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Scale Your Business By Knowing The “Why” with Diane Prince, Founder and Entrepreneurial Coach

March 16, 2021

A.J. and his team chat with Diane Prince, founder and entrepreneurial coach, who has 25 years of experience creating and scaling businesses. Now building a business to help founders make the journey easier, Diane shares how she grew and sold her company within 6 years, what made her decide to start coaching and why people should know their “why” when it comes to starting businesses and scaling them.

On today’s podcast:

  • Diane Prince helps entrepreneurs and founders make the journey to 8 figures easier
  • Prince has 25 years of experience in learning what worked and what didn’t
  • Half of her clients are pre-revenue and the other half are revenue around $1M looking to scale
  • It’s difficult to build an 8 figure business without having a strong connection to your “why”
  • Part of what helps scale is not being a perfectionist
  • Diane Prince explains why you should hire people who know their “why”

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Transcript

[00:00:57] Today’s guest’s clients call her the entrepreneur’s secret weapon. Diane Prince is a whirlwind of productivity, intelligence, and empathy. She has started up over seven companies, produced 300 million revenue, had five successful exits and hired over 2000 people. I’ve gone crazy just trying to hire over 30 people for some of my own company so this is going to be really a great episode.

[00:01:23] With 25 specific years of experience as an entrepreneur, she strongly believes that increasing her team’s knowledge in using counseling for growth is worth investing in. That and most importantly, every entrepreneur has their own why and they have to be true to that.

[00:01:39] Nowadays, her mission is to demystify the startup world for first-time entrepreneurs, all while helping them create growing sustainable business. Let’s welcome, Diane Prince to the show.

[00:01:52] Diane Prince: I am an entrepreneur among other things. Um, and most notably I started and scale the company and sold it in six years by bootstrapping it from 0 to $50 million in annual revenue in six years.

[00:02:14] A.J. Lawrence: Easy, it sounds.

[00:02:16] Michael: Yeah. I mean only six years. That’s what you just added 10 million a year.

[00:02:22] A.J. Lawrence: You don’t even have a dog.

[00:02:25] Michael: And you’ve had a few other businesses as well, uh, varying levels of success there. And you’re a coach as well now?

[00:02:34] Diane Prince: So what I’m doing now, yes I am. And I decided actually during COVID, I’ve coached and mentored in different ways for many years, and I decided to officially start a business, coaching entrepreneurs and founders. And really what I’m building is a business to help founders make the journey easier. So I’m building out classes and tools and in the meantime, I’m coaching one-on-one individual entrepreneurs.

[00:03:10] Michael: I love that because that’s really what the show is about – it’s that entrepreneurial journey.

[00:03:17] A.J. Lawrence: I was going through your site and you wrote something that really resonates with me because I see it all the time and I don’t have your experience. But you wrote that you had a business coach come in and you were kind of digging into his experience and what they brought into it. And you realized that he hadn’t walked the walk that you had. He hadn’t been through your journey and you wanted to bring that experience to others. And that was really cool to me. How do you see that changing or how do you think that impacts your coaching?

[00:04:02] Diane Prince: Yeah, and that’s really what inspired me to start this. I was sitting in a room with this consultant or coach, as you mentioned, and I just started asking. I just started poking around and looking at the things that he had done. And I mean, he was, he was very good. And, then I looked around at other coaches and I started thinking about it and it just made no sense to me. It was like, you know, if you wanted to learn how to swim, would you hire someone who’s never jumped in a pool, you know?

[00:04:36] So I just thought, well, and I have taught and I have a lot of experience. So the difference is when I talk to my clients, when I work with them, they asked me a lot of questions about my own experiences. Like yesterday, I was talking to a young entrepreneur about an issue she was having with the co-founder. And I’ve been through so many different iterations of these things that the founders I work with are going through so a lot of times they want to hear what my experiences were. And I have a ton of experiences, 23, 25 years of experiences on what worked and what didn’t.

[00:05:21] And I can also relate to the mentality and the feelings of entrepreneurs, especially if it’s the CEO is generally the person I work with. Sometimes I’ll work with teams, but sometimes the things that we talk about, sometimes it’s the business model and in that consulting mode, and how should I charge or working on the pitch deck and things like that. But other times it’s really being really overwhelmed and maybe having a spouse that doesn’t doesn’t, can’t relate to that, or there’s no one you could really share with because your co-founders are maybe minority partners. And so a lot of it is, I can relate to that actual feeling of what it’s like going through the entrepreneurial journey.

