Podcast Episodes

Todd Westra – Making The Leap From Startup To Scaling

In today’s episode of Book of Experts TV, we are talking with Todd Westra of Mokuteki about how to make the transition from startup to growth stage.

We will dig into:
– What is a startup anyways (how does Todd define them)?
– What is the main goal of the startup phase?
– Why does the growth phase feel so elusive at times?
– And how to know when you are ready to shift into growth?

You can read more about Todd and our many expert-based businesses at Book of Experts: https://bookofexperts.com/offers/152

Unknown Speaker 0:00

Welcome back to Book of Experts TV. Today we're talking about how do you go from startup to scaling and growth, like what actually happens when you make that big leap? Because honestly, I think a lot of people are confused out there. We want to get there. We're excited to get there. But how do you actually make that leap? We'll talk about a few other things, including having more fun in your business. You can see I'm kind of excited about today's guest, who I'll be introducing in just a moment but first Welcome to Book Experts TV.

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This is Book of Experts brought to you by salesMAP.me

Unknown Speaker 1:03

Todd Westboro, welcome to Book of Experts to be excited to have you here. Thank you so much. I'm glad to be here. I want you to help me with the you're gonna have to I'm gonna butcher this if I try to do it myself the name of the business, mokuteki- mokuteki, it was fun to say, I just didn't know if I would get it right. It's a great one to say. Mokuteki is a Japanese word, I speak Japanese and so it's one of my favorite words. It's the word they use for purpose but in actuality, it's the combination of two characters. One word meaning the moku means the vision or see with your eyes and teki is the way you do things. So you do things, I like to think of it as aligning your actions with your vision. And so that's what Mokuteki means in a literal sense. Yeah, that's great. I love the story behind that. I think

Unknown Speaker 2:00

I love this idea when people use vocabulary or words from another language or even sometimes create new words, right? a, you know, a hybrid of words that have so that we can we can convey a new meaning because the danger for all of us is if we've seen it before, we tend to dismiss things I know it, done it been there have had that bought the T shirt, whatever the case is, we don't fully open ourselves up. And I love that aspect that you you. You have fun in your business, and I can see you doing that even right from the right from the get go. Yeah, we are a fun group of people for sure.

Unknown Speaker 2:38

The so before we the big topic for today is Yeah, you know, we're talking about going from sort of startup phase, that frame of reference thinking about things as a startup to scale and growth. And you've worked with like you've got a portfolio of big clients that you've worked with including folks that go

Unknown Speaker 3:00

Like you've seen this on the on the largest scale. So I'm really eager to hear more about that. But just for a second before we go there, Todd, tell me a little bit about you your background and also if you would dig into the fun part because I think people need to hear at least some of your perspective on that. You bet. Yeah. No, I. So my name is Todd Westra, and I am living in Utah right now. And I have an interesting past. I've literally spent almost my entire adult life as a startup founder. And I've started businesses that are smaller boutique style businesses. I've started businesses that were kind of a mid size Nam probably four to $6 million a year with about 25 people type size business for about a dozen years and then I've had another business where I was offshore and outsourced in the Philippines and other countries, Hong Kong

Unknown Speaker 3:57

for the last decade, helping

Unknown Speaker 4:00

People outsource all their busy work and systems and things like that. And so systems really became a big part of what I love to do. Along with all that the last five years, I've been doing a lot of consulting with Google, doing a lot of team building and team strategy and leadership consulting, helping leaders get buy in from their teams to adopt their latest vision and their latest strategy. And that's not been an easy task but but what's been really awesome about that little side of my life was that I was able to jump out of my business that was keeping me very busy because I had set up really solid systems and my my operations were running

Unknown Speaker 4:47

predominantly without relying on me, which was kind of my my ultimate goal with that business. And so, setting up the right systems gave me the chance to go and do this, this fun project, which was

Unknown Speaker 5:00

Passion Play, which was doing leadership consulting and team building, which ultimately has become a large business in and of itself and self sustained and and, and it's enough to hang your hat on, but it is not ultimately what I love to do the most. It's fun, but it's not everything.

