Are You Prepared for 2021?



Lee Huffman is our guest on this episode and he shares how his clients who had an annual plan in place for 2020 handled the economic shock significantly better than his clients who did not.

You can register for Lee’s 2021 Strategic Planning Session on January 14, 2021 for just $95 by CLICKING HERE.

Lee Huffman is the CEO and Master Leadership Coach for Professional Development USA which Launched in 2003. Lee is an author, a serial entrepreneur and a former Fortune 100 executive who financially retired at the age of 40. After a few years playing really bad golf, Lee launched his coaching business to serve the owners of small- to medium-sized businesses. Lee brings a very unique mix of entrepreneurial and corporate experience to all of the business leaders he chooses to work with.

The best way to forget about 2020 is to start planning for 2021.

The Professional Development USA team has coached and trained over 25,000 business leaders in over 35 countries. From start-up entrepreneurs to family-owned business leaders, to licensed professionals and Fortune 500 executives.

Here are links to connect with Lee Huffman:

  • Professional Development USA Website = CLICK HERE
  • The 2021 Annual Planning Registration Link = CLICK HERE

If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.       

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

You’ve worked hard to build your business, and now it’s time to grow. Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team and a serial entrepreneur. And as we get started on today’s episode we’re going to bring it right back to the start of the new year. And I’m wondering, have you made a plan for 2021 yet? Are you ready to put 2020 behind you? I know it’s getting a little old and redundant to speak about, but the best way to do that is to start planning. And have you? Do you have a plan for 2021, or 2022, or 2023? What are you doing to get ready for the upcoming year? Because as our guest today Lee Huffman shares with us, his clients that planned for 2020 were ready to make that shift when the pandemic hit. Not going to say that they were prepared, but they were ready to recognize it, and were able to move and prioritize much more quickly than his clients who didn’t.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

And Lee Huffman who comes to us today, and I’ve known Lee for many, many years, Lee actually has been my business coach. He’s helped. He’s very familiar with me, and my businesses, and my companies. He’s fantastic. I really enjoyed working with him. And Lee is a serial entrepreneur, actually started his first business when he was 13 and sold it two years later. Can you think of that? That’s pretty incredible, building that and selling it at such a young age. He was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug at that point. And he’s been a serial entrepreneur and a former Fortune 100 executive, and he financially retired at the age of 40.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

And he said after a few years of playing some really bad golf he just couldn’t sit still anymore, not surprising, like most entrepreneurs. I’m sure you can relate. And he started his coaching business. And Lee has experience as being a franchisee, an area developer. Lee’s an international coach, he’s an author. He has the credentials. He’s also a founding member of the John Maxwell team, which is a really cool accolade, and has been working closely with the John Maxwell team over many, many years as well. So it gives me great joy and honor to bring to you this interview with Lee Huffman.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

I’m Lee Hoffman, I’m the CEO and Master Leadership Coach at Professional Development USA. My background, Tom, my parents were entrepreneurs. I grew up in Indiana thinking that you either worked at the factory, or you worked on the farm, or you own multiple businesses. And so mom had three businesses in real estate and dad had three businesses in construction. So I started out early as an entrepreneur, started my first business at my mom’s recommendation when I was 13 and I sold it when I was 16, and got bit by the entrepreneur bug, and have really enjoyed it ever since.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

When I turned around, I don’t know, in my early twenties, I realized that I couldn’t grow businesses. I kept selling them when they got to be about a million, 10 people, 15 people, something like that. And I used to say I got bored of them, but I really ended up selling them because they were going out of control. And so I went to work for Hewlett Packard, wanted to learn from Bill and Dave about how they created a business and made it go big, and learn a lot there. Actually got into HP labs and started creating businesses there. Then left again, actually left a couple of times and came in and out of HP.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

I started a business and ended up selling it right as I was turning 40. And so another business that I was trying not to sell, but IBM bought it when I was 40. And came back to Atlanta without a job and with some good money, and tried to retire at 40 and that was a big mistake, but we’ll talk about that later. And ever since then I’ve been training people and coaching people in over 30 countries around the world, and helping leaders grow their businesses, and learning a lot in the process. So that’s a quick overview of my background.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Well, great. You packed a lot in there. And I know we’ve known one another for several years now.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