[00:06:14] Michael: Yeah.

[00:06:15] A.J. Lawrence: When I talk with people and I hear from experience, you hear the gut, you hear the pain. I always like to say it’s like everything that’s worthwhile that I’ve done has been through gazillion mistakes. Do you find that because of that, the type of clients you take on you look for a specific type of client or does that have an impact on the type of clients you’re looking to take on?

[00:06:44] Diane Prince: I find that the clients I have, I think it’s whoever’s really attracted to what I have to offer. Honestly, because I have, I didn’t know what I had an idea of what my client avatar would be when I started, but it really wasn’t, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. And it was, it’s been very interesting. So half of my clients are pre-revenue and half of them are in like in revenue around a million dollars looking to scale.

[00:07:18] Michael: That’s interesting to me at least, because you’re very big on cashflow, at least from the talk I’ve heard. And so the whole idea of you working with pre-revenue. Tell me a little bit about that and then we’ll get into the big $50 million play shortly after. How did you get your first revenue, uh, and alongside that? How are you helping others get through that pre-revenue stage?

[00:07:46] Diane Prince: Yeah. I know because you know, a lot of people think, well, startups don’t have money. So, and a lot of people can afford me. You know, a lot of people I do, I do a free 30 minute session and sometimes they get what they need. I have testimonials from my free 30 minute sessions, which is great for me too, because I feel like being kind of being on the street. It’s helping me to build tools for other entrepreneurs because things come up.

[00:08:11] And so there’s some people who probably 80%, they can’t afford me, but other ones are in the same financial situation and they’re like, I can’t not do this. So to me, I have made so many mistakes that have either cost me multi-millions of dollars and in one case a business. And I believe that those could have been prevented if I had had somebody like me to work through that. So I really feel like it’s not a huge investment based on what they get out of it. And some of my clients they’ve said, it’s the best investment I made in my company that someone who is pre-revenue and sometimes, you know, they’re working so they have jobs and they see it as an investment.

[00:09:01] Michael: Yeah. I mean, if you can write off an MBA, you should be able to write off a business coach.

[00:09:06] Diane Prince: Yeah, exactly. And I’ve been offering bonuses, bonus sessions and things like that. And I also have like a panic button so people can kind of contact me in between sessions.

[00:09:21] Michael: Let’s talk about OnStaff. You grew it from nothing.

[00:09:33] A.J. Lawrence: Well you started it from nothing

[00:09:39] Michael: You created it

[00:09:41] A.J. Lawrence: You created it out of force of will.

[00:09:44] Diane Prince: Yes.

[00:09:45] Michael: Why?

[00:09:46] Diane Prince: Why, so I was married at that time. My ex-husband was my business partner and we wanted for us, it was about we wanted to spend time together. And we wanted to, so we did want it to start a business together and then it became an obsession to see if we could build it, scale it and sell it.

[00:10:08] A.J. Lawrence: Was there a difference between like, Oh, let’s scale this, and then let’s sell it or was it like, Oh my God, we have something let’s scale it and sell. Was that all one process or was that kind of like step-by-step as you’re going through that?

[00:10:23] Diane Prince: It wasn’t, it was written in our business plan. So we actually had in our business plan that we were going to sell it within five to 10 years.

[00:10:35] Michael: So from day one, it was built to sell?

[00:10:39] Diane Prince: Correct.

[00:10:41] Michael: And is that something that you encourage others to do now even if they’re not planning on selling? Do you think that made a difference to the way you scaled and grew the business?

[00:10:54] Diane Prince: I don’t encourage others to have any particular specific outcome because everybody has a different reason or a different why, which sounds kind of trite. But I truly believe in the why it’s so important because if you’re deeply connected to your why, you will do anything to get there. What I believe is that everyone on the bus, right, or rocket ship or whatever it is you’re building, everybody needs to have, the business has to be a vehicle to help them to get to where they want, what they want personally.

[00:11:42] Michael: Is that the why?

[00:11:45] Diane Prince: Yes.

[00:11:47] Michael: What if people don’t know their why or how do you know that everyone has a real why to be aligning with?

