Wondering how much your VC-backed startup's tax return will cost?   Check out our startup tax cost calculator to get an estimate now!


With Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

Subscribe on:

Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

John Houston, of Houston Advisors, a management consulting firm helping companies and their investors identify, build, and optimize world-class Revenue Operations capabilities

Posted on: 03/29/2021

John Houston

John Houston

Founder - Houston Advisors

John Houston of Houston Advisors - Podcast Summary

John Houston, the founder of Houston Advisors, chats with Kruze COO, Scott Orn, about how his management consulting firm provides revenue operations expertise for Private Equity and Venture Capital investors and their portfolio companies. Houston Advisors plays a hands-on role in designing and implementing the systems, processes, and best practices to drive top-line growth and enhance margins.

John Houston of Houston Advisors - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting and welcome to another episode of Founders and Friends and before we start the podcast, let’s give a quick shout out to Rippling. Rippling is the new cool payroll tool that we see a lot of startups using. Rippling is great for your traditional HR and payroll. They integrate very nicely, but guess what? They did another thing they integrate into your IT infrastructure. They make it really easy for when you hire someone to spin up all the web services in their computer which sounds like not a huge deal, but actually we did the study at Kruze. We spent $420 on average, just getting a new employee’s computer up and running and their web servers up and running. It’s actually a really big deal. It saves a lot of money and the dogs are in the [inaudible]. We see a lot of startups coming in to Kruze now using Rippling. So please check out Rippling, great service. We love it. I think we have a podcast of Parker Conrad, you can hear it from his own words, but we’re seeing them take market share. So shout out to Rippling and now to another awesome podcast at Kruze Consulting Founders and Friends. Thanks. (singing) Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. And today my very special guest is John Houston of Houston Advisors. Welcome John.
Singer: (singing) It’s Kruze Consulting Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.
John: Thank you, Scott. Good to see you.
Scott: Yes, we are old, old friends.
John: Go way back.
Scott: Emphasis on the old.
John: Yeah.
Scott: It’s been 22 years since we’ve known each other.
John: Both of our hairlines have seen those last 20 years, my friend.
Scott: Well, my hairline is basically the same as it was 20 years ago, my first year of working with you.
John: Whoa.
Scott: I’m going to ask John to introduce himself in a second, but John and I worked together in investment banking in 1999 at Hambrecht & Quist. He’s an incredible guy, super smart, taught me a ton. And John went on to a really amazing career in sales ops. And so, the purpose of this podcast is to really talk about sales ops, especially in the context of M&A, because we do a lot of M&A or late stage fundings at Kruze and sales ops is something that investors really focus on or the M&A folks. And so, John’s literally the best person I know at this in the world. And so, I wanted to have on the podcast.
John: That’s very kind of you, and I think the world of you and Vanessa, and as you said, we’ve known each other for, I cannot believe it’s been 22 years, so let’s keep going. Let’s move on. But man, it’s been a long time.
Scott: Keep going. Well, maybe you can introduce yourself and tell everyone how you got to Houston Advisors and your journey.
John: Yeah, will do. And thanks again for having me here. It’s great. So, my area of expertise as you said is sales operations. And I consider myself to be an expert in that field and I say that with a decent amount of humility and an appreciation that one can’t be an expert in everything under the broad purview of sales ops. And I’ll talk later what that is and what sales and revenue operations are and what my core competencies are in there. But very generally, I built teams in a variety of B2B and B2C context. I’ve been through the IPO process twice in the last 10 years or so, and have a lot of lessons learned and battle scars. And I’ll talk about some of that here. So point being is that I know what good looks like in sales ops and how to achieve it. And that’s ultimately what I’m trying to instill in my clients today. So, back to your question in the career and retracing it, as you mentioned already, I’m an analyst at heart. We grew up in investment banking professionally, and I think it says something that for better or worse, both you and I, Scott, started our career in Investment Banking. And even though I’ve been on the operating side of things for many years, that analyst experience is still a big piece of who I am and how I look at things. And it ties into your point around the diligence stuff. Prior to business school, very briefly, I worked for a number of years at investment banking and private equity and that financial rigor, that data-oriented mindset that comes from those experiences is super critical.
