The Sharpest Tool™

Justin and Kristen Deese | Why a Vision for Your Business and Marriage Matters

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
Justin and Kristen Deese have 20 years of experience in the home services industry. They’ve channelled everything they have learned into their book “When Your Business Partner Is Your Spouse” and now offer coaching and mastermind services in addition to overseeing their two home services businesses. They share why having a vision is essential to success and how to find a balance between work and marriage.

Josh Smith (00:03):

All right. Welcome everybody back to the sharpest tool podcast, where we take the sting out of marketing. My name is Josh Smith. I am your host and the vice president of marketing here for home services over at scorpion. I'm really excited because joining me today is Justin and Kristen, Denise. They wrote an all new book about how to manage a business with your spouse. And I couldn't be more excited to have them on the podcast adjusting Kristen, welcome to the sharp stool.

Justin Deese (00:29):

Thank you, Josh. We're excited to be here.

Kristen Deese (00:31):

Thanks for having us. Absolutely. Why don't you give all of our listeners a little bit of insight and background into your story and how you guys got to where you're at and some of the things that are going on in your world.

Justin Deese (00:42):

Yeah. So w we'll give you the cliff note version, cause the other version is longer personnel. I started a business, probably six, I don't know, roughly 20 years, a little bit shot 20 years ago. And it was a home service business. And the first three, four years, it was awful. We didn't like it. We didn't like anything about it. And as we kind of came to realize that the business wasn't the problem, it was us so well, we

Kristen Deese (01:07):

Working far more than what we had ever worked when we were an employee with somebody else. And there was just more moving parts than we had anticipated. So

Justin Deese (01:14):

You didn't have that, turn it off right. At the end of the day, you could turn it off and we couldn't do that.

Josh Smith (01:20):

I just want a quicker, some thinking back to the business side of things like all 20 years ago, what would you say was the primary challenge that you face that you had a hard time seeing at that point in time

Speaker 3 (01:31):

Hindsight's 2020, right? So when you're looking back, our biggest issue without a doubt was we didn't have a vision. So we didn't know what direction you wanted to go. And therefore, every opportunity that came along looked like an opportunity we should take. And that led us down a whole lot of different paths that had, we had some sight into the future or some visions we probably would have maybe said no to a couple of things that could have made it a little bit more of a direct line to where we are now.

Josh Smith (01:58):

And so what happened after that? How did the story progressed?

Justin Deese (02:01):

So really the big shift in our life was someone gave me the book E-Myth and said, you've got to read this book. I open it up, read a couple pages and thought, what in the world does this lady with pies have anything to do with my business? And we were kind of stuck probably more, more so me than you and that space of, well, you can't help me because you don't know my business. And finally, what happened was we understood that they was helping other people out there that could kind of help our journey. And once we started reaching out, that really shifted because we started to become students of the business versus the reactionary firefighter thing that we were doing at that point.

Josh Smith (02:39):

Yeah. And it progressed into eventually you get to the point where you're writing a book, you're doing podcasts or helping others with some learn some of the lessons that you've done. What, tell me a bit about that.

Speaker 3 (02:49):

So we still own the first company that we started and it runs without our everyday involvement. So we are essentially board members for that company. And along the way, before we even got to where we are now, we started another company and sold it and then purchased another home service company. And we still have that one as well. And so we got our businesses to a point where we did not have to be in the every day if we didn't want to be. And so now we use that time to help other businesses get into that same. I don't want to be in a truck all day or, you know, I want to be able to work on my business and not in my business. And that's what we spend the most time of our, most of our time doing now.

Josh Smith (03:28):

Yeah. And you see, you have a podcast coming out. Tell us a little bit about this podcast and when is it launching?