[00:11:56] Diane Prince: Well, I do work with people on I’m finding their why’s. So people might not think that they have a why, and it’s always interesting when people, sometimes the first edition of their why is not really their why. So it might be a lot of times you’ll hear people say they want something for their kids or something for their partner.

[00:12:24] And then there’s so many layers. Sometimes that might not be true. It might be just something that they feel like they should want. So you might not know your why right away, and a lot of people go around never knowing. And if you do the work and figure out what it is and realize it might change, but get to understand so say if it’s to take care of your partner and retire, what does that feel like to you? So it’s really getting into what does the words that you’re saying actually mean to you. And is it motivating and helping you to keep on going. And I do believe people need it in order to do the kinds of things that we’re talking about. I think it would be extremely difficult to build an 8-figure business without a strong connection to your why.

[00:13:22] A.J. Lawrence: Do you see the connection to your why changing over that journey? Cause for me, I remember like being amazed when I passed a million bucks, like, Oh my God, this happened, how did this happen? And then all of a sudden it kept going and I thought it was so easy until I got to whatever. You know. I think it’s called crossing the chasm is a gazillion, but that like four and a half, 5 million up to about 7 million, you know, if my last bit where it was just Ugh, this sucks ever. And I lost, Mike and I, I know for certain, when I sold my last business, I had lost connection with my why in the business.

[00:14:02] I was just like, get me up, done burnt, crisp, but you know, how, how did you see that? Did it stay the same or did it, did you find ways to reconnect as that journey went through?

[00:14:15] Diane Prince: Well, it’s interesting what you said, because you had mentioned to me before we were recording that you wanted to always want it to get to 8 figures and past 7 figures. And as you’re building, as you start scale and prepare for an acquisition, there’s always, there’s different challenges at every phase of the business. And it’s something I see very often is that stage where you just want to get this thing off your back. So that’s part of that entrepreneurial journey and the work.

[00:14:54] So it’s really it’s it. And that happened to me when we were, we almost sold, we had a deal that fell apart during 9/11. And at that point before that deal, all I wanted was to get this business away. Like I just, it was so stressful. Because there’s so many phases and you’re, as an entrepreneur, it’s very exciting to start a business. But each stage is a completely different, it’s a different skillset, it’s a different person, you know? I mean, it’s one thing to be a kid. So I say I was in my twenties. So, you know, it’s one thing to be a 20-year old starting a business, it’s another to all of the sudden be Chairman of the Board of a $50 million business.

[00:15:43] It’s just a completely like you’re building these things that are not normal as an entrepreneur and all of a sudden you have employees. And we had thousands of employees and there’s so much, you know, sometimes when we were having cash situation, there were thousands of people relying on us and that was really stressful.

[00:16:08] And I was also having babies. And I mean, there were a lot of other things, but I think that A.J., that that’s kind of the moment is getting through that. And maybe if, because when we sold it, you know, I said to you, it’s like when you have an 8-figure business, you want a 9-figure business. And when we sold it, we thought what would have happened if we ended up held on for five more years, it probably would have been a 9-figure business.

[00:16:36] Michael: You brought up something just now that I’m really interested in personally, the different skillsets to grow the business. Because the big one I always think of is a founder versus an operator. Managing, the running of a business, totally different. How do you see those skillsets break down on the path from 0 to 1 to 5 to 10 to 50 million or beyond?

[00:17:03] Diane Prince: I think that part of what makes me be able to scale is that I am not a perfectionist and I am very able to let go and empower other people.

[00:17:15] It’s because to someone who is a visionary and all of the sudden a year and wait at one point with a subsequent company, I found myself acting as CFO for a few months. And that was just a nightmare. I mean, I was, that was a 35. That was work way. We were at $35 million and I’m like, I had no clue.

[00:17:37] It was crazy, but I’ve always, or from my experience, I’ve always been hiring. Looking for people. When I see good people who could be a fit, finding places for them, because a team is so important and when an entrepreneur gets to that point from the visionary to actually then, wow, we’re you know, when we, at that point, when we’re all of a sudden, we were like, we’re billing $20,000 a month. That’s a million dollars, you know, that was our first year. We’re like, wow. But then that operator role can really be a nightmare because most visionaries don’t have that skillset.

[00:18:23] A.J. Lawrence: And I take it you see yourself as a visionary?

