Building Business Infrastructure with Tony Roedersheimer
Announcer: Welcome to the “What Matters Most” podcast, presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s My Bank. Visit us today at, mybank.com.
Eric: Hello, and welcome to “What Matters Most,” the podcast all about finances, communities, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at My Bank First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter. And in today’s episode, we’re in our continuing series of what matters most about businesses.
And today we’re talking with Tony about building a small business infrastructure. So for this discussion in this multi-part series, we’re talking like I said, with Tony Roedersheimer, commercial relationship manager serving the Frederick, Maryland market of First United. Thanks for joining me again, Tony. How are you doing today?
Tony: Excellent, Eric. Thanks for having me again.
Eric: Yeah, really appreciate it
Tony: Looking forward to it.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. Well, I think the topic today is kind of important, especially for, you know, last time we spoke we talked about the Main Street loan program and how that can help businesses. But let’s…we’re kind of peeling way back here and talking about how do you build a small business infrastructure that can last, a successful business. And so I think this is gonna be a really, really fascinating conversation, something that could potentially help people who are just getting their business set up, but maybe some people who’ve been in it for a while and wanna make sure that their foundation is strong. So I appreciate you bringing this topic to our attention.
Tony: Yeah, no problem. I’m excited. This is what I live and breathe every day, you know, talking to small business owners and so, you really get some insight of what’s working and what’s adding to the success of these small businesses and mid-sized businesses and you know, how they over…have overcome some of the challenges that they faced in again, a very dynamic, you know, kind of financial time.
Eric: Absolutely, yeah. Well, especially right now, things are just so ever-changing, challenging. There’s a bunch of adjectives you could throw at what’s happening in 2020. But let’s dive into building a small business infrastructure. And in your experience and all the experience you have working with all the different businesses and different sizes of businesses, why is infrastructure important to a successful business?
Tony: You know, I think we build infrastructure, and I kind of look at this as a small business is run by the business owner, whether it’s a partnership or a single entity, but you know, the business goes as that owner goes. So I kind of equate that to, you know, this big cog that everything else is running off of. Well, when you only have one cog, as you slow down your business slows down.
When you go on vacation, your business goes on vacation. And so you spend so much time, and so as your business grows you need to basically diversify the energy away from the single cog into, you know, multiple different kind of verticals, or multiple different, you know, basically, cogs that you know, still intertwined and still are running the business but you know, are powered not only by you, you know but are powered by the individual, you know, your management team or the infrastructure that you’ve built.
And so you can see this in really large, complex organizations. They have middle management. They have directors. They have your C-level, and then they have, you know, your board. And so it’s really easy to see that in a very well-defined large organization when you look at those org charts. When you look at a small business or a middle-sized business, you know, it becomes a little bit more cloudy on what roles and responsibilities. You hear this all the time where people say they wear multiple hats within an organization. And that’s so true.
And so why it’s important is that business has to eventually run as if you aren’t there. And so building that out with, you know, trusted individuals and giving them the trust of knowing that, you know, they’re part of this, you know, machine is so important to start early, because once you get in and you create that culture, and try to create that culture later it’s just difficult. You know, so starting that early is whether you act on it early, I think defining it early is terribly important.
Eric: Sure. Sounds like a mapping out the vision for where…how am I gonna be able to go on vacation?
Tony: That’s right. That’s right. And maybe that’s your first goal, right? How do I go on vacation?
Eric: How can I walk away and things don’t completely fall apart?
Tony: That’s right.
Eric: So, well, let’s talk a little bit about that. So what trends are you seeing in terms of how businesses are building that infrastructure out? Like what’s that looking like?
Tony: Yeah, and I think one of the things that we’ve probably learned is, you know, in the business owners and individuals, professionals that work with business owners is over the last six months you’ve just had to adapt, whether it’s adapt to, you know, the implementation of PPE, or adapt to, you know, having complete closures to the labor market, and unemployment, and, you know, so many different things.
And so, you know, the business owners that have been able to adapt to the changing times are the ones that, you know, have that mindset and have the right mindset of, you know, things are gonna change. And it’s no different in, you know, how you build out your infrastructure. You know, I always can go back to, you know, go down and talk to, you know, John in accounting, or go talk to, you know, Sally in human resources, or, you know, that type of thing.
