00:00:00 – Glenn Harper
Welcome everybody, another episode of the aspiring entrepreneurs, the Harper and Company way, I’m Glenn Harper. Kind of kind of run this show a little bit. I got my sidekick here, Julie, what do you do, Julie?
00:00:12 – Julie Smith
I’m the barista.
00:00:13 – Glenn Harper
Oh, that’s right. So that’s perfect. So she’s in charge of really everything except what I say. We got a special guest today in the studio. We got Don Ross, a National Guard pilot, a financial adviser, good friend, great financial adviser and just an all around great American. Hi Don, how are you?
00:00:31 – Don Ross
00:00:33 – Glenn Harper
All right. What? You’re dressed in your fatigues today, what you got going on?
00:00:38 – Don Ross
Oh, I was just going to do some of my Army Reserve obligation. You know, you’ve got to do so many, so many hours a year and something that full time. So.
00:00:47 – Glenn Harper
So I think at some point you used to fly something in the military.
00:00:50 – Don Ross
Well, I flew Hueys and Blackhawks, but I retired from that in 07 and re-enlisted in ’18 because I missed it.
00:00:57 – Julie Smith
So what did you miss about it?
00:01:01 – Don Ross
The the guys and the guy, you know, other fellow soldiers and just wearing the uniform, it’s it’s a privilege to wear the greatest uniform in the world, British military uniform in the world. And so, yeah, I love it. I’ll be fifty nine and I got to be out one more year.
00:01:21 – Glenn Harper
We don’t talk about age on this show. How do you how do you find time to do your real job, which is a financial advisor?
00:01:29 – Don Ross
00:01:29 – Glenn Harper
Want to give a little plug on what you do and how you do it?
00:01:31 – Don Ross
Well, we we do retirement planning. We help people make sure they have the proper income plan portfolio, a state plan tax plan and predominantly retirees, those that are 50 to 60 or, I say, retired within five to 10 years retiring. Are you in shape? Basically, the question I get, Hey, are we on track? So we look at their portfolios and help them make sure they have the right plan in place.
00:02:01 – Glenn Harper
What’s their biggest question they ask you?
00:02:04 – Don Ross
Will I run out of money? I want to avoid paying too many taxes. And what if I get sick?
00:02:10 – Glenn Harper
Those don’t sound like complicated questions at all. How did you learn to, you know, answer those questions and prepare them properly?
00:02:17 – Don Ross
Ojt on the job training. Thirty three years. You know, I mean, everybody, that’s the unique thing of what we do, and we are an independent fiduciary. So it’s our job to build you the best plan and each couple or individual, you know, work with a lot of singles, widows, widowers, everybody situation’s unique.
00:02:38 – Glenn Harper
Got it. How did you on the on the job training? How did you decide? Did you work for a company before you went on your own or did you always start off as an entrepreneur?
00:02:48 – Don Ross
No, that’s the one of the big firms, which is usually recommended. And then you can see the light and either you want to be part of that big firm that has a very. Most of them have a very distinct philosophy on how they want you to advise clients. So it wasn’t a big fan of that. That’s why I went on my own
00:03:03 – Julie Smith
As you decided to make that decision and you were pivoting towards that. Did you have a mentor or did you have someone who was kind of helping you think through that and what that kind of looked like?
00:03:15 – Don Ross
Nope, just took the leap. That’s part of being a risk taker or an entrepreneur is like, you have faith and you just go do it. And there’s two options you’re going to do it or you’re not doing it. It’s all. I understand it.
00:03:30 – Glenn Harper
So I suspect that’s the same as flying helicopters, either you can or you can’t. And it’s really complicated to do it, but you’ve got to make the decision that you can do it and you just have to. You have to succeed, right? There is no there is no option for failure or setback at all.
00:03:43 – Don Ross
Yeah, I mean, it’s really about it’s really I think you know about fear. You know, some people are like, Oh, I couldn’t do it. I need the systematic paycheck or something like that, but back to the helicopters. My favorite part of flight school is who wants to be the first student in the front seat? And I’m like me, you know, it’s like, Let’s do it.
00:04:02 – Glenn Harper
Do you think you’re a program that way, like when you are were born? Or is that something that throughout your growing up, you just kind of recognize that you want to be independent? You don’t like to be told what to do. You want to do it your way. Or is it something that you kind of evolved into later? I mean, you feel like you had those tendencies when you were young?
