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The Business of Business Podcast

Nov 30, 2021

Develop a Replicable Framework of What Makes Your Business Successful Featuring Alicia Butler Pierre

When you find something that works, stick with it! Develop the framework in order to use your successful processes in order to scale and grow your business. We should always be in a continual improvement process, but that doesn't mean we are running and changing everything at one time. Be strategic, consistent and success will follow.

About Alicia 

Alicia Butler Pierre is the founder and CEO of Equilibria, Inc., a 15-year-old operations management firm. She specializes in increasing bandwidth for fast-growing organizations via business infrastructure.

Alicia has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University, an MBA from Tulane University, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Combined, her content has over three-quarters of a million views across various online platforms. Alicia hosts the weekly Business Infrastructure: Curing Back Office Blues podcast.

She’s also the author of the 2x Amazon bestseller, Behind the Façade: How to Structure Company Operations for Sustainable Success. Committed to doing the right things the right way, Alicia's mantra is "to leave it better than you found it."

Full Transcript Below

Develop a Replicable Framework of What Makes Your Business Successful Featuring Alicia Butler Pierre

Sat, 7/31 11:37AM • 1:02:08


business, people, roy, company, Alicia, process, literally, started, book, methodology, documents, New Orleans, listening, find, customer, months, product, businesses, day, Monsanto, Kasennu, Develop a Replicable Frame Work


Alicia, Roy Barker

Alicia  00:04

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Business of Business podcast. I'm your host, Roy. We are the podcast that brings you a wide variety of guests that can speak to a diverse set of topics and trying to either you know, maybe help you look at something a little different that you hadn't thought about. Or if you have something that is keeping you up at night, maybe we can provide a solution or a professional that would be able to help you out. We all we want to see everybody successful and we try to give you you know, as much insight and tools to help you do that. Today, we are excited to have Alicia Butler Pierre with us. We are supposed to be on a couple months ago got delayed. Alicia, welcome to the show. Thank you for your patience and being here. Alicia is the founder and CEO of Equilibria Incorporated, where she first formulated the Kasennu, and you'll have to help me with that if that's wrong pronunciation methodology for her clients. She has since successfully applied this methodology in over 30 different industries and counting. Alicia has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University Go Tigers, and an MBA from Tulane University. She is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and has authored over 200 articles, case studies, videos and white papers in areas of business infrastructure, process improvement and operational excellence. Combined, our content has received over a quarter million views on SlideShare dotnet alone, and Equilibria is the world's largest repository of subject of business infrastructure. And for small businesses. At least his ability to blend scientific business and mathematical methodologies to solve complex operational problems enables her to bring a unique, tactical and realistic perspective to her clients who have also included larger enterprises like Coca Cola, Lowe's, Shell Oil, she lives in Georgia with her husband and committed to doing right things the right way. Alicia's mantra is to leave it better than you found it. Alicia, thank you so much. And welcome to the show.  Thank you so much for I'm glad we were finally able to make this happen.


Roy Barker  02:32

I know. So I'm sure that I butchered Kasennu, as much as he said it correctly. Does it now No. Perfect, okay. And if you give me enough tries, I'll get it for I First off, I gotta say, you know, I want you to talk us through this journey. Because, you know, you started out working in, I guess in oil and gas and chemicals, kind of in some chemical plants. It's an interesting journey that, you know, kind of like for you to tell the readers but I want to say what an amazing book Behind The Facade. That's one of the books that you've put out how to structure company operations for sustainable success. And I love it because it talks about two of my favorite things business and the Wizard of Oz. So planning to talk about the meeting was about your journey here. And, you know, kind of how you ended up in the business consulting and then how you develop this methodology and about the book a little bit of everything.


