FYE 51 | Operating Systems

 

Operating systems are to business what the playbook is to football. For a leadership team to run a business effectively, it needs a playbook that lays out the expectations for each person on the team at each moment of the game. It’s the only way to ensure the long term success for either the team or the company. Award-winning speaker, coach, and business optimization strategist Tim Cox draws this analogy to describe how important operating systems – or what others might call processes – are to any business. In this episode, Tim argues that businesses don’t often succeed as much as they can because their leaders fail to communicate their vision to everyone in the company. He explains how creating a playbook for your business helps get everyone behind that vision and why it’s important to have an integrator in your company who makes sure that everything gets done. He also talks about building an environmentally-conscious business and creating a “green team” to make that happen. Tune in for the rest of what he has to say!

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The Importance Of Operating Systems, Hiring Integrators, And Building A “Green Team” For Your Business With Tim Cox

I’m so excited to have the one, the only, the great, the fabulous, Tim Cox. He is joining us in this episode, and he’s going to talk about so many different things, especially when it comes to your operating system and business processes. If any of you have read my book or listened to the audio version of, Exit Rich, you should know about my 6 Ps, which are People, Products, Processes, Patrons, Profits, and Proprietary. We are going to talk about Tim’s unique methodology when it comes to operating systems and how every business should be environmentally conscious and have an environmental component as part of its vision and the big picture.

Who is Tim Cox? He is an award-winning speaker, coach, and business optimization strategist. He has successfully owned and led companies in a variety of industries like manufacturing, hospitality, sales, marketing, and vent production. He has committed to serving his community with a particular interest in creating opportunities for social justice. We need more equality and environmental responsibility.

Let’s go ahead and welcome, Tim Cox to the show. He’s going to give us a little bit more information about himself, what he was like as a little boy and what got him involved in entrepreneurship, operating systems, and, most importantly, giving back to the community and making the world a better place. Welcome to the show, Tim.

Thanks, Michelle. I appreciate it. It’s great to be here.

Let’s get the party started. I would like to ask a question, what were you as a little boy, Mr. Tim Cox? Were you cocky?

I have to admit I was a unique child. My mom always says that having me first made all the other kids much easier because I was the one always to say, “Why? No, I don’t think so. Yeah. What about this?” I came from a place of curiosity my entire life, and I like to be in charge. That included being told I was a little bossy by my friends or the kids in the neighborhood because it needed to be my way. I hope that I’ve mellowed as I’ve aged, and I’m pretty sure I have but it’s still part of me.

You said a couple of big things that most entrepreneurs can relate to, and I always say that when I was a little girl, I was curious. I didn’t play with toys. I would walk up to strangers at the bank, grocery store or church and say, “What do you do? How do you do it? How did you get started?” I didn’t have any small talk. You said you were curious, and that’s how I was. I’m still curious like a kid in a candy store. I can’t wait to see how somebody built a multibillion-dollar business out of the garage or their kitchen table.

You also said another thing that you were controlling or bossy. I was like that too. I told my mom I was never going to work for anybody because I didn’t want anyone to tell me what to do. That has always been my biggest pet peeve. It still is now, “Don’t tell me what to do.” A common trait among most entrepreneurs is that you got to be curious, a little bossy, in control or have that mindset that you do want to be in control. The thing about entrepreneurship is that you got to let go of control to grow.

That’s a great point. An interesting part was that you mentioned there was candy. When I was younger, my parents would often bring me into the grocery store and leave me in the candy aisle. They would go around and do the shopping. That was considered safe back, at least, where I lived in the day. My mom would come back, and I would have 3 or 4 candy bars, and she would say, “Did you pay for those?” I’m like, “No, I didn’t, but that woman over there bought me this one, and that man bought me this one.” I was that kid that would say, “Good talking to you. Will you buy me this candy bar?” I would get a couple of pieces of candy from talking to the other people in the store. I never met a stranger as a kid, that’s for sure.

Did you get people at a very young age to buy you candy?

Yep.

When you got older and started drinking, you went to bars and probably had women buy you drinks.

I’m not so lucky there. That lack of fear as a kid goes away as you mature a little bit.

What age were you? You started as a salesperson to get other people to buy candy for you.

I was probably 4 or 5. It was a different age. If you left your kid in the candy aisle at the store and walked around now, they would probably call the police but in the small town I grew up in the ’70s, it was permissible.

