Hey y’all. Welcome to a new episode on the influential Personal brand. I have got a really special guest today because it’s not often I bring on a guest where I’m their client. But today I have a new friend, Vinnie Fisher, who is the CEO of a fully accountable, which is our bookkeeping controller, fractional C F O Tax Strategy Firm,
We’re gonna talk today about the differences between growth and scale, because they’re different and we hear from our community and our audience all the time. I hear this all the time. Well, it’s just time for me to scale. Why there, why? And most of us don’t have to, we think we should. And so we’re gonna talk about the differences on a business standpoint of what it means to both grow and scale. And then we’re also gonna talk a lot about the mindset that kind of comes around that. So if you’re in a particular season of your life or your business where you’re going, I wanna grow, but I don’t know how, or I wanna scale, but I’m not and you’re confused between what is growth and what is scale, then truly this is the episode for you. And if you’re really confused on if you should or should not grow or scale, this is also for you. This is a lot around that mindset around that. So this is an episode that you wanna stick around for when it comes to that. Now let me formally introduce you to Vinny Fisher. Vinny I already mentioned is the c e o and founder of Fully Accountable. But I also have here, and I love so much that this is in your bio cuz people never put in it’s like that, that you’re married, you’ve got, you married how long?
Almost 30 years.
Almost 30 years. That’s one of my favorite things ever. Nobody ever puts that in their bios anymore. But my husband and I just celebrated our 16th date anniversary. So we’re, we’re nerds. We celebrate dating and married. So
Actually we’re 31 years if I add the three or I was slow playing the whole situation. So it’s me,
But I love that. I think that’s a testament to success both in and out of business. So I love that. That’s in your bio. Alright, so let’s talk about all the things. So Vinny, help our audience get to know you. Like what’s your background? Like how did fully accountable Star, you got these awesome books, like why did you write books? Like What’s your story?
First off, I wanna start with thank you aj, your energy. I got to listen to a show, but I also, like you said, I know from our teammates you are just a fun person to be around. It’s by the people who like to work with y’all and your team. So your energy’s great. I love what you’re doing for this community. So when you asked if I would be on the show, I felt very humbled and honored to do that. So thank you for having me. Oh, thank you. It’s easy to talk about me cuz I look at myself in the mirror every day.
So I fast forward to my story is I’m highly creative. Like I’m the one that starts something, right? So, you know, if I was a church person, I’d be a church planter. If I’m a business person, I’m a startup person, not necessarily go and join an existing business. So I highly creative. I had a eight figure health brand, lot of women’s face cream, fun stuff. Marketing. You don’t really normally hear a lawyer marketer, right? And so I like to write highly creative and I had no real capacity to understand all my high transactions. And so I saw a problem I wanted to fix it went to go buy it from the public accounting space and it didn’t exist. And so what I envisioned in my mind in 2014 was more like a 2020 version of our company and we set out the build it cuz the tech wasn’t there.
But that’s my story. Like when I look back through it, I have you know, I was trained early on in a big fancy firm cuz I did well enough in school and law school and got recruited in highly professional firm. But I, I look back, I always had like this little like chip on my shoulder because I would’ve come from an impoverished environment and not really like, just physically impoverished, more mentally impoverished. Like we thought small, we were always waiting for the shoe to drop, but there was shame always around our last name. And I just had this chip that I didn’t want that. And so I first phase of my career was always to outwork the next person near me. And I realized early on that there’s a lot of smart people and I’m not necessarily one of them, but my secret weapon is I just usually outlast and outwork most people.
Hmm. I love that. And you know what’s so funny I literally, I’m not exaggerating. One of my my true, like if you were to ask my husband, he would tell you the same thing. It’s like, what is AJ just extraordinarily gifted out? And he would tell you just outlasting the competition. Mm-Hmm.
Well, you know, the opposite of that’s true for me, Rory, our aj it’s so funny you said that because I, I was, had a terrible relationship to the word no because I have a gift of of hospitality, so I wanna say yes to everything, including use of my time. So I had to learn to start saying not right now. That was a verse version of how to learn how to say no.
Oh, that’s so funny.