Alicia  03:39

Okay, sure. So let me give a cliff notes version without boring your listeners to tears. So my my journey professional journey, as you mentioned, Roy, it started with me working as a chemical engineer, and my very first job out of college was at Monsanto. So I always tell people don't judge me, because I know there are a lot of opinions about Monsanto. And, you know, when I worked there, for those who are listening chemical engineers, we typically work as either process engineers, or design engineers. And because I was working, this was a location right outside of New Orleans in Louisiana. I was pretty much working as a process engineer. And so literally as different batches of roundup were being produced. It was my job as a process engineer to figure out what went wrong or what went correctly, even sometimes in the process of producing a particular batch of roundup that might have caused it to not meet the specifications. So that's kind of that was part of our quality control checkpoints. That's really what I did. As a process engineer. You're constantly just monitoring and if you ever need to design a new manufacturing part of the process as part of improving it or even expanding your your capacity. That's the type of work that I did. And what I noticed ROI. When I was working as an engineer at Monsanto, every single unit within the plant was assigned an accountant. And that accountant would come over to your unit once a month, and have a meeting with all of the engineers and the the unit leaders. And I have to tell you, Roy, that those accountants may as well have spoken Greek, because it was like a completely different language, talking about assets and liabilities and profitability and revenue, top line growth, bottom line growth it was, it was completely over my head because my training was as an engineer, I didn't know a lot about business, which is why I'm so excited to be on your show the business of business, I didn't, I knew the technical aspects of engineering, I didn't know the business of being in an engineering environment. And that's when I realized I needed to go back to business school. So I actually, I eventually left Monsanto and I started working at a small engineering consulting firm that was family owned, this was also in New Orleans. And at that moment, that's when I enrolled into two lanes professional MBA program. So I would work full time during the day, go to school at night. And I have to tell you, Business School, opened my eyes up to it was like exploring a whole new world, I did not look at anything the same again. Even things I'll never forget one time I walked inside of a target. And I don't remember what I was learning at the time in business school. But I just remember taking it all in the logo, the color scheme, the layout of the store, the customer service, the uniforms that the employees were wearing, things that would have completely been background before became came to the forefront because of what I was learning in business school. And so eventually, I fast forward, I graduated with my MBA in December of 2004. January of 2005, I just had this hunch that I needed to leave New Orleans quick, fast and in a hurry. And I relocated, I relocated to a city where I knew only one person. So I left New Orleans, relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, this was February of 2005. And six months later, Hurricane Katrina happened. But when I when I came here to Atlanta, Roy and not to compare the two cities to each other, but it it was, it was like a brave new world. You know, seeing all of the Fortune, the companies that had a fortune 500 presence, or excuse me, their headquarters were located here. So companies like Coca Cola, Delta Airlines, chick fil a Home Depot ups, they all have a presence here. And I thought for sure I was going to get a job. Here I am with this engineering background, newly minted MBA, I was not going to bang down my door to hire me. And that did not happen. My friend, Josh, because there are a lot of really smart people here. And so I decided after about two months of what seemed to be endless job searching, I decided to redirect the time, effort and energy that I was spending toward looking for a job working for someone else and redirecting that to creating my own opportunity. And that's when I started my company equilibria. So I don't know how far how much, you know, if you want me to kind of go down the journey of how equilibria started and how it evolved into what it is today. But that's that's kind of the backstory of how I even came to start my consulting firm.


Roy Barker  09:01

Okay, no, that's great. And, you know, it's an interesting journey that, you know, I think of New Orleans as you know, it's an entertainment town kind of town and then going to Atlanta. You know, it to me, Atlanta is just like a shiny penny. You know, when you get there. There's just so much that's so much going on. And there's so many new buildings and everything going up. So, right, I'm sure that was quite a culture shock not only not knowing anybody that makes it even harder. So you know, I have to give you kudos for being self confident enough to do that. That's really amazing.


Alicia  09:40

Yeah, and you know, it's funny, you mentioned not knowing anyone and how, you know, that takes some bravery. I it also was a huge plus, believe it or not Roy because I didn't have distractions. Not that you think of your family and friends as distractions, but you know what I mean, you when you're here, and you're by yourself, you have to make it work, right. And so I because I, everything was so new to me, learning my way around navigating meeting new people. So I didn't have these hangups I didn't have people around me to say, What on earth are you doing? So in some ways, it was actually a really good thing. But of course, obviously you get lonely and you want to have your your close family and friends around you for the for that support. But I think in terms of having the discipline and the rigor, to get up every morning, and just go for it and go after it. It helps a lot, I think if you can have a change in surroundings.


Roy Barker  10:49

Yeah, certainly. And like you said, just, and I don't mean this negatively there, but the distractions of all the, hey, let's go do this, let's go do that, you know, because that's an easier choice, I'd much rather go have some fun, then Exactly. Try to figure this out. So that can be a plus, the other thing I was gonna tell you is, you know, you've done this long enough now, but when you walk into the businesses and start evaluating, you know, that is an affliction that you will never ever get over. Because, you know, I'll get caught doing that looking around thinking, how does this company make money? Or, you know, what is this? What How does this work? You know, what is their process? And, you know, Terry, my, my partner, she'll be like, Hey, where are you at? I'm like, I'm trying to figure this place out, right? It never goes away. Like, is this a cover for something else? I have asked that question more than once. Like, how does this place make money? Think, you know, what is the rent for this building, or this space that we're setting in? And then they're charging, you know, $3 for a product, and I'm sitting there thinking, how many $3 products do you have to sell to pay this $12,000? rent every month?


