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Steve Fredlund – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;21;16
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified. The podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. Hello and welcome back to Your Brand Amplified. I’m so excited today to have Steve Fredlund as a guest on the show. Steve, welcome to the program.

00;00;21;26 – 00;00;23;11
Steve Fredlund

Thanks, Anika. I’m excited to be here.

00;00;23;15 – 00;00;50;23
Anika

Yay! So one thing that really stood out for me about you as a potential guest was your non-profit background and your work in Africa. So I don’t think you know this about me, but I have a non-profit that I started shoestrings, small, all volunteer. We work in Ghana, and we have we focus on children’s education. And we quickly realized that some of the kids also don’t have a place to live.

00;00;50;27 – 00;01;09;10
Anika

So we built an orphanage, which, you know, comes all these things come with a lot of issues that you if you don’t think them through, if you’re just trying to be a Good Samaritan. Right. And then now we’ve also have organic farming and we’re looking to expand that. So then it can create self-sufficiency and fund everything because it’s been really difficult.

00;01;10;07 – 00;01;23;15
Anika

And so I but I think it’s really interesting to talk about how you went from being a humanitarian. I mean, you still are right now and doing your work overseas and you’re with your career and entrepreneurship. So

00;01;23;15 – 00;01;43;14
Steve Fredlund

I love that you’re doing that. I mean, that is exactly it. And, you know, it’s community transformation ultimately, it’s really hard to just choose one topic and say, oh, we are going to help with, you know, food security or clean water or microfinancing or whatever the one issue might be because it’s so integrated with everything else. It really has to be this community transformation work.

00;01;43;14 – 00;01;58;20
Steve Fredlund

And so that’s the same thing that we found to as we started getting involved. And for us, it was sort of the end of 2009 was when we took our first trip. It was a couple of years of preparation for that of figuring out how do we have the most impact over there while having impact over here as well.

00;01;58;20 – 00;02;06;20
Steve Fredlund

So I love to hear that you’re involved in a different part of Africa, but sub-Saharan tons of needs. I mean, we could talk for hours about that.

00;02;06;20 – 00;02;28;14
Anika

Yes. We could. We’re going to have to. We’re going to have to stay in touch 100% and maybe have you back on this podcast or another podcast to talk more about these issues. But what drove you to introduce yourself to our audience, talk about your story and what drove you to do that while you were also still making really impactful you know, work in the United States?

00;02;28;17 – 00;02;45;25
Steve Fredlund

Yeah. So long, long story short, I’ll try to give you the high level overview because I’m a I’m a multi passionate person, so I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve been involved with, but I worked in the corporate world for about 25 years. So I’m an actuary by trade, so highly analytical, mathematical piece of that. So I did that for about 25 years in different roles.

00;02;45;25 – 00;03;05;00
Steve Fredlund

Investments in finance and HR, those pieces. And then about four years ago I launched out on my own. So I do business coaching. Business consulting is focusing really on small businesses and like we call it small small business because those are those are my people, right? The mom and pops jobs, the aspiring entrepreneurs, the people that don’t usually get the level of support that they need.

00;03;05;00 – 00;03;27;16
Steve Fredlund

But yet they are so critical to their communities. And so that’s where I focus there. And then I also do a fair amount of speaking. But then in the middle of all of that, I’ve got a lot of nonprofit work that I’ve done. So I’ve been on a lot of boards. But this specific thing in Rwanda was started with really a passion in me, kind of the mid to thousands around the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

00;03;27;16 – 00;03;45;07
Steve Fredlund

And that’s where I started researching. I started getting involved, but not really. You know, I give some money, but I’m like, I just felt like that was sort of my thing to get involved. With, you know, there’s millions of potential causes, but that was the one that really struck home for me. And then finally about 27, I went to a conference.

00;03;45;07 – 00;04;00;20
Steve Fredlund

I’m like, I got to figure out how I can get involved in this thing a little bit more deeply. And I went to this conference in Minneapolis, and I live in rural Minnesota. And at this conference were two other gentlemen from my same community. And I said, Well, what are you doing here? And what are you doing here?

00;04;00;20 – 00;04;18;02
Steve Fredlund

You know, none of us knew each other. We’re going to be there. And we were all in that same place where we felt like we wanted to do something, but we didn’t know what to do. Yeah. And we also wanted it to be something for our community to get involved with. And so that started these conversations of saying, how can we actually not only have impact over there?

00;04;18;12 – 00;04;37;02
Steve Fredlund

And somewhere in Africa, we knew we wanted to get involved somewhere. We didn’t know exactly where, but also have impact over here. Which was in east central Minnesota, because we were suffering from a lot of divisiveness. There’s a lot of, you know, whether it’s political or spiritual or schools or whatever it is, there’s a lot of you know, animosity and a lot of side choosing at the time.

00;04;37;02 – 00;04;59;20
Steve Fredlund

So we thought, well, maybe there’s a way we can unite our community to respond to the issues over there. And do two things at once. And so that’s that started us down this journey of forming an organization that was really dedicated to doing just that. And so once we figured out what we wanted to do that it was a matter of figure out who’s our partner on the ground to do some of that work and where was it going to be in all of those things.

00;04;59;20 – 00;05;10;13
Steve Fredlund

But that’s a long answer to your question. That’s sort of the genesis of that. And that was also run you know, that was all done in parallel to having my corporate career and doing some other things.

00;05;11;09 – 00;05;30;15
Anika

Well, I think that’s the lesson that we still need today. Right. And that’s a tactic that we should be using because we there is so much divisiveness and especially during COVID, we have the have nots is just it’s the barrier-

00;05;30;15 – 00;05;32;09
Steve Fredlund

The past few years have been so devisive.

00;05;32;13 – 00;05;58;29
Anika

Yeah. And then as you know, I mean, prices of food are rising for us. Well, imagine what’s happening in Africa and the prices of everything there, the inflation, it’s insane. And it’s really disheartening sometimes. So what makes you stay focused and stay impassioned and not just throw your hands and say, OK, I’m going to give up because we’re such you know, we’re little drips in the bucket of life.

