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Founder of 7 Stage Advisors Carl Gould

Founder of 7 Stage Advisors Carl Gould 

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with the owner of seven stage advisor, Carl Gould. How are you doing? Good man.


Carl Gould  0:13  

Hey, Dave, I'm great. How you doing? I'm well,


Gabriel Flores  0:15  

great. Thank you so much for being on the show today, first and foremost. But I would love to get into what seven stage advisors is. But first, let's introduce the world to Carl who is Carl?


Carl Gould  0:27  

Well, you know, I'm just everyday guy, I live in New Jersey. I have married I have three children. And I come from a big family. I'm one of 10 kids. And I, you know, went through a traditional grade school and high school, I went to the University of Delaware for accounting and finance for a couple of years. And started one of many businesses. When I was a teenager, I had a landscaping company, and after that a construction company. But when I first got started in business, I also learned the science of coaching way, way back in 1990. I fell in love with it really enjoyed it. And then, you know, I've been on that path ever since I was a coach at a coaching practice through the 90s. And then in 2002 started the business that I have today.


Gabriel Flores  1:19  

So you started the business now seven state advisors, what exactly is the business?


Carl Gould  1:26  

So we are we are a hybrid where a business coaching and consulting firm. And what we do is the consulting side is we help people understand their differentiators create their strategic plan, understand their pricing model and their organizational chart and who's the right people to put in the right seats and not sort of thing. And then we coach them and help them drive the plan and hold them accountable to the plan over overtime.


Gabriel Flores  1:53  

Nice. So so how is this concept kind of created? How did you create this concept?


Carl Gould  1:58  

Well, I started, like I said, it was just a solo. solo practice was very grassroots. I just started out by working on my own built up my cash reserves. And then I started to certify other people as coaches. And then what I did was, once I started to build up a team of coaches, I then went out to clients as a team as a PIR as opposed to an individual. And over time, we were very self funded. And since then, I've I've gotten some traditional funding in order to scale. But for the most part, it was a very self funded venture.


Gabriel Flores  2:38  

So let's, let's talk about that a little bit. Let's talk about the funding first. You mentioned you went out and got funding let's let's for the listeners at home that might not be familiar with the venture capital process, including myself, can you give us your experience in that area?


Carl Gould  2:55  

Sure. Well, venture capital would be a very fancy shmancy term for what I do. Venture. So I had, you know, there's a lot of different ways to get funded a lot of different nicknames for the funding. And I would, I would say probably the funding that I got early on in my career, and later on was more angel investing, meaning it was friends and family, it was early stage. And I think there were more. There were more believing in me than the concept. They were betting on me, you know. And so I had to prove my concept, I had to have a business plan, I had to show them what the business model was, why I'm doing this, what would the could the potential returns be? And in my contracting business, I would do some large projects. And so I might buy a piece of land and subdivide that. And then and then build homes on it. So I might have partnerships in different projects. So I have projects that got funding, and then I had the overall business that got funded. So it was it was a very much a hybrid situation.


Gabriel Flores  4:06  

And you know, one of the things you actually just mentioned was the need to make a business plan. And you know what, I think a lot of entrepreneurs, when they start business, they don't really think about that piece, they think about United States to create an idea. When you created your business plan, was this something you did by yourself? Or was this something that you actually, you know, collaborated with somebody doing?