Alicia  12:03

Yeah. So So what led you to creating? And I'll try it again, Kasennu? Is that close? That was perfect that you hit the nail on the head. So you know, you How long were you consulting before you decided to create this methodology? Is it something that, you know, it kind of been accumulating as your process as you walk through businesses? And you know, it was just more documenting your process and getting it together? How did that come together? I'm glad you asked that question. And thank you for asking that question, Roy. So the way it happened was very organically. When I started my company, as many people who I'm sure are listening right now. You're just so grateful for business. They you just kind of take it all on? Well, hi, Alicia, can you do this? Yep, I can do that. What can you do this? Yep, I can do that, too. And I just started taking on all of this work, Roy, and about two to three years in. I had a friend. She's still my friend, actually. She was one of the first people that I met when I was in it. When I moved to Atlanta, Louisa and Louisa told me one day, she said, Alicia, you've got to figure out a way to package your services, you're all over the place. And I was like, Well, how can I do that? I don't know how to do that. It's not possible. No, no, no, no, no. And so one day, Roy, I decided to the great thing about Atlanta is, you know, it's it's close to a lot of other states that are that have mountains. And so I decided to travel up to the northern part of Georgia. And I remember being in a bed and breakfast in the mountains. So no cell phone coverage, no internet, it was just me in the woods. And I appreciate that so much because I had an opportunity to really think, and here's what I did. I wrote down every single service that I had performed for a client up to that point. Again, this was about somewhere two to three years into the business. And I wrote each service on an individual index card. And I spread everything out. And as I started to look for similarities in some of the different things that I had done for these companies, seven unique services emerged. And then I started to put those services in sequential order. And I said, You know what, this is a framework. And no matter how many times without me even knowing it, I was doing certain things with certain clients over and over again, regardless of industry. And regardless of sector And it worked every single time. And I said, Oh my goodness, this is the package. This is what Louisa was talking about. And so those seven different services became what I now refer to as seven elements of this customer new framework. So I knew I had the bones or the structure for a framework that was repeatable, that could be documented that could easily be shared with other people, but I knew it needed a name. And Roy, I'm a student of ancient civilizations. So one of my favorites, of course, is ancient Egypt. And I had been to Egypt before, actually, I hadn't been to Egypt at that point. But from my studies, I was in contact with a few Egyptologist, and I reached out to one and I said, You know, I have this framework. And the idea of it is, once you apply this framework to your company, it really, in essence, helps you to clone or replicate what makes your company so successful. So as you start growing, and you want to open additional offices, or if you even want to offer your company up as a franchise, you can do that, because you figured out what your company's unique formula or secret sauce is, and you know how to replicate it over and over and over again. So I knew I wanted a term that has its that spoke to cloning, if you will. And I also wanted to talk about cloning the spirit or the essence of what makes your business so special and so unique. And so I knew that the ancient Egyptian word for spirit is Ka K, I didn't know an ancient Egyptian word that would represent clone or cloning. And so I reached out to an ancient Egypt, in Egyptologists that I know. Dr. Charles Finch, and he was the one who told me the word Sindhu, which is S II in in you and it means twin or similar similitude. So basically the spirit of cloning, and I said, Okay, I'm just going to put those two words together. And that's going to become the name of this framework. So kasungu is, is how that name came about. Interesting.


Roy Barker  17:18

That's really cool. But it comes, taken the Egyptian terms, I really liked it, I wasn't sure of the origin. But that's awesome. And it has a good meaning because we'll kind of like fast forward into the book that you know, that you spell this out. And what a great I want to talk about that for just a minute. Because, like I said, I'm a huge fan of business and a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz. And one thing I had been told many years ago that the basis of the Wizard of Oz is actually financially rooted in a struggle back around the turn of the century, I think, between those that wanted to go with the gold standard versus those that wanted to go with the silver standard, you know, the yellow brick road that led to nowhere, and I think originally, Dorothy shoes were silver, I think they had to make them red to give it a little punch for TV. But anyway, it's interesting, because I had heard that many years, but cannot find any evidence. And that one time, I actually thought my professor was just kind of, you know, Shawn in the song a little bit, basically that hey, you know, he told us some kind of made up story that he thought about was probably snickering when he told it. But, you know, after after I read your book, I went back and looked again. And sure enough, there's a lot of documented evidence out there now that that is probably you know, where this did come from So, but it's interesting, you know, we talk about the, you know, the man behind the curtain the facade, but on, and that is what, you know, I think he took he married the method ology with business. And with storytelling, because it again, it's been a few months since I read the book, so please forgive me, but I think there are three distinct stories if I'm not correct. I mean, if I'm correct three distinct instances, and you kind of walk through how you use the methodology, well, a fictional person, how they use that methodology to help a not for profit and a couple of other businesses, is that right?


Alicia  19:29

Yes. So there's, there's six unique stories, okay. And, and you're right each, each of those stories, it actually focuses on one of those seven elements. So you have these different characters and those characters Roy, I don't know if we talked about this before, but those characters are actually loosely based off of people that I've actually worked with. So I would say each character is really like a composite of four to five different People that I've actually worked with. And so, to your point, yes, there's a nonprofit that's represented. There's another company where they, they primarily work in the government space. There's another retail company, there's a company that's a food distribution company. So I tried to have a fairly good representation of the different types of businesses. So not just strictly service based businesses, and not just, you know, retail related businesses. But to have a, it was important to me to have a cross representation, again, to show that the application of this framework really is industry agnostic. But the one thing that is the one thing that is common across every character, and his or her situation is the fact that they have found themselves the victims of very good marketing. Yes. And now they have a different type of problem, right. So in the beginning, when we're first starting our organizations, we have to focus on marketing and branding and PR and publicity we because we have to attract customers to our respective organizations. But what happens when you've done such a great job of attracting attention to your business or your organization, that you now have a different issue, you now have more than you can handle. And that's usually when people that run these different organizations that run these fast growing small businesses, that's usually when they are ready to have a serious conversation about operations. And those back office processes, which I know Roy year, you also specialize in. So that's why it's so important. That's really what the book is about. And I wanted it to be a true how to book there's no, there's no funny business or monkey business here, right? Where there's, there's no cliffhangers that intentionally leave you as the reader hanging so that you can now be routed to the website and hire my company to help you actually implement it. The whole point is, pick up this book. Don't read it from cover to cover, because it's it's it can be very overwhelming to scan the table of contents, see what jumps out at you what what speaks to you right away, read that particular chapter. And it's literally going to tell you step by step. This is how you implement this in your specific company.