We’ve worked together. I still refer to you and view you as my business coach and an advisor for me along the way as well in our business. One of the things that I always find interesting, especially when you talk about buying and selling a business, building a business, selling it and going through that process, and I know a lot of your coaching clients have gone through similar things that you’ve seen. Would you mind talking a little bit about that whole process, building the business. I know there’s a lot to get it built and set up for selling and so on in there, but I’m sure a lot of our audience have thought about it, or maybe have been approached at some point in time about someone buying their business.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. Actually I’m working right now with a client that I worked with actually before you and I met. I worked with Tracy for… Well, it must have been about seven years, getting his business systematized so it could basically run without him. He’s run the business for the last 10 years off of his boat on Lake [inaudible 00:05:55]. And it’s a construction company. He has decided that he and his wife want to retire, and he will be the 25th company that will be sold that I’ve coached. Number 25 is a big number for me, so I go again about that. And hopefully that’s going to be an employee purchase, a stock option program. And that’s the first time I’ve done that. And earlier this year I had a doctor who sold their business and retired, and that went really well.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

And so it’s really about getting this… Actually, it’s the same thing that you have to do to franchise your business. You’ve got to get it… The business so it really is a business that runs on its own. A business should have its own personality. It should have its own vision. It should have its own systems. And if you don’t have that, then you’ve basically got a job. Nobody wants a job, that’s why you got to the business in the first place. And so what I do is I help people take that job and turn it into a business that they can multiply, and grow, and eventually franchise if that’s why they want to do, or sell it to somebody else. But over 90% of the businesses that people think they’re going to sell don’t get sold because what they’ve got is a job. And that’s not good.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Hmm.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Hope that helped.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Yeah, very helpful. Thank you. And that is a leading question into why I wanted to really have you on the program right now at this time of year as we are nearing the end of 2020, which did not go as probably most of us were thinking. And it’s something that I’m sure at Nauseum now we’re talking about it and looking forward to 2021. But one of the things that has always been one of my favorite things in working with you was the annual planning session and going through that. And I think it is a very useful exercise to be doing annual planning. And I don’t think a lot of small businesses do it. Or they sit down for maybe 30 minutes and they talk about it with a couple of people and away they go. So I was curious to pick your brain to share maybe a couple of best practices, or maybe even some examples of how you go through that, and maybe what the small business or business owner should be doing to get their business ready for next year.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. I’m talking to a lot of clients and former clients, because a lot of former clients come back into the planning sessions. And we’re doing it a bit different because we’re not going to be face-to-face this year. But people say, why plan? I put together a plan last year and threw it out the window in February. That’s absolutely true. But when I look at the clients and the business owners that I see out there, the ones that had a plan knew that they were off track big time by March. And the ones that [inaudible 00:09:02] they had a plan didn’t know they were off track big time until June or July. And then it was really late to turn things around and to make that pivot that you need to make when you have an economy that changes as much as we have with the pandemic.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

And so the answer is, you still need to plan. I’ve got clients that are doing it on their own. But you start off with, every year you look and say, okay, why am I in this business? What do I personally want out of life? And then you architect the business around that, and you design the business to say, okay, how do I get closer to the point where… I got into business because I didn’t want a job. I didn’t want to work for that boss anymore. But now the business is my boss. How do I architect it so it runs without me? And so what things do you need to do there? You need to have the systems in place. You need to have a marketing system. You need to have the systems for the people to run so you’re not doing it. You’re not answering all their questions. Because we go out and we hire people without even knowing what questions they’re going to ask without thinking through what they’re doing.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

So there’s a lot to it, like you said, but you have to really say, let’s begin with [inaudible 00:10:14], Stephen Covey, in the Seven Habits and 8th Habits. Start with that end and say, what I really want to do is I want to retire. I want to have a business that will run without me. I want a business that can be replicated so I can get multiple streams of income from it. I want to do a number of things in my life when I’m still young enough to enjoy life. And even if you’re in your fifties and sixties, it’s not too late to do that, to make that move and to put the system in place, the company in place with a marketing system, the sales systems, the operational systems, the accounting feedback and all that. It’s not that hard to do. You can do it in a year. And then you can turn around and get somebody really good. I don’t know who, but somebody who could help you franchise it and replicate it out there.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

