Masterclass - Nick Cramp How to Create a Business That Runs Without You!

leadership mindset podcast strategy and planning Jul 01, 2022

VIDEO: 56:37 mins
AUTHOR: Nick Cramp

In this GYDA Masterclass, Nick Cramp will share the road map that he has created, that you can follow to build a better version of your current business and one that runs without you working in it.

Over the past thirty years, first as company owner and later as a coach, Nick has identified some of the key reasons for frustration and curtailed success amongst business leaders. His time in these roles, alongside the studies from my MBA, has given him an insight into the most effective ways to achieve sustainable growth and improvement. Nick knows from experience that achievement can sometimes feel unfulfilling; therefore, he have decided to commit his tested methodology to the page to assist fellow business leaders in transforming their companies, so they align with their aspirations.

Nick Cramp




Robert Craven  00:08 

Welcome to GYDA Talks. And today, I am absolutely delighted to have with us, Nick Cramp author of Better before Bigger and he's going to spend 25 minutes with us, giving us a quick sort of masterclass update on on the book and talking about why this is relevant for agencies. So without further ado, I hand over control to you, Nick. 


Nick Cramp  00:31 

Thank you, Robert. Good to meet everybody. As Robert said, I'm gonna go through a presentation for about 25 minutes, then look forward to some questions around the presentation. A little bit of background, I've got 30 years of experience as a business owner initially for 16 years. So running my own SMEs, that was a health club and a preschool, and then 15 years as a coach. So working with businesses, initially all sized businesses. And then over the last few years, I specialise in working with adolescent stage businesses. These are businesses that are successful, have been around for a while, but are struggling to get to the next level. So they're still too owner dependent. And I've run around the founder still. And my work is helping them transform the business to one that they work for, to one that works for them. So trying to correct that work life balance. So the business becomes part of the life rather than the totality of your life.  


Nick Cramp  01:37 

So what I'm gonna go share with you this morning is or this afternoon, is how I approach that work and some of the challenges that you may be recognising in your own businesses. And then at the end, some suggestions for how to overcome those. So let's just do the slide sharing, make sure everyone can see okay. So can you give me a thumbs up? Yep. Great.  


Nick Cramp  02:06 

So the first thing I'm going to cover is talking about some of the invisible resistance factors that hold businesses back. These are things that you may recognise in your own business, which if not addressed, will limit the growth of the business. Then I'm going to talk about the concept of better before bigger. And then I'm going to talk about why this needs to start with you the business owner. So any transformation needs to start from the main person and evolve out from there. So let's look at the invisible resistors initially. So generally, the business that I work with is three things in play, which are holding people back. There's leadership, myopia, there's offering inertia, and there's org structure stagnation. So I'm just going to break those down. Now, whether you've come across these before these called the sigmoid curves, and these are lifecycle curves, which can apply to either a product or business, they can also choose to apply to empires in the past as well. And the curve is such that their success on one axis and time on the bottom. And as we're riding the curve, and the success is at its highest. That's the time that we need to think about the second curve. And the danger for most of us is we wait too long. The myopia is the fact that we're so focused on the business in front of us, we forget to create a better business that can take us through the next phase. And in this instance, a better business might be a business which runs without you. So you've done the hard yards, you've created success. But then the key is trying to transition across before you actually need to so before you reach the peak, working on what that next business looks like. So the syndrome is curve on fixation will become too close to our business close too close to our offering. And we don't focus enough on what's next. The early symptom that you get into the top of the curve is reduced engagement. So this is you working harder to hit the same kind of numbers. And that means the product or the offering is less attractive or less differentiated maybe than it used to be. And the blind spot is we've got less time than ever before. As we know competitors come from all shapes and sizes now from different industries. So we've really got to focus very hard to stay ahead And that's one of the things that leaders need to really focus on.  


