Shiloh Johnson_Embrace Networking for Business Success

Embrace Networking for Business Success with Shiloh Johnson, ComplYant

June 21, 2023

Using networking for business is challenging, and it requires deliberate focus and effort. As Shiloh Johnson shares in this episode, if you are willing to put in the time to build a strong network of people around you, it will stand you in good stead for all your future endeavors. Shiloh also talks about the role of a leader, the value of hiring a coach, the importance of doing customer discovery properly, and more! 

About Shiloh Johnson

Shiloh Johnson is the CEO and founder of ComplYant, a technology platform offering small business owners and entrepreneurs a simple way to manage their business taxes. Rooted in the understanding that taxes can cause small business owners a lot of stress and anxiety and create barriers for small or underrepresented entrepreneurs, ComplYant’s mission is to ensure that small businesses of all colors, shapes, and backgrounds have access to effective tax support. Shiloh has raised $12.8M in venture capital funding for her digital tax assistant tool, making her one of only a few Black women to raise $10m+ in funding. 

How To Use Networking For Business

Networking for business is a powerful tool that all entrepreneurs will benefit from utilizing! The people you surround yourself with on your journey of building a growing business will play an invaluable role in determining the direction your business takes. Networking gives you the opportunity to exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and seek guidance from experienced professionals as you deal with the inevitable highs and lows of being a business owner. There are many different ways to network effectively, including attending industry events, joining professional organizations, and utilizing online platforms like LinkedIn. 

Episode Highlights:

  • Company culture is something you need to intentionally focus on as a business owner. When things are moving quickly (as they usually are when you are building a business), it’s easy for it to fall by the wayside. As a leader, it’s your job to help your team members build thriving careers while maintaining a work/life balance, otherwise, you will lose them! (07:34)
  • Leverage your network by asking for referrals from people you trust. This is far more effective than a “spray and pray” approach. (10:51)
  • Be discerning about the investors you work with. Taking money from someone means you are entering into a contractual agreement with them, so you want to be sure that you really understand who they are so that you know whether or not you can trust them. (14:17)
  • Before you build out your product or service, put a lot of effort into figuring out who will want to buy it and what makes them tick. If you do your customer discovery properly in the early days, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money because you will have to do less iterating down the line! (17:44)
  • If you’ve learned anything on your entrepreneurial journey, share it! There are so many people out there who will benefit from hearing your stories and advice. (29:57)

Shiloh’s best advice for entrepreneurs:

“Building a product isn’t going to happen because of you, it’s gonna happen because of all the people that are around you that you have been able to galvanize to put in motion.” (16:51)

Connect with Shiloh:

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[00:01:14] Shiloh Johnson: I’m excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:16] A.J. Lawrence: I was going through your background and I’ve said this before with guest. I love people who have like a background in the subject matter and like have this neat and organized in hindsight. You have this progression of working in taxes for companies and different businesses and kind of moving up. And then all of a sudden you had your own practice and now you have an app.

[00:01:37] I mean, I could make assumptions on that direction change, but why did you decide to build ComplYant? What was that change from your own practice to the app here?

[00:01:49] Shiloh Johnson: I am just naive and crazy enough to believe that my small contributions can affect a lot of lives. And I care more about the legacy of what people remember about me and what I care to honor that in is, how many people did I help? So while one-to-one, being a CPA and running a firm is great, you have one client, maybe the max of what your capacity is, is 20, and you’re helping these 20 people and it’s awesome.

[00:02:15] But there’s probably another 200 small businesses that either can’t afford your services or can’t find you or can’t find adequate support, they equally need that same amount of support and sometimes more than the people that you are supporting.

[00:02:28] So I started to meet those people. They were inbound coming to me, coming into my landing page that I had at the time and were just, I mean, some really crazy issues. Things that you think are like assumed knowledge, but what does that even mean when our education system doesn’t support tax learning in any way or any financial knowledge really. And just doing things that were very costly to them.

[00:02:51] And so I just was trying to figure out how do I help more of those folks? And that idea was just so blaringly clear. I was like trying to find places I could send some of these businesses to, like maybe if you try using this website, it can help you get there.

[00:03:06] And I couldn’t find anything. And I was like, this has to exist. There’s an app for everything. So I just couldn’t find it. And I had the light bulb just said, you’ve gotta make it. People need low cost, very simple to understand tax help. And so that’s how we got you.

[00:03:21] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. And I wanna really talk about your journey for a bit, but I really like the use case because so often I could see the like, oh, let’s figure out a way to get some basic services. The scheduling is such an interesting angle because the business I sold about 7 years ago and had run for about 9 years previous to that, and then past businesses I had run and even my personal company I’ve been doing, missed deadlines. And I’m talking the big ones. I’m talking like the quarterlies, the stuff for estimated tax stuff payments.