[00:18:25] Diane Prince: I do. Yeah, I don’t like the weeds.

[00:18:31] Michael: How do you find that operator then? How do you pick your partners? Your co-founders even just the advisors and the other members of your board?

[00:18:39] Diane Prince: Yeah, it goes back to the why. So everybody, when I’ve had success, I’ve had successful partnerships and employees and unsuccessful ones. And the most successful ones have their connection and their reason why they have the seat on the bus.

[00:19:01] So for example, when we brought on our first co-founder at OnStaff, I was having my first baby and we just realized we needed other people to come on this. I was going to say train, but that journey. Okay. Yeah. So.

[00:19:27] Yeah, exactly. That goes back to the advisors though. So we had, from the very beginning, we started building up an unofficial advisory board and the first one was a lawyer that my father knew. I mean, it was a personal referral, and then we outgrew him and he referred us to somebody else.

[00:19:47] So we had a network of advisors who brought in other people and introduced us. And then we did have our main, our main kind of guide through this was an investment banker. And so he had seen, he had the experience in exits and deals. And so we would go to him once a quarter and ask him what was next. You know, we went to him from the very early stage and said, this is where we’re at, this is where we want to go. And he would sit down with us and direct us. And he had suggested bringing on, because he knew what our goals were and we actually wanted to retire. We didn’t want to stay in the company, that was not our goal.

[00:20:33] So he introduced us to our first co-founder, who actually, his "why" at the time he wanted to be, and we were in staffing and he wanted to be the CEO of a publicly traded staffing company. That was his goal. We did not want to be in a staffing company. We wanted to go be sipping margaritas on the beach.

[00:20:55] So, and then we did, we brought on an excellent operator who happened to be a client of ours. So he knew our niche and we just observed how heavy he was so hard on us as a client, but we really valued the way that he worked. So we got to see how he worked and he was an excellent operator.

[00:21:18] A.J. Lawrence: Now, I like how you mentioned that very early on, you had started prepping. What was that experience like? Was it, Hey, here’s where we are against our KPIs. What should we be looking for? What was sort of the guidance you were getting in that early stage? You know, with this advisor directionally towards selling the company.

[00:21:42] Diane Prince: It was more, I was more high level than KPIs. I think it was more, but we were such sponges because we knew we really knew nothing. I mean, we just and we owned that. Not to our clients, of course, but behind closed doors, we were very open to advice.

[00:22:09] A.J. Lawrence: I love it how you had mentioned in an earlier interview, that when you started the company you bought a dummy’s guide to temp agencies. I started my first one that I only sold for a million. So with dummy’s guide to HTML, it was a web development shop. I had been doing other things and someone said, Do you know how to do a website? We’ll pay it. And I was like, yes, I do. I love how you started with that. But yet made it into something.

[00:22:41] Michael: Along the side of advice, the fact that you started with written advice, but one of the things that really stuck with me that I also do is not writing down a lot of the ideas people give you until they get given to you enough that they bubble up. And I was wondering what made you start doing that? Because normally the advice that gets given to entrepreneurs is write down all the advice that all these smart people give you. Use it all, bring it all in, but you obviously have a more clarified opinion on the matter.

[00:23:17] Diane Prince: Feedback can kill you. It can kill a business and it’ll just distract you. And so it’s one thing to ask for advice, and by the way when you ask for advice, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow that advice. So asking for advice like, one business that I started was a job board in my niche. So it was a real estate title insurance-related job board was sort of like monster.com, but very niche.

[00:23:50] And when I started it, I brought in an advisor from Silicon valley and this was in 2000 so it was very beginning of all the first internet boom. And he came and sat with my team and was telling us about building market share and you don’t really, the thing to do he said is not build up. Don’t worry about the profit, just gain market share. That’s what you need to do.

[00:24:18] And a lot of businesses were doing that and we just didn’t follow his advice. You know, that wasn’t our path. We wanted to create, it was working for us to create businesses that brought in money and it just didn’t. It didn’t seem to make sense and so we ignored his advice.

[00:24:41] And so I referenced the book Rework, which I read well after, you know, it was published well after I had sold my company and every chapter makes so much sense to me because they say things like that. Like, don’t take feedback when, you know, with feedback when you hear it enough times you’ll know it’s the right thing to do, if it is.

