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Chris LoCurto


October 31, 2012

Ask Your Questions Of Me

October 31, 2012 | By | 60 Comments">60 Comments

Tomorrow I’m going to head into the studio to record one of our most popular EntreLeadership Podcasts, the Question & Answer episode. I would love for you to let me know what questions you would like to ask of me. Please be sure to ask your questions in the comments section.

  • Kelly


    In budgeting our landscape maintenance business, I have a few questions.

    1.) If there is business debt that we are motivated to knock out, but realistically we will be having those regular needs to reinvest the retained earnings for equipment repairs, auto repairs, new equipment needs, ect…This requires a substantial amount of money every month to put aside for these needs. It pretty much takes the full amount of retained earnings every month right now to prepare for these events. is t My questions: Is there a conservative amount of money to set aside in the retained earnings account before taking extra profits available and throwing it at the debt. If we are looking to pay off about $30K of equipment and auto debt and only have $1000 in retained earnings account right now, how much more should we first add to the retained earnings before throwing the extra profit towards the debt? Can I add that we are also needing another worker in a month or two in order to keep some very profitable accounts. Summer months require more workers. We currently have the money for another worker, but between the money we set aside for reinvestment needs and a new employee, there isn’t much left for paying the debt. We have worked down the debt fast during the winter months due to not spending as much on gas and payroll. Should we stop paying down debt and play it safe for a time in order to keep business rolling and growing right now? Or stay at paying down debt and not have a comfortable cushion in the retained earnings account? Paying off debt is VERY IMPORTANT to us, but not wanting to risk getting ourselves in a cash flow bind. BTW, we do not plan on financing equipment again. We never have financed anything in our business in the past 12 years, and it was a bad idea that we did last year. But, none-the-less, I am a “baby” EntreLeader now and see the light very clearly! Now it’s just making choices in getting back to debt-free business as usual.

    2.) Is it important to switch a subcontracted worker from SubContractor status to an employed worker on our payroll if his job description is no longer subcontractor? He was hired and was given all the tax forms and such to act as subcontractor last year and quickly became more of an employee or “team member”. It is cheaper to keep him as subcontractor with payroll tax savings. But is there a law that bans this or even a liability in doing it this way? There has to be draw backs or something in the law that prevents this, otherwise wouldn’t most people rather have Sub workers? He will not be with us much longer than mid summer anyways, but going forward, I would like to know how to manage things like this. He will be serving our country in the military real soon again. Thanks Adam, btw!!! I will add that we have him under our Worker’s Compensation Plan. He does not have his own. We knew W/C was necessary for him, us and our clients.

    Thank you so much! Love Love Love you guys! Reading, Listening and Learning…and loving it!


    • Joshua Rivers

      Others may have better advice. I’m still a fairly new Entreleader myself.

      About paying off debt, I’d say that it is definitely important. But you definitely need the retained earnings. Just as an emergency fund is there to protect the individual/family. Get enough retained earnings to protect and prepare, then additional funds to pay off debt. It’ll take patience, but the debt will come off. The important thing is that you are making a plan.

      I would also advise speaking to your team and involving them in the process. If your team is supporting and helping you with this, it will be much easier, and maybe faster, to accomplish.

  • Troy Kent

    Chris, in many sports books & movies (Coach Carter, Miracle on Ice) based on team-work and unity, they all talk about getting people to believe in the team itself, playing for a cause, or playing for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the one on the back. With this approach many positives can be found, but I’m curious how this translates to business. Where is the line between maintaining the importance of the team wins/losses versus the individuals – and where to recognize an individual’s success or failure without damaging the feelings of other team members (Coach K preaches that his teams ALWAYS win or lose as a team). Are there areas of business where we can take the individual approach, and others where we measure, focus, and celebrate only the team’s score? If so, which ones fit where? – Thanks, Troy

  • preferred stocks

    I don’t see much of an end in sight. The field I am in is full of these varieties of business models, so I’m thinking it might indeed be time to change professions fully. Communication is a challenge in my organization, and while I have started the weekly report to keep my team members aware of what I am working on, there’s little reciprocation

  • preferred stocks

    I have no reason to distrust my interns as they do good work and have never let me down. In contrast, I wake up every day thinking of ways to make the company a better place to work, more effectual, and how to mentor those individuals who are not carrying their load.

