Episode 147: Live Interview With Carol Roth

As an entrepreneur today you don’t have the luxury of not being a marketer

Carol Roth is the creator of the legacy planning system, Future File. After a career in investment banking, Carol decided she wanted to do something else. She is now a business advisor and author of the New York Time’s best seller “The Entrepreneur Equation.” Carol is also a weekly panelist on the Fox Business show Bulls & Bears. With over 20 years of business advisor experience, Carol has worked with countless small and medium sized businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies, advising in many aspects of business and financial strategy.

You have to accept failure as part of the process. And the right way to fail is to fail quickly, cheaply and never the same way twice.

On this podcast, Carol outlined her career path and how she moved from investment banking to a business focus. We also discussed:

  • Handling challenges in business
  • 5 minute mentors
  • Tips on moving ahead in business
  • Technology advancements in business
  • Valuing existing customers
  • The importance of testimonials and social proof

If you want to learn more about Carol, click below:

Website: https://www.carolroth.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/caroljsroth
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroljsroth/

John: Our guest on today’s show is Carol Roth. Carol is the creator of the legacy planning system, Future File. A recovering investment banker, a business adviser and author of The New York Times best seller, The Entrepreneur Equation. She’s a national media personality and is a weekly panelist on the Fox Business show, Bulls and Bears. With over 20 years of business advisory experience Carol has worked with small to medium sized businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies on all aspects of business and financial strategy. Thanks for joining us today Carol.

Carol: I’m so excited to be here.Thanks for having me.

John: Awesome. Well, I know you’re very busy so I do want to thank you for taking a time out of your busy schedule to be on our show. I’m just gonna get right into it and if you can just let people know like what do people know you by today like because I’ve read a lot about you know, your bio and your history and you know, what do you do now? Like…And I’ll go back…

Carol: What the heck do you do? Yeah, this is a question I get all the time. I consider myself a multi-hyphenate. I always put it in sort of three buckets and the last ones a cheap so about a third of my time I spend in the media as you mentioned. I’ve been in the media for more than a decade. I’m on TV every single week sometimes up to five plus times a week doing news commentary. I have been a judge for Mark Burnett on a tech competition show called America’s Greatest Makers. I’ve hosted shows for Microsoft at Bank of America so I like being in front of the camera sharing my knowledge but also do a lot of writing. You mentioned the book as well so that media piece takes up about a third of my time. About a third of my time I am an entrepreneur and small business owner myself you mentioned my legacy planning system Future File which is a kit that we created after losing a bunch of loved ones that my dad actually created the prototype for my sister and I so we would have all his wishes and information if something were to happen to him and lo and behold something happened to him about six years ago and we needed to access that information to make some decisions and ultimately when he didn’t make it, lay the body to rest and wrap up his personal affairs so we wanted to help other families do the exact same thing. Save money, save hundreds of hours and make sure that my dad’s legacy and their legacy were the same which is keeping family members being allies instead of adversaries so I have that product and I’ve got a bunch of consulting and other things that I do on sort of the entrepreneurial side and then I have my other bucket which is everything from speaking to sitting on boards of directors and a whole bunch of like other kind of little projects there so as I said, “The third buckets a little bit of a cheat.” But I always tell people that I’m a recovering investment banker that I’m an entrepreneur and I play myself on TV and that usually covers most of what I do.

John: Wow, that sounds…It sounds like you’re really busy, right?

Carol: Yes! That I’m not ever bored. Ever!

John: Well, that’s amazing so I’m just gonna backtrack it a little bit and if you can just let the audience members know like how did you get yourself into what you’re doing today into the three buckets like did you go to school wanting to be an entrepreneur or wanting to be in person/TV or how did you come about to get to where you are?