Justin Deese (03:34):

Let's do we have two podcasts? We've got one that's out right now and it's about the books. So we take the book when your business partners, your spouse, how to have a successful business and a happy marriage. And we took nine chapters and just kind of did it behind the scenes of the book because once the book launched, people were asking a lot of questions and we thought, well, how cool to just talk about why the stories we shared and that's been good. And then we've got one coming out July 15th. That is really going to be us sitting down with other married business owners and really talk about what are the packs that you figured out in order to, to navigate the choppy waters of being married. And

Josh Smith (04:10):

That's awesome. Well, let's dive into the husband wife, dynamic of business ownership. I know many, many family owned businesses where people are playing multiple hats has been a wiser playing multiple hats and it takes on different shapes and forms. As things continue to grow with the business. What are some of the strengths of having a husband and wife team?

Justin Deese (04:30):

I think we have a different answer.

Speaker 3 (04:32):

I think it depends on the, the strength and weaknesses of the couple for us. We happen to be very complimentary. So his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. So that works really well to our favor in most cases. But the one thing that's pretty cool about the husband wife team is there's that level of trust there that you have when your business partners, your spouse, as opposed to maybe somebody who was just an employee or that you didn't know as well before you went into business together. So I think that is probably one of the strengths.

Justin Deese (05:03):

Yeah. So I would say lanes that's one thing we talked about in the book is obviously vision is very important. So we understood where we were going, but then once we got our lanes dialed in to where we were never having that crossover, and I think this is what happens a lot of times with other married business owners is they tend to not stay in a lane or even know what a lane looks like. So they may be in sales and marketing this moment. And then they might jump over to the finance department and asking questions that they don't even know the answers. I think, I think finding your lane and staying in it and just being really good at that one thing versus being in micromanaging, I guess I would say,

Josh Smith (05:39):

Yeah, well, let's contrast this now. Those are phenomenal strengths by the way. And I think, yeah, you've got different people that are working with different things. And then my wife, whenever we get involved with any of her kind of businesses that she's running along with running around with three kiddos, I always try and take a consultative approach because I know the direct approach doesn't work with her. So the dynamics personally are stowed different. What would you say are some of the weaknesses that a husband and wife team have? What are some of the challenges in face?

Speaker 3 (06:04):

I think the biggest challenge is drawing that line between business and home life and not letting the business infiltrate every aspect of the day and night. I think that's probably the biggest thing that we hear. And we struggled with that for a long time.

Justin Deese (06:19):

Yeah. I was just thinking about, I wonder how many people listening can relate to this. We would go out to dinner and go, we're not talking about the business no matter what. And we would sit in front of each other and absolute kind of go, we don't have anything else to talk about. So that was a big thing is finally getting a little bit of balance and boundaries.

Josh Smith (06:40):

Yeah. I can imagine it's really difficult to, and this is the sense that I've gotten as well, where you have the separation of the personal and the business, and then things become so business oriented that you lose the emotional connection with your spouse. You like one is succeeding and the other is failing, you know, and you're having a lot more challenges with your relational aspects versus business aspects. What are some of the ways you found a balance that

Speaker 3 (07:05):

I am a little bit bigger on boundaries, I think than just an is in terms of time. So I kind of got to a point where I was like, okay, from now for the next three hours, we're not talking about business. And if that means that we're not talking at all then cool, we're not talking right now. But being able to say, okay, I had to get to a point where I had to speak up and say, Hey, I need a couple of hours where we are not focusing on the business right now. And then he would kind of be like, okay, cool. I get it. And then once I was like, okay, I'm ready to talk about business again. Then he would, let me hear all of the things you've been holding onto for a couple of hours. There's definitely drawing those boundaries of being like, okay, right now is not the time that we're going to be talking about.

Justin Deese (07:47):

And I think it's, I think another thing to point out too, is is this the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? And I think that a lot of times when married couples, everybody sees the world through their own lenses. And I think a lot of times it's easy to forget that sometimes. And I think when you, and I kind of got clear on, you know, the introvert extrovert side of things, the personality types and how we listen. And I think that really helped because it enabled us to understand the other way better than we could before. Cause I mean, I would come home at nine o'clock at night and like great, the accounting departments at home. She's like, I'm feeding the baby. Like,

Josh Smith (08:28):

Yeah. So you mentioned one of the big things that you struggled with in the very beginning was lack of vision. Tell me a bit about that and how your visions kind of expanded over the years and how you both got aligned with that.

