Matt Hempel is the founder of Agilitech, LLC, a software and technology reseller that provides fully automated sales and marketing systems to business owners, prospective online and network marketers, coaches and traditional professionals. Chief among them is Auto Recruiting Platform (ARP).
A Great Business Model for Any Business Model
ARP is designed to fill many of the gaps that restrict today’s businesses from reaching their full potential in areas like lead generation, content creation, marketing or even the inability to close sales. It’s a powerful new tool in the form of a franchise-grade software and business management platform, one that is compatible with any business model.
A service-disabled Navy veteran who served for 25 years, Matt is now a successful business owner, one who knows firsthand all about the grit and determination it takes to own a business of your own and make it work. That’s precisely why he’s promoting and supporting a business opportunity with a tool set that virtually anyone can master and benefit from.
In fact, he says, “We supplement our software platforms with franchise-grade management and consulting expertise to help everyone, regardless of skill set or experience, to achieve their business goals in any business model. We’re committed to getting everyone results through the power of automation, duplication and leverage, all of which can be realized with the new democratization of business systems.”
Matt Hempel: The Entrepreneur Exchange Interview
Asked to respond to some of our Entrepreneur Exchange readers’ most often-asked questions, Matt had a good deal to share. Here he talks about everything from small startup bizopps to the many benefits of business systems management automation and everything in between.
Plus, you won’t want to miss his Business Opportunity Evaluation Checklist. It’s by far one of the best we’ve ever seen!
Start-up Is About Something Deep Down
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
My experience is that “having what it takes” comes from an individual perspective for each person, but there are some common themes I’ve observed. Perhaps the most important attribute I’ve seen is the deep-rooted sense of wanting more than what is typically available as an employee working for someone else—and I’m not just talking about money. There’s something down in there that’s driving you towards wanting to create, implement, build, facilitate, operate, fix, develop, configure, promote, design, improve, lift up, deploy, consolidate, organize, contribute to…something that will make a difference for you and for other people.
Secondly, be sure that whatever business or business model you get into has a system that can be wrapped around it. I think organization and process are really important. If your plan is to wing it, that’s not a plan. The quicker you can get some data points established, the better. Data gives you visibility into the heart and soul of your business. The numbers don’t lie — you will get to the truth about your business the quickest with good data.
Think Automation: How Wasting Time and Lack of Cash Flow Robs You of Success
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
I really think there is an overload of information and administrative activity bearing down on particularly new or part-time business owners. Wasting time is probably the biggest challenge (and robber of success) that they face.
What’s real? What’s a distraction? What’s absolutely critical? What can wait? What do I have to do right now, or I’ll be out of business in three months? Where should I advertise? How can I best market my products or services? What product or service knowledge must I have to be effective? Can I really close sales?
Think about it, for the typical small business owner or home-based business entrepreneur, there is usually a crushing amount of information to process and learn just to get a business to a position of positive cash flow.
For any new business owner I think the most important thing is to get to positive cash flow as quickly as possible. This does several things: It is positive reinforcement for your marketing efforts, systems and processes, and it helps fuel further growth. Additionally, getting to positive cash flow represents a tipping point that you can point to.
There is nothing more demoralizing than negative cash flow for extended duration. We rely on automated systems and franchise-like business models to get to positive cash flow quickly. It really changes a person’s entire outlook.
Between cash flow challenges and the type of mental overload I described before, there’s just so much on any business owner’s plate these days. Plus, there are a voluminous number of gurus and coaches out there telling us we have to do this, learn that and adapt a certain mindset in order to be successful. It’s a lot of pressure.
I don’t disagree with them on much of it. There are ways of thinking that are helpful, but wouldn’t it be nice if there really just wasn’t anything to learn in order to be successful? What if you could bring yourself, just as you are, to a proven business model and just DO? Not learn, not study, not get ready to get ready and not prepare…just DO!
This is why franchises and business opportunities of all kinds continue to be such attractive and highly effective models for doing business. And sales and management systems that are automated emulate franchising to a great degree.
