1598 – The Two Types of Founders with Build Scale Grow’s Benjamin Friedman

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Founder & President of Build Scale Grow, Inc.Benjamin Friedman.


Are you a small business owner who needs help to take your company to the next level? Do you feel like you've hit a plateau and can't figure out how to break through?

Benjamin shared some invaluable insights into founders' challenges when scaling their businesses. He stressed the importance of identifying knowledge and experience gaps and building suitable systems to reach your goals. As your business grows, it's crucial to find the right talent – full-time employees or fractional resources – and to take calculated risks to execute your vision.

But where to start? Benjamin's book “Scale: Reach Your Peak” is an excellent resource for founders looking to apply academic best practices in real-world situations. You can level up your operations and achieve success by categorizing your business challenges and prioritizing your resources.


About Benjamin Friedman:

Benjamin is a seasoned financial and operational expert with over 20 years of experience. He founded Build Scale Grow Inc. in 2019, a company dedicated to helping startups scale and multiply. Friedman has held multiple senior roles, including Chief Operating Officer, where he has directed various departments, including sales, marketing, and legal. His leadership has led to five successful M&A transactions in the past decade.

He authored the book “Scale: Reach Your Peak,” a comprehensive guide for business growth. Friedman values open communication, collaboration, and optimism in achieving company goals and individual performance. His approach fosters immediate problem-solving, building scalable systems, and implementing accountability metrics.


About Build Scale Grow, Inc.:

Build Scale Grow, Inc. is a solution-oriented company aiding businesses aiming to make an impact in their industries. The firm provides strategic advice to navigate challenges and anticipate future obstacles tailored to each company's unique values and business model.

Recognizing the focus of businesses on product or service expansion, Build Scale Grow helps alleviate concerns about infrastructure. They aim to provide support in building or optimizing teams, software, processes, and systems to expedite and maximize market reach. Their primary mission is to assist businesses in realizing their vision effectively and efficiently.


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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Build Scale Grow, Inc. website at

Check out Build Scale Grow, Inc. on LinkedIn at

Check out Benjamin Friedman on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Benjamin Friedman. Benjamin, you are a fractional and fractional CFO and you are the founder and president of Build Scale. Grow your found on the web at we build scale grow. Benjamin thank you so much for joining us. No, it's great being here, Josh. Yeah. And so tell me about the, the concept, like how does we build scale, grow work? So a lot of founders is small businesses and fast growing startups find themselves hitting an inflection point where they're growing really quickly.

Josh (00:01:33) - And in order to continue to scale the way they want, they're realizing that they have to shift from a group of people trying to solve a problem to a small company really looking to make a greater impact exponentially. And so I come in, I partner with the founders and the president of the company to think about, okay, where are the gaps? Where do we want to head in the next couple of years and what needs to happen as far as systems People, all processes software in order to reach those goals? Yeah. And so who do you typically work with? Like what types of companies? So it's agnostic to industry. It happens to be businesses, both investor backed and privately held. It's typically founders who have hit 1 or 2 inflection points. One is where they've gotten a round of funding outside pressure to really level up their infrastructure and figure things out, build on their product market fit or service market fit. The other is organic growth. All of a sudden it's taken off like gangbusters and they're really plowing ahead and they found that their actual business is holding them back from growing even faster.

Josh (00:02:47) - And so they work with me and with other people I'll bring in other resources to, again, you know, figure out where the gaps and then how do we move forward to build the right systems so that they can take on these new opportunities. Yeah. What do you see? So let's say that this is, you know, a company and, you know, just a couple of folks, and they said, well, this sounds great. You know, maybe they bootstrapped, maybe they took in some outside funding, but maybe they haven't run an operation with, you know, 30, 40, 50 employees or more. I mean, I can think of like how I would feel, you know, when that once that company starts getting to that size, it's kind of a different. Well, it's not a it's a different animal. You know, when you're talking about companies of that size. And I have to imagine you you encounter that quite a bit where people are like, I just I just don't have that experience.

Josh (00:03:43) - It's first off, you know, when you're small and you're nimble and, you know, let's say there's like 5 to 8 of you, like everything's easy, you know, then when you involve like teams and HR and compliance and legal like that, to me, you know, speaking as a founder has mostly been at the helm of SMBs. Like that starts to not feel as fun. Yeah, it's funny. There are two type of founders that I'll be talking to and eventually working with. One is very self-aware, as you mentioned. They realize the business is growing quickly. They realize they have to build a company around what they're trying to accomplish, and they recognize that there are gaps in their knowledge or experience, or they recognize that they're spending too much time building the infrastructure, whereas it they should be really focused on product development, getting investment, looking at partnerships, new business opportunities. ET cetera. Then there's the other type of founder who has plateaued. They've gotten from 0 to 1 and technical terms or zero to 1 or 2 million in business terms.

