Do you dream of building a successful business? Have you ever been held back by something seemingly impossible? Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a rut, unable to break through and achieve the success you desire?
Business Alchemist Bill Prater has made it his life's mission to help business owners and entrepreneurs break free of the status quo by unlocking their own business success.
Bill Prater, the founder & CEO of Business Mastery and creator of Scaleology--has helped countless business owners and entrepreneurs find success and break away from their inertia. He's passionate about sharing the tips and tricks he's picked up over the years.
In this episode, Bill Prater reveals the three lies that are holding many businesses back. He dives into the details, showing us how to spot the lies and how to start pushing through them. It's a masterclass in business success and strategy, meant to help business owners and entrepreneurs break away from their ruts and achieve sustainable success.
Listen to the Episode
Atiba de Souza: Hey, hey! Welcome to another episode of the Build Your Team show. I am your host, Atiba, and if you're a business owner building a team for your organization, this episode you are going to want to see, I mean, all the episodes are great, but today I have with me Bill Prater, who is an absolute master and drop some gems today just from the perspective of the fact that this is what he helps businesses do. And Bill's going to just blow your mind as he talks about the three lies that are causing problems in your business.
And as always, Build Your Team is brought to you by Client Attraction Pros. Hey, it's time that you become the thought leader of your industry, and we're gonna help you do that and make it fast, easy, and fun.
Atiba de Souza: Bill, welcome to the show. It's so great to have you. And I wanna start off by asking you a question, and my question for you today is this, my friend, for someone who is building a team, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you have seen people make?
Bill Prater: When we say people, I think we're talking about business owners. Although, what we would talk about would probably apply to a lot more than just business owners particularly. But I think the biggest mistake, you've kind of touched on it a little bit in your opening remarks and that is that, I believe, I think there's three major mistakes and or myths, or let's call them popularize that unfortunately trap people. And as a result of being trapped by these three lies, then they make mistakes. In the first one, revolves around, if you will, almost the notion of and I'm referring to your cap.
A lot of time, people get in their head that they have to be superman or superwoman and that's the key. And so they work very hard on developing their own expertise. And for most business owners, entrepreneurs, their expertise came from some profession or another. In other words, they were trained to be a project manager, or they're really good at chemistry, or they're great veterinarian, et cetera.
Those are, if you will, let's call them professions. None of them, at all, absolutely none. No profession has anything at all to do with owning a business. It's an entirely different profession. So the first one, I think is, believing that somehow or another the world revolves around you, or in fact should revolve around you. And the better you are, the more successful your business is. And actually, it's almost the opposite of that.
Atiba de Souza: Say that again.
Bill Prater: It's actually almost the opposite of that. In other words, certainly if you want to scale your business into — let's say eight, nine, or nine figures of revenue or more, the less you do in your business is probably the better.
Atiba de Souza: The better.
Bill Prater: And including all the way to doing nothing at all. Absolutely, it's true. And that's difficult for people to understand, but it's the flips of a site of having a powerful team. The more powerful your team is, the less relevant you are, the less essential you are, the less welcome you are actually. And so that's probably the first one. So the lie that's around that is, the belief that you need to do everything, be the best, be the go-to guy or gal.
And that's probably the biggest mistake that I see most often. And it happens twice or more than twice, but at least twice. That's important. One is getting your business off the ground at all. If you insist on being the primary provider of the solution, whatever the solution is, then you can't grow because you're the limit. So that's number one. But number two is probably where most of my clients are when I first encounter them, and that is that their business is stalled out, they're flatlined and they've tried a dozens and dozens of things, but nothing seems to move the needle.
And even though they've got now at this point in time, typically, they're doing maybe 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 million in revenue. But they're still, even though they've got individuals around, maybe even very talented in individuals, if they're the roadblock because of their attitude about being the best, being in charge and things like that. So that's the first real major mistake I see.