[00:03:56] They’ve added hundreds, thousands, and in some years even more than, sadly, into the five figures, into sort of just that overall dead cost for lack of just for not being prepared. So, I found that such an interesting angle to approach it. Was there any reason why that was sort of the main initial thrust?

[00:04:20] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, a couple of things. So when I would say things like in, I’m in California and we have our annual report is $25 every other year. If you don’t pay it, it’s $250. And I would tell people, Hey, it’s 25 bucks, just do it. Like go, right now, take four seconds. You can fill it online and if you don’t do it, it’s gonna cost you 200. And they’re like, really?

[00:04:41] Yes. I just kept saying that over and over and over and over. And I was like, oh, there’s a massive gap between what people understand to be true about tax and what’s actually true. And I just mean deadline wise. It was like, well, the only thing I need to worry about is March or April 15.

[00:04:56] No, that’s not true. If you sell products, you have sales tax you need to worry about, business licenses. You in LA? LA business tax, you have that tax to worry about. If you have assets, you have business personal property tax to worry about. You also have your annual reports. If you have physical presence in any other state, you have now tax liability in those states. Not just payroll.

[00:05:15] All these things that were just very basic level, basic to me let me just clear that up, that I didn’t think that was an issue and it felt like people just weren’t connecting the dots. And I was like, okay, so first up at that, you need the foundation of here are the tax pieces I need to care about. Instead of worrying myself about this whole big old ship that I just can’t even focus on, let me just focus on the pieces of this ship that mattered to me. And right now the pieces of this ship that matter to me is I have a business license in Alhambra I have to pay, I have another business license in Inglewood I have to pay because I have an office there, and then I have income tax and I have sales tax. And if I just focus on those four things, now it becomes less overwhelming of like tax as a whole. Right?

[00:05:57] The biggest anxiety inducer is unpreparedness, and how you start to chip away I think at that is just by saying very blanketly, here are all the things that need to matter to you. Let’s start there.

[00:06:08] From there, we could build all kinds of tax credits and budgeting and file, and we could build all this stuff extr. But what every other platform was missing was like you’re caring about things that they don’t even understand that they’re supposed to do. We need to take like four steps back. What’s that one first? Let’s start there.

[00:06:24] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah, I find it really amazing because even with having CPAs in the past, it would be sometimes like ah, you know what? It’s only gonna be a small fine. But it gets frustrating as the business owner when it’s like, yeah, I could sit there and research it and put it all into a calendar and all this. So I was very impressed because it was just like, wow, I’ve had that pain and I’ve paid for that pain or stupidity because that’s what it feels like when you get one of those sort of fines for missing something.

[00:06:54] In having built this now and as it’s growing, where do you see yourself as an entrepreneur these days?

[00:07:02] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, these days I spend a lot more time on the people management side of things. So when I first was thinking about ComplYant, it was me and the product. There was no one else. And so now that I have an entirely built team and I have staff and departments, and now we’re in the corporate sort of management of organization that needs to happen when you’re beyond a handful of people.

[00:07:22] And so I find my entrepreneurial days these days is like dancing between brand building as far as ComplYant, the brand, becoming a household name. And then also on the other side, people building by managing the folks that work inside the company. I spend a lot of time making sure I build and careful care to build a good work culture.

[00:07:39] I think we are in what I call work epidemic, like it is. The entire environment is drastically, drastically changing. And as the leaders of the sort of corporate movement, if we don’t figure out how to work differently, we are going to be on the lost end of that. So I’ve been trying to be what I call ahead of the game and sort of work autonomy, so allowing people to take ownership over their contributions versus being directed.

[00:08:01] And so I try to spend a lot of mental time thinking through what does that look like in practice and how can we support people building the kind of careers they’re proud of, while still maintaining some kind of work-life balance and autonomy.

[00:08:13] So that’s my entrepreneurial life these days. I still have a half a hand in product that I sort of gently guide my team to down this direction so we stay overall on the product vision, but that’s me these days.

[00:08:26] A.J. Lawrence: What was that transition like? I know for some people it was me-driven. Like, okay, here I am, I’m living the product, I’m living the offering, and we’re delivering. Great. But then all of a sudden, more people, more movement. Someone has to kind of step into that role of coordinating and then guiding everyone with the vision. Did you sort of plan the transition or was it sort of like, oh wait a second. I think I need to be talking more.

[00:08:57] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, not at all. Not at all. It was very just off the cuff. I’ve raised money and so when you do that, the expectation that comes along with that fundraise is speed. And so when you’re moving quickly and you’re trying to get this thing out the door and you’re trying to get the numbers up and you’re trying to do all these things, the last thing on your mind really is company culture.