00:04:22 – Don Ross
I must have, because when I was about 12 years old, I stole my dad’s lawnmower to start cutting the neighbor’s yard. And then I did the following neighbor the next neighbor down.
00:04:32 – Glenn Harper
And that’s like when you take it.
00:04:35 – Don Ross
I had a trailer behind my bike, going down the street to the neighborhood. I grew up in a suburb of Columbus and Upper Arlington, and I, you know, I used that self-propelled mower and then I built that into a business. But here’s where it really hit me is I’m a I’m a busboy at Luby’s, which is like a burger joint. Yeah, like a Frisch’s. And I got my first paycheck and I realized the paycheck was less than me cutting to neighbor’s yards. Get it! I had more money that way. Less taxes, yes. And I was like, Wait a minute, something’s not right here, and I kind of rendered my well, I don’t know what it’s called. Then I was 15 years old. I said, Hey, I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to quit and built my business into a company that I sold and started in the financial services.
00:05:22 – Glenn Harper
When you say you build a business that was the landscaping company like,
00:05:25 – Don Ross
Yeah, sort of lawn care, build that up to a lawn care landscaping business. And then I sold that in 87.
00:05:32 – Glenn Harper
How old were you at that time?
00:05:34 – Don Ross
I sold in 87. I was twenty four.
00:05:37 – Glenn Harper
So you did this for about 10 years. The landscaper?
00:05:40 – Don Ross
Well, I mean, I started as a lawn care and then probably in college and I was, you know, enlisted in the military too. At 18, so I was in college and. My head and I really built it up.
00:05:54 – Glenn Harper
Did you have a bunch of employees or subcontractors?
00:05:56 – Don Ross
Yeah, at four four.
00:05:57 – Glenn Harper
So that’s a kind of a big deal at that age. So you definitely had tendencies growing up that you just knew how to figure it out.
00:06:04 – Don Ross
I didn’t think of it. I just did it. My my father sold steel for Bethlehem Steel, and he’d always, always, always, always wanted to be self-employed. And when he retired, he finally did that. He started a couple of businesses and did well. And so it’s in the blood. But the years of, you know, raising a family of six kids, two dogs and a wonderful mother of mine, he couldn’t really afford to. He didn’t, actually. He didn’t. 69. He left Bethlehem for a while to go start a steel company in Williamsport, PA, and it was just it just didn’t work. And they took him back, you know, great blessing. But he, you know, it’s got to be in his blood.
00:06:44 – Glenn Harper
So it’s kind of probably weird that most people can’t comprehend the fact that at 15, 16, 17, you’re running a business with four employees making money because that is was terrifying. But it just seemed like an automatic thing to do, and it was way better than going working for the man. It just hard. People just can’t comprehend
00:07:08 – Don Ross
That I’ve seen. Think of it. I just did it. Yeah, I just did it. And you just don’t think about it.
00:07:17 – Glenn Harper
And when you decided to sell it, it was because you’re done with being a landscaper or you want to do the next best thing or.
00:07:22 – Don Ross
Yeah, I always wanted to be in a financial service. So eighty seven was a fun year. I bought my first house. All my landscaping business started in the financial services.
00:07:31 – Glenn Harper
So and then from the financial services, nobody really. We always find generally entrepreneurs always have some sort of mentor or somebody that they hook up with that kind of just takes them under the wing and gives them some secrets and just kind of helps them along their way. Did you have anybody like that?
00:07:46 – Don Ross
Yeah, I was. I started one of the big firms. I don’t know if I need to say the name, but. And then you’re paired up with a mentor. But he I was we just didn’t connect. He was he was two, which is good. He was to buy the book, but I wanted to go out, you know, I was walking the halls of a horseshoe medical school, you know, recruiting young doctors. He’s like, Oh, you got to do a process. I’m like, I don’t do processes. You know, I’m walking the halls. Hey, you need a financial advisor, you need a financial advisor. And long story short, I mean, two years later, I sold that book because I went back in the military to go to flight school, so I started over three times.
00:08:24 – Glenn Harper
When you start over like that, you look at yourself in the mirror and go, What is wrong with you?
