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Jason Smith: Do You Really Need a Business Plan?

Our special guest comes to us by way of the US Air Force, exited and got into eCommerce and started his own marketing agency where he built it up and eventually sold it to a larger firm.

He is helping business owners and entrepreneurs and those in startup land get their businesses and get their entities set up in the right way. Over at NCH, Nevada Corporate Headquarters, our special guest is Jason Smith.

In our show, we are going to cover quite the gamut here. We're going to talk about how bankruptcy led to an entirely new path and the valuable lessons learned. We're going to talk about how you can increase your confidence with a very powerful tool in the business world.

We're also going to cover the secrets of winning business plans, including what makes for a winner versus a loser. We're going to talk about how to leverage that business plan to get funding, to get money, whether that be from a bank, an investor or friends and family.

We talk about that in our show and one of my favorite parts of the show, powerful words to use when sharing your business plan with potential investors to get them excited and to get them to follow up and call you back.

Dustin
Jason, after sixteen years of blood, sweat and tears that go into building a business and in your case, a marketing agency, you sold to a large firm in 2012. I'd love to start off our conversation with you taking us back to those times.
Jason
That was an interesting time for sure because before that happened, I had that same business. I had failed that because of the recession in '08. When I got out of radio, I decided to pursue advertising on my own. I first started learning this in 1996. When I get out of the military, I'm clueless as to what I'm going to do because my whole life had been the military, my dad, my grandfather. That's what I knew. To suddenly be transitioned out for medical reasons, I found myself with this crossroads. What I did in the military with explosives and ammunition, it does not translate in the real world ironically. I decided to get into some radio because I'd always been fascinated by radio and the production of it.
I took a chance when I was at Weber State University. I started working on their college radio station and I was begging this guy, Mark Summers in Salt Lake City, "Put me on the air." He said, "No." I was relentless. He finally called me one day out of the blue and said, "I was driving through Ogden and I heard your show. I want you to come down to meet with me." I went down and met with him. He put me on part-time running the board here and there. I started interning with the night show and Scotty Davis, which was a lot of fun. I learned a ton. He finally let me go on my own. I started with a weekend shift, late-night, and nobody heard me. I'm playing all the records that nobody wants to hear anyway.
That translated into filling in for mid-days and guys that were out on vacation to finally getting my own show. I got a call from Tommy Austin in Portland who said, "I caught your show. We want to make you a full-time morning show in Yakima, Washington." I said, "Where? I never even heard of that.” I went there and I started with my own morning show. Moving forward, I had a very successful afternoon show in Salt Lake City. I did some mornings in Logan, Utah. I traveled around a little bit with the radio. By '05, I'm more on the behind the scenes. I'm programming and I'm learning production. I started to see this almost void of the local advertisers who are trying to embrace the internet but still holding onto this radio advertising medium. Trying to bring those together, it felt like there wasn't a good harmony there for any organization.
Clear Channel was still trying to figure it out. The hole that I saw in the market was that an advertiser, a small business owner, is trying to manage all these different advertising mediums. They've got six different reps, six different reports. I thought, “I'll build this website where I can bring it all into one. You can see all of your radio, online and digital all that stuff in one place.” That was the concept. I started doing that in late '05, early '06 and then I started to have a couple of small clients and I didn't know what I was doing.
We get in at that point trying to figure it out. I would convince people that they needed me to help them with their online presence. I was building these templated websites and I was charging way too much money for it. No one else was really doing it at the time and then YellowPages.com came around and that stuff. Fast forwarding, I had a pretty good portfolio, 2007, 2008 of clients and it was mainly service industry stuff, HVAC contractors, plumbers and then that recession happened. Advertisers aren't looking to pay for advertising, they're trying to keep their trucks on the road. Almost overnight I felt like that business had collapsed. What I learned through that is I had nothing set up correctly. 
Dustin
What do you mean?