Scott: Once you get those glasses and you start seeing the world through data centric approach and through all the analysis you never go back.
John: That’s right. That’s right.
Scott: But you [inaudible] from investment banking in D.C. Into these awesome operating roles which is pretty cool.
John: Yeah. It’s very kind of you, and I get that question, why not finance? And, the Venn diagrams between what I do in a “finance operating role,” they overlap a lot. But by nature, I have drifted more towards working with chief revenue officers and working on things like sales strategy and complex go-to-market structures. And it’s my jam. And it’s just different from a finance operating role, but breaking the career down, most of the last 15 years I’ve spent in sales ops leadership roles. I started my operating career at Oracle after grad school. And in retrospect, that was a wonderful place to work. I worked for a absolutely incredible leader there. I’m not sure if I can name drop, but-
Scott: Yeah.
John: [inaudible] is her name and she set a super high bar for me and what it means to be a sales leader. Rigor around sales methodology and process and data aptitude, and just humanity and good EQ. All of that stuff I picked up from her as a first [inaudible] leader. And it was a good place to learn the chops and the fundamentals from a very well-established company. And from there, I’ve had a handful of sales ops leadership roles, mostly in SAS. Most recently I was at Medallia, the customer experience software company, where I led sales and services ops leading up to their IPO in July 2019. So, in summary, I’ve seen a lot of different things in this context. I’ve seen the direct B2B side, which is Medallia. I’ve seen the indirect B2B side, which is Oracle, and I’ve even seen the B2C high-velocity side, which is Sunrun, which is, as some folks may know, the largest residential solar company now.
Scott: I was going to bring that up because that was a really complex sales channel and implementation channel, too. So, you’ve done pure software. You’ve done solar. And then you went back to software. Medallia was a little bit different probably than Oracle, but you’ve kind of seen everything.
John: Yeah. And I tend to follow people and without getting into specific names and folks, it tends to be my jam is more about following either leadership or folks or sales leader that I’ve liked and worked with in the past. And that’s why you see some of that path, but without going deep into Sunrun, that is an incredibly complicated business. It’s a construction company and a utility and a bank and a consumer product company all rolled into one. So, conversation for another time, but it was an amazing experience. So today I’m running my own consulting business. I’m an army of one. I work primarily with and through private equity and growth-stage venture investors and their portfolio companies. And I have basically two products is the best way to think about it. I have a go-to-market diagnostic, that’s the tip of the spear of what I do. So, I created a proprietary diagnostic model that looks across the funnel, from marketing, sales, and customer success. And in a really scalable time efficient way allows me to rapidly triage what’s going well, what’s not going well, risks and opportunities. And I gather the inputs from the management team on a pretty straightforward questionnaire with either Google Sheet or Excel or whatever they work with. And then I use off the shelf decks, investment memos or board decks or whatever. And I can piece together pretty quickly from those two things what’s going on without having to spend tons of management time in the data room or whatever. So that’s the diagnostic product. The use case for that is equally a pre-investment due diligence thing, but also has nothing to do with an investment. It’s a point of transition. There could be a new CEO is starting and he or she wants fresh eyes on the business or a new COO is starting.
Scott: That makes so much sense though, because I hadn’t thought of that because I always think of you in terms of M&A or VC investment, but the fresh eyes from the CEO, because the last thing a CEO wants to do is come in and then miss their first quarter or miss two quarters in a row. The sales organization, sales ops need to be… If something’s broken, you really got to fix that quickly because otherwise the lag in performance of not fixing it is horrible.
John: That’s right. Yeah, spot-on. And that gets into without cutting to the chase, it’s too much. Sales ops can be transformative when done well. And there’s a lot of lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid, but it’s what you just described, which is what a lot of good executives and sales leaders understand is that more than just a paper pusher or a number cruncher or whatever, sales ops is a partner to building out process and infrastructure to make things work better. So, I’ll pause there and that’s really the value proposition of one of these. So, the first product as I said, go-to-market diagnostic, and then the second is really more project specific type things. It could be redesigning a comp structure, which is one thing I’m working on right now. It could be providing interim leadership during periods of transition. Sierra as we all know, it’s a sale, can come and go quickly. So, their ops people can often come and go quickly. So, there could be use cases to be dropped in with an operating partner at a PE firm to help [crosstalk].
