SFR 255: Alex Charfen’s Essential Systems For Every Business – Stephen Larsen

SFR 255: Alex Charfen’s Essential Systems For Every Business

Jun 28th, 2019 anchorwave

Alex Charfen is one of the very select few coaches I continually plug into…

I have wanted to get this individual on here for quite some time, and Alex Charfen has been one of the reasons why my stuff is blowing up so much.

I have learned that I need to listen to less people, and I’m very, very picky on those that I choose to dive deeply with…

  • So for marketing and sales, I’ve really dove deep with Russell, (obviously) and you all know that.
  • For systems and business systems, I’ve dove very deeply with Alex Charfenhe’s the other coach that I pay a lot to and listen to as well.

…and I have other various ones that are very carefully selected… and I don’t listen to ANYBODY else!

I’m extremely careful about the content that I consume – so that I can spend most of my time just moving, rather than gathering MORE information…

Alex Charfen content

which I don’t think many of us need more of.

So anyway, I’m excited for you guys to understand more of why Alex Charfen, for me, has been so key…

So I asked him to come on the show and to teach a little bit more about the systems that all businesses need, regardless of whatever you’re in.

A lot of these are the systems that a brand new entrepreneur needs when they finally get that revenue coming in.

…and then there are systems that he creates for those who have an existing business and are ready to scale.

Alex answers the questions…

  1. How do you know if you should be scaling or not?
  2. What are the five reasons why most companies fail to scale?

Alex Charfen questions

If you guys like this interview, please reach out to him, (he did not need to do this) and say “Thank You!”

At the very end, we have a special little thing for you, and so we’re excited!

Boom, what’s going on everyone? This is Steve Larsen, welcome back to Sales Funnel Radio – we’re really excited to have you guys here.

I’m with one of my good friends, who’s become an amazing friend and definitely a mentor… I would call and consider him a brother as well.

I want to introduce everybody to Alex Charfen.

Introducing Alex Charfen

Before I really bring Alex on, I just want you all to understand, Alex Charfen was one of the guys that helped me understand why I am who I am… and that, it’s okay… and helped me lean into that.

I talk to you a lot about leaning into your obstacles, leaning into those things that have been crappy in your life

How to be successful in business with obstacles

… because they end up becoming your superpower.

You all know my story of going to the first Funnel Hacking Live, Alex Charfen was one of the first speakers, and I took so many notes…

I ran back home, I showed my wife and she goes “That’s why you act the way you do?” And I was like YES, it’s because of this guy!”

He had a crazy deep gravelly voice and I loved it. He was the man!” …and I’m so excited to bring him on the show here:

Guys, please welcome Alex Charfen, “How you doing, man?”

Steve Larsen interviews Alex Charfen

ALEX: Steve, it is so good to be here with you, man. Thank you, and I echo your sentiments completely, and I consider you a brother as well, man.

STEVE: Oh thank you so much, thank you so much.

You know it was like two weeks ago; me and my wife were chatting about your material and going on through it, and she goes “Oh yeah, I have to remember this is how your brain kind of works.”

Alex Charfen brain works

I was like, “Really naturally, yeah! You should really know that” so we’ll go back through your stuff.

You know, I’ve got that Capitalist Pig shirt that I wear all the time, but I really want one that just says, “Charfen will explain,” or something like that, you know what I mean?

That should be the next shirt…

Alex Charfen will explain

So much of what I do in this world just is NOT explainable without you.

ALEX: Yeah, it’s unique, you know, Stephen…

I think when you characterize it that way, so much of what you do is different than what anybody in the world would ever expectand that’s what I’ve found from the day I met you.

I think I walked up to you and said something like:

“Hey man, I think we should talk. You’re a really unique entrepreneur and I don’t think you understand just how unique.”

Alex Charfen calls Steve Larsen unique

STEVE: I remember you said that.

ALEX: Or something like that.

STEVE: Yeah I remember, and I felt like, you know in the Matrix when he’s talking to that lady with the spoon bend… I felt like I was talking to her, and I was like:

“What does he see in me? What are you looking at?” You know, and “Please dissect me!”

Dissect Alex Charfen

So anyway, I really am pumped for you to be here and just massive incredible love.

You have to understand, your name; it’s NOT just a noun, it’s a verb in my vocabulary.