Jason
My business structure was all wrong. Everything was in my personal name. I had leveraged all the equity in my home. I was running thin. That caused me to file bankruptcy, which ultimately leads to closing the business down. That might've been one of those defining moments for me where it's like, “Do you go back to work for the corporate world or do you try and make another run at this?” I thought, “Let me try and make another run at it.” I also went back to the corporate world. I did some traveling for Match Ben, which turned into Radiate Media. I was traveling around teaching online marketing to small markets while building my business with my wife at the time. I had learned through some friends of mine like Vance Padelford about Nevada Corporate Headquarters. I've always kept a sightline on Cort Christie and what he was doing.
Vance convinced me to restart the business but structure it correctly. I worked with him on a few things and then ultimately, I managed Marketing.com back up. In 2012, I was approached by a guy named Mike Petroff with Deseret Digital Media and he said, "We have an interest in what you're doing. We want to create a division here that's very similar." At the time, they had all of the radio and TV broadcasting in Salt Lake and we're looking for another digital medium outside of their websites to offer the local market. I said, "Great." I showed him what I was doing and we negotiated a deal. I came on board for thirteen months to help them build out that division. That's how that story went. 
Dustin
People that get to that point where they can sell a business, they've got the golden handcuffs for thirteen months. I'm not sure if that was the case for you, but did you know you were going to stick around? Did you know you were going to go build the next thing? What were you thinking at that point? 
Jason
I have no plan.
Dustin
You’re just going for the ride. 
Jason
It was unsaid that I was there temporary, but it was implied. We got to a point where Dale Darling, the Operations Manager, pulled me and said, "We're at where we're at and we don't really need you much." Because they're way overpaying me, so I left. I didn't have a whole lot going on. I don't remember how the phone call happened, but I got a phone call from Ray Marin at NCH. He learned from Vance about me and said, "We're interested in opening this funding division in Salt Lake City." I said, "Great. I'm not doing anything. I'm on the couch." I met with Cort Christie, Trevor and Ray and they brought me in as the Operations Manager for this new division in Salt Lake. We did that for probably about a year before they decided to move it back down to Vegas. Myself and my wife, we moved from Salt Lake City down here and that's how we got to NCH.
Dustin
I want to ask you this because this was advice given to me. Prior to WealthFit, I had a different venture and there was that golden period in between ventures. You were in that spot. The advice given to me was, "Soak it up and enjoy it." It's tricky for guys like us because we're builders, creators. We want to go out and we love the game. How long did you last and is that your advice to other people?
Jason
It is my advice. That was the moment when I learned. Before that, we're always going, always creating. We can't stop no matter what. Your family is like, "What are you doing?" When that happened, I was sitting on the couch reflecting, enjoying the work. I realized, “I enjoy this.” That was when I decided that I needed to have a better work-life, home-life balance because I was terrible at it before this. It was probably three months in before I started getting a little antsy. It's like, "I can’t sit here forever." It's funny because my wife actually said, "You need to get back out on the road. Get out of here." 
Dustin
That was the same thing with my wife as well. She’s like, “You need to start calling people.” That's what I did. You get this phone call and they say to you, "We're building this funding division." What motivated you? What did you see is the vision at the time to make you want to get up off that couch? 
Jason
I had a firm belief in what Cort was doing. He's a brilliant man. His vision behind that, which I caught onto and got the bug and was like, "We can really grow this thing." The leads were there, everything was looking good. For me, it was a matter of how I get to give back. I'm working not because I have to work. I get to come in and use my skillset to manage a staff that's already in place. The funding's already in place from Cort. He's funding the whole thing. I literally get to almost start a new business, but it's not mine. It was a perfect marriage. I enjoyed it because we were helping people too. There were a lot of small business owners trying to figure out credit. Their personal credits are in shambles because a lot of people get this stuff wrong. We got to help them overcome that, help with credit and learn how to find some funding resources and set up LLC's.
Dustin
I realize we're throwing around NCH, Nevada Corporate Headquarters. For those reading this for the first time, talk about what NCH actually is and what your day-to-day looks like
Jason
Nevada Corporate Headquarters has been 30 years in business. Cort and Trevor have been at this for a long time and they're brilliant at it. We're a full-service startup firm. If you're starting a business, any type of resource you can imagine starting a new business outside of maybe marketing, we offer. We have estate planning options. We have a full legal team, the second largest CPA firm in Nevada. We have a business credit division, a business plan division, self-directed retirement accounts. My day is I'll go into the office and I'll probably take 2 to 3 calls during the day and then probably 1.5 to 2 hours, I'm talking about the services that we have. I'm dealing mainly with real estate investors, a lot of the fortune builder clients. We'll go through a full structure. We do a consultation where you're asking what your current business experience is and what funding capability are you going to have.