[00:25:06] A.J. Lawrence: I really liked that because it ties back to what you said about looking and then deciding to be the coach who’s actually done the experience that you want people to do. I know my strength is growth and marketing and that type of fun, but from a very analytical and I’m constantly amazed at the amount of noise there is out there around what you should do. So I disagree completely about writing everything down to me. It’s what is your core or what is your, what drives you and then you align everything from there.

[00:25:45] One of the things that you mentioned, Rework, you had mentioned The Alchemist, that it came into, came into have a, really an impact when you were looking to sell the company and everything. Would you kind of, you know, maybe explain that how this is, or maybe other books that had an impact on both your entrepreneurial journey and your personal journey there?

[00:26:14] Diane Prince: Yeah. And I read the Alchemist after years after I had sold that company. The thing I love about that book, I mean, you’re the it’s, he’s on a journey and he’s open to things that are changing. Like when we had that deal that fell through and I was in that moment where I was just, honestly, I thought I was crawling up in a ball. Like I just thought that I could not go on with this business any further. It just seems so, it was so stressful. And so just so enormous. And I had to dig into tools that I could find to help me get through it. And that was, I think the first time I went into therapy, which was really helpful. And now I’m aware of so many other tools and books and things like that, that helped me.

[00:27:07] Michael: And so that was right around, right after 9/11, right? And at that point, how large was the business? Was it at the $50 million mark.

[00:27:18] Diane Prince: It was.

[00:27:18] Michael: Okay. So you were big, you’re at scale, the defining moment, at least as a millennial, literally the defining moment that splits my generation into the next generation occurred. And now we’re in another time, very similar to that – where it’s COVID season and we’ve had this lockdown, we’ve had this shift, we’ve had this stress and I think there’s a lot of uncertainty as we look ahead. If there’s one thing I remember from that time, and that matches up to now for me is we don’t know what’s next.

[00:27:59] So how did you go about navigating through not only the stress, but through all of those other people in the business and all of this. Yeah. I mean, it, it can not have been a fun time and I imagine therapy was not the only tool.

[00:28:20] Diane Prince: Yeah. I didn’t have that many tools back then. I just, it just was grinding. So it was a real, it was a really tough time and it was just the executive team that was part of our- Our company didn’t know what was going on, so it was just that it was just the very senior level people that were involved in the deal. So as far as the rest team, they were unaware. It wasn’t appropriate for them to know at the time it wouldn’t have served them to really know. They all ended up getting nice checks at the end when we sold our company to get through those times though, because it was difficult.

[00:29:09] I heard a speaker once talk about how you must create your own drama in your company to avoid drama in the office with drama that you don’t want because there will be drama and you must create the drama that you want. So, a lot of what I read now and what I hear, so I’ll when I’m listening to speakers I’ll either say, Oh, that didn’t make sense to me. That sometimes it just sounds like things that people say, right, because they read it and these coaches that have never run a business, but that I was sometimes I’m like, that’s it, that’s why people followed us to the next business. And that’s why we had this solid team. So, because they were all our team, including the people that are the branch managers and things like that, that they weren’t aware of the deal. They were though very involved in our story and where the company was going, which was building. I mean, we were building this huge company and they ended up, most of them stayed on after the acquisition got great jobs that skyrocketed their careers and then they came back when we started another.

[00:30:27] But yeah, so I hope that answers your question. But what I see differently now, because there are similarities between COVID and 9/11, but now we have so many other ways to build businesses and timing is the most common factor to determine if a startup is successful or not.

[00:30:54] There’s Bill Gross that has a TEDTalk on that. But right now, I mean, just looking at like GoDaddy stats, they reported Q3 revenue topped expectations. Q4 growth is higher than it’s ever been for people, starting small businesses. So COVID after that initial, the kind of feeling paralyzed people, there’s so much, it just shifted. A lot of people lost their jobs and start and are starting businesses, or it just shifts the way that people are thinking like A.J. is in Spain. I mean, it’s like everybody is, I think, looking at different ways that they can work and it’s really bringing out a lot of entrepreneurs.

[00:31:43] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah, things are going from the fringe sorta feel like, oh, I heard about that. Or know someone’s doing to like, okay, why not. The powers that be don’t you’re not existing as much as I think just even a year ago, you know, there’s a definite drive to look at new business models are going to be more aggressive with how you treat dealing with business models. Beyond just taking advantage of the turmoil, what are you seeing as opportunities in this time?