Atiba de Souza: We could do a whole show on just that one. So I can't wait to hear the other two. There's so much that you said in there that's so very true. I'm sure you've probably read the book, "The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber." And he talks about that in that book too, just that so many people get into business to become — because they're a practitioner, right? They're the doer and they did better than everybody else. And so they feel like they still have to keep doing. Yeah, you wanna wear the "S" on your chest. I tell people all the time, that's where I wear it on my head. I don't see this, this is for other people to see so that they realize they're the superhero, not about me, right? Man, that's whew. Okay. So lie number one, the superhero complex. All right, I'm ready for lie number two. That was good.
Bill Prater: So line number two is, almost every business owner is in some sort of an industry or a niche or a sector. So what happens with a lie number two, which leads to the second mistake I see most frequently is, sort of believing that if they only can figure out what the industry calls best practices or industry standards, et cetera, then they can really maximize their business.
So let's imagine that we are talking about somebody that owns a medical clinic or a dental clinic or something like that, medical. So, the first place people will tend to look is into their industry association or their niche. And they'll examine all of these metrics in standards, if you will.
And standards are a trap. They're a trap. And it's another fantastic way to make your business average. And actually, the answer is in exactly what you're looking at. So what's a standard? Well, a standard is the average that people should be able to get to. So what's the standard for being in high school?
Yeah. To get a C, C+ or something like that. That's the standard. Why? Because the mass majority, the giant majority hovers around that point. And you can see that in everyday life. If you just look at any sort of a bell curve, you look at a bell curve of thoroughbreds, the vast majority of thoroughbreds are right in the middle.
They're middling animals that aren't going to be in any sort of real competition. And so, the key or the solution to get out of that is frankly to ignore the standards, to not pay attention to them, to not do what everybody else does. Imagine, some of the famous business owners, there are many, many, many, but if you look at one that comes to mind would be, to me, would be Oprah.
Now, if Oprah would've tried to comply with the standards of the broadcasting industry, she would've been mediocre. But she didn't do that at all. Her attitude was, "I'm gonna do things different than everybody else." And she's a great example, I think, of somebody that never let her own personal, let's call it talent, get in the way.
I mean, she just showcased everybody else and that was kind of her magic. You look at somebody like Steve Jobs who certainly did not follow the standards of the computer industry. He ignored them completely. I mean, he was absolutely, totally an outlaw. He had a famous ad about think differently.
So the first one, and there's many, many, Richard Branson's another one. They're certified idiots. When you'd say, "Why in the world would anybody start an airline?" I mean, that's crazy. Everybody in the airline business loses money, including today. They'd lose money today, but yet he did that, and the list goes on.
So these are people that should be emulated. They're the outliers, they're the crazy ones. They're the ones that aren't following the industry standards. They're doing things differently. And it's not just differently. It's doing things that the people that are leading your niche are doing.
So even if you're in the medical industry, back to that one, there are people who own medical clinics or the derivatives of those, and they're completely shooting the lights out. They got fantastic, highly profitable businesses. They're doing something differently.
Maybe they're not taking insurance, for example. I'm not saying that's the solution. I'm just saying you who own a clinic should look, "Alright, who is it that owns the best clinics in my state, city, neighborhood," and go emulate those people. So that's kind of number two. And so, let's call that not falling victim to the lure of averages.
Now, why does that lure exist? Well, if you are selling oats, for example, there aren't very many elite thorough brands. There are only a few, but there's lots of average ones, so you'd wanna make sure that you marketed to the people that have these big farms, a lot of horses in them. That's where the money is.
Same thing in the metal industry, the suppliers to the medical industry, supply to the average clinic because there's more of them, it's easier, these people are easy to sell too, cuz they're gonna buy the latest machine, et cetera. So, nobody's trying to hoodwink you. It's out there in the open. They even use the words like standards.
But the point is, your vendors find the money in the averages. If you want to be elite, you can't play that game.