Speaker 3 (08:41):

Actually I think our vision has narrowed over the years because at first, when there wasn't necessarily a vision, everything is really broad and it's, so we're just trying to make a little bit of money. Right. We're just trying to pay the bills. That was the vision at first it was very shortsighted non-directional. And so basically what that turned into was every time an opportunity came along, that looked like money coming in. We would say yes, because that was our vision. And so we added a several lines and to our services that we probably shouldn't have, or that were a little too far away from our main service and probably an

Justin Deese (09:14):

Understatement of

Speaker 3 (09:16):

Several many or whatever. Um, but then once we got clear and said, okay, we're going to be the very best at this. And then it got a lot easier when other opportunities came along that said, okay, is that going to help us be the very best at this? Or is that going to distract us? And that makes it a lot easier to say yes or no to an opportunity.

Justin Deese (09:34):

And yeah, it became one of the biggest accountability tools because as business owners, a lot of times you don't have really good accountability if you don't feel like doing something, unless a customer is beaten down your door. A lot of times, you know, you don't do the hardest things, you do, the things you like to do. And for the vision, it really gave us that check of, okay, is this going to get us in direction or is it going to pull us away? So it really helped us just narrow down the focus on really each of our business.

Josh Smith (10:00):

Yeah. How difficult was that to turn things away? What

Speaker 3 (10:04):

Was that process

Justin Deese (10:07):

For me? I'm to the core, I'm a entrepreneur by every definition. So that was very difficult because I thought what most of society teaches you as busy as successful. So I thought like if I'm running around my hair on fire, I must be successful when people would see us and go, you guys are super successful. You guys are always busy. And the truth is, is the less busy we got, the more successful we became just because we could focus and be the best at a thing versus squirrel all over the place.

Josh Smith (10:38):

Yeah. Let's talk, uh, shift gears a little bit. Let's talk a bit about like measuring motivating and managing well, what does it mean to measure motivated

Speaker 3 (10:48):

What doesn't get measured? Doesn't get managed. So we're really big enthusiasts of KPIs, key performance indicators in any business. We even do it in our own coaching practice and it's just a way to be able to measure what's going on in the company. And just by the sake of measuring it, we're paying attention to it. And when we're paying attention to it or making it better. Um, so the idea that we need to know what's going on in the business, we need to know the numbers. We need to know not numbers far beyond what happens on your profit and loss statement, but you know, different sales conversions and all different kinds of things like that. You need to know that so that you can manage that. And then once that part of the business is being managed, then it's also really easy to use that information, to motivate the rest of the team, to tighten and do the best that they can. Also,

Justin Deese (11:40):

I know for me, from the leadership perspective, you know, growing up when I was a kid, I played sports. So the leadership that I saw was more like in your face, go run laps, do pushups. And for some reason you can't do that in businesses. I'm not sure what the deal is, but it really helps me start to better lead my team because now I wasn't having conversations that were like, I feel like there was never those conversations anymore. It was more like we, everybody had a scorecard, everybody in the company, no matter where you were. So then when you're sitting down with your team, it's not an, I feel like it's, Hey, how do you feel? Here's your scorecard? Are you crushing it? Or are you slacking? And I, and I think that really helped and self accountability for them too. And self motivation because nobody wants to come to work. And I know some people are gonna hear this and think I'm crazy. Nobody comes to work and wants to be the worst. They just don't. I mean, if you don't have boundaries for people and they don't know what to do, they're going to just assume that they're doing a good job. Yeah,

Josh Smith (12:38):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, you, you obviously help a lot of people. You have a lot of people with the coaching business and a lot of business owners, how do you manage going out and doing that speaking events? Do you alternate, you know, do you pick some and reject others and tag you tag team them? How does that work?

Justin Deese (12:56):

Each opportunity is a little bit different. Over the last year, we have focused more on staying here. Our kids are, you know, middle school, high school age. So they have sports and activities. So a lot of what we've done in the last year is been either online or people come here and we do live sessions, which is nice because it gets them out of their atmosphere and kind of, they get to relax a little bit and be strategic for a couple of days versus at a conference. I know you love conference.