Nick Cramp  05:07 

The second thing in play is the focus. And there's inertia, the focus, because we spend a lot of time potentially on known knowns, a little bit of time on the known unknowns, but not nearly enough time on unknown unknowns. So a typical business leader might look that like that current column, where four out of five days, they're dealing with operational stuff that they know about. They're trying to sort out problems, either operational challenges, they're working on customer challenges. But really, they're staying very much in that inner circle. And that creates a nurse because all we're doing is iterating, the existing systems, the existing processes, and we're not making the transform, transformational change that maybe we need to. So what I always recommend is we look at the balance of time when we try and spend more time on addressing the things we don't yet know. And we try and find a space where we can discover some unknown unknowns. So this is business leaders taking themselves out of their organisation, and spending time with other people, both within their industry, but crucially outside of the industry. So the syndrome here is the okay acceptance, the fact that it's not actually broken, the fact that we're taking over okay, can be a really silent killer, because there's no burning fire businesses okay guys, everything's okay. And if we accept that, then the business just stays the same. The early symptom is the suddenly less clear blue water between other and competitors, we used to see ourselves as being differentiated an innovator, a pioneer. And now if you stand back and look at your offering, compared to your competitors, is there really enough clearly water. Have they caught up have, they may be gone ahead of you in reality. And the blind spot is seeing that transition from curve one to curve two as a cost. Where in reality, it's an investment. Unless you invest in better people, better processes, better systems, then you're going to get very similar outcomes. And at some point, if you want to make that transformation to a business, which runs without you, you've got to upgrade generally, your people, your processes and your systems. And then the last thing that sometimes is in play as a resistor is this stagnation of the organisation structure. So understandably, when we start our organisations, it's the hub and spoke model. As in the middle, lots of different people feeding into us, irrespective of the level of person in the organisation, they all feed back to us. That sometimes evolved to a little bit of command and control where we have a little bit of deputise ation, and a little bit of structure, and a few swim lanes in play. But it's still very much reliant on us. And what we're trying to get to, is this idea of hollow hollow hollow cratic are holacracy, where we've actually got self governing teams within the organisation.  


Nick Cramp  08:46 

So rather than ever revolving around us, we've delegated and empowered enough that the business can run without us. And we have different leaders in different teams with different skill sets. And their skill set may be greater than ours in that particular function. So rather than everything having to revolve around us, we've put a structure in place which allows us to take a different role, because the structure works without us. So those are the three resistors which may be in play for you. And this last one is syndrome, I call it the superhero syndrome, so we still feel that we need to solve every problem. The only symptom is your diary is just full of meetings and reports. Your inbox is full. Your diary has got 20% gap in it started the week. And the blind spot is we're not actually trying to create autonomy. We haven't spent the time to write the manual. So there's no way the company can run without us because it's still in our head. We haven't created the the Robert Craven way , so Robert Craven is needed in the room because there isn't a manual. So one of the key jobs I get my clients to focus on is creating that manual, and really committing to the autonomy needed to make them redundant. 


Nick Cramp  10:20 

So that's the challenges. And obviously, because I've written a book on the subject, I would say this, but the solution is, I think committing to better before bigger. At a certain stage in the business growth journey, just getting bigger, for bigger sake makes little sense. We haven't got necessarily the structure in place to cope with bigger, we'd suffer from lower quality if we haven't got that structure in place. And that affects our margins. So just by getting bigger, for bigger sake, no one really gains anything, the team aren't happier, because they're overworked, the customers get less service, and our margins are reduced. So really, we're not satisfying any of our stakeholder requirements. And that's why I think at a certain stage, it's really important to focus on better. And I think there's three areas where better really comes into it. The first is the quality of leadership. Second, its quality of people. And thirdly, it's your structures. And to get the autonomy, all of these three things need to be focused on. So first, it starts with you. And we need this evolution into a better leader. And we need to spend time working on becoming a better leader. How much time do you invest in learning about leadership? How much money do you spend on acquiring new skills and knowledge that can make you a better leader? How much time do you spend reading about leaders and leadership? Because unless you're actually a student of leadership, then it's very unlikely that you're suddenly going to get better. If you're not investing the time. If I play golf once every six months, I have no right to getting better at golf. It's not the way it works. If I do the work, then I'll get better. But I can't expect a better outcome without doing the work. And the first thing to think about is this counterintuitive concept of what's the smallest amount of leadership I need to do. Rather than me being in charge of everything, what do I actually need to be involved in? How many meetings is the minimal number of meetings I can attend this week? How many meetings last week was I really just not needed? Did I had very little and I was just, you know, taking up space? Have I really visualised the future well enough that I can kind of replay it back to everybody else? You know, the last couple of years have been really tough. And it's changed a lot of people's strategy and plans. But right now, what is the strategy? What is the plan? Where are we heading? And that's means you spending time with a blank sheet of paper sometimes, and creating what that looks like. But the better leaders, the inspirational leaders spend a lot of time on the visualisation. You know, if you think about the really great business leaders, they were very good at inspiring the room and taking the company with them. And I think it's also about finding a creative Mojo. I think for a lot of business owners when they started out. They were very energetic, very inspirational entrepreneurs. And over a period of time, they become a functional manager. They spend a lot of time on operations and functions rather than creativity and inspiration. So I think a lot of this is moving back into that direction. So the smalls is the smallest viable leadership concept is this idea of become a servant leader. And rather than commanding a team, working for the team, so starting the week by saying, What do you need from me guys? 