Scott: Like a PE firm is going to buy a company or put a big amount of money in a company and they want to stabilize that position for six months, and so they bring you in to-.
John: That’s right. Or it could be just building and hiring and building up a team. So broadly defined, that’s the path that I’ve taken and what I’m doing today.
Scott: You’ve got to have a couple private equity funds that are just like you’re the speed dial call on this kind of stuff. I’m just interested… We’ll talk about the functions and all this stuff, but how does your business work? Do you work with a trusted PE partner one time, and then all of a sudden, they’ve seen the light a little bit? This happens to us where a VC firm sends over one portfolio company to us. We clean them up, we fix everything, and they’re now getting good board information at the board meeting and they’re like, “Wait a second, Holy…” And then the flood gates open [crosstalk]
John: You wish you could turn it off.
Scott: Yeah.
John: No, you’re spot-on. And I don’t want to be so presumptuous as to say I’m always looking for new clients, but it is exactly as you described. This is a trust-based world, it’s smart relatively it caught a handful or so of funds and their portfolio companies that I have worked with. And most of it because part of it comes from, I have a background in that space and I worked in private equity and so again, it’s like having been [crosstalk] running. Yeah, running diligence processes, and you’ve done this yourself too. So, you understand, you can speak that language, but it is to your point, it tends to be a relatively small number of funds that I work with [inaudible].
Scott: That’s great though. I mean, I’ve found for us, having those relationships, it makes your life a lot easier too. Because you know, they’re going to call you and no one’s taking anything for granted. You got to deliver and they’ve got to be good to work with too. They’ve got to be a good partner and have the right opportunities. That’s really cool.
John: And it’s exactly, as you said, that’s the name in the Rolodex, so yeah.
Scott: Yeah, for sure. So, we did a little pre-conversation here before we turned the recording on and you broke things up into a couple of different buckets. Do you want to go through backend and strategy and how you deliver your service and what you look for?
John: Yeah, I think that’s great. I think maybe starting with a little definitional, like what is sales and revenue ops may be helpful. And as I described it to you, Scott earlier on, it’s like the simplest way to think about it is like, there’s two things involved. There’s the highly operational backend process and data-oriented aspect. And then there’s the “strategy oriented” aspect. That’s the helping people understand and figure out the right channels to sell through. It’s looking at the conversion rates and economies of scale and all that stuff, term type stuff and those two plays together in this function. So, you have the very tactical combined with the very strategic and that’s one of the things I like about it. But primarily, when done really well, as I mentioned, sales ops can be transformative because the value proposition is like a finger to the pulse on the funnel. It’s like providing visibility from lead gen to post-sale interactions. It’s like aligning people, breaking down silos that can exist between marketing and sales and customer success. And it’s aligning like process. And when it doesn’t work, it’s the opposite of transformative and all of those things I just mentioned, it’s the proverbial, WD-40 in the gears doesn’t happen and it causes more breakdowns and I’ve seen both good and bad here, and I’ve been responsible for both good and bad here.
Scott: It wouldn’t brake. It’s like you got to tear up the engine, it’s not easy just to fix and again, there’s that huge lag where you’re living with the ramifications of that braking for a really long time. So, the cool thing about where you are and the company value chain is like, it’s a super important role and super important function. If it’s not working, the salespeople are less productive. The executive team doesn’t have visibility. There’re so many ramifications for not doing this well.
John: That’s right. And it’s like also context matters a lot and not every company can or should invest a lot of money in our robust sales ops function. So, some of my clients, they can basically rent me for project specific stuff. A $10 million rev, SAS company may not need a sales ops leader team, but they do often need some point solutions in best practices. And that’s where I can play in and try to get people pretty much impartial advice on I think what works best and what doesn’t.
Scott: Nice. So, let’s go through those options. So, you’re going to start with backend set up or what do you want to cover first?