Not these days because they are like, “What did they put in the candy?” What’s the candy laced with? They are trying to get a little boy to go out to the vehicle. Let’s move on. Tell us a little bit more. You were curious and bossy. What led you to where you are now in entrepreneurship?

I jumped into entrepreneurship young and somewhat by again, not liking being told what to do or not thinking that people recognized my worth. My great-grandma and I started a lemonade stand when I was seven. That quickly exploded into multiple outlets throughout town because we added fresh squeezed lemonade and pasties, which are hand pies. My great-grandma was the best cook in the entire world, and people would line up to buy these.

My 1st hire was my babysitter, and my 2nd hire was my babysitter’s grandmother. I hit success early from a business standpoint, and that turned me on to business. In college, I started a company that worked with leadership development and student organizations with a friend. We built that company to work with international organizations, coordinating conferences and events for high school and college students, great organizations, and student councils.

We coordinated those throughout, and I always had an interest in the business. I will build something, sell it and then figure out what I want to do next. Maybe I will take some time off and travel. When I get bored, I always go out and get a bartending job because I like to have that socialness in there as I figure out my next thing. I find that it helps recharge my batteries in there. The other part for me that made a big difference is that I’m always looking at how to work smarter, not harder. I’m a hard worker but I don’t like to waste time and energy. I like to spend time doing what I love to do as well as building businesses and working with everyone.

You’ve built businesses. How many have you built and sold?

It was five.

Have you sold them yourself or have you sold them through an M&A advisor like myself?

I didn’t know about you until lately. I wish I did. I probably would have a lot more money had I known you.

You would probably be able to retire and exit rich now if you knew me. What did you learn in business? What was the biggest thing that you felt you learned in which to create a business that works for you rather than a job you are working for?

The biggest thing that I learned is to reach real success. You must surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and more capable than you. They might not be all capable in the whole picture but you want experts in their area of expertise. You want to build them and trust them to be sound advisors to you. You don’t need to have all the answers but you need to be able to listen to all of the answers and sort through them as a business person. The other thing that I found is the magic of the team. When the team has the right people in the right seats, it’s incredible what can be accomplished.

To reach real success, you must surround yourself with people who are smarter and more capable than you are. Share on X

You have been either reading my book or my blog because that’s what I always say. You have to have the right people, the right butts in the right seats, and you have to ask the who question. “Who opens the door? Who answers the phone? Who handles customer service, marketing, legal, accounting, manufacturing or quality control?” The list goes on and on, but the clue is that we should not be next to the who. We need to run a business that can run without us.

With the clients that I work with, that’s often the first thing we have to get through to them because they are so often used to having every answer and controlling everything.

They think they have every answer. They are delusional because nobody has an answer. They will have to listen to others and determine what to sort through and what to utilize.

The other thing that I learned through everything that I’ve gone through because there have been good times, bad times, and challenges throughout that time but it’s that willingness to continue to evolve and improve which makes a difference. Sometimes you bring in experts to help. Sometimes you can do this study on your own. Sometimes it’s within your team by incorporating all of that level of expertise and picking the parts that work for your company and sorting through them. The other part that’s so important is that you, as the leader of your company, must have a vision that everyone in the company understands and can get behind.

FYE 51 | Operating Systems

Operating Systems: As the leader of your company, you must have a vision that everyone in the company understands and can get behind.

 

There’s something to unpack right there because a lot of visionaries, including myself, will be like, “I’m doing this and this. We are running the company in all these different directions but I don’t always communicate it with the team.” Many entrepreneurs don’t always communicate it with the team, and I agree with you. The team has got to buy into it. Everybody has got to be on the same page.

As you said, so often, that isn’t communicated or even defined by a visionary. They have a vision but they aren’t able to articulate that vision to their team. If you go to their team and ask them what the vision is, you are going to get multiple answers. With every client that I work with, we sit down and dive into what is the vision. We ask those questions, so they can get to a point where they can communicate it with their team, and also it becomes part of their marketing strategy. It becomes a part of their culture, and that makes such a difference.

Operating systems, you learned that you can’t build a successful company without what I call the third P, which is a Process. My first P is People, and then Processes. You call it operating systems. I call it processes. Why don’t we jump in there into talking about operating systems? You’ve used different ones along the way. You’ve got your own unique system that you use but I’m going to ask a silly question but a lot of owners don’t implement operating systems or processes. It’s not really a silly question. Why is it so imperative for companies to have processes in place, operating systems in place, and what I will call an integrator, which we can jump into in a few minutes?