00:08:30 – Don Ross
Most of our producers entrepreneurs would never say that
00:08:33 – Glenn Harper
When I say, what’s wrong with you, just I said, like a tongue in cheek your leadership and laughing at yourself and going, I can’t believe I’m doing this again, but I can. I can’t imagine you doing something different working for somebody else at that time because you just you just knew. No.
00:08:46 – Don Ross
And that’s kind of the funny thing is, wait a minute, dude, you’re also in the military. Well, not full time. That’s why I didn’t go full time. I probably would have punched out a commander. So that’s kind of funny, but I do like the regimen of of the military. Which is kind of ironic for an entrepreneur. I mean, it really is I’m.
00:09:05 – Julie Smith
You definitely have to follow a lot of processes, so it feels like you get your fill of that and then you kind of go rogue over here.
00:09:11 – Don Ross
Maybe I had a couple of commanders that didn’t like my kind of free spirited thinking, but in aviation, which that’s what I did for many years, that’s processes that I love. I love flying. And because. There is a process, but on the other side of what I’ve done for 30 some years, I don’t like processes, so some of the financial services business. My number one process and only goal I care about is are my clients getting the best value? Gotcha. Right? I mean, you’ve known me a long
00:09:38 – Glenn Harper
Time, long time. And it seems like the the military and also what you’re doing in your financial advisor role. You are really a big team guy like, you know, you can’t do it on your own. I think that’s probably one of the reasons you like the military. You got a whole team that’s got your back. And when you went on your own as a financial advisor, you didn’t really go on your own. I’ve known you long enough that you always surround yourself with good people, good relationships that kind of augmented what you do for a living and kind of supported you with your strengths and weaknesses. They would augment that. Is that a fair statement? Yes.
00:10:16 – Don Ross
I mean, I am part of a network of independent advisors around the country, and we share best practice with each other. We’re all entrepreneurs. A lot of them left big companies like I did. I have some colleagues that were former schoolteachers, but one of them said years and years ago he goes, And I like this line, he goes, I ain’t very smart, but I surround my people myself with the best of the best.
00:10:38 – Glenn Harper
I think that’s a fair statement. You’ve always had an incredible again, you’re just a relationship guy. I’ve been privileged to know you for a long time and you just know everybody. You’re like, You walk in, you’re like the mayor. And but. But that served you well because again, I don’t, you know, entrepreneurs before they make the jump or when they’re deciding on that to do it or not, they’re just they’re very scared. But then once you make the commitment to do it, there is no turning back. I mean, you don’t. It’s OK to start every day negative. It’s fine because it’s going to work out, OK, what do you feel like? That’s a fair statement. Yeah.
00:11:13 – Don Ross
You know what, I you know when I watched the Shark Tank? Mm hmm. I see some people up there plugging stuff like, Are you kidding me? But if you believe in it, it doesn’t matter. I mean, they’re trying to sell the sharks on some things, like for lack of better grammar. Ain’t nobody going to buy that, and they either all fight over it or they’re all like, there’s no way but that person or that couple, whoever is up there, they believe in that. And that’s all that matters, whether they go bankrupt or they make millions of dollars. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur, because you you did it.
00:11:46 – Glenn Harper
Do you feel like, you know, we see entrepreneurs that we’ve been privileged enough to hang out with them for like 32 years and thousands of them, and they all have these kind of tendencies and you’re either going to do we call do business where you’re kind of doing all the work and running the whole show and doing it kind of solo. And then eventually you make a transition to one to build a business. Where do you think you’re at in your journey? Are you still doing business or are you trying to transition to building a business? Where do you think you’re at
00:12:16 – Don Ross
My financial services? Yes. I’m still looking for new clients, but I’m not looking to have 15 employees.
00:12:23 – Glenn Harper
Is that what you mean? Well, like it seems to me in the last few years you brought in some talent to kind of take over a lot of those roles that you used to do and all the paperwork. And so you’re not maybe you’re still doing sales and the relationship side, but you’ve handed off a lot of those duties, correct?
00:12:39 – Don Ross
Oh, 100 percent. And because I have a succession plan too, I don’t want my client. You know, I always say this my my wife, Joni, you know, she hates when I say it. But if I stroked out tomorrow, I don’t want my clients being left in the. You know, on their own alone, right? Or, yeah, I mean, that’s important to me, so we have junior adviser and some other staff.