00;05;59;27 – 00;06;19;22
Steve Fredlund

I’m not I’m just not a giver-upper like that is just not my thing. And maybe I should be in some cases. But no, I think, you know, you touched on the disunity or the divisiveness and that sort of thing. And what I decided as a problem solver for my perspective is now I’ve tried to get people from different sides of issues into the room and have meaningful conversations.

00;06;20;00 – 00;06;36;12
Steve Fredlund

It doesn’t work like at my experiences, it doesn’t work because the only people that are really willing to do that are already people that are empathizing with the other side and making adjustments and, you know, sort of understanding the people on the sides, on the real tables aren’t really going to do that in an effective way. And that’s their right.

00;06;36;13 – 00;06;57;05
Steve Fredlund

Obviously, they have the right to do that. And so what I found is the most effective way to unite at least our community, is to find something that’s a higher level up that we can all engage with regardless of these things. So finding something that going global poverty like, yeah, of course not everybody’s going to engage that. There’s resistance, of course, because, you know, why are you involved in Africa?

00;06;57;05 – 00;07;34;29
Steve Fredlund

And we have problems here, and I understand that. And I would have those conversations and I know how to talk through those conversations. But when you find something that’s a level up where you’re not actually talking about these issues, you’re talking about this bigger issue, that’s when some of that sufficiency rolls. And what I would have you know, we have big annual gatherings and do these different things, and I’d always kick it off with saying all right. I know. Let’s just, I know right now in this room there are Republicans and Democrats and Christians and Jews and atheists, and there are gay and straight and there’s old and young and there’s male. And I, I know that we know that if you look around, you’re going to find somebody different from yourself. This is not new.

00;07;34;29 – 00;07;54;03
Steve Fredlund

This is obvious. Look around. People are different from you, and people think differently. And they’ve different perspectives, they’ve different strengths and different personalities, we are all different. But for the sake of the people, the children in Africa tonight, we are one community just for tonight. That’s all I’m asking is just for tonight. For the next few hours. We are one community.

00;07;54;03 – 00;08;11;18
Steve Fredlund

And I think that just people resonated with that. It just gave them a chance to say, you know what, I can engage, I can have a hallway conversation with somebody that maybe come Monday I’m going to hate again. But I can talk to them tonight about what’s going on in Africa. And I think, you know, at least for a season, this is really a 12 year project for that 12 years.

00;08;11;18 – 00;08;30;25
Steve Fredlund

I think we made a huge impact in our community in terms of having people overcome that, at least getting an idea of what is it like to actually have conversations and to work with something with somebody that I don’t necessarily agree with. So I mean, my hope is just that some of those seeds that we planted, some of that taste that we gave people stuck with them.

00;08;31;00 – 00;08;54;24
Anika

Mm hmm. Absolutely. And that’s such a good point because when you’re thinking about a bigger cause, the greater good, right That is something that hopefully unites people and gets them to realize, oh, you know what? Our petty issues or our divisiveness, it’s just here. But if we all want to succeed as humans, it’s like we’re in a global community.

00;08;54;24 – 00;08;57;06
Anika

So we have to work together. And I think it’s a great-

00;08;57;08 – 00;08;58;11
Steve Fredlund

Oh, sorry. Go ahead, finish

00;08;58;11 – 00;08;59;08
Anika

No, please.

00;08;59;08 – 00;09;12;01
Steve Fredlund

I was going to say, it’s a great lesson for leadership. It’s why I’m convinced that, you know, as we continue to go forward and I’m seeing it, some of the best leaders in the corporate world, in business are coming out of the non-profit’s sector because you’re leading, you have to lead with a vision.

00;09;12;10 – 00;09;35;16
Steve Fredlund

And it’s the same is true in like the corporate world, right? If we can- people want to belong to something that’s bigger than themselves. They want to have an impact. If you’re working at Medtronic, you don’t necessarily want to do your job. You want to know that you’re saving lives and helping having people have a better quality of life or wherever it is that you’re working and I think, you know, the best leaders are able to cast that vision and say, all right, I know you’re all different and we have different strengths.

00;09;35;16 – 00;09;53;08
Steve Fredlund

I know that you might be feuding with this person or feeding with that person. And they’re getting the good lunch or whatever it is that your issues might be, you know, small or big. But here’s what we’re doing. We are changing lives by doing this if you’re working in the financial services sector, maybe you’re helping people retire better.

00;09;53;15 – 00;10;14;10
Steve Fredlund

You know, you’re helping people if they lose a loved one, having them have financial security upon their death by having life insurance, like whatever it is, like you can you can bring it back. And I think lead with that sort of vision. And I think it unites people and it helps them become less, less divisive in that. So I think you can see the same application in your small business and a large business and a non-profit or wherever.

00;10;14;22 – 00;10;45;08
Anika

Well, and that was my next question is, did because you come from an actuary background, which is fantastic, but you now shifted to helping small small businesses, which I wish that when I had had my small small business during the pandemic that I had known you. I come to you for advice, but do you think that your work in the non-profit world is why you decided to shift your career and help small businesses?

00;10;45;08 – 00;11;03;21
Anika

Because you saw that, gosh, a lot of the needs that they have are those needs of somebody just being there to help them and walk them through the process and help them succeed. And as you said, because I’m also very passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small businesses and so many of them need so much, but they don’t have the budgets.

00;11;03;21 – 00;11;08;12
Anika

And a lot of times in business, right. We say, well, if you don’t have the budget we can’t help you.

00;11;08;29 – 00;11;33;04
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, no, that’s 100% true. It definitely influenced that. And I think, you know, I was on a constant quest of trying to find a where my happiest I’m trying a constant quest of who can I serve, how can I help, how can I make my impact in the world. So this is not the journey that we’re on. And I definitely learned some things through my work in Africa and through the non-profit work to figure out, OK, who are my people, who can I help, who do I resonate with, who can I have the greatest impact on?

00;11;33;04 – 00;11;50;13
Steve Fredlund

And so, yeah, I think ultimately leaving the corporate world about four years ago and doing this work is ultimately a result of thinking, oh, these are my people. Like I was in the corporate world, but and they’re great people, great jobs, great companies, but they really weren’t my people. My wife and I are both. We’re fifth generation in the same small town in east central Minnesota.