Unknown Speaker 5:18

Right? It can't just be fun. Although injecting a little bit of fun into what we're doing can actually have a lot of positive benefits. I think you and I agree on that. For sure. The the system thing, okay, I'm going to press you a little bit on this, maybe this is maybe this is a limitation or a blind spot on my part.

Unknown Speaker 5:38

Generally speaking, I maybe others out there don't feel like systems. Like we know that's important, particularly when you want to make that leap to the next level of your business. It's certainly important to get those processes or systems in place, but it's not often equated with fun and in sort of the playfulness of it.

Unknown Speaker 6:00

So tell me more about that. Because you've got a unique hybrid here. Yes, yes, this is a, this is a big deal.

Unknown Speaker 6:06

You know, in every startup I've ever been involved in, there is a, there's a maturity level, you have to get to, to determine what your systems are actually going to be. And as you start a business, most people have to play this bouncing ball game, right? And it's like, I think I'm going to start a business to do this. And then you find that nobody really wants that. And so you have to do that. And so you bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, until you finally discover that people are willing to pay you for x. And it wasn't a right and so you are you are determining during startup phase, what people are actually willing to pay you for. And what do you actually do well, with the team that you've generated, you've created for that business. And so startup phase is a very unique part of every business because you're still learning what it is people will pay you for.

Unknown Speaker 7:00

And what it is you can actually scale and grow versus what would keep you in a small stage business, which there's nothing wrong with that. But as you start to develop these strategies for growing and scaling, it doesn't really matter what you think it's gonna be like until you have accomplished that startup phase. So startup phases, a very essential part of growing any business. But once you've figured it out, once you know what people want to do, and one of the games that we always talk about in all my businesses is keeping a fun personality keeping a fun culture, you have to play. You have to invite some fun and we call it playing with purpose. Nobody can actually play effectively until you have a purpose for that play. And and I think that's what you were alluding to, is that playing with purpose is a lot like every other part of your business, being intentional and being perfect.

Unknown Speaker 8:00

is not just something you do when you're talking about go to market strategy. It's how you interact with each other, are there ways that you can interact with each other in a fun way, and have a purpose for that. And so that's what we really do. And that's been ironically, one of the primary functions I've had at Google was to create for their directors and leaders, ways to bring everybody on board and accomplish at the same time, have fun doing it. And so it's all about knowing the end, and then determining what means you want to use to get there.

Unknown Speaker 8:39

I think we're going to put a pin in this one and say, we're going to return to this subject in the future because there's a lot there that I want to unpack. But but for today's topic, we're talking about making the leap from startups to scaling. And you You said yourself, so product, you've got to hit product market fit. That's, that's it.

Unknown Speaker 9:00

techno jargon speak startup speak for, you got to figure out what you have that people actually want to buy, what do you do that people will buy? And they're going to tell you and it doesn't come from us. So that's, I think that's step one and a process, right? I mean, you people, a lot of people, a lot of people die on this battleground. You know, they, they go out and they head out with an idea. And it may never exit the start, you may always be in the startup mode, fighting to find that right fit. But your goal is to move, move through this phase, as efficiently as quickly, you want to accelerate the process because startups often have limited resources in their early days while they're figuring this out. And not just limited resources, but you're right about the time. You know, oftentimes, what I see happen all the time, and I've been not only active as a startup founder, but I've been active in a lot of startup founder communities and have mentored a lot of people through this process. But what I see the biggest problem is is that the

Unknown Speaker 10:00

Pivot pivot pivot pivot, they find a spot where people will pay, they find that product that will actually work. But they keep pivoting. They love the pivot game, right? And so they're there Bounce, bounce, bounce back, oh, that works. But I'm going to try this too. And I'm going to try that too. And then it becomes a shiny object syndrome. And, and that is a stage we have to get people out of. And so one of the things that I really focus on and my consulting work is that I love to take

Unknown Speaker 10:28

a product of this working for a business, and then sit down with the founder, or even the founder and his team, his or her team, and say, Okay, this is working. And how big can we take that product line? Like, where could we actually go with that? Because you already have people willing to pay for that. So how deep Can you go on that thing? And can you go a mile deep with that one inch of real estate we're talking about and and so if we focus