I’m a big football fan, and I always say that an operating system is like a playbook. For a leadership team to run a business effectively, it needs a playbook that lays out the expectations for each person on the team at each moment of the game. It’s the only way to ensure long-term success for the company. A good business operating system gets everyone in the company on the same page with the same vision, working towards the same goals.

We need to know the expectations and the processes and define the accountability so everyone is in sync and working together. Without an operating system, companies have one, and it’s accidental but when they do that, there’s often miscommunication, individual agendas or conflict. They keep doing the same issue over and over again. Something comes up, and they don’t solve it. They put out a fire here, put out a fire here, and run over here but they are not getting anywhere.

I always say entrepreneurs are firefighters.

That’s a good point but again, a good firefighter has a plan. A major forest fire doesn’t get put out all at once. It gets put out step by step, with everyone knowing their role. They have a team that knows the expectations, what they are accountable for, and how they contribute. Often people work for a company and do what they are told but don’t see how they fit into the success of the company or even know if the company is successful. Most people want to contribute or almost all, so we give them the opportunity by defining what our expectation is and where we are going. They might have ideas that will contribute to that, and that’s when that team concept happens.

I have been dealing with entrepreneurs for the last many years, and as I’ve always said or Steve Forbes, who endorsed my book, Exit Rich always said that 80% of businesses on the market would never sell, and the M&A Source says 90%. That means you have less than a 10% to 20% chance of success, and there are many reasons for that. One of the biggest issues again, is we go back to the owner who’s the visionary and the control freak like you and me. They always have to have their hands on every pie.

I’ve grown exponentially from that little girl. Now, I focus on my best and delegate the rest. I always say a visionary and entrepreneur needs to get an integrator because it’s almost impossible to be both. To have the vision and be the integrator to make sure that vision is being articulated and communicated to the team. The team understands that the team bites into it. Everybody’s mission is toward that vision. What are your thoughts on taking that vision and that operating system into the team and communicating it, so everybody is on the same path?

You are exactly right. An entrepreneurial company starts with an individual that has a vision. They move forward and cobble together different things. As that company grows, it gets out of their control or it puts that visionary in a place where they are not going to be as successful. We can call it an integrator, a COO or whatever we want to call it but it’s that person that becomes the glue for the team that allows the visionary to spend their time where they are most successful. Developing the big important relationships, diving into, looking at the future and where they want to go. Setting a culture and a vision for the company and not having to be bogged down in every detail.

Having that person on the team makes such a difference to release everyone’s success within the company. What that integrator does is they are making sure that everything that the visionary looks to accomplish is getting done. I worked with a business partner in college, and he was brilliant. He had many ideas, and it was exciting to work with him but exhausting. We could be working on a major event, and he would get an idea for something in the future.

FYE 51 | Operating Systems

Operating Systems: Having an integrator on the team makes such a difference to release everyone’s success within the company because that integrator makes sure that everything that the visionary looks to accomplish is actually getting done.

 

I eventually bought a fishbowl because we had desks that looked at each other. That old partner desk concept, and I put it in the middle and said, “When you get a new idea, write it on the card and put it on the fishbowl. We will take time when we have time to bring them out and talk about them and then put plans together, but now, we got to get stuff done.”

“We have an event where we have 10,000 people coming to town in a week, and I don’t need to be talking about your idea to have a podcast. It’s a great idea but not now.” That discipline became important to our partnership and allowed us to get stuff done instead of half ideas. The other part I will say, had he not written on the piece of paper, he probably would’ve forgotten it. That card in the fishbowl helped him remember all those great ideas he had as well.

That’s a great story because if you look at entrepreneurs and inventors, they want to do everything at once. Inventors develop a product, get a patent and try to get a market. Many times, they never get it to market because they want to move on to the next invention. They never grow a business. They are only coming up with ideas. It’s the same thing with a lot of entrepreneurs. They will grow a business so far and were like, “I’m done because I don’t know what to do next.” They then will jump on to their next thing.

It’s important to have that integrator in place. It reminds me of the book that Gary Keller wrote, the Founder of Keller Williams, which is, The ONE Thing. You can’t work on ten things at once. I’m a visionary and come up with all these different ideas too. I’m like, “Michelle, settle down. Let’s come up with 1, 2 or 3 things we are going to work on but let’s pick one thing first. That’s so important. That’s how you eat an elephant, one bite at a time but I encourage everybody to read The ONE Thing.