Every student or every client is going to have a different background. There's no cookie-cutter way to do this corporate structure stuff because you'll get somebody that has a commercial property or that has rentals. Maybe they already have a company with staff. They're trying to figure out how to get people paid correctly or how to raise more capital to even cover payroll. I'm thinking I'm growing this business too fast. This is a client I've talked to. He was a sole proprietorship and levers. I told him my story and he's like, "That's how vulnerable I feel." We've got to fix that.
Dustin
You've worked with a ton of businesses at the agency at NCH. Many entrepreneurs, at least the ones that love the game and love to get to selling and marketing, often generally get into business and figure out the entity structuring and how to set things up later and after the fact. Would you say that is the number one thing or are there other mistakes you see a lot of people that are getting started in launching a biz? 
Jason
For me, one is corporate structuring. People get that wrong, but there's not a lot of education on it. I was telling somebody else in your office that everyone has an entrepreneurial spirit somewhere deeply embedded in them. There's no real manual. No one says, "If you're going to start a business, here's what you should do." Maybe if you go to MBA school, in my opinion, you'll learn a lot, but you're learning how to run someone else's business. Learning how to start a business, there are four principles for me. There's legal separation, privacy, tax liability and then funding capability. I always try and cover the four basics whenever I'm consulting someone on starting a new business. The other one I see, maybe you had this experience, is a lot of people don't have patience when they start a new business. Hours are fast and they give up right when it was about to get good. 
Dustin
I want to take a step back. I want to talk about entity formation. It may not be the most attractive topic, but here's what happens in the marketplace. Someone told me about this Wyoming thing and then we've all heard of Bahamian Shell corporations. There are these things called Age Corporations that you can buy off the shelf. They have 50 years. If someone does go and do a little research, it's confusing because there's all this stuff. What is a person supposed to do? What is the right entity for them? I know that's a little tricky because I'm not telling you I'm a plumber in Iowa or whatever, but on a macro, what is your advice there? 
Jason
There's a lot of different variables. The basic for me regardless of industry is you've got to either have an LLC or corporation. I prefer the LLC because you can tax it as a corporation and it's more flexible. You can set up an LLC in any state. Coming back to knowledge, a lot of people don't know that there are different laws in every state when it comes to entity formation and what can be adjudicated or how they pierce the corporate veil and sue you as a business owner. That's the education piece because I hear all the time, "I've already got an LLC set up in Montana." "Great, but do you know what it is? Can I see your paperwork?" Coming back to what people do wrong in the beginning is they'll set up an LLC. They'll get an EIN number or maybe a couple of pieces of paper from the state online but go to court with that. That's a big difference. You got to understand courts. In my opinion, the judicial system in business is looking for people to take advantage of the laws they've written to protect you. When you don't do that and then you go in and ask for forgiveness, it doesn't work very well.
Dustin
I want to talk about another part of the process because your entity formation is mission-critical. A lot of people are like, "I'll get to it later." The thing that I've often found being a guide to jump in into the business is when those oh-crap moments happen. If you're not following the laws to a tee, if you didn't do your research, when that happened and someone sues you or something crazy, if there’s a bad partnership, that's when you get in. Very early in my journey, I was like, "That's never going to happen to me. I'm going to do this right." It comes back to bite you. It's very important. The other area I want to talk about his business plans. Jason, I've always subscribed to ready, fire, aim. It means that I often go sell something or market it and figure out if I can create some money if the market is interested in it. However, you're big on business plans and as part of that starting process. Why are you so big on this? 
