yeah, I think Taylor told me about that in 2019.
Taylorr: Yeah, look, it’s not relevant until it’s relevant, you know?
Andy: That’s right. For sure.
Austin: That’s so true.
Taylorr: And what I love about this story; one, to Austin’s point earlier, it just validates the drum we’re constantly beating, so really excited to hear about that. But more importantly, this isn’t a magic wand. It’s not about the system itself. Functionally, Speaker Flow, Zoho, Salesforce, HubSpot, the premise of why they exist is all the same, right? And it’s not about the tool necessarily, it’s about the habits that are reinforced by using that tool and the time investing and making sure that at the right time when something’s relevant, we now install that process of iteration. And the last thing I’ll add to this is, from what I’ve gathered, at least, as you’ve broken this down, it’s not even necessarily about being more organized.
It’s not even necessarily about having the perfect database, but it’s the predictability behind the actual business, the whole idea is that scaling is a choice and it’s not just a function of possibility anymore. And to your point earlier, as your business has gotten more predictable, now you can scale it and you’re seeing that unfold from 21 to 22 to 23 being a record year. And it’s not just how am I going to do this? There’s math behind it. It’s just a function of pouring gas on the fire, basically. So, I just want to commend that entire thing you just outlined because there’s the human component of all of this and that ease of mind that comes with the predictability of things.
Andy: Yeah. So, let me take you back to 2019. You look out into the future, one of the things that speaking is like, to some extent, it is like consulting, right? Because you have these contracts and then they just fall off, right? And so, you’re always looking into the future going, holy smokes, come September I have nothing, right? And so, I’d tell my wife, Michelle, that and she’d be like, well, get on the phone and call people.
Taylorr: Hell, yeah, go Michelle.
Andy: Get out there, do something, right? Don’t just sit there, do something. So, I think that’s another thing that’s very helpful, but I do want to pick up on what you said because it requires work. This is not a magic wand, it really does require work. You have to give it time, you have to put the time into it, you have to spend time learning, screwing it up, making mistakes; those are all okay. Because what’ll end up happening is you’ll become so much more efficient at what you do and the way that you do it. As an example, the marketing outreach I do, it took me a while to figure out what group I wanted to market to.
Once I figured out what that group was, I can send now, that group, very targeted marketing that resonates with them, helps them keep me top of mind in what they’re doing, and I can do all of that in about 15 to 20 minutes. So, that’s the power of that CRM, you create the template, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, mam, you already have the emails, you’re sending them out, done. And then you can just see if people are picking it up, if they’re clicking on it, whatever; and when to follow-up. You create automated tasks to follow-up with people who have clicked on things. And that’s something you and I have worked on, Taylorr.
So, it’s fascinating, we all work on the content that we deliver, which is really important. That’s takes up a lot of my time. And I think, though; what I’m getting at is that once you get this thing up and running and once you really devote time to it, you actually devote less time to it overall and you can refocus back on your core business, right? And doing what I do best, creating research, helping people understand the future, but I can always go back and generate the sales and marketing within a really efficient timeframe. So, I think that’s something that’s really important for people to understand. There’s an initial upfront investment and then once you get that thing rolling, then it really pays off.
Austin: Yeah. Everything that you outlined makes our research and the state of speaking industry report that shows that somebody that’s using a CRM earns three to seven times more revenue than somebody that doesn’t, everything that you’re outlining makes perfect sense as to why that would be the case. I’m sure it does for others too.
Andy: Yeah, you don’t need a special skillset. You need two guys like you, obviously, very helpful, but you can put the work in, right? So, that’s what’s great. Been working with you, I know this is like an infomercial, but what’s been nice is that you give visuals, you give videos, you do all of those things, so you make it easy for people to go back and figure this stuff out. I didn’t have any special skillsets in this software at all. I started off on HubSpot, made a mess of that, learned a lot of different things and then transferred over to Zoho, but no special skillsets. And so, it just really highlighted for me like, Hey, you can do this, anybody can do this really. And, of course, and I’ll just add really quickly onto that, that because of the use of the Zoho and the CRM, I now can be more efficient in all of the things that I do.
So, I can delegate out certain aspects of my business. There’s a lot of research that goes into what I do, so I can delegate that out through people that I work with across the world actually now, which is really great, using Upwork to do that. That’s one aspect that I think has been also really helpful is just trying to, as the CEO of my company, just trying to make sure that I’m focused on the right things and let other people help me with other things. Using QuickBooks as an example. Using an accountant through QuickBooks is another example of me taking stuff off my plate that I don’t want to do anymore, that I’m not good at, that I can have somebody else do, now I can focus back on sales and marketing through CRM and then creating the content that’s going to be relevant to clients. Once you start really operating at a very high level, then it all flows together.
So, I’m a little jacked up today because I did a lot of research and I’m so excited because I’ve had calls with some really great clients and each one of those calls in different areas of the economy, I’ve learned so much from them and now I can take all of that information and distribute it out across all of these different types of presentations that I’m doing. So, it’s been a fun day today and I get to talk to you guys, so it’s been great.
Taylorr: About CRMs. Yeah, you’re always excited about CRMs as we are. Holy crap.
Austin: Yeah, that’s amazing.
Taylorr: You looking for a job, Andy?
Austin: Oh, boy.
Austin: Well, I’m really glad that you brought up the delegation thing because this is one of the areas that Taylorr and I wanted to talk to you about today. And I know we’re getting short on time here, but one of the things we really respect about your business is that you really do act like a thought leader. it’s not just regurgitated experience. You’re constantly out there learning and sharing and trying to educate the world about the things that you know better than anyone. And that’s all amazing. And you’ve also added in this ability to have outside people help you with that.
