Episode 187 — Dan Martell — Buy Back Your Time: Get Unstuck, Reclaim Your Freedom, and Build Your Empire
Growing a law firm generates new challenges, bigger problems, and more pressure for the owner.
But it doesn’t have to be painful, and it doesn’t have to become a business you hate.
Best-selling author of Buy Back Your Time Dan Martell has made it his mission to help entrepreneurs free themselves up to increase their impact, spend their time effectively, and design a life they truly love.
In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Dan and Crisp Founder & CEO Michael Mogill discuss:
- How to grow a business you don’t hate
- The right hiring order for your growing business
- The biggest mistakes most entrepreneurs make (and how to avoid them)
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The origins of Buy Back Your Time. “If you want your company to grow, you have to grow you. I went on this journey my whole life, my whole career, of just trying to figure out, ‘What’s my next level? How do I expand? How do I audit my behaviors, my mindset, my beliefs, my worldviews, my character traits? All these things so that I became more, so I had more to give, so I could serve at a higher level. And then I would have people over the last 25 years — super blessed to have built and exited some very significant companies, becoming a millionaire when I was 27 to now running a hundred million dollar fund, and I’ve invested in 60 companies — I just wanted to take my very unique approach to time and energy, and it’s very different from anything that’s ever been written about before, because it’s based off of 500 books I’ve read on productivity and leadership and company growth, but really I tried to write the book that I would have wanted when I was starting off.”
Build a business you don’t hate. “Most people have these beliefs that the bigger the business gets, the harder it gets, and that doesn’t have to be the case. I proved that I think very clearly in my book using first principles and math: that you can literally build an empire. For me, an empire is a life of unlimited creation you never have to retire from right. A lot of people have a hard time with that word. It’s a big word. I wrote it for all the entrepreneurs out there: for my brother who’s a home builder, for my wife who runs an agency, to all my best friends that run HVAC companies and sign companies. I just wanted to kind of write a process that I’ve been using that’s blessed my life and share it with the world, so that’s the movement I’m out there to create. Teach people how to use the buyback principle to build meaningful companies that they don’t hate.”
Serve everyone around you at a higher level. “Here’s what I know. Your customer’s demand of better, faster, cheaper is not going to go away. So are you innovating your product or services? Your team also has a desire for progression and enhancements. If they don’t feel like there’s an opportunity for them to grow in that role — especially your best people — they’ll leave. I always say this to people: The job of a leader is to have a vision that’s big enough for everyone on their team’s dreams and goals to fit inside of. If that’s not true, then your best people will go find a team where that can be true.”
Why many entrepreneurs self-sabotage. “Because they are afraid of the future, they sabotage their success. And it’s subconscious. It’s not something they deliberately make a decision around. But when I see people make decisions, I go, ‘Why did you decide to do that?’ Usually if you ask that question enough times — Why? Why? Why? — you’ll get to a belief of fear, and sometimes it’s a fear of success. Some people are literally scared of the potential that they could create because they’re afraid of that new standard. Some people are scared to build a million-dollar company. They won’t admit it. They may not even know that it’s there. ‘Now that I have a million-dollar company, what if I don’t? What if I mess it up? I can fall from a higher place.”
Calendar over capacity. “Most people, when they hire individuals to help them in their business — contractors, team members, part-time people, full-time, it doesn’t matter — when you spend dollars on labor, to hire somebody, most people do it to add capacity to their business. ‘I’ve got demand now. I need help with shipping. I need help with writing more code. I need designers because I have a design agency or a PR agency or whatever. I’ve got somebody that does fabrication.’ Whatever it is, they’re like, ‘I’ve got a capacity problem.’ The challenge with that is you could hire people to add your capacity, but it actually doesn’t make your life better. If anything, it adds complexity. More people means more things you have to manage, and if you haven’t bought back the lower-value tasks to free up your time to go do the higher-value stuff, then that’s where you end up building a business that might have grown in top-line revenue, but you actually make less profit because you hire out of sequence.”
Start small. “The more your buyback rate goes up, the more time you’ll buy back, the more freedom you’ll have to work on things that light you up, that make you and your business more money. It’s kind of an awesome game to play. I would encourage anybody who has not done this, if you just try it, it feels pretty good. I mean, even if you start with something small. Let’s say you hire someone to clean your home every week, and you’re freed up from that time, and now you’re able to be more present with your spouse or with your kids, and you’re like, ‘Okay, this is great. I now see the utility of this.’ So just continue to do that, and expand it to other areas of your business.”
A common organizational structure mistake. “We don’t ever want more than five to seven direct reports. If you’ve got a dozen, I know what your life looks like. I know where your head’s at, and it’s not fun. Unfortunately that’s the pain line that usually happens at about $1.2-1.3 million in revenue and about 12 people. When I get the call and people and entrepreneurs are like, ‘Okay, I can’t do this. I’m clearly doing it wrong. Tell me how.’ I’m usually like, ‘Just get the book. Follow the process. Call me if you’re confused.’ But the replacement ladder clearly outlines that sequence, because I think sequencing equals success. If we follow that, it’s really impossible for you to build a business that you grow to hate.”
Your growth impacts your business’s growth. “I really believe every person is on earth to do really two things: 1) become the best version of themselves — what I call their 10.0 version of who they are, their greatest self— and then, in doing that, share your process, share your transformation, and this is where Alex [Hormozi] and I definitely align on this philosophy of share the things that you learned that changed who you are…But I just think that if we get to a place in our business where it’s not necessarily about the money, but we create the space to go on the journey of personal development and growth — because our income, and Jim Rohn says this, your level of income will never surpass your level of personal development.”
Business is the ultimate personal development program. “Some people say, ‘Become the person you needed most in your darkest days,’ or, ‘Heal yourself and then help other people heal themselves.’ That’s what I love about entrepreneurship, and it’s been true of my journey: that business became the ultimate personal development program. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t have the feedback loop of the business challenges to force me to look in a mirror and say, ‘Who do I need to become to get to this next level? I want to contribute more. I want to have more. I want to be able to serve people. I want a bigger team. So who do I need? What are the habits? What are the skill sets? What are the character traits? What are the beliefs that I’m missing so that I have that new perspective to be able to grow?’”
What does being a game changer mean to you? “Everybody here is alive to do something great with their lives. You’re here for a purpose, and if it’s on your heart to build that business, to create that future, allow yourself to dream. If you’ve had that insight in your mind, it’s because you have the capability and it’s in you. A game changer for me is somebody that decides that they’re going to do something extraordinary with their life. They’re going to start where they started and be an example of possibility as they move through the world and inspire other folks through their actions. The only way to live a life that’s extraordinary is to do extra out of the ordinary. I’m always fascinated when people are like, ‘I did this thing, like I woke up at 5 AM, and none of my friends do that.’ That’s the whole point. If you go to do something and it’s crowded, it’s not that extraordinary. But if you’re doing stuff that very few people would want to do, that’s a good indication that you’re right on the right track. When I look for game changers, game changers are people that show up, do the work, and desire for more. They’re crazy grateful for what they have, but they know that they’ve got more to give and that’s how they live their life: from a place of inspiration and possibilities — not from a possessions and prestige point of view, but really to just be an example of what’s possible in the world.”