Michael McFall describes himself as an everyman CEO. He doesn’t have an MBA or a yacht. Mastering things like paradigm shifts or leveraging assets are not in his general wheelhouse of small business necessities.
“I’m just a normal dude from Milford, Michigan,” he said. “There is no magic. It’s all the fundamentals and anyone can do this.”
Within 23 years, McFall went from barista to co-CEO of Biggby Coffee, overseeing 250 franchises blossom across nine states.
This provides the foundation for his first book “Grind: A No-Bullsh*t Approach to Take Your Business from Concept to Cash Flow.” It hit bookstores Aug. 6. and is available at Barnes and Noble locations and is available online at Amazon, Indie Bound and the Porchlight Book Co.
“I don’t think I wrote a single word of this after 8 a.m.,” McFall said. “My creative work is always done first thing in the morning. I love that moment. I get up, make a beautiful cup of coffee and get to work.”
However, growing Biggby wasn’t all sugary and caffeinated bliss. McFall warns entrepreneurs that they have to get used to a “bogeyman” coming from out of the blue and knocking them down once and awhile.
In the book, McFall details a situation when a bank defaulted on its loan to the company, resulting in the bank trying to squeeze every last drop out of the business to pay back the loan. McFall said it was paramount he never brought the bleakness of the situation in with him to work.
“We took 50% pay cuts to get through,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t let the world know we were teetering on insolvency. What I needed to do at that moment in time in the business is to make sure it didn’t bring us down.”
The company survived, but it would’ve been a different story if he conveyed this worry and stress to customers and franchisers, he added.
Though McFall brings in some of his personal anecdotes, the work is tasteful and focus never tampers off from the general pursuit of how to make a small business better. The book reads with bite-sized entries of a couple pages at a time, which prevents the message from getting bogged down in the text.
One entertaining entry that sums up the experience of a successful entrepreneur is McFall’s personification of type of entrepreneur which calls, a Cowboy Squirrel.
“For me, there are two main factors,” he said. “The first is to work hard. Squirrels bury nuts, but don’t remember where they bury them. They just bury enough so when they need food there is enough buried to find some to sustain themselves.”
McFall added that what makes “the epitome of an entrepreneur” is coupling the squirrel with a cowboy. The result is a person who lives by a code of ethics and doesn’t care about what people think.
McFall said the leader is often overlooked in place of demographics and business analytics too often.
“As a leader, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses,” McFall said. “Then you bolster those weaknesses and leverage your strengths. That is what will make your business successful.”
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