[00:09:18] I am forcing it to be the first thing on my mind so that we can retain and onboard really great talent, but it snuck up on me. And I remember at one point I had an advisor come to me and say, you might wanna get an executive coach so you understand what levers to pull and win. And I was like, oh, got it. Okay. So that was that change.

[00:09:39] A.J. Lawrence: I like that because I think a lot of entrepreneurs think about coaches and I’ve had a couple of very good, great coaches, but I’ve also worked with a lot of toads through the process. When one of your advisors suggested it, how did you go about determining the coach that would work for you?

[00:10:02] Shiloh Johnson: I took referrals. So I went to every person that invested in this company and said, I need a coach. Give me your best and brightest.

[00:10:09] A.J. Lawrence: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:10] Shiloh Johnson: And they teed up a handful of folks. I did some interviews and the ones that resonated closely with where I was, ended up working out. I actually have two. I have two coaches and they both focus on something very different.

[00:10:21] I have a coach that helps me think through leading as a minority woman, and then I have a coach that helps me think through the practicality of running an organization and a corporate side of what is expected of me.

[00:10:29] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah.

[00:10:29] Shiloh Johnson: And so it’s a nice blend and balance, I think. But I try to stay away from cold outreach, cold calling, cold sort of spray and pray, because I don’t have a lot of time. And so I need some of that legwork to have already been done for me.

[00:10:50] So I’m leveraging other people’s networks and who other people have worked with and who they vouch by and who they stand by. Like, great! You’ve done the spraying and praying. Let me lean on that. Send me who you’ve worked with and then I’ll sort of talk through there.

[00:11:03] We’ve lost community a bit as a culture, and in that community environment, what you would get is the offer up of support and services. Hey, I know somebody who does X, Y, Z. You want me to send them your way? We’ve lost that a bit because we’ve lost community, I think. So I just try to leverage that as much as I can.

[00:11:20] A.J. Lawrence: It’s interesting. I think I wanna talk about that concept of community, because yes, I do think it’s the old Yogi Berra thing. No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded. As things have become more digital and the size of interactions, the amount of interactions have moved more digital. More things are possible but there is that kind of loss of connection, at least this.

[00:11:43] Cause I do remember the early days, dating myself in the early nineties, used to only have like 20, 30 people in a whole city who would be talking digital things and like they all knew each other. And if you needed something you knew who was kind one of the few people.

[00:12:00] But you talk about, and interestingly I’m gonna make an assumption, in being able to reach out and ask your investors for advice, there’s this couple things almost that seems stepping back. The trust you have with your investors to be able to get that information is it because of the work you did after they became your investors or?

[00:12:23] Shiloh Johnson: No.

[00:12:24] A.J. Lawrence: Was this part of the process of finding the right investors first? Cause that’s hard

[00:12:29] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:12:30] A.J. Lawrence: I’ve helped people raise money and been an investor in many companies. The vast majority of focus tends to be get the money in and then that piece. But you are articulating a trust in your investors that I don’t always hear. So maybe share a little bit about that and what went into that guidance of your investors.

[00:12:49] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah. What I heard a lot, early days before I ever raised a dollar, from podcasts and interviews and videos was like, make sure you like them because it’s a marriage and the divorce is much harder than a real marriage.

[00:13:02] So I knew coming in the game that I needed to make sure that whoever I was taking money from was gonna be people that I could do this with. And so I have had the luxury of building in a non-sexy place and being able to have enough movement around building that it’s garnered me being a little bit choosy.

[00:13:21] I think a lot of times when people are fundraising, they’re either fundraising from a space of we haven’t built anything and so we need some people who believe in the idea or they’re fundraising from a place of like desperation. We are almost out of cash, we could just take anyone with a pulse who has dollars. We don’t even care.

[00:13:36] I didn’t need either one of those things. And so I was coming in and I really was going to bootstrap ComplYant. It wasn’t gonna be fundraised, it was gonna be all bootstrapped. And people, investors, came to me and said, I actually like this, would like to give you money. And then that allowed me to change the power dynamic a little bit.

[00:13:53] So then I got to evaluate who actually all wants to give me money or who should I be looking for to include in this fundraise process? Because I knew AI had subject matter expertise, we had already built a very bare bones version of something. And then on top of that, I didn’t need and wasn’t even planning on including them. So from from that space, I was able to be a little more choosy.

[00:14:17] But I think even if your idea only and you’re hoping that someone invests, get yourself in your business in a position where you can shift the power dynamic because ultimately your investors are not employees. They’re not gonna come in and work for you.

