Tough Decisions for Entrepreneurs

Michael Greenberg talks about the measures you should take before hiring or going into partnership with somebody, and how just doing B2B growth strategy and delegating his other tasks has allowed him to grow his business faster with Dan and Dennae Handford on the Tough Decisions for Entrepreneurs Podcast.

Dan Handford  0:01  

Welcome to the Tough Decisions network for entrepreneurs. I’m Dan Handford. My wife, Dennae, and I interview successful people sharing stories behind tough decisions that they’ve had to make along in their journey as an entrepreneur.

On the podcast with us, today is Michael Greenberg. Michael, welcome to the podcast.

Michael Greenberg  0:27  

Dan. It’s great to be here.

Dan Handford  0:28  

Well, Mike, I want you to get us started and talk to us a little about yourself and your background as an entrepreneur.

Michael Greenberg  0:33  

Yeah. So I got my start when I dropped out of school and moved to Mountain View, California. I went to a coding boot camp, got hired by a startup LED product development there. And then, along the way, I learned that I don’t really much love building products, but I do love sales and operations, especially with technology. So I became a B2B growth strategy consultant. And then from there, most recently, about two years ago, launched a little content marketing agency that has now become one of the number one podcasting agencies and provider of white label podcasting services called Call For Content.

Dan Handford  1:14  

And what does Call For Content do again?

Michael Greenberg  1:16  

We’re a podcasting agency. We do shows for anyone who wants to create a podcast that has ROI that creates actual money with it. That’s the kind of podcast we work on. And we partner with other podcast producers, other agencies, to also white label our services to them. So we do all sorts of podcast marketing. We do a little bit of podcast production, but then really where we focus is monetization. Audience growth and talent development. So we’ve got coaches we work with for people who want to be better hosts, as well as we’ve got, you know, sponsors. We work with stuff like that.

Dan Handford  1:59  

That’s kind of cool. What made you get into that business?

Michael Greenberg  2:02  

Actually, I was going back to that B2B growth strategy. I was working with a podcast network out of the South East. And while I was working with them. I saw like, wow, these podcasts have these, I think of it as the deepest content. You get the most out of 30 minutes in a podcast, more than 30 minutes working on a blog or anything, or on a video, something like that. And that gives me the best content to then turn into other content. And so when I realized that, I started figuring out ways to really take advantage of it.

Dan Handford  2:38  

So did you start off with your own podcast first?

Michael Greenberg  2:40  

Yeah. So when I was working for that company, as a growth strategy consultant, I moved up from Chattanooga to St. Louis. And they sent me a big suitcase full of podcasting equipment and said, start your own show. You need to know how this works. And so from there, I started with recording. And I’ve kept the show going for myself ever since as a hobby. But over time, my business took a turn towards podcasting as well.

Dan Handford  3:10  

Well, that is really cool. Well, I know you’ve probably had some tough decisions along this journey as being an entrepreneur, and I want you to get us started with the first tough decision that you had to make. That maybe didn’t have that good of an outcome and some of the lessons you learned through it.

Michael Greenberg  3:24  

Yeah. When I had first left the startup, I was going out on my own. I had a couple of consulting clients, but not enough. And I didn’t really know what to do. So I met a couple of guys, and one of them had been a consultant in the past. He had told me he had a good network. I met people with him, I believed him. So we decided to join forces, about nine months later. $5,000 just lost, ended the partnership. That was a really tough one for me. It took about another six months to really get the partnership cleared up. And just the mental stress that that put on me during that time was horrible. I was not prepared for that sort of bad breakup with a business partner. It definitely slowed my business down. It slowed me down, set me back, but I learned a lot. Looking back on it now. I can see some of those red flags when I speak with people that I would not have known had I not been through that process.

Dan Handford  4:37  

Can you talk about some of those red flags that maybe you look for? As you see, sometimes it makes you kind of go? No, I don’t think I’m going to go into business with that person.

Michael Greenberg  4:45  

Yeah, there’s a couple of them that now I stand by every time. First off, is if somebody says that they’re a, get it done, kind of person. I give them a little test. If we talk about an idea and they’re like, Man, that’s a great idea. I tell them, you put together those three, four paragraphs that we need to go pitch it to people. And I’ll help you pitch it. And most of the time, people never come back to me. But the few people that do that are willing to take that first step on their own. That’s somebody that I’d like to work with. And then the other one is a little more specific. And that’s, there’s a lot of old guys out there who say they have great Rolodexes, who say they know so and so, and they know all these people, and they’ve got connections that you need. And they might have those connections. But that doesn’t mean they can sell to those connections, but they can use that network. And so now generally what I do is, if somebody says that sort of thing to me, one, I just don’t believe them. And then two, if I want to believe them, if there’s use in what they’re saying, then what I’ll do is I’ll ask them for an introduction. And if they can actually make that introduction. And I can sit down with that, whoever that important person is, that they said they could get me in the room with. I’m going to ask that person about this older guy who introduced me and say, you know, and find out what his reputation is? Is he really the power move maker that he is that sort of thing. And most of the time it comes back that, you know, he might be barking a little louder than his actual bite. And if I had really done my homework, on that first partnership, it would have come back and said, that guy, oh, yeah, I see him around, but I don’t really know him.