Carl Gould  4:25  

I can identify myself so well, and I was starting a coaching company to around that time I remember so, as a coach, you you are drowning in planning. I mean, there's no shortage of people to help you plan tools to plan ideas around planning. I mean, I lived in that world. And so it was really, really eye opening because I you know, in the beginning, I thought planning was setting goals. You got some goals, how much do I want to make? How much do I want to charge who my client is going to be that sort of thing. When I hired a business coach because in the very beginning, I was a, I was a life coach and an executive coach. And although I also ran businesses, I didn't connect the dots that well, as far as overall strategic and business planning. But it wasn't until I hired a business coach for myself. And my business a few years later that I really understand that the understand that the art and science of planning, and really how much of a catalyst it was, man it gave, once I had a plan, and I understood and I got all those ideas out of my head and onto paper. It was like, it was like a horse race are all the gates just opened up simultaneously. It wasn't just one gate was one guy on a horse, all the gates went and all and all the courses ran. And that's kind of how I felt like in my business, because everything I wanted to do my marketing plan, I found people that wanted to be involved, be at an agency or someone who's willing to invest in that side of my business, or the sales, all of a sudden that opened up the finance that opened up operations that opened up. So it was like releasing the hounds. Once I started planning, and I found it very, very liberating for my own businesses, and it became something I really enjoy. Even today. In my advisory.


Gabriel Flores  6:17  

You mentioned you were kind of a life coach previously. Is this your first business?


Carl Gould  6:22  

No, in the construction bottom up, my landscaping company was my very first business. While I had my landscaping company, I started coaching. So I guess that was my second business. I sold my landscaping company. And then I started a construction and real estate development company. That was my third business. And I sold that business later on. So I exited from two contracting slash construction construction companies. I still have the coaching business as it sits today.


Gabriel Flores  6:54  

Yeah, so with construction, right, your your previous experience in construction, right, you're mentioning, and now you're doing coaching, how did those How did you kind of transition from construction to coaching?


Carl Gould  7:07  

Well, I was already in coaching, when I got there construction, and, you know, coaching was my side hustle all through the 1990s. So it was my side hustle for 12 years, but there came a day, there came a day where I said to, I said to myself, I said to my family, and I said I want to become a full time coach. And you know, I want to get I want to get out of the construction business. And they thought I was crazy. Because at the time, gotta remember that at the time. coaching the way we know it today didn't really exist. The Job didn't exist, what you did didn't exist. So I when I said I wanted to do that most people said What sport like what sport you want to go into why coaching? So, what is it like it was, and then when I explained it, some people actually laugh, they're like, well, you're what you'd like you get paid for that. So, you know, it really wasn't a mainstream or well known occupation at the time. Not at all. And so I told people that I wanted to do it, you know, they didn't know I had been coaching part time and you know, on my own, but I said I was serious. I'm gonna do it. And they were like, alright, but they all thought I was crazy. And what I saw, there was a period for two years, where I launched a full on coaching business with coaches the whole bit, and I treated it like it was a full time venture. But I still had my full time coach, my consult my construction business. And so and so I ran two businesses side by side for two years straight. I wouldn't say I would recommend it. But since this was such a new venture, I and there just wasn't a lot of market acceptance at the time. I wanted to make sure that I had the the new business up to a certain period before I sold the old one. Gotcha. So that was my path. Like I said, I wouldn't recommend it. But that's what I did.


Gabriel Flores  9:12  

You know, you know, a few things you've mentioned thus far is you one you obviously work as a professional coach. However, you also mentioned you yourself hired a professional coach. Let's let's talk a little bit why that is important for entrepreneurs to think about it, or is it important for them to hire a professional coach?


Carl Gould  9:30  

I'm sorry, I gave it again, please. Yeah.


Gabriel Flores  9:33  

So you mentioned you know, previously that you have hired a professional coach, yet you are also a professional coach. Correct? Why is why was it important in your perception? Why is it important for entrepreneurs to engage or hire a professional coach?