[00:14:29] Even the most aggressive like we’re so hands on, they’re lying. They have 50,000 companies there, a million companies they’re investing in. You’re just one of the many in their portfolio that they need to manage and sort of support and so it’s difficult to get people on board that really do what they say. Call their bluff. Like, Hey, here’s what I’m gonna need from you if you’re gonna join this team as part of being an investor and advisor. I need you to be president in X, Y, Z. What are your top two or three contributions that you bring to your portfolio company?

[00:14:56] Understand how they view investing and help so that you can decide if this is help that you even want or need. Because at the end of the day, it’s a marriage. It’s a contractual agreement you have with these people that you can’t so easily break by saying, I don’t like you anymore. So, that’s how I try to think about it.

[00:15:13] A.J. Lawrence: Being on the opposite side, I’m an LP in a couple of angel funds and I’m an investor in a couple of companies, and it is that I know I want to help the companies I invest in, I really do enjoy. And it’s that combination [of] one, if they’ve spent the time to actually understand what I can do. Two, they are articulating on a regular basis. And third is the sad part, but also how well are they doing?

[00:15:38] One company that I always had such high hope for, they just repeatedly just like hit themselves with the ball every time. And it’s like, I know they need help but they have to help themselves first.

[00:15:52] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:15:52] A.J. Lawrence: I agree with you. It’s not only that you get more control in the relationship, it also makes it more interesting and more like, yeah, wow, you guys are great. Yep. What can I do?

[00:16:05] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, how can I help you.

[00:16:06] A.J. Lawrence: I wanna help a winner.

[00:16:07] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. And I think even not wasting conversations is a thing that we do a lot. We’ll just have it to save face. And for every person you meet, even if you don’t plan on taking their money if investment is your choice, it’s worth understanding who they are, what they do, and what they consider their strength. So how can I get to know you? Let’s not waste the time. What do you consider your top three strengths?

[00:16:29] You may not end up taking money from that person, but maybe one of their strengths was, we do a lot of work in healthcare and you just so happened to need to be introduced to some people in healthcare. Hey, I know I didn’t take your money but you said you did a lot of work in healthcare. Can you introduce me to who do you know, and who can you introduce me to?

[00:16:43] All of these moments, by not wasting conversations, all of these moments serve to then show up to help you be successful. Building a product isn’t gonna happen because of you. It’s gonna happen because of all the people that are around you that you have been able to galvanize, to put in motion. That’s really what you’re doing as a CEO. You’re a connector and a mover.

[00:17:02] You’re not the person playing the instruments and orchestrating and cleaning. No, you’re doing one very specific job – you are running the orchestra. And if you don’t do that, you don’t get the opportunity to leverage what other people can do.

[00:17:15] Cause I have heard so many times, how can I help you? And not even from people that I have anything to do with to this day. And if you don’t start using some of that, you miss an opportunity to really knock the door down.

[00:17:26] A.J. Lawrence: Well, as you’re going through this movement, from getting this off the ground, growing it, taking on the investing, and now leading the band. Becoming the band leader, I like that motif, that’s a really cool motif. First, who do you see as your customer? And let’s talk about like what’s involving around them.

[00:17:43] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah. The naivete in building something in its infancy is that you don’t a 100% understand who you’re building for. You have assumptions about who you’re building for, which is why the most important advice I ever got early days was customer discovery.

[00:17:56] If you don’t have a product and all you have is an idea, spend every waking moment you can trying to figure out who would want it. And then understand how they think – how they think about buying, how they think about what their problem is, how they think about spending money – so that you can understand how to position a product.

[00:18:11] And so I spent a lot of time early days naively thinking every business ever is gonna need this because nobody’s doing tax, right? And we could be the solve for everything. That’s not true. What I found is that there are sort of three levels of interest around what we’re doing. And the first level is our easiest grab is what we call our new entrepreneur. I’m fresh off, just got my legal zoom or went to just set up my atlas and now I have an account.

[00:18:36] I heard from the Instagram girlies I need an LLC so the LLC bros told me to get an LLC and FEIN, what do I do next? And so those folks are the easiest because they’re prime and they’re looking for products to use because now they have this new idea and they are beaming with hope in entrepreneurship and gift and ideation and they’re ready to move their thing forward.

[00:18:56] So that’s like one level of small business that we support. We also support a level of business that we call like the mid-tier kind of. It’s not a true term, but it’s my term. Those folks generally probably do have the CPA, but that CPA does maybe one or two very specific things.

[00:19:14] They help them with their income tax and they help them pay their estimated payments but they don’t do anything else. So they don’t help understand business licenses or sales tax or anything else, and they need the additional guidance. So that’s sort of our middle tier.