People are like “How did you do that?” “I just Charfenized it, baby!”

I say ‘Charfenation’ all the time.

  • I was hanging out with the other ‘Charfenites.’
  • I’m going over the ‘Charfenation.’
  • “How did you do that?” “Oh, I ‘Charfenized’ it, baby!”

Alex Charfen verb

Anyways, you’re very much a verb in my vocabulary, and with my family… so it’s really quite an honor to have you on, it really is.

ALEX: Thank you Stephen, it’s an honor to be here man, this is awesome.

STEVE: This is really cool. Well hey, I wanna just start right out and just, I wanted to ask…

My audience has heard a lot about you. I’ve talked about you a lot because there’s so much that ‘veI learned.

Just recently, I was going through some of my old notes, from two years ago, from one of your events, and I was like “Gosh, you’re so right, this is so cool!”

It really has created additional leverage for what I’m trying to do.

Alex Charfen leverage

It works, it’s real, and I want everyone to listen to this and listen to what Alex has to say here.

Understand that *this* is how I’ve been doing what I’m doing.

I learned marketing and a lot of sales from Russell… but how to have a life, systemize, and make my business an asset from Alex Charfen.

Alex Charfen book

So, anyway, could you just tell us how you got into this? ‘Cause I know you weren’t always…

I mean I call it entrepreneurial optimization, I mean it’s really what you do – it’s not just the systems, but like:

  • I’m wearing glasses now
  • I’m drinking more water than I ever have in my life
  • I’m doing all sorts of stuff I never would do, because of you

Alex Charfen changed Steve Larsen

How did you get into this?

ALEX: – You know Stephen, I think if the question is, “How did I become an entrepreneur?”

I didn’t find entrepreneurship, it found me.

This was really the only thing I ever felt comfortable doing in my life.

Ever since I was a little kid, I was always the kid that was different than everybody else, crazy socially awkward, like what you see today…

I don’t try to be socially awkward, it’s just natural.

  • I was always different than the other kids
  • I didn’t really get along
  • I had trouble in school
  • All the systems in the world told me I was broken.

… and then, when I was eight years old, my family went through kind of a financial downturn; my father lost a company.

Alex Charfen childhood

He didn’t go bankrupt, but he went really close, and to make money for the family we were selling stuff in a swap meet on the weekends.

I remember going to the swap meet for the first time and standing behind a folding card table, and a woman walked up, and I sold her a pen that had an LCD clock in it…

(Like that was big time for 1981 or whatever or ’78 or ’79, or whatever it was).

Stephen I can remember thinking at that moment, “Holy crap, I’m good at this. This is something I’m NOT terrible at.”

Something Alex Charfen is good at

… because up until that point, I really hadn’t found anything where it was like, “Hey, that was good.”

It was always’ “Almost got it, kid. You don’t suck as bad as you did yesterday.”

I was the kid who consistently got *MOST IMPROVED* all the time, ’cause it’s the award you give to ‘the kid who sucked the worst!’

And when that woman walked up, it was like “Hey, this is something I can do over and over again.”

And the more that I worked with my Dad, and the more that I experienced business, I loved it.

The world is so random, but when you get into the world of business there are rules.

…. there’s an outcome.

People are in it together, and you actually have to work together to accomplish and achieve.

Business system outcome

… if everybody cares about the outcome, it’ll happen.

And so *this* is where I feel comfortable.

You know, it’s funny, when I was a kid I used to create businesses, create business plans, write out time cards and all this other stuff, and as an adult, I thought that was like ‘the weirdest thing.’

I would reflect back and think like, “Man, I was such a weird kid.”

Alex Charfen daughters

Now, that’s exactly what my daughters do.

My daughter this morning was at the kitchen table for three hours writing out a schematic for a water park she wants to build one day.


ALEX: And you are who you are, and I think, from the very beginning, this is who I’ve been.

STEVE: That’s amazing, and when did you decide to make a business around this and go actually help other entrepreneurs, like myself, who need these systems?

ALEX: Well, the business that I have today, we started…

So let me give you a little brief history.

So in my twenties, I was a consultant, and you know, a lot of people ask about that.

I did some consulting at a very high level at the Fortune 500 level…

I built a very large business that almost killed me.