  • Carol Dublin

    Lots of good questions presented here. My question is related to communication. Communication is a challenge in my organization, and while I have started the weekly report to keep my team members aware of what I am working on, there is little reciprocation.

    How can I encourage good communication up the leadership chain and among my peers, other than just being a good example?

  • April

    Hi Chris,
    I’m the founder of a new start up ( something I never planned on but excited about). I am networking with a business incubator. My advisors are impressed with my vision and business plan and want to assist in expanding the company throughout the southeast. What are your thoughts on angel investors? Is it better to grow slow? I have not borrowed any money for the start up but realize a large expansion would not be possible without investors. Your thoughts…

  • Sandra Springer

    I am part of a two person ‘supervisor team’ and we both report to the same manager. My partner has much more experience in the company than I do and I find often he and our manager ;make a lot of decisions without including me which makes me feel less than worthy. What, besides hard work and time, can I do to help build the trust of my manager to let me in on more of the decisions?

  • Dallon Christensen

    What methods or tools does your organization do to pick the ideas to execute? I seem to have a lot of ideas, but I sometimes have trouble picking the right ones to focus on. Thanks!

  • Jethrojones

    I’d love to hear you talk about working in a system with Unions or in Education. I am an assistant principal at an elementary school, and much of what I can or can’t do is governed by union rules. Things like perks for teachers and other team members are very limited. One example, no gift cards to district employees.

  • Rob A. Lott

    There is a lot of discussion about deligation – focus on your strengths, deligate your weaknesses. There’s also a lot of discussion around getting out of the way to let new young leaders lead. My question is, how do you balance deligation and getting out of the way with the avoidance of a perception of laziness?

  • Gary h

    Chris With our national economy so fragile, what. Is prevailing opinion around the Ramsey organiztion in relationship to an over all crash of the US economy? Or possible crash?

  • skottydog

    How do you decide when your time is more valuable than your money while in the early stages of marketing?

    Basically, is there a formula or method for determining when to work on things yourself as opposed to hiring someone to help you, whether promoting a business, a book, a blog, or any other product?

  • Bret Wortman

    Here’s another. In the early days, my company will be just one or two of us. I own the company. I’m also hoping to accelerate baby step 2 and knock it out quickly.

    How does one balance that goal against keeping the company financially sound? How much profit should be retained in the company versus how much should be used to get me to a place where I can stop focusing on digging out of the hole and start focusing on building a new structure on top of the now filled-in hole?

  • Bret Wortman

    In a small company, how much communication from leadership to the team is appropriate regarding a departing member? If that team member is leaving of their own accord, or if they are being laid off without cause, or if they’re being terminated with cause, does that change things at all?

  • Mark J. Sebast

    We have one office position available, an ADMIN Assistant to Eric & I. We advertised the position
    HR ran thru 20 applicants, quickly narrowed the field to 6
    Eric, our VP narrowed it to 3, and I closely got it to 2. We are logger-headed at this point
    We have a more vastly experienced, awesome attitude, only 2 jobs in 17 years applicant who is looking to make $18-20/hour
    We have a lesser but closely related experienced, awesome attitude, very long term probability – looking for 13-15/hr
    I lean to trying for the higher experience – but the push-back is that our starting pay is 14-16/hr. I say give her the opportunity and see what response we get from her.
    Eric leans toward the lesser experienced… expecting nearly the same ramp-up time, and we know the family, pretty confident that she will stay long-term and be awesome… and that she will be happier with the initial pay & opportunity to grow
    We’re going to do the DISC test with both of them & meet them this friday with a 3rd member of our team…….

  • Tom Brichacek

    What is the best way to budget in a small business. I don’t know my monthly revenue exactly as it goes by when projects are completed. So some months are huge and some are ugly.

    I am doing a great zero based budget at home, but it isn’t working at the office. Is there a easy way to budget?