Josh Smith (13:26):

Yeah. How important is that? Pulling yourself out of the business to work on it and just not be in it

Speaker 3 (13:34):

Huge in terms of making great strides forward in mindset and strategic thinking around your business, because you're not in your comfortable environment, one and two, you're not in your environment that is distracting. So if you are in your own environment, you might be distracted with the items that you're on your desk or on your to-do list, or people knocking on the door or phones ringing or whatever. And when we can pull them out of that environment and put them in a more creative, but also more sterile environment, then that helps really propel the strategic thing.

Josh Smith (14:09):

Got it. Yeah. Tell me a bit about your back. I want to transition a little bit here in your book. You mentioned five pillars, which I think is interesting. When you talk about foundation system leaders, financial and sales. Can you tell me a bit about those pillars? What why'd you come up with those ones specifically?

Speaker 3 (14:25):

So those pillars are the ones that we use when we work with people on coaching. The reason that we used those five is because generally the topics that we talk about during coaching fall under one of those categories. So in foundation, you have your vision and your organizational charts, and some of the things that organize the very early and design portion of the business, then you have systemization, which is the only way that you're going to be able to get to a point where you don't have to be in your business all the time. And then you have the leadership or the employee development side of it. That tends to be a large struggle for business owners and finding the right people and getting them onboard. And how do you keep them motivated and you know, how do you get them to produce? Um, so that's a little section and then we've got our financial piece, which is, it teaches a business owner, makes them more comfortable with reading financial statements and knowing which information is really important for their business and what they can just leave to the CPA to do. And then the last is sales and we purposely structure sales towards the end because a lot of people come to us because they need more sales when really what they need is some tightening up on the other pillars first. And then we can start dumping in sales and they'll be able to handle it so much.

Justin Deese (15:39):

I would say most of the time when people reach out it's either sales or system,

Josh Smith (15:45):

How important have you found a structure like these pillars to be for business owners right now, I miss everything that's going on in the world, but the COVID-19 pandemic with all the writing and looting and everything that's happening with all the protesting that's going on in times of crisis. What type of success have you seen with the businesses? You've worked with it with respect to these pillars?

Justin Deese (16:08):

You know, I think if the more structure you have in your business and, and I think sometimes people get structure confused with rigidity, like there's systems are flexible, but your team has to know exactly what to do. So when there's, especially when there's uncertainty going on in the world, the more they can come to work and kind of feel that at ease of, okay, I know what to expect at work or what needs to be done or what expectations I need to meet. I think it kind of helps them a little bit.

Speaker 3 (16:35):

Yeah. It's comforting. It's comforting. The routine is comforting, but it's also, if you already have that structure laid out, then when you're hit with something that's different, it's easier to look at your entire system and see, okay, well, because this one thing is different than we need to change this aspect and this aspect. And then we can keep the, all of the others the same as opposed to trying to reinvent the wheel, you know, totally start from scratch. So yeah.

Josh Smith (17:02):

Um, have the businesses you've worked with seen a lot of success over the course of the past couple of months, I have been, I guess, performed a bit better than other businesses that you've worked. Maybe you haven't worked with, or you haven't necessarily heard about from a results perspective, because I know a lot of businesses are struggling right now. So

Speaker 3 (17:19):

The ones that were able to change quick enough. Yes. The ones who sat in, in decisiveness for too long. No.

Justin Deese (17:29):

And that's true for small businesses and big businesses long. We've talked about this, you know, our local office store here is a national brand. And when all this happened in Amazon was X amount of weeks out delivering anything. I remember us talking, going to the store going, man, what a great opportunity for them to really capture some of that market that they've lost over the years from Amazon. And that's not really what happened. We went and they were out of everything and they weren't prepared. So that's the same with big businesses and small businesses as well. Yeah,

Josh Smith (17:58):

It kind of is pretty consumer with what we've seen kind of on the marketing side too. Right? This is interesting. The last seven days we've seen an increase in almost 7% in lead volume. We'll just week over week, right? We've seen a 38% increase in leads over the past 28 days compared to the prior 28 days, all website traffic kind of across the board generally has been up about 10% nationwide over the past 28 days. So people are there and they're looking for business owners who can help them with their challenges and solve their problems, which it's a really cool thing to see, especially if you have the SOP standard operating procedures in place. And we following a system like the one that you've laid out to see the success and the results. And I know it can get challenging to take away that quick action on it.