[00:19:25] And then there’s the third tier that’s not a business owner at all, on the way you might be thinking it’s a service provider, accountants. Cuz they’re like, I wanna grow my offering and I wanna be able to charge customers more. Can I leverage your tool to do some of that legwork for me? And now I can offer a premium service as a full tax suite.

[00:19:42] And so I wasn’t even thinking about the middle tier as even being an option. I was thinking my first tier was gonna be my only option. We were gonna be a purely new SMB play. And then all of these other people showed up and said, actually, we could use it too. And so I think that’s again the beauty of customer discovery is because you can get into a place where you get to understand different dynamics of your potential buyers.

[00:20:08] A.J. Lawrence: That is fascinating cuz I was just thinking of different situations of my own experience. I guess you also get a lot of confessionals.

[00:20:16] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:20:18] A.J. Lawrence: As a marketer sometimes I get people talking to me about that. But like, I’ve been using Gusto forever in a day for my payroll. And I still use it just for my personal company. They used to guarantee we’ll take care of all your state setups and all that, we’ll do it for you. And I moved states and I didn’t really recognize it did.

[00:20:39] And so like, I’m in a new location and all of a sudden I start getting these like, you’re noncompliance. Here’s a lien.

[00:20:48] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, all these things.

[00:20:49] A.J. Lawrence: 50 bucks fees.

[00:20:49] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:20:50] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. But it was just like, wait a second. What happened? I did the basic thing, but Gusto does it. And then I’m like, oh, you don’t do that anymore, but you didn’t bother telling me you don’t do this anymore. Whoops, that’s on me. That’s my stupidity.

[00:21:05] But yeah, once again, not a huge problem. But a thousand dollars of fees is still a thousand dollars not put into the business and it’s such an annoying problem. And I could see where each of the different angles, my CBI use has this like cumbersome system from the nineties for document sharing and all this stuff. And it’s just like, please, please, get with it.

[00:21:31] I love that you’re learning this experience. Well, now that you’re here, how do you see this sort of evolving? Like where are you looking to kind of grow and where do you think your skill sets are gonna have to evolve around that?

[00:21:46] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah, so product wise I love to think about us as end-to-end tax support. And I’m really excited to figure out how we can rethink bookkeeping. I think it’s done very poorly and very incorrectly.

[00:21:59] I’m also very excited to rethink how we can get through simplicity in filing a payment. I think you get a lot more people willing to pay if they only have to press a few buttons. So I’m really excited to streamline that process.

[00:22:13] Across the board for lots of sort of different tax levels, I think we see municipal revenue and tax revenue increase because they make it a lot easier for businesses to understand where they’re missing the mark. I think also COVID did something really interesting to the modern day sort of circle of understanding. When I was younger and like I’ve come up in entrepreneurship, my dad was an entrepreneur, and so I understand it a lot in the sense that I just knew business license is normal.

[00:22:40] But because side hustling is becoming the new business owner, there are lots of like missed caveats. And so the municipality saw during COVID, here we’re gonna give you all this grant money that was given to us by the state, but we wanna give to entrepreneurs. And a lot of people got excluded from that because they were true side hustlers are not true business owners. So I’m looking forward to seeing how we can bridge that knowledge gap and support side hustlers into actually legitimizing their business so they can take advantage of some of the lending opportunities that are available.

[00:23:06] So I think a lot about that. Also, I think a lot about the kind of entrepreneur and the legacy that I want to leave being in a position I’m in. I’m in rare air as a minority woman, and I have a real opportunity to affect, if nothing else, some minute version of change. And I’m looking forward to kicking down as many of those doors as I can and trying to figure out how I can leverage sort of my brand building and my presence in order to help open up more doors for other minority folks also to help sort of leverage the knowledge gap that’s happening right now.

[00:23:39] Just overall, there’s such a sort of lack of information around a lot of very basic things that are expected of you as an adult person operating in this country. It just doesn’t exist in taxes, a big piece of that. So I’m looking forward to figuring out how I can sneak in legislature and figure out how we could do this a little bit better. But, those are lofty goals.

[00:23:58] A.J. Lawrence: No, but that’s sort of why we do this. We kind of come at it from the opportunity to make a living and make a better life. But the reality is we’re chasing a concept we think should be dealt with in the world we see. So I really do like that because there’s so much aim.

[00:24:17] I had a very, very small turn after the first big dot-com crash in the early knots, doing microfinances and doing East Harlem, doing free tax centers, vida centers and all that. And it was very interesting cuz there were people who had relatively, not huge amounts of money they were making from side hustles or unincorporated businesses, but would’ve actually benefited. All a sudden there’s this line where it’s like, look, you’re making money on the side. You’re one, the licensing and all those issues become crazy and crazier in this world. But two, it’s just the tax advantages of what you can and cannot expense, the variations, the overhead cost of generating those reports, all this versus those trade-offs, and then understanding.

