Ruth King is the “Profitability Master,” and she has worked to help other business owners reach and exceed their profit goals for their enterprises. She has owned eight businesses in her more than three decades as an entrepreneur. In 1981, she launched her first company, Business Ventures Corporation, where she “coaches, trains, and helps contractors and others achieve the business growth and goals” they’ve laid out for their businesses.
For close to four decades, Ruth King has “utilized the latest systems/processes/technology” to assist “start-ups, fledgling business…even well-established companies to grow successfully” and become leaders in their respective industries. She spent twelve years traveling, “doing 200 flights per year,” giving her coaching sessions and teaching her business expertise. However, she decided that there had to be a better way for her to reach her clients and train her employees. So, she moved to the internet.
In 1998, Ruth King began doing training people online. In 2002, she started her “first television-like broadcasting.” Currently, she has built several channels through which she can give her coaching and business expertise. These include www.hvacchannel.tv, www.profitabilityrevolution.com, among others.
In 1982, Ruth King started a branch of the Small Business Development Center in Decatur, Georgia. She also founded the “Women’s Entrepreneurial Center,” where she “taught a year-long course for women who wanted to start their own businesses.” The Women’s Economic Development Authority in Atlanta, Georgia, built on this course for one of their classes.
Ruth King has also written best-selling books, such as “The Ugly Truth About Cash,” and “The Courage to Be Profitable,” which became a #1 best-selling book. These books were also included in the 37 books every startup should read. Her newest book is titled “Profit or Wealth?”
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Ruth King: Persistence. Helping company owners through the tough times. I started working with two owners. They had just bought the company from their former owner. The company had $750,000 in revenues. 16 years later they sold the company for $9 million in cash.
I helped them through the growth pains and growth lessons. About 14 years into our consulting relationship the partners decided to sell and I found them a broker who could help them close the deal.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Ruth King: Have things you do outside the business. Hobbies are essential.
Exercise. Always make time for it. It helps you feel better.
Find someone or a group you can talk to about business. Mentors or mastermind groups are essential to get clarity and many times ideas.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Ruth King: My parents. They put up with a lot as I was starting and growing my businesses. They were always there during the good times and bad times.
For a story see my comment about how my Dad helped during my 6th startup.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Ruth King: A good company is earning the industry average net profit per hour. The owners are working really hard as are the managers. They have not begun to build wealth.
A great company is earning a significant net profit per hour and is donating a piece of that net profit to his favorite causes. He is not working every waking minute on the business. He has a great management team who understand their goals, how to read their department’s financial statement, and can run the business on a day to day basis.
The owner is oversight and is leading the company and building wealth rather than being stuck in the day to day operations.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Ruth King: Why did the business stall? Did the market change? Did customer needs change?
This is the time to reach out to active and inactive customers. Give inactive customers reasons to buy from the company again. Find out what other products and services you can provide to your existing customers.
On an employee note, are the employees feeling stagnant? Is there a general malaise in the company culture? Do the employees know why they come to work? Re-invigorating the company needs to be from an external customer perspective and an internal employee perspective.
Company-wide goals and contests could help.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Ruth King: Build recurring revenue. These customers are loyal during good times and bad.
Save 1% of every dollar that comes in the door. And, once the savings account gets large, leave it alone. Do not be tempted to touch it in good times.
Make sure that you have enough cash in the bank so that you can fund operations for four to six months. This will help during difficult economic times.
Contests also help during these times. Your employees, if they believe in the company’s mission, will help boost revenues and profits. They are on the front lines and probably have ideas that are helpful.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Ruth King: Paying attention to the financial side of business. Unless you are a CPA or a bookkeeper, you didn’t start your business to do the accounting/financial side of business. However, it is the critical part to pay attention. Otherwise, you could grow yourself out of business.
One of my clients started his business with a partner. They grew it to $2 million in revenue and never paid attention to the financials. As long as they could take their supplier discounts and pay payroll, they were happy.
They reached $2 million in sales and the growth stopped. Soon they started noticing that it was difficult to take their discounts and sometimes they had to make collection calls to make payroll.
When I did the analysis, it turned out that they were losing a nickel for every dollar they brought in the door for 12 years. We raised prices, paid attention to costs, and their cash flow and profits improved.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Ruth King: Don’t rely on what your employees/salespeople tell you. Visit the customers. Talk with customers directly. You will get unfiltered information.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Ruth King: Be consistent in your opinions and posts. Make it clear what the company stands for. (I stand for profitability and am known as the Profitability Master).
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Ruth King: Not paying attention to the financial side of business. Not understanding costs. Not reviewing accurate financial information every month. Not paying attention to cash and cash flow.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ruth King: Imagine if every business were profitable! Then the business could donate 1% or 2% of profits to their favorite causes. The world would be a better place for all.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!