00;11;50;19 – 00;12;08;11
Steve Fredlund

Kids are sixth generation. Like, these are my people, right? And I know the impact of small businesses in community in terms of community vibrancy. I mean, ultimately, what I want to see, I want to see communities become more vibrant, right? I want music coming from the park and people on the street corners chatting and like just it’s a sense of community.

00;12;08;11 – 00;12;25;10
Steve Fredlund

And we’ve lost that a bit even pre-pandemic because of, you know, interstate bypasses and, you know, losing downtowns and some of those things. So not that we have to go back to the way things always were, but I want that sense of vibrancy. And so when I was searching, where can I have the greatest impact on helping communities become more vibrant?

00;12;25;21 – 00;12;43;26
Steve Fredlund

I surround myself with the right people and really it was help these small businesses, healthy small non-profits. And when I say the small, I mean the small small, you know, the mom and pop shop, the solopreneur, the aspiring entrepreneur, these people that normally, like you said, don’t get the level of service, don’t get the level of support that the other businesses get.

00;12;44;00 – 00;12;59;10
Steve Fredlund

All they have is they get the free support from, you know, a small business administration. And these people that are they’re good hearted people trying, but they don’t really have the same level of experience to give small business owners the experience and the breakthrough that they’re looking for. And so that was the niche that I’m trying to fill.

00;12;59;10 – 00;13;16;17
Steve Fredlund

And so then part of it is, oh, OK. Well, most business coaches, most business consultants are so expensive. I mean, you just talked about that as well. And I run into and I hate that like I’ve done a whole video thing on this because it’s their right to charge what they want. But I always feel and I’ve got my own issues right, like I’m the kid in the playground.

00;13;16;17 – 00;13;31;02
Steve Fredlund

They didn’t get picked for dodgeball, you know, like I’m Guy. Yeah. And so I have that same sort of visceral response when I approach a like somebody like how of the social media or of my speaking or whatever it is. And I approach them and we have a great conversation. And so I say, well, what would it look like to work with you?

00;13;31;02 – 00;13;48;00
Steve Fredlund

And they’re like, Well, $25,000. I’m like, OK, now I got to take my ball and go home because that’s, that’s not for me. It’s another thing I’m left out on. So that’s my own issue that I have to wrestle with. But I feel that for small business owners, because I know some of them have gone to approach coaches and it’s like, well, it’s $400 an hour.

00;13;48;08 – 00;14;02;00
Steve Fredlund

But yeah, what are you talking about? Like, what are you talking about? How come I can’t do that? So, you know, my whole approach and I’m getting into the weeds. My whole approach, my whole strategy is how can I make what I do in the value I bring accessible to these folks who need it the most?

00;14;02;00 – 00;14;16;26
Steve Fredlund

Because if I can help them become more successful, the communities become more vibrant. It’s a whole it’s a whole strategy, really. But, you know, if I if I just wanted to make money, I would be back in the corporate role. I was like, I was making a ton of cash and like that’s what I could be doing.

00;14;17;02 – 00;14;29;03
Steve Fredlund

And I’m not trying to pat myself on the back with that. But like, this is about life changing my life decisions, like you’re experiencing make decisions that are going to make you happy. They’re going to give you the impact that you want. And maybe money is not a primary objective.

00;14;29;19 – 00;14;33;11
Anika

Yeah. I think in the money will follow hopefully. Right so-

00;14;33;13 – 00;14;48;12
Steve Fredlund

No, I mean, it does, but it’s how much money what you’re actually looking for. And that’s all part of that, that strategic piece. But yeah, getting really settled into what am I actually trying to do with my life, with my business. And yeah, I think I think money does follow passion for sure.

00;14;49;06 – 00;15;07;14
Anika

So do you primarily work with or did you start first working with businesses in your local community and then in the state? You work with people all over the country, all over the globe. What’s your business strategy for your own business? And then that well, I’ll start off stop there and then ask my next. Question

00;15;07;14 – 00;15;24;07
Steve Fredlund

Where I’ve landed I’ll work with anybody anywhere, but I give priority to local the more local it is the more priority gets so and the cheaper the rates are, frankly, because these are these are my people, right? These are people I really want to help. So I work with people in Germany, Australia, all kinds of different places where I have clients.

00;15;24;15 – 00;15;44;20
Steve Fredlund

And then, you know, inside the US, I’ve got an executive coaching I’ve done a Californian and those things as well. But my heartbeat is really the entrepreneur the solopreneur, those folks. So I’ve got different programs that I run where the rates actually get pretty low to help those people. And so some of that is just direct clients. And then I also am intentional about partnering with like the state of Minnesota.

00;15;44;20 – 00;16;01;23
Steve Fredlund

I’m a preferred vendor for a few different programs that they have for people that are either unemployed or they have a disability and they’re trying to start a business and so they work with me and the state then pays those bills so that they can get that level of service and then they’re blown away, right? Because normally they get somebody that doesn’t really know their stuff.

00;16;01;23 – 00;16;19;02
Steve Fredlund

If I’m being completely honest. And so it’s a way for me to get paid, but to also have the impact that I’m looking to have. So just trying to be really creative with how can I serve those people? And then some of that then involves, OK, I’ll do masterminds or I’ll do group coaching sessions where, you know, it makes everything even more affordable, right?

00;16;19;02 – 00;16;38;01
Steve Fredlund

Because now that cost is split a number of different ways. And so it’s about being creative. And I think the people that have been the most successful clients of mine are the ones that are hungry for it. And then we work together. Let’s just talk about how can we make this work where the numbers work on both sides of things, and those are the ones that that work the most because they’re the hungriest, right?

00;16;38;11 – 00;16;55;10
Steve Fredlund

The people that are just say, OK, what does it cost? No, thanks, or let’s just take it like honestly, even some of my clients that that are paying for me, that they’re not really creative about it. They’re not really getting the same value as the people that are just really hungry. So those are the folks I’m looking for that are saying I need some help.

00;16;55;19 – 00;16;56;11
Anika

Yeah.