[00:25:09] It’s complex and I was spending time on it and I had a little bit of a background. So someone who is just trying to make a living and doing better that step up to having a company if you have the right type of business behind it. Once you do, it’s such a great advantage to have a company.

[00:25:31] That may be part of the US tax system, good yay or nay for whatever reasons, especially around the S-Corp. But it is something that that knowledge, you’re right, and it just helps so much and it is not discussed in a constructive way.

[00:25:47] I think you were referencing on the LLC in you know. It’s like, oh my God. Because I have a business profile, I get targeted. And I’m like I’m supposed to be looking at this stuff so I can articulate it to the people I help build their social. At some point you have to decide that there’s only so many people looking for new LLCs, but there’s 20 of them.

[00:26:09] Well, I like that you’re looking at this. I agree with you. I think those are huge, huge opportunity and the end to end things, I mean, it is so cumbersome. I’ve tried some of the online systems. I have the QuickBooks online, I have outsourced bookkeepers, I’ve used bench, and they all have some nice benefits but they all kind of do it our way.

[00:26:32] I love that line you were saying. It’s like, look, I will pay more if it’s just me doing this. Before I sold my last company, when we were making money, I had an amazing CPA. He charged me an arm and a leg every year for the taxes. But I used to still hate that it was like 3 days a year, we would just be sitting there signing documents.

[00:26:54] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:26:54] A.J. Lawrence: Going over things, but like three days of signing documents. It was just like, this is insane. Take my money, make sure it’s fair, whatever it is. We would have discussions on fair, but like I wanna pay taxes. I don’t wanna pay too much taxes. You have to be careful of how you say that sometimes. But yes, find a way to just I wanna pay to press a button.

[00:27:19] Shiloh Johnson: Yep.

[00:27:19] A.J. Lawrence: Would be brilliant.

[00:27:21] Shiloh Johnson: For sure.

[00:27:22] A.J. Lawrence: Well, when you look at this and you are looking at the growth of how you’re finding the new audiences, how you’re expanding, you have your investors, you have a lot of implicit success factors for the business.

[00:27:36] The investors are gonna push you to grow fast, as you said. You’re gonna be trying to expand out, fulfill the end-to-end part of bookkeeping, of the financial needs of a company. But what are you using to define success for yourself now? Like how do you as an entrepreneur deal with like, am I doing well or not? How do you look at this thing and then down the road, how will you look back and say, I was successful or not as an entrepreneur separate from the business.

[00:28:05] Shiloh Johnson: Oh, separate from the business. I think the biggest thing for me is peace. So the way that I leverage how I’m doing well now is do I have peace about the decisions I’m making? Do I have peace about how I’m spending my time?

[00:28:19] The common phrase they ask you is like, what wakes you up at night or what keeps you up at night? Nothing. Nothing cause I’m closing these eyes and I don’t wanna worry about work. I need to rest.

[00:28:28] And so, yeah, I have peace about the decisions I’ve made. I think what keeps people up is the fact that they don’t have peace and they’re trying to control outcomes that they don’t have control over. And what markers success to me currently is, do I have peace about the decisions I’m making and am I comfortable with how I am presenting myself and my offerings to the world.

[00:28:52] Whether it’s just knowledge, whether it’s support, whatever that is, am I comfortable with the work I’m doing there? If I’m not, there needs to be a shift. Whether it means I need to do more, whether it means I need to do less. And that’s sort of my marker for success these days.

[00:29:06] Also, in making sure, just personally that I am growing my family’s portfolio. I don’t come from generational wealth. I do come from middle class parents, let me not give you that perception. But I don’t come from the kind of wealth where you don’t have to worry about money. Money for generations and generations. And it would be nice to allow my children and their children to think through how can we have a life that we are proud of that isn’t in contingent on slaving over a dollar.

[00:29:32] And so I would love to raise- my children are older now- but more generations of whether it’s nieces and nephews and cousins and their children that feel supported to believe in something bigger than them and then be able to chase that thing versus having to always think about how am I going to eat?

[00:29:49] So I spend a lot of time thinking through how can I make sure that I’m doing that work. And then how that will look in the future is probably more of that. I care a lot about education. Both my parents are educators. My grandmother was an educator. My aunt is an educator. My brother, sister, they’re both educators. So while I will never be a teacher or a professor in any degree, I do want to educate people however that looks.

[00:30:14] Whether it’s writing books or informational situations such as this, like podcasting or whatever that means to get as much of my experience of the world out, I think is extremely valuable to whomever has those experiences.