  • Matt Cox

    My question relates to helping my new business get off the ground. I am out of work, I have skills in SEO, Web Design, and internet marketing. What tips can you give me on how to gain internet marketing/SEO clients. I have many books but some seem to address this. I have a website, I am in local directories, I pass out cards. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks, Matt Cox-SEO Engineer

    • Joshua Rivers

      I’d love to hear this answer, too! Kind of in the same boat.

  • Ted

    FDIC insures deposits up to $250,000. What if you have assets 10 times that? Do you open 10 different bank accounts? We checked into “collateralizing” but they want to charge us money to protect our money. Kinda like “money insurance”.

  • Valerie Zumwalt “MamaZooma”

    My leader (the owner) is consistently telling me I am “second-in-command” in the business, but she is concerned that I’m too task oriented and not seeing the big picture.
    I’m a high C, so I’m naturally detail oriented and analytical. How can I overcome this obstacle? Or, am I just not programmed to be a big picture leader?

  • Lily Kreitinger

    Here’s my question for the day. Where do you draw the line between a personality trait and a performance issue? For example a high C who is always asking or more detail and no matter what the level of detail it doesn’t seem to be enough?

    • Mark Sieverkropp

      I’d draw it in the sand…but that’s just me :)

      • Joshua Rivers

        Is that so you can change where the line is? :) Sounds like a good plan to me.

        • Matt McWilliams

          There is a Mitt Romney joke in there somewhere.

  • Debra Ross

    I run an online publishing network of local web resource sites for parents. My entire business is virtual; each editor is a parent working part-time from home to find all of the great stuff to do in their local area. We are committed to building a vibrant and fun corporate culture as we expand. Our goal is to nurture each editor to help them become an EntreLeader. We’d love to hear some ideas for building a great virtual culture that will help each team member feel invested in what we are creating together.

  • Bill Bartsch

    HI Chris,
    Thank you for the great work, love the podcast and all the great material.

    My question: I work for a family owned business (my father owns it 100%) and have a very large roll now but would like to start doing things differently (using what I’ve learned from EntreLeadership, reading, ect.) whenever I bring up trying to do things differently I’m met with the “I’ve been doing it for 30 years like this and I know how I want it done” line. This is especially true when it comes to debt and dealing with employees. How can I best deal with this? I try to use and implement as many of the ideas as possible but I can see that the debt issue is having detrimental effects on the business and given my “relationship” with the owner, it can get very frustrating at times. (He is an ultra high “D”) Any tips on getting him to see things from my perspective and still keep us on speaking terms would be great.

    Thanks again for all the wonderful insights

  • Keith &Kinsey Schulz

    My wife and I are both real estate agents. I am working towards getting my brokers license so that we can ultimately start our own brokerage. I know my wife has an easier time taking direction from others rather then her own husband. What advice do you have on leadership when working with loved ones.

  • Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    Hi Chris,
    A few questions for my favorite Chris LoCurto:
    1. Bookkeeping – Similar to Harvey’s note about limited funds when starting a speaking business (or any other business where it is one person), what is the best budget tool tracker you have found for small business that is easy to use and can extract needed info for taxes and tracking?
    2. Accountant? – Is it worth investing in an accountant to do taxes or is it okay to do something like Turbo Tax when starting out? I find I learn from something like Turbo Tax as it explains things as you go compared to when I use to bring my taxes in to be done. If an accountant is truly a necessity, is it best to contact one (personally would go through a Dave Ramsey ELP if I was going to) ahead of time to help set up a system ahead of time?
    3. Life / Business – How are you doing? Can you share any words of wisdom as to what you have learned as far as business, personal life, how to deal with major life changes WHEN they strike? What has been the most surprising thing you have learned from this?
    Please know Chelsea as well as your family are in our prayers.
    Live Beyond Awesome.

  • Victor

    Just read the “Show me the Money” chapter in EntreLeadership and I was wondering how to apply that information into a doctor’s office. I have 2 part-time team members. I’ve always done some form of profit sharing, but just like Dave says, I think it gets “uncounted” and they feel they are “entitled” to it. What is the best way incentivize a front desk position?