And so I can tell the story really good…

I can give you all the highlights and make it sound great:

  • $250,000,000 company
  • I’ve worked with Fuji and TDK and Memorex and Logitech, and all international business.

Or I can tell you the other side of that coin…

  • I had a $250,000,000 company
  • I made less than $2,000,000 a year
  • my margins were razor thin
  • I had a bleeding ulcer
  • I was probably over 300 pounds
  • STEVE: Wow.

Alex Charfen history

ALEX: And so when I got out of that business, I wanted to do something completely different.

So in my early thirties, I got into real estate, and we were taken out by the real estate market in 2007.

Cadey and I introduced our first information product, and that’s how we got into this world.

How Alex Charfen got into the info product world

We created a product called the Certified Distressed Property Expert Designation.

In 2007 we were bankrupt, we introduced our product at the end of the year:

  • In 2008 we did $500,000 in sales
  • The next year we did $7,000,000
  • The next year we did $10,000,000
  • Over the course of the life of that product, we did about $70,000,000

We went from bankruptcy to liquid millionaires in a year.

In 2013, the US Treasury came to our office and did a broadcast with us, where they said that, according to their research…

Our company had pulled forward the foreclosure crisis five to seven years

….so it was intense.

STEVE: Oh, yeah…

ALEX: Really intense!

And what happened was, right around 2011…

A lot of our clients who were buying our product wanted help growing their business; so I took all of the stuff that I used to use as a consultant; the systems and structure Cadey and I used to run our business, and we started training it.

And so since 2011, we’ve been training it in classes/ in courses.

In 2017, we started the products that we have today. So now we have :

  • An entry-level coaching program called Billionaire Code Accelerator – for people who are doing over 300k a year
  • A high-level coaching program called The Billionaire Code Grow and Scalefor people doing over 3,000,000 a year.

Alex Charfen coaching programs

STEVE: That’s awesome! That’s so cool.

ALEX: Yeah it is the most fun I’ve ever had, Stephen…

It’s like every day, I wake up and here’s what I get to do:

I get to play in this playground with game-changing entrepreneurs that are starting businesses that are doing things that are just unreal.

Alex Charfen on stage

…and our systems, our structures are kind of the backbone for how they’re doing things.

So on a daily basis, me and everyone on my team, wake up knowing that we are helping the game-changers change the world, and we recruit people who want to do that…

We recruit for people who are passionate about our mission…

Everyone on my team feels like their life’s mission is being fulfilled through being in this business right now.

It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

STEVE: That’s incredible, and I can tell everyone else who’s listening and watching this now, it’s exactly as he says it.

I think I’ve been to three of your events now, and they have just been life-changing.

I go through and it gives structure to the idea, but then, also, how I behave against the idea. So I can actually go in and breathe; I can live.

I watched my Dad create this awesome company when I was a young boy, but it took him too.

But everyone does that, it’s super natural – so you to go in and…

  • Remove the entrepreneur
  • Create systems
  • Create processes and procedures, and people that actually push forward their vision even further.

… it’s incredible.

How to be successful in business CEO

I know it’s not magical, but it feels magical, to me! I’m like “Oh my gosh!”

I’ve actually had a tab open with your course open for like the last month and I’ll just dive into another video, and I’m like “Oh my gosh! Back to the drawing board, that was so good!”

And I go back to it again and again and again… it’s just always up, everybody who’s listening to me, it’s always up.

That’s really what’s teaching me how to run a company, rather than ‘me’ being the company, and I’ve loved that.

*Just so powerful*

I wanted to ask you kind of a key question here, and it’s a question that I actually get asked a lot…

People come through my programs, I’ll help them make money. They go and make a lot of cash, and it’s awesome… but then after that, like what do you do?

What business system do you create

What are the first systems that you find that new entrepreneurs with a sizeable amount of cash should actually go create first?

What are those first few moves?

ALEX: You know I think I definitely want to share a couple of systems Stephen, but first, I want to just share a thought process.

..and this is a tough thought process for most entrepreneurs to take on, and it’s interesting ’cause I’ve watched you go through this shift too, right? ‘

Cause at the beginning, (and I just want everyone to know)…

When I met Stephen Larsen, he was ready to take on the entire world solo!

How to be successful in business solo

STEVE: Yeah.

ALEX: Like all alone, right?