And I think the idea of somebody hiring someone to help them get content or create content or be the precursor to creating content is totally mind boggling, maybe they’ve never even believed that was possible. So, tell us a little bit about how that works for you and why you decided to go down that route.
Andy: Yeah, I think humility is a really important feature for everyone. Being humble enough to hire somebody like Taylorr, I have to tell this because when I met with you guys, I thought, oh, wow, they’re pretty smart. They have to be at least in their late thirties, they’re really sharp. And then Taylorr goes, yeah, I’m 25. I’m like, what? So, I was like, okay, here I am this old guy. I’m this old guy and these guys are schooling me on this stuff. But you know what? That’s part of it. And that’s the thing; I’m a smart guy, I think. Relatively smart, speaking. But I’m a lot smarter when I surround myself with other people who are way smarter than me, and that’s what I try to do.
Part of the role that I had in the US government, which was super cool, was that I got to talk to people like Nobel Prize winners and ask them about what they thought about the world and how finance worked and how economics worked. People within different parts of the government doing the same things, really smart people within an industry. And so, to me, I don’t know everything I need to know, but I can go to the places and to the people that are really smart that can help me understand new things that are coming up. And so, that’s what I try to do is I’m constantly researching, constantly listening to podcasts, but I’m also taking the ideas that I have and going, Hey, there’s a person I know that writes really great research.
Let me outline something and turn them loose on it, see what they come up with. I can guide them through the tone and language that I want. Let’s let them give it a shot, see what they can do, and then I’ll work with them to make it even better. And so, it’s been part of the process of, I guess to some extent I would go back and say, this kind of comes from a little bit of my background in theater. So, I’ve acted, written, and directed, all of those things in theater. And I think once you work with a director, they help you become a better actor, they give you ideas, they direct you in stage movement, and then it’s your job to bring as much as you possibly can to each role so that you let the director act as a filter. And to some extent, that’s what I do right now.
I’m like a director, I take all of this knowledge and information that’s out there and I go, that’s important. That’s not, this is important, this is what this client needs to hear, right? And so, I can filter all of that down for them into easily digestible pieces. So, that’s really where I think I have quite a superpower when it comes to filtering things and knowing where the information is as opposed to other people. But, yeah, I think that’s, humility has gone a long way, I really want to keep learning. I’m not afraid to, when I go to conferences, the other thing that’s a blast is to listen to other people. I saw a futurist, I won’t name his name, and I got to watch him go through his presentation and then look him up on his website.
I was like, holy cow. Wow, this guy’s fantastic. He has it going on, the whole circus is all pointing in the same direction, driving growth. So, that’s the thing. Just stay humble, learn from other people who are smarter than you and you’ll find success.
Taylorr: Yeah. God, we could abandon it right there. Holy crap.
Taylorr: Yeah, it’s such an important lesson. I think business is personal for us, as our own business owners. We created these things to solve people’s problems and to create impact, and it’s pretty easy to forget that there are other people out there who can do a great job, if not better, of a job of certain things that it takes to run our business. And when, to your point, you’re directing, you’re able to delegate more, you get to focus on the areas of the business that you like most, and it’s an interesting take on the idea of delegation. We’ve talked a lot about this on our show in the last 120 odd episodes, but humility is yet to come up in that conversation.
It’s all very tactical of this is how you hire people, but before that’s even possible, it has to come from a place of, there’s an opportunity for me to learn and for me to delegate things to other people and who might know more about a particular thing than I may, and I can always work with that person and guide them to make it better. You didn’t go into delegation being like, this person has to be absolutely perfect right out of the gates, otherwise you’re fired. No. To your points earlier, it’s about the iterative kind of approach, and I think it’s just such an important lesson for us to keep close to us, as business owners, so that we can delegate and continue, of course, to elevate from there.
Andy: Well, I think what we’re all trying to do, whether it’s parenting or our business or trying to eliminate mistakes that can happen, for sure, but you’re trying to shorten that cycle of success, right? And if I can do that by finding other people that can help me really shorten that time period or make me better, I’m all for that. Again, I’ll go back to my life in the theater, stealing from other people, stealing what they’re doing in the sense of looking at somebody’s movement onstage and going, I really like what he’s doing. I’m going to take that here inside of myself and then find a way to utilize it in my own way. That’s what I mean by stealing in the theater.
I think that’s something that’s really healthy to do, and really good actors and actresses do this; they watch other people, they always go to see other movies or theater or whatever so they can realize or at least conceptualize by doing something different. And that’s what I think is really good. Anytime you get a chance to watch somebody present, I think is always great. So, you don’t know this, but I do a lot of work with, I help preachers, so this is kind of my side, it’s not a business, it’s something I give back. And so, I’m always looking at preachers, how they deliver, why they deliver the content they do, and the methodology that they use and their emotional appeals.
So, I guess that’s just my way of saying, look, always look to improve whatever you’re doing and really have the humility to go, I don’t know everything. It’s interesting, because when you work with older preachers, some of them are really stuck in their ways and they’re tough to get out. If you work with preachers who’ve been around for a little while, a lot of times they realize and they are humble about what they do. When you get to younger preachers, they don’t know what they don’t know. So, you’re trying to help them go through that. And to some extent, when I met you guys, that’s how I felt, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, right? So, it’s like you guys got a chance to educate me and then built on that. So, I think I try to emphasize that. Now, my wife may have a different take to this.
Andy: As far as the humility goes. But you do practice that at home quite a bit, and I think the more we all practice it, the better we get at it.