Marketing and traffic specific to your or any business? It can be readily available and fully automated. The initial sorting required for quality lead generation? Automated. How about the further sorting of prospects? All automated through an application process. Presenting the offer? That’s automated too, as is closing the sale. Even getting a new client up and running and encouraging and allowing them to make repeat purchases from any business can largely be automated.
I’m not saying that business requires no human involvement. It’s really quite the contrary.
People buy from people. People have relationships with people. There’s no way around it. What I am saying is that if we can automate or outsource the most time-consuming segments of our or any business, we should. It frees us up to focus on the most important person of all… the highly qualified prospect or existing customer.
The other thing to think about is: What are you good at doing?
Where do you lack skills or abilities? If you think about all the things that must be accomplished to further your business, it can be crushing. Advertising, marketing, sales processes, lead qualification, financial administration, closing sales, servicing customers and the list goes on and on.
If you’re a brick and mortar guy or gal, there’s a whole host of additional business components to consider. We all have weaknesses, gaps in our capability to run and administer our business that are sometimes self-limiting, and that’s where the promise of automation comes in to help.
Matt’s Business Opportunity Evaluation Checklist
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
I’m very big on checklists, and using one to evaluate a potential business opportunity or other model is no exception. Here’s my checklist for any entrepreneur who is looking to get into business:
1. Know Yourself — Assess your strengths, weaknesses, skills, abilities and interests. If you’re a really good carpenter and want to make and sell furniture, you’re probably not going to be happy in a health and wellness-distributor model. Do an inventory all about and of you, starting with what it is you have in reserve that you bring to the table?
2. Credibility — If you’re buying into a franchise, online business, distributorship or anything else where you’ll be joining a group of people, it’s important to know their track record. There are a lot of very reputable network-marketing outfits, franchises, affiliate programs, etc., but there’s a lot of junk out there as well. My reputation and brand are too valuable to waste on an organization with weak credibility in the marketplace. Ethics and integrity still count and are a distinguishing factor in today’s increasingly competitive world.
3. Portability — It’s almost 2014. Any business model I buy into must be able to be run from anywhere in the world with a laptop and an internet connection, or preferably a smart phone and a cell connection. Mobile is the future. I want my business model married to mobile.
4. Automation — To what degree can the Agilitech, LLC, featuring ARP business operation be automated? See #3 above.
5. Scalability — What happens three years from now when the company in question is exploding with growth? Can its systems, technologies and processes keep pace? Can they handle the projected volume? If you’re building a team of people (distributors or business partners), how will you handle the care and feeding for all those people? Does the business model you’re contemplating require a lot of hand holding?
6. Duplication — This goes to #5 above. In those types of business models, your success and the success of your team is based on the ability to duplicate. If your opportunity is built around a guru, that’s not duplicable. Your team must be able to duplicate what you’re doing; therefore, simplicity, automation and more simplicity are KEY.
People are highly observant. If they see some convoluted sales process, some highly specialized skill set required or a complicated method of obtaining customers, they’ll go elsewhere. You want people in your sales cycle to look around at what they’re experiencing and say, “Wow, this is pretty simple and effective. I could do this no problem!”
If you’re approach to sales (think automation) works on them, it will work for them. It’s a simple equation really: Duplication = Simplicity + Automation = Success for Everyone!
7. Leverage — Without leverage, you’re just buying yourself another job when you buy a business. Leverage comes in many forms, some of which are not as apparent as others.
These are the points of leverage I look for when evaluating a business…
- Technology — How does and do the business model and business operational processes use leverage to decrease your workload and increase sales? How does the technology facilitate duplication in your organization (Can your team use the same technology to get the same results?)? How does the technology automate your business? How does the technology facilitate data visibility? Systems are great if they work. Systems are absolutely indispensable, if they can provide true leverage in your business.
- People — How is the business model/opportunity structured in terms of compensation? Can you benefit by building a team from which you receive a small portion of their sales? Many network-marketing companies are built on this model. In reality, it only takes a handful of productive team members to build a substantial income.
- Multi-faceted Market — Are you confined to marketing a single product or service? What is the true market for what you’re peddling? There’s far more leverage accrued to those business models that support or distribute different kinds of products and services to different segments of the marketplace. You don’t necessarily have to be in each market; you just have to have the ability to maneuver and change direction to another channel if you need to. There’s a great deal of leverage in that.