Yeah. You know and by the way, I want all of your community to know we, we love giving out things, our stuff. We don’t really believe in kind of hoarding information. So we built a a page where later on you can get that, it’ll be in the show notes, but it’s just fully accountable.com/influential personal brand. And so the whole gist of it was honestly, I own that health supplement company that we briefly mentioned earlier. And I was making about 8% at the bottom line of a 40 million company. And it felt razor thing cuz we had to keep buying inventory and cash was tight and I knew we were doing something right. We had a really good product at the time, Ella. And it made it into Macy’s and all this fun stuff. And I’m making all kinds of noise on a lot of gross sales.
And I was really deflated that there was no money left at the end of the month. We were just big enough where it sucked actually. Like we were making a bunch and I was able to pay bills and have a lifestyle, but it wasn’t like there was accumulation going on. And you know, I one day was completely discouraged and I, I remember a friend being like, well what’s a business like in your space? Like, what’s it supposed to normally make as a profit? And I’m like, I don’t know. I I, I don’t know, I, whatever’s left. And that turned out to be obviously not right. Well, I did a little basic research and found out the type of business we had should have been profiting anywhere between 20 and 22%. And I’m like, wait a minute, I’m not making 8%, I’m losing 14% every month.
And then I said, why? And so I woke up one morning, AJ as crazy as this sounds, I’m already successful. This is, at this point this would be my third eight figure venture. Hmm. And I broke one of them tragically and wrote a book about it to kind of cleanse myself back to life. But I woke up and I’m like, wait a minute. It’s not how much revenue is on the top, it’s what we keep. And I was like, I think I know the title of this book I’m gonna write that I didn’t know I was gonna write. And that’s really, and the, you know, the first chapter, I say that every book has certain good principles and I’d say that solving for X was the game changer for us knowing what our business should make as a profit, looking at our direct expenses and then treating my cost to acquire the customer as my real variable expense, not my profit margin was a game changer for me. And actually it was the genesis that led to fully accountable.
Oh, that’s so fascinating. And I, you know, it’s so interesting because like even when I approached you, I said I really want this podcast episode to really be about the difference between growth and scale and like mentally, like simply I just think about growth is revenue growth scale is profit growth, right? And to hear this idea of like you were, you know, I don’t even think people know what their profitability should be like they don’t even know what it could be, but they definitely don’t know what it should be. So just taking it like back to like the basics, like what are good goals for profitability of, and I know that’s like a loaded question based on business businesses, but generally speaking it’s like how do you know like, well what’s a good profit?
Yeah. So each, each industry has a standard, you know, and we can use some fun geeked out terms like the variation or the deviation of that standard. But each, each, you know, particular industry has a range that’s an appropriate range for a business model. So like in the public accounting space, a little bit different than where we live. It’s not unusual to think about a 30% profit margin. It’s actually quite reasonable. A lot of the digital world we live in, if you do digital ad agency space, they could live around 35% margin. The marketplace, Amazon sellers, depending on their blend between their own shopping cart versus the marketplace is probably 25 to 27% people like, all right Vinny, you know that cuz you studied a lot, honestly a little thing called the Google
It’s actually much closer of an answer than you realize. You know, I subscribe to things like statistica and other survey things that allow me to extract some data for our data team and things. But even short of that, you there, that is a couple questions away. Like, like I’m not saying go put a Facebook post up of like, hey what should my profit margin be? Cuz you know, everyone’s gonna be a profit on that answer. So that may not be your best place. But there are things like that AJ that can give you a very clear, fair start to that so that you could have a, a base of something you can go after every company including fully accountable. Right? So we should profit about 25 to 28% if we’re in modes where we’re investing in something. That’s the next version of what we wanna add in this, in this case, we’re investing a lot in technology to try to remove some manual pieces to improve on error.
Well we’re gonna dip into the teens cuz I had another engineer to the team. Maybe I’ve staffed up a couple. So may right now we’re running at like 18% where we should be at 25. But I can explain to you where those seven points are because I have a baseline of knowing what I’m supposed to be. And I think that is one of the healthy things for a business is get a a a something to, to target after. So you have that and then you start looking at your leaky bucket. I’m not an accountant, I just started realizing where it was leaking cuz I was trying to shoot and needed to shoot for that number and now I can suddenly look at everything a little differently.