Carol: Yeah, so I went to school wanting to make money because neither of my parents went to college and so I was going to be…You’re the first one to graduate from college. I got accepted to a fabulous school, Wharton Undergrad which is the preeminent Business School for undergrads in the US and my parents couldn’t afford to send me so I had to work through school. I had to take out a lot of debt and my dad’s financial advice to me was always, “Don’t have any debt so if you’re gonna take this on you need to be able to pay it back as quickly as possible.” And so when we did the ROI calculation I found out that there were sort of two types of careers I could have to pay it back quickly and also get a lot of knowledge that I could maybe use a variety of ways one was management consulting where you go very deep into an issue and become really a Subject Matter Expert and help other companies and then the other was Investment Banking. I always joke that it’s for the people who have ADD and want to be working on like 12 deals at the same time. Clearly guess John, which one I gravitated towards? I gravitated towards the investment banking so I could be working on a bunch of things at the same time and purely my motivation at the time was to pay down my dad, set myself up you know, to be financially flexible and to learn as much as possible so that I could take that skillset and then figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up and I haven’t quite figured out what I want when I grow up. I’m still working on that but what I did do is I paid down the debt in a year and a half and then I set myself up in a flexible place that I could pursue other things and TV was just a random idea that people kept saying like, “Oh, you know, you seem like you have a personality. You’d be great on TV.” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’d be fun. I love TV like what do I do?” And so you know, when the internet was still kind of just starting to percolate with your brands and blogs and things like that I started doing videos about small business and entrepreneurship and leverage that into regular media doing radio and local television and leverage that into national television and you know, here I am doing all these crazy things and interviewing presidential candidates and weighing in on stuff that I never really expected to so I always wanted to do that but at the same time I still love being involved in business. I’ve always been entrepreneurial so I wanted to still have my hand on that and I’m just one of those people that likes to do a lot of different things so I just sort of crafted this weird collection of experiences and I’m continuing to experience them.

John: You know, that’s amazing I mean that journey from being an investment banker to kind of picking the minds of some of the successful people I’m sure because you were able to work with them and you know, invest their money so you can you had that relationship where then you can pick their brain as to whatever subjects that you were interested in.

Carol: Yes, just to clarify that so from the investment banking that I did I was in corporate finance. My job was to help companies raise money into mergers and acquisition so any sort of major food brand; the restaurant brand that went public in the nineties Cheesecake Factory, Lone Star, Planet Hollywood all those. I was involved with all their capital raising and M&A. also some tech companies and the like so I really worked on the corporate side but it gave me a really keen insight into businesses and how they operated and what worked and what didn’t work that I was able to sort of apply more broadly as I talked about everything from small business up to working with companies like Microsoft.

John: Awesome so even when you started branching off to do your own thing where there people that helped you along the way? Were there mentors or coaches or people that you inspire to become to push you and motivate you to become who you are?

Carol: So I’ve never had a hero or someone that I’ve specifically looked up to like, “Hey, I’m modeling myself after X.” That’s never appealed to me even with TV. I never wanted to be an actress, I always wanted to play myself. I’m very like all about like this is me and I’m being me not somebody else so I’ve never had sort of that role model or that one person who said, “Hey. I’m gonna put you under my wing and I’m gonna show you the way.” What I have had is what one of my friends calls the five minute mentors, so somebody who has a specific piece of advice or maybe makes one introduction that opens up a path to something else and I’ve had innumerable numbers of those people. People who either I met personally who helped me in these very small but significant ways or people who I’ve looked up to a specific aspect of something that they’ve done and “What, that’s kind of interesting let me see how I could you… Maybe make something like that my own.” And I think that is a big fallacy that a lot of people have. That they just want the one person who’s been successful. “If only Bill Gates or Warren Buffett would pay attention to me and tell me their secrets. I could be just like them.” And it really doesn’t work that way some people are lucky and create a relationship and that ends up being the outcome for them but I think most people miss the opportunity to take these five-minute mentoring sessions and apply that to what they’re doing and take all this you know, kind of cumulative advice and you have to remember not all advice is good advice and not all advice works for you either so you have to have a filter for it. Just because someone’s successful said it, you know, it doesn’t mean it works. In fact I’ll share a story here without giving away the name but there is a major financial guru that when I was first starting out and I said, “You know, that’s the…She’s done a really cool job. I’m gonna see if she wants to be my mentor.” And I went to see her at a book signing and this was kind of before I started any of this and I said, “You know, I’m sure you’re busy you might not have time to be a mentor but do you have any advice?” And she said, “Oh, just do good work and people will find you.” And I went back home and I’m like, “That’s a bunch of crap.” I’m not taking that advice at all if I don’t advocate for myself and I don’t put myself out there and I don’t push and I don’t make that connection, this is never gonna happen and her advice was terrible. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to it because there are plenty of people doing good work in their corners of the world that nobody knows about. In this day and age you have to be pushing that out there so I guess I’m glad that she wasn’t my mentor.