You had all of these departments that were part of your team. They were employees of the organization. And, you know, that just isn’t the…isn’t the case now. You have a lot more, you know, fractional roles. So whether that’d be fractional marketing or fractional CFO, fractional human resources, no longer do we have multiple departments. But we’re actually outsourcing, you know, kind of entire departments to, you know, that specialty. They do that day in and day out, and they manage you know, again, your accounting, your human resources.
And so we’re definitely, you know, marketing. We’re definitely seeing that trend, you know, especially as you’re starting to grow because…and the importance of it is, when you make that mistake, you make that marketing mistake, and you’re trying to grow, and you’re just this young, you know, young company, it can set you back, you know, a number of years, just by not having the right, you know, expertise. And again, we go back to, you can’t be the expert on everything as a business owner.
Eric: Right. So you’re talking outsourcing all…like outside of the walls of your company, and just kind of sectioning off all these different facilities that you need, all these different aspects of the business, running the business you need to third-party companies that that’s all they do.
Tony: Yeah, and, obviously, you don’t want to outsource your entire company, right? Although I’m sure there are people out there that might think differently, you know, you do need to have your core competencies that are in-house. And so the things that you can manage and feel comfortable with, you know, go ahead and manage those, you know, through the…you know, through direct hires and having those be employees of the company.
But you are going to run into certain things, especially again, as you grow. I don’t need a marketing director if you know, I have four clients. But I might need some help with how to get started with marketing. And so it’s a way to kind of dip your toe into these different areas without adding the overhead and the expense.
Eric: Yeah, it certainly helps from an expense standpoint, for sure, because you know, you…and it allows you, I think more…to more easily swap out parts. If something isn’t going right with that outsourced vendor that you’re using, you can easily kind of plug and play a different one if you’re not finding the right fit.
Tony: Yeah, there’s definitely a modular component to that as well. And again, you know, as you get to… You know, there’s trade-offs of that as well you know, on the other side of things. You do lose a little bit of control with that. There’s…you know, because it’s outside of your walls, then you’re also subject to someone else’s, you know, you know, time policy if you will.
Eric: Right. Yeah, you’re on their clock, not yours, yeah.
Tony: That’s right.
Eric: Yeah. So are there any other trends that you’re seeing from that standpoint? I mean, that outsourcing aspect, is that a more recent trend? Is that more COVID-related? Or is that just kind of the trend in general even before COVID?
Tony: Yeah, I think it’s been a kind of a growing trend. And you hear this, you hear this saying a lot is, you know, I don’t know what I don’t know. And so as businesses, again, are being more strategic… And I use this example. I had a conversation the other day with someone and, you know, how did you react to COVID? How did you react to the closing of your…you know, this was one of the businesses that was mandated to close.
And you know, he said that, you know…and the example is that he learned in 2008 and you know, so 2010 that he was slow to react to the changing marketplace there. And that ended up costing him in the end, because he didn’t react quick enough. And so kind of living through that he was able to act, you know, ultra-quick to cut expenses. You know, he started making phone calls on the expense side almost immediately because he knew that was something he could control.
And so, you know, I think that that’s pretty telling of, you know, what we’ve experienced in the past will hopefully shape, you know, what we do the next time we’re faced with, you know, a crisis or something like that.
Eric: Sure, yeah. And we talk about it a lot, or just even on a small scale, in our staff, we talk about rolling with the punches because there’s so many things happening, and you kind of have to be in that mindset of just figuring out what to do next and being able to make those decisions pretty quickly.
Tony: Yeah, definitely. And again, I think it goes back to, you know, we talk about…a lot of times we think about, you know, infrastructure as, you know, actual expenses. But, you know, infrastructure of your business can also be a peer group. It can be your banking, your, you know, banking, financial professional, it can be a CPA, it can be, you know, those types of people that you kind of lean on for advice, or lean on for, you know, “Hey, what do you think about this?”
