Jon Morris

Absolutely. You know, what I’ve noticed is that as I’m talking to lots of small to medium sized businesses, the same problems seem to be reoccurring, in terms of what is stunting their growth. The first is organizational design. So if you think about every business, every business sell something, they market it to help the sales team generate leads. They have operational infrastructure, such as HR, legal facilities, corporate it, and they have financial related things. So they have to do all their accounting, and then they do something with client customers. Every single business does no matter what your industry is. But a lot of organizations are not structuring their talent in a way that is very clear and well defined and scalable, so that as the company gets bigger, we know that this group of people will handle this type of work. And so what ends up happening is there’s overlapping peoples doing their roles and responsibilities. There’s not clear direction of who owns what. And so that’s one major thing that we believe companies need help with is figuring out just how to organize their talent better. The second one, as it relates to helping you grow, a lot of people don’t realize or think about this is your financial infrastructure. Okay? It is absolutely imperative that you do bottoms up budgeting that you’re able to look at things on a monthly basis, as opposed to just an annual basis. And that you can look at, this is what I’m expecting my revenue to be by month, this is how many customers I need to achieve by month, because then you can start looking at how you allocate your funds and how you can ensure you achieve those goals. And then the third thing is, and this is really a philosophical thing is that you need to build a sales and marketing infrastructure, you cannot wish growth to happen. There is one question that I asked every single client or prospective client, and that is what percent of your revenue Do you dedicate to sales and marketing? And what I found is most people a can’t answer the question, or be that they’re not allocating nearly enough to achieve their goals. And so once we help them philosophically recognize that we’re going to try to increase constantly, the percent of revenue goes to sales and marketing. And then we start thinking about the infrastructure that’s necessary. What are the people the processes, the tools, the outreach tactics that allow you to achieve those goals?

Jeremy Weisz

I’m going to start with that one. And we’ll go in reverse, because I’m following so the building is no, you can’t wish sales and marketing it Rise Interactive. What did you find was a good sweet spot? What was the percentage that you actually dedicated for sales and marketing? I’m curious of, you know, what were some of the things that move the needle the most to get more customers?

Jon Morris

Yep. So

Jeremy Weisz

because that’s also what you did for people. So they hire you to do that.

Jon Morris

So I want it from a proprietary standpoint, I don’t think I can share the exact percent that Ries spends on sales and marketing. But what I can tell you is a couple things. One is, don’t try to do everything, pick a few things, and do them incredibly well. So when you identify a play, take that play, and go all in on that play. So I’ll talk about Ramsay and some of the things that we’re doing here is we are going all in on content marketing, you will see that if you follow my LinkedIn profile that I am posting every single day daily growth tips. Every week, I have a high quality video in terms of talking about different things and teaching people we are we are taking a content theme. And we are turning that into a video or a blog post, an email, a social post. And so we’re taking one theme and turning into multiple pieces of content. And that is our one of our big plays. The second one is that we are actually spending a lot on digital media. So we are driving traffic to our website, and we are promoting the content that we are creating. Those are the two plays that we are following in right now we are actually well ahead of our financial goals even in a short time period. And it’s really the impact of those two plays.

Jeremy Weisz

You’re speaking directly to me with you know, same thing with a podcast, this one episode will go across 17 different channels. So I love what you said about creating that content and making it go across everywhere. And then layering on top of it, driving traffic to it.

Jon Morris

Yep. And I would just say that, you know, the starting point to your sales and marketing infrastructure starts with your target audience. Okay, you cannot sell all things to all people. The hardest part about marketing is you actually have to say no to a lot of people, because you want your messaging to be really targeted to one individual group. And the way you define your target audience starts with your budget. If you have a really small budget, when you want to narrow your target audience, if you have a really large budget, you can expand you can expand geographically or to multiple verticals. So that’s the first element that you have to think about in terms of your target audience. Once you’ve defined your target audience, then what you need to start looking at is what makes you great for that specific target audience. Okay, what you’re going to find is if you just start with analyzing all the competition and thinking about all the services or products that are necessary for that target audience, right off the bat before you even have a really strong differentiator, you’re going to be better than all the generalists Okay, because you’re going to be focusing your services and your products to that specific group. So now that you’re superior than generalist, now we have to think about is what’s going to make you greater than other companies. They’re not generalists that are going after that same audience. Okay. And that’s where you have to start thinking about innovation and how you make yourself unique. But then all of your outreach tactics will be going to that group of people. And so you should have a much higher win rate. And that’s one of the things that you can do to help fuel fuel your growth.