It’s like the Shiny Penny syndrome, “Pick it up.” That’s very important to keep people focused. I’ve had clients struggle with this before, and we work with a lot of clients on the vortex of which you get their business ready for sale. That’s usually a 1 to 2-year program but my biggest question is how do you find the right integrators? It is so tough to find that integrator, that number one, gels with you as a founder, with your vision, and with your team who can integrate the entrepreneur’s vision and can see it come to fruition. How do you go about finding a good solid integrator because it’s a struggle?

As we all know, it’s a struggle to find the right person for every job. There are a lot of people in the world but the people that are best equipped for each position become super important. I will say that in my experience with some of my companies as well as with some of my clients, oftentimes, the integrator is grown. Maybe they were their director of operations, and then they had a bigger vision than operations or maybe they are their sales and marketing vice president that is great at sales and marketing but understands the overall picture.

I will go back to my mother. My mother started as a bookkeeper before she was an accountant but had a more entrepreneurial spirit. She became this amazing integrator at every company that she either started herself or that she went to work for early in her career. If we are starting fresh and we have to go out and recruit, it becomes so important that we look at defining what we are looking for.

When you find an integrator for your company, you need to work to keep them, because that’s the person who’s really making sure your success happens. Share on X

An integrator is a whole different type of person that you are looking for than any of your other employees. It’s very different from a manager, a general manager or even than a COO many times. You got to get crystal clear on what you want the innovator to do but don’t you agree? They are even more unique than a CEO in many aspects. They are your right arm and your left brain that are helping you connect to everything.

I agree 100%, Michelle. It has become so important. When you find that person, you also got to work to keep them because they are the ones that are making sure your success happens.

You got to make sure they are rewarded graciously for that as well but I’m going to go back to find them. Do you have a pool of implementers or integrators that you work with? Do you know any resources on where to get it?

For our clients that have had to find integrators, what we’ve dove into is developing a profile of that position and then recruiting towards that. We work with the PI, the Predictive Index with all of our clients because it becomes super important to identify that skillset with the person’s natural ability. When we are looking for a new integrator for a team, we are looking internally as well as externally but we are making sure it’s a fit for what that job entails in their business.

Sometimes, they need expertise in that certain level of business but oftentimes, we’ve found that that’s not necessarily a requirement. If someone is good at business and operating a functional business and can get everything to work together, they can change industries. I’m a great example of that. I’ve worked in multiple different industries, and honestly, that’s also part of the Shiny Penny that you mentioned. I work with one company, and then I’m like, “I mastered this. We’ve gotten somewhere. This looks interesting over here.” Something falls into my lap and it’s like, “Let’s be here,” but make sure when you are looking to find someone, you need to know what you are looking to find.

It is a unique position. As I said, it’s not your typical hire.

I agree completely.

I agree about industries. We are industry agnostic and selling a business to selling a business but the luxury brands say, “Have you ever sold luxury brands?” “Of course, but even if I didn’t, it’s a business.” There are different nuances to different industries but at the end of the day, it’s still a business and the components of selling a company are the same as the components of fixing and growing a business is the same.

Let’s talk about what I find fascinating, and that’s becoming environmentally conscious and centering your vision, your business, and your focus around being environmentally friendly. I know that’s a big thing that you have been working on. I know that you had a business that was dying a little bit on the branch, and then you bought in a completely different concept to revitalize that business. Do you want to tell your story?

It was a few years ago. I was in that period of transition and got a phone call from my mother saying, “I need your help.” Her company, in the span of a couple of weeks, had their payroll clerk get arrested, and their controller had a nervous breakdown. It had nothing to do with the business but she got arrested, so she wasn’t going to be there. That caused the controller to have a nervous breakdown, and they didn’t have anyone to do payroll and all these things.

What my mom knew about me was that I will jump into anything with both feet and figure it out. I jumped in, and we got that stuff taken care of. We got that payroll out. We got control of everything that the controller was doing. It was the end of the year so that was interesting but we found a new controller. We got him recruited. I was getting ready to leave when we sat down and had a discussion of, “We are struggling in these other areas. What do you think?”