00:13:01 – Glenn Harper
But you do have aspirations to be, you know, manage, you know, $20 billion and and be like Bobby Axelrod or you more like a small boutique.
00:13:13 – Don Ross
I sit down with my clients one on one. We call each other, text each other. We celebrate birthdays and all that. I don’t want to be a and I have colleagues that, you know, they want to bring in $100 million a year. That may not mean anything to you or the listeners, but that
00:13:27 – Glenn Harper
Seems like a lot of work.
00:13:29 – Don Ross
I want to sit down with one on one and not, you know, not bring you on as a client. And then maybe I’ll see you in four years. I mean, I bring on clients that haven’t talked to the adviser in two years and they have big, big accounts.
00:13:41 – Julie Smith
So it seems to me like you’re just relationship driven and you’ve kind of figured out how to bring in a team and put those people around you to do the things so you can continue with the relationships, but maybe take a step back from the day to day.
00:13:56 – Don Ross
Yeah, yeah. I know I could step back from day to day, but my clients know they can call or text me. That’s important to me, you know, doing paperwork. I mean, I’ll screw it up. I don’t go into the database. You know, that’s Joni. I never touch that. No, no, no, no. So I just like being with people, and I got that from my dad.
00:14:16 – Glenn Harper
Would you suggest, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs, you look at the ones that are just doing the grind. They they love being an entrepreneur, but they are just burnout. They’re not really having fun because they haven’t figured out how to delegate and empower their team around them. If there’s anybody I know, nobody has more fun at what they do than you. Why is that? What is it an attitude thing? Is it just because you’ve been blessed with that gift of gab and just your thing? Or is it because you have a great team? Why is it that you have so much fun doing doing your entrepreneurial journey?
00:14:50 – Don Ross
Well, in my my eyes, it’s easy. What I do. But most people are like, you’re talking about people’s life savings. That seems pretty scary. Well, it is, but if you don’t embrace it and have done it for many years, that’s that’s why it’s it’s it’s easy. I don’t know.
00:15:11 – Glenn Harper
00:15:12 – Don Ross
You say to me, like if I think about what you do, I’m like, you know, my eyes are crossed, but that’s what you do. Just like, you know, the the airline pilot or the kindergarten teacher, I mean, it’s all about having the passion for it, then it’s not work. I mean, you’ve heard the old, you know, if you love what you do, you work a day in your life.
00:15:32 – Glenn Harper
But I mean, I know you well enough to. I don’t think you go to the go to the office every day and call it work. I don’t think you look at it that way. You go and have some fun. You help some people out. You do. Your thing is that, you know, like I said, how long did it take you to develop that swag? Because again, when you first started out, you know you got to make a paycheck. You got to raise family. You got to do those things. When did it switch over where like, Wow, this is fun. Let’s not worry about it. Let’s just have a good time with it.
00:15:59 – Don Ross
Oh, many years ago. Long time, because it’s always what I want to do. That’s why in 87, I sold business, bought my first house, graduated college, finished my first enlistment, started in the financial services, always wanted to do it. I don’t know a buddy of mine. Years and years ago before I even started, he was I wanted to be like him. He’s still in the business. We talk once or twice a year. And so it’s like, I wouldn’t know what else to do.
00:16:24 – Glenn Harper
So there is no end game, right? You’re not going to like, retire tomorrow. I can’t imagine you’re not running.
00:16:29 – Don Ross
Oh my gosh. No, we I mean, Saturday by noon, I’m like, Let’s go, let’s go. And I’ve already played paddle tennis for two hours, you know, so. No, but that’s why I have a succession plan in place, which I think every small business owner should have. So you don’t leave your clients hanging, not that they would, but that’s the way I look at it.
00:16:49 – Glenn Harper
It makes you sleep good at night. A lot of entrepreneurs, they also have these tendencies to want to start up other business and do and do other things. Do you have any of those tendencies? Are you happy with where you’re at?