Jeremy Weisz

I know Jon, you know, there’s always the evolution of this, you know, from Rise Interactive, probably the offerings and the customers you’re going after were different from when you started from when you towards the end. I want to talk about that. But But let’s talk about Ramsay Innovations for a second. Yep, who right now, I like to ask two things, who’s an ideal client for you? Like, who should be listening? And then I’m wondering what topics you’re choosing and some of your content, because you’re probably you’re, you know, obviously eating your own dog food and thinking, Okay, here’s my ideal client, here’s what they want to hear. So who are the ideal clients? And then let’s talk about some of the topics you’re choosing in the content marketing, you’re doing?

Jon Morris

Absolutely. So we are going after companies, I would say ranging between 2 million to about $30 million in annual revenue. We’re going after primarily companies in Chicago right now, although we have clients nationally. And I’ll explain our difference between our outreach approach versus who calls us. And then we are going after technology and professional services companies is primarily who we are targeting as who we want to win as customers at the moment. That being said, our offering works for multiple industries. And so we have people calling us across the board, we have interior design companies as clients and insurance companies as clients, it providers as clients data company, so we have a wide mix of clients in different genres. But there’s a difference between who you choose to approach and who calls you. So can you help them is the starting point. And there’s a lot of people that we can help now in terms of the content that we’re developing. Right now, a lot of the content that we’re building, because we’re just getting out there is more framing of the story of who is Ramsay? What do we offer? What do we do, but what we are recognizing is, you know, Rams are skyrise, you know, at the end of the day was a professional service organization. You know, so whether you are an agency, a law firm and accounting firm, a management consulting firm, and it integrator, at the end of the day, you’re selling time, you’re selling people’s hours. And so a lot of the contents and a lot of the things that we’re talking about are things that are going to make that group of people’s worlds lives easier. You know, we’re always wanting to help those people grow faster.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. So you’re telling the background story. Now people, you know, if you don’t tell the background story, then they don’t know your breadth of experience? You know, they just it’s just another person talking about some topic.

Jon Morris

So I would say yes, what I would say right now, a huge part of the content of what we’re doing is going to be starting to get very educational. So I talked about budgeting. And we’re going to be explaining what is the process of how do you do budgeting? How do you do? How do you project revenue as a starting point. So there are three things you need to do to project revenue, it starts with your existing clients, what is your expectation in terms of revenue by month for every single client of yours, and you want to do that by product and service. Once that’s done, you want to go into what I call names, new clients. So these are prospective clients that you know who they are, and you want to project them out. And then you have to come up with what we call blue sky, which is revenue, you don’t know where it’s going to come from. And that ultimately helps you generate what you believe your budgeting number will be for revenue. Once you have that done, that’s the foundation your entire budgeting, but it’s also the foundations of what you can invest in the companies. So that’s an example of we will be teaching people how to do that. We’ll be teaching people how to define their target audience. We’ll be teaching people how to come up with outreach tactics but but the outreach tactics is a perfect example of going after our target audience. The way you market for b2b is very different than the way you market for b2c. And the way you market for professional services is very different than the way you market versus a technology company. So we’ll be talking about very specific tactics that go into the audience’s that we’re talking about, in terms of here the tactics and the outreach methodology. They should be going after.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. So out of the three that help people grow, we just talked about you can’t wish this you have to build a sales marketing engine. The second is the financial infrastructure. I’d love for you to talk about you. Before we hit record, you’re talking about Chart of Accounts and figuring out a percentage of revenue based on that. Let’s talk a little bit more about the financial infrastructure. How can people budget have a budget plan?