Nick Cramp  14:47 

If you're going to win this week? Do you need any help from me or have you got this? 


Nick Cramp  14:54 

Where can I support you? And if I can't support you, I'll get out your way. So it's This idea of making yourself redundant or as small as possible in terms of a leadership. And that's going to look different for each organisation for each company. But it's a really important concept to on board is what could that look like for you? Audacious visualisation? Is this idea of having a real clarity on where you're heading. And then being really, really good at articulating that is the purpose driven organisation. Why are we actually here, guys? What change are we trying to make in the world? What's the purpose? What's our values? What's our mission? And getting really clear on those critical areas, and they may have changed recently. But right now, what are they because unless you can articulate this, you're gonna still be needed every day. If you can articulate this, and they've got it, then the owner or the organisation becomes more autonomous. And then we've got the creative Mojo, this is my creative space. This is my local farm shop. And I spend an hour and a half there three times a week. And I turn up there without my laptop, I turn up there with a pencil and a pad. And I scribble ideas, and I try and create the organisation that I want to grow into. I create models, I create presentations and things like that, but it's my creative space one my workspace. And I think it's very difficult to use the same physical space for multifunctions. And I think that if you're trying to visualise and create this future organisation, it's really good if you've got a space you go to, which is inspirational or allows you to be different. So trying to do it in the office means that you are going to be interrupted. And you're not really given the, the exercise the importance it deserves. So if you haven't already, I would encourage you to find a creative space, where are you going to design this future organisation? What does that look like? Okay, so let's have a look at build a better team. What does that mean? First of all, it means spreading the focus. Secondly, given the map. And thirdly, speaking last and least, so, spreading the focus, I've got three grandsons who are all football mad. If I watched the six year old play, then the pitch looks like that left hand grid, everybody chasing the ball, everybody closing around the operations, and no one taken a strategic position. When I watch my 14 year old grandson play, then it looks like the ideal scenario. Everyone understands their position on the pitch. And they've got different focuses and functions. And I think there's a real direct analogy with teams. I think sometimes MD CEOs get in the way. Operationally, they don't let go of stuff. They pretend to let go. They partially delegate. But they still feel they've got the answer. And basically, they're, they're keeping the organisation small, because they're limiting the growth of the senior leadership team, the SLT or the managers or the people. So the ideal scenario for me is, you know, the MD CEO working on creative projects and strategy, leaving other people to do the customer stuff, the day to day operations, and trying to spread that focus. So you're actually given the team the chance to become become autonomous. Giving them the map. But keeping hold of campus basically means that you care about the destination. But if they want to choose a different route to get there, that's fine. There's more than one route as any decent Sat Nav will show you. And a lot of time they end up at a similar destination at a similar time. But the important thing at this stage is letting people learn to drive. 