00;16;56;11 – 00;16;56;20
Steve Fredlund

Mm hmm.

00;16;56;29 – 00;17;24;13
Anika

Wonderful. So what are some of the biggest aha moments that you’ve discovered since going out on your own? Because when I think actuary, I think a certain kind of personality. Right. And honestly, you come across as somebody I would not have thought that was your career. And I don’t normally would think of like somebody who’s that deep into the numbers as going into business coaching and having this heart and soul for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

00;17;24;25 – 00;17;42;07
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I’m coming into my own. I’m becoming the person I really am. And that’s what funny because, you know, I was an actuary. I consider myself a recovering actuary. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I always was in the actuarial circles, like I’m the Tony Robbins, right. Because I’m willing to talk like in terms of the real world.

00;17;42;07 – 00;17;55;24
Steve Fredlund

Like, I’m not I’m so introverted and those things. But, you know, whenever there was a conference or whatever, hey, Steve, I’ll speak at it. So I would do a fair amount of speaking in those things. And I always found those jobs that were more non-traditional, like because I just didn’t want to do the exact same thing day after day.

00;17;55;24 – 00;18;14;07
Steve Fredlund

So I always was kind of a square peg in a round hole, but that served me well through that career. But yeah, I think I always did things because that’s what I should do. And this is part of my happiness journey is, man, you know, you’re good at math. You should go to college, OK? Yeah. Hey, you’re good at math in college.

00;18;14;07 – 00;18;33;13
Steve Fredlund

You should be an actuary, OK? Hey, you know, you’re good at solving this problem. We’re going to make you a manager, OK? And so all of these decisions and I can’t complain because my life has been good, but it got me further and further away from who I truly am. And I think what I’m seeing now as a business coach, as a mentor, as some of these things like that’s who I am.

 

00;18;33;13 – 00;18;52;13
Steve Fredlund

Like, I just want to roll my sleeves of people, help them solve their problem and celebrate their breakthroughs. And those things so yeah, it’s sort of been a square peg in round hole. And I’ve always found those outlets for other things doing podcasting or whatever it might be. But now I feel like over the last four years, I’ve been giving myself permission to be who I really am.

00;18;52;24 – 00;19;04;28
Steve Fredlund

And again, I’m good at math that doesn’t go away. But this kind of stuff where I sit down with a small business owner say, What are your dreams? What are you trying to do? Like that stuff gives me life like, like no other.

00;19;05;10 – 00;19;24;19
Anika

It’s so obvious. And I love that you said you, you know, you’re coming into your own. You gave yourself permission because I think that is so much of what holds us back so often in our journeys as business owners and entrepreneurs, as we think we have to do things a certain way, we listen to other people. We don’t determine our own paths and listen to our own instincts.

00;19;24;19 – 00;19;42;01
Anika

And stuff like that might not be the right path for me, even though everybody else thinks it is. I have to do it this way. And, you know, I’ve experienced that. I’ve seen a lot of other people experience that where they go through life, start a career that can make them a lot of money and they go, Wait, this isn’t really-

00;19;42;11 – 00;19;42;18
Steve Fredlund

Yeah.

00;19;42;24 – 00;19;46;04
Anika

What I want to do. This isn’t going to satisfy my soul.

00;19;46;23 – 00;20;07;00
Steve Fredlund

I call it The Good Life Trap. And that’s that was sort of my journey 15 years ago. I had my life was great on paper, like amazing. Like I’d just been promoted my marriage was great. My kids relationship was great. Everything was great. I was doing work in Rwanda, like, everything was great, but somebody forgot to tell my heart, you know, and I felt trapped.

00;20;07;00 – 00;20;30;27
Steve Fredlund

I’d be walking across the bridge over the Mississippi River every day going, Why am I miserable? I have no right to be miserable. Which made me even more miserable because I felt like I had no right to be. So it’s sort of that good life trap. And I think as I assess that, as I’ve figured out what causes happiness and those things, it’s a lot of that is that misalignment that you’re talking about where this is an amazing life for somebody else.

00;20;31;06 – 00;20;48;16
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, you know, this isn’t this isn’t my life. This isn’t who I truly am. And so I think the journey to figuring those things out for me started with that moment on the bridge, talking to a mentor, saying, what is wrong with me? You know, that was my perspective. Something’s wrong with me because I’m ungrateful or something.

00;20;49;01 – 00;21;09;28
Steve Fredlund

But then sorting that out and realize what’s happening is I was just misaligned who I am, what I want, how I want to do things was just not lined up with the world that I actually had. And it was a good world, but it wasn’t who I was. I was living somebody else’s life. And I think just the realization there was part one and then part two was, OK, well, what do I need to change?

00;21;09;28 – 00;21;29;04
Steve Fredlund

If I want to change, I need to stay miserable and enjoy the fruits of that. Or I can decide I’m going to start making some changes and be countercultural and have everybody say what is wrong? You know, it takes you ten years to become an actuary and all these things and MBA and all these things. And then you leave that and be like, What are you crazy?

00;21;29;04 – 00;21;39;19
Steve Fredlund

You finally got to the point where you could actually, you know, cash in on those things. Yeah, but I’m miserable. So yeah, it takes intentionality once you figure those want to get clarity on who you are.

00;21;40;13 – 00;22;20;24
Anika

Definitely. And that’s actually one of my words this year is intentional. I want to make sure that everything I’m doing is intentional, that I’m really thinking things through. I think, you know, honestly, as because I emerged my company with another firm in January, but before that, my, my company really started like it blew up during the pandemic. And I wanted to do all these great things and make people full time employees rather than contractors, no matter where they lived until, you know, I didn’t realize, oh, but that means that I have to have certifications and different states because my team was all over the pandemic and oh, tax it like all the taxes and like

00;22;21;05 – 00;22;50;29
Anika

all the complications that I didn’t think through because I thought I was doing the right thing. Right. And so this year, I’m like, whatever I do, it might be it might be baby steps instead. But it’s going to be very intentional in how I move forward. So going back to you, finding yourself in your happy place, do you sometimes start working with a business owner and have to help them discover that for themselves that maybe they’re not doing the right business, maybe they’re meant to be doing something else?