Atiba de Souza: That's great! Number two, of not falling into that standard strap, not settling for average, and not even looking at what is average. You started to give one of the tips there of looking around in your industry and seeing who's outperforming everybody and trying to figure out, maybe even medical industry, they're not taking insurance or maybe there's something else that they're doing.
And the word that kind of popped into my mind, Bill, when you were saying all of that is, innovate, right? In order to not be standard, you've gotta innovate. Would you agree with that? And if so, how does someone go about innovating?
Bill Prater: Well, the answer is yes and no. So the reason I'm gonna give you both answers is because you don't have to innovate to emulate. So if you've got somebody in your niche that is performing at a high level, very high level, let's say, top one, two or three percent of your niche, you can have a super successful enterprise yourself simply by figuring out what they're doing and emulate that typically.
Here's the good news about this part, and then we'll go to the innovation part. The good news about that is that almost every single business owner who owns one of these super high performing companies, are doing their job as a business owner very much the same as each other, regardless of the niche.
In other words, the person that has a medical clinic and they're ranked number one in their state might be doing things exactly similarly to somebody that owns an automobile dealership network in a different state. But yet, if you look at their behaviors as business owners, not as car salesman, and not as doctors, but as the owner, that job, then they're very similar. So that's the no answer.
No, you don't have to innovate. You just have to emulate and pick the right people. And it doesn't have to be in your niche. It can be in somebody, some other industry. Now, innovation isn't necessarily invention, which is an entirely different topic. So innovation really is then taking things that are, if you will, practice by everybody, and then finding the barriers or the edge or the margins and getting your business to play at that level. And when we get to our third area, I'll touch a bit on how to do that relative vis-a-vis team building, but relative to, if you will, business practices and that sort of thing.
For example, I don't know how we fell into this medical industry thing, but I think it's a good illustration of most people that start a medical industry came out of being some sort of a medical practitioner, normal, that would be the case. It's unusual for somebody that came out of economics to decide to start one. It would be unusual not impossible, but unusual. So, the key then is to innovate things that other people do. For example, in the medical industry, you probably should have and need to have somebody fulfilling the job of a receptionist.
So when somebody walks into the door, he'll say, "Hey, welcome to our business. Are you a current patient or I recognize you as a current patient? Or if you're not, we've got these forms to fill out and so forth and so on. So you've gotta do that, but it doesn't mean that you can't innovate in the methodology of how to get that done.
For example, contacting people before they show up, giving them the capability of to fill out their paperwork before they show up to the facility and so forth and so that would be an example of innovation or being able for them to say, asking them a question like, "Where did you used to go for this type of practice?"
Then contact that company and get some of the readily available information around people, like the addresses and names and birth dates and things like that. So that would be innovation. You don't need to invent. So stage one is, you don't need to innovate, you just need to emulate the best.
Innovation belongs in improving upon that the typical behavior of companies like yours. That'd be a nice place for innovation.
Atiba de Souza: Yes. Completely agree with you and I see it all wrapped together. One of the things that we talk about here and that we have always taught for the last almost 20 years is, we have to listen to outsiders because the same wind blows on every single business, every single company. We all have the same problems.
Getting back to the point that you were there, right? We all have the same problems, and if I'm facing a problem of my patients don't want to fill out forms, well guess what? The auto dealership down the street, they're facing the same thing when people come in with their cars and don't want to fill out forms. But they found a solution for it. Why can't we use their solution?
Bill Prater: Very true.
Atiba de Souza: Right? And that is the mix of both things of what you just said.
Bill Prater: The mix of both, right? I like that. All winds blow on us at the same rate. Yeah, absolutely. But we could stand behind a little wall. Protect ourselves.
Atiba de Souza: You could, but the wind is still there. And that's the beauty if you realize, but if I stand behind this wall, then I'm protected and I learned that from somebody else, then great. Then absolutely wonderful. And it is just that ability to see bigger and realize that these problems exist everywhere and somebody else has solved it. Somebody else has solved it. So that's number one. And number two.
Bill Prater: Yeah.