Unknown Speaker 11:00

Focus on actually growing, then we actually grow. And, and too many people try to grow wide and never get anywhere, instead of going real narrow, and then just hitting the crap out of that target until you've you've, you're ready to move on to something else or add something else. And so, when I talk about transitioning from startup to scale up phase, what I really mean are systems, okay? Because systems are what make all this work and by systems, there's really three things we're talking about, okay? I mean,

Unknown Speaker 11:37

when we talk systems, we're talking about tools. We're talking about people. And we're talking about the actual application of these things by our processes, right? And so those three things, processes, people, tools, whatever order you want to go with them in. Everybody's gonna have a strength in one of those three spots, because that's how they got to where they got

Unknown Speaker 12:00

You can't run an effective business or even an effects startup without one of those three things being pretty well aligned. But it's getting the other two things on board. So you've either got really good people, or you've got not so good people. One of the things that we do the very first thing we do, we have an acronym we use called scale, believe it or not. Ours make sense, right? So the scale acronym starts with a systems evaluation. And then the C is to get clarity on where you think you're gonna be able to take this, this product that we just were talking about. So you got your, your systems about, get clarity on where we're actually going to take this Ba, is alignment of systems are the systems that we talked about in the first phase? Are they going to be able to get you to that second c?

Unknown Speaker 12:54

We talked about the clarity where you're going, can the systems you have now get you their meanings.

Unknown Speaker 13:00

marketing your sales your, your go to market strategy, your you know, just really like your customer experience is something you can grow to to give all the customers what they need and want to continue to buy from you. And so that's the A, the L is your leadership. Okay, your leadership team, you know, like we just talked about in the bounce mouse bounce.

Unknown Speaker 13:26

every startup needs people that could wear lots of different hats. And after you've worn lots of hats, then it's a matter of Okay, who's really good at that one thing like I need a really good sales director and and Tobin, you may be a great guy wearing lots of hats, and you can actually do a pretty decent job selling, but Are you really a sales director that can get me to that next level? Probably not, you know, and so, being okay at 10 things is a good person to have on your ship.

Unknown Speaker 14:00

When your startup phase, when you're gonna go scale up, and you're evaluating that leadership phase, you need to have someone who's a freakin brilliant person at that position you need brilliancy in, and then he is earning buying. So there's a scale acronym. You You have to earn the buy in from the rest of the team. You can be 100 and 450 person team right now trying to get to 500 people you may have, you know, it doesn't really matter whether we're talking startup to scale up or whether you're talking from we've been a stable company for 10 years dealing with this product line, but we have a potential for an acquisition here, or we have a potential for a new a new channel we want to get into what do we need to get to that point in that new channel?

Unknown Speaker 14:48

Todd, you you've opened up a wide array of sort of status points of where people might be in the business. Very quickly. I want to so give a quick shout out to Aaron Diego and Aaron glad you could join us j rock

Unknown Speaker 15:00

see you as there's a, he put a comment in there as well. And if Listen, if someone's out there if you're new viewer watcher of the show, you know, say new or newbie or just say hi, we'd love to connect with you as well. Or if you're catching the replay where we're multi streaming on, we're on five channels with the live stream eventually, into the podcast as well. So love to hear with you guys. start the conversation, keep the conversation going. And I appreciate you guys taking a little bit of time to join us. Todd, I want to dial you back for just a second because you missed a key point in this transition. I I hear you with the acronym scale. In fact, I got that in the comments scale to scale. This is Todd's acronym. I didn't get all the specifics in there but they'll folks will follow you up follow up with you to get the details there. But how does a business owner a founder, an entrepreneur, an expert, how do they know when they have nailed this product market fit? You talked about the folks who get caught in shiny object syndrome. They keep pivoting? How do

Unknown Speaker 16:00

guide them through that process so that they know when it's right to go all in on one where they're starting to see traction, right?