Jason
Where are you going? What are you doing with it? It's your vision, but how are you going to articulate that to people? That's a fail point a lot of new business owners have too. Their vision, they know it very well. If you have a conversation and very passionate about it, but then when you get into the details of what it is, they stumble because they don't know. You've always heard this, if you're failing to plan, you're planning to fail. I do believe that is true. That's not to say that guys like you and I and probably a lot of your colleagues haven't gone out and had success without a business plan, but how much more successful could you have been early on if you had known everything you needed to know about the business? Because it's not just your product or service, it's what you're going to do with that product or service. How are you going to market that product or service? If you're raising capital, that's a whole other game. It’s a very competitive game. 
Dustin
When I first heard the word business plan, I think of these business plan competitions. I think of these things from Academia that are 57 pages long or maybe longer. Is that what we're talking about here? When you say business plan, what are you seeing? 
Jason
Yes, 35 to 40 pages. As you'll learn in the course that we're going to present to you, there are many different segments within that. You’re going to talk about how you're going to market the product or service or what the industry is. For me, a business plan, and I hate to be so centric this way, is about funding. If you look at the statistics of new businesses in America, most of them fail because of funding. To me, it's not the only piece, but it's the biggest part. From the beginning, if you're trying to take a company to market and you're not well funded, you need to convince people that you're going to invest in my business. If I came up to you and said, "I've got this great idea, I'm really passionate about it," you'd be like, "I'm excited too. What're the details?” I'm like, "I don't know. I need you to trust me and get me $100,000." I'm not going to put my money at risk with a guy like that.
That's why having those projections, performance data, balance sheets, marketing plan, budgets, even an executive summary, who are you, where do you come from, if I'm going to give you my money, how do I know that I have some semblance that money's coming back? Give me a background story of who you are and your business philosophy. That's why I like business plans. For me, that's been a game-changer in my business experience. It’s very thoughtfully breaking it down. “I've got this great idea. I know there's a market here for it.” Don't just say it; prove it. Once you prove it, you've become so much more comfortable in the way you present that business on not just investors, but bankers and colleagues. It's super important that you have all of the data. 
Dustin
What popped in my head was that it's a tool for a lot of different things, but I wrote down confidence tool. When you flush an idea, you can sell it a lot better when you understand it and you've battled-tested certain arguments. If people are poking holes in it and you have an answer or a rebuttal for that, it gives you more confidence to go out there and do your thing.
Jason
That's exactly right. Even when in a business plan, I tell people that I have an exit strategy in my business plan. They're very uncomfortable with that. Why would you present it? As an investor, what are you going to do to mitigate losses should they come up? A lot of people do not consider that when they start a business because you said it so eloquently, “It’s not going to happen to me. I'm not going to close this down. I'm going to make a ton of money and I'm a rockstar. I’m never going to close this down,” and then the economy swings on you.
Dustin
You've worked with a lot of people. You've seen your share of winning business plans. What are those characteristics? What makes a business plan a winning one versus one that is not great? 
Jason
The difference is having someone professionally write the plan for you. I know that sounds so salesy, but it's been so true in my life. I don't want to spend 300 to 500 hours writing a business plan. I've done it. It served its purpose. I hired someone to do it for me, those people that take the research, know how to present the research, how to articulate that in a form that is sexy to investors. That was an eye-opener for me and that moved me to start learning more about business plans. When I gave it up and said, "I think I know it, but I don't think I know it all away," and I had somebody else do it, that was interesting. The difference for me would be having a professional service put that together. 
Dustin
Do people come to NCH and ask you to put together a business plan and you simply say, "We don't suggest you move forward,” or do you put the ball back in their court and say, "You need to flush this out. You need to pivot here. You need to think about a different way?" How does this process look?
Jason
I don't know that's our role. Our role is to give them the information presented for investors, for partners. For us to say, "You should vet this out a little bit more," that's on you, the business owner. What I mean by that is if we present the data and it shows weakness, it's your job to vet that out. If you came to me with five zip codes in an area that you want to work in and your goal is $1.5 million over three years and I tell you, “Geographically, those areas are not going to give you that money,” it's not my job to go out and figure it out. It's your job. You come back to me and say, "Here's where we're at,” and we analyze and put it all together. 
Dustin
That makes sense because the business owner, the entrepreneur, their role is to take the resources that are available to them and then figure out what is the best path for them. In putting together these plans, talk a little bit about the process of it. You talked about research being such a big component. After the research is acquired, then what's next? 