00:17:01 – Don Ross
I’m happy with where they’re at, where I’m at, because here’s what happened in 1989. I was thinking about going this, and I did actually go and work on Capitol Hill for a while. I want to do that. I want to do this. My dad looked at me and I’ll never forget this. And he’s still alive. Ninety one years old. He goes, Hmm, sounds like a great idea. You’re going to be a jack of all trades and master of none. And what that means is you if you don’t focus on what your core business is. And then they’ll all be mediocre. I mean, all right, let’s say you want to open up a little corner restaurant. Well, Glenn’s attention is going over there. What’s going to happen to Harper and Co.? Correct? Unless you have, I mean, unless you have a really good team in place, which I know you have a great team. But I don’t think my personal opinion is since I’m, you know, not a very smart guy is you need to do what you do. And if you want to do other hobbies, do hobbies correct?
00:17:54 – Glenn Harper
And I think that comes down to when you lie down trainers, when they make the switch to actually building a business that can also almost run without them or they don’t need the day to day attention, it’s more like once a week meet your board of directors or whatever, then you can do those other endeavors. But you don’t ever want to get rid of the mothership because that’s when the provided everything right. I can’t imagine you just walking away from that.
00:18:14 – Don Ross
I would say, I mean, there’s some great companies in this city and around the country, in the world that these men are women have built this company. And then and then they put a team in to run it. But they did it that way or they built it to sell it. I don’t even have aspirations to try to start anything else.
00:18:35 – Glenn Harper
Yeah. No, that’s fine, that’s fine.
00:18:37 – Don Ross
That sounds like work.
00:18:38 – Glenn Harper
Yes. We don’t want any part of that. This is having too much fun. What is your do you have like a. A dream client that you would like to on board or a dream business deal that you bring on board, that you’re going to advise them on who is like, you could go that person or that company if I could just get that there, there are investment accounts. Is that something that you think about it at all or is it like whoever comes along that were before?
00:19:07 – Don Ross
Absolutely. Every time we do a review with a client, I had three yesterday and and they leave, they give me a hug high. Five me in the meeting was five minutes business. 15 minutes. What are you doing? What are you catching up with? I’m like, I say to Joni, How do we duplicate them? And you know, we’re so we’re still out looking. We get some great referrals. And that client, if you if you want to know what it looks financially, you know, they they’ve saved half a million dollars to two and a half million. That’s that’s who we serve very well. Ten up. They need a different planning level I’m not interested in, but the kind of clients, they’re just salt of the Earth, you know? I mean, I retire a lot of cops and I don’t know how far your podcast. Obviously, your podcast could be anywhere
00:19:52 – Glenn Harper
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide, multiple languages.
00:19:56 – Don Ross
But as far as central hire, I retire a lot of police officers. I mean, you want to talk about salt of the Earth, OK, guys, schoolteachers, entrepreneurs, military. But I look at the kind of people they are and they they benefit and they can. They take value with what we provide, and we’re a collaborative effort, and that’s why we celebrate their birthdays. We do fun stuff together and they’re like family.
00:20:22 – Glenn Harper
And the reality is, you know, if you’re not producing the desired results for them from the financial advising side, getting the appropriate returns, managing risk, ensuring that they’ve got their cash flows, they go to retirement, you know, they would leave. So obviously you’re doing that well, but then you’re going a little bit further and you’re doing more of a personal relationship. Oh, yeah. And is that something that obviously you’ve always done it that way? But do you did you have to pivot at some point and go, wait a minute for me to really get my name out there and do these things even better? I’ve got to go and kind of modify how I do that relationship. And is it more sincere? Is it more genuine? Is it more surface level? You know, how do you how do you, you know, navigate that?
00:21:04 – Don Ross
I just regardless of whether we’re out doing workshop events or getting referrals, I just I just be me. I mean, for me, pretty straightforward.
00:21:17 – Glenn Harper
Gotcha. Do you feel like we look at every entrepreneur they have? Like, there’s something that they’re just really, really good at, you know, obviously hand eye coordination with helicopters a little bit different than the average person. But you know, from a financial advisor standpoint is it’s something that is your superpower that you can predict the market or is your superpower, that you can predict relationships and you can provide a valuable, you know, consistent return. What do you think your superpower is?
00:21:53 – Don Ross
Creating a really good relationship with that client, because if you look at in our industry the reasons why people leave and advisor, you brought it up a couple of times return. That’s like fourth or fifth on the list. I mean, we all want to get everybody thirty five percent a year on their money, but it’s just not realistic. I mean, look, why not look at the first few first few weeks of this year? We’re we’re down, but my clients understand that we’re going to have that roller coaster ride and we’ve built that into their plan so they don’t have these high expectations. And I’ve showed them an income plan or the rest of their life that they’re not going to run out of money if they’re not. And so they don’t get wrapped up, you know, with the markets.