Unknown Speaker 16:09

Just know that usually it's not what you think it is. I can't tell you how many times that I thought I created the perfect product for the target that I really wanted and and ended up being completely the wrong product. And so you need to let the market tell you what that product is. And you may have a

Unknown Speaker 16:30

you may have a product that you think is just just right, and nobody's buying. And so when you're in the startup phase, you have to understand that

Unknown Speaker 16:40

the market will tell you what's right. And if you think that there's still something that you want them to want, you're thinking the wrong way. You need to realize that we are all going to be as successful as what we provide to people and if we aren't providing what is going to be valued.

Unknown Speaker 17:00

To them, then we're not going to find success in our business and so, bounce, bounce, bounce. But if you see something start to start to generate the revenue that could actually sustain that business, then take a step back. And I found myself

Unknown Speaker 17:16

for example, on a personal level, I started a

Unknown Speaker 17:21

during the last crisis in 2008 2009, I started outsourcing to the Philippines and I was outsourcing Believe it or not,

Unknown Speaker 17:30

CAD drawings and

Unknown Speaker 17:32

drawing, do 3d modeling and doing things like that for my audio video company at the time. And so we were doing this full architectural drafting operation over in the Philippines.

Unknown Speaker 17:45

All the buildings started dying and and construction was dead. And so nobody was buying that product anymore. And so I determined that I gotta figure it out. Well, I had a call center client say, Hey, I hear you're in the Philippines. Could you put

Unknown Speaker 18:00

Together call team for me. And I had knew nothing about it. And I didn't really even get all that excited about it until I actually started hiring some agents and actually converting architects to call center agents. It's kind of a funny thing. But it wasn't at all what I wanted. But it is what the market wanted. There were a lot of people wanting that lead generation. And so I took the vehicle that I created, which was my app store, upper offshore operation, and use all the same computers, a lot of the same people just kind of converted what i thought i what i thought the market wanted to what they actually wanted. And for the next 10 years, I ran a call center and who to thought that I would have so much fun with that, but I did. And it was a fun scale up. I mean, I scaled up to about 350 people at one point. And for me, that was a big deal. And I didn't even like call centers.

Unknown Speaker 18:56

So here I was giving the people what they wanted, but doing it in a way that I

Unknown Speaker 19:00

I like to do it.

Unknown Speaker 19:02


Unknown Speaker 19:04

100% agree that a lot of many times we go to market with there's something that we have something that we do something that we love, something we figured out that we bring to market and where we struggle a little bit, we're not getting the traction that we expected to see, we maybe had already chosen a target market. And sometimes that same thing, that same widget that same service, which is not selling in one space, you you go to the adjacent territory where somebody else needs it a hole they need and appreciate it a whole lot more. What is your sort of truth test for finding product market fit? obviously getting sales is what is one way to do this, right? I mean, you see sales but when you know that these are

Unknown Speaker 19:51

you've got sale like when is enough sales, enough to know that this is the winner that you need to double down on

Unknown Speaker 19:59


Unknown Speaker 20:00

No, it's

Unknown Speaker 20:02

as simple as a big question.

Unknown Speaker 20:05

You know, I think that for most people, here's what I see is the biggest problem. And then I'll kind of touch how I've, I've found my market. The biggest problem is people look at a business or creating as their one and only, it's their one and only chance to start a business or one and only business they're ever going to start. And that's the wrong attitude, I think. Because what happens is they get so emotional, and so emotionally tied to what that that service was initially going to be that when customers aren't really digging that solution you came up with, they take it so personal that they kind of give up and you can't make it so personal businesses business and yes, you can do things in a way that you like, but you need to understand that most of the time

Unknown Speaker 20:59

you know

Unknown Speaker 21:00

If you're only selling to yourself, it's gonna be pretty rough.

Unknown Speaker 21:05

You know,

Unknown Speaker 21:06

you, you've got to find what people actually want. And you need to find what people you actually want to work with. And so

Unknown Speaker 21:16

one more quick example, you got to say shit. Yeah, definitely. I'm fascinated by this question, because I think a lot of people get stuck here. Right. So I'm advocating for myself, but also the audience out there. I wanted, you know, I want to dig into the nuances of this. So 100% Yeah, I'm gonna give you full transparency into what my last year has been like, because

Unknown Speaker 21:39

about a year ago, I Well, about three years ago. In my call center business, I came to understand that I did not like the companies that I was doing customer service for.