Josh (00:04:44) - And they've stayed at that number 12, 18, 24 months. And whether it's a partner, an investor, maybe a trusted mentor or coach says, hey, you really need to think about doing things differently if you want to take this to another level. Now, you know, Hey, Josh, you know, some people very happy running a business that makes 1 or $2 million a year. That's a great lifestyle when you reach it. But there are others who want to keep going. They want to see how far they can go. And that's where a point where they're open to having a conversation around what can we do here? And finally, the thing that I like to bring in is a perspective holistically around the whole business. So you talked about like PR, legal people, operations. You know, most founders are not going to have experience in all those different areas in addition to sales and marketing and finance. They might have skills in some, but probably not all. So I like to come in, give them some perspective, talk about the areas they should consider, and work with them to prioritize how they're going to move forward.

Josh (00:05:44) - Yeah. And then like, what does it look like when they start engaging in working with you? Like, how does their, you know, let's say it's a founder and then, you know, maybe someone that's been kind of running operations, but maybe it's not really their jam. Like what? What does life look like once they engage with, you know, you or any, you know, really competent, great fractional CFO, SEO. Sure. So we look at it to begin with at two axes. One is what's going really well right now and what's not going very well at all. First, I want to get a sense of the business, of course. But second, I want to gauge the founder's self-awareness. You know, Josh, if I'm talking with somebody and they're like, oh, everything's amazing, everything's perfect. I'm just like, I'm not sure we're ready to work together because that type of self-awareness is the same as Michael Jordan saying, Well, I won one championship, I guess I'm good here.

Josh (00:06:36) - He just kept going and going. The other axis is where do you want to be in three, six, nine months? Where do you want to be in a year or two? Really gaming out the future plan so that we can reverse engineer? What do you have now? What's working effectively and where do we need to concentrate our resources in order to make the most impact for you to get to where you want to be?

Benjamin (00:06:58) - Yeah. And Benjamin, you're also the author of of a book. Congratulations on that. And can you tell us a bit about that?

Josh (00:07:08) - Sure. So I spent a few years putting together this book called Scale Reach Your Peak. It was about two and a half years of writing, really looking at problems that I had faced directly or through my clients, and then digging into the research, listening to what they had to say, but taking those academic best practices and applying them into real world situations and executable deliverables. So how are we going to actually take this knowledge and apply it? And then I kept the book in a very modular fashion.

Josh (00:07:38) - So it's 500 pages, it's over 130 articles. But each of those articles is independent. You can take 5 to 7 minutes, look at it, get a sense of why this is important, what you should be thinking about it, and if that resonates for you, you want to dig deeper, then great. You know, have at it. If it's something you want to put off for 3 to 6 months, that's fine. Put the book on the side and come back to it when you're ready. So it was a great experience for me. I loved writing it. I'm not going to say I love the editing and design process as much, but it was for me solving my own problems and then channeling that for something I hope every founder can use.

Benjamin (00:08:15) - Yeah. And tell me more about the transformation that you would hope by the time someone goes through what you've put together and you know they've really taken some time to digest, you know, kind of the lessons and stories and so forth that you've shared in the book.

Benjamin (00:08:29) - Like what outcome would you hope for them to come to?

Josh (00:08:33) - Sure. So I hope initially founders look at it and say, okay, let's put everything in three buckets. One bucket is I have a great handle on this. We're making great traction. And that's supported by industry metrics, not just vanity metrics, but they know that things are hitting cylinders the right way. The second bucket is the opposite end things that are not going particularly well. But to be clear, they're not necessarily important right now. You know, for some people, public relations has to come in early. For other people, they can wait five years and that's fine. And then the third bucket is things that we don't have a good handle on right now, and they're very important. So what are we going to do to really attack those so that we can level up to reach the category, that first bucket things that are going well?

Benjamin (00:09:16) - Yeah. What what is part of your kind of like when you're potentially looking at working with the new client? What's what's what's kind of what are the main things you're looking for in kind of the discovery or the learning process? What kind of questions are you asking?

Josh (00:09:32) - So I'm really interested in founders who are completely focused on the founder problem fit this idea that whether they're quote unquote work, they're in the shower, they're hanging out with friends, they're trying to sleep, they're waking up in the middle of the night.

Josh (00:09:48) - It all comes back to how they solve this problem. That's really important because we we might not have time here, Josh, but certainly there's been a lot spoken about resilience. I think that's very important right now during time of uncertainty. And it's really important to know how are you going to bear down and get through the bad times and the good times and always come back to what's the problem you're trying to solve and how are you going to solve it? And then I think the second key criterion is, is the founder really ready to tackle these issues? Are they open to advice? Hey, listen, it's fantastic. You got to your first million, your first couple of million. It's probably going to take a huge pivot in how you run this business if you want to get to the next level. And that means you have to be a little bit open to new ideas and really trying some things out. I'm not saying I'm coming at you with all the answers, but am saying you're going to have to try things that are uncomfortable.

Josh (00:10:42) - See if that works. And after a few months, if it's not working out for you in the business, then let's recalibrate. But they have to be willing to try.

Benjamin (00:10:50) - Yeah, You know, I would imagine, you know, if we're talking about the kind of operations side of thing, inevitably we're going to be talking about people and and it could mean I think, you know, when someone starts getting, you know, in alignment with what their goals are and what it's going to take in order to get there, it might take some attraction of new or different talent. And I've talked with enough leaders to know that right now, as of when we're recording this, sometimes it can be a little challenging. What are your kind of what are your observations there?