[00:32:22] Diane Prince: Well, one interesting trend I’m seeing is market-driven solutions to national or global problems. So like for example, live nation has, so obviously, I mean, they’re ticket sales, right? And so it’s been terrible for them. So now they’re creating a testing. They’re basically like TSA for concert goers, so they’re creating, I don’t know if you guys saw that but they’re pivoting so that now they’re providing COVID tests and providing that information so that concert goers can actually go or not

[00:32:57] A.J. Lawrence: That’s really cool. Using what lemons you have turned into something interesting.

[00:33:02] Michael: And I want to make sure that we do get to cover the actual process of selling as well, because I know that’s what we’re really here to talk. So you ended up selling the business, walk us through that process. You knew you were going to sell from the beginning. You got big enough. You decided to sell. What did you do from there? How you took it to market, how you eventually found the acquiring partner, how you knew it was the deal.

[00:33:35] Diane Prince: So, Michael I’ve been through and I have been through several exits so I can share the experience about OnStaff and I can share some other experiences because I’ve done, I’ve sold businesses in very different ways .With OnStaff in particular, we worked with an investment banker, which is a very expensive process, but can also bring you the best value for your business. So I think it was very helpful and important to do that in my first acquisition. So basically they write a book which is called The Book, which is sort of like a very detailed pitch deck with all the information and they basically go sell it out to strategic buyers, private equity partners, and it wasn’t really, it wasn’t a VC kind of a situation.

[00:34:30] So it was mostly private equity partners and strategic buyers, and then companies express interest and then you look at the deal and they’ll typically offer. We’d have our term sheet and what we wanted, but they’d always come back with what they would offer. And so we felt like that first deal that ultimately fell through, we were really excited about that. And this is maybe this is part of where the alchemists came in because we were so excited about that deal. It was the holding company that owned monster.com and they were buying a whole bunch of staffing companies at the time and monster.com wanted to have a staffing division. And so we were really excited about that opportunity. It sounded fantastic. But a lot of the deal was in stock. But we did, that was the deal that we are going with because it was exciting. It was exciting to, we felt like the equity was going to worth a lot.

[00:35:37] And there was obviously cash involved too. And whenever, sometimes my clients asked me about that, earn-outs and how that works, when you sell a company you should always assume that the cash that you get upfront is it, that you’re not going to get anything else. When that deal, their team, there actually a New York company and their team was physically in our CPA’s office in LA, from their Ernst and Young team who were from the office at the World Trade Towers. They were in our CPA’s office on 9/11 in LA when that happened. Then after that, we actually decided that we were going to, because of the world situation, it wasn’t the time that we were going to sell the company.

[00:36:33] So we decided after we brushed ourselves off and went through the therapy and,mourned as the world did what happened. We brushed ourselves off and we decided it looks like it’s time to scale more. So we just thought, well, it’s time to hunker down, put, regroup, put everything we have emotionally, financially back into the business and grow it more.

[00:37:10] So the strategy that we had decided was to buy other companies. And we hired someone to join our company and to look for other companies for us to buy. And it was, I think it was his first phone call and he called the business broker and they said, No, but actually we have a company that might be interested in buying you.

[00:37:35] And we talked about earlier in this, in this podcast, we talked about the wise. And the company that they had in mind was it was a publicly traded staffing company. And it was right after the internet that like the first tech bust and their CEO wanted to retire and she wanted to find someone to run her business.

[00:38:09] She wanted a CEO and so she thought that the strategy would be to buy a company and have a basically buy a CEO along with it. So it all somehow, and remember that was what our first co-founder’s goal was – was to be the CEO of a publicly traded staffing company. And everybody got what they wanted.

[00:38:32] It was one thing that you had asked about the process it’s not an easy process. So even when we had just this one buyer and we were working with our investment banker. He was awesome because we were like, What? One of our CPA had told us the deal’s going to fall through at least three times. And you have to have such an iron stomach during these things and it took about, I guess the whole thing took eight or nine months before it closed. And I, that was a hundred percent my job, was this deal. So it was all of the details. It was really complicated. I should show you the picture. I have a picture of the files at my attorney’s office. It’s an entire conference table of manila files that we had to sign.