And just having those…you know, that group of people, you know, whether it be peers, or other professionals that you can lean on as well as, you know, the actual management, you know, that you’ve brought in-house or outsourced, you know, all of a sudden you start defining a really, you know, kind of robust infrastructure that allows you to, you know, kind of lean on and take what you need from each one of those, you know, individuals and you know, continue to kind of grow your company in the direction you think it should go.
Eric: Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. Well, what about kind of like, further out, so a business, they’re not just getting started. You know, they’ve been in this for a while. Are there thoughts for more long-standing businesses on how they can improve their infrastructure?
Tony: Yeah, I think one of the biggest things is, and I think this is in life, is we kind of get to the top of the mountain and we say, “All right, I’ve made it. Yeah, I made it to the top.” And then we kind of have a chance to, you know, kind of look back down from where we, you know, where we climbed from. And then all of a sudden, we look up and there’s another mountain in front of us, right?
Tony: And I think most business owners didn’t…you know, they don’t start a business to get to X, and then just give up, right? They get, and then they know that there’s gonna be another mountain to climb after that. And so I think one of the things to think about with that is just investing back into the business. And think about it. If you’re going to go climb a mountain, so you’ve got some gear, you know, you’ve got to map you know, you’ve got to understand what the very basics to climb up the smallest hill.
But if you want to get to that next, you’re gonna have to invest in it. You’re gonna invest in better gear. You’ve got to invest in those types of things. And a business is no different. You’ve got to keep continually you know, pushing the funds back into the business. And I think that that, you know, as you build infrastructure, and you build out the business, is making sure that the success of the business is your number one focus, you know, with profits, is that it’s going back into the…then they call it piling on profits. And it’s true.
And I’ll tell you from firsthand experience, that that is the difference between if you had two companies that started in the exact same industry at the exact same time, the ones that, you know, continually invest back into the business, you know, always outpace the ones that don’t. So, you know, it’s, again, pretty important. And something I think, you know, we’ve talked about this before, but, you know, most small businesses file as an S-corp and you know, those funds, you know, are distributed out. And so once they go out of the business it’s a lot easier, you know, to…
Eric: To not put it back in.
Tony: …to not go back in. Yeah, to not go back in, because that… And to be fair, you know, there’s…that’s the reward of all of the time that you know, that someone spent climbing that, you know, climbing that mountain. They just have to know that, hey, there’s another mountain and I’ve got to keep some of these resources, some of this capital for that next challenge that’s gonna come. And I think that’s what separated businesses in the last six months, you know, the ones that were well-capitalized have been able to weather the storm better than ones that weren’t, and so that capital is money invested back into the business.
Eric: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a really strong message and a good reminder for everybody to…it’s similar I think from like a sports analogy is, you know, putting the time in on the court shooting the free throws, even when nobody’s…you know, when you’re not in a game because it’s just gonna…it’s investing back into yourself. So putting that into the business is just gonna make it push it further.
Tony: Yeah, and something I tell the kids all the time is exactly that. You think you’re working hard? There’s someone…I guarantee you, there’s someone out there working harder than you. And so you’re gonna have to keep that same mindset is, you know, there’s always gonna be the next challenge.
Eric: Right. No, it’s good, good advice. Well, Tony, do you have any closing thoughts to kind of wrap up our discussion here about small business infrastructure?
Tony: No, I appreciate it. Again, I think having conversations early on you’re looking to start a business, or I think the other is grow a business, where you’ve kind of solidified the business, so you say, “Okay, now I’m ready to take that next challenge or that next step,” you know, building out that infrastructure, defining that early, and the roles of each one of those individuals, whether again, be in-house or an outsourced or, you know, again, a peer group, you know, that’s gonna be an important aspect of how you continually kind of redefine the business as it does grow.
Eric: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Tony, thanks again for joining me. I really appreciate you joining us for the second part in our series here. And this is really, really helpful information.
Tony: I appreciate it. And if you have any other…any listeners have any additional questions they can hit the contact button on www.mybank.com or they can contact me directly. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric: Right. Yeah, I appreciate that. And we’ll actually link to your email address in the show notes for this episode. So that brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast, or on your favorite podcast app. You can also always leave feedback, ask questions or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to email@example.com. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next week with more helpful content. But until then we wish you the best in focusing on what matters most to you.
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