Carl Gould  9:51  

Why should they Well, you know, part of the challenge with part of the challenge with a business owner or really anybody for that matter. whether it's personal or professional, is that we're all running our lives every day, and we can only see the world through our eyes, we don't have an extra set of eyes, we have an extra perspective. And we're all in our own fishbowl, we're all in our own jar, and you can't read the jar, you can't read the label when you're inside the jar. And so I'm as a coach, I'm outside the jar, you know, I can see your blind spots, I can see what you're going through. I mean, imagine when you're driving your car down the road, right, and you and you want to make a turn, or you're want to move into the next lane, you look across from the driver's side to the passenger side, and there's a blind spot. It's not that you're a bad driver, it's just there's something blocking your view, and you simply can't see that, right. And so a coach or somebody in the passenger seat can look over, see very clearly and say, hey, it's good to pass, you're safe. Or it's not good to pass, don't don't, it's not safe, don't go. And they just have a perspective you don't have, they're no better at driving than you are, they just have a different perspective. And so if if, as a coach, I can provide an outside perspective, if I can give you thoughts and ask you questions that you're not asking yourself, and I can help you come to conclusions you would not have gotten into on your own, I can accelerate and catalyze your results significantly. I think I can be like a time machine for you. Because I can condense everything that I've learned. Everything I'm observing you do, and everything I've seen my other clients be successful or not act. And I can translate that to you. And I can translate that to you. And you would you would be the beneficiary of not having to go through all that time and all those experiences.


Gabriel Flores  11:45  

So let's let's dive in a little bit more into seventh stage advisors, like let's for for the individuals at home, because it's a, it's a seven part series, can you explain a little bit what it is and what individuals can kind of expect to get at at seven part series?


Carl Gould  12:04  

Sure. So back when I was getting started as a coach, there just weren't a lot of systems and a lot of, you know, structure and protocols that I you know, that I had available to me to get started. And so I just started to document everything that I was doing with my clients. And you know, because I wanted this to be a full time business. And so I had to come up with a coaching model that would help me navigate you know, the world of clients and sessions and, and practice management. And so I started to notice that there were seven very distinct stages that people that are looking to grow their business or their life went through. And the more I looked at him, the more I said that, you know, it comes back to the seven. And so the seven stages of business success, go in this sequence. Number one is strategic planning, where you get all those great ideas out of your head and onto paper. Stage two is when you become a specialist or you build your authority. Number three is the synergy stage where you're starting to build a team that'll help you execute on your plan because you're so busy because you've built this expert, expert authority. And then for stage four is the system stage where you start to build your your ecosystem or what type of business are you going to be when you grow up. And then stage five is the sustainability stage where a franchise system or you know, a duplicatable scalable model is built, and you can really take the shackles off your business and, and it could get as big as you want it to be. stage six is saleability. And what that means is that you have built an organization that you could sell at a premium, right stage seven, and it's an asset state seven is the succession stage where you you can fire employee number one, that's you and your employee number one, and, and the business is firing on all cylinders, and will grow. And in the hands of the next generation, great products, great services firing on all cylinders. And the next generation has taken over and can run with your vision, mission, vision and values. And so those are the seven stages. They take 36 months to go through. And they we find that you have to go through them in sequence. You can't buy your way past certain stages you have to earn your way through and if you do you will be you will be very generously rewarded.


Gabriel Flores  14:44  

Nice. So for you know entrepreneurs at home like myself, you know, what can we do right now to be a better business person tomorrow?


Carl Gould  14:56  

What can you do right now? So there's a number of there's a number of things that The first step that I say when when somebody is either trying to figure out what their proof of concept is, or they want to refine it or revisit it, because of maybe, you know, maybe some of the things that are going on in the world these days is reconnect with what your clients want. And look at your pricing strategy and your overall delivery strategy. And the one way that you do that is, I suggest that you take the top five complaints about companies like you, you know, in your industry, maybe not about you personally, but like you. And you say to yourself, What are the top five things that are on the minds of prospects and consumers? What do they write about? What are their reviews, one of the blogs say? What are some of the object objections you've gotten in your sales process? And also, what are some of the things they say do when clients say to you when they hire you, because they think you do it better than your competitors, take those top five complaints, and take those top five complaints, and roll them into your business model, and share with people how you and promised prospects that this these things ever social, these things will never happen to you if you become my client. But if they ever did happen to you, I'd give you all your money back. Gotcha. That would be one of the first things that I would suggest.