Atiba de Souza: What's number three, man? I'm already blown away by the first and second —
Bill Prater: So what's number three? I think is at the heart of what our topic is. And that's all about team. And I think what happens to people, and it's not bad, it's just not optimal. And that is the belief, if only I can hire superstar employees, then everything will be golden.
If only I can hire superstar employees, everything will be golden. And that's not true. What's true is, a high performance team collects beats a collection of all stars every time. Every time. You and I are old enough to know that the United States didn't used to be so successful in Olympic basketball.
They used to look like fools. They'd bring in all these all stars and they'd go to Olympics, then they'd get trouts by Greece because Greece had a team. The US women basketball team of Olympic team went well, did solve that. They were able to convert to a team quickly.
So the lesson is that there's an inherent problem with high performing all-star type people, and that is ego and their ego, their personal ego, or their need for their greediness, their need for love and kisses is very high and they've gotta be in the spotlight all the time.
And they feel like being in the spotlight at the detriment of the rest of their team is absolutely okay. And that's not okay for you as a business owner. People that perform at that level, I have a term for them, which I'll tell you in a few seconds, but by that level, I mean somebody that performed at a high level does their job but screws up everybody else. That is an onboard terrorist, I call them. Terrorists are very, very talented. They are very skillful. Their morals and things are not necessarily in line with ours, or not in line with ours for sure. And that's similar, unfortunately, to some high-powered people.
And I think a great illustration of that, well, it's easy to have her, one of my favorite all time track athletes is Allyson Felix, who I remember in an Olympic game one time, she was running first and they failed in the handoff in their 400 meter relay.
Remember that? And the batons bouncing on the ground, so forth and so on. So here she is, the fastest woman on the planet by far, and she loses the race. Why? Because of the field handoff. Now the failure ended up being somebody bumped them, bumped into them, to your point, the wind blows the same on everybody.
Problems do happen. Things do not go necessarily according to plan, but that's really how businesses operate. Businesses are like relays. There's somebody that carries, that runs leg one, and somebody runs leg two and somebody runs leg three, et cetera. In other words, the receptionist who does that job properly means that when the nurse sees the patient, it's documented well enough for the nurse to be able to get right to the heart of the matter of why this person's there.
On the other hand, if the receptionist doesn't do their job, the nurse shows up and she says, "Oh, hi Sarah, why are you here? Oh, it's not Sarah. My name's Alice." See? That would be looking bad for the nurse that walked in, calling the person the wrong name. But it wasn't her at all. It was the previous person.
So in business, that's the sales person who goes out and makes a sale, comes back all excited and giddy and so forth about how they made the sale and so forth and so on. And then the production manager looks at this person and says, Beverly, we can't make that product. You sold something we can't make." That's another illustration. So the point is, believing that you can hire the best, even if you can afford to and expect them to do the job exactly the way you want is a fool's game. Instead, what you've gotta do is you've gotta hire, train and retain a players, for sure, people that are the best that you can afford to hire.
But the key is that they've gotta fit into your culture. And, all super high performance companies have at least one component of their culture, which is vital for high performance. And that's accountability. And so back to relay, accountability means that the baton does get passed properly and away you go.
So when the baton is being passed properly, the person receiving it will take off at full speed before the handoff is made because they know the baton will get there. If they don't trust that the baton will get there, they'll stand there waiting and the person will show up and they'll collide with each other and say, "Oh my God, you actually did your job this time. Amazing!" And then they pick up the baton and away they go. And so if I look at a typical business, what I see is one, the boss is working her tail off far too hard. She's too involved. She's believed myth one. Number two, the company got a collection of KPIs, "Key Performance Indicators" based on their industry, and they're trying to meet these standards, converting them into average company.
And number three, I see companies that have a collection, of people theoretically working hard, but getting very little done because they're all doing whatever they think is the right thing at the time, and instead they need to have a relay. So number one, the boss has gotta get out of the way.