[00:30:28] We are in the most diverse dynamic now where you can get mediums of information anywhere, right? So at one point it was like, what was it? Books? You add like books and the radio. So we are now at a place where there are so many tiers of that.

[00:30:45] I know my children, they’re in their early twenties, late teens, and their number one educational resource is TikTok. They don’t Google. They literally look it up on TikTok and that’s how they get their education. And admittedly they will tell you, if I didn’t see it on TikTok, it didn’t happen.

[00:31:00] And while that is terribly scary, it is also evidence of how nimble sort of this information consumption process is. Tax is not ever going to go away, not in my lifetime or maybe theirs or theirs or theirs. So as much as we want to revolt against the system, that tax powers the system. And so that revenue powers the system.

[00:31:20] Not having sort of that traditional education on these new mediums is hindering the younger generation from being able to participate because they’re being excluded from sort of opportunities to do what we’re required to do, but maybe just a little bit different.

[00:31:33] And so I think there’s a lot of that work will be what I garner as success in the future, is how can I support as many people as possible in this sort of knowledge gap.

[00:31:44] A.J. Lawrence: Very impressive. Talking about your ability to sleep soundly, as an an entrepreneur I can usually tell where I am in my own business cycles by tracking the amount of sleep I get. That is probably one of the more deliberate and how to say you do a lot of deep work without saying you do a lot of deep work. Because the two general ways you can sleep soundly is to be a complete fool and not care, or care so much that you have taken care of all the issues and been proactive in developing the environment instead of being reactive.

[00:32:24] What do you think helps you the most in being able to be proactive in developing entrepreneurial environment here? Because it sounds like you very much are keeping a structured control on both from what you talked about, the investors, what you’re now talking about, the growth, how the control you had going into leaving needing the investors to then the growth of the different audiences here to then just the way you just sort of said, yeah. It’s my ability to know that I’m comfortable. That wasn’t the phrase, I’m missing.

[00:32:58] Shiloh Johnson: I gotcha.

[00:32:59] A.J. Lawrence: But it’s still like, it’s that idea of like simple is hard.

[00:33:03] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:33:04] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. It’s like keeping things simple, keeping things, that’s harder.

[00:33:10] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah.

[00:33:10] A.J. Lawrence: So, please how?

[00:33:13] Shiloh Johnson: I think by default, one of my personal gifts, and we all have them, is introspection. The way that I tune into me is to like dynamic levels. And I do this because A, I spend a lot of time alone. I actually prefer being alone. I am the least alone cuz I always have someone around but I love that moment for me because I can’t control anything else.

[00:33:37] I can’t control the environment. I can’t control the government. I can’t control tax. I can’t control my employees’ decisions. I would like to, but I cannot. I cannot control anything else. The only thing I really, truly have control over is me. And if I don’t take the reins and understand me so well, it’s going to be really difficult to turn on the best of me when I need to and turn off the not so best of me when I need to.

[00:34:06] We have watched this happen in like the CEO landscape over and over and over and over and over again. It’s sort of this celebration of excellence or brilliance or genius without any inflated ego, without any checks and balances on, has this person checked in on them? We’re watching it happen with Elon Musk.

[00:34:25] We watch it happen every single day with so many figures that are sort of inflated in this idea of my thing, my information, my money, my gift is the best thing that I’m putting. Yeah, me, me, me. Without tapping in and saying, hold on. What’s happening here?

[00:34:44] We’re watching it happen globally with the breakdown of mental and emotional health, literally has been in shambles collectively in the human code. This isn’t even American problem. This is a world problem. That people just have lost them. And there’s no better sort of lever you can pull than the one that is within you. It’s the reason strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure. I mean, there’s so many levers that are affecting your ability to be tapped in.

[00:35:10] And my sole job as CEO, and this is another thing I think people are missing, is like people don’t know what their job is. They think it’s this, and it’s really this. My sole job as CEO is to make decisions. And my ability to make clear, thoughtful, well thought out decisions, the best I can do to do that is to take care of me and know me so well.

[00:35:30] I know that when I reach my arm out it’s gonna hurt, so let me not reach my arm out. What we’re doing? I don’t know. I think it hurts. Who knows? And then we just keep reaching our arm out.

[00:35:40] A.J. Lawrence: And get used to it, right?

[00:35:42] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah. Well, this is just life.

[00:35:43] A.J. Lawrence: Is this how it’s supposed to be?

[00:35:44] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah. This is life. Who knows, right?

[00:35:47] A.J. Lawrence: Is this supposed to be on fire everywhere?