Dan Handford  6:46  

Well, we have had a lot of people on our show, talk about, you know, partnerships that have gone wrong, and various things like that. But I think what you just laid out is something unique. That not very many people, I don’t recall anybody on our show, so far, that has talked about, maybe some test or some measures to make sure that you can, you know, set a partnership up for success. And it sounds to me like this is kind of a playbook. Out of even just trying to find employees to work for you, as well as the kind to bring onto your team.

Michael Greenberg  7:13  

Oh, yeah, I view every employee as a partner. My dream is for every person that I hire, to see the potential with entrepreneurship, start their business while working for me, and then eventually have me become their first client when they stop working for me altogether.

Dan Handford  7:32  

That’s a great goal and a great vision that you have there. And it sounds very similar to Dave Ramsey’s approach too. Because, you know, Dave Ramsey in his book, EntreLeadership, talks about how he tries to make sure that each one of his employees or whatever his team members have some sort of outside business kind of a side venture going on and things like that as well.

Michael Greenberg  7:52  

The best employees are the ones you give the freedom to work, and if they’re starting and running their own business. Then they will value that freedom more than almost anything else you can give them.

Dan Handford  8:04  

That’s very true. Well, let’s shift here a little bit and talk about another tough decision that you’ve had to make as an entrepreneur that had a really good and positive outcome and some of the lessons you learned through that one.

Michael Greenberg  8:13  

Yeah, so this is a much easier one. About nine months ago now, I made the decision that I did not want to work on Call For Content. That I should not be involved in the delivery to clients if any of the work that we do, and that I probably shouldn’t be included in the sales, that the only thing I should really be doing is B2B growth strategy. That’s what I love to do. That’s what I’m good at. And that’s the only thing I should do for my business as well. And so I decided to hire myself out for business. And since I made that decision, everyone who works with me is happier. My clients think that we’re getting better work done, and we’re growing faster. It’s given me the time to focus on the big initiatives. It’s given my team the freedom to work without me getting in the weeds on anything. And so they’re getting a better understanding. Because they’re working closely with clients and with each other as a result. And it’s given me the opportunity to really push what I call podcaster relations, which is a whole new approach to media relations, specifically designed for reaching a podcasting audience. And so that’s how I got here to be on the show today. And that’s just turned into a massive win for the organization.

Dan Handford  9:42  

Yeah, well, that’s pretty exciting. Because, when people ask me all the time, you know, the various businesses and entities that I have. At what point was I really able to scale. And I can point to the time and my entrepreneurship, where I really made the decision to start delegating tasks that I didn’t really need to be doing. And the moment I started delegating, some of those tasks were really when the businesses started to take off. And I think that that is a very similar role for you. And your success there is, you know, learning that where you are, what you can do to maximize the business itself. And how to hire out other areas is, as a perfect way to do it, you kind of call it a little bit different. You said you kind of hired yourself out of business. But that’s exactly what delegation is.

Michael Greenberg  10:28  

Yeah. And it’s something I’m very bad at. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

Dan Handford  10:35  

You’re speaking to one man, I’m telling you, I think more and more, it’s a mind game. One of the things I played with myself is, I feel like I can do everything, you know, really, really good and better than anybody else. I know. Again, as you said, that’s a flaw. It’s a flaw because I feel like there’s a certain way I like things, and then there’s an, I know I can do it the best, and stuff like that. But I had to start asking myself if I don’t have to do it and somebody else could do it, say maybe 80 or 85% or 90% of the time, or as effective. Even though we’re going to lose that 10 to 20% of effectiveness and the skill or whatever. I don’t have to do it. And if I’m okay with that, then I can start to delegate those things. But I’m with you, man, it’s very hard, especially when you have that perfectionist side of you.

Michael Greenberg  11:21  

Yeah. And what I really didn’t count on was the enthusiasm. I made that decision to transition myself out, probably a little earlier than I would have if I didn’t have income from multiple sources. So that cut into the margins at Call For Content. And it was a decision I made because I knew it would help in the long run. I look for 70% if somebody does it 70% as well as me, then I’m happy hiring them to do it. But what I didn’t count on was sometimes that 70% plus hiring somebody that loves what they do. And that loves doing what they do where I might just be doing it. But they really have that enthusiasm. That enthusiasm can make up for the other 30%. And then some more about that.

Dan Handford  12:13  

What are some strategies that you like to use when you’re facing a tough decision in business?