Jason
Formulating all of that research. If you're staring down a notebook of twenty pages of numbers, the next part is what do I do with all that? That's why this course is going to be so helpful because you can write your own business plan. I'm not saying that you should not. In fact, if you're going to, make sure it has all of the right elements. The hard part is once you've got the research, how are you going to package that information into the platform that you want to use to get in front of people? That's probably one of the hardest. The research is always the hardest part. Putting it together, I'd say it was the second part of it. What's ironic is more people are afraid of that than doing the work to create the plan. 
Dustin
The actual pitch?
Jason
“Do I have to present this to an event?” Yes, you do. That's the whole point of this.
Dustin
I want to go deeper into the funding part because you said a critical component. One of the big components of having a business plan is the ability to take that plan and sell it to and pitch banks or investors in it. What do they want to see in a business plan?
Jason
They want to see market viability, that you've thought out this business in the market that you're trying to penetrate. What they're looking for is how much data and research have you done around your product or service in your market that you're trying to penetrate. They're also looking at did you compare that to the current competitors. What is going to make your product or service compete on that level that's going to incite me to want to invest in your business? That's what they're looking for, “Do they really need all of these numbers?” Yes, a good savvy investor is looking at all of that critical data to make that decision.
Believe it or not, you can still get money with haphazardly written business plans, but how much more money could you get if you built total comp points? How much better are your rates and terms with these private money lenders when you've given them the accurate details without a golden ticket? “This is our golden ticket. If this business were to start failing for whatever reasons, and I've outlined the reasons that could, I'm also going to protect the investment with this. Here's my contingency plan.” That's what they're looking for, the numbers to back up and support your vision and then the contingency plan to know that they're going to get their money back one way or the other. 
Dustin
A bank versus a private investor, are there any differences that they're looking for between the two?
Jason
It's not been my experience. When our team writes business plans, they're compliant for the toughest loan to get, which is the SBA loan. We try and follow a model where if we can write our business plans to be compliant for SBA loans, then any investor that sees it is going to be happy with it and it'll suffice for their needs. 
Dustin
Why is SBA loan so hard to get?
Jason
I don't know. I wish I had a solid answer for that. I've got a colleague of mine at a different company that deals with the SBA all the time and he's like, "If I can get out of this business, I would." It's hard to get them through. I don't know if it's maybe part of their process, the way they vet the new businesses out. Some of their requirements are a little bit tough. I don't spend a lot of time with them. A lot of my clientele is not worried about SBA, especially in real estate investing. The SBA is not going to loan for that. 
Dustin
If you're writing to the hardest standard there is, then everything else is gravy. Talk about the process over at NCH. Let's say I want a business plan and I'm that impatient entrepreneur. How long should I be expecting it to take to have a plan returned to me and are we going back and forth? 
Jason
On average, you're probably at 2 to 4 weeks. Our team is going to send some worksheets to you, roughly nineteen questions is what it is. It's basic information. If you didn't know some of the answers, we would consult on that and help you fill out those areas and then we go to work, 300 to 500 hours. Two to four weeks later, you'll have a 35 to 40 page professionally written plan. All the charts and graphs, the extensive executive summaries, balance sheets, marketing plans, budgets from front to back. I always try and tell my investors, “I know it's not sexy information, but learn it. Spend some time with it and become intimate with it cover-to-cover because you never know when you're out in the market.” I was at an airport and there was a guy I was sitting at the bar with. We were watching the sports on television and he was talking about trying to raise capital for the business. I said, "What are you currently doing?" He's like, "I have a bunch of money sitting in a 401(k). I've got a bunch of money here and I've got a bunch of my colleagues."
He was a dentist. They all have a lot of money. I said, "How are you not getting holidays?" He’s like, "I don't know how to present that information." I said, "That's interesting." We talked a little bit about it and I got him signed up with a business plan to do that. There's a lot of money out there and people who aren't used to that mindset are confused by that statement. There is a lot of money out there once you know how to get people to open up and talk about it. That guy at the airport had a bunch of money sitting around and yet he's still talking about trying to raise capital, which I thought was brilliant. You got that part right. Having your own money is great. Other people's money is always better.