[00:35:49] Shiloh Johnson: Right, everywhere. Not within you, right? Yes, there’s fires all around me all the time. My team has probably a fire I gotta put out right now as soon as we hang up. There’s always gonna be sort of the juggle, but the thing I can do to sustain me and to make it so that I can sleep so that my health is good, my hair is not falling out, I’m not having to be manic depressive, and I’m not having to take pills and all these extra things in order for me to show up the best version of me. That is the greatest gift I can give this company and everybody that works on it, and also everyone that has invested in it.

[00:36:21] Me showing up a fraction of who I am does nothing for anybody except people are gonna quit cuz I’ve created a toxic work environment. My investors now don’t have faith in my ability to do this at a massive scale because I’m not taking care of myself. Like you are the reason they’ve invested. You built this thing. And you built it when you were much less stressed out.

[00:36:38] You’re going to be much more stressed out the more your business grows so your job is to figure out how to manage the stress so that you can be present in good decisions. This is how crazy stuff happens because we’ve nurtured an environment for crazy.

[00:36:50] A.J. Lawrence: No, it is very true. I mean, not to go off, but I know even small levels of success sometimes is so easy, both my own journey and then other entrepreneurs I’ve seen invested and just known any type of success. You don’t get celebrated in reality but you can get attention. And that attention, you feel is gonna help the business. But the reality is it does this little teeny bit of like, okay, you’ve done well so then maybe you do know what you’re talking about type of thing.

[00:37:22] But the reality, what it does is it really feeds the ego out of proportion to the value of what you’re generating. And I think that is a really hard thing. You’re a very impressive entrepreneur and I can’t wait to see more. I think your investors are incredibly lucky on getting the ride on your journey here.

[00:37:42] I just like how compatible this is with different types of tax purpose. If you’re doing yourself, if you have a CPA and this, what’s the best way one, that they can learn more about ComplYant but then also they can learn more about you and what you’re doing?

[00:37:58] Shiloh Johnson: Yeah. So our website that’s ComplYant with a y, complyant.co, and we have a resource hub there that is just, it’s my heart for the entrepreneurial community. It’s videos, it’s blogs, it’s one sheets, it’s booklets about just understanding the very basics of starting a business and running a business on the finance side and well at least the tax and accounting side. And so that’s a great place to start.

[00:38:23] You can learn about what we do, how we can help you. Our LinkedIn presence is pretty good for understanding what we do. I very rarely am on LinkedIn and more of a resume showy version. But if you wanna get to know me, I’m not super social media heavy just because I’m really intentional about my time and the internet is not where I wanna spend it.

[00:38:42] But if you wanna find me in any degree, I am on Twitter and it’s just my first and last name, Shiloh Johnson. I’m actually everywhere at that same moniker so I can keep it simple. But I’m not a poster so if you are gonna come there and you’re looking for your daily inspiration, you’re probably not gonna get it for me. I’m more of an output driven kind of person, but yeah. Well, that’s us.

[00:39:02] A.J. Lawrence: Tell you what? We will put all that into the show notes. Make sure that when the email comes out announcing this episode, you’ll be there too. And of course, in our socials. And I like that your focus is on the business and the value you’re bringing, and not into, Hey, check me out.

[00:39:20] So everyone really go check out ComplYant. I think there’s many really cool, interesting value cases for different types of business, especially since 82% of our audience is American. The rest of you don’t worry, but definitely check it out.

[00:39:36] And just that little bit of extra compliance, understanding of what’s happening, what do you need to take care of and all that, can relax a little bit of your journey.

[00:39:46] Shiloh Johnson: For sure.

[00:39:47] A.J. Lawrence: Thank you so much for coming on the show, Shiloh. It was really great to have you on today.

[00:39:51] Shiloh Johnson: You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me. This is great.

[00:39:54] A.J. Lawrence: I’m glad. We’re gonna have to bring you back down the road. If I can get you back down, I would love to have you when [you’re] further on this journey.

[00:40:00] Shiloh Johnson: For sure.

[00:40:00] A.J. Lawrence: Because I really I wanna see where you’re going next on this, but I like what I’m seeing so far. This is very cool.

[00:40:06] Shiloh Johnson: Thank you.

[00:40:07] A.J. Lawrence: Hey everyone. Thank you again for listening to the show. If you enjoy today’s show, if anyone who could actually learn from this, please share it with them. Tell them to go subscribe. The more subscribers we get, the more cool entrepreneurs like Shiloh we can bring on the show.

[00:40:23] I really appreciate it. All right, everyone, have a great day and I’ll talk with you soon. Goodbye.

[00:40:34] This episode of Beyond 8 Figures is over, but your journey as an entrepreneur continues. So if we can help you with anything, please just let us know. And if you liked this episode, please share it with someone who might learn from it. Until next time, keep growing and find the joy in your journey. This is A.J., and I’ll be talking to you soon. Bye-bye.

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