704: Growth After Ownership w/ David Belanger

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to David Belanger, Founder of The CERES Group.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

Looking for a guaranteed way to create content that resonates with your audience? Start a podcast, interview your ideal clients and let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clients care about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience will care about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the B tob growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry. Let's get it into the show. Welcome back to the B tob growth show. This episode is sponsored by Directive Consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency. Today we're joined by David Bolanger. David is the founder of the series group. David, welcome to the show. Thank you very much, down and I'm happy to be here. It's a pleasure to have you on the show today. The series group, I know, has been sort of mentioned in the in five thousand Limus. They've all been mentioned in the Boston Business Journal, but maybe you can tell us additionally a little bit about what you and your team are up to these days. Sure, of happy to do that. So we're we're in Ike consulting firm, and when I say that it's Ike services, we don't develop software. It's really, you know, Ike consulting to our end clients and and we do a lot of work in the efset management space and some retail and some the insurance industry, but for the most part we're providing consultants to, you know, our end clients for business analysis, current state, future state, model development and that execution of those models. So, you know, we don't manufacture anything. It's really just consulting services and brain power and the brain power of our consultants that our clients are engaging as before. Yeah,...

...and and I know that you have been. You've been met with some fantastic growth. It's one of the reasons that we've reached out. We wanted to get you on the show. We've been talking to a lot of founders and a lot of CEOS about the strategies and the you know, the the rules that they've set for themselves when it comes to growing a growing a business. Today we're going to be talking about something very cool and me talking about sort of this idea of growth after ownership, you know, almost moving on to the next step of growth after that owner operator mentality. So I think this is going to be a very valuable episode for a lot of our listeners. But, David, kind of what a we talk I hear. I mean you you had mentioned briefly that there was almost a catalyst when you had this moment where you had to start almost almost reframing the way you were thinking about your business. Yeah, it's funny how it all happened, because you get, you know, I'm sure you know a lot of people owners can relate to. They get so busy in the business and growing it in the fires daytoday that come up with, you know, payroll and marketing and branding and manage internal employees that it wasn't actually until we had won some awards that really made me start to think that I had to put down in paper what are what our growth strategy was. I mean I had I had known, you know, we've grown every year and early on we were doubling every year and you know, I thought we were doing okay and certainly heading in the right direction, but as the owner. You know, you're always thinking that you should be, you know, twice the size that you are at any given point, and I wasn't really until, you know, we got some press in the first year. Were last year in two thousand and seventeen. Was the first year we could apply to the thank Fivezero lists and, you know, they started asking this some questions. So I knew we would make the list, but I thought was weird that they were asking more questions and kind of figured out that, hey, we might be closer to the top of the list and actually making five hundred. And then the you know, same...

...thing happened with the Boston Business Journal this year. You know, we were based over the past four year growth. You know, we've made Bostom Business Journal fast fifty, so the fastest from private companies in Massachusetts during that time frame. And so what I was really kind of taken aback when I first saw the article, even though I knew it was coming, once I had it in my hand and saw that we really did make it and things weren't you know, we're doing more right than wrong, but it really made me say, okay, we really got to keep growing and keep accelerating. What we're doing and you know, me being having a hand in everything was certainly not the way to do it and it was gonna, you know, hamper our growth growing forward. So I really had to take a step back and spent the last, you know, almost year putting everything in place that we could move forward in a more scalable and, you know, aggressive way to keep growing the firm. H Huh? Yeah. Well, and one of the things that you had mentioned sort of before we started recording was this idea that, you know, you'd gain this momentum, you have to start reframing the way you are you're looking at the business, and one of those things, not only is you just mentioned, you know, this thing about the scalable business model, is really clearly defining your growth strategy. Yeah, so there's there's a lot of ways to do it. You know, in in March, you know, this year, we'd have been around for five years and you know, I had initially taken some partners and some investment capital when we started the firm and you know, after five years and getting, you know, some accolades and having our name out there, people started calling with money and with opportunities and you know, do dilute your equity? Do you continue to organically grow the firm? There are a lot of choices that we actually had to make and I had to make some decisions about, you know, how we were going to do it and whichever way we chose. You know what the stratic moving strategy into executable tactical ideas we're going to be and...