Michael Greenberg  12:17  

So number one, pros and cons. I like to rank them with pluses, like do a 123 system or something, make sure that there’s some variation, but just starting there. After that, any major business decision I do likely has a spreadsheet associated with it and a cost-benefit analysis. That’s really big for me. I try to tie everything back to how does this save us money or make us money? And if I can’t do one of those things, then it’s likely not to make it through.

Dan Handford  12:58  

That’s a pretty cool way to kind of do the pros and cons. So I’ve heard that before but also put the pluses on there and stuff too. So you can kind of rank them in that order. That’s great.

Michael Greenberg  13:06  

Yeah. And then taking it that step further, and really doing a financial analysis on the decision. It’s something I see too many people skip. I work with startups, you know, who might be spending 15,000 or  20,000 a month on ads. And they might never have set up enough tracking to know if their ads are going to make them money. It wouldn’t even make it through my thought process to start spending money on something like that. Unless I knew that I could find out if it’s worth spending the money on.

Dan Handford  13:39  

We’re gonna take a quick break here. And when we return with Michael Greenberg, we’re gonna be going through with the trifecta, which is a series of quick questions and answers as it relates to business. 

Alright, we are back with Michael Greenberg, Michael, with this series of quick questions and answers that we call the trifecta. Once you get started and talk to us about your favorite technologies that you use in business, that helps make your life easier every day.

Michael Greenberg  14:44  

I love the whole Google suite. They’ve got sheets, they’ve got docs, they’ve got forms. We link them all together. We’d like to tie in Zapier to try to make some more complex stuff. But just a simple Gmail, as somebody who’s had to use Outlook before, I could never go back.

Dan Handford  15:08  

Hmm. What’s a favorite quote that you’ve heard that has helped you as an entrepreneur?

Michael Greenberg  15:13  

So I’m not quite sure it’s a quote, or if it is, I don’t remember the exact phrasing on it. But Peter Teal talks about going from zero to one. That’s actually what his book title was. And I know he’s not the most popular entrepreneur these days. But he’s still a really darn good entrepreneur. And looking for those opportunities that take you from zero to one that isn’t about incremental change, but is about some sort of exponential shift. Either creating a new market or texting the things that somebody can do that really changed the way I look at things because to bring it back to Call For Content real quick. Call For content was a b2b content marketing agency. I did some research, and we launched some white-label podcasting services. And 45 days later, we were a podcasting agency. And to my knowledge, we’re one of maybe half a dozen podcasting agencies in the world. And so that let us move into a market where we can really take it from zero to one. Where I can define my market in ways that I couldn’t. This is just another content marketing agency.

Dan Handford  16:23  

And what’s the favorite book that has helped you make better decisions as an entrepreneur?

Michael Greenberg  16:27  

Traction and there are two great books called Traction out there. One’s Traction. I don’t remember what the subheading is on it, but One’s Traction For Startups. It’s a startup marketing and might be called a growth framework for startups or something like that. And that’s by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mars. That is on what’s called the Bullseye Framework for Traction. Which is kind of taking the lean startup approach and applying it to marketing?. And so that’s something I use every day and recommend it to everyone I know in any kind of business anytime. The other part book, also called Traction, is called Get A Grip On Your Business. And it’s got a nice little management system for middle-market companies and small businesses that I’ve seen clients have success with. So if you go on Amazon, just buy both the traction books.

Dan Handford  17:28  

That’s a good way to play. I don’t worry about figuring out which one it is just by both. They’re both good. That’s great. What’s the next thing for you right now and your vision or dream board?

Michael Greenberg  17:37  

I want to make Call For Content, not just one of those few podcasting agencies, but I want us to be the number one podcasting agency for revenue-producing podcasts in the world and maintain our position as the number one white label provider of podcasting services. That’s really my big one right now.

Dan Handford  17:57  

Well, how can listeners reach out to you if they want to learn some more information about Call For Content? Or maybe get ahold of you and maybe, you know, talk a little bit further as well.

Michael Greenberg  18:05  

Yeah, so the best way to reach me is actually through my office hours. And at’s a little chatbot in the bottom right corner. And that lets you book office hours with me. My office hours are free. They are real office hours, they are not a sales meeting. If you want to book with sales, that’s another person entirely. But if you want to talk with me, you book office hours, and we will chat about anything content, anything about entrepreneurship if you just want to talk about bread making for 30 minutes. I’ve done that before, and it’s been a whole lot of fun.

Dan Handford  18:49  

Well, that’s great. Well, we’ll make sure that we put those links and stuff like that inside of our Show Notes for this episode. And, you know, I want to thank you again, Michael, for coming on and sharing these tough decisions and, you know, looking forward to continuing to follow you as you grow as an entrepreneur and also having to go back on a future episode.

Michael Greenberg  19:04  

Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. Thank you.