John: Yeah, so let me just describe a little bit about what I said, highest level what it is. So, the easiest way to describe sales ops is it’s the COO or the chief operating officer for a go-to-market team. So that’s everything from running the back end of the go to market, and then occasionally stepping into more, maybe growth and strategy-oriented stuff. So sometimes you see things like SDR teams, outbound dialing teams that can fall under sales ops. You can see things like sales enablement falling under sales ops, and I’d had that within my teams before, but it depends on the context around the business. Effectively what you almost always see are some kind of what I’ll call centers of excellence. When you see a center of excellence around systems and tools, it’s like your CRM, your lead gen tool, stuff like that, usually touch that. So, sales ops are responsible for administering those and honing them to make sure they work well. And then the second thing that comes after the systems is the data, what you do with the data and how you inform the business around what’s working and what’s not, so analytics. And that’s common in almost every ops function and team. And then third is business planning. It’s the sales, finance-oriented stuff around, how do we build out a scalable engine, hiring the right reps to define, and how many of them to put into market, it’s managing your territories and stuff like that. Those three things I mentioned, the tools, the process analytics, and the business planning are really the foundation of what sales ops is built on. Then there’s the other stuff that’s maybe deal desk. If you’re a more mature company, a deal desk function is helping the sales rep structure the deals and make sure they meet the company requirements and stuff like that. You have to sales enablement, as I mentioned before. So, there could be a lot of things that fall under it, but those first three things are really what it’s about. And then I’ll just stop quickly. But revenue operations are really just the join of sales ops, marketing ops and customer success ops. So, getting those three things together into one team is, I wouldn’t say the new thing, but it’s like having led one of those rev ops teams, there’s a lot of power when it’s done well. There’s a lot of power in being able to sit across the funnel and speak the same language from a definitional standpoint, because you think about the systems and the data and the process, those same three things apply to marketing, to sales, and customer success definitely.
Scott: Yeah, that’s a really great way of laying that out because customer success and marketing can make the sales organization so much more effective and vice versa. When people come in with the right expectations from the sales organization, they’re going to have a better chance of sticking as a client. And this also feeds your marketing funnels, all that. Because I’ve only worked at smaller companies besides H&Q and I never touched any of that stuff. So, this is really interesting to me that those three stakeholders are talking and if they work in concert, the organization is so much better for it. That’s really cool.
John: And without getting too nerdy on this, just for one second, I think it’s worth talking about. We’re talking more at mid and later stage companies that have these rev ops teams, but still what I’ve seen and learned is that marketing without being pigeonholing folks, marketing tends to get often or even customer success the short shrift. They get the short end of the stick compared to their sales colleagues and being able to put them on equal footing because companies that are spending millions, if not tens of million dollars on lead gen should be having that same rigor as a sales ops team within their marketing organization and sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But being able to acknowledge that those three different functions are somewhat equal in their importance and then resourcing them with an ops team equally is actually a pretty important thing to be doing.
Scott: I totally agree. One of my good friends is VP of sales at Startups. And one company he was at, he was doing really great, but they were leaking customers like crazy [inaudible]. And so, he was constantly frustrated with customer success and you’re right. I think a lot of organizations, the sales team is like the golden child, because they bring in revenue and things like that. But here is the VP of sales fighting with the CEO to invest more in customer success. So, the company could be successful.
John: I tried to go with so many tangents here, but the time that I have personally spent on optimizing a compensation plan, and this is really important, comp plans are really important. But this is an example, optimizing a compensation plan or a little spiff to be paid versus figuring out what churn and retention are, which are super complicated, important topics that often don’t get the thought process that they should. And the ROI on those things are drastically different. It does call for a little bit more consideration on what priorities are, so.