Roy Barker  22:29

Yeah, I think that's a good point, before we go much further to talk about is that a lot of people think businesses fail, because they don't have any business or because there's mismanagement with funds or things like that. But in reality, you know, I'm sure as I do you do, we talk to a lot of people who are struggling and having, you know, businesses that are fixing to go out of business, because they have too much business. And today with our reputation with the online reputation, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on which side of this coin you're on, you know, that word starts to travel very fast, that, you know, ordered something. And, you know, it took three months to fulfill the order or the service that you know, I've told you, I'm going to give you x, y and z, but I keep answering phone calls, because I don't want to turn anybody away, and then we just get jammed up. And all of a sudden, you know, we're in a lot of trouble. And I actually had a great example yesterday, not necessarily of the management part, but it's a product, I use that as a turn in a support question to their support June 8 of 2021. June 8, and we're, we're taping this on July 31. I got an answer yesterday, almost 60 days after Wow. Well, I was not very nice. When I wrote back. I'm like, really 60 days. I mean, like, Do you not like to cash my checks every month when I don't get that and you know, they're luckily they're in an industry that not a lot of competition yet. But you know, believe me, customers remember things like that. It's like, you know, if I if my cheque or my debit card failed for 60 days, am I still going to be one of their customers? No, I guarantee you, if my debit card, credit card didn't charge the day of they may give me a couple of days, but they are not going to hesitate to cut me off after that. And, you know, I feel like we vote with our dollars and so when we when we have these experiences with businesses, people take their dollars elsewhere. And you know, I guess we're lucky in some respects if somebody will nicely speak up and say hey, you know what, love your company, love your product, love your service. But I had this little issue. And if they take it the right way and say you know what, we're working on that too. Thanks for bringing it up. It's good because A lot of times businesses may not even realize what they're missing out on with, you know, different operational processes that fall through the cracks. Amen to everything you just told you, I just don't I can't even you know, get on my soapbox and don't know when to quit. But anyway,


Alicia  25:19

no, but you know it actually, there's something else that you said that reminded me of something that I think is very timely for us to bring into the conversation, if I may, and that is labor shortages. So I'm wondering, I'm curious if the reason you received you know, such there was such a delay in responding to you is, I'm wondering if that company is experiencing some type of a labor shortage. That's a huge issue right now, because of the pandemic. And then we have all of these, these increases in prices, because there's so many supply chain bottlenecks in the supply chains have so many different companies, bottlenecks that they never experienced before. So everyone is trying, literally trying to figure it out on the fly, right at the same time, so so right now is a particularly challenging time for so many businesses. And again, you know, as we've been discussing, not everyone is struggling. I don't know about your ROI. But I, I feel like I'm drinking water from a fire fire fire hydrant, right? Every single day ever since COVID, the COVID, lockdown started, and you know, I would listen to some people. They're like, Oh, I'm so bored. I don't have anything to do. I'm, I'm constantly bingeing on Netflix, and I'm like, Oh, my God, I can't I feel like I can't come up for air. Right? Yeah, it's just been crazy. So So that's something that's something that I think is worth mentioning also. But something else that I talk about quite a bit in the book. And it's the reason I, I named it behind the facade is this idea that there's there's there seems to be this battle between marketing and operations. And so many companies focus on marketing. Again, we erect this facade, whether intentional or not, in its, that's not a bad thing, by the way. My argument is, just make sure that you operate on the inside as good as you look on the outside. So if you've, if you're presenting this mighty lion, and that's what people see on the outside, and then very similar to the Wizard of Oz, when if a todo happens to pull back the curtain, and they see you're just a little kitty cat, then that's a that's an issue, because marketing is all about making a promise to your customer or your client operations is how you actually deliver on that promise. So if you make the promise, but you can't deliver on it, that's that's a clear indication that you need that business infrastructure in place, you need to have a focus on operations to make sure that you can fulfill these customer orders, respond to your customers in a timely manner, and make sure that your product and service is consistently delivered or produced.


Roy Barker  28:19

Yeah, I think there's, there is a slight window in there where you know, enough business can cover up some operational issues. And then one of two things happens, either the growth is exponentially and then it really exposes them to the point of crippling us, or things slow down enough that we just can't seem to, you know, get any traction and catch up. And then that's when everybody's like, Oh, you know, there's something that's wrong here, even though it's been wrong for quite some time, you were just in this zone, where, to me, my opinion, is that there was just enough business that you know, and enough money coming in that it could cover some of the shortcomings that we find. And then I guess the second part of this is, as an entrepreneur as a solopreneur, smaller business, it happens to larger ones, but we tend to focus on, you know, smaller business here is that we have, you know, we have egos, I don't want to call Alicia and say, I'm struggling. And yeah, that's the first step we've got to take. And, you know, we have to realize, I think a lot of businesses struggle doesn't you know, you can be very smart, you can have a good product, good service and all that but it happens and we have to be able to recognize that sooner rather than later.