...mapping all out that out and, as I mentioned it, really spent on the last year putting that together and to put us in a position in two thousand and eighteen to really start to execute down it and substance of scalable way. And so, you know, so far said good, we we've been able to do it. M Yeah, and so, David, you know you you had said that. For you at least, you needed a catalyst to start thinking like, Oh, you know, I need to start thinking a little bit differently about my business. I need to get away from that owner operator mentality. You know, you, when you got interviewed for the in five thou the boss and business trant are there are some other triggers that you think people can be on the lookout for. Maybe it's not, you know, quite as aggressive as you know you're getting interviewed for this. Are there? Are you? Do you think there are some things that people can keep an eye on when they need to start thinking about changing their own mentality, starting to think about clearly defining their own growth strategy? There's no question about it. You know, again, you have to define what your strategy is and then once you go with that, you know, for us we decided we wanted to grow organically, but I was faced with you know, there are a lot of things happening at the same time. The company was growing, or revenue was. We're going up. We kept a new clients and I was involved in everything, you know, helping the some of the sales people that we had working for us, helping the recruiters that we had working for us. We're doing with some backoffice, not issues, but just the execution of getting paroll out to all our consultants, collecting time cards. And then we needed to, you know, brand the company. I always say we went through a rebranding exercise, but we never really branded the company in the first place because, you know, we turn the lights on and you know, the fire every day was we've got to generate some revenue, and so I just knew that everything was intensifying because everything was getting a little...

...bit bigger and it just got to the point where so many people are asking for my time and for me to be involved in everything, and I was running around doing the best that I could, but I knew we could be doing better if I wasn't doing everything, and so I had to pick and choose what things I could hand off and then hand them off to the right person and I give the strategy, but then empowered people in marketing and Pay Roll and our back office and sales to actually start to execute on the strategies themselves. And as an owner, it's a hard thing to let go of all of those things because, you know, I spent five years doing it and we had a reputation, and a good reputation that helped us grow. And you know, you there's almost it's almost like an insecurity of letting it go and and thinking somebody else can do with the same way that that you did it or care as much about it as you do, if you find good people. That's what that's what you have to do. It is the only way to do it. Otherwise you will be the owner operator the rest of your life and if you're making, you know, halfway decent living and that's enough for you, then you can continue on with that. But if you really want to, I got into this to grow a company. Had grown a lot of companies that we department in a from that grew up to a hundred million dollars and you know, those are some of the goals that I had when I first started the firm. So I knew that me having hand in everything, all these things were converging and we had to do something different than the next five years can't look like the last five years. Otherwise will be we would have been in the same spot. So that that's really what the moment was, where it's okay, we've got to put something together. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean it's sort of sounds like having, you know, the the self awareness to relinquish a little bit of control, to certainly have the right people in place, you know, and I think that kind of relates to this idea that you were talking a little about offline, with having the right infrastructure, the right system, the right culture. You know, there any other pieces of advice that you would have maybe...

...for our for our listeners who are thinking about, you know, what's the most successful way to go about reframing the way that I'm thinking about it, or any other pitfalls that I should be watching out for in the meantime. Yeah, I think, you know, it's really just aligning the strategy and your goals. You're very quantifiable, data driven, tactical goals, and getting the strategy to meet the execution of it. Make sure everything's aligned. I mean one of the things that you know, a few of the things that we did is I wanted to put some pillars in place where people could make you know, in order to keep our culture and keep our identity and keep what had been working for us and what has been well received in the in the market place. You know, how are we going to be able to keep that going forward? So I decided to come up with, you know, some some pillars. You know, I created this guiding principles document. Originally it was for people that I was interviewing, with some account managers, some recruiters, some internal staff, just to kind of really just share with them who we were, but it really turned into kind of this thing. It's on everybody's desk right now and we scrub every decision, whether somebody at the front ask whether it's again a salesperce and recruiter or a marketing person, everybody interacting with each other. These guiding principles documentary really are core values, and so, even whether I'm there or not, everybody goes to this documents. Okay, you know, here's the business challenge and we're facing. Let's scrub it against these. Got This guiding principles document and that became extremely scalable. Now I can you know, somebody comes to me with a an issue or challenge and not sure what to do, I pull at the documents, they take a look at this and get back to me with with what you think we should do, and that really is pushing back and empowering them to make some decisions within the confines of, you know, how we choose to do business from an ethical, moral and a business perspective. So they've been...

...able to answer a lot of their own questions and we've still been able to keep our identity in our rand and you know who we are with them being able to do that. So that also helped me let go of some of my concerns about, you know, not being involved in everything in it. It Really Fok a weight off my shoulders and kind of marrying those two things together so and help them, you know, as part of this process, to keep moving forward. The other thing we did we set up some pretty clear metrics that everybody knows and we shared with everybody. You know, I'm not a big believer in micromanaging people. So nervous about metrics from that standpoint because I lived through both environments. But what we want to do is there's some best business practices in place and we put those in place and what I want to do is put those in place, let people follow them, clearly communicate them, and then I want them to surprise me with how good they can be, rather than saying, Hey, you have to do this, you know, no matter what, and you know, kind of micromanaging and to me, and it's just my opinion, you're managing how bad you're going to let your people be. I'd rather put up some foundational elements in place and let them, give them some freedom and let them surprise me with how good they're going to be. And so the metrics are a combination of of those two things and we really one of the other things that we did is, you know, automated as much as that we could from an internal infrastructure, from our crm and the technology, leverage technology as much as we can to automate and drive out as much as a manual labor out of all the tasks that we do on a day to day basis, depending on their their job function. You know, our value was talking to people, and everything else that we have set up is enabling our people to be talking to other people, whether it's a client or Canada we're working to place, or even each other internally. So we automated eye outsources as much as I could, as much that, you know, made sense where we could again hold on...