Dustin
A lot of people that aren't of the mindset or of the background that you've come from and I would say part of the show as well say, "I'd get into real estate or I'd start my own business, but I don't have the funds." What do you say to that person? 
Jason
It's an excuse. I hate to be so frank, but that's what it is. You're letting your fear control you because it's not true. You do have access to the funds. You got to know how to get it. It's everywhere around you. You've got friends and families with old 401(k) that they're no longer with that employer and that money is sitting there idle. They don't know what to do with it. If you've got a good idea and a good plan, that guy's a perfect money lender for you, but you've got to be able to present the data in a way that makes sense. I always tell people it's an excuse. Never believe that. Whoever told you that, tell them they're wrong. 
Dustin
I've got this 50-page plan. What does it look like for people that have a business plan? I'm grateful that you're creating a course here for us to give people an awareness that they could go do it themselves, but if they're an entrepreneur or business owner, their best time is spent going out and getting business remaking or going and getting that investor. I want you to talk about when I've got this 50-page doc, how do I now take this in pitch essentially? Do I create a deck? Do I send this doc to investors? How do I go about this? 
Jason
There are multiple ways to do that. For me, I've always found that as maybe the door opener. I can have a conversation with you on the street and say, "I've got a great idea. I've owned multiple businesses in the past. This new business that I'm looking to open has X, Y, Z. Over the next few years it's going to do X, Y, Z. I'm looking to raise capital and if you're open-minded, I'd love to send you my business plan." I'll send him a copy of it.” In the back of the note and I always put this, “Now that you're interested, call me at this number.” I assume they're interested.
Dustin
Assume the sale. You put that in, but you can't expect this 50-page doc to sell it. They need to have a conversation with you. At that point, you're on the phone. Maybe you do a deck or something like that to make the case.
Jason
In that case, once that call has happened, we've looked through all your numbers. Everything looks great and they're going to want to dig a little bit more. This is why you have to have a business plan because all the answers that guy's going to ask questions to are right in front of him, but he wants to hear it from you. That's why the plan is so important. After they've called me, then either it's a phone conversation or maybe I'll do a web presentation and walk them through my idea of proof of concept. Show them the product, how it works, those types of things. 
Dustin
Jason, I am excited because you have the ability to help people shore up their business, give them confidence. We've got the business plan; we've made the pitch. I get a yes. You said you could help me support me in all areas of business. Do I come back to you to take care of the legal? If someone wants to give me money, we needed to make this legit.
Jason
The answer should be, you should go to somebody. Preferably come to us. The moment you get funding, get the company organization done correctly. That's the entire corporate structure. It's not just only the LLC. Make sure you're very mindful of how privacy plays into that. What's your tax liability? All of those things plan. What I would encourage anyone to do is once you actually get capital, don’t go for it and start spending money. I see so many startups do that. They have all the big parties and I’m like, "What are you doing?" Get the corporate structure in place. Call somebody, do a consultation on your industry, your business, what it looks like and let them help you get that structure.
Dustin
I know we're so far in the future and I love being here because this is what people want to know. I got the winning business plan. I got someone that said, "Yes, I structured it right," or "I have the paperwork." What's your advice in terms of structure? This is a big question. I imagine a lot of people are asking, “How much of my company should I give up if I'm giving up anything to an investor?” What's your advice there? 
Jason
It's hard to answer because you don't want to pigeonhole anyone to go a certain way.
Dustin
If I'm having this conversation, they're going to invest in my business, what am I giving up essentially as part of that? What is the right amount percentage?
Jason
That's part of the sale too. Once you get in front of that investor, you're negotiating rates and terms. Some of my business plans, I've actually taken the role of writing what my expectations are of that. In the financial part of the business plan, I'll put the capital I'm looking for and I'll write a small little extra about currently I'm offering business investors 10% to 12% over six months on any one given project or I'll have whatever shares I'm willing to give up. I'm setting the precedents going into the meeting. 
Dustin
That is a key piece of advice versus letting them dictate to you. You control the conversations. 