Alicia  29:40

I completely agree with you, Roy. And if just to add to that. Another challenge for us as small business owners is that if we are proactive and we do go out and seek support and help in the area of operations, we usually find one of two things. One All the information that's out there is reserved for manufacturing companies, or to the information that we come across is really targeted toward the large enterprise Corporation type organizations. So where do you go? When you are you have this fast growing small emerging business that has the potential to become a Facebook, for example. But you don't it finding those resources are so challenging. And I remind people this all the time, it's no accident that Amazon has become the behemoth that it is. Jeff Bezos is an engineer, he understands operations and operational excellence in business infrastructure and having those processes. And even though people like fat may not verbalize it, you better believe they definitely value it. And it is ingrained in their culture and the way that they do things. That's what's helping to drive, the innovation, and the continuous improvement. And unfortunately, ROI. We do such a disservice to small businesses by not talking about these things, because it's so easy to talk about social media, and how to give a great presentation, and how to have nice websites and search engine optimization. And don't get me wrong, all of those things are incredibly important. But we also need to bring into the conversation, the things you and I are talking about the processes, the procedures, the quote unquote, not so sexy stuff. Right? Right. But the things that will make sure that your company runs, you know, it doesn't skip a beat.


Roy Barker  31:50

Yeah, and a lot of times people create a plan, or they write it down, and then you know, flowchart it, but then it goes on the shelf, and months, years go by and things change. And I can also emphasize enough that, you know, these are living documents that need to be revisited, because we had a supplier change, or we added a product or what you know, whatever the cause may be, maybe we added another person or you know, new person comes in. And it's it's important, because we always want to be revising our plans to be better, you know, find out where is the end, it struck me. Be honest, it struck me as odd that you started out with the, you know, with a product that is really fairly mature. But yet you are still watching over that process very carefully. And, you know, I would have never suspected that I would have figured that they had that down that, you know, you know, unless there was just a total meltdown of a procedure piece of equipment that quit or we ran out of liquid that, you know, that would product would be consistent through time.


Alicia  33:05

Well, actually, that brings up an excellent point, Roy, I'm so glad you say said that. Because that that kind of ties into some things that we've seen unfold in the news lately. But you have to constantly test, you have to constantly monitor a process. So the only wait reason you'll know that, let's say for example, when I was at Monsanto, the only reason you may know that a section of pipeline, for example, needs to be replaced is because you're constantly testing the end product. And if it does not meet those specifications, that's when you know, Okay, wait a minute, something has changed, something's wrong. Let's go into the process and figure out what it is is it? Is it because of a piece of equipment needs to be replaced? Is it some pipeline, maybe there's some corrosion that's taking place on the inside and it's, it's causing you know, that again, the the product to not meet the specifications? Let's think about what has happened recently in I think the city is sunny inside, Florida. It's right outside of Miami, we have this this condo building that collapsed. You better believe someone sounded the alarm? Yeah, that's why we have things like inspections. Don't ever think that something is just done. Nothing is ever done. Whether you're building a structure or building a business, it's never just complete, we have to continuously maintain it. And so part of maintaining this building just using it as an example is doing that performing these inspections. And so if red flags are raised up raised on these inspections, yet no one acts on it. Right? Look at what happened, all of that loss of life for no reason, right? So you know, that's obviously a much more extreme thing that can happen but it just goes to show the importance of having these checks and balances having these quality control check points. But then acting on those things. When people find that there are errors or defects or something's missing, something's wrong, something's not quite right. Don't wait for your customers to have to be the people to tell you, wait a minute, this is wrong. You want to be able to figure that out before it even gets to your customer. Because once it gets to your customer, things can really get ugly, especially from a public relations perspective.


Roy Barker  35:28

No one I think that, as tragic as that is, it's an example because they continued their sales and marketing process. It because I think the red flags went off a year or two ago, you know, when things were brought to light. But through this time, they continued their sales and marketing process to try to, you know, bring in new people. So, you know, it kind of gets back to what you were saying earlier that, you know, we we all want to focus on that marketing and sales, but then are we listening to our employees that are trying to say, hey, there's something going wrong internally. And and sometimes maybe what goes unsaid, like employees leaving, you know, because a lot of retention work as well. And that's what, you know, we noticed is that, hey, you know, I've been telling these people for six months about this, or about that. nobody's listening. So I'm getting out, you know, sometimes it's because they're just tired of the frustration, but sometimes it because it could be harmful to other people.


Alicia  36:36

Yes. Yes. And and it's, again, it's it's really unfortunate, and you just have to be so careful about the culture that you're creating. Right. And your company, do you have a culture? Are you have you created this culture of fear, where people are literally fearful? You know, that if they find that something has gone awry, or amiss, do they? Do they feel comfortable bringing forward that information? You know, there's Oh, my gosh, there's so many examples, recent examples that we can look to with this type of thing. Another one that always comes to mind is theranos, with Elizabeth Holmes. And for those who are listening, who may not be aware of this, this was a young lady who purported to create a device that could test with just the prick of a finger could run up to 250 blood blood tests. And, you know, of course, the the technology did not work. But she put up this elaborate facade, she was on the cover of Forbes, named time Person of the Year she did. She spoke at the main TED event, she had all of this coverage, all of this press on paper, she looked great. The company was revolutionary. Sure, her her her board was like a who's who, of people and all of this money that she attracted all of this fame, all of this fortune, the company at one point was actually worth 10 billion, and that is with a B dollars. And it was all built on a lie. The technology never worked. But here's the thing, Roy, there were people who tried to say something, hey, Elizabeth, this this doesn't actually work. They were threatened. They were threatened with lawsuits. They were some some employees actually reported being followed. Wow, wanted to make sure that you did not say anything outside of company walls. And you know, eventually she you know, the company was exposed. It's it's now defunct. But my point is, we can spend so much time again, erecting that facade and looking great on the on the outside, we look like the shiny golden apple. Right. But once that Apple is sliced open, is it rotten to the core, right? Does your technology actually work? You know, just yesterday, I'm sorry. I keep coming up with these examples. But just just yesterday, there was you know, I'm sure you heard this story about this billionaire who purported to have created a completely electric 18 Wheeler size truck.