John: Oh, that’s amazing I mean putting yourself out there is so important, right? As an entrepreneur because you know, there’s millions of them out there but they’re not visible, right? There no…And they’re not taking action like they’re not the ones putting themselves in media or in publications or speaking or getting their name out there so how did you start that process because obviously you’ve had great success like how did you start and for all these entrepreneurs thinking of starting this would be great advice, right?

Carol: Yeah, so I mean obviously this is your wheelhouse with SEO I mean that is the place where you get started. As an entrepreneur today you do not have the luxury of not being a marketer. I know people don’t like it and they just want to run their business or do their product or service but unfortunately those days are gone. I mean here in the US, we have thirty point two million small businesses in Canada you have millions more. There are millions more around the world like there are a lot and that’s all competing for people’s time and attention so you have to be marketing and so that means having a web presence. I mean that was the very first thing that I started doing was having a web presence attached to my name and attached to keywords, doing videos, creating content. One thing that we do on our site at carolroth.com which is a hub for small business is we actually invite other small business owners to get publicity by having them participate in a big question that we ask every single month so it could be a best marketing tip or it could be your tips for small business whatever it is and we let our community participate shine a light on their expertise that we’re giving back to them but then they’re all out promoting it and we’re all out promoting it and then you get this exponential effect of people being aware of it and then when somebody’s searching for that key term as you know, we’ve got a lot of traffic going to that key term so if somebody’s looking for that they’re being driven to our website so the web was really where I started building my brand and where I’ve continued to invest time even today because as we know those search results change all the time and we still have our community participating in that and so with the stuff that I do independently I’m always making sure to integrate the touch points between what I’m doing in media, offline and online together so that I am creating that trail of information and ranking high for those search terms.

John: That’s amazing. Great advice because engagement with the community and a ton of contributors, right? That are giving feedback and then amplifying your message where then people are sharing, commenting and liking you on different channels and you don’t know how people are ingesting all this content, right? So for you to actually proactively do this at years in advance of how people were thinking before I mean that is great to hear because if more and more entrepreneurs actually take your advice they would be further ahead than waiting for things to happen, right? People are very like reserved. They’re…They don’t want to put themselves out there and the ones that do they’re the ones that are gonna be successful. They’re the ones that are gonna gain much more media attention and be able to grow there and scale their business, right?

Carol: And it doesn’t have to be on a personal level. It could be at the business level you’re showcasing your expertise through content you know, if you have a nursery you’d share content about everything related to gardening that might be of interest to your customers if you’re a doctor share information about how to live a healthy lifestyle and wellness and Prevention before people get to you know, that kind of stuff is what people are looking for and so it shines a light on your business or your practice. It doesn’t mean that you have to be the person. You personally don’t have to go on TV and do all these things but you do want your business to be a thought leader because that’s the kind of stuff that will rank highly from an SEO perspective is the kind of stuff that people will share and you’re adding value to your customer so that they know, “It really seems like this business knows what they’re talking about.” And that’s a…When they’re making a decision between all these other businesses it’s a great way for them to pick doing business with you know.

John: I mean you touched on awesome points because becoming a thought leader expert or authoritative figure in your industry, in your niche or in your regional market. I mean positioning yourself, right? Seeing who’s out there and if you feel like you can do way better or bring more value. Start that process of just giving away content, giving away images, video, podcasts whatever it is. The more you give things are slowly gonna happen but its long-term, right? It’s not gonna be quick wins. The challenge is a lot of people want quick wins and this is social media, this is instant messaging, this is email, right? You know what I mean?

Carol: I do! Ten year overnight successes. Yeah, this is the problem with entrepreneurship when people start businesses I always tell them to give themselves three years. If you’re really going to make a go at it. It takes three years to build a foundation for a business and the same thing goes with your social footprint. You can’t expect that you go out day one and all of a sudden you put something out there and everybody’s gonna react to it. You have to build that throng. It takes a long time to build but like you said if you’re not monitoring that every single day if you’re kind of looking at it you know, year by year and over longer periods of time you really do get there and if you have a small but engaged community that can be even more valuable than having a huge community where people aren’t engaged and the reality is as I broken down numbers for people before if you can get people, you get a hundred people to buy a hundred dollars a month from you think about you know, what that does for your business and then start you know, multiplying that out it’s that’s pretty substantial.