Yeah. And it’s like that old saying, it’s like if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there
Yeah, so I, you know I I think one of the things that’s really amazing about our digital automation world today is that there’s tools that allow us to really get a bunch of stuff done quickly. I love that. One of the downside of automation is we wanna do that to every element of our business. And you know what, 83% of all companies in America are service companies. No. So if I were to say to our average client, Hey, what if I handed you 10 more clients right now, most of them was like, well no, maybe I’ll take four or maybe I’ll take three. Well then I’m like, well why are we using words like scale when you probably can’t even handle some of that growth? And we want, we’re so attracted to some of the automation pieces of growing our business that we get addicted to wanting to automate everything.
And so honestly, how do you build profit? I think you address, there’s two phase, probably three phases, but for sure two phases in business only about 7% of all companies America do 7 million of annualized revenue. So that means that the first goal is to actually acquire a customer that they, you have a, an offer that is a valuable proposition to them. The first phase of a business is to do that. The second phase is to improve its operations in its business process. A lot of us have that reversed. We have very little customers. We really want to improve all of it. When I’m like, no, you need some more customers
You should worry about that. So I think part of it is, is the phase of having a few more customers, but just a few more. Don’t hear. I need 60 more. Cuz part of my story is I worked really hard at my reputation in the market and mm-hmm.
I love that. I love that so much. As timely to this conversation as many people in the business community are talking about this bank run with S V B and the F D I C and government bailouts and rising interest rates and all the things banking. And it’s been really interesting to go. But if you look at what really happens, at the end of the day, it was a bunch of VC backed startups, really highly in the tech world. And most of them with most of their funding coming from investors, not from customers. Yep. And my husband and I had this really helpful conversation around, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business at some point, right? The funding will run out at some point. But you gotta have customers. So how much of our focus is really on sales, right? At the end of the day, marketing, but sales get more customers and once you have more customers, then improve operations, then upgrade the systems, but get the customers first. I love that.
Yep. And it’s really hard in fairness to everybody listening that habit switch of get the customer to then turn gears and cuz it’s at that point where I started to become the c e O, once I have a maturing operation, it’s at that point I have to switch gears from only worrying about acquiring a customer to now servicing them better, improving process, deliver efficiency. Like those are s you want those to be first things, but if we’re really honest, those are second things. Yeah.
If you wanna survive. Yeah. If you wanna
If you wanna make it so good. I really love that. So onto this conversation of a little bit of this growth mindset versus scale mindset. I’d love to just hear your thoughts. They could be tactical, philosophical. Yeah, it could be whatever, but why grow? Why scale? What’s the difference between the two and which one should you do?
I heard a great quote. I asked the question at a conference. I actually was sitting in the green room, which, so that’s not a flex, it’s just true. Had a little one-on-one with one of the founders of Legal Zoom and then he was getting interviewed by the conference host. And so I was sitting relatively close and raised my hand and I said, Hey, when should a company worry about growth versus profit? And I loved his answer, it’s the way I think, so I’ll give him the credit. And I was delighted to hear a validation. He’s like, every company should worry about profit. The only ones that have a little bit of a different know the ones that are, are funded sufficiently to re worry about profit later. Hmm. And I’m like, oh boy. Okay, wait a minute. If that’s true, that sets the deck for everybody.
We’re all worried about pushing profit down the road Yeah. And worrying about like getting paid later, but building something and making all these excuses right now. So I think everyone is, has bought and sold a bill of goods that isn’t true. Businesses need to build the bedrock of healthy growth in place. Listen, I love these adages of 10 x and they sound super great. They do. They sound sexy. I want them all to be true. They just sound so good. I want all of that. And I’ve had some really amazing growth years, but things like two x two and a half x, three x are more in line with what looks like substantial growth for most of the marketplace. Mm-Hmm.
That is at the point in my philosophy where scale starts to come discussion, like fully accountable has been in growth mode. It hasn’t only been recently with the breadth of clients we have and some of the technology we’re doing that I’m even starting to dream about the idea of exponential aspects of growth that could lead to things like scale. I can’t, I’m a growth person. I want scale to always be the thing it is talked about too much mm-hmm.