Roy Barker  39:23

No, I haven't heard that story. Okay.


Alicia  39:25

And so there was a video that he produced showing this truck driving along the highway. It turns out, they actually intentionally chose an area where they could place this truck at the top of a hill and it literally oh my gosh, it literally so it wasn't there was no pressing of a gas pedal. Okay, inside of or pedal excuse me, not gas pedal a pedal inside of the truck. It literally was rolling down a hill. Oh, my thanks to gravity. And so he's been caught this this is like breaking news. Literally hot off The press the story just broke a few days ago. But again, it just it just goes to show this is a man who has now defrauded investors out of several hundreds of 1000s of dollars. And, you know all because I think we see people like that they, they have these great ideas, once they realize that their idea actually can't work. They just keep the charade going. Yeah. And they keep the facade going. And, again, just for cautionary tales, for everyone who's listening, just make sure that you operate as good on the inside, as your company looks on the outside, and you won't have anything to worry about.


Roy Barker  40:40

Yeah, because it eventually comes to an end, whether it's, you know, devious like that, or whether it is just not paying attention, just, you know, where there may not be any criminal criminal elements involved. But eventually, it just comes to a stop, it cannot go on, right? for a lot of reasons. Either business dries up, your nobody wants to work for you, or there's no money, you know, to continue the facade. Correct. And, yeah, it's there's just so much to talk about, I knew we were gonna have trouble with time. And I know, we're running way long. But I wanted to see, can you talk to us just quickly, can you tell us what are the seven, you know, the pillars of the methodology that you were talking about a little earlier?


Alicia  41:29

Sure. So it starts with what I call a business parts analysis. And that's when you that's where you are actually identifying all of the tasks and activities that have to be performed in your company, you group them into departments, and then from there you assign, ideally, the perfect the role, or the position or the title of that role or position that should ideally perform those activities. So that's step one, or element one, element two is then taking that information and putting it into an organizational chart. Now, in this instance, for the sake of the methodology, I refer to it as your business design blueprint. So you're literally almost think of it as your company's vision board, even though you may not have all of the resources that you need right now, to make this plan of action, you know, put put that plan of action in place, it's still a good idea to actually commit pen to paper and see what it looks like because it gives you so much more focus and clarity. The third element is what I call paper records management. These are the physical records. Now that you know the departments that make up your company, this is how you start to organize your physical records. Some people may say, Well, I have a paperless office Elisa, that's fine. But there are still some documents, especially when we're talking about legal contracts, where you still have to maintain a hard copy. So for situations like that, you just want to make sure that you have a filing system in place that everyone understands and can easily access. fourth one is what I call the electronic records management system. So this is literally the digital version of what you've put in place physically. If we have the workspace logistics, so again, once you know the people, that departments, and how work should ideally flow within your company. That's how you want to set up your physical workspace. Even if you are a solopreneur. Listen closely, you should still set up your workspace so that you have different zones. One quarter, you might say you know what this is where I keep all of my HR related information. And another corner, this is where I keep all of my accounting, legal and it related information. And this corner over here, that's where all of my sales and marketing stuff is. And then finally in the other corner, this is where all of the operational and day to day things that need to take place in the company. That's where that's what this zone represents. But just start getting in the habit now. Because as you start to expand from out of your home office and into an brick and mortar space, you can still you're just going to take that idea and just scale it. The sixth one is what I call a service delivery blueprint. So what does that process look like at a high level? From the moment a customer places an order or says I want to? Yes, I want this particular service? What does that look like from the moment that customer or that potential lead? If we're talking about a service based business, from the moment you first have an interaction with that person, or that other business to the moment that product or service is delivered? What are all of the steps? What is the technology that's involved? Who are the people that need to be involved? And what are the metrics? That's what's going to help you figure out where potential bottlenecks may exist in that in that you Your effort to deliver products and services on time. And then finally, the big kahuna is the business process manual. That is the final element that is literally you identifying all of the processes that need to be captured in your company. And then actually documenting those. And quick caveat, don't think that every procedure or process, excuse me has to be documented in that standard old school way of, you know, standard operating procedure. Step one, do this step to do that. You can use video, you can have checklists, you can have little short job aids, you can get really creative, whatever it's takes for people to understand how to perform a particular job or task at your company. That is the primary goal in documenting your processes. And they are living breathing documents, don't just put it on a shelf to collect dust, as Roy and I have talked about,


Roy Barker  45:58

right. Yeah, don't see, and there's dust. All right.