Jon Morris

Yeah, so let me see, let me just explain real quickly what Chart of Accounts are most people don’t haven’t heard that term. And they don’t even understand why that term might be important as it relates to helping you grow. When you run an income statement, or if you run a balance sheet, every single line is from something called a chart of accounts. Okay, so like, if you get a bill for your cell phone, from Verizon, you know, you might create a chart of account that says Verizon, you might create a chatter account that says phone, you might recreate a chart of accounts that says cell phone, and you might group them into different areas? Are you grouping that? So the idea is that you want to group all of your expenses into a few different categories. So one of those categories is sales and marketing. And so if you want to ask, what percent of your revenue do you spend on sales and marketing? Well, your chart of accounts have to be lined up to be able to answer that question.

Jeremy Weisz

If it’s not organized properly, then you won’t get an accurate number

Jon Morris

there. You know, the CFO of Rise, who’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, had a great comment to me, he’s like, if I as the CEO had to do math in my head when looking at one of his reports, he wasn’t doing his job, right. Okay. So the idea is that if I ask you, what percent of your revenue do you spend on sales and marketing, and you have to look at a report and start doing math in your head, but then you know, the report is not structured properly, you should be able to answer that question within seconds. Okay, the chart of accounts, organizing it properly, will help you answer that question.

Jeremy Weisz

And the answer may differ, but I know you can’t share the kind of behind the scenes that Rise Interactive, what the number was, but, um, in general, what if you were to give you a general percentage of what I guess, you know, it’s gonna be

Jon Morris

well, right? What percentage over that you should spend

Jeremy Weisz

in I’m like, thinking in my head, what’s he gonna say? Well, he’s gonna say, well, depends how fast you want to grow. Right? But um, what is your recommendation? Yeah,

Jon Morris

it’s, it’s really gonna depend on your gross margin. Okay? Okay. So if you’re in the software industry, where you have tend to have a really high gross margin, well, then you have more that you can invest in sales and marketing. If you are in an industry with a really low gross margin, then you’re gonna invest less in sales and marketing because there’s less money available. So but what I would say is, I would like to see minimally, between five to 10% of your revenue should be going to sales and marketing. If you’re in a technology and SaaS company, it’s generally north of 20%. So it’s oftentimes industry specific. But if you are sub 5% of your revenue into sales and marketing, you’re most likely just not going to grow quickly. And

Jeremy Weisz

you mentioned, you know, the financial infrastructure, which is key and the CFO, at what point Tell me a little about the evolution of you getting the finances in having the leadership in place at Rise? At what point do you hire a CFO into the company?

Jon Morris

So what I would say is

Jeremy Weisz

because you bootstrapped, Rise Interactive with a $10,000 investment,

Jon Morris

so I’d worry less about title and I would care more about just, you know, you know, Ramsays, a few months old, and our books are in perfect order. We close the books every month, within four business days of the month, previous month closing. Okay, and one of the things that we recommend from a financial infrastructure standpoint, is that the faster you close the books at the end of every month, the faster you’ll get insights in terms of how you’re doing so that you know how to allocate your money to you know, future areas, do you need to cut expenses, add expenses, can you invest more? So, you know, whether you have a coordinator, a manager, a director, a VP C suite, person who’s in charge of your finances is the most important thing is take it seriously. And recognize that this is going to give you an edge in terms of insights that are going to allow you to spend your time and your money to areas that are going to allow you to grow faster. And that’s the most important thing is the insights that are gained for this so that you can grow at a faster rate.

Jeremy Weisz

What do you do? Do you have? I’m wondering what you do on a tactical level? Do you have a meeting with the team at a certain point of the month to go over this? Do you get have someone sent you a report? What did it look like? Maybe now or it Rise Interactive?