[00:39:31] A.J. Lawrence: I did much smaller and they were crazy. So yours must’ve been insane.

[00:39:39] Diane Prince: And there were times we probably could have gotten more money, but there were times in our investment banker would make us kind of, we’d be like, no, just do it. Just sign it. You know, let’s, it’s fine. It’s fine. And he’d be like, no, like I like 500, like an extra half, a million dollars is a lot of money. We’d be like, no, no, no. We just wanted it to happen, you know? So he kept on pushing back. And then, and then, I mean, there were so many moments where we thought it was going to fall through up until the very end.

[00:40:06] A.J. Lawrence: What was your way of celebrating that it actually-

[00:40:10] Diane Prince: Oh my gosh. Yeah. So, okay. This is crazy. So well first when we were waiting for the deposit to hit our bank account, our personal account, and we had two little kids then, so they were 3 and 1, and we were actually at Toys R Us. Me and my husband, the kids weren’t with us I don’t think, we were at Toys R Us and just waiting for the money to hit. I don’t know why we’re at Toys R Us, that’s so weird. But then, all of a sudden we had like $10 million in cash in our bank accounts.

[00:40:49] But later on, I found much more satisfying places than Toys R Us which is another story. But then we did have several parties and one we went out to dinner with all our advisors and our team in LA and the limousine was waiting for us. And for some reason I decided that was a good time to do a home pregnancy test. Literally the limo was outside and I did, and I realized I was pregnant with my third baby. And then we had a big party in Vegas with a whole bunch of friends.

[00:41:39] Michael: Awesome. There’s a few big things I want to cover as we’re closing out the episode. I want to try to distill all the awesome advice you’ve given us down.

[00:41:51] And the first thing I want to talk about, I want to get that one line that encapsulates Diane’s opinion on this thing. Network versus luck. It seems like you really built something out of nothing. And it doesn’t sound like it’s something you did alone by any means. So how did you go about developing that network for yourself to provide all these opportunities?

[00:42:24] Diane Prince: Okay. So I’m not a religious person, but I have become a spiritual person. And I have realized things now that I look back and I realized that’s why I was successful, but they’re not necessarily things that I had heard before. So there’s a quote, I think it’s Susie Orman. And she says, pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you.

[00:42:48] And another way to phrase that is to be in the right place at the right time. You gotta be in a lot of places a lot of times. So you’ve got to work, network, and you’ve also got to be able to let things go and change your path based on external circumstances that you can’t control.

[00:43:21] Michael: How do you let go of not being able to control those things?

[00:43:28] Diane Prince: That, it takes a lot of work and I don’t know, honestly I didn’t use to let go of control. I do now, but that takes a lot of personal growth and work, I think. And I think if I had the tools that I have now, I would have grown in a probably, a very different way, to be able to let go.

[00:44:01] It’s not easy, especially for an entrepreneur, but I think that by letting go of things that you can’t, that you don’t have any control over, that’s where you’re going to see where the opportunities lie. Like when we almost sold to the monster.com company TMP, it was very hard to let go. But we did, but I had to step back for a little bit and do that personal work in order to be able to see, Okay, what can I do next? What is the opportunity in front of me? Cause it’s not selling to TMP. That’s gone. But what can I do to take the next steps to move forward? And then we made the next plan, which was to buy companies and then in that someone came and bought us.

[00:44:56] Michael: That actually is a perfect segue into the other question I have around. I guess I originally had it phrased as getting over failure, but I think the better question is getting back off after you get hit. Because it doesn’t matter if it’s a failure of your own, or if it’s some other thing that has caused you to be in this position, you’ve got to get back moving either way. Any advice on keeping the mindset to keep getting back up?

[00:45:27] Diane Prince: Yeah, it’s not easy as an entrepreneur. Sometimes it seems like life or death if your business is going to succeed. It really can become so all consuming and seeming like a business failing could be, it just seems it can seem so terrible and overwhelming.

[00:45:47] So putting things in perspective is important to me, distancing yourself from you are, you are not your business. You are not your balance sheet. It’s your, you are not, you’re not your business results. And I think that’s, that can be, that is a very difficult, I guess, to separate that as an entrepreneur, because it does, it can become an extension of you.