Alicia  46:02

That's right. So I want to mention, Roy really quickly is this amazing tool that my team and I started using, as of about six or seven months ago, it's called Notion,, please, everyone look into it. It's very inexpensive. It's only I believe, like $4 per user each month. But here's what notion does. It's part wiki, part, database, part knowledge base, and part project management tool, it has replaced so many other tools that we were using. And it's literally brought all of that information into one place. It's very visual. And so now that's where we have all of our processes. And again, those processes take different forms. Some of them, one of our processes is literally a calendar. And just based on that calendar, different people know what they need to be working on. Some processes are videos, some processes are just checklist. And then of course, we have the you know, those that are the standard, you know, standard operating procedure format. So I just wanted to make sure I I left that little nugget with your listeners


Roy Barker  47:15

That's a great point to make. Number one, I'll check this Notion out. But back to the others that, you know, we need to make this interesting. And so and in depth instead of the written I'm very visual. So I would rather see you do this on screen, then have it written down. And so we've got, you know, products like loom, awesome. Yes, zoom, even you can do just the self recording of what you're doing to capture. If you're working on a computer, it captures the movements and so much easier for a process than for me to look down and see step one, you know, click here, step two, and I'm like kind of landed on the page where with with one of these screen captures, you can actually watch that physically, where does this guy move this mouse to to make this happen. And I'm looking at the same screen as what's on it's, there's so many great ways that we can, I guess, enhance these processes and procedures that we're putting out, and then also to make them searchable? Because I know some people that have some great processes and procedures took a lot of time. But the employees don't know where they are. It's not, it's not like on boarded? Well, there's not a common space where you can go when you need answers. And then then it just becomes tribal knowledge like, well, instead of trying to find this thing, you know, I'll just ask the guy next to me. And he may or may not know the correct procedure if it's been updated. So a lot of things that we need to think about, we have so much access to digital steps to make it not only better, but also easier for people to find and you know, have it consolidated somewhere.


Alicia  49:02

Absolutely. I'm sure you already knew that I would agree with everything, right?


Roy Barker  49:10

Yeah, that's kind of like, you know, similar situations, like, you know, we always talk to elderly people need wills, and trust, and you need all these documents. And what we always say is that, if nobody knows where to find them, it's just like not having them. So you've got to make things where people can actually reach out and use that to, you know, better themselves and a couple things. Again, I'm gonna say I know we're running late. I'll try to make this quick but to you know, that's what I like about the book, because he actually gives you examples and the couple that stick out are the the one with the not for profit person that if I'm recounting correctly, she's probably fixing to lose her job. It was something that she started it was her baby, but when once you take the step to put a board of directors Then all of a sudden, it's really not yours anymore, the board has decisions to make has the power to make decisions over who's running, and she was fixing to lose her job. But they sat down and figured out, like, all of the stuff that this young lady was doing, it was just crazy. I think they either use like a post it notes or the three by five cards to write down, you know, what this process is, and once and then then they were able to basically group all of those into, you know, different positions, they didn't actually have to end up hiring anybody, but they were able to redistribute some of these roles to give her time to be more creative at the vision and the mission of the not for profit itself. Is that pretty close?


Alicia  50:48

That's, that's, that's very close. And I think it also highlights, one of the outputs of this framework is being able to have those succinct job descriptions, because a lot of times people I mean, how many times have you and I both heard Roy, we just can't find them. The people they just aren't out there. Well, are you being as descriptive as you possibly can be? When it comes to crafting your job description, because there really isn't. It's part art and part science, right when you're coming up with these job descriptions. But when you go through an exercise, like what's described in the book, and what the character you're referencing, her name is Emily Miller. And so when you go through the same process that Emily went through, that's when you start to realize, Oh, wait a minute, okay. Now I understand why I may not have been attracting the right people to even interview, right yet alone hire. So so it gives you even more. I don't want to say ammunition gives you, it gives you because that's not the word that I want to use. But it basically arms you or equips you with the information that you need to really go out and make sure that you are recruiting, interviewing, and ultimately hiring the best people to fill those open positions at your company.


Roy Barker  52:09

Yeah, because I have seen that before, where we advertised for a position that, you know, it's a general position, but then we are asking them to either be very heavily analytical, or heavily creative. But the person that came in thought, I thought I was just going to be answering the telephone and, you know, making some appointments, I didn't realize you're going to ask me to, you know, make a proform of where we're going to go with this new product, or are either bad or to be, you know, rat, you know, our creative blogs or something. So, then what we do is we spend all the time and energy hiring that person, they get discouraged, because it's not what they wanted. You get discouraged, because they're not able to give you what you need. And then we start this process all over again. That's exactly right. Yeah. And then second one that I wanted to talk about was the thinking was two sisters that were in like a healthcare business. Yes, they hired the new guy. And he's like, Oh, my gosh, they had like, I don't know, I just had this visual of, you know, he opens the door to this room, and there's nothing but filing cabinets all through. Nobody knew what was where they were trying to, they had a couple locations, they wanted to open up some more, they were just trying to get everything in order. So then it got that kind of overlapped into the digital storage looking at, you know, what they could put digital, making sure, the most important thing I got out of that was vetting the provider to make sure that they could give you you know exactly what you need them to be able to provide you. Because it you know, I think they were scanning in documents, they were moving stuff that they wanted to keep to some off site storage, and then, you know, put trying to scan everything up again for accessibility.