00;22;51;24 – 00;23;05;28
Steve Fredlund

One hundred percent. Like, that is it and I think I drive people crazy at first because they’ll be like, Hey, I got this problem. I can’t figure out, you know, what, I should price my product at or my service or how I should grow and my All right, let’s talk about who you are and what you want out of business.

00;23;06;25 – 00;23;20;03
Steve Fredlund

What are you talking about? I need help with this. I’m like, well, if you want my help, this is the way I can help you. And it starts with asking those questions and getting that deep clarity around who are you and what do you want out of your business. And people think that’s an obvious answer. It’s not.

00;23;20;11 – 00;23;32;21
Steve Fredlund

You start asking questions like, I had somebody like sign up for like they want to do a six month coaching contract and we did a two hour session, and all I did was ask them questions about who they are, what they wanted. At the end of it, we looked at each other. We’re like, We don’t need to meet again.

00;23;32;26 – 00;23;33;25
Anika

Oh, my gosh.

00;23;33;27 – 00;23;49;27
Steve Fredlund

Because now all of the questions, all of the struggles, all the wrestling that they had, that they were trying to figure out what to do with their business, they were all answered once they figured out who they were and what they wanted out of their business, because that is it. So when you ask that question like that is what I love to do is I love to figure that out.

00;23;49;27 – 00;24;05;21
Steve Fredlund

Like, who are you really? What do you want on your business? Because what happens is people start a business a lot of times because they just don’t want a boss. Yes. Well, that’s maybe OK, but the problem is, what else do you want out of it? Because depending on what you want, I mean, do you want to make as much money as possible?

00;24;05;21 – 00;24;25;26
Steve Fredlund

Do you want to create an asset for your kids? You want have impact on your community? Do you want to have reputation and prestige? Do you want to scale? Do you want to have employees? Do you not want to have employees? Like how these things are like changes dramatically. How you build a business. You can still sell the same widget or the same service, but how you construct your business is so radically different.

00;24;26;05 – 00;24;42;23
Steve Fredlund

And if you don’t know what you actually want out of the business, you’re going to wake up one day and go, OK, I’m making money, but I hate it. I hate it. Should I just go get a job? Should I sell this? What should I do? And I think that’s why I love working with people of saying what do you really want out of this thing?

00;24;43;03 – 00;25;04;15
Anika

Well, and that’s the entrepreneur’s dilemma or the want to be entrepreneur’s dilemma is it’s often easier. It’s the grass is greener, right? When you’re an employee somewhere, you say, well, I could do this better. OK, but do you realize all of the other things that come with having a business, being responsible for every facet it’s not just what you’re really good at or what you’re passionate about.

00;25;04;28 – 00;25;20;21
Anika

You know, you might be an amazing baker and want to have a bakery, but you’re not just going to be able to bake all day you’re going to have to do the marketing, the sales, the accounting, you know, the overhead, like all of the other variables that come in to running a business that people don’t think about.

00;25;21;05 – 00;25;36;28
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, this is a preaching to the choir thing because I went through the same thing and it’s sort of a position myself kind of thing because I went through that like, OK, well, well, there’s going to be great, like people going to want to work with me, blah, blah, blah. Now I got to do sales. Terrible. I people I hate selling people like I hate sales.

00;25;36;28 – 00;25;55;04
Steve Fredlund

Like, I hate it with a passion because I’m not confident of talking about myself. Even though I know I can help people. I’m not the guy that’s going to go out there say, Hey, y’all need to work with me. Like, So how do I do sales? That’s congruent with my personality. Like, I hated that and then, yeah, all the finance, all the taxes, all the everything else that comes with that, that’s just part of the deal.

00;25;55;04 – 00;26;14;13
Steve Fredlund

So I think being honest with small business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs, what does this actually look like? What does it actually take? Because sometimes if you present that to them, they realize that, well, maybe, maybe I don’t need to own a small business. Maybe I need to find somebody that’s doing the kind of thing that it’s all that I want to do that likes the business part of it, and I become a partner of theirs.

00;26;14;24 – 00;26;32;03
Steve Fredlund

Maybe not as an employee, you know, maybe there’s some creative solution there where somebody else can do some of that stuff and I can really focus on what I do the best. So. But yeah, you have to you have to you have to, first of all, be aware that those are part of owning a business and then secondly decide, is that something that I’m OK with or not?

00;26;33;17 – 00;27;02;27
Anika

Well, I just think, you know, an easy way to do that is you sell your case studies the people that you’ve worked with. Right? So speaking of, I’d love to hear somebody that you really helped in their transformation, you know, and then somebody and it’s could be the same person or it could be two different companies, somebody who achieved a level of success they didn’t know was possible by working with you and by getting that clarity around who they are, what they want to do, and how to really move forward in their business.

00;27;03;14 – 00;27;18;11
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I’d say I give you a couple of examples. One is somebody that really kind of found their life back when we worked together, and that was actually the client that had that clarity session because they were trying to do everything. They were just trying to do everything. And I just ask them, what do you actually want out of this thing?

00;27;18;26 – 00;27;35;23
Steve Fredlund

Well, in five years I’d like to retire and move to the Bahamas. Well, right now you’re heading I mean, really, that’s kind of where I came to. So now they’re adding on all of these new things with all of this overhead, all this bureaucracy. And in five years, it’s not going to be a sale, a marketable sale, like, well, this doesn’t make sense.

00;27;35;23 – 00;27;56;27
Steve Fredlund

So how can we, you know, help them get to the point where what can we do right now to to create an asset that you can sell in five years rather than adding all these pieces on? How can we build up your brand? How can we structure things so that it’s marketable? How can we just maybe get your name off of this thing and rebrand this as something else so that when you try to sell it, somebody’s not going to be like, well, the whole brand is your name.

00;27;56;27 – 00;28;12;18
Steve Fredlund

Let’s start to start to move that position so that it’s, you know, Acme Incorporated that has all the stuff, and you could actually just sell it and or keep a percentage of it or however you want to do that. And so what that did for them is it started giving them the ability to actually work on their five year plan, their vision.