Jason
That doesn’t always work, but it gives them at least an idea that, “This is the starting ground. This guy is expecting a 10% to 12% return.” It may be as a private money lender, “I'm expecting 12% to 15%, so now we have to negotiate.” At least you've started the conversation based on your expectations because it's your business.
Dustin
We talked about using business plans as a confidence tool to help you flush out your ideas, your business. We talked about it as a tool for acquiring funding. What else can we do with a business plan? 
Jason
It's a constant evaluation as you're growing the company. Your business plan that you write in a three-year projection, year two might change. For me, I like to use it as more of a status quo tool. I can go back and say, "I'm right where I said I was going to be in year two," or "I'm underperforming. I have to reevaluate what that looks like. Has there been market fragmentation? Has there been a slowdown that I couldn't account for? What is going on because I'm behind what I projected and I've got to answer to my investor?” What I like to use the plan for is as a tool that I can go back and constantly be re-evaluating where I'm at for a couple of reasons. One, to stay on track. Two, what if I want to raise more capital? Your numbers are going to change. The market has probably changed by then. It's a constant evolution and that's why I like it because it keeps you grounded and confident to use your term as you're operating the business beyond the first couple of years. 
Dustin
Is there a hard-fast rule that every year a person ought to revisit or rewrite the business plan? 
Jason
No, that's more of a personal choice. It's going to be based on how well you're doing or how well you're not doing and honestly how you are as a business owner. Some people aren't very good at managing businesses and they forget this stuff. I see it a lot where people will take the time to set all this stuff up and then they do nothing with it. That's tragic but that's more of your own risk tolerance. How often should you be evaluating your business plan? I know for me, I'm looking at it multiple times throughout the year. Sometimes it's a brief over scope of, "We're on track,” or “I missed that. We're going to build out a new division over here," or "We have a new offering.” I need to go back and I modify the business plan to account for that because it's going to change the overall company numbers, not just only for that one product or service.
Dustin
If there's one takeaway that people could get from our conversation around business plans, what would you say the major takeaway is? 
Jason
Be prepared. That's the biggest takeaway and that's what a business plan is for. My dad always told me from a young age, be prepared for things you can't plan for. That's always been my takeaway with business plans because I feel like I'm preparing for the things that maybe I couldn't plan for. I know that sounds almost backwards, but by me planning, I can see when things pop up. I've already written a contingency plan, so I did account for that. Always be prepared for the things you can't plan for and a solid business plan will help you do that in your business life. 
Dustin
The one thing that I'm curious about is the skeptical people that say, "I don't need a business plan. I'm just going to go sell and test the marketplace." What do you say to that person first? Before I go create the business plan, I'm going to go test and see if I can get a win and then I'll roll in. Is that a way to go about it? 
Jason
You certainly could do that. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that. It comes down to your personal style. I would always answer back when someone says, "What does that going to prove to you?" Let's say you did go out there and you proved it. Now what? Go and do that and if you get three people to say, "Yes, I'd buy your product," that's not necessarily how you're the business. That's just your proof of concept that people want what you have to offer. There's so much more going on beyond that now that you've got people to like what you're doing. The business starts. That's not the business, that's just your product or service and you did a good job of selling it to somebody, but how are you going to build that into something that's going to take off? You also got to protect that too. 
Dustin
We've talked a lot about formation, setting it up right. We've talked about the business plan. What else do you think is mission-critical in the early stages that people need to be thinking about if they're going to start a biz?
Jason
Legal protection. If you're thinking about starting a business, don't do any business transactions without some legal entity in place. You're putting yourself at risk. You said it best, a lot of people think, “It will never happen to me.” That happens all the time. If you're going to get into business, get a real corporation or LLC, not a sole proprietor. People love those things. People don't realize that it’s just you. If they're suing the business, they're suing you. 
Dustin
I was very fortunate to have the same line of thinking that you have, to just do an LLC. I do know there is a big percentage of the business world that being sole proprietors is the thing they are told to do. Also one of the benefits which you guys do that I had picked up is not only can I obviously go get credit in my name, which may not be the right strategy for people, but when you have a real legit entity in LLC or other forums, you can actually go and get business credit. Will you speak a little to that? 