00:22:37 – Glenn Harper
Do you find, you know, I love asking financial advisors this question because it’s kind of fun. Do you find that, you know, if you have a client, they’ve got x dollars with you and you’re kind of controlling the narrative on how that works and how it’s invested with your portfolio managers and how you operate that. And they come to you and say, Hey, look, I want to take out, you know, 10 percent of this and go make a alternative investment or start a business or something like that. Are you are you very you get supportive of that. You try to understand it more or do you try to have them get some advice on it? Or you’re like, No, no, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
00:23:14 – Don Ross
No, a I look at it. This is their money. And if they don’t enjoy, it has no value in. And when we’re getting to know each other, I’m asking all kinds of future questions. The biggest thing I’m helping people do is how to buy a second home. What most people want? Yeah, because remember, they’re mostly retired and they’re not looking to really start a small business now on this side. There’s a few that want to be consulting because they’re experts on what they’ve done. In fact, I think I sent a few to you and yeah, they can take their expertise from the companies they they retired from and set up, you know, hang out their own shingle. And that’s fun. I’m all about quality of life. The money will take care of itself. It’s how do we make sure you’re confident you can spend your money and not be freaking out and waking up at 3:00 in the morning? So that’s what we’re about is quality of life and the rest of the things will take care of themselves.
00:24:06 – Glenn Harper
Have you ever, you know, not one time so far in this entire talk? Have you ever talked about profitability, lifestyle making money? It’s all you’re just doing what you love. Was that always the case? Was the money ever motivation? Because obviously you do what you do. You’re obviously you’re successful at it. Did you ever do this for the money? You just do it because you enjoyed it?
00:24:29 – Don Ross
I guess I never thought of that. I never thought of it now, obviously. I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve created a very comfortable lifestyle. But. I guess I didn’t think about it as a money, because since day one, you know, cutting that first yard for a for a for compensation, I just did it because I did it on my own. I. Someone wasn’t directing me,
00:24:59 – Glenn Harper
I guess, to further elaborate, like when you became the financial adviser and said, Okay, I’m going to do this. This is my calling. So if I could just get $100 million under assets under management and I can make a million bucks on that or I want to make five hundred million under asset make you know? Did you have a a number or did you just go?
00:25:19 – Don Ross
I’m not a really good planner, as you know, planning as far as that.
00:25:24 – Glenn Harper
What? Hey, cut that out of there. I can’t have that in here.
00:25:28 – Don Ross
I so sometimes I have a little trouble with goals like not how many clients you want to get, but hitting certain numbers because certain how much I want to have under management. I mean, I don’t want to criticize anybody that does, because then it’s like, All right, if I don’t get you as a client today, I’m going to miss my numbers. To me, that means I’m not focusing on you. I’m thinking in the back of my head a goal I got to hit. I mean, goals are important, but you’re the only thing that matters right now, and I’m talking to you as a potential client. You know, I don’t do that.
00:26:05 – Glenn Harper
Is it fair to say like the military basically gives you all the structure, all the fallback, all the the goals, everything has to happen a certain way there. And now when you go do your quote entrepreneurial journey, you’re kind of just like, I just want to do what I want to do. I want to help people and the money will come. I think that’s what you’re basically trying to say. You never really set a goal that I want to make x per year or had this many clients.
00:26:32 – Don Ross
Yeah, I agree with that.
00:26:34 – Glenn Harper
One hundred percent, which is a very common theme with entrepreneurs. They do it because they love it, not because they want to make well, we’re all over
00:26:39 – Don Ross
The place, you know, our minds. That’s why we need someone to keep us like that and think like a journey. But that’s why it’s still to this day. Kind of funny to say, wait a minute, military. Entrepreneur. Yeah, it’s it’s kind of bizarre. I can’t really explain it, I just I just do it, just do it. I don’t know that someone wants to really take my blueprint and try to start a business off it.
00:27:04 – Glenn Harper
Believe it or not, I think most people do.
00:27:06 – Julie Smith
Speaking of blueprint, do you feel like as you’ve went through this journey and I feel like you, you’ve just done it and you’ve been very successful it just doing it. But have you ever had to pivot or fall forward or is there something you would maybe give the listeners that said, Hey, I kind of went through this if I look back, I would have maybe done this.