When I dove into it, what I came to discover was that they offered a manufactured product in the building production space. They manufactured architectural wood doors but had nothing that differentiated them from the competition. When we looked at it, what we could say is that we make doors about as good as anyone else. We only charge more, and that’s not a recipe for success.

We dove into trying to figure out how we could differentiate. We looked at the market, and I spent a lot of time diving into there. What we came to realize is that where the market was going, especially in the State of California, was more stringent requirements for environmental responsibility. We dove into that and developed a strategy there that eventually became the strategy to become the most environmentally responsible manufacturer of flush wood doors on the planet.

That was such a game changer for our company because it changed the discussion. No longer were we chasing the jobs. Jobs were coming to us because we were the only ones qualified to supply them. When Google was developing its headquarters, it wanted the most environmentally-responsible product. We were the only ones that qualified.

Are your doors in Google?

Our doors are in Google, in Salesforce tower, and all over. It started in California again because it started as a standard in the building code and kept moving up there. That was my introduction to how being green can bring you more green. It’s because our product was so specialized at that point that we could charge more and get more business.

I was always somewhat of an environmentalist. I will admit I’m a University of Oregon person. We come from appreciating nature but it also lit up for me how business and environmental responsibility can make a difference. Oftentimes I’m asked, “Doesn’t it cost more money?” I’m going to say that honestly, it doesn’t necessarily cost more money. There are investments to make but when you start, you can start with savings.

You can put your green team together, which I always encourage. We get a group of people in the company that is interested in environmental and social responsibility. We put them on a team and let them go loose. Maybe their first charge is, “Let’s save money and energy.” Our second charge is, “Let’s save money on transportation.” The next one is, “Let’s save money on materials.” From there, we can go, “We’ve saved this money. Now, let’s invest some of that money into how we can become more responsible in the decisions we make.” It’s not always, and I would say oftentimes, it is not only an expense. It’s an investment, yes, but it also can be savings.

FYE 51 | Operating Systems

Operating Systems: Let’s invest some money into how can we become more responsible in the decisions we make. It is not just an expense; it’s an investment. But it can also be a savings.

 

Can you draw down a little bit more on how it could be savings for our audience?

It becomes savings when we dive into what is our charge. Where can we look at waste? Waste is another place where we can produce multiple savings. Within the door company, we were having the garbage company come every day to pick up dumpsters of material that was wasted there. When we invested in looking at, “How can we use this waste? How can we reduce what we are wasting?” we found opportunities to use materials or we got partnerships where we could sell that product that we would’ve just thrown away. Other companies needed it.

We wouldn’t have found that had our green team not jumped into it from the standpoint of, “Let’s reduce waste.” We can look at it from a supply chain standpoint. We work with the same suppliers and we’ve come to an economy where we don’t go down the street to buy something. We order it online, and it gets delivered to us. If we change that and say, “What are our local opportunities where we can cut down on transportation costs and shipping costs? What are some partnerships that we can make with other local companies so it meets everyone’s needs, desires, and profits?”

I always say that we look at the triple bottom line when we look at sustainability. We look at profits, the planet, and people. We expand that a little bigger from profit or even people. The other thing that we also often find is companies that adopt a commitment to sustainability. They have the benefit of attracting the right people into their company.

Often, especially the younger generation, doesn’t want to work with companies that are not socially responsible. They want to feel that they go to work for more than just a paycheck. Sustainability is so important to that. I will tell you from our end that the people we brought into the company after making the switch were light and day, and it’s because we had a reputation and people wanted to work with us.

Sustainability has the benefit of attracting the right people in your company. Many of among the younger generation don’t want to work for companies that are not socially-responsible. Share on X

How do you go about creating and putting together your green team? Are they existing employees or did you look outside of your existing business?

I always say in the beginning that we are always going to look at our existing team. When we start, there’s low-hanging fruit to accomplish. When we get the people on the team and feel that they are part of something, it can make a difference. When we go back to that entrepreneur that makes every decision and doesn’t let anything go, maybe this is something because they’ve never worked on it. They will let go.

It gives that opportunity to that small team of people that are not necessarily on the leadership team. I always say we want a cross-functional team, and only one member of that team to be from the leadership team. I don’t care what position they have on the leadership team. I care about their commitment to this success of it. It could be your controller who’s into finance but also has this green feeling and wants to be a part of it. It could be your operations person or salesperson. In our company, it starts from sales because the salespeople were looking for what differentiates us, and for them, that went, “I will dive into it.”