Jon Morris

Sure. So actually, Ramsay has something called the Ramsay financial system. So the first thing is, we recommend putting an annual bottoms up budget together. Once that budget is done, that is locked. So that’s going to tell you what you think your revenue is going to be for the year, and what your profits are going to be for the year and that’s your target. Okay, you cannot move the target, the target is locked in stone. The next thing we do is we teach people how to close the books every month, so that you can compare actuals to, to that original budget. Okay, and then from there, we send out an email to the leadership team when the books are closed, that lets people know this is what the budget was this what the actuals were, and most importantly, the why behind it. What were the reasons that that changed? We work on trying to get everyone to a four day business close if possible, some different industries have different nuances. And then on the eighth business day, we try to give them insights into how do they actually perform. Then we also do something what is called a re forecast, which is every April, July and September. That is going through the same budgeting process. But it’s now that you are further along and you have more information and you have some actuals. It gives you an idea of are you on track with your original budget, are you behind schedule Are you above schedule, but the most important thing is expense management. So by having this insight, you can ensure that you’re not overspending if you’re behind schedule, or if you’re ahead of schedule, you might have more dollars that you could invest. And then the last component is something called a revenue analysis report, which is every month, you really want to get an idea of what’s the next 90 days look like and compare that to your original budget. So I recognize it’s a lot there. But the point is all of this financial infrastructure, what it does is it allows you to ensure that you’re spending your time and money in the areas that’s going to allow you to grow faster. And it might sound complex in this podcast, but I can assure you, once you get in the groove is actually makes your life easier. The way I equate it is if you wash your dishes, every night, washing your dishes is not that bad. If you wash your dishes every night, you let them pile up, it becomes really arduous. Think of financing and budgeting and accounting as the same thing. If you’re doing this every single day, it’s not a ton of work. It’s when you leave it to the last minute not only do you not get the insights, but then it becomes a big headache. You got to clean everything up, etc.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. And you’re making these decisions off of data off of an objective findings rather than a gut feel.

Jon Morris

Exactly. It’s a data driven approach to running your business.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. organizational design. All right, yeah. Talk about some of the lessons you learn maybe hard lessons and good lessons, you learned it rise interactive, and how you’ve come to this low hanging fruit for people to see, organizational design is such an important piece of this puzzle. You

Jon Morris

know, I got incredibly lucky there was a one of my mentors, is a person named jack Kraft is the former chief operating officer of Leo Burnett, he was a member of the advisory board at rise. And when I was 22 years old, I got incredibly lucky that he would give me a lot of his time. And he taught me about organizational design at a very young age. And I remember he asked me about the reporting structure. And I started writing down the names of the people in my company because I started my first agency at age 22. Is it No, no, no, not the people who start working there. Now. How do you organize all the talents, and it was just a light bulb that went on for me. And so when I started Rise, I actually wrote on a sheet of paper myself as the CEO. And I wrote all of the groups in terms of operations, finance, sales, marketing, innovation. Now my name was every single one of those seats. But I recognized that I was, you know, I recognize what hat I was putting on and my goal was to continually remove My name from the departmental heads, you know, in my current structure, I have someone in charge of every group except for marketing and product development right now. And my goal by the end of the year is that my names will be removed from those two seats as well. So now I have a leader in place, I’m in each one of those areas. Now, there are different levels, I have people from coordinator to director to Vice President in different seats right now based on the investments I’m able to do as a startup. So I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve taken this seriously from the very beginning. And I have every single role very well defined in terms of what people are supposed to do. But what I can tell you is more what I see from my clients is a they haven’t thought about this before. And be a lot of people even if they have thought about are still doing work that others should be doing, you know, so now I can tell you my own personal weakness is something I’m working very hard in this company to do differently than I did it at Rise is one of the things I talked about is what does it take to be a data driven leader or growth leader, and one of them is to build a scalable team, you need to empower others to do their jobs and trust them to do it. And to let go? Well, that’s one of my weaknesses is, and I think a lot of it deals with impatience, where I want to get something done, and it’s on someone else’s plate, but they have 18 other things on their plate. So I just start doing their work. Okay, A that doesn’t empower them B I’m, I’m not staying in my lane, and I’m not focused on my responsibilities. And so by having really well, organizational structure, and clearly outlining their roles, and making sure that people stay in their lanes, where you’re able to one, increase engagement in your team, because you’re empowering people to do your jobs, but you’re also building that scalable infrastructure.