00;28;12;22 – 00;28;31;27
Steve Fredlund

What’s it going to look like when we move to the Bahamas? You know, all of those things, whether they do that or not, that was their dream. And so for them, it just gave them freedom and gave them actually more intentional direction on where they wanted to go rather than they were getting further and further into the complexity and like, you’re going to unwind all of this in five years, whatever, you know, if it’s a 20 year thing.

00;28;31;27 – 00;28;52;28
Steve Fredlund

Sure. But five years probably not. So that was one. The other one was actually during COVID. Somebody that I’ve got who does roofs, right. He’s a he’s a roof- puts on roofs of houses. And he was really struggling because, first of all, lumber, all the supplies, the cost went through the roof. Really hard to find workers.

00;28;52;28 – 00;29;11;06
Steve Fredlund

Right. He had tried to find labor to do these roofs and then also the regulatory environment got really difficult. Most of his work was done through insurance companies. And so, like, you know, a hail storm would come through and he’d be able to get roofs and work with insurance companies. Well, a lot of the a lot of that stuff changed, made it more difficult and got paid less and all these things.

00;29;11;06 – 00;29;24;17
Steve Fredlund

So he was just like, what do I do? Like, he was ready to give up. Do I go get a job? Like, what do I do here? And so we said, well, let’s just let’s just take a breath here. Let’s start meeting together and just start figuring out what is actually going on here. And then what do you actually like to do?

00;29;24;17 – 00;29;40;23
Steve Fredlund

And then we just sort of brainstorming solutions. OK, so if it wasn’t insurance companies, who else could you work with? You know, if you had trouble getting staff, what else could you do if supply was, you know, we started really digging in, like, let’s just get creative on this thing. And what ended up was- well not to give away his whole secret.

00;29;40;23 – 00;29;58;22
Steve Fredlund

But, you know, what we found was, OK, there is a market out there of people who are very wealthy, who have lake homes that re-roof their homes probably more often than they need to because they actually like the different shingles and the appearance all these different things. Right now, they’re building they’re building additions and they need roofs and all this stuff.

00;29;58;23 – 00;30;12;05
Steve Fredlund

And money is not really an issue for them if they don’t want to overpaid by a ton. But it’s not really an issue and they’re not reliant on insurance. Right, because they’re just direct paying these people. And so actually they’re going to pay them more and pay on time.

00;30;12;05 – 00;30;12;25
Anika

Absolutely.

00;30;12;26 – 00;30;36;20
Steve Fredlund

And so we’ve shifted their market to be primarily that where let’s actually branded this thing. We’re now you are a terrible luxury home roof installer and renovator and so his business became that way and they would pay. And, you know, now he could have enough money to pay people more so he could get the workers the actual cost of supplies you know, was embedded in the cost that the homeowner was now paying.

00;30;37;03 – 00;30;54;25
Steve Fredlund

And so he could absorb those or he wouldn’t have to absorb those that actually got absorbed into the quote. And we had him actually start quoting rather than just sort of a 1 fixed cost, actually breaking it down, saying, here’s the labor, here’s the cost of the supplies. And so they could see that those things can fluctuate. But then, you know, his profit would be would be more fixed.

00;30;55;03 – 00;31;09;23
Steve Fredlund

And so we moved him in that direction. And now it’s great. Now he’s cranking there. And now what will happen is as things come back, he can actually have diversification in his thing. Now he’s got a couple of different things. If the insurance stuff changes or if he wants to invest there or labor changes or whatever.

00;31;10;01 – 00;31;28;23
Steve Fredlund

So now he has diversification there. So it is more of just getting creative and saying, all right, well, what’s actually going on here? What is the real core problem and what other possible solutions are out there? Who, you know, who exists out there where money’s not an object so you can pay everybody and pay your supplies and you don’t have to deal with insurance.

00;31;29;07 – 00;31;47;20
Steve Fredlund

And we started doing that. And we’re in Minnesota, land of 10,000 Lakes. There’s a ton of lake homes, there’s a lot of executives that either work or they’re retired here that have these homes. And doggone it, they don’t want it to look better than their neighbors. And so that’s part of the branding, right? I mean, have your been it doesn’t work for me, but it works for them.

00;31;47;20 – 00;32;00;10
Steve Fredlund

You know, have your home may you’re let your home be the envy of your neighborhood. Let it be the envy of the lake. You know, people want that. I want to be the envy of the lake. When people are driving around their pontoon, I want them to look at my house. They go, wow, look at that one.

00;32;01;00 – 00;32;05;23
Steve Fredlund

Well, great roof is going to give you that. So that’s right.

00;32;06;01 – 00;32;13;08
Anika

I love that. That’s so creative. To help him reframe his entire business.

00;32;13;27 – 00;32;28;24
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, because he you know, I think he was thinking he’s in the insurance roof replacement business, right? That’s not the business that you’re in. I mean, it’s a business that’s a model you have, but you’re in a business that’s different than that. And so start thinking more broadly.

00;32;28;28 – 00;32;38;14
Anika

Yeah. Mm hmm. Wonderful. What’s some other advice that you would give to somebody who’s thinking about starting out or is on their journey of being a small, small business?

00;32;38;27 – 00;32;59;14
Steve Fredlund

Clarity, clarity, clarity. I’m a big, like, the Einstein quote where he says, If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I spend 55 minutes on the problem, 5 minutes on the solution like that. It’s just clarity. OK, you want to start a small business? Why? Let’s just start there. Why do you want to start a small business? There’s so many reasons.

00;32;59;27 – 00;33;14;23
Steve Fredlund

And if your answer is just, well, it seems like the right thing to do. Well, maybe it is. But really, why do you want to be your own boss? Do you want to have financial freedom? You want to make a ton of money? Do you want to work less hours? Do you want to leave a legacy? Do you want to impact in the community?

00;33;14;23 – 00;33;32;14
Steve Fredlund

Like what do you really what are you really trying to do? Let’s forget about the widget. Lets forget about the service, like internally motivated. What motivates you? Let’s just start there and then let’s start from there. Let’s build on what that what that program looks like. But I think that’s my key advice. Who are you? What are you trying to do?