  • James Kiriazes

    I just took over as General Manager of a small company (14 people) in Nashville. For years this company has operated without any Key Performance Indicators for any of the staff. I am starting down the path to define the job duties for each role and determine KPIs. I am finding this to be quite the daunting task and even concerned that some of the staff are placed in the wrong positions. This little fact will become immediately apparent once job duties and KPIs are established I am wondering if you had any advice as to the best way to plan out how to get this accomplished (a KPI-snowball so to speak).

  • William

    Hi Chris. I just want to say that I love everything y’all do and I’m wondering if y’all have ever considered putting together some sort of network for potential team members to find potential Entreleaders?

  • Mike Chambers

    Hey Chris,
    I don’t remember if I asked this before or if you answered it. But what I was wondering is if you have or know of a system or pattern of what to do as a leader when you take over an organization as the new boss, or if your own organization grows to a certain level. I was wondering when you put in place Standard Operating procedures and Policy and procedures etc. And is it one of the places you make sure you can work with and are in place when you would become the new leader of an organization. Do you have some sort of checklist of things to get done or up to speed in your first couple weeks or months?

  • Matt McWilliams

    Here is a real life example that I still cannot figure out. What is the best way to handle this situation:

    If you hire a salesperson to sell your widgets and pay him 10% commission while the company makes a profit of 20%, what do you do when your profit margin is cut significantly and you can no longer afford to pay a 10% commission? How do we communicate the need to cut commissions and still keep a loyal team member?

    (It doesn’t matter for the answer, but in my case, 55% went to marketing/cost of goods/overhead and 15% to servicing the sale afterwards. The marketing costs and cost of goods shot up dramatically while the average price point stayed steady. We tried raising prices but sales went down enough to offset that.)

    • Mark Sieverkropp

      The real question is, who is buying widgets? I’ve never bought–or seen– one! :)

      • Joshua Rivers

        I think it’s like a thing-a-mabob or a do-hicky

        • Matt McWilliams


          • Bret Wortman


          • Joshua Rivers

            mmmmmm….candy bar….

    • Joshua Rivers

      Is it just one or a couple items, or everything?

      • Matt McWilliams

        Essentially across the board. It’s a situation that came up years ago and I have never been satisfied with how we handled it…or really come up with a great way to do so.

  • Scott Reyes

    What are the top 3 most important elements of promoting and executing an event?

  • Richard

    How do you keep God at the forefront of your life every day and spread his word?

  • steelegoing

    I work in a company that has experienced exponential growth in the last 2-3 years, and a such, what culture was observable when I started has all but disappeared. In turn, people have been put in leadership positions that, in all honesty, should be doing something else (i.e., were put in that position because of years of experience instead of leadership competence). In contrast, I wake up every day thinking of ways to make the company a better place to work, more efficient, and how to mentor those individuals who are not carrying their load (reasons vary for this one) or are in junior positions. I am in what is considered a junior position.

    I meet resistance all the way up the leadership chain., and it truly seems as if the company is content to slowly spiral out of control and crash/burn. I’ve stuck it out due to my location (not many other companies in the area, don’t have enough time in the field to go it alone), but at what point do you just throw in the towel and admit that you can’t change the system and it’s time to move on to something new? I’ve been successful in sheltering those others around me from the poor leadership by personally bearing a lot of the burden and turning those lemons into lemonade, but I’m just flat out tired (mentally and physically) and I don’t see much of an end in sight. The field I am in is full of these types of business models, so I’m thinking it may be time to change professions completely.

    Your thoughts and insight would be greatly appreciated!

    • Joshua Rivers

      I think there are a lot of people like this. Chris – pick this question!

    • Tom Brichacek

      This is a great question! Let’s hear what you have to say….

  • Aaron Nelson

    Thank you so much for what you guys do!

    My question is this: what should a business do when they are working on paying down debt, but that debt is taking ALL of its profits. In other words, there is no extra money to do anything after meeting expenses.

    Should you ever delay a payment in order to try and use that money to generate more business?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Matt McWilliams

      Hey Aaron,

      If I may (since I am not Chris) ask a clarifying question and offer my own insight.