Nick Cramp  19:33 

Taking the backseat and letting others take control of certain bits of the organisation certain relationships means you're giving them a chance to be a leader. You're building the leadership muscle, and you can take a back seat. Yes, you need to hold the campus because you need to make sure they're generally going in the right direction. But if they take a slightly different way than you would that's fine. The point is that you want them to learn how to do this. And as long as they reach the destination, then that's the important thing. And this one is the one that most my clients find the hardest to achieve. And that's going into a meeting and getting used to speaking less than least. So we're all guilty of this, we go in a meeting, and we tell people what we know, and what we think. And we're not then learning anything. Because as soon as we express an opinion on the subject, even if we've got a very trusting team, it is more difficult for them to challenge it. So that idea that you are taking a back seat in the meeting, and the meetings can run without you. And you're there just maybe to summarise at the end, hold people accountable to commitments, but not trying to be solving the problems. Because again, it's a learned skill that if you do that every time, if you're always the superhero flying in with the solution, they never get a chance to learn that skill. And we do it for the best intentions, we do it because we're good at this. We do it because the customer deserves it. But we are creating dependency. So the idea that you go into a meeting and you speak the last and the least give that team the chance to develop. And then on the strategy front, what does a better strategy look like? So we've got the width of scope, customer lifetime value. And focus on needs, not once. I really despise restaurants with anything more than a two page menu. Because they can't be a specialist with what they're offering. So for me, any restaurant I go to, which has got a very succinct menu, like this one with two or three options, is reassuring. Because it means what they're presenting is fresh, what they're presenting, they're good at, they're competent at, rather than trying to offer a smorgasbord of I'd have cuisine, which will be preheated and might have been there for a few days. That never interests me, I want to go to places that are specialists. And I think as we grow organisations, the danger is we try and be too many things to too many people. We started off with a very narrow brief. And then we've put weight on as we've got older. So middle aged spreadsheet, we call it. And we're now trying to serve as so many different products and services. So different market, we've lost our specialism. We've lost what differentiates us from others. And if you're going to hand over the reins, it's far easier to do that with a smaller scope. And it's far better. For everybody concerned, you can make better margins, you can attract better customers, there's better experience. So right now think about what that narrowing the scope might look like. As part of the better strategy. We don't sometimes obsess about this enough. We think that we need new customers all of the time. In reality, a lot of the business I come across, they've actually got enough customers and clients. What they haven't got is enough income from those customers and clients yet. They think wrongly offer the time that they need to acquire new ones all of the time. When reality we know that increasing the average spend of the existing clients is far easier and far more profitable. But we get very hooked on marketing, sales, because we've got a sales team because we've got a marketing budget. But a lot of time is about focusing that internally. How can we get more value from the existing clients? How can we increase the length of relationship 


Nick Cramp  24:28 

because the customer lifetime value is one of the sanity metrics, which makes running a business really enjoyable. I've got some of the business I work with that I've got 8% of next of this year's income projected and contracted because they focused on this obsessively. And they built that into their business model. So for them to step away from the businesses a lot easier than other business owners with a very small customer lifetime value, because then you've got a transactional business. And it's like a coffee shop every day, you've got to attract new customers. And that's hard, and that's tiring. So really thinking about customer lifetime value and creating reoccurring income is one of the ways that you create autonomous businesses. Because there's a predictability, there's consistency about how they operate. And that allows you to spend time away from the business rather than having to be there every day. And then the last element on this is that visionary piece where you're working on the needs rather than the ones. So what's coming up around the corner? What's the next trend that people are going to really going to need? Not what they want right now. So your clients might want a new website, what they need is regular client income, they might think the new website is going to do that for them. But is that actually the case? Are you just servicing the wants rather than focusing on the needs? So I think the more you can stand back from the business, the more you can think about the bigger picture stuff on the strategy, and building a strategy, which is future proof. Yes, it works for today. But will it work for next year? Have we really got that future strategy nailed? In the way we could? So what do we start with? We start with refocusing around you. Because the scope, the performance of the organisation is always impacted by the quality of leadership. And if you're looking to make a transformation, you've got to lead that transformation. So you've got to demonstrate different behaviours, if you're expecting the team or the organisation to respond. And the first thing I encourage leaders to do is detach a little bit from the day to day and view their business objectively. We all get very close to our businesses. And we can't see what's really happening, we see what we want to see. And standing back from the business, looking at how you are actually comparing to other businesses, looking at the profitability generating compared to other businesses. And being really detached, an objective about where you're currently at is really important, because unless we can be honest with ourselves about the state of the business, it's very difficult to work out what to do. So that deep dive diagnosis on your own business is difficult to do. But there are people out there that can help you do this. But actually just getting some objectivity around what you've currently got, is really important. Step two, then is going back to clarifying the purpose, the mission, the values, so what I call the core commitments, the bits that are sent sitting in the centre of the business, are they still relevant? Here? I know it's on the website. I guess I know it's pinned on the walls. But is it actually relevant right now? Or does it need an upgrade? Is it inspiring people? If asked your team members about it, would they be able to, you know, articulate back what you're all about. Because without that core commitment, this transformation is a lot harder. And then the third aspect, which again, aligns with detach objectivity is really standing back and looking at what you've currently got in play. 95% of businesses work on differentiation rather than low cost. The low cost position is only available to one or two in each market. And generally, it's not what most people are looking at. Most people would say they're differentiated. They've got offerings, which stand out, and they understand what their stakeholders actually want. 