No, that’s great. I appreciate that, Lee. I guess as someone who’s tuning in, just out of curious, if you’re doing your annual planning session, I don’t know if you still have time this year for that, but are you doing sessions that the listeners could sign up for and participate in? Is that something they could do?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Right now we’re planning on one in January, which I despise doing it in January because I don’t think this year should be done. It’s really done until next year is done on paper. But a lot of clients have asked me to come back and do it in January.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Okay.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

So we’re looking at doing a Zoom meeting. It’s going to be an all day thing. And it’s going to be the first or second week of January. We can get that information out to people.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Oh, okay. Perfect. Yeah, that’s great. And we’ll make sure we include that in the show notes. So anyone who’s listening in, just to pull up the show notes and we’ll make sure we have links and contact information for Lee in there on how to get involved with his planning session. I know when we do them we always like to have our… I would be there and we’d have key people that would be helping in the planning and implementation process as well. So that was always important.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. People will walk out of… We’ll have the annual plan, as you said, but you look at your long-term goals that are in your planning and you say, where do I want to be in five, 10, 15 years out? But what do I need to do in the next year to make that happen? And then you say, okay, what do I need to do in the next quarter? So there’s a quarterly planning session, because a quarter is about what you can control. And that’s why I said the people who didn’t have a plan didn’t know until six months out that they were in trouble. But the people that had a plan, the people that we put that together with knew by March that there was major trouble coming and they needed to pivot. Yeah, good idea.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Wow. Really, really interesting. Certainly the value was shown to your clients and to those people that were planning and being prepared for that. And Lee, as we keep moving through the flow of the program here, one of the questions we always like to ask every guest as they come in is about the idea of these misses, makes, and multipliers. And so one of the things I’d love to hear from you and your experience, which is very… You have a wonderful background. And maybe share a miss or two that came along the way, and what you learned from it.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Well, my dad used to say I had a checkered past because I couldn’t keep a job because I kept selling them. I appreciate the way that you said it, it’s a little bit better. Honestly, I got to the point where I wasn’t… One of the big misses that I’ve had a couple of times is I didn’t set my goals big enough. Even back in high school, I had the goal of winning the Mid-American conference my junior year in high school in wrestling. And the fact was, everybody was saying, he’s going to be the state champion. But I won the Mid-American conference and I stopped. And I didn’t make my goal of what I could have been. And so I learned so much from that in business, that I need to keep those stretch goals going. I did that when I retired at 40. I should’ve said, no. People don’t retire at 40. They may slow down a bit, but I never have. That can be a big miss if your goals aren’t set high enough.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