      By “expenses” do you mean everything (phones, rent, paper, salaries, etc etc) including minimum payments? Or does that include paying extra on the debt? And does it include your own reasonable (livable wage plus a little extra) salary?

      We went through a similar thing years ago when we got into debt (dumb on our part because we didn’t need to).

      Let’s say you have $200,000 in debt and the payments are $10,000/month. At that rate it would take you 7 years to pay it off (hypothetically).

      If you profits after paying all bills and minimum debts (and your salary) are $10,000, I would personally chunk all of that to an emergency fund until you have one full month’s expenses saved up. Then I would start chunking it to the debt.

      If it makes you feel better to continue to save a little bit, that is fine. Take $8000 towards debt and $2000 to save. Or take $500 to capital improvements. Whatever you think is best, but I would try to spend at least 75% on the debt.

      The one exception would be if you KNOW you are going to have a major expense coming up. If you know you are going to have to buy a new phone system and it costs $10,000 then save that in addition to the emergency fund. If you are in the US and must provide health coverage to employees in 2014, I wold start saving for that too.

      Keep seeing the light at the end of the tunnel man. When the debt is paid off, you don’t suddenly have $10000 extra. You have $20000 extra.

      So in short, use that money for:

      Emergency fund
      Known upcoming expenses
      (and no one is going to get mad if you take a small % and use it to buy new paint for the conference room if it needs it)

      • Joshua Rivers

        Paint for the conference room! What!?

        • Matt McWilliams

          Just saying that it’s OK not to be a total tightwad. :)

          On a personal level I am the tightwad that never wants to spend anything, save and invest it all.

          But I recently decided we should decorate the house. My wife had wanted to do so for a year. So…we went on a shopping spree. Dining room table, paintings, new shelves, new bookcase, new storage benches, dressers, and tons of other stuff. Went well into the fives of thousands :)

          But…the place feels like home. Now we are getting ready to do the same with my office.

          Sometimes it’s worth it.

      • Aaron Nelson

        Thanks for your input Matt – I really appreciate it. The situation, to clarify is the following:

        1. We are heavily in debt, and working to try and gain leverage – but it’s still not working.
        2. We’ve cut everything possible to cut to help reduce expenses. Our main outflow, as always, is payroll. Can’t really do much to cut there.
        3. I’m working in my business as many hours as I possibly can to help bring in extra – but still going slow.
        4. We just restructured one of our big debts, and that has come down to a very manageable monthly payment. The other debt, more stupider one, still doesn’t seem like we can do much to wrestle it down to size. We’re 3 months behind on this one.

        The problem: if we pay on the big debt, we basically get left with no money. We cover our business expenses like payroll, healthcare, communications, etc – and we’re now, thanks to the restructure, are able to cover our home expenses too.

        But, when all is said and done, we have nothing left over to try and build new business.

        I realize that our problem is that our client base has eroded, and we haven’t been able to rebuild it fast enough. If we could land a few clients, the issue would resolve itself – but landing new clients, at least for my business, tends to take 6- 12 months to make happen.

        We have fish on the line, but….I’m not sure how long it will really take for them to come on board.

        Maybe I just need to be patient…but I was just wondering the other day if it would be stupid or smart to try and spend some money we normally would use to pay on debt (minimum payments here….) to try and bring in new clients???

        I dunno. Today is not a very good day for me….it’s hard to know what is the best thing to do.

        Thanks for you care and help guys….

        • Matt McWilliams

          I don’t think anyone would argue if you met payroll and other basic needs and made minimum payments and had $5000 left over and used a portion of that to put towards building new business (that’s called marketing to me). In fact I would call you crazy if you didn’t.

          It’s one thing to go into more debt to buy a tractor. It’s one thing to spend money that could go to debt on things you don’t need (like an HR person if you have 7 employees or fancy new office chairs when the current ones are nice enough). It’s another to wisely spend money on marketing or sales.

          • Aaron Nelson

            Thanks man…food for thought. Chewing…chewing….:) Thanks for your time and ideas. I really appreciate them both.