Nick Cramp  29:29 

And I would challenge that with most of the leaders that I come across, that they've got the relevance on that and they've got that information, which is current. So are you really differentiate right now? And if you're not, what can you do about it? Do your offerings really make sense from a customer's perspective? Are you really clear about what you're offering to who and why? And are you clear on all your stakeholders? So this is your employees, your customers, your partners? So, what did those relationships need to look like? Not what have you got right now? But what do they need to look like going forward? And where do you need to upgrade? So what I'm recommending encourage you to think about is those three steps. Taking time out the business, could be a day or week could be three or four days in one go. But actually standing back and thinking about what you've got revisiting purpose, mission and values. And then working through your differentiators your often your stakeholders. Once you've done that, that's stage one of the transformation because you've got clarity on who you are, what you're going to offer and why you can offer it. And then that's the stage of creating this autonomous business. So that's why I believe better before bigger. Brilliant, 


Robert Craven  31:01 

Brilliant, lovely. Thanks very much, Nick. That's absolutely great. Got a bunch of questions here, anyone's got a question put your hand up or put it into the chat. If you've not got a video on it be great to see your video so we can see you're there. I mean, the the first question comes in here, which is, how do you know when to change? Does that make sense? How do you know when to change? 


Nick Cramp  31:01 

Yeah, it doesn't make sense. And it's the hardest thing to actually know. But the general advice is you need to change early the think you're further along that curve than you realise you are. And I would look at the metrics. I would look at your metrics closely and see what's happening to them. If the metrics are starting to head in the wrong direction, or they're starting to flatline, or the speed of growth is slowing. Those are all indications that need to change. So it's a case of really analysing the business again, with detach objectivity. And thinking about the trend lines and working out those trend lines. Is it? Are you suffering from retaining staff? Is it harder to keep customers out? Is it harder to convert customers? So it's really just, I suppose analysing the numbers, Robert, and really understanding objectively what's happening in the business? 


Robert Craven  32:30 

Okay, can you another one is? Can Nick give an example or a story or a case study of how this actually works? Or has worked in action? 


Nick Cramp  32:41 

Yeah, so one of the clients I'm working with at the moment, I knew first when they started off as an independent trader. So they were an ex lawyer, and they moved into running dispute resolution. And they did that very successfully. And they grew rapidly over five years, and I reengaged with them 18 months ago, when they got to the stage where they were very successful, but they were falling apart internally, everybody was very stressed, because there was so much work coming in. And because the two owners they're taken under their own by then we're spending 90% of the time, on billable hours to working on the clients. So there's a real imbalance between leading the business and being an operator. And what we've done over the last 18 months is we put a leadership team and below them. And we've taken them totally down to think they're doing 15% billable hours this year. So 85% of their time is now spent on leading the business. And 15% is on delivering client work. And because they've got a leadership team below them, the leadership team is able to deal with 89% of the operational issues. So they've given themselves that structure, which means that they can work on the 2023 strategy. Who do they want to be working with? What are the products and offerings, the leadership team is focused on 2022 and the team members are focused on this quarter. So they've made that transition by investing in a team head of where they need to and they've gradually just changed the amount of time they spend in working on the business rather than in the business. 


Robert Craven  34:33 

So surely, I'm gonna I'm gonna just throw my two penneth worth in anyone else feel free to follow me? There are there are certain times when this is easier than other times so if you're a 25 person business, you have the flex you have the PA you have the head of operations to actually start pushing stuff around. But if you're I'd know five or seven people then you know baby as I always say someone has to wash the toilet, you know and even in a virtual business, someone's got to actually do everything. So is there enough? Is there enough space? Are there enough people available, even in a smaller business.  


Nick Cramp  35:12 

Therei s because of the idea now that we can use fractional people. So we can get a financial controller input one day a week. So if we're still doing the finances, then that job doesn't need to be done by us. We don't have to employ a whole person, we can employ a fraction a person to take on that skill set, who can do it better, and we can do it. We can spend time and other things. So I think this availability of fractional consultants and fractional specialists makes it far easier because we're not talking about always having to employ a whole person, we can just build the team bit by bit. So that half a day a week Financial Controller, then grows as the business grows into 2, 3, 4 days a week, as the role in the business expands. 


Robert Craven  36:03 

Okay. Dave, Dave, Karns got a question or I'll ask you to go off mute. So you can ask a question in your own way, Dave? If that's okay. 


Dave  36:12 

It's no problem. How would you go about finding your why and recreating that spark that you once had? So what I mean by that, for example, is imagine years ago, the why was so clear. And and with everything that's going on, and you've got your own targets, your goals, everything else in play? How about if you feel like you've fulfilled all that, and now you're, you're kind of just a little bit lost? How would you recommend recreating that spark or finding that while that purpose. 