And here’s the thought process…

After you start making money, the next thing to ask yourself is:

  • How do I sustain this?
  • How do I make it real?
  • How do I make it last a long time?
  • How do I make it so that I’m not the only driver here?

when you get to the point where the momentum you’re creating on your own isn’t enough, and believe me, we all get there…

Like I know that if you’re watching me, watching Stephen, you’re one of those entrepreneurs… and in the back of your mind, you have this crazy voice that has always told you:

  • You’re meant for more
  • You’re gonna do more
  • You’re gonna change the world
  • You’re gonna make a massive impact

… and if you’ve always felt that, then there’s a shift you have to make in your thinking.

Because here’s the issue for people like us, I call it the Entrepreneurs Dilemma.

For people like us…

We need far more help than the average person to reach our full destination, but any request for help or support that we have to make, leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed.

Alex Charfen Entrepreneurs Dilemma

Stephen, you with me?

STEVE: Yes, yes, yes, yes, 100%!

ALEX: And so here’s the shift…

We have to realize that if we’re gonna change the world, that is a group activity, and leadership’s a contact sport.

So we have to wake up to the fact that when we start to:

  • Build a team
  • Create a structure
  • Pour into the people around us
  • Invest in those people
  • Make them important
  • Build relationships with them

…. we will build the company that we have always wanted.

That’s the only way it’s ever been done.

Business system myth

The myth of the solopreneur who’s changed the world is a myth – it’s a joke.

STEVE: So true

ALEX: It’s one of the most damaging things out there in the entrepreneurial world today.

Because the fact is…

Show me anyone that looks like they changed the world on their own, and I will show you a massive team behind them.

STEVE: So true!

There’s this idea that gets pushed around now, and it’s like, “I’m gonna go and be this person that does all this stuff. I’m the gift to the world…”

World changing business system

…and it’s like “Okay….” but you can’t do that on your own.

In the last six months, I have begun to experience and feel burn-out.

ALEX: Yeah.

STEVE: I have never in my life experienced that, and it’s been hard. The only way I’ve been able to create leverage is by listening to what you say and create those teams.

ALEX: Yeah. Well then, Stephen, that’s the thing…

Here’s the deal I want everybody to understand this:

If you’re an entrepreneur, you have a job, and that job is to…

  1. Stay out of burn-out
  2. Lower pressure and noise in your life
  3. Increase the protection and support that you have around you.

Because if you don’t work with that equation to constantly lower the noise and increase the support, lower the noise, increase the support…

Here’s what ends up happening…

How to be successful in business and not burn out

You are in an equation that doesn’t work.

… and it’s not like anyone can come and argue against me here because this is like gravity.

This is like you know the facts of life, this is like taxes. We’re all gonna pay ’em. There’s no way to argue against this, you’re going to lose.

And so in that situation, as an entrepreneur, you have to be really cautious about doing too much yourself, and about loading yourself up, because here’s our instinct…

(You know you have this, I have this, we all have it.)

If there’s something to be done, the first thought we have is, “How do I just get it done without telling anyone else,” right? Oh yeah!


ALEX: And it’s like “I’m gonna conquer!”

STEVE: Freedom baby!

ALEX: We forget that humans are tribal animals, man.

We are all terrible at most things. Let’s get real…

If you’re good at a lot of things then you have a liability because you’re not gonna be able to choose what you shouldn’t do.

I’m very fortunate, I suck at most everything, and that’s like an honest reality.

Anyone on my team will tell you like “Oh man, don’t let Alex fill out a form, use the calendar, “send emails. We keep him out of all of our systems.”

Seriously my team actually knows when I have a password for a system and they monitor me using it, ’cause I’m so bad at that stuff.

But on that same token, I know what I’m good at.

  • I’m good at vision
  • I’m good at where we’re gonna go
  • I’m good at putting the frameworks together
  • I’m good at assembling a team

What is Alex Charfen good at

… and by doing those things, we can grow a massive organization and have a massive impact.

So for every entrepreneur, the key is to figure out what you’re good at and do that to the exception of everything else

… and it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do as an entrepreneur.

Here’s why…

Alex Charfen the hardest thing you'll ever do

The second you start doing that you feel like you’re being egotistical. You feel like you’re being self-serving.

But here’s the fact, when you drive your business to get easier for you it will grow like crazy.