Alicia  53:58

Right, and another big point or lesson to learn from their story in particular, they were in New Orleans. And so New Orleans floods very easily. So for everyone who's listening right now, we another thing that so many of us in this just isn't confined to smaller companies, even big companies get caught off guard when it comes to disaster recovery. So if most of your records are in a paper based format, you probably don't want it stuck in a bunch of file cabinets in a city that is prone to flooding. So they had to come up with these creative ways of distributing these old files into and strategically placing them as far away from the city of New Orleans as possible, just to make sure that in the event, another catastrophic hurricane comes through or tropical storm that those records would not in fact be lost. That's something that's that actually happened to so many organizations just from Hurricane Katrina. alone. I mean, you have courts, you know, all types of court documents were lost just when you think about the amount of things that are still held in a paper format. I know a lot of us like to think that everyone has gone digital, but there are still so many organizations that are very old school. A lot of old information has not been digitized yet. And so all it takes is a bad snowstorm, tornado, you name it, any type of natural disasters, something unforeseen, unexpected to happen. And now all of a sudden, all of that information is compromised.


Roy Barker  55:37

Yeah, and, you know, it's just even like, we had that bad winter storm here back in February, and people ever thought that there would be water pipes breaking so rapidly and shooting water, you know, like you said, early, like a fire hydrant through the house. And so, our small business where all of these paper files were just ruined, and, you know, for some things, they can be recreated. But I think in some instances, especially like, the the story in the book, you know, they had to produce these records to, I think it was, you know, like state agencies for billing and things. So they needed access to them frequently, it's not like that they had time, and they would have been totally out of compliance. And, you know, would have lost probably all of their income had that happened to them. So something to think about for sure. Hmm. The other thing, just to mention quickly, is that, you know, these are all things that we need to think about from the beginning. We can't, if we wait to we've got 235 10 employees, we're probably going to be behind the eight ball and take a lot more time. Whereas if we would just think this through from the beginning, make some notes, how are we going to do this, it makes it easier when we add number two, we've already got things in place to share with them. We're not having to take time out of our day to create these job aids, our processes and procedures, you know, for a new person that's sitting here, tapping their finger on a desk wondering what they're going to do tomorrow. Yes. And then we can also capture the, you know, we could just capture more in depth. And like we said they need to be living growing documents as we go through time. All right. Well, I certainly do appreciate it, Alicia, you're giving of your time. I know that you mentioned this, the notion but one of my wrap up questions always what is a habit or a tool? What is something that you use in your daily life that really adds a lot of value? slack? Oh, my


Alicia  57:42

Slack, Oh, my gosh, Slack in Yes. Sack has significantly reduced the amount of emails that I receive in my inbox, because it's so easy for things to get lost. And I was I was starting to drop the ball to be honest with you Roy on some things simply because I couldn't keep up with the volume of email coming into my inbox so by by forcing everyone to start using Slack, and now we all love it, we absolutely love it. And the great thing about Slack is that all of your communications can be organized according to different projects or according to, you know, however you want to organize your conversations, actually. So it's it's been a lifesaver. You can attach files, Slack actually connects with Zoom. It's, it's such an amazing tool. And Slack also integrates with Notion.


Roy Barker  58:35

Oh, okay, interesting. Yeah, you know, I like those, I use one in teams a lot similar to Slack. But the nice thing is, it's like you don't have the volume of emails, you don't do that forget to copy this person. Or if the you know, it's a cc person that, you know, may not be paying a lot of attention, they can easily go back and find you know, the information that they need. So, yeah, great tool, check it out, and put it to use for you for sure. All right, tell us how can Who do you like to work with? How can you help them? How can they reach out, get a hold of you, and then also tell us where we can pick up a copy of the book


Alicia  59:16

Sure. The The, the people that tend to attend to come to us are usually almost always in the same position. They they have been in business at least two to three years. So they're not startups. And they have a different type of problem. They're growing rapidly, and they desperately need to take a look at their operations and their put a business infrastructure in place to make sure that they can sustain the growth. So those that's who we typically work with the best place to find out about me and the company and the book. I recommend that people just go to my personal website, which is Alicia Butler and my first name is spelled A L I C I A Butler, Pierre and Pierre is spelled P I E R R So go there. And Roy that really, that site really serves as a hub for everything that I have going on. So they can find out more about the book, which is also on Amazon. By the way, they can also find out about my I have a podcast as well a weekly podcast called Business Infrastructure. And they can also find out more about my consulting company Qquilibria. And it can link them to all of those different sites. But rather than reciting a bunch of different websites, I always like to send people to that one hub first. And then you know, if you want to connect on social media, links to all of my social media profiles are there as well.


Roy Barker  1:00:39

Okay, great. Yeah, we'll include that in the show notes as well as the book and the company sign just to help people find you a lot easier. Again, I cannot say thank you enough. Love the book. It was such a good, easy read. I mean, I could not put it down once I got started. And, you know, great. Yeah, yeah, I love the whole reference to the well, to the Wizard of Oz, couldn't have tied it in better. So anyway, thanks a lot. Y'all reach out, see how Alicia can help you out and go pick up the book. It's a great read. It'll sure help you a lot, you know, help you get started on making some positive changes. And then I know Alicia and her team can help you, you know, drive that across the finish line. Until next time, that's going to do it for this episode of The Business of Business Podcast. Of course, you can find us at we're on all the major podcast platforms, iTunes, Stitcher, Google, Spotify. We're also on all the major social media platforms tend to hang out on Instagram probably a little bit more than others. So we'd be glad to interact with you there. You can also see a video of this interview live on youtube when it when the episode goes live as well. So until next time, take care of yourself and take care of your business.