Josh Smith (18:45):

Right. I was, I was talking with a real estate agent, friend of mine who was talking about some of the investments that he's been making. We kind of go back and forth with different investments. And I was like, are you going to jump into this train right here? And it's skyrocketing, there's opportunity over here. And he's like, I'm going to hold off. You know, it's like, if you get, you know, we have a saying scared money, don't make money. And so sometimes it's an opportunity when you see an opportunity, you got to seize it. And that's, I think part of that probably goes to that leader's intuition that some of the business owners you're working with with house. So that's pretty awesome. I want to dive just real quick, kind of as a close up into the personal aspect, I'm really curious. How has your relationship benefited from working together with your spouse and everything that you've gone through?

Speaker 3 (19:29):

I think that it has allowed us to know each other on a deeper level. And then we would have had we not have worked together for so long because we are so intertwined from the work standpoint, if he was working at one location and I was working at one location, I think there's only a certain level of understanding that you would have between the two of you about your work life. But because all of that is intertwined. I think that it allows us to know each other far more than we would have if we worked apart and we've been working together from this as long as we've been together. So,

Justin Deese (20:02):

Yeah, that's true. And I also think too, I know that there's couples that we talked to, that, you know, maybe one works in the business and one doesn't, which here's the deal. If you're married and you own a business, your spouse is a part of it. Like it doesn't matter whether they're in it day to day, if they're whatever they're in it. And so I think for that, it helps on those. I mean, at the beginning we were a hundred hours a week. And had you not been involved in the business? You would've been like, what are you doing

Speaker 3 (20:30):

There? Would've been a lot of resentment.

Justin Deese (20:32):


Speaker 3 (20:33):

Absolutely spending so much time on the business.

Josh Smith (20:36):

So on that note, in closing, what is the biggest piece of advice you would give spouses couples who are in the business together, or ones who are thinking about how do we work better together? What's what would you say is the one piece of advice?

Justin Deese (20:50):

Yeah, let me take this. All right. So my answer would be ask your spouse what they want. Just find out what they want. Like, okay, cool. If we jump in and we're doing this, or we're doing it currently, what do we want three years to look like? Because it's amazing. I mean, we've got people that we've worked with that have been married 20, 30 years, and they've never asked that question and they come to find out, sometimes they do want to go in the same direction and sometimes they don't,

Speaker 3 (21:18):

Sometimes they want to be in a different spot than they currently are swimming in the company. And so that's always fun to uncover actually. Yeah,

Josh Smith (21:25):

That's awesome. Yeah, that's exactly what my mind goes to when people ask me that too, because of what my wife and I do together and the best piece of advice that I've ever been able to kind of think up is make your spouse's goals, your goals, and vice versa, and then move towards that goal together. And I just love seeing that. I love seeing you guys together, being so successful with everything you've done, obviously in life and marriage, which is so cool to see it's inspiring actually. So where can people find out more about you and learn more about your book, your podcast? Give us a spiel. Where is it?

Speaker 3 (22:00):

Our website is business You can find the book there. We also have a Facebook page, which is, backslash business, spouse, Instagram.

Justin Deese (22:12):

Well, we have a community spouse community that you can find on Facebook as well. It's just a group of other business owners that work with their spouse.

Josh Smith (22:22):

Yeah. I love that. Well, thank you guys so much for your time. Really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy, busy schedule to share some of this information. I know it's going to be really insightful for a lot of our business owners, so thank you so much.

Justin Deese (22:34):

Fantastic. Thank you. Thanks for having us on

Josh Smith (22:36):

You bet. And for everybody listening definitely hit the light button wherever you might be listening at tap that little subscribe button so you can continue to get more of this awesome content from all of us at the sharpest tool. And until next time, we'll talk to you then. Thanks.

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