John: Exactly and making sure that you have a product or service that people actually want to buy, right? Like knowing your audience, knowing your you know, what do you bring to the table that no one else can provide or if it…If there is a service that you’re competing with what makes you stand apart, right? What makes you unique.?

Carol: Yeah. And then once you get that customer making sure that you know, they’ve already had this great experience with you making sure you don’t forget about them. I think a lot of people spend so much time going after the new customers they don’t realize how valuable their existing customers are within this whole dynamic. I mean not only is it easier to upsell and sell more often to people who already love you but those are the people who are gonna advocate for you with their friends or their business colleagues or whatnot so really investing the time to give more to them and give them those reasons to come back and continue to interact with you and continue to recommend you.

John: Exactly, like the loyalty, the newsletters, the offers, recommendation, referrals, even testimonials, right? Like what happens after the sale is as important or probably more important than getting that first sale, that new customer because lifetime value of that customer could be way longer with three or four referrals as well, right? And therefore you have to understand what the true cost of that new customer is and retain them. Retain them. Retain them. Retain them.

Carol: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

John: So I’ve been learning. This is my first venture in entrepreneurship. I started this company six years ago but I’m learning and getting great advice and I love this kind of speaking engagement with people that are successful , right? I…And are proof of what hard work actually means, right?

Carol: Yeah, hard work and smart work. Let’s see, there are plenty of people who work very hard but don’t do the right thing and don’t invest their time in things that will actually drive revenue. Anyone can be busy. We live in a good time where it’s very easy to be busy but you don’t want to be busy, you want to be busy in pursuit of revenue and profit. And there’s a difference between that and I always go back to ROI versus ROE. ROI Is return on investments, ROE is return on ego. There are plenty of things. Getting social media likes that don’t drive revenue and don’t build brand loyalty you could do a lot of things to get return on ego but unless you can pay your rent and your employees with ego that’s not going to do you very much so you want to focus on the return on investment where am I really spending my time that is going to translate whether it’s today or if you’re in the kind of business where there’s a long sales cycle maybe six months or a year into those customers that I can then spend more time with that’s really one of how you want to be spending your time because again lots of people working really hard but that doesn’t necessarily translate into dollars for you.

John: Exactly, so I’m gonna ask you this. What has been some of the biggest challenges or you know, mistakes that you’ve made over the years in terms of running your business or being advisory like you’ve seen a lot, how did people overcome them and you know, if you can share some of those examples?

Carol: So one of my first challenges which I see a lot in entrepreneurs particularly small business owners and especially a lot of small female small business owners is not thinking big enough that if you’re gonna bother spending all your time focusing on a business it’s almost as difficult to run a seven-figure business than it is to run a six-figure business sometimes it’s harder to run the six-figure business than the seven-figure business. So really push yourself from a goal standpoint and if you’ve got a good business idea. “Is there a way… Is this big enough? Is a big enough opportunity to really justify all the time that I’m spending on it? Is it scalable? Is it something where I can bring in other people to do aspects of it and it’s still gonna produce revenue or it’s all dependent on me and when I go on vacation the business stops?” Because that’s not really a business that’s a job business. Which is a business you pay for the pleasure of having basically and I talked about this in my book The Entrepreneur Equation so I think that that thinking big enough and not having the systems in place to really scale your business is a big mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make and certainly just…You’re not having the ability to persist and pivot as I said it takes a long time not only three years but I have another rule of three in business which is that everything cost three times more, takes three times as long and as three times as difficult as you think it will be. And as it probably should be and that’s just the reality of being an entrepreneur so if you start to get bogged down and frustrated by how long things are taking and how much more expensive it was than you expected and why everybody’s so slow. It’s gonna frustrate the heck out of you so you need to pursue it with that vigor that it’s gonna get done tomorrow but still have the patience when you realize it’s gonna take a lot longer.

John: And that’s great points because as an entrepreneur you feel like everyone that you hire are gonna have the same kind of motivation and aspirations as you do, right?

Carol: No!

John: They do not. Exactly, because you’re working you know, 12, 14, 16 hour days and they’re tapping out after eight hours and they take two-hour lunch breaks and they take 30 minutes here and there like the commitment level is completely different because you’re you know, blood, sweat, tears everything is in this business what do they have to lose?