00;33;32;22 – 00;33;45;07
Steve Fredlund

Where are you trying to go? How do you want to get there? Who do you want to get there with? Like, really lock those things in. And I think a lot of small business owners are analytical like me. So we want to go down the road of strategy and pricing and all those things. There’s a time for that.

00;33;45;07 – 00;34;00;23
Steve Fredlund

But if you’re not aligned with who you really are, you’re small business what’s going to happen is going to wake up in two, five, ten years and say, even if you’re successful, say, this isn’t even what I like to do, but I’m stuck. I’m stuck now. So let’s do that work on the front end.

00;34;01;11 – 00;34;21;13
Anika

I love that. It’s interesting because from the marketing and PR perspective, it’s often a journey that we take our clients down as well in a different way of, OK, we need to know who are you? What, what is your why, who is your customer? What are the different you know, people you’re going to be speaking to? And how do we message that?

00;34;21;13 – 00;34;51;09
Anika

What are the different messages for the different audiences? Because you’re going to speak to journalists a little bit different than you are going to speak to customers. And you’re going to speak to potential strategic partners or investors or the bank or whatever. And so we really need to have that information so that we can do our job better and that we know when you’re looking at it in integrated marketing, you know, how are you going to show up on social media versus in an article or on a podcast or on your website or in a newsletter?

00;34;51;17 – 00;34;57;27
Anika

And they all have to weave together to tell a narrative, but they all might have slightly different pieces of that puzzle.

00;34;58;15 – 00;35;16;14
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, and that’s why I love- You brand experts. I mean, I’ve the last five years I’ve learned so much from people that do brand and I have such a great appreciation for what you do and I think a lot of times we start business. I think the branding stuff should almost be the first thing we do, like before you even figure out what your business is, your widget now you know everyone.

00;35;16;14 – 00;35;31;18
Steve Fredlund

So I want to parallel but I think those questions that brand people ask about who you are, what makes you tick, what makes you come alive, how do you want to be perceived, how do you want, you know, how do other people perceive you and how do you want to be perceived and how do you want to communicate and what’s your posture to the world like?

00;35;31;18 – 00;35;47;07
Steve Fredlund

All of those things are so critical and I think like those are almost most important piece. Like if you figure that out as somebody looking to start a business, if you’re like, how are you perceived in who and how do you want to be perceived? Like from there then we can figure out the product. Then we can figure out what the business is.

00;35;47;07 – 00;35;53;20
Steve Fredlund

But a lot of that is so huge. So those things are done in parallel. And yeah, I think I’m, I’m grabbing a lot of the things from brand experts and

00;35;53;20 – 00;35;54;16
Anika

I love it!

00;35;54;16 – 00;35;55;07
Steve Fredlund

Embedding those.

00;35;55;09 – 00;35;55;24
Anika

Keep on going!

00;35;56;22 – 00;36;13;13
Steve Fredlund

Who are you? It’s who are you at your core? Like, what’s your core identity? How are you currently perceived? How do you want to be perceived? And then that is how you’re going to present to the world. Now what is the product? And those sorts of things is almost not really, but it’s almost secondary to some of those things.

00;36;13;13 – 00;36;34;02
Anika

Yeah. Yeah. I mean and especially in today’s world, people want authenticity and you know, they really want your story. And that goes back to why people go to work every day or why people buy the products they do all of that. It’s the same thing you have to have some motivation to do.

00;36;34;03 – 00;36;55;19
Steve Fredlund

But I learned the hard way about branding because that was not really on my radar when I started my business, you know, four years ago. And so now I’ve been working with some brand people trying to sort of retrofit brand into it. And it’s awkward. It’s caused me to change how I do things. It’s caused me to change some of my services, my programs, because of my brand.

00;36;56;14 – 00;37;05;24
Steve Fredlund

And so I wish I would have encountered somebody like you four years ago to help me think that stuff through. So if you’re listening, Dr. Monica- ANIKA, Anika! Ah dang it.

00;37;06;14 – 00;37;25;12
Anika

Well, we’re going to yeah, we’re going to be talking about some things after this interview because I’m like, I have some other ideas. And I often get approached by small businesses who probably aren’t ready for marketing or PR necessarily. They really need to talk to somebody like you first. And they need to find somebody who they can afford honestly.

00;37;25;12 – 00;37;26;12
Anika

As well, right? So-

 

00;37;26;24 – 00;37;43;13
Steve Fredlund

I mean, all I mean, what I do is I’ve got a 30 minute free session for anybody that wants any of your people. 60 minutes. That’s fine. I’m not a sales pitch guy either. So if anybody, you or anybody wants to set up an hour, I mean, I’m, I’m in this thing to try to help small business. I know that sounds like cliche marketing.

00;37;43;13 – 00;37;59;27
Steve Fredlund

Whatever is not like this is, this is what I do. And so, you know, people are listening to this. They want an hour. I’ll give them an hour. And then what I do, I’ll just give you I’ll pull back the onion. I don’t care. What I do is I have something called the Prove It program, which is just a fancy way of saying don’t pay for something unless I prove that there’s value.

00;38;00;07 – 00;38;00;26
Anika

Oh, my gosh.

00;38;00;29 – 00;38;15;09
Steve Fredlund

So then so we do the hour for free and then we say, all right, up to 10 hours, I’ll give you a 10% of my cost. 10% of what I cost 10 hours. If you want to pay me more at the end, if there’s great value, pay me more. That’s great. But there’s no obligation. And so that’s how I do things I would like.

00;38;15;09 – 00;38;27;24
Steve Fredlund

I want to prove the value. And then at that, after that, it’s like 50% of my rates for small business owners. Like I tried to make it as effective as I can. I’m going to do this as many people as I can. I’ve got a number of people doing it. I’ll do as many as I can fit in.

00;38;27;24 – 00;38;40;19
Steve Fredlund

But that’s not that’s just that’s not sort of my style. Like I should not get paid unless the values they’re right. That’s how I’d like the world to work, frankly. Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. But that’s what I want.