Jeremy Weisz

You know, I could see myself doing the same thing, Jon. So I, I, I see myself in that to talk about, you know, there are different levels that you grew to, and that you had to implement a leadership team in, at Rise Interactive, and you talk about this, in reaching whatever it is 10 people, 25 people, 100 people, you are some of the I get inflection points of when you grew, and you had to kind of put in different maybe leadership or different organizational design. And

Jon Morris

so a couple things, one, what you should recognize is that when you get to about 20, or 25 people, and when you get to 100 people, the infrastructure you need is very different. Okay? Generally, when you build out your infrastructure, initially, you’re building out the infrastructure, as a CEO, who runs everything. Okay, but when you get to 25, people, all of a sudden, you start having a leadership team. And you have to start taking different documents, or different tools. And having user writes just as an example. So let’s just say you create a budget. And that budget is designed just for the CEO to see, but now you want other people to be able to input elements of the budget, but you don’t want them to see the whole thing. So you have to start developing infrastructure that allows those different leaders to have access to the tools that they need. And if you can prepare for that, you can make that transition a lot smoother, versus it automatically creates friction if you don’t have the right infrastructure at that point. The second thing, going back to my comment of letting go earlier, one of the first warnings I had as a CEO, is I had an account manager was actually Larry Fisher is now the CEO of Rise. But at the time, he was an account manager. And we were having trouble with someone on his team. And he came in to talk to me about that person. And I said, Well, you know, I have good news for you, I let them go to you today. So you don’t have to worry about that person anymore. We were about 17 people at this point. And his response to me was, you know, Jon, my team is never going to respect me if you make every decision for me. And that was a key learning moment that I had to start empowering the people who report into me for them to do their jobs and I can’t, I can’t sit there and make all their decisions. So that was a key milestone and key learning. What I’d say also when you get to 100 employees. Now all of a sudden your leaders need to provide the tools and their resources for their leaders. And so the infrastructure once again, splits and fractures. And the other part, when you get to about 250, is you really start building without a concern is more of an ecosystem. So, you know, if you have, let’s say, a CRM tool, and that’s what the CRM tool is used for the sales team, well, that CRM tool might be used for helping us populate reports. And it might be used for, you know, your contracts, and it might be used for the client service team to gather data out of it. And so this ecosystem means that you, you have less flexibility for just one group to switch the tools that they want to use, they have to recognize that it’s gonna have a bigger impact to the entire organization,

Jeremy Weisz

it trickles to all the other pieces that have to happen, that clients is like, we’re gonna switch like now, because that triggers, like 10. Other things with with the other departments?

Jon Morris

Yep, exactly.

Jeremy Weisz

What about in, you’ve talked about this before, as a CEO, you had to change as a CEO into different levels.

Jon Morris

Yeah, so there, there are actually four different types of CEOs. The first is a startup CEO, okay, a startup CEO is generally for between zero to 25 employees. The next is a growth CEO. That is, generally between 25 and probably 250 300 people. At that point, you’re really acting more as like an operating CEO. So you are still very much in the weeds of the elements of they’re running the business. Then when you get about 250 300, to about 1000 employees, you are what is considered a strategic CEO. You know, and this is where you have leaders in place, that are really solid, in every single element of the business, and your job is more about the vision of the company, steering the ship, but it is less about, you know, being in the minutiae of the day to day aspects of the business. And then the last one is, I would say is the mega organization CEO, you know, at this point, you’re more of a figurehead. So they’re still the strategic components of the business. But you also are, you know, very visible, you know, from a figurehead, a, you know, you know, presence in the public type role.

Jeremy Weisz

Jon, I always ask, since inspired Insider, thanks for sharing that, because as people kind of move up different levels, it’s good to kind of think of, you just have to think about it differently. You know, and just like you had mentors, someone’s gonna listen to this interview, and this is going to be their their mentorship, I guess you could say, you know, since it’s Inspired Insider, I always ask what’s been a low moment or really challenging time in the company, and then what’s been especially proud moment, in with rise interactive, as you look back, you