Carol: Exactly, it’s a risk/reward scenario and they have a very little downside. I think the other issue that I’d like to bring up too is the one around money is that everybody thinks that more money is going to fix their problems and if you don’t know what you’re going to do with that money and you don’t have a pretty clear return on investment for that money it’s not going to fix your problems and you’re just going to burn through that cash and be looking at, “Oh, you know, okay what do we do now? So money is not the be-all end-all and also the kind of like the mentor discussion we had the big partnership is not your answer too. The other was like. “Well, if you know, Nike just you know, saw what I was doing and distributed my line of clothing. It would be successful. Well, duh obviously everybody else too but they have their own business to run and they’re not going to risk their brand on whatever you’re doing over here that’s just started.” So like stop living in fantasy land. You’re not going to have this big benefactor who’s going to do your business for you so you have to bootstrap and you have to build it from the ground up and I think having that level of reality is very helpful for entrepreneurs.

John: But it’s very difficult would you say because right now the last five or ten years I mean technology has advanced quite fast, rapid with the invent of social media with the advent of all these apps. Instant everything and people are like selling you on these great hacks and great you know, get quick rich games and whatever, right? And people are baited by that but if you take a step back and me and you we’re entrepreneurs we’ve seen it all, right? But people that are just starting. It’s very difficult because these people…Proven success, right?

Carol: Well, we don’t know that…They said they have proven success. I know a lot of people who say one thing and then when you really break it down it’s not actually what they mean.

John: I know you mean but they’re sold, right? And there’s so much out there. How do you get you know, control of not getting fooled by these people?

Carol: Ignore it I mean the reality is that most businesses are made or broken on basic blocking and tackling all of this foofie stuff around the edge and all the sparkly stuff is pretty relevant to your business and so I would just ignore it altogether just focus on making sure that you have an outstanding product or service that meets the customers needs, that you’re the right person to deliver it, that you’re providing great customer service, that you’re doing those things in terms of thought leadership and following up, that you always treat your customers as well or better than new customers. “Hello, listen?” Think about every cable company it’s like, “Oh, here’s the deal for you. You don’t work with us but hey, you loyal customer. Too bad for you.” No, everybody hates that so don’t be that guy or gal and if you just do those basics of course there are gonna be problems and it’s not going to be perfect but if it’s good enough that is the key for entrepreneurs and this is very hard. There are a lot of us who tend to be anal retentive and towards perfectionist and perfectionism is the antagonist of entrepreneurship. You cannot be a perfectionist and be an entrepreneur, you have to serve your customer and if your customer is well served it’s fine if there’s room to grow you can have version 2 or version 3 or versions 4 or the upgrade or enhanced version of your product or service. They have an expectation for that. Look at Iphones look at everything they’re always improving it but you can’t wait for it to be perfect to put it in their hands so if it..If you’re delivering something that’s good and it’s providing value that is good enough for you as much.

John: And that’s amazing advice you’re giving because you know, if you have an idea or you’re thinking of doing entrepreneurs just go out and see if it actually would generate revenue. Go out and see if you can get customers that are willing to pay for your service.

Carol: And that are not related to you.

John: Of course, no family at all but what I’m saying is that so many people are like wasting so much time, valuable time, doing we research, business plans, business analysis, figuring out how they’re gonna finance it without even knowing if this is a sustainable business with revenue and it had…It would last for one year, three years, five years, right? Like what’s the most basic fundamental thing? Go out, see if there’s revenue that you can generate profit. If it’s not generating profit, what are you doing? Go get yourself or figure out what you know, change up the business or go get a different job or something, right?

Carol: Yeah, I’m a big fan of selling before you even have something to sell. To see if it works and then you can scramble to get it done and to service that customer it’s much better than spending all your time trying to create something and then trying to go find somebody to buy it to find that nobody really wants the configuration that you have. You have to accept failure. It’s part of the process and the right way to fail is to fail quickly, cheaply and never the same way twice if you remember that just sort of accept it as part of the process.