[00:46:20] Michael: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of culture within business owners and entrepreneurship. And I’m going to call out specifically the tech startup entrepreneurship culture, as one, where if you don’t have those numbers to point back to, if you can’t say these things, then no amount of experience in many cases will make you worth listening to in the general population size.

[00:46:48] Diane Prince: Yeah. That’s where that we talked about all the noise and distraction and it’s, we can get into that mindset of comparing ourselves to other entrepreneurs or feeling like we should be at this level or watching other people pitch. And there’s so much hype around it. And that’s why I feel like the more that you can stay to the core of what you’re doing and the more that you can take away all these layers of all these terms and words and things, you know, and pitching and, and the more that you can remember that it’s a business, the more basic, yeah. The more, the simpler that you can get. I feel like that’s going to make your entrepreneurial journey more pleasurable and also more effective.

[00:47:41] Michael: I guess the last thing I’d want to know from you is decision-making and how that compares, how that ties into leadership because I think it’s one of the most overlooked parts.

[00:47:55] Diane Prince: Yeah. So you want to make the right decisions, but you have to make a decision. And that’s, I think, the worst thing is not making a decision. You make the best decision you can with the information you have.

[00:48:09] And something that’s extremely important is being able to change – to admit you made a bad decision and move on. It’s the fallacy of sunken costs, which I see so many entrepreneurs make that mistake. Well, we’ve already invested this money. We’ve already in the fallacy of sunken cost is where you basically keep on doing the same thing because you’ve already invested time and money into it.

[00:48:34] And that is a huge mistake that a lot of businesses make. It could be a software implementation, it could be software that you’ve built. You may have spent half a million dollars on something, but if it is not working and it’s detrimental to the business, you’ve got to cut that cord and move on.

[00:49:00] A.J. Lawrence: I have one last question and we can cut this later. Um, I made them doing a little bit of diving around because I was really interested in,

[00:49:11] Diane Prince: Michael promised me that I get final approval of edits.

[00:49:16] A.J. Lawrence: Basically you can remove me from the podcast, but no, um, I saw on your Instagram, a great picture with, I think you had said, oh, so many years together, a good friend of yours. You and I graduated from college at the same time. And you had an amazing haircut in that time. As someone who went from, I had a mullet to a rat tail to a suburban Mohawk, um, I have a wild suspicion that maybe we had similar music tastes. I was into all the crazy. Give me the violent femmes, the Nick Caves, like the SOC, what type of music did you like back in the day?

[00:49:59] Diane Prince: Yeah, sounds pretty similar to yours. I mean, I love the clash and the cure. I also like Madonna. Of course, I love Madonna, you know, Cindy Lauper. I actually saw Cindy Lauper at the Hollywood bowl, a few months right before COVID

[00:50:16] A.J. Lawrence: Ah, that was a good show

[00:50:19] Diane Prince: But I love finding like those grungy, I grew up in Dallas and I love finding like the grungy bars we could get into it. But yeah, that sort of like, not quite punk, but in Dallas I was like, kind of weirdo almost punk.

[00:50:36] A.J. Lawrence: I’m turning edge and then you get to it and you’re like, Oh, I’m so burping.

[00:50:45] Michael: Now, where can the audience find you online? How do they get in contact with you? I mean, after this interview, I would definitely pick up the phone and call you and I’m going to recommend the audience do the equivalent of this.

[00:51:02] What is that? Where do they find you, Diane?

[00:51:05] Diane Prince: So I’m glad you asked. My website is dianeprince.co and I am currently offering free entrepreneurial one session. I don’t know how long that’s going to last

[00:51:22] A.J. Lawrence: Not after this.

[00:51:27] Diane Prince: Yeah, but that’s how they can reach me is through my website, dianeprince.co

[00:51:36] Michael: Awesome. Diane, thank you for coming on today.

[00:51:40] A.J. Lawrence: Thank you.

[00:51:41] Diane Prince: Thanks so much, guys. This is a lot of fun.

[00:51:44] A.J. Lawrence: Wow. That’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. If you wanted to connect with Diane or Beyond 8 Figures, you can find the links in the show notes on our site, or subscribe to the Beyond 8 Figure Newsletter to get all the great details of our guests and our show.

[00:52:00] Also, don’t forget to go check out Diane’s website, dianeprince.co, and if you’re a new entrepreneur looking to take that critical step, you couldn’t find a better coach than Diane.

[00:52:15] 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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