00:27:26 – Don Ross
Uh, as far as me, maybe, you know, a couple of times I sold my book and left the big firms, I always think back I started with a buddy who’s one of the top in the country now with this big firm. I mean, he did a different route. He acquired other small businesses, but I don’t think there’s anything I would do differently. Other than maybe a little bit more focus, I think I that’s a couple of times I sold my book. It was because I was attracted to do something else over here and that was when I sold my book meaning. I sold it to another adviser in the big firm because if I took those clients with me, it would hurt them financially. Based on the investments they were in and things like that. I think that’s what you’re asking, and that’s the only thing I would have done differently.
00:28:16 – Julie Smith
Or is like you got into the entrepreneur and maybe you were building your business. Is there anything like I would have hired a team quicker or I would have maybe put this process in place or I would have maybe done this a little bit differently?
00:28:30 – Don Ross
Yeah, don’t. Don’t be afraid. I mean, if I’m giving direct advice, don’t be afraid to hire really good people. Because they can take and run with some, some some of the minutia things while you’re focusing on the big picture. And I’m assuming that’s exactly how you guys do it. You’ve got to focus on the big picture. You’re not necessarily doing the teeny little return things. I mean, I don’t know exactly, but hire good people and it’s an investment. You know, they they always say, take time to hire and fire fast.
00:29:03 – Julie Smith
And something you said that I think really rings true is it’s an investment. It’s not a cost. You’re not looking at your team as a cost. You look at them as an investment. And I think that’s such a great mindset.
00:29:13 – Don Ross
You know, it’s like when people talk about a renovating their kitchen, I’m like, That’s an investment. Where do you spend all your time in the kitchen? Invest in a great kitchen. So, you know, depending on what kind of business anybody starting, bring on a great person and spend that money because it’ll pay dividends.
00:29:30 – Glenn Harper
And we we see that entrepreneurs that start out, if they would just. And that’s why we talk about the mentor and the team and surround yourself with good people because there’s, you know, the key component of running a business as you need your, you know, we feel like you need a good CPA advisor. You need a good financial advisor, you need a good banker, you need a good attorney, you need these people because people think they cost too much. Not going to help you. But if you have those kind of team behind you right away, literally, that’s the shortcut. Like, you don’t have to go through five, seven, 10, 15 years of absolute anarchy when all you had to do is invest a little bit up front and you’d have had paved the way to be certain success. I mean, you’re not going to fail because of something stupid. You may suck at your, you know, whatever you do for a living, but you’re not going to your business isn’t going to suck when that’s a big deal, right?
00:30:19 – Julie Smith
You use that f word. We don’t use that on here.
00:30:21 – Glenn Harper
I use this fail. Oh yeah. Oh, sorry.
00:30:24 – Don Ross
Well, actually, I have colleagues that believe failure is the greatest.
00:30:28 – Julie Smith
Well, we call it pivoting or falling forward.
00:30:31 – Don Ross
Rather, pivoting was a COVID thing.
00:30:33 – Julie Smith
No, no, no, no, no. We don’t
00:30:35 – Glenn Harper
Do that. We don’t talk there.
00:30:36 – Don Ross
00:30:37 – Glenn Harper
No, it’s we call it the school of hard knocks because
00:30:40 – Julie Smith
We don’t believe entrepreneurs really fail. Never you. Everyone just kind of pivots or falls forward or falls into something kind of different. Oh, we get it. You only you only fail if you quit. And I don’t think any of us are quitting.
00:30:51 – Don Ross
No, I got, you know, did you ask a question in there?
00:30:56 – Julie Smith
Sorry, I caught him off guard.
00:30:59 – Glenn Harper
Sorry. No. It was just the the ability. Like, do you feel like when you first started, you had that you got that advice up front to do these things? Or do you kind of feel like you kind of watched the mentors do it a little bit and you kind of knew what you needed to do and and you were able to handle that, OK?