...to our culturnative values and keep it in a scalable way. And you know, I candidly I fought it for a while, just in my own head, but we're started going down this path. Was the best thing I ever do for me personally, you know, and for the firm, because it really is accelerating where we are and where we're going. And Anderley, wish I had done it sooner. Today's gross story revolves around search engine marketing. DELPHIC's a big data platform and hired an agency to manage their Google adds a few years ago, but they weren't seeing the results they wanted to see. Being such a technical be tob solution, they set out to find the team that could take on their challenge. After countless proposals, they found the perfect fit directive consulting the BB Search Marketing Agency, and just one week after launching directives campaigns Delphic saw their lead volume double and their costper lead drop by sixty percent. I have a hunch that directive can get these kind of results for you to, so head over to directive consultingcom and request a totally free custom proposal. That's directive consultingcom. All right, let's get back to this interview. Well, I'm in it. I mean, it certainly sounds like your approach is working, which is fantastic for you. It's fantastic for your company, you know. I know you had mentioned a little bit about the company identity. You had mentioned sort of business and ethic, business decisions. You had mentioned empowering your employees. Like a lot of this is, you know, I'm growing and growing your business. A lot of this is kind of wrapped up in kind of our final question we've been asking a lot of our guests is this idea that. You know what sort of legacy, then, are you hoping to leave behind, whether that is a personal, professional or even a combination of the two. Yeah, it's a interesting question and you know, I think about it now. I'm you know, have a young...

...family and you know, get my kids see what I do every day and they've been into our office and you know, they know we move from one office to another and you know, we kind of joke at home who's going to WHO's going to run the series group when when I retire, and so I'll let my kids fight over that in a good way. But there are eleven, nine and seven right now, so I've got a little while. But but certainly, you know, from a internal perspective, you know, wanting my kids to see that this isn't easy. The stuff that's at our house or our house just isn't here. You know, somebody you know goes out and horse for it every day and you know if you work hard, you know good things will come from that. You know how you treat people. One of the differentiators for for me personally within the business, having worked for in the business for twenty years now and working for some other people, one of the differentiators. was just I don't think it should be this way, but it's reality. It's just how I treated other people and you know, I grew significantly some some other companies, but there was always the way that, you know, other owners wanted to run their company and I got to the point, you know, like to say grew up a little bit, where I, you know, my way. It was just right for me and those companies are successful and, you know, nobody closed because I left. They went on to do whatever they they want on to do. But I just decided there was a way that I wanted to do it, in a way that, you know, I thought could be successful, and there was a other people that were attracted to that same idea with our industry and I was just, you know, fortunate enough to be able to put something together and attract enough of the you know, the right people, and that's the right people for us, to where we can start to build something and it's been one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life, not just from a business standpoint. Certainly I'm proud of what we've done and committed to being even better in the future, but you know, personal pride and seeing your employees, you know, be able to buy a house and...

...make more money than they've made in the past, and want to do that for whoever comes in behind them, though. That's really what what this is, what this really is about for me, with, you know, those two factors, to me, that's something that carries on beyond me and and have enhances people's lives, and that's a that's ideally what I want. The company's just the vehicle to do it, and so that's we're really what we're trying to do here and why I started the company. HMM. Well, we certainly, I mean we're certainly thrilled that you were able to start the company do things the way that you wanted to do, and it's sounds like it's been a successful also means to an end. So all of that is fantastic. David. If anyone is interested in, you know, finding out more about today's topic, they want to find out more about the series group, they want to connect with you. What's the best way for them to go about doing that? Sure they can find this on our website at the series Groupcom series is cears. So that series Groupcom Deep Bilanger, at the series groupcom on. Everybody wants to email me. My dark line is eight, five seven to five, four, nine, seven, one seven. I actually do still pick a phone and depet the people. So happy to talk to anybody, to share, you know, anything that I've been through the that might help anybody in the next phase of their career, just as people are helping me with the next phase of our career. Eres. That's fantastic. Well, David again, thank you so much for your time today. Was a pleasure having on the show. Thank you very much. South and there are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the beadd growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing...

...small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a be to be growth dinner in a sitting near you go to be, to be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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