Hopefully totally. Number two, you've gotta have a system of management that is emulating the highest performers that you can find who give you permission to emulate them. And number three, you've gotta have a collection of A players that are performing with an accountability culture. So there's the three and there's the three solutions.
Atiba de Souza: We can almost end the episode right there cause that was just amazing. Absolutely amazing. But I won't.
Bill Prater: Okay.
Atiba de Souza: Because I wanna come back and follow up just a little bit in there. So number one, love the track examples as a former relay runner myself. Absolutely love the track examples placed in states.
And so yes, ran relays at a high level. Love it! I'll add a third one in there for you, if that's okay. So in relays there are three things that go wrong in the handoff. So three things that can happen in the handoff. One, I don't trust you and so I wait for you.
So either I'm gonna stop, I'm waiting, and then there's a collision, like you said. Number two is, I don't know how fast you are moving.
Bill Prater: Right.
Atiba de Souza: And so I either take off too fast or take off too slow.
Bill Prater: Right.
Atiba de Souza: And so that also happens in business too. In those handoffs sometimes is like, "I'm going, but you're not catching up or you outran me."
And then we end up in those communication gaps that cause major, major problems. Or the third one is, we are a team and you use this word and this is where I want to go next is with this word, we are a team that fit together and so I know how fast you're coming in and how fast I need to go out.
I know that on my third step when this knee is raising on my third step and this hand goes back, the baton is going to be there and I know it because we've practiced it and we fit.
Bill Prater: Yep. That's excellent. I love that. Yeah, so that was good. You should be movie director. I could see the whole handoff taking place.
Atiba de Souza: Well, we've probably done — this was years ago now, right? What, two, 3000 handoffs in practice, just going and it's funny because the legs that we ran, the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 200, the guy who ran after me we're still really good friends. He's actually my son's godfather. We still talk all the time.
Bill Prater: No, excellent.
Atiba de Souza: But let's talk about fit, right? Because that was the thing that he and I ended up with was our chemistry work cuz we fit and we became friends because we fit and we've stayed together for 30 odd years because we fit, right? And our friendship has worked. And this is where that analogy and that friendship, now we can parallel that back to business and building your team of people who fit. And we talk a lot about fit here on the show. So I'd love to get your take on identifying fit. Does it start with them? Does it start with me? Is it both?
Bill Prater: It is both. It is in fact both. There's an obscure sport to some people, some people isn't, because it's just the very few universities really do this, but it's rowing or crew. And what's interesting about crew particularly is that because in crew, unlike many other sports, each person has a very similar job, rowing, moving one or if they're on eight person crew, then one of the eight. And yet, the coaches are always moving people from stroke to seat two to seat five. They moved the same women around in the same boat. They figured out who the best eight were, and then they rearrange them and why?
The reason they're doing that changing seats is because of fit. It's so vitally important. So to your point in business, one, we've gotta get A players, which means definitionally the best available for your job at your price, if you will, or your salary. That's an A player. Somebody you can afford. Now, because most business owners can't afford somebody that Google can afford.
That would be potentially helpful. So we've gotta be within our game, if you will. Part two is, we're gonna make sure that we've got A players in each of our positions. Now, positions in a business would be things like sales and marketing and production and administration and finance and HR, all those positions.
And then with each of those departments are individual jobs as well in the fit in each of those is important. As well as if you will, it probably mattered cuz even though you said, you've run with your buddy with your child's godfather that you were the one handing off to him.
Well, that probably stayed that way. It didn't flip around where sometime he's gonna be handing off to you cuz that may not fit. You may have tried it that way and ultimately realize the best was you handing to this person. So that's the same in business is that, sometimes you may have the right people, but moving them to a different position within your company is also frequently, frankly, something that's a good idea to do.
Atiba de Souza: Yeah. I think it was Marcus Buckingham in his book, Good to Great said that too. Get the right people on the bus and then put 'em in the right seats.
Bill Prater: Both two steps.