00:31:15 – Don Ross
Yeah, it’s all about being around good people. That’s why I say OJT on the job training now being that I’m part of an independent advisor network group around the country, I think the best I would say if you’re starting in the, I don’t know, the siding business, I would network with the siding guy four counties away or maybe two states away and share ideas on what’s the latest and greatest thing on siding or shingles. Or maybe you’re going to be in the paving business, or maybe you’re going to start a, you know, I bought a home health care business many years ago. I bought a franchise. My dad ran it. What that means is you’re getting expert advice from someone that’s done it. So I think, you know, I’m sure you network with other CPAs.
00:32:02 – Glenn Harper
Not initially because, you know, a lot of business owners are scared traditionally to talk to their competitors. And that’s not the case because you’re you and you only do it your way. And that other person does it their way. They can’t be you and you can’t be them, right?
00:32:21 – Don Ross
Two of my best friends and you know, one of them fairly big car dealer here in town, a Ford guy and another friend of mine, the Chevy Guy, both behemoths and what they do, their best friends. They share ideas. They’re not competitors. You’d think that, but they’re really not. But the mindset of most people is, Oh yeah, we’re competitors.
00:32:42 – Glenn Harper
Nope. Do you do a lot of a lot of social media stuff or you have an online presence at all? Or are you just more of a relationship guy and referral guy that way? Or do you put put your word out there all over the internet and everything?
00:32:55 – Don Ross
Joanie handles that Instagram, Facebook. We put out good content. You know, we have a weekly Friday video, which I think you’re going to be on here pretty soon, by the way. Awesome. And so, yeah, we have a social footprint. So it works. That’s how people find us. There’s all these Google rating things, and we have people that say, You found you on the web. I’m like, OK, because we come, we’re first below some of the ads, right? The ads that are on the, you know, the Meryl’s, the Wells Fargo and all that. And that has to do with ratings. I don’t know how that works, but
00:33:28 – Glenn Harper
Now that’s way beyond our pay grade. Do you have any other advice that you would want to give an entrepreneur that just starting their journey, whether they’re 14, 18, 20, 30, 50, maybe the dreaded 60?
00:33:41 – Don Ross
I don’t know if his advice you can give an entrepreneur because if it’s in your blood or your DNA, it’s it’s done. You’re going to you’re going to do it. But I would say stay focused and always do what’s right for your client or whatever, whoever the end user of what your service or product is. And you’ll never go wrong.
00:34:03 – Glenn Harper
Be true to that passion. Well, Don, appreciate you coming on today. It’s always a pleasure sitting down and talking with you. Glen Harper signing off Julie. Julie Smith. All right. Take care.
Episode Show Notes
Our guest is Don Ross from Ross Wealth Advisors.
As Don explains, they believe everyone should be able to live the retirement they’ve always wanted. Their team of professionals can help their clients create a well-thought-out strategy, using a variety of investments and insurance products and services, to help them address their financial needs and concerns.
But how did he get here, offering the sage advice he gives his clients?
OJT – on-the-job training. Thirty-three years. That’s the unique thing of what we do. We are an independent fiduciary. So it’s our job to build you the best plan. We work with a lot of singles, widows, widowers, everybody situation’s unique.
Don talk about how he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Just jump in and do it.
I was about 12 years old, and I started cutting the neighbor’s yard. And then I did the following neighbor the next neighbor down. I had a trailer behind my bike, going down the street to the neighborhood.
Being an entrepreneur means you have to believe in yourself, your product or service, and make your clients a top priority.
When I watched Shark Tank, I see some people up there plugging stuff like, Are you kidding me? But if you believe in it, it doesn’t matter. And that’s all that matters, whether they go bankrupt or they make millions of dollars. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur because you did it.
Don’s take on the importance of how he grows his business.
I know I could step back from day to day, but my clients know they can call or text me. That’s important to me, you know. Doing paperwork? I mean, I’ll screw it up. I don’t go into the database. I never touch that. So I just like being with people.
Entrepreneurs love the opportunity to grow their businesses. But many don’t think about how to say it’s time to move on.
That’s why I have a succession plan in place, which I think every small business owner should have. So you don’t leave your clients hanging.
A lot of business owners are scared to talk to their competitors. But are entrepreneur competitors really in competition?
Two of my best friends, one of them is a fairly big car dealer here in town, a Ford guy, and another friend of mine, the Chevy Guy, both behemoths and what they do, their best friends. They share ideas. They’re not competitors. You’d think that, but they’re really not. But the mindset of most people is, Oh yeah, they’re competitors.