That’s what salespeople are always looking for. How are we unique? Let’s set this apart from our competitors.

The other part I will say is that it’s important that we don’t do what’s called greenwashing. It needs to be real. Greenwashing is when we say we are environmentally responsible but it’s only lip service and took green paint. We didn’t change anything. When we invest in our green team, we want them to have actual accomplishments. They can determine their metrics. They can determine what that initial low-hanging fruit is but the charge from the leadership team is, “We want to improve X, Y, Z. How can we make that happen?”

Most companies are reluctant in the beginning because they haven’t thought about the environmental space, “Let’s start with those savings.” The first charge is to become more environmentally responsible but save money while you do it. That changes their way of thinking as well. When the green team knows, “We are going to do this. We are going to make our company better in our environmental space but also going to save money,” it’s a real game-changer. As they continue to grow, they keep finding those opportunities.

You mentioned the strategy for doors. Going environmentally conscious with doors but this can be done in any industry. As we talked about before, it’s industry agnostic. Even if you have a service business, any industry can adopt, incorporate or create its own strategy.

One of my clients is a restaurant group. When their green team dove into this, they identified some things that they were always throwing away from tables. They always brought a plate that was nice but so often, it was going to waste. They changed the concept from, “We have some options. Do you want all of these?” They focused on food waste initially, and then they looked at material waste.

At the time, they would come to the table, and to be nice, they would throw down a big packet of paper napkins. Again, once they cleared the table, they are throwing those away if the customer didn’t use them because they would get sauce on them or whatever. It’s a barbecue restaurant, so you can imagine. Their focus is that they put paper towel rolls and work with their theme on the table for the extra napkins.

The customer pulls the paper towel roll off the centerpiece on the table. It cut down on their material costs because paper towels are less expensive than napkins but cut down on that waste. That team expanded much bigger than that but that’s how they started. Every company has some environmental opportunities if they take the time to look at them.

We are an M&A firm. What would be our environmental opportunities?

The first one, most likely, is paper use.

My whole desk is covered in paper.

As soon as you say that, I’m going to go, “That’s probably number one. There’s probably a whole bunch of paper that they are using that they don’t need to because you have it on the screen. You have the file, and you have it here but so often, we are used to, “It’s not official until we print it out.”

Not only that but those different generations. Gen Zs and Millennials are used to looking at the screen, being on the screen, being very tech-friendly, etc. In our environment, we are dealing with so many financials, and just because it’s on the screen, you can look at it there but we are making notes and doing all this stuff. It is a little bit more difficult. We always said we were going to become paperless, and that’s not realistic. In your strategy, you have to be realistic. “We are going to cut down 60% of our paper use.”

That’s such a great point because, so often, perfection gets in the way of progress. If our goal is we are going to become completely paperless, and we know we can accomplish that, then we don’t do anything. We start with that small goal. We start with, “What we are going to reduce.” It’s 50%, and then once you hit 50%, you can go to the next one. I’m a Gen X-er and a little older than I look. For me, I started that we would write what we wanted to do, and then we would type it.

I wasn’t able to think on the screen initially. It was an adjustment. Now, I can’t think. When I get the legal pad out, I make notes. I’m not composing something. I’m going to jump into Word to compose something, which may even date me there because most people aren’t going to even keep Word. They are going to use the Google one now. That’s a big part, and I will say this. I have found that it’s so much easier to keep track of electronic files than it is on paper.

One of the policies we have in my office is that you don’t come in here with a notepad. You come in with an iPad or a laptop and type everything up. That goes into our CRM, your file, and the server. It goes to all the different places you need it, and it’s more efficient. It’s a lot more productive and cuts down on wasting so much time winding it down and typing it up. Putting it here and there. We are paperless from that standpoint. You gave me one. What are the other ones for M&A?

The next one I would probably look at is travel. One thing that COVID taught us is that we don’t have to travel for everything. Can we cut down on that travel and do it remotely as we’ve learned to do? As you and I are doing now. We are accomplishing something. You are in Louisiana, and I’m in Nevada. That would be the next thing I would look at.

The other part that we would look at is that there’s probably a great opportunity from your end to provide incentives for your clients to adopt more environmentally responsible practices. Maybe we would put together an audit that every one of your clients takes, so we could find any area that might be a potential regulatory issue and correct it before it becomes an issue.