Scott: Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze consulting. And before we get back to the podcast, quick shout out to ChartHop. ChartHop is one of my favorite new SAS tools on the market. And basically, what ChartHop does is it puts your org chart in the cloud. And I always like to say it brings transparency to your organization. And so, everyone in your organization can see who they report to, they can see the full [inaudible] company and how their group relates to other groups. It also has a lot of information on the individuals in the company. And so, you can click on the ChartHop profile and just get where people live, their experience, Slack handles, all this kind of stuff. And it’s just a really great tool. The other thing is ChartHop has started doing some cool stuff around compensation and budgeting planning. And so, you can actually start seeing what the cost structure of the company looks like during certain scenarios. So, I’m loving ChartHop, check it out, charthop.com. We use it at Kruze, we really like it. And I can’t recommend it enough. All right. Back to the podcast. So, do you want to go through like on the systems and setup stuff, are there a preferred tool you like? Are there preferred processes? How do you-
John: I’m going to dodge that one entirely and not talk about it if you don’t mind?
Scott: No, not at all.
John: I mean, Salesforce is clearly the dominant tool. I have clients that are on things other than Salesforce, but what I thought maybe I could do a bit was just to talk through some of the lessons learned and the things that I see that I try to apply into my clients. And when I joined an engagement or I take on an engagement where there’s an aspect around building or scaling the sales ops team, I always come back to people with the soup. And this sounds obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. Defining what the mission is really carefully and understanding before you throw a body at something, what the three to five things at the most that you want this person or team to be doing is a really provocative thing because you have to talk to your CFO. You have to talk to your head of marketing, you have to talk to your sales leaders and narrow it down to what is really on fire or what is the biggest opportunity to go after it? And more often than not, you start asking the question of like, “Okay, is anyone doing this thing today?” And often the answer is, well, there’s like five or six people that are doing a little piece of territory build and management.
Scott: But no one owns it, right?
John: But nobody owns it. So just getting really crisp on what the priorities are and collaborating. And then building up the centers of excellence I was talking about. And I really strongly think that those are in some form around the systems, the analytics, and then the business planning acumen to build a foundation that’s scalable. And then finally it’s like ROI. We’ve talked about this before. People when you’re in a growth stage, particularly, and I’ve been guilty of this myself hiring, throwing humans at problems. And I have a bias against that now. And it’s like teams, ops teams, particularly they can build up fast and they can be, I don’t want to say unnecessarily built up, but it can be, it’s hard to stop that snowball. So being very thoughtful about starting small, staying small, every person has a mission and a clear ROI and then stepping back and seeing like, “Okay, is this team doing what we wanted it to be doing?” Again, this isn’t rocket science, but it’s like having some form of scorecard, some sort of CSAT like talking to the five, six people that this ops team interacts with and getting the net promoter score positive or negative. And then just seeing if your sales KPIs are moving in the right direction, because an ops team isn’t responsible for per se for growth, but an ops team should be shortening the time from opportunity generation to close one. In theory, you should be driving faster cycles and seeing if that stuff works from a very tactical standpoint, forecasting. Again, this is a little bit of a nerdy, not necessarily late stage company thing, but the lessons learned on having clear forecasting definitions and clear forecasting framework and the power that can come from that from an information standpoint, both for the business and for the actual reps and the sales leaders is super important. And there are [crosstalk]
Scott: You’re talking my language and I’ve done it. Oh, you’re probably like this too. I’ve done it so much that I can look… You talked about your diagnostic tool. I can look at forecasts in 20 minutes and it tells me so much about the company and it tells me where the good stuff is, where the problems are. And I tend to look at it in terms of like a financing structure and how this is going to overlay with how they’re raising money and things like that. But on the operation side or the sales team side, I think it’s great that you’re actually making that information transparent to the sales team, to the ops team because they actually know what’s expected of them. They know how the formula of the business works. And they also know if they’re not doing a good job. [Crosstalk]