Gabriel Flores  16:25  

You know, and kind of sticking with that, you know, you you go through, you've probably seen a lot you've dealt with a lot of you know, small business owners and entrepreneurs. What advice would you give a young entrepreneur starting a business like what is one nugget that you can say, Hey, watch out for this pothole or avoid this landmine, or certainly do not do this. What's like that one nugget you would give them?


Carl Gould  16:54  

The one nugget I learned very early in my career, when I had no business experience was hustle wins the day. You don't even have to be the best thing, the smartest tool in the shed, you got to get there some time. But if you are relentless in your hustle, and in your work ethic, you will win. Because nine out of 10 people will will stop when it gets really hard when it gets uncomfortable. And they won't see it all the way through. But if you are willing to see it all the way through, if you're the one that's willing to, you know, stick with your plan and keep pivoting as many times as you need to pivot, you will win out. You know, and and when you when you see businesses that are really successful, trace them back to the early days and the early story. And this almost always the story of that entrepreneur, who, you know, just wouldn't say take no for an answer. I mean, Sara Blakely who started Spanx, she, when she first started, she came up with this idea for Spanx. She didn't have a sales team, so she's so she got, you know, other boutiques to show her product. And then she would go herself from boutique to boutique and teach the salespeople how to sell her product. Since she didn't have a sales team, she hustled around and use the sales forces of other places. That's the kind of entrepreneurial spirit and dedication you have to have. And if you haven't, you're going to win. And if you don't, it's gonna be a really hard.


Gabriel Flores  18:21  

Yeah, you know, and it's an entrepreneur. Yeah, you know, it's funny, we we actually mentioned this often I speak with a lot of entrepreneurs on this show, and one of the things we discussed is, fake it till you make it. You know, just get out there, keep working at it, hustle like you mentioned, right? You gotta hustle at it. But don't give up. Because it's the individuals that like you mentioned nine out of a 10, those nine folks are going to kind of bow out when it gets tough. Make sure you're number 10. Right. Now looking back, Carl, on everything. What advice would you give a younger Carl,


Carl Gould  18:52  

I would have, I would have had a little bit more faith in myself. And I would have told myself to believe in myself a bit more. Because the what I was on to I was on, I was on to something early on. And I just assumed that I was young. And you know, crushed into business that everyone else thought the same way that everyone else must have think the same things. And I just finally came around to it. But I actually did have a lot of original ideas. And I did have the I did have a lot to offer. And by doing that, had I done that I think I would have grown bigger, faster. And I would have had more people buy into my buy into my vision. And I probably would have looked for Investment Partners earlier because they could have accelerated my growth. And I realize now looking back then they really did believe in me and probably had and I just didn't ask, but I had I said listen, I want someone to put in a certain amount of money so I can scale this business. They probably would have said yes. And I just didn't. I just didn't do it, you know?


Gabriel Flores  19:59  

Yeah, it's almost like you have to believe in yourself before they believe in you kind of thing


Carl Gould  20:04  

a little bit more I just I still I was my own worst enemy enemy in a way. And I just got I figured because I was young I always knew that you know, I had to earn my stripes and take longer and you know whereas you know as I look back now I was like man, all the signs were there that I could have just gone right for it.


Gabriel Flores  20:22  

Yeah, that's yeah, very, very true. So for the folks at home that want to learn more about seven sage advisor maybe they want to contact you and get a hold of you. How can they do that webpage social media sites, how can they get ahold?


Carl Gould  20:35  

That's where they find me personally, is go to my personal site coral, three ca RL three, six And your or go to my regular website, Carl And that's the gateway of all the things that I do.


Gabriel Flores  20:52  

Perfect. Carl, thank you so much, again for jumping on the show today. really do appreciate it really interested to kind of learn more about the seven sage advisory. For those folks at home that are interested in learning more, please visit

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