Josh (00:11:26) - Yeah, so I agree the job market continuously fluctuates. And even if it's going one direction in general for the exact job you need might be in the exact opposite direction, right? Josh Yeah, so I think you got to look at this.

Josh (00:11:39) - Okay. What are your specific resource needs? How do you find people who are going to fill the immediate needs, but they also have transferable skills, things like intellect, motivation, flexibility, so that as the company evolves and as their responsibilities evolve, the person can grow with. A business. And then the second thing I look at is how can you apply fractional resources to growing exponentially? And what I mean by that is you might not need somebody full time. You might be able to find somebody with a lot of experience or a small firm that has the expertise necessary. They're willing to work a fraction of the time at a very low fraction of the cost, and they're going to help you solve problems for the next six months or two years. That's going to really get you to where you're going. It's a lower commit if you're working with somebody and things are working great, you know, continue. If it's not the way you expected, fine, you can cut that off. It's a little bit different than an employee relationship.

Josh (00:12:36) - So you got to be mindful of that. And you bring in somebody or a small firm with a lot of experience and they're able to give you perspective about how to move forward. I think that's going to really help out small business owners a lot.

Benjamin (00:12:50) - Yeah. Who would be an example of a of a bad client for you?

Josh (00:12:56) - So I'm not going to first. Um, so I worked with one client where I came in and they identified that they wanted to get out of a slump. They had plateaued for a few years. They were actually around for a while, but they had hit this point where they were kind of stuck and they were willing to try some new strategies. And we would talk week after week about, Oh, let's try this, let's try that. And then I noticed after 2 or 3 months, hey, like we keep shifting strategies every couple of weeks without running the experiments behind that. And so I confronted the founder and I said, Hey, I think I'm a good value for you if you're willing to grow this company.

Josh (00:13:36) - But that's going to mean taking some risks. They're going to be mitigated risks, small risks. But you are going to have to try some new things. You are going to have to come out of your comfort zone. You are going to have to trust people, trust processes, and it's going to be a little bit hard for you. But if you're willing to do that, hey, let's go. They kept saying, yes, yes, I'm willing to try. But you know, Josh, we always have to look at people's behavior behind their words. And the company was just not willing to make an adjustment. And after another month, we were like, Hey, this isn't working out for either of us.

Benjamin (00:14:06) - Yeah, there's that Thomas Edison who said vision without execution is hallucination, right?

Josh (00:14:13) - Yeah. So I love that quote. Absolutely.

Benjamin (00:14:16) - Yeah. Your website, we build scale, grow. Let's say someone has stumbled upon our podcast. Maybe they're checking you out. And this podcast came up and so now they've been listening.

Benjamin (00:14:28) - What are the next steps? Obviously go pick up the book. It's on Amazon. It's called Scale Reach Your Peak. I just downloaded it myself. It's on Kindle Unlimited or the paperback there as well. Or you could buy the Kindle version. But aside from the book, which is a great deep dive, what else would you recommend for next steps to someone who like, man, you know, maybe this could be something for us to help us break past the doldrums or, you know, again, maybe they they know full and well they're you know, they're not not able to be everything. You know, it's like great founders can have a great vision and, you know, great strategy, charisma, like, you know, they got that founder magic. But, you know, again, running a company is a different thing. You know, I very much, you know, I think personality wise, I'm an okay operator. But boy, do I hire great operational leaders because there ain't no way I'm going to do that work.

Benjamin (00:15:28) - I'm going to be frustrated. I'm going to be annoyed. Like I'm not going to do an excellent job. And I need people in those positions. So so I can tell you I'm very grateful for my COO. She runs the company. She's like the she's the Roy Disney to my Walt, I guess.

Josh (00:15:45) - Now that's great. So I'd say I do my best job to put myself out there. I write weekly on LinkedIn. I have blog posts as well on the website. I run a newsletter. So I'd say, Hey, if you're the kind of founder who learns by reading, you know, look over some of my posts. I really kind of put myself out there as far as how we're going to work together because this is how I solve problems. And that's what you want to bring me in for. If you're looking at that and you go, Hey, maybe I could work well with Benjamin, then I'd say, Let's set up a call. We, you know, spend 30 minutes talking about what's on your mind.

Josh (00:16:17) - How can I possibly be helpful? In some cases, it's working directly. Candidly, 60% of the time I'm referring out to another resource. You just don't need me yet. You know, Maybe you need someone in finance, accounting. Maybe you need a fractional sales or marketing or technology leader. Maybe you need leader legal help or HR help. And that's fine. Like if you're not ready, that's fine. But let's have that conversation and let's see how I can be helpful. And if that goes well, then we'll have a couple more conversations before we do anything else.

Benjamin (00:16:46) - Yeah. Benjamin Friedman, again founder of of build scale grow your found on the web at we build scale Benjamin thank you so much. For joining us.

Josh (00:16:58) - Thank you, Josh. Really appreciated our time.

Benjamin (00:17:09) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free.

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