John: Just spot-on Scott. So, without getting again, too nerdy here, it’s like most companies use some form of like, “Oh, we have a commit deal or like an upside deal” or whatever the thing is. The more often than not. And again, I’ve been guilty of this too. You ask someone, “Okay well, what does a commit deal actually mean at your company?” You can’t get a crisp answer. And in theory it should be you’re actually in practice. It shouldn’t be, “Well, it’s a deal in this stage or later in CRM. It has a likely closed date of ideally in the quarter or in the month,” something like that. “And it has some form of milestone associated with it.” It’s like, “Yeah, gotten to, an executive sponsor has been identified, a budget’s been identified and the contract’s been sent out.” Oh, cool. Clearly a commit deal. And sorry, I’m a little bit off into the weeds on this-
Scott: It looks great.
John: That is super helpful.
Scott: Yeah. And it also gives the executive team of the company a lot more confidence. They actually know where things are tracking and they know how things are really shaping up because the venture capitalists are asking them that question or the public markets are asking that question all the time too. So, one of your lessons learned, it sounds like, is having the right systems in place and having visibility for everybody actually leads a more productive team, basically.
John: That’s right. That’s right. One more and then I’ll close out. Again, this is more of on the touchy-feely side, but when you’re hiring for ops, figuring out that balance between EQ and IQ is really more important than it would appear on the surface. And simply put, hiring for emotional intelligence is more important with ops teams than it would appear. And I think there tends to be a mindset that ops folks need to be extremely analytical and process driven and organized, which is all true, but it’s also easy to over-index on those things and forget about the soft skills and the human element that is needed particularly when working with a sales organization to be successful. And if I had a dollar for every time I personally annoyed a sales rep or just because you don’t speak that same language, I’d be a very, very wealthy man. But it’s important learning in that, you have to be really good at understanding the back end of things and coming up with good decisions quickly. But you also have to go about talking to people and not hiding behind headphones and a screen and understanding what the challenges in the field are. And what’s making that sale so hard or what’s causing that fear of not understanding how their commission are paid or whatever it is just really getting into other people’s shoes. It’s super important.
Scott: I totally agree. And especially, I think a lot of salespeople, they tend to be over-indexed on financial performance drives their compensation. So, everyone wants to hire salespeople who bring in deals and pay for themselves and are creative. But I don’t think they get as much love or maybe problem solving or assistance when things aren’t going. We talked about, “Hey, why is this deal taking longer?” Or things like that. Well, there’s another person that’s interjected themselves in the process. But maybe that executive team doesn’t care as much. But that’s something that the sales ops team sees happening over and over again, across sales reps, you can actually put a remedy or puts a process in place to help speed that up. And then the salespeople are happy with you and they’re closing more deals. So, everyone’s happy.
John: 100% right. It’s like our primary job in life at sales ops is to take things off the sales reps plate it’s to take off the tiring, burdensome, oxy-admin stuff that they shouldn’t be doing. And either systematize it with software or automate it or maybe do some of it or not do it at all. Or just be like, “No one should be doing this.” And then make a good case for that.
Scott: That no one should be doing it, meaning you went off the rails Mrs. Salesperson or Mr. Salesperson, and you’re chasing something that’s not core to how we do things or?
John: Or we’re doing something as a company that was maybe made sense two years ago, but doesn’t make sense today at all given the business has changed.
Scott: Yeah. That makes so much sense. So those are the three, but I want to circle back to the first where we went over quickly, which is building a team. Because you talked about that’s something that sales ops can do. How many reps do we have? How do we manage our territories? How do we manage conflict, maybe talk just a little bit more about the things you look for, the things you think about when you’re building a team for a sales organization?
John: Yeah. I think that the… And that’s where the not being self-serving here, the diagnostic comes in handy and I would recommend, frankly, any ops hire or leader not necessarily hire me, but do their own diagnostic to figure out what’s working well and what’s not working well. Because I think there’s a natural human tendency, particularly with ops people, but to think everything is wrong or bad, or there’s even worse word I’ll use but I’ll hold off for the podcast. And that’s often there’s truth, but that’s not the whole picture. Because they’re figuring out what the points of light are, what the opportunities are and what the things that are truly on fire and need to be fixed are. And then throwing the limited resources at those things that need to be fixed. So, if you come in and you realize that you have a broken CRM system and everyone’s data is bad in some