Nick Cramp  36:47 

I'd recommend going off and spending time in somewhere different. So find more space, so two or three hours a day, two or three days away somewhere, with a bunch of questions for you to address. And just think about it as if you were starting the business from scratch, but you've got the benefit of your experience. And you've got the benefit of where the business is currently at. So it's like restarting the business almost. But with cash flow, and with customers and with a team in play, and thinking about this next phase and the role that you really want to take. So the hardest thing is redefining the founders role. Because you become the centre of everything. But really what you want to spend time doing, if you could ideally create your role, which you can you have permission, it's your company, what would you spend the time doing? Do you love doing the tech? Are you really a great techie? Are you a great people's person? Are you a great salesperson? What is that thing that you really enjoy doing? Because now you can give over the other stuff to other people. So you can concentrate on what you actually get a buzz out of, you don't have to do the other stuff. So I think taking time away from the business, and it sounds very woowoo but sitting in a in a wooded somewhere sitting in a cabin somewhere with some blank pieces of paper and just sketching out what you'd ideally like the next phase of the business to look like is what I'd recommend. And then having someone you can bounce that off, which doesn't sit in the business. You know, you've got the wonderful Robert as a person you can do that with but someone who can be a sounding board and just kind of replay it back to you. And Miss create something you're really inspired by. 


Dave  38:49 

Cool just about me. 


Robert Craven  38:52 

I think I'm certainly I'm witnessing way more people saying you know, and it's put put this thing you were talking about about your Mojo. So there was one thing you were talking about Nick about about Mojo. There's another thing about like your y, which I guess it kind of linked that people are a lot less. Maybe they're being more honest, but they seem to be a lot less up for it. And I'm smiling and I know where I'm going and what I'm doing. And this is very exciting. And the Mojo just seemed to been being crushed somewhat in the last 18 months. So I mean, do you think that's just symptomatic of our times? Or do you think it's always been there, but we've kept on? 


Nick Cramp  39:32 

I think, I think it's both I think it's always been there adolescent stage. But I think the last two years has made it much worse because we've just had to spend the time keep your head above water. You know, survival has been where most of us have been at and that idea of having the ability to create something better than that has just not been available. 


Robert Craven  39:54 

Okay. And our man in the coolest place in the world, Mike Macginty has got a question for us. If you could just unmute yourself, Michael, that'd be great. 


Mike  40:05 

Yeah, I think to be honest, what Nick was describing sounded very like my own business, but probably a few other people on the call would say the same thing. So I sort of wonder, is it really just digital agencies that have this set of circumstances, or is this every every business that's growing, it's just, it's part of what you go through to get to where you want to go? 


Nick Cramp  40:24 

I think digital agencies are one sectors, which have this because they're known had been started by someone who's passionate about the tech of the agency. And he's got a skill set around that. I think professional services are the same. So I think sometimes in say, a manufacturing business, it's easier to put this in play, where you're building widgets. But I think where you're selling services and where you're selling yourself, that's where it does become more of a challenge to replicate, and to step back from it, because you built the business lot the time around your skill set, and around your personality and around you. So it does become more of a challenge. 


Mike  41:10 

And also, because if you're a team or building widgets, I think they're easier to replace. So most of the people who would have worked with us over the past couple years are all young. Yeah, but their job, they're transient. And when I say transient, I mean two or three years. So you build up the skill set within the agency, but then you want to go to travel to Australia, or become a blogger, or whatever it is. So you, the time invested in people years ago, got you somebody who was going to be with you for the long term. Whereas nowadays, and you don't want to hold people back if they've got the opportunity in life to do something else. But that's, that's a huge pressure for any age. 


Nick Cramp  41:44 

It isn't, I think it's a case of finding the balance between having two or three, four core team members that you know, they're there for the medium haul, and then supporting that maybe with the transient people you're talking about, which are going to be there for a shorter period. And a more kind of, you know, focused on that the smaller time scale, but around yourself, you've got two or three people, at least that are there for the mission. 


Mike  42:15 

So think it's a bit of a challenge, the further you get away from running the business, and get comfortable with getting away in the way that you described. Yeah, what happens when Mike is what happens is you end up having to get back in again, because somebody has pulled out and you've got to come back in to fill in the space. So it seems to be a constant challenge of being 100%, behind what you're looking to do. And I guess recently, I'm doing the same thing. We've been very busy the last couple years. Yeah, but it's getting a little bit out of control. So I totally agree with it better is better before bigger makes total sense. 