John: That’s amazing, I mean I’m so fortunate I came from a sales background so I just bootstrap my way starting the business and I made so many pivots so many mistakes over the years and customers are okay with it as long as you admit to the mistake and you try to make good, right? Like you try to advance and you let them know these are the things that we kind of you know, should have done previously and now we’re kind of doing now but it’s really to benefit you and…Yeah, I was starting off and I didn’t know, right? Like just be honest with people and like they are okay with people making mistakes. They make mistakes all the time, right?

Carol: Well said, very well said.

John: It’s a matter of life right and right now even myself I’m always still making mistakes but I’m always pivoting. I’m trying to figure things out and yes I’m having a lot of fun doing it because it’s just you know, life, right? As long as you enjoy what you’re doing it doesn’t really feel like work, right? And you’re in a good spot when that happens.

Carol: That’s the key if it is feeling like work, maybe retool it a little bit.

John: Exactly, so in terms of advice I know you mentioned some of the failures and mistakes can you think of things that you can give in terms of tips or people that have kind of been doing it for a long time or even just starting off like what can you advise them in terms of how do you move ahead? How do you scale? What triggers you to take that next step?

Carol: I think a good thing to do is to take a look at your business two times a year at a minimum and do two things. One is make it more automated and put people at better use and then look at how you can grow the business so on the first piece we sit down and we say, “Okay, what are you spending time on? Is there a technology that can do this more quickly? Is there somebody else who would be better doing this and you’d be better off spending your time elsewhere and we have that critical review with every sort of aspect of our business and every person who works in our business and it’s really important and every year you know, we do things on a more automated basis and we find better and easier ways to do some of the things that take up a lot of time particularly things that don’t produce a lot of revenue so that’s you know, one focus and that sort of optimizes your expenses and makes you more productive and more lean on the top-line basis, we also take a look and say, “Okay, what’s working? So what can we double down on in terms of the things that are working and what else can we offer our existing customers so are there holes in terms of our offering where we’ve already captured the relationship with the customer that we could be getting more money from them you know, every month or every year you know, depending on the period and so those kinds of things. Those kinds of exercises will you know, help you with your top-line and a lot of times we ask the customers there are parts of our business where we will literally survey the customers and say, “Hey, you know, what do you think about this and what do you think about that?.” And a lot of them will give us feedback on a just like, “Hey, here’s something that I want basis.” And if we get enough people who are interested in it and it seems like a good use of our time or if we can find a partner sometimes to bring in and create an ancillary partnership revenue stream where they’re fulfilling the business but we’re kind of creating that connection and leveraging our customer base. That’s another great way that we do things so I think if you look at both sides you know, you look at the revenue, the top line and you also look at sort of the expenses and the operations you know, growing the top-line, shrinking the expenses and optimizing the business you know, that’s the best way to move your business forward.

John: Man, these are great points because advice on productivity and efficiency. People should be doing more of that. The only thing is there’s so many software and apps going on today and it’s pretty overloaded, right? Like there’s a lot going on so whatever works and what did ever you find that is taking a lot of time, bottlenecks and things that people aren’t passionate doing like people hate paperwork, right? People…Things that boggle them down so find something that can speed up that…Those tasks and make sure that everyone’s on the same page and using that new software and app, right? And then in terms of like the revenue that…Those are really good points because if you think about that customer stickiness, right? They’re so loyal to you and if you just find out what their needs are or what challenges they have, these are just opportunities. It can generate more revenue and make you even more sticky to them because being able to satisfy them or create that better relationship because they’re looking for something and they just want you, you’re a trusted resource to them offering so…

Carol: And they want it to be easy for them and the less people they have to deal with the better.

John: Exactly, so it’s all about stickiness and relationship building, right? And the more touch points that you have on that like you mentioned like you reach out to them. Those are great points and even if you’re able to do it once a year, twice a year, even an email survey. How am I doing? Is there anything that we’re kind of lacking on? What kind of product or service are you looking for in the next three or six months? That gives you great insight and feedback that you don’t have to invest a lot of money to do surveys from customers that aren’t even your customers, right?

Carol: Correct!

John: Right? And then drip them on a newsletter or anything that kind of like a referral program or something to keep them engaged with what’s going on with you, right?

Carol: Right!

John: So all that…I mean whatever you’re doing is obviously working because you know, I try to practice this and I teach this a lot to a lot of my customers. The challenges you know, for me it’s getting in front of more audience, right? Getting a larger people to know what we’re doing and what we strive to become because we’re basically partners. We want to help businesses grow and succeed and do things ethically and do things the right way with an honest partner, right? That knows their stuff, right? The challenges, there’s a lot of people that claim they know their stuff but do they know really?