That’s a great idea because one business at a time is going through an audit, correcting these issues, and working towards green and sustainability. What does it take? How do you change the world? One person at a time.

We are seeing from investments now. There are a lot of investment funds that are looking at the whole ESG space. Again, that’s environmental, social, and governance. That can also add to the value of your company. We’ve talked about it so often. We have to have that structure so that the company isn’t relying on one person but we also need to have a structure that’s going to work in the future.

The other thing I will tell you about going back to one of my clients is that they were using a process and a chemical that eventually is going to be banned. Instead of waiting until that happened, they got in front of it. When the ban happened, they were already in a position where they weren’t using that chemical any longer but they wouldn’t have done that without looking at their environmental footprint. It’s doing that audit that I talk about. I could see that being super valuable for your clients. I can help you with that.

That’s extremely valuable because what was the notice that this chemical was about to be banned? How far advance do they know? A lot of times sellers don’t tell everything. Sellers don’t disclose everything. They always say, “Think of me as your attorney. I’m the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have to know everything.” A lot of times, they don’t think about it or they don’t know about it. The environmental audit is huge, especially for manufacturing plastics, chemicals or anything in that ballpark but even other types of industries.

That’s huge because if you don’t disclose that and you know about it, and the buyer doesn’t find out in due diligence, that’s a breach of reps and warranties. You are going to have a big lawsuit on your hand. There are so many different things to think about when you go to sell a business, and the environmental is one of the biggest ones, especially if you are in waste management and any type of agriculture. There are many industries that have to maintain their environmental status.

We have the regulatory requirements.

That’s very important. I would love to start implementing those screenings and audits for clients because again, it’s not what you know that gets you in trouble. It is what you don’t know. When you go to the market, your whole joke can fall apart because of something like this. This isn’t something small. This is huge.

You are on the right track there. The other part that I always say is that environmental responsibility isn’t in a vacuum. For a company to be strong, it needs to be strong in all areas. We are a part of that when we look at the environment but we are a very important and crucial part that so often companies don’t look at. I don’t push that you must have a sustainability strategy.

FYE 51 | Operating Systems

Operating Systems: Environmental responsibility doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For a company to be strong, it needs to be strong in all areas.

 

I encourage it and will tell that every client I’ve had that has done it has always come back and gone, “That was a game-changer for us.” Maybe it wasn’t a huge saving to the bottom line but it was such a huge game-changer to the people component within their company because they allowed people with a passion for their company to have an outlet for it.

That’s not only the employees. That’s your clients, vendors, and partners. People think about their employees but then they are not thinking about their clients or they think about their clients and employees, and then they don’t think about their vendors at all. Companies lose vendors all the time because of different things like this.

We may discover a better vendor when we take the time to look at what is our vendor’s environmental responsibility commitment.

Tell our readers, again, the top three benefits of sustainability. What I like about the green team too, is that they are holding each other accountable.

Accountability is so important.

What are the three biggest tips for going environmental-friendly with sustainability?

The first one is to do an audit of our current practice. Put together a green team and then charge that green team with a mission to save money while making a difference environmentally. The biggest benefits of that are reducing costs, encouraging creativity, attracting the right employees, increasing sales, and increasing your brand value. Those are the biggest difference off the top of my head.

Do an audit of your current practices. Put together a green team and then charge them with a mission to save money while making a difference environmentally. Share on X

Do you ever donate to other green environmentally-safe nonprofits or anything like that?

Some of our clients choose to do that. Some of our clients went to green power and developed partnerships with their power companies in that regard. Sometimes, they’ve done specific events for their team where they’ve raised money and then donated that. The other part is that I have a couple of clients that do a community day to clean up the community every quarter where their employees and their families get together.

One of my favorites is that they do it for elderly residents in their town who don’t have the energy to keep up their yards and that type of thing. They come in once a quarter and help with that. It helps the beautification of their community but it also develops the spirit of the team. I will admit I never tell a client exactly what they have to do but I work with them to discover what they want to do and what will make an impact.

I wasn’t so much referring to a client. We have a lot of business owners and partners that we work with, and other companies that I own that we ask employees what is their charity of choice. What’s important to them? What do they want to give back to? What’s their non-profit of choice? We get the employees and the team to buy into that. It might be individuals where sometimes part of their bonuses go to their charity of choice, and they are not taxed on that.