Nick Cramp  42:45 

And I think he's just trying to find those key people. So for your business, which are the bits that you really need to replicate, so you don't have to fall back into it. You know, why do you need to deputise if something happened to you tomorrow? Who could step in? Yeah. It is a challenge. And it's an intellectual challenge in the first instance of trying to make yourself redundant, you know, and trying to have a business, which doesn't need me is quite difficult, because our ego says, I want to be needed. But actually creating something where, what you've got this without me. You know, that's the ideal situation, obviously. 


Robert Craven  43:24 

Yeah, that kind of leads on to another one of the questions which was here, which is, what does the manual look like? You talk about a manual. So is that when you're talking about that? Are you talking about something that goes down into process? Three? Are you talking about every single regular activity in the agency should be, you know, driven by line one, line two, line three, line four? Or are you giving people autonomy? How do you see this manual? 


Nick Cramp  43:52 

I think I see the manual as being the aspirational situation you want in each interaction? So what is the outcome you're looking for? And what are the standards that you want a deer to? So it's not a it's not a kind of how to build this thing. But it's more around what you expect from people. And what you would like them to do in a certain situation, how you want them to deliver customer service. What does that look like for your particular business, in your agency on that side, etc? What's the SLA? You know, what do we expect on that side? So it's really about the way that you would treat the customer and talking that or articulate that into some kind of documents so that when these transient people come into the business, you've got something you can hand them and say, right, this is the Robert Craven way. This is how we do things round here. So straight away, they've got a reference point to work from. 


Robert Craven  44:57 

Okay, moving on to the next question. We She's written, how on earth do you speak last and least? Because I think we're all this is my visitor, I'm not just being in our, in our level 10 meeting this morning at nine o'clock, it's like, Come on, guys, come on guys, you're not giving me. 


Nick Cramp  45:15 

So the way you speak last and least is you have a set agenda beforehand. So people come to the meeting, understanding what they're supposed to be reporting on. So rather than you having to start the meeting by introducing the meeting every time and kind of setting the pace, you pre set that. So people know that, you know, your first step. Robert, you're gonna give us a finance update. Jamie's next up, and he's gonna give his marketing update, you know. And if you kind of create that structure and expectation, then you have to speak very little. Because you've structured in such a way that they know what the questions are, they know what's expected of them. And the other members in the team are holding them accountable as well. So I think it's about structure. And I think it's about preparation in advance, so that you don't have to dominate the meeting. 


Robert Craven  45:37 

Yep, go along with that. Any more questions? Around the table, you're being very methodically reflective and considerate. More than happy to take more questions. So the next one, the next one I've got down here is: What does what does audacious leadership mean? 


Nick Cramp  46:44 

Audacious visualisation? 


Robert Craven  46:47 

visualisation? Yes. 


Nick Cramp  46:49 

Visualisation is just creating a strong enough vision that people want to be part of it. So it's trying to create something which inspires others to join you, whether others are employees, whether they're partners, or whether they're customers. So if you go on to Patagonia website, it's very hard to find nice and clothing. They're a clothing company. But they talk about the change they want to see across the planet. There's lots of videos featuring activists doing great things. And that's why people support Patagonia, because of the alignment with the purpose. And that's an audacious purpose. You know, it's a big vision. But people are drawn to that. They're not worried about the transactional cost of the clothing to some extent, because they know they're supporting the mission. So creating that, you know, why are we here, guys? What are we trying to achieve? And making it inspiring enough that people want to come on board in all ways, so employees, customers, and partners, can all be attracted by that vision. And that's why it's so important, because from a marketing point of view, it's now one of the key things people look at. Most people under 30, when they want to work for an organisation, yes, are interested in the terms, how much they're going to earn. But they're also asked about the purpose of the organisation, what's the vision, they want to know the values, they want to know how much training they're going to have. So it shifted from being a very transactional commercial relationship to something deeper. And that's why I think it's so important to have that. 


Robert Craven  48:39 

That, I mean, the audacious is audacious. So I'm just wondering how much so when I always say my thing is, you know, when I was looking around me, when I, when I bought this calculator, I didn't really care what the the purpose was, or whether you're trying to save the planet. When I bought this pencil, I didn't really care apart from the fact the pencil actually worked when I bought the scissors to that. So there's lots of things which are really, which are really, really transactional. So I wonder, it's quite an important question for digital agencies, because we've been blasted with Simon Sinek and start with why and so on and so forth. My challenge to you niche playing devil's advocate, which is softening challenge, is a lot of agencies are people who get together to do really great work with really great people and, and pay themselves well, and look after clients and do a good job. But the kind of start with why Simon Sinek saved the planet thing. Yeah. As extreme. I'm not sure. Yeah, I think people want to go to an agency because they're nice guys, and they're cool, but yeah, just because you've got a football. Have you got a pinball table and you've got cool google colours doesn't make you cool. It just means you've got the stuff. And so the challenge is that is it? Is it not okay for an agency just to want to do really good work with really good people and have a really good time? Do we have to have some audacious vision of contributing to sustainability and saving the dolphins? 