Carol: Yep, and that’s where things like testimonials and referrals become so important on both sides. For you as a business and also as a customer to make sure that you’re getting somebody that someone else has said, “Yeah, this is you know, this is somebody that I trust in these areas and you can see if it’s a fit for you.”

John: Yeah, social proof is so important white papers, testimonials. Great. So in terms of like some of the technology or software advances over the years are there certain things that you use in your business that you can kind of recommend or let business owners know that are very critical to the success of your business?

Carol: It’s a great question. I think it really depends on the business because obviously if you are B to C versus B to B if you’re somebody who’s got a heavy customer service intake versus somebody who doesn’t depending on how you like to do your workflow. There are all kinds of technologies and I’m pretty basic. I’ve done a lot of work with Microsoft in the past. The Microsoft suite of products which is very, very cost efficient kind of does it for me. For a lot of it we also use a couple of different email providers for different parts of our business kind of depending on what our focus is. Email is still a really big thing particularly in one of our businesses that is…Well to our businesses that are product driven you know, having those kinds of emails on an ongoing basis. We’ve one part of our business where we have a 90 plus percent
open rates on our emails which is insane. I think the industry standard’s in the high teens now because you know, we really kind of honed in on making sure that these newsletters and updates and opportunities are things that the people want to hear and it’s the kind of business that sustains that but if you’re you know, in a business to business forum that kind of a newsletter might not be as relevant but you’re still probably going to want to have one. We’re also in the process for one of our businesses looking at a customer service automation software. One that has automated AI learning so that when people ask questions it’s understanding what the responses are so that we can do a lot more self serve in terms of the customer service instead of using agents on that so there’s really like every aspect of the business there’s an opportunity to use them technology and it can either help make your people more efficient and you know, help them do a better job or sometimes it can just move them on to other tasks and so I’ve just you know, depending on your business we what…Focus on what are those things that you do and I swear there’s a tech for pretty much all of it.

John: No, that’s amazing I mean in terms of automation people are very scared and in terms of what it really means, right? But you have to really think about it as…In your business how can it be used for an effective tool to streamline some of the costs and reduce some of the tedious tasks, right? That’s the whole point of automation.

Carol: I mean right, If you go through let’s say your emails and 80% of your emails are all asking the same handful of questions you could have your email responder say you know, is it one of these questions? Give them the answer and then if it’s not they can talk to a life agent you just cut out 80% of the emails and made it more faster for people to access that information which the customer wants fast access to that information so you don’t necessarily lose anything on the customer standpoint. You’re still providing the high-touch service for more complex issues but for the things that are just you know, stupid on your website and somebody answers it the same thing over and over again you don’t need that touch point so it’s about finding that optimization for you.

John: That’s amazing so in terms of like intake what you mean by that is a landing page with more refined questions to freely hone down on the right type of client or if you know, whatever service that or product you’re offering just refine it so that you can really go after the quality type of clients that you want to work with versus going after a broad shotgun approach where everyone’s kind of just filling out your form not knowing what they’re gonna get.

Carol: Or maybe just making information accessible and I think that’s something like a restaurant where you have to dig around to find the menu or to find their hours of operation or just you know, your phone or something basic that you could put that right up front and make it more easy to access. That in and of itself it could be just, it’s a small optimization that would have payoffs huge for the restaurant so again it really depends on the kind of business you have.

John: Exactly and I think you’ve touched upon like email where a lot of people who are just starting off it’s really more geared towards people that are have an existing client base or a newsletter or people that are in your funnel where then you can drip them with a lot of different campaigns or you can use a Hubspot or Infusionsoft or even MailChimp where they can cater it, right? Where it allows you to automate some of this stuff that can potentially not just make them more sticky but also get them to really buy other products and services or refer you, forward it to other people like it’s just utilizing some of this technology to your benefit to help you grow your business.

Carol: Absolutely.