Unknown Speaker 21:53

I did not like the what the products that were selling. I didn't like the way they went about selling it. I didn't like there was a lot of

Unknown Speaker 22:00

things in there that for me ethically, I was just kind of tired of supporting it even though I wasn't the one on the phones. I wasn't the one. You know what I mean? Like,

Unknown Speaker 22:10

like I just got done saying sometimes your business becomes what your customers want, not what you wanted. That's what happened with my call center. And I had been into this 12 years and I finally decided, you know what, I've been doing all these fun team building operations for another company, and doing fun interactive leadership trainings. I think I want to put my energy there. And so I transition Well, last year I finally made the jump I pushed all my existing clients for the call center into someone else's center because I was sick and make Commission's off of it. I still appreciated the business, but I moved them completely out of my operations to shut that down. And then I bounced over to complete leadership training and team building through a company I found called the biz games, and the biz games is just what it sounds like.

Unknown Speaker 23:00

I mean, it's hilarious. It's the funniest business I've ever had. But what it did is it gave me a chance to focus on the things I like to do, which are training directors and leaders how to how to navigate the world with their teams, how to get more buy in from their teams, how to get them on the same page and dial it in. On an enterprise level, that is a magical solution. Okay, on an SMB level,

Unknown Speaker 23:25

nobody's really gonna pay for that.

Unknown Speaker 23:28

And my passion is with SMB.

Unknown Speaker 23:32

I could go out right now and land a lot of different enterprise level deals doing what I was doing.

Unknown Speaker 23:39

With that up until COVID, obviously COVID hit and there's no interpersonal relationships that's changed, change the game a little bit, changed the game a whole lot. And I was sitting at a pivot point. Do I go all in on virtual games? Or do I take the lessons learned working in an enterprise level leadership training in my area?

Unknown Speaker 24:00

And movies to a product that could be

Unknown Speaker 24:05

consumed by the SMB founders, owners, founders and owners. Personally, my passion is small to mid sized companies, I love to build them. I love to talk to people that build them. I love to advise people in the midst of that building process. And so I had to really make a decision Tobin and and the decision was, again, do I go virtual everything and go all in on that? Or do I pause that company until they come back, which is what I chose to do, and then start supplying a product that will actually satisfy the needs of my people, which are the SMB founders and owners. I love my people more than I love that and so

Unknown Speaker 24:53

I can love both if I play this the right way. So right now with mocha techie, what I've decided to do is how

Unknown Speaker 25:00

hone in on those on those business. There's a bajillion startup gurus out there talking about startup.

Unknown Speaker 25:08

If you make it through startup, I want to talk to you. Because there's so many places for free advice and free things that will get you through startup phase. And there's some good stuff out there. But almost nobody is talking about, okay, you're here. Now how do you get here? And you've found people buying your product. Now how do you get there? And and it's a matter of channeling in it's a matter of getting clarity and it's a matter of these systems, which like I said, Are they the people, the the processes and the tools and you hone in on those three things. And I'm telling you how you can take what's kind of starting to work and explode that thing. just dive in that mile deep on that one inch wide hole, and and you can build a whole business out of that. So I'm going to take several things away from this conversation today.

Unknown Speaker 26:00

I'm going to recap and you you clean up after me if I've missed any key points. But the first one is

Unknown Speaker 26:07

don't take your business too personally because we know statistically most businesses are going to fail. It's the entrepreneurs themselves are going to succeed because entrepreneurs will keep coming back and keep persistently feeling that market out until they make something work. But the business itself that you that you've, you treat it like your baby, you've got to be very careful because that it may not be the winner in the batch. That's why, you know, if you if you got 10 shots at at the target, so to speak, you know, one or two might actually hit the target and be the winners there. So that's one thing don't get too personal. Number two, to scale, you've got to have the systems in place. But the systems can also be fun and can also be a culture builder for your for your business. And you actually have essentially two businesses or two arms of your business going currently where you serve at the small to medium sized business level, working with folks that are ready to make that jump into