Nick Cramp  50:26 

Of course, it's okay, because it's up to the individual agency owners to decide what works for them. And I agree, the Simon Sinek stuff has been overdone. But I think there's a continuum. And what I'm saying is people need to be further towards your data centre, the continuum. There, maybe that feels comfortable, because otherwise, we're all kind of coalesced in the middle. And there's very little differentiation, both from a customer point of view and a potential employee point of view. So yes, audacious is an audacious word to throw in there. But it's just saying that, guys, can you actually articulate why should come to work for you? Why should buy from you? And most people would look at that transactional pencil and just say it's a pencil. I have a neighbour who obsesses and won't buy anything that's from China. You know, and for her, her view is different to mine. I'm the same as you, you know, I won't spend the time working out where the pencil came from. But there are more people that do you care about that now than there was before? So it's just a kind of direction of travel, I suppose. Robert, rather than a definitive statement? Oh, yeah. 


Robert Craven  51:40 

Oh, yeah and I certainly think working with younger people they have they are more interested in, in being part of something and, and the contribution to society that's, that's actually going on than than us grey haired people that went to work, get a job and got paid and came home. Cool. Lovely. Any other questions? Any other questions for Nick? While we have the luck of having Nick with us for the time being any more questions, any more queries any more little pieces you want to get out of Nick while he's with us? Calling once calling twice Oh, Dave calm go for it. 


Dave  52:17 

Is quite interesting, actually, what you just said there, Nick, we did a we did a session with the team like a team building session. And we went through our vision values mission all that type of stuff we did went through a whole interview type of process with with one of one of our ops team externally that came in and kind of interviewed all the team members in one shape or form or another and one of the things that was quite interesting when you put you know where you've got something that's what are we going to live and die by, by through to the to the other opposite end is what do we really care about? And one of the things that the team all said is that they lived and died by that anybody that was never brought into the team again. The value was pizza. So So basically, if you didn't eat pizza, whether you lose a client or or or a new team member, you would never be part of the course we'll call it Yeah, so and we live and die by that every now and then we eat pizza as a team and we cheese the pizza is really weird. Even though myself. 


Nick Cramp  53:29 

How you feel to clients on that one do you actually ask the client straight up? 


Dave  53:34 

It is actually now it is actually in our marketing questionnaire you know in the affiliate law when prospecting so but yeah, but yeah, it's it was quite interesting actually. And they all had they all bought into it was really weird, you know, because they kind of said it and it was on the board. So we did like post it note session where you stick you know, posting notes and everybody puts stuff on there. And this pizza value ended up from like really least important because that's when I stuck in touch. And he started working his way up to become like, up there with central this is the this is the value that we live in Dubai so even on you know, our internal CRM systems if for example, you have like on tracking off track, if stuff goes on tracking pizza slice flies up. You know, brilliant, sounds weird, but it works. 


Robert Craven  54:31 

Right? Brilliant. So I'm off to have lunch which is pizza Dave, you're just thank you. Thank you very much. It's been absolutely great. Thank you Nick for being so open and for sharing the stuff they will be on for the recording the links will be there to the letter before before bigger book, which is which is a good read. I have to say it's a very good read. I see lots of business books, as you all know. And it's it's thoughtful. It gets you thinking about stuff and actually, what Nick actually does is he goes into a space which people kind of go out there never quite finished finish off. So E Myth kind of took a little punt at this stuff and then stuff around grinders growth curve took a little puns about about this stuff. But this this space that Nick's gone for, which is these kind of adolescent juvenile businesses, which are trying to get to the next stage not many people have actually kind of taken that head on. If they have taken it head on then it's full of QR codes and buy from me and website stuff, which I'm glad to say Nick has chosen not to do which is just an absolute delight. Very refreshing. So thank you once again, Nick, everyone have a great lunch. If you're having pizza, then you with Dave if you're not having pizza. You got to take Dave off your Christmas list. Lovely, thanks a lot, guys.