        • Tom Brichacek

          I was in a similar situation 2 years ago. I was taking no salary and living off my savings. (lucky I had some) We went to minimum payments on everything. I even talked to some vendors and worked out 90 day terms to build cash flow. This allowed me to build some more business.

          I also REALLY looked at employees and made some tough choices. In the end, it has worked out. We got smaller by choice before we were forced to. Now we are back to the same level as before, but PROFITABLE!

  • Scott Harvey

    I work full time as a police officer, and own my own speaking business on the side. The details of speaking (booking, billing, book keeping, tech support, travel arrangements) make me CRAZY. I just want to show up, speak, connect with my audience, and go home. That makes me sound really cold, but I am just not a detail person. At what point does a Virtual Assistant make sense? I will make about $30,000 speaking this year.

    I am limited by my full-time job as to how much time I can give my side job. In 5 years, I will retire and make my side job my main job. I just didn’t know what advantages a Virtual Assistant has over a Live assistant. Or, maybe even a speaking agent.
    Would love to hear your thoughts. LOVE the podcast and the book. Keep up the great work. You are changing lives!

    • Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

      Great question!!

    • Jana Botkin

      Scott, first, congratulations on building your speaking business!

      Have you read Michael Hyatt’s blog? He has several helpful posts on hiring a virtual assistant. Go to and then put virtual assistant into his search box. He has several excellent posts about when to know if you need one and how it has helped him.

      I’m telling you this just in case Chris doesn’t get to your question because it looks as if he has about 8 hours of answering questions ahead!

  • Kyle Wilson

    I run a small web design business with a few interns. I’m a perfectionist, and I will almost always do a task myself (no matter how small) instead of delegating it, because I trust myself to do it fast and to meet my standards. I have no reason to distrust my interns as they do good work and have never let me down. How do I stop myself from getting in the way of my own business growth?!

    • Kelly


      Trust me. I did the same for 12 years. I put myself in a hospital with 4 surgeries, actually. I thought I could keep it up but as most would agree, if you listen to EntreLeadership and follow the steps in becoming a great EntreLeader, it is INEVITABLE that you will grow. You don’t want to have to train your interns and employees and have to set these things in motion overnight when you are in a growing crisis. Start handing things over in bite size pieces. Make sure you practice using KRAs during this process to guarantee the delegated work will be done the way you need it to be done. Use this freed up time and invest in managing or following up on their job performance very regularly to make sure good habits or mistakes are corrected regularly and efficiently.

      I handed over some work after attending the Orlando Master Series recently. (After calling around 5 or 6 accountants/bookkeppers in the area and making sure they communicated things the way I could relate and understand) I handed it over to a book keeper whose job is to take the areas that are not my strengths and do magic with it…. and for accountability…to ensure accuracy in the books and accounting. I am seeing that I was spending valuable time doing things that an expert could do in a small fraction of the time i could accomplish things and on top of it all, it was done with more accuracy. Also, I have a college student I keep in my “as needed” back pocket. Like a baby sitter. It’s a win, win. A luxury that is not expensive but takes care of those unexpected time eater events that are unexpected Sometimes it’s just helping me organize my home office and throwing my kids a bone when “mom” is not in a position to fill the mom shoes for the day. I don’t offer advise much, but I felt like I had experience enough to be confidant in encouraging you to let some things go. You have to trust someone and invest in someone eventually, might as well start with an intern to begin this process of appreciating this thing called DELEGATION. Im a believer! Kelly

      • Kyle Wilson

        Kelly, I really appreciate your advice and kind words. In the 4 months since I’ve posted this, I’ve taken a huge leap and grown my internship to12 PAID university students, one of which is the ring leader and whose sole job is to wrangle and help me communicate with the other 11. I’m running workshops regularly to train them, meeting with them 1on1 regularly to go over KRAs, and forming teams of them around clients and projects of mine.

        And to sum it all up I have never felt more happy, stress-free, and organized in my entire life. I can now focus on work that I uniquely able to do like forecasting, big picture planning, branding, and I leave the stuff that anyone could do to the “anyones” I’ve trained to do it well.