Unknown Speaker 27:00

scaling that business you also have an enterprise arm where you're doing a little bit more of this culture game, the biz games and all that. So what did I miss? What do people need to know? More importantly, Todd, what do they need to do to enter your world? Where can they find you and start the conversation with you? I love it. Yeah, no, go to Todd Western comm

Unknown Speaker 27:18

it's listed in my profile go to Tata Western Comm. I'm going to be updating a few things on there. It's a little it's a little skewed towards my

Unknown Speaker 27:29

three C's of leadership, which is what I do on an enterprise level, which is clarity, culture, and connection. And those three C's are applicable with the SMB, but they're, it's just a different packaging. And this is honestly this is the biggest example of what we've been talking about Tobin, you find out, you know, if you have multiple buyers of your product line and or wherever you're at whatever it is, you're providing service or whatever.

Unknown Speaker 27:59


Unknown Speaker 28:00

out, get really clear on which one you want to be associated with more. Which ones do you want to help more? Which ones are you more comfortable helping? And and to be honest, I'm at a point in life, I'm 45 years old. I've done really small, I've done medium size. I've done mid mid sized companies. And and I've consulted at the largest company in the world. Okay, so I've now got a little bit of taste of everything. But where I'm putting my money where I'm betting putting my bets right now is I want to help as many small to midsize companies grow. to that next level, I want to help them see those pivot points where they need to make those decisions and make those decisions so that you come to Todd Western Comm. You're going to see some things starting to evolve right there over the next couple of weeks. And one of those things is I have an online product that I'm creating that I have some companies in beta right now that we're running through the beta program.

Unknown Speaker 29:00

Have an online course, to take them through the scale process, that acronym we talked about. And as I take you through the scale process, it involves

Unknown Speaker 29:11

some video trainings and involves a community and involves a weekly coaching call with me that I spent two hours a week answering questions for anyone in the program. And that is where you go from startups to scale up that is kind of for companies that haven't quite reached that mark. For companies that are beyond that mark that are already at, say 30 4050 plus employees and they want to get to that next point. It takes a little more on site takes a little more one on one to kind of coach them through that process. But I love it. And and I have bandwidth for for a certain number of companies there that we can help and I already have a couple companies in there but we have room for more. And so there is this two pronged approach that I'm hitting. You can get involved in my world by either being part of my

Unknown Speaker 30:00

Scale a program for the startup to scale up type businesses. And then it can become part of my world on another level where we get real down to the nuts and bolts of what your systems are looking like, why they're not working for you why you're not seeing that little spot that you should be diving into, and and help you find that spot and just go really hard. I appreciate you sharing the the sort of dual path. One thing we totally agree on, which is there is energy. There is fun. And most importantly, there's impact with these entrepreneurs. It's the entrepreneurs who are going to change the world, like I'm not waiting around to, to rely on these changes to come from the top down because it's not happening. I don't think anybody's happy with that right now in the world we live in. So it's the entrepreneurs that are the movers and shakers, you're supporting them. You've got a couple different ways of doing that. If you folks out there whether you catch it with this live or in the replay. You can find Todd he mentioned

Unknown Speaker 31:00

Todd Western calm but you can also find him at book of experts.com. I've actually put a link in the description for this broadcast as well. So you can go check, check out Todd and all our other experts over book of experts calm you can click through. It's actually a Wikipedia of experts doing really cool transformational work program services done for you services, agency owners, folks who are, listen, if they're trading on price alone, if price is the only differentiator, you're not going to find them welcome experts. But we have a lot of great folks like Todd, and if you're out there, and you're seeing this and saying, You know what, I should be listening book experts. Well, we'd like to get to know you and see if that's true. So, Todd, I appreciate you taking a little bit of extra time today. To get into this. Again, I think we're gonna have to talk more, particularly about the fun playful and culture building side. I think that's a whole show by itself. Maybe we'll do an expert panel around that and appreciate you coming on for booking Xpress TV. appreciate what you're doing Tobin, you did. You're doing a great job.

Unknown Speaker 32:00

helping a lot of people as well. And that's, that's what I love about being connected with you. It's just, you know, when you get people really trying to push hard and help a lot of people through the same issues we've had to face as that's where it gets fun. All right. Thanks, everyone. We'll see you on our next episode.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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