Another client of mine has a whole giving team as well. They set their priorities for forgiving, and their number one is a person from their team involved in that nonprofit. That encourages their team. Maybe one of your employees is coaching the Little League team. They are going to sponsor that Little League team because they are going to invest not only in the community but also in their employee. The other thing they look at is, “How does it benefit our local community versus the broader one?” I have one client that has multiple operations. They have giving teams at each one, as well as the overall corporate giving team, and that plays in there a lot.

We are almost to the end here. Do you have any other golden nuggets or any words of wisdom you want to drop to our audience about the operating system, strategies or sustainability? You name it. It’s your time.

Michelle, the one thing I always say is that it can sound overwhelming to go, “We have to think about the environment. We have to think about an operating system. We have to do all these things. I got to tell you. I make it easy for my clients. We go through a process that makes sense and get them there by looking at their business and releasing the power of their team. We talked that perfectly gets in the way of progress. You don’t have to be perfect but you have to get better and get started, and take one step at a time. It’s going to be amazing what happens,

Perfection gets in the way of progress. You don't have to be perfect, but you have to get better. Get started and take one step at a time. Share on X

It’s like what Nike says, “Just do it.” That’s every aspect of our life. People are saying, “I need to work out.” Get up and start working out. The hardest thing in life is to get started. I remember when I wrote my very first book, I was like, “What do I do?” I’m like, “Here’s my timeframe. I’m going to write this book in 6 to 7 weeks. It’s going to be during the holidays. I’m going to tell everybody not to bother me unless there’s a fire or somebody has died. I started and didn’t wait for perfection. That’s the biggest thing. Any other words of wisdom?

The other thing I would say is that there’s no shame in getting help. We talked about it before. You want to surround yourself with people that know stuff that you don’t. When people decide to hire us, I know they are always getting over that mental block of, “I should know how to do this on my own,” and you don’t. Bring in the experts, and we are going to help you get there. We are going to empower your team and make life better for you and your company.

It’s a necessity. I always say it’s hard to read the label from the inside of the bottle. You need an outsider’s perspective to read the warning signs and keep you out of the danger zone. Everyone in business should get themselves a mentor, and not just any mentor but somebody who’s traveled the path that they want to travel. Learn from other people’s mistakes, rather than come running from your own and your path to success dramatically but do your DD. Do your Due Diligence.

I’ve had many business owners come to me and go, “I hired the wrong marketing company. I hired the wrong sales company that said they were going to close ourselves and ended up burning bridges and ruining our brand and reputation.” You must be careful when you decide to work with somebody but do your due diligence. I believe in mentorships for sure. Tim, how can our audience reach out to you? You have been an amazing guest. How can I get in contact with you? How can I learn more?

The easiest way to get in touch with me is through my personal website, TimCox360.com. You are going to go there. All my contact information is there, all my social media. It’s a great way to follow up. Michelle, thank you so much. This has been a great opportunity. I loved talking to you, and don’t be afraid to let me know how I can help you.

You are going to help me audit my clients. That’s what you are going to help with. Everybody reading should go back and read this episode again and again because there were a lot of great tips, advice, and golden nuggets here as far as sustainability, strategies, operating systems, etc. to make your company a better company. Not just a better company but a better environment for your employees, a place for your clients that we all want to help. Me, I’m sure you do as well, Tim. We all want to leave a better mark on this world, and I will make it better. You do that one person at a time.

I encourage everyone to go back and read this episode. Reach out to Tim, and I know he can help you. He’s going to help us. He’s going to help my clients. Thank you so much, Tim. You are a great guest. I know you liked this episode, so go ahead and share it with your community. Share it with your friends, coworkers, and entrepreneurs. Share it with everyone on social media. Let’s spread the word to help business owners beautify the community and create a sustainability strategy that works for you, your team, your clients, and your company. We will see you next time on another episode of the show.

 

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About Tim Cox

FYE 51 | Operating SystemsTim Cox empowers entrepreneurs and their leadership teams to take control of their business so they can have extraordinary businesses and lives!

An award-winning speaker, business optimization strategist, and entrepreneur, Tim understands that even successful companies have issues. They often hit a ceiling and experience common frustrations like lack of growth, not enough profit, people issues, or a loss of direction where it seems like no matter what they try nothing seems to be working. Tim and his team guide their clients toward truly solving their issues and achieving the results they seek. They elevate their client teams’ performance and success, to increase business efficiency, growth, and bottom-line results.

 

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