ways, but there is a complete duplication of every opportunity and lead and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, man, you got to fix that. You start to rank things off. You got to fix that stuff quickly and jump on the things that are from a foundational data standpoint that are presenting a basic understanding of the business. You need to solve it right away. Or if there is a massive imbalance in some form of compensation, you can’t come in and be like, “Okay, everyone does this, stop what we’re doing and pay everyone new. But building a, “Hey, let’s put a pin in this topic” that we’re on a, I’m making this up, on a perpetuity-based compensation plan where you sell something once and you get paid on it for the next five to 10 years. There’s a time and a place for that. But I’m just using that as an example of a somewhat extreme example of comp. You may want to think about re-centering come around the next comp plan and starting to baby step your way into getting people’s mindset to change and stuff like that to change and to move over. But those 10 things tend to be super helpful when you’re coming in and you’re being able to use fresh eyes, take in data, understand context, and quickly stack rank what’s working, what’s not.
Scott: As someone who… I mean we’ve built out our marketing and sales team. They’re not big but they’re small teams, but our team is really good and we’re really effective. But I love the aspect of hiring a consultant that’s coming in with a diagnostic. I think that’s so powerful. I think you and I caught up like three or four months ago. And I love that idea because it’s a quick win for the executive team that hired you or the investors who hired you in this case, because half the battle is just knowing what’s going wrong. Because then the assumption is you can hire someone or an employee to actually fix it. But that’s a security blanket that people want, especially when they’re doing an investment where they know probably they’re coming in for a reason, the company needs capital for a reason. And capital is good at hiring people on systems to fix things. So just giving them the lay of the land on what’s good and what’s not good I’m sure it makes them feel a lot more secure in the investment they’re making.
John: Yeah, and thank you for that, very kind of you. And I try to get very specific and against three to five things like, “Okay, here’s the grading. Here’s the laundry list.” But three to five things that really need focus and attention. And if I can help people fix them, I will. And if I can’t, I’ll refer them to people who can, and then it’s obviously their decision on what they want to do about it or not. But I try to be as action oriented as possible and not just be like, “Here’s everything that’s good, here’s everything that’s not good that’s the [crosstalk] that doesn’t work very well.
Scott: Yeah, I love it. John, I think we’re pretty similar in that I love the operations side. I did finance and investing like you did, but I’ve never been happier in my career because I love problem solving and figuring this stuff out and learning new stuff like this. So, I think we’re wired the same way. So, I love just talking. It’s really fun to talk about this stuff with you.
John: Thank you. No, it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been a long time coming, so thanks.
Scott: Awesome. Can you tell the audience where they can find you and if you’re a VC fund or private equity fund or you’re just a new executive in probably, you’re probably mid-stage companies, I’d say at late stage? How do they find you and how do they engage with you?
John: So, you can email me. My email is john@houstonadvisorsllc.com. You can find me on LinkedIn, John C. Houston. Again, to your point earlier, I tend to work with a fairly small number of funds, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take anything else on. And that tends to feed my funnel fairly well. But I think what I’d ask is just the takeaway for people is having someone like me is a good name to have in the proverbial Rolodex. There’s a time and a place for what I do. If you’re a B2B company with $5 plus million in sales, and you’re probably starting to think about these things already, and that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to engage with me, but if there’s a need for a conversation, initial conversation, I’m perfectly happy to do it. My sweet spot, meaning most of my clients tend to be at the let’s call it the $25 to $50 million-ish give or take revenue level. Just because that’s where the rubber starts to hit the road from a scaling standpoint.
Scott: Well, congrats on everything you’ve built. I’m envious of your practice and congrats man.
John: Thank you. Fun doing this. Have a great weekend and give my best to Vanessa.
Scott: Bye buddy.
Singer: (singing) It’s Kruze Consulting Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.

Kruze Consulting is a leader in Startup Tax Filings, Payroll Tax Savings from R&D Tax Credits, professional advice and more! Find out why hundreds of seed and venture funded startups trust Kruze Consulting’s tax experts, software and process to save them time and hassle.

Explore podcasts from these experts

  Talk to a leading startup CPA