Atiba de Souza: But we've gotta get the right people on the bus. So that leads me to be our last question here on this. I run into this all the time in hiring, you find someone who is the right person for the bus. They're an A player, but they're not an A player for the position that you were hiring right now. But you realize they are an A player. What do you do? Do you let him go or do you say, "You know what? I wasn't hiring for your position. Let me bring you in and figure this out?"
Bill Prater: Number two.
Atiba de Souza: Agreed, every time, and I've never regretted it.
Bill Prater: And you always wanna have a sign out regardless that says hiring. We are hiring. You never wanna say all positions filled. Because what can happen is, along comes an A player that doesn't quite fit, cause you didn't have that job open, hire that person in any way. They'll tend to, one, figure out what they can do to contribute and come to you in a day and say, "You know, I think I could blank and tell you exactly what they can do." Number two, it has a tendency to kick the other people in the company in the ass and get 'em pumping.
Atiba de Souza: Absolutely. There's nothing that's more motivating than a new A player on your team.
Bill Prater: Yeah.
Atiba de Souza: To get everybody out saying, "Oh, gotta up the game."
Bill Prater: That's absolutely right.
Atiba de Souza: Bill, this was absolutely fantastic.
Bill Prater: Likewise, I enjoy it immensely.
Atiba de Souza: But here's what I'd love for you to do now though. Tell everybody, cuz we've talked about the three lies and clearly anybody who's listening to us knows you've got a lot of knowledge, you've got a lot of experience, but you use that knowledge and the experience to help them.
Bill Prater: I do.
Atiba de Souza: So tell people who you are, what your business is, and who you guys serve.
Bill Prater: Bill Prater, I own several brands in under a company umbrella. Very few people know the company until they get an invoice from you. It's either a company name there, but it's all revolves on two concepts, once scaleology, which a methodology or framework of rapidly or dynamically scaling.
Scaling is different than growing. For example, a tree can grow, but it reaches terminal height. In other words, if you look at a forest, there's not some one tree that's a thousand feet high. There's a limit to how much you can grow. Scaling is the forest, growing is the tree. So I help people, if you will scale, scaleology.
Then I have a system of management called Business Mastery system. My typical avatar is somebody that has a huge burning desire to scale their business but has reached some sort of an impasse. And so what I do is I help them do two things. One is to basically magnify and multiply the amount of take home pay.
They can take out of their business and feel okay with it. By feeling, okay, I mean, they'll realize they don't need to reinvest that and they'll take it home. And number two, second thing I help people with is realize that they don't need to, in fact, shouldn't be involved in the day-to-day of their business, so then they can spend more quality time with their family and their spouse, et cetera.
So two things. Scaling while cutting the time they involved in their business in half. And that's what I do. And now, we talked about three lies today, and I have a little fundamental, basic training that basically takes Pareto, a lot of people heard Pareto or the 80-20 principle. It takes it to the third level, and I'm able to teach people fairly quickly that there's probably one or two things that they really should do that are vital.
And if they do those one or two things, they'll get half to two-thirds done what they need to get done in a day. And typically those things might take a half an hour, an hour and they've finished more than half their work and they can get their hands on that by just going to getbillsgift.com and they'll get that training on focusing on the vital few in ignoring the trivial many.
Atiba de Souza: That's awesome. So Bill gave us a gift, getbillsgift.com. Bill, thank you for that and for you listening, go get that. I hope you understand the level of genius knowledge that was just imparted and in talking about those three lies, right? And Bill just gave all of that to us for free. Imagine now in his gift what more he's going to give to you. So go to getbillsgift.com. Go there today. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for doing this, my friend. It's been too many months since the last time we spoke. Let's not let it go that long again. I look forward to seeing you. Thank you for being here.
Bill Prater: You are very welcome and thanks everybody for listening to two outlaws today. I'm sure we shook you up a bit and hopefully it'll help. Thank you.
Atiba de Souza: Absolutely. All right everybody, bye-bye.