John: Right? So in terms of like I know when you were first starting did you ever attend like a lot of the networking events or going to a lot of the forums online today like how did you get involved into doing your own thing like…

Carol: I hate networking. I’m an introvert. Strangely enough even though I’m on TV everyone thinks I’ve got a big personality. I get like it’s a big energy stuff for me to shake hands in fact I was at a convention yesterday and I needed a nap when I was done with it so I do not enjoy that I’m more proficient in using my own network so who do I know reaching out to people individually for very specific pieces of Hep instead of kind of broadly saying like, “Oh, who do I need to meet?” And people are very willing to help you, if they know how to help you so if you can make really specific asks, “I’m looking for this and this and this specifically.” And hopefully giving each of those people just one or two things because they’re not gonna remember three or four or five. That’s been much more effective for me than you know, kind of randomly going out to broad networking. Now, granted if you’re in one industry really deeply it may make sense for you it’s just I’m doing a lot of different things and it’s just not my thing so I tend to focus on, you know, what works for me.

John: No, that’s all that matters, right? As a business owner whatever you’re comfortable with focus on that and just just do it really well, right? And…

Carol: Well, you might not be comfortable with it but do focus on one thing cause you gotta be uncomfortable some of the time but yeah. Pick what’s gonna serve you and like you said go deep and that goes with anything with social media with marketing strategies like you’re gonna be much better off focusing on one or two social platforms than trying to be on all of them and the one that you pick where your customers are at if you’re focused on CEO’s be on LinkedIn you know, if you’re focused on Gen Z be on tik-tok.

John: Yeah, you have to understand what the platform is and what the demographic it serves, definitely. In terms of you know, what drives you today like in terms of your passion. It sounds like you have so much energy and it sounds like you’re having so much fun so what really motivates you to do what you’re doing today and what excites you?

Carol: I’m just very naturally curious and I’m also greedy in the sense that I like to be involved in everything so it kind of feeds my sort of curiosity and being a part of different things and I think that’s just you know, part of my nature. I’m the type of person that likes to create. I view the world in terms of you can either create, consume, destruct, or do nothing there’s only so much consuming that I like to do I’m pretty happy with the basics so you know, that’s kind of how I divvy up my time and creating gives me energy and so just that curiosity and desire to create and be productive drives me and when it doesn’t I find something else.

John: That’s amazing and I love the fact that you’re so curious because it’s very similar to a trait that I’m so curious in terms of people, relationships, business, health whatever it is I’m always asking questions just because I don’t know the answer, right? And they obviously are experts or the speakers or whatever it is. I’m always asking and you know, I’m always constantly learning and I’m having fun doing it.

Carol: So I know we’re running low on time here so how do we wrap this?

John: Yeah so I wanted to let people know, how can some of the listeners get a hold of you, your business, reach you directly or find you on social?

Carol: Yes, so there are a number…This is going to be a long episode of podcast. Just Kidding so the first thing I would encourage everyone to do is to check out my product Future File at futurefile.com. If you have an aging loved one if you have a spouse if you have kids and you have not prepared all your information and wishes. Everything from what do you want to have happen your social media account to your Bitcoin passwords and keys and wallets to everything in between. You haven’t made those preparations even for an emergency or a medical situation. Your medicines, your doctor’s all of that in one place that someone can find. You need to do that so please visit futurefile.com. I also have a small business community as I mentioned at carolroth.com and then across platforms I used the handle @caroljsroth, ROTH. As you can probably tell from this interview I’m very in-your-face and also a little bit snarky so if you really like the snark visit me on Twitter. If you want pretty pictures visit me on Instagram or if you want something a little more professional you can follow me on LinkedIn and those are sort of the best places to connect with me on an ongoing basis. I also have the book The Entrepreneur Equation if you’re thinking about starting a business that really puts you through the paces to see if you’re pursuing the right kind of business and you’re ready for it and John, I appreciate the opportunity it’s been a great discussion.

John: No, I had a ton of fun and I know you have…You gave a ton of great advice and snippets in terms of how to be successful in what drove you, right? So I really want to thank you for giving, taking a time out of your busy schedule to be here on our show.

Carol: Thank you and one more thing too I’ve got…I’ve also got a podcast called The Roth Effect if you’re interested in sort of heavy topics around current events as well.

John: Awesome. Well, thanks a lot Carol. I will definitely be in touch if you’re ever in Toronto ping me, let me know. I’ll be delighted to take you out and show you around.

Carol: Fabulous thank you so much, John.

John: Okay, have a great one.

Carol: Okay.

John: See you.