So why do you think that is? Because I just know, like in my entrepreneur community and even in the brand builders group community, there is this tendency to go, it has to happen, it has to happen now and it has to be huge in order for it to mean anything. So like
Yeah, I think in the beginning, if you look at my story and look at my resume, my first good run was in figuring out the affiliate space in our web hosting company. And I realized, whoa, I just need like a bunch of people to send sales for me. And I remember in order to get affiliate to send me sale, I would always say to our, my affiliate managers, I want you to do everything for them. I want the link there. I want the creative there. I want you to deliver the creatives package the sizing back then I’m a little older aj, in case you didn’t notice. So the things didn’t always size well to the mobile phone. We wanted it on a desktop. Well I wanted all of that creative suite done for them. Mm-Hmm.
Yeah. It it is. It’s like, you know, that whole idea of like, build it and they will come. No, they don’t. No they won’t.
It doesn’t sound fun
Just sounds way fun to say, I just put a hundred thousand dollars through the door even though I plus minus a thousand dollars left. Which is why I love that people like you are like, wait a minute, let’s really push into this subject because it is really what’s left. Not what comes, they have a correlation to each other. Right. You gotta drive revenue in order to be able to keep some revenue. I wanna be fair to that, but man, I, I had a big problem and I’ll be honest, I cared more about acquiring a new customer than keeping one.
That was my big problem. That had to be fixed.
Yeah. That’s a but that, that’s a big problem for a lot of people. So how’d you fix it?
Through a lot of medication and counseling now you know, school of hard knocks and honestly some personal development. I I had a lot of mindset stuff. I really had to take captive my thoughts. I spoke awful to myself. And I started to realize that I’m really good at acquiring a customer. And when I started seeing the metrics around what it costs to acquire one versus the reinvestment cost of keeping one, I’m like, holy cow, I’m working the same amount to work at getting a new customer. I could actually increase my runway of keeping a customer. And we took that health business breakage rate from like 15 to sub 10 and we were massively more profitable because we worried about keeping them buying a little longer. And it just slowly turned. It wasn’t this like cloud opening moment, but I just really got sick and tired of giving it all back.
Yeah. I think that’s so important. It’s like if we spend as much time servicing, delivering and keeping our customers as we did getting them right now, some of us need to focus on getting ’em. Yeah. But once you have ’em, you also need to have a focus on keeping ’em, otherwise it’s just this, it’s exhausting revolving door. Now you kinda like tiptoed into this conversation around mindset. So I’m gonna just like, I’ll just blow the the door wide open on this conversation because I think this would be great. So you have a book called c e o Mindset. Yep. Right. And, and
They can have that free. All they gotta do is, we’ll, we’ll probably extort ’em an email out of ’em, but We’ll, if you live in America, we’ll mail you a nice fancy package. If you don’t,
That’s awesome. That’s so awesome. But there’s a, a couple of things that I kinda like pulled out at, at a high level that I thought would be worth talking about. When it comes to kind of like the c e o mindset of first of all, what is a C E O mindset? Like what is the mindset that A C E O should have?
Yeah. So, you know, that’s really great. Right? And so first off, the title is used a lot in a lot of ways, right? And I, I wanna be fair with some of my presumptions of what A A C E O leads people. I, if, if you’re leading yourself, then okay, then wear two hats. You’re, you’re leading yourself in another role. I, I’m fine. I can have a c e O of one. I have personally never done that, but I can see where that doesn’t break down. But my C EShip and the way I see it is I have the privilege of being the leader of an organization of other people on the team. And so, you know, for me, my faith and who I am and what I stand in, and that’s important to me. Like obviously not every one in my company has a person of faith, but that’s super important to me.
And so I lead with attributes that I think of look to be really important. But I know someone mutual in your life that’s in mine, John Maxwell, and he did a study of executives and of all the traits that were most important to A C E O their integrity came out as the number one thing. And so I think first and foremost, I think the transparency and integrity of the C E O is hands down, the number one thing A C E O does, they leave people. And so since I’m left with the burden of leading people, depending on the complexity of your organization, I might be reading metrics and then conveying strategy and like helping to unblock blockages. But at its core, I’m helping to maximize the potential of the people on our team.