Jason
That's why that's so important when I say, “What's the first thing you would do?” It's protection. We get a legal entity because you’d mention sole proprietors and people think, “I got business cards,” but you personally guaranteed them. If you have an LLC that's properly registered with the business credit bureaus and you're reporting properly, that means the LLC is actually getting credit for it. That's a common mistake people make. They'll get an LLC or corporation, then they'll go down to the Home Depot and get a business card. It shows up on your personal credit and it's only building credit with Home Depot. It's not getting the LLC any real-world credit and that's a whole area that people miss. I'm hoping at some point a course happens around that. 
Dustin
I'm a big proponent of it very early on in my career. This was back in the day when credit was like candy as I like to say. As a young twenty-something year old, I got $100,000 business lines at credit and it wouldn't have happened if I didn't have the entity. I wanted to ask you some fun stuff. Is there anything, before we depart from this area that is critical for the would-be an entrepreneur or that entrepreneur that maybe hasn't protected themselves as much?
Jason
Consult with somebody. Ask the questions because what you think you know, you may not know. That's true for me. My greatest example is I had it all wrong in '08. I didn't know that because not to be arrogant, but I thought, “Go get an entity or an EIN number and you're good.” That's how I thought. Go talk to somebody who's in the profession, have them analyze your situation and they'll tell you exactly what you should do. You'll be surprised at how much you learn. They’re like, "I didn't know that." 
Dustin
Rumor has it that you've been to 49 States and seven different countries. Do I have that right? 
Jason
Yes. 
Dustin
What state are you missing? 
Jason
Hawaii. That’s the only one I've not made it to. 
Dustin
You know that more than half the WealthFit company is in Hawaii. There's a legitimate business reason for you to go to Hawaii. What's on the bucket list in terms of countries? 
Jason
I'd like to see Africa. That's one I've not been to.
Dustin
Is it the safari or are we talking Egypt, South Africa, all of that?
Jason
I don't know if I've considered the breakdown. I'd ever been to Africa. Maybe Egypt would be fascinating. Cort, our founder, went to China and that's one place I've not been. He says it was very fascinating, so I'd like to maybe do that. 
Dustin
Where's been the most fascinating places that you've been to or where did you really enjoy the most?
Jason
Australia was a great trip. I loved Australia. We were there for a week. I was doing seminars at the time, speaking about corporate structure and online advertising. I was in Brisbane and it was gorgeous. I fell in love with that place. Maybe it's the mystery and the danger of being out in Australia because that's one of the most dangerous places to be.
Dustin
I couldn't conclude this interview without talking about your radio background. You already mentioned it, but you were a DJ. Do you call it a handle? What do you call it? 
Jason
They called it a DJ name. 
Dustin
What was your DJ name? 
Jason
Kramer. 
Dustin
Is it like DJ Kramer or just Kramer?
Jason
If you've ever watched Seinfeld, my dad was like, "You are that guy to a tee." That's where it came from. I was never married to it, but it stuck with me. 
Dustin
Sometimes that’s how nicknames go. You just inherit them. 
Jason
It's a better nickname than most I've probably had in my life.
Dustin
What are you excited about? What are you working on?
Jason
I'm focused on work-life, home-life balance. We're big into the lake. My focus has been on my grandson that we had. My sixteen-year-old got a license. We bought a truck. It’s such a boring answer, but I'm focused on my family and making sure everything's there and spending as much time as I possibly can. You get eighteen summers with a kid. Make them count.
Dustin
That's crazy when you put it that way because I got young-ins. When you say eighteen, it becomes finite. I appreciate you big time for sharing your insights, your wisdom. We want them to check out the WealthFit course to get up on business plans and why they are so important. If people want to continue the conversation with you or NCH, what's the best place to do so? 
Jason
Go to NCHInc.com. Check out everything that we do. We're very well-known online. We have 10,000 plus five-star reviews on different platforms. If you want a consult, call the number or use the link through WealthFit and we'll have a conversation, see where you're getting it right or where you're not getting it right. We'll figure out a path together to make sure you're protected and that you're doing well. 
Dustin
Mr. Jason Smith, thank you for being on the Get WealthFit show and thanks for what you're up to in the world. 
Jason
Thank you. I appreciate it.

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