And the other one was just recently, was paying enough attention to my health. I was having a lot of energy issues that we couldn’t figure out what it was. I started gaining a lot of weight over a period of about 10 years. And I should have pushed my doctors to find something sooner. Luckily I wasn’t far from the hospital when I had a heart attack and they were able to fix things, and my energy came back immediately after they put the stent out. And so it was a minor heart attack but I wasn’t paying as much attention to my health as what I should have been. And so you’ve got to keep that balanced life, which needs to be part of the plan for any entrepreneur.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Hmm. Great advice, yeah. And it’s so easy, especially as an entrepreneur, to let something fall off in your life and lose some component of it. It’s really easy to fall into that. How about on the other side here. Let’s take a look at a make or two that you’d like to share. You’ve talked about building, selling multiple businesses. Maybe share a couple of stories out of that as well, that’d be great.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. Well, where to start there? I think the biggest thing was learning that there are multiple levels of business. I was good at creating a job and being self-employed for awhile, and then realizing that a business is something else that has its own personality. So understanding how to put a culture in place and all that was definitely a make for me. When I went to work for Hewlett Packard, within three weeks I realized what they were doing that I wasn’t doing, which was they created a culture and they talked about it all the time. And it was constantly talking about this personality, this business called Hewlett Packard, or this baby called Hewlett Packard had. And so understanding that was really important. I guess the makeup, systematizing the business. Getting it to where it can run without you. Those two things were the things that took me from basically being self-employed and having a group of people running around with me, to having a business to where it can run itself. And then eventually a general enterprise that other people can run, and you can even sell. That’s on the business side.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Yeah. Yeah. I guess getting it to that point where you could sell that enterprise level, that’s a big jump. Transitioning from that entrepreneur, that owner running it with a few employees, and then… Could you talk through a little bit of that, or how some of that process went when you were making those transitions?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. Actually what I’ll do is I’ll give you an analogy that I learned later on that I was doing. And Michael Gerber wrote The E-myth revisited. He E-myth and the E-myth revisited. He’s written several other books, but I’ve heard him talk so many times and had been on stage with him a couple of times. And he talks about, you leave a business because you want to get out of a job. You want to get away from the boss, and then you become the boss and that’s even more work. And you have to… When you get the… I forget the exact words that he uses, but when you get this, you need to have seven practice… Oh, you moved from being a job to being a practice where you’re practicing doing the thing. And then you get that practice to be repeatable.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Then you get seven practices. And those seven practices become a business. And so you have other people doing those seven things in the business for you. And then you take seven businesses and you have seven businesses out there where you’re replicating it, which is really what it’s done with the franchise model. You have other people doing it. Now you’ve got an enterprise. And so I like his definition about, it’s the seven seven seven seven process that you go through. The enterprise has all the facets of a business, it’s just in multiple locations. The way to do that, frankly you can end up crippling yourself if you don’t do it properly. But it’s a good way to build the business and a good way to replicate it, and a good way to get out of it and retire, and pass it on to your children and things like that, too. Is that helpful?

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Yeah. Very interesting. Yes. Thank you for sharing that. Was there anything else on the make side that you wanted to share?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

I think that each level is a lot of fun. The key thing I would say is, don’t stop with the dream. And keep going, because that keeps you going. At the same time, don’t stop with keeping your life balanced to where you’re spending time with your family, and on your health, and things like that. And it’s real easy for people to do that now that we’re locked down. In some cases it’s helped the families. But in other cases it’s caused people to get much more focused on themselves and not out there building their future and their business the way they should be.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Great. And thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk about a multiplier that you used along the way. Anything you’d like to share?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. Very early on I was given a copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which is an amazing book. I was in third grade and could not read because I was dyslexic and had trouble reading. I had a teacher who saw that and really helped me learn to read. And now, year and time and time again, leaders are readers. You’re constantly developing yourself. And if you’re not really doing that, then you can’t multiply yourself. You can’t take new ideas and you can’t communicate well to people. So I don’t know, Think and Grow Rich is amazing. The Eighth Habit I’ve already mentioned. E-myth Revisited I’ve mentioned. I could give you 100 books to read. So I constantly am reading books on not just business, but also spiritual books, books on men and women in history, and things like that too. Keep a good variety. I think that keeps my mind sharp.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Yeah. I think that’s great. That’s definitely one of the things that I know, and working together I picked up, and working with you and is just being focused on consuming more information, reading, and not the local social media field, or feed. Reading books, like you said. Things that you can learn from others in that regard. So I think that’s fantastic. I love that.

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

The other thing, and as you’re saying that, I don’t want to sound self-serving here, but the other thing is I’ve got advisors. I’ve got coaches. John Maxwell, Tony Wilson, are people that I pay to coach me. I’m always looking for somebody who’s already been there and done what I wanted to do. I’m looking for someone who hasn’t been there but can be a good sounding board for me. There was always other people, I’ve got to have my lawyers and my accountants around, people that can do those things, and my marketing people who can support me. So it’s really about a team. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur someplace you need to have a team in order to get your systems right. That, to me, is a multiplier.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