I love that. And I love John Maxwell. Actually, our entire company is we have a book of the quarter club. Yeah. And so everyone has like, we kinda like all read a book and we’re actually reading how successful people think right now. And they’re easy, simple reads. But you, you said something there that really got me thinking and I was having actually having a conversation with a very successful entrepreneur friend of mine. She’s got wickedly successful med spas all over the west coast. And she was talking about just like, man, it’s like, ah, I got a a a a people problem. Right. A burden. Mm-Hmm. And we just had we’re both people of faith and we just had this conversation around like, what if we stopped looking at people problems as people problems and started looking at them like our ministry opportunities. Amen. Like, and it’s like, instead of looking at my business, like my job, it’s like, no, this is my ministry and these are the opportunities to per to minister. Not necessarily like I’m doing bathtub, bad baptisms at work meetings or anything. Yeah. I mean, I’ll, that’s not what I’m doing. But it’s this conversation around, it’s like, it, this isn’t a a problem, it’s a privilege. Right. This isn’t my work, it’s my ministry. And that just that those simple conversations that we tell ourselves of, it’s not a problem. It’s a privilege I’ve been
Given. Yeah. So take captive your thoughts, right? Yeah. So I think it is the battle of the mind and I think the c e o mindset around what it is, the privilege that I get to walk along other people’s burdens. Think, you know, I think one of the things that can be hard today is the world has the vision of humility backwards. Right? The world would say think of yourself like think less of yourself. Mm-Hmm.
And so there are people who want to thrive in those positions. Hmm. And actually, if I can help them do that, I know that they’re going to be more satisfied in helping solve other people’s problems. So think about our CFOs and you work with one and if I can actually help him capture his strengths, his vision of what he can know that he can do to help you, I know that he’s going to have greater satisfaction which is going to impact him and his family, which will then ultimately impact you and will impact our team. I think the ripple effect of someone who understands the privilege to carry others’ burdens, now we have leadership and that’s the quote above my head, I think about every day without leadership, you know, no vision in people perish. Right? So I think that’s the burden of the privilege I get every day. And I love it. It’s super hard. I go home super exhausted when my brain is un empty from carrying others burdens. And when I’m done doing that or I’m tired, it’ll be time to tag out. Hmm.
No, I think that’s, I mean, I think that’s, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it’s about growing the business or, you know, it is, it is like both really. It’s like at, at the end of the day, as long as you’re focused on people, right? You’re gonna get more customers, you’ll keep more customers, you’ll get better employees and you’ll keep the good ones that you have. Right. But it’s about having this desired interest of like, I wanna invest in people. I remember, oh gosh, this was a long time ago. Don’t even, I can’t even give credit where credit is due on this. But I remember at some point in my life hearing this, and it has stuck with me and the conversation was around somebody had said like, I just don’t wanna spend all this time and all this money into all these new employees if they’re just gonna get up and leave. Mm-Hmm.
Yeah. And so, you know, when we think about principles, you know, the CEO’s mindset, the principle there of that book is all about investing in people. So the best chapter in that is the people chapter not, and not actually that’s my favorite. The first two, the mindset and the people. And what I’m, why I’m saying that is I believe that small and medium as enterprises, importantly all of them, but really the smaller the enterprise, the, the key leader is really going to dictate the heartbeat and health of the company. And for me, my values, who I am, what I stand for are critically important. If I’m surrounding myself with people that I’m gonna invest in that don’t align with that, the organization’s most likely gonna have a heart attack. And so we only really hire for effort, attitude and ability. Mm-Hmm. And what we do is we think of competence, all things equal.
Great. We’ll take someone with a little bit more experience. Most people hire competence and then go try to train on the other items. Mm-Hmm.
I’ve been there.
Yeah, buddy. That’s a problem that starts with me because I was building a, a culture of mismatched people who were highly competent.
I mean, that is like, at the end of the day, it’s like people alignment is culture. Right? It’s finding people who already have alignment and then you’re just coalescing in this larger vision that is culture. Right? That is culture. That’s so good. I love that. So
I, the mindset around that, your question was like, where’s the mindset? Well, I have to be the custodian of that. Yeah.
You know, we have things about clients going too far. Well, uncle Vinny shows up and steps in between that if we have people taking plays off or they need a little bit of like love through a situation or somebody on the team commits some of the unforgivable offenses, well the vice principal shows up. Right. I’m the culture. If I’m part of the curation, I am at most definitely the top security guard.