Jon Morris

know, a low moment is probably also a proud moment. So in 2011, we were still a small company, and I uncovered an email string, between seven of our probably 17 to 20 employees. And it was literally by accident of someone forwarding it to the entire company, as opposed to the small group. And what it was, is they It was a daily attack privately on another employee. And there are just some horrific things that were happening in the organization. I mean, such as horrific things they were saying. And I’m a huge believer in culture, and I’m a huge believer in creating an amazing place to work. And at the end of the day, these people just did not represent the core values of my organization. And the challenge was that we were doubling as an organization from a revenue standpoint, so I had a ton of open roles and I’m trying to hire to fill these roles. And several of these people were my star employees, you know, there are some of the more talented employees. Within 90 days, all seven of those people were gone. And some immediately some over a 90 day period because I couldn’t literally do it as a light switch. I had to do it on my on my terms as opposed to their terms is the way I looked at it. so

Jeremy Weisz

tough decision to make I mean, it’s not a tough decision, but it is a tough decision based on There’s a lot of things that you needed for the business and you didn’t want the customers to suffer

Jon Morris

either. Exactly. And so that the proud moment is one that not only made the right decision, but the amount of pain that not just emotionally in terms of like what happened, but literally it took a year to unwind the damage of that, and, you know, multiple 18 hour days, trying to do the work of those seven people, as we’re hiring new people onboarding them, you know, I call it the dark days of Rise. So that was a very challenging year during that time period.

Jeremy Weisz

How do you know are looking at that hire for culture better?

Jon Morris

It’s actually part of the program. So one of the things we talked about is focus and alignment with every single company, we help them create their core values. Okay, our core values that Ramsay’s spells GROW. And it’s to grow personally, respect every interaction, outstanding work and wisdom shared. And there, in order to make your core values real, it has to be part of your hiring, it has to be part of your firing, and it has to be part of your promotion strategy. So when you interview, you don’t just interview for competence, you interview for, you know, are they going to adhere to these core values. And it’s not like a light switch where it’s like, okay, day one, these are your core values, it takes time to build the right questions, to build exams to think about how you incorporate that into your hiring process. We also teach everyone to have quarterly conversations with their with every manager should be having a quarterly conversation with their direct report. And one of the things you discuss is how are they doing in terms of living up to those core values. And ultimately, it is beholden on the company to make sure that the core values are real by having incorporated into the hiring, the firing and the promotional strategy. But you can’t have a star player who’s a complete jerk, and promote them and expect that people think that your core values are real.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, you have to have alignment, or people’s people see right through that stuff.

Jon Morris

Exactly.

Jeremy Weisz

First of all, Jon, thank you. I, you know, you know, I do a lot of research for these. I’ve listened to you. And I always you know, love listening to you in person and sharing your wisdom in any person who is a business owner. This is invaluable information. So I appreciate you sharing it. And I have one last question before I ask it. Where should people learn more? Where should people find you online? for your website?

Jon Morris

So there’s two places RamsayInnovations.com so you can always go to our website. But also if you follow me personally on LinkedIn, I am adding daily business tips on how to grow your company.

Jeremy Weisz

So go to RamsayInnovations.com check it out. Innovation, innovations, plural. Got it? Yeah. RamsayInnovations.com, check it out. And last question, Jon, is, I know for you and for me, one of the biggest things is learning from people who have done it who are doing it and mentors. I’m wondering who are the mentors? It could be colleagues, friends, I know you mentioned Jack Kraft is a really influential mentor of yours who are other mentors that have influenced you and helped you in this journey.

Jon Morris

Absolutely. So Larry Fisher, the current CEO of Rise, I’ve learned a ton from him. Eric Ashworth and Joel Quadracci and Kelly Vanderboom or on our board at Quad Graphics learned a ton from them. David Freeman, Cheryl Berman, Chris McGowan. We’re all advisors and mentors of mine at Rise. So those would be a few of the people you know, but what I would say is for anybody who’s looking for mentorship and leadership, find the area that you’re weak in and find experts within that specific area. So every time I wanted to pick an advisor, there was something very specific I wanted to learn along those ways.

Jeremy Weisz

Awesome, thank you, Jon. Everyone, check out RamsayInnovations.com learn more if you listen to the earlier part and you are a fit to in this sounds great to you contact Jon and let them know. So thanks, everyone. Appreciate you.

Jon Morris

Thank you so much.