That’s a great point. You’re a great example of that. You are a coach. You coach lots of businesses and have helped coach lots of business leaders from small business to large businesses. Massive large companies where you’re coaching some of their leadership team. I think it’s a testament to the fact that you practice what you preach as well. Reading, and finding those coaches, and still pursuing that. I agree. I always… This drive to always do better. One of our core values at our company… We have three. Our third core value is this idea of continuous improvement, of constantly trying to find a way to make it better. How can we tweak this, learn a little something new, try something to make things better and learn from that? I really appreciate that you are doing that. And Lee, the final question we’d like to ask every guest is, what does success mean to you?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Hmm. That’s a good question because it continues to evolve. I’ve had a lot success, honestly. But I talked about high school, winning the mid-American conference was my definition of success at the time. And when I got there it was somewhat of a letdown. But I went off and did other things. And then adding zeros to businesses when I sold them was a big deal. 2,400, 24,000, 2.4 million, 24 million. Seems to be a number that I run through life… Then it became Let it became helping others build successful businesses. And that’s still there. But today success is really about creating memories. And so I travel around the world as much as I can with this pandemic. I’m still helping people, but I really, really want to take my children with me, take my friends with me, and travel and see things that I read about in books. That’s success to me.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

I love that. Yeah. Creating those memories and shared experiences. I think it’s beautiful. Lee, is there anything you’d like to leave with the audience that you maybe didn’t have a chance to say? Or something you thought, oh, I really wanted to make sure I shared something that you haven’t had a chance to get to?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Yeah. My view, and I’ve had people speak this into my life many times, and that’s why I’ve been successful, is that you have more potential than what you ever think you have. And so look and say, what is it… How can I go to the next level? And what does that mean to me? So I guess what I’d like to say to everybody out there is, they have more potential than what they know. God gave us that potential and it’s inside of all of us. We just need to tap into it.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Lee, how can people get ahold of you? What’s the best way to get in touch with you if they are interested in attending the planning session, if they are interested in maybe just reaching out to you for some business coaching support? What’s the best way for that to happen?

Lee Huffman, Professional Development USA:

Well, the company is Professional Development USA. You can go to the website, prodevusa.com. First three letters in each of the words in the name of the company. Also you can email me directly at lee@prodevusa.com. But you can send me something through the website as well. And what we’ll do is, there are people that contact us. We will make sure they get on our distribution list. We’ll have an Eventbrite sign up for the annual planning day in January.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Well, thank you so much, Lee. That was a fantastic interview. I really appreciate it. And for those of you who, again, have not made a plan for your 2021 planning, if you don’t have one, please sign up for Lee’s planning session here right after the first of the year. The link is in the show notes. And Lee has offered for our listeners a special, if you sign up and register it’s only $95 for the first person who signs up, and then $25 for anyone else on your team to come. So literally for a hundred dollars or less you’re able to sign up and have a strategic planning session ready to go. So if you don’t have a plan, this is great opportunity to do it. And again, we get no financial gain or benefit from it. I just know it’s going to benefit you, and your company, and your team to do that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

So let’s go ahead and jump into today’s key takeaways. So takeaway number one is, set your goals high enough. Make sure you set your goals high enough. I think it’s a great story that Lee tells when he was in high school and a wrestler, and he set his mind and set his goal on winning the local, or the regional championship. And he was the top candidate to win the State but he didn’t because he didn’t set his goal there. I thought that was a great lesson and reminder for all of us.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

Number two is to get the right team and get a coach. Get a team and get a coach. And Lee said, I know it’s self serving, but Lee has been my coach for many years. I’ve had great experience with Lee and he practices what he preaches. He has his own set of coaches that he works with for developing and coaching him and his company as well. Number three, and this is to all of you that are listening, it’s a great takeaway from Lee, you have more potential than what you know. And now it’s time for today’s win-win.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team:

So today’s win-win was a great takeaway from Lee. And it was really simple and very easy to remember. Today’s takeaway is, leaders are readers. Leaders are readers. I don’t know when the last time you read a book is, but if it’s been a while, pick one up and start reading. Start somewhere. Pick up a book, do audio books. There are so many different ways to consume content today. If you’re listening to the podcast there’s a very good chance an audio book may be a great option for you. And you can subscribe to audio books or purchase audio books from just about anywhere. From audible.com, to Google and Apple, they all have their various versions of audio books. And so that’s our episode today folks. Thanks for tuning in. Please share this. Please give us a review, and we look forward to having you back next week.

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