Yeah. The culture keeper. You’re the culture keeper. I love that. You said something that I wrote down that I thought would be worth exploring to just hear your thoughts. And I’m, I’m conscious of the time, so I only have two more questions. Very cool. Make sure we land it. But you mentioned earlier like you have to take captive your thoughts. Yep. How do you do that?
I, I, I’ll tell you this real quick. I, my daughter’s in the journey of getting serious with a young man and I asked her to come up with a list of the attributes she wants in a husband. And she’s like, God, that’s like a lot. I said, okay, I asked you an unfair question. Why don’t you gimme the list of things you don’t want? Oh, I can write that down. She was 10 down before she was even struggling. Yeah. Most of us know the things that don’t line up with us. Mm. And I ask people to create a non-negotiable list of the things that won’t work in their life. And so when you start getting things that sound untrue or not noble, or not praiseworthy, it’s like a, it’s like aspirin is to a headache. It takes the edge off. It’s like prayer is to anxiety.
It takes the edge off. Taking captive your thoughts is not getting too spiraling away in untruthful things. And you have these guideposts that keep you there. And then for me, the rest of that verse, which is super important, is then make ’em obedient to truth. What? Well, there is a truth there. So how do I make it obedient back to that? Well, I gotta be able to have this early warning system of where it, it gets all jacked up. And if I can’t do it, I hope and pray. I’ve got people around me who notice it quicker than me spiraling down. Debbie and I have a joke. If we’re in the pit, hopefully the other one doesn’t get pulled down in there with her.
Oh, that’s so good.
That’s so true. And that’s why internal inventory, like, you know, we practice around my life, radical honesty. Mm-Hmm.
Oh, that’s so, so good. There’s like so much wisdom in this conversation and I could probably easily have like 30 more questions to ask and then it would be like 4:00 PM and it’s a three hour podcast. However I’ll wrap it up to one last question. So in your opinion, because you’ve done this several times and you’re doing it now again, what do you think, if you had to pick one thing right now that you’ve done this a few times and you’ve had successful businesses, you’ve had growth, you’ve had scale, you’ve done it a few times. If you could look back and go, there is one common theme that I know across my businesses, your businesses business in general. When I see this one thing, I know that the likelihood of success is high.
So this is the easy answer. Statistically, almost no company has a an executed 10 year plan. And it’s funny, when I started to study that, I also noticed that a three year plan is really hard to do. What I noticed in successful organizations or successful people in life is that when they reach Crossroads, they’re honestly willing to take an inventory of the things that worked and didn’t work. Mm-Hmm.
Hmm. Yeah. Let that in because it is hard to recognize mistakes and then actually do the hard work of changing those mistakes super hard. Y’all, I encourage you to check out this amazing gift that Vinny and his team has put together. I will put this in the show notes, but again, go to fully accountable.com/influential personal brand. They have offered up wickedly awesome free stuff. And yeah, you may have to hand over your email, it’s worth it. Do it. Also to learn more about fully accountable, which as a paying customer and a, a long-term paying customer, I would say I have referred them many times over. And so reach out to fully accountable.com. You can reach out to anyone at Brain Builders Group and we’re happy to do a handheld introduction in. But it’s been super helpful on so many different levels both at the bookkeeping accounting and the fractional side.
It’s been insightful, it’s been helpful. It’s allowed me so much of my time back to do what only I can do to feel like I have a, a team that in the event something do doesn’t go right, there’s a whole company behind it to make it go right. Which you don’t always get that if it’s just your full-time employee. So there’s a, a real benefit of having a company behind that with a varied set of skills and so highly recommend them. And then of course, you’ve got two awesome books that you should also check out Co mindset and a whole bunch
Of other resources we threw in there for you too. So it’s great.
So generous. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving us your time on this show. This episode was phenomenal and again, we’ll put it in the show notes, but go to fully accountable.com and slash influential personal brand and grab some of those assets. Benny, thank you so much,
Aj. Thanks for having me today. It was really a joy.
Yeah. And everybody else, stay around. Stay tuned for the recap episode that will be coming out in just a couple of days. We’ll see you next time.