- Do the Work Once, Get Paid Over and Over — Residual income is a good thing. This is the classic subscription model or consumption model that is so attractive in the business landscape today. You do the work to get a subscribing or consuming customer, and you’re then in a position of monthly recurring revenue. Do it again and again, and you build substantial long-term income.
- Broad, International Market — Is the opportunity you’re considering localized to one geographic region or country? It’s best to mitigate the risk and increase your leverage by being able to market and sell internationally.
8. Data Visibility — I’ve got to have access to a clear set of metrics. Without metrics, I’m piloting an airplane blind. I want to be able to know my return on an advertising spend, my conversion rates, my repeat purchase rates, costs to run my business, and I want everything in one place so that I can rack and stack to operate in the most efficient way possible.
9. Time to Positive Cash Flow — I’m a bit of a numbers guy, and I always do a pro forma where I insert different assumptions on sales, marketplace, cost per sale, overhead, growth projections, etc., so I can try to get an idea of when I can realistically begin to see positive cash flow. Best case, worst case, most probable case…I want to know them all. At the end of the day, it’s all about managing risk.
10. Initial investment and Ongoing Operating Investment — How much capital do I really need to get this thing off the ground? When is break even? What is my ROI projected to be and by when? Are there hidden costs that I need to know about?
11. Gut Check — Finally, there’s the gut check. I know that’s not a very scientific term, but if you’ve done your homework and you feel positive that it all feels right, then don’ t delay.
Contribution, Not Competition
What on-line, software or other resources have helped you the most in managing all aspects of your company? Why and how have they been helpful?
I have been very fortunate to be associated with the creator of phenomenal sales platforms, systems, sales automation and marketing for 10 years now. Why is this significant? We have an organization with a proven track record of bringing systems to the marketplace that facilitate duplication and success for people.
We really have evolved beyond an organization into a community of like-minded people that focuses on contribution rather than competition. This is really important in an environment that can be pretty rough and tumble for the newbie, as well as the guru.
We want people to be successful. We want people to make money, and we build and deploy automated sales and management platforms to help them do just that, no matter what their business or endeavor.
Truth in Analytics
What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?
I was a management consultant with a Big 5 consultancy working with government clients. I think the most valuable skill I developed there, one that helps me every day in my business, is the ability to take disparate information from various sources — whether it’s a client project, a new product deployment, a new marketing approach — and organize and evaluate that raw data.
There is great truth in analytics. You must be able to distill and discern within the environment you’re in and be able to communicate accurate information, what the data really means, to your clients, colleagues and customers.
Fine-Tuning the Funnel and Ensuring a Win-Win
What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale? Any tips?
There is tremendous power in process and automation. There are way too many business models out there that require too much human involvement in the sales process. I prefer proven sales automation systems that sort and qualify my prospects up front.
There’s nothing more disheartening, especially for the new business owner or online entrepreneur, than having to use the phone to sort through a bunch of people that you’re really wasting your time in talking with them. Find an automated system, set up the sales process (funnel) and drive quality traffic to that sorting mechanism you’ve set up.
Time is the most precious asset we all have. Let’s take ourselves out of the most time-consuming and potentially least productive segment of the sales cycle and let the automation handle the sorting and selecting for us.
Another thing we do is that we require an application in order to progress through our automated sales system. Why an application? Again, it’s a sorting mechanism where we get to find out more about what is really driving a person and what they really want to accomplish. This process makes for a rich and meaningful conversation when we finally do communicate, and we can guide a person toward the best fit for them within our business model, something that matches what they’re really looking to accomplish.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
Change of Scenery Is Helpful
If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
I have worked from a home office for the past ten years. I’ve got to say that I don’t think it’s for everyone. It requires discipline and an understanding with family members that your home office is just like any other. This is where we work to make money to support the family. There’s got to be a distancing during working hours, if there are others in the home.
Finally, it’s really good to get out of the home office and work in a different setting occasionally, whether it’s the corporate office, the local coffee shop or library. Change of scenery is helpful.