00;38;40;19 – 00;38;59;10
Anika

This is so refreshing. I really appreciated this. And one of when you were talking about your client stories, something funny happened. I just thought to myself for the first time in my entire life, I actually want to make a vision board for what I want to do in the next five years. I’ve never wanted to have. I was like, I’m not one of those people.

00;38;59;10 – 00;39;10;13
Anika

I don’t like sitting there and cutting out things in putting- and I’m like, Oh, you just inspired me to what to think in a different way and to actually do that part of the work. And-

00;39;10;23 – 00;39;24;09
Steve Fredlund

You know, I mean, it’s your word, your word of the year, if that’s your word of the year. One of the words of your year. Yeah, yeah. Vision boring is a great way to do it. What? What does that look like? You know, if things work, what does it look like? I think we always ask the question, what if this doesn’t work?

00;39;24;29 – 00;39;39;03
Steve Fredlund

And that’s a fair question, right? From a risk perspective, what if I do this and it doesn’t work? But what if it does work? Yeah, what is it? What is the world look like? Man, let’s go. And then let’s start making decisions that that line up, that.

00;39;39;24 – 00;39;54;08
Anika

So what is next for you? I think you have your hands pretty full. But is there another a new program you’re offering or because I know you mentioned a number of ways that people can engage with you and your services and small businesses.

00;39;54;13 – 00;40;12;07
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I’m really, you know, I’ve been doing so many different things, but I’m really doubling down on the coaching piece of it and coaching and mentoring is sort of there’s a difference there. But, you know, consulting, you know, if it comes, it comes the speaking stuff. If it comes, it comes, that’s great. I’m really doubling down on the coaching and mentoring because that’s what I really love.

00;40;12;26 – 00;40;34;00
Steve Fredlund

And so that’s really what I’m focused on is these sorts of programs to get small business owners to realize the value of having an external voice, a coach, a mentor, whether it’s me or somebody else, because I think that’s a big gap right now. As small business owners, I go to chamber meetings, I talk to people and they just they don’t think that the coaches can help them because, oh, you’ve never left the house.

00;40;34;00 – 00;40;53;03
Steve Fredlund

How can you help my business? Well, I don’t need to run a house to actually help you with business principles. And getting clarity on what you’re trying to do. But I think there’s that that thing. So I’m trying to overcome that hurdle and you have to get people there. So it’s I’m trying to do more coaching, more mentoring, and the rest of it was just that if it happens, it happens so. Yeah.

00;40;53;22 – 00;41;03;24
Anika

And people can find you is your for your you know, your website is your name. What about your job? Are you on social media as well? Do you-

00;41;03;24 – 00;41;23;07
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, so there’s a couple of websites. So Stevefredlund.com is sort of that’s about me who I am in the world for speaking clients. That’s great. It also links to my kind of my business site which is smallsmallbusiness.com. So small small business dot com that’s got the prove it program. That’s got how you can set up meetings with me and it’s got more information on some of the things that we do.

00;41;23;15 – 00;41;42;01
Steve Fredlund

And then, you know, social media, I’m present everywhere, but I’m most active on LinkedIn so I do something called Steve’s Daily Stool is it’s intentional of people, like you know what that implies? Yeah, but you know what? I’m trying to be who I am which is I’m I try to be a little fun. So I do these little videos every weekday little, you know, two to five minute videos.

00;41;42;20 – 00;41;46;02
Steve Fredlund

So connect out there. LinkedIn is a great way to, to stay connected.

00;41;46;13 – 00;41;53;27
Anika

Fantastic! And I always like to ask I don’t always do it, but I’d like to ask you, do you have a favorite quote?

00;41;55;12 – 00;42;13;26
Steve Fredlund

I will be I say when I use there, I kind of like that, but I’d say it’s a paraphrase because I could give you the whole thing, the whole thing. But it’s too long. So it’s from from Alice in Wonderland actually. There’s this great exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. And, you know, it goes back and forth, back and forth.

00;42;13;26 – 00;42;31;29
Steve Fredlund

But the way it paraphrases is the cat basically tells Alice, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. And I just I’m such a firm believer in that, like, you can work hard and scramble or whatever, and if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter what direction you go. It really doesn’t matter what strategy you have because it’s all random, right?

00;42;31;29 – 00;42;40;18
Steve Fredlund

Yeah. But if you know where you’re going, then you can choose the right road, the right strategies to get you there. So know where you’re trying to go. Yeah.

00;42;40;20 – 00;42;44;14
Anika

Very good words of wisdom. Is there anything else you’d like to leave with our audience today?

00;42;44;26 – 00;43;06;11
Steve Fredlund

No, I just I would say chase your dreams, you know, and. Yeah, OK. The last thing I’ll say with your audience is your dreams don’t have to be other people’s dreams who you are what you want. Let it be profoundly and authentically who you are. Don’t let the world should on you. I didn’t swear there. Don’t we let ourselves be should on all the time.

00;43;06;11 – 00;43;24;18
Steve Fredlund

You should, I should we should, should, should, should, should, should. And don’t, you know, do whatever people expect of you. You know your mom expects you to do this. Your spouse expects- like, this is your life. And you can live it the way that you want. You have more agency, more control than you realize. I wish I had known that 20 years ago, but really just this is your life.

00;43;24;18 – 00;43;31;09
Steve Fredlund

What is your dream? What do you really want? Get clear on that and then take the right next to nice.

00;43;31;22 – 00;43;55;13
Anika

And I think that is a great end cap to this to this discussion. Steve, thank you so much for coming on. I will put your website in the show notes and I highly encourage people to reach out actually I’m going to tell some people to reach out to you who I know could love it, could absolutely get a lot of value out of working with you.

00;43;55;19 – 00;44;02;11
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I think in an hour we can really crush a lot of stuff and really help you get some clarity or at least put your point in the right direction.

00;44;02;21 – 00;44;15;00
Anika

Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you to our audience for coming back for another week of Your Brand Amplified. And we were here with smallsmallbusiness.com’s Steve Fredlund. I really appreciate you coming on and I’ll be back again next week.

00;44;15;00 – 00;44;16;11
Steve Fredlund

Thanks

00;44;16;11 – 00;44;23;03
Anika

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