But driving your business to get easier for you will feel like you’re doing the wrong thing.

It happens all the time.

There’s a discussion right now on our Facebook group, one of the CEOs in our group made a post, and I’m paraphrasing, but she said something like :

“As I offload and reduce discomfort and get a team around me, I’m feeling less and less significant, am I doing this right?”

How to make a business system right

And my answer was “Yes! You’re absolutely doing this right. That’s exactly how it’s gonna feel!”

Because we need to attach significance to the total contribution, NOT to your day-to-day activities.

STEVE: Mmmm, that’s powerful.

You know it’s funny I was It reminds me of …

You know when I first got to ClickFunnels, it was just he and I. There wasn’t like a copywriter, a videographer… it was just he and I!

So we did every single role in getting these funnels out, occasionally there was an exception where he’d go “Oh someone’s really good at X, Y, and Z,” but then, by the time I left…

ALEX: – Probably design or something… but everything else was you guys?

STEVE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, right! I knew enough Indesign and Photoshop, I was the one doing it most of the time… and doing first copy rounds, and it like, it was nuts!

Crazy business system

But by the time I left, it was funny because he had started implementing these types of things.

I remember watching him during these funnel launches just laying on the floor, bored out of his mind.

I’ve never seen him like that in my life, and he was almost going to a state of depression. He was like “I’m not needed in my own thing now. Ah no-one needs me anymore.”

It’s a funny thing to realize, we’re just the orchestrators. We don’t play all the instruments.

Business system orchestrators

ALEX: We shouldn’t, we shouldn’t.

And so, you know, back to your question about what systems should an entrepreneur start looking at?

Now, I’m gonna talk high level, and I wanna share…

You and I are really close friends, and I wanna share the most critical content we have for entrepreneurs with your group.

STEVE: I appreciate that.

ALEX: This is what we normally share internally once somebody joins our program…

We share the five things that keep companies from scaling.

The reality is, there are really five things that keep companies that should scale, from scaling.

And here’s what I mean ‘companies that should scale…’

You know, if you go talk to most consultants, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, whatever, they’ll give you this laundry list of why companies don’t scale:

  • They didn’t have enough money
  • They didn’t have the right people
  • They didn’t do all of these things

The reality is, if you look at most companies that should scale, there are five clear reasons why they don’t…

So let me share them with you, but let me give you this caveat…

Here’s what I mean by “should scale…”

Business system should scale

  • If you’ve got a market
  • If you’re capable of selling
  • If you could do more
  • If you know you’re leaving money on the table

…. you should be scaling.

If those things aren’t there for you right now, go resolve that and then start scaling.

Far too many people try and scale before they actually have all the steps in place.

Then you just build infrastructure that does nothing.

So let me tell you what the five things are…

#1: So number one, first and foremost, absolutely most crucial, is…

  • Most businesses don’t have any type of strategic plan.

Business system plan

So as a result, there’s no go-forward strategy, and here’s what happens in a business when you don’t have a go-forward strategy.

If you don’t know where you’re going, neither does your team

… neither does anybody around you

And so you will, by virtue of math, become the biggest bottleneck in the company.

Here’s why…

If there’s no forward plan where all of us can point at and go get it and help you chase it down, every time we want to know what to do we have to ask you, and we have to go to you… and it’s a death of a thousand paper cuts.

You’re literally in a place where you’re:

  • Telling people what to do
  • Checking that it got done
  • Telling them what to do again.

And if you’ve ever been in that situation as an entrepreneur, you know that somebody only has to ask you twice before you’re ready to flip out and lose it.

How to be successful in business

Am I right Stephen?

STEVE: Yeah, yeah, usually once.

ALEX: Once, right, right, but by the second time you’re like “Are you kidding me?”

And so the way we get past that is we create a clear strategic plan, we share it with our entire team…

… and if the team knows where they’re going, here’s what happens.

I want you to understand something about the people coming to work for you.

If you’re in a small business, you’re hiring entrepreneurs.

I know that there’s this saying in the market, “You’re either an entrepreneur or you work for one.”

I call complete and total BS – don’t even bring that crap around me.

STEVE: Yeah!


Every person on my team is an incredibly talented, hyper-motivated, world-changing entrepreneur, they just choose to be part of a team.

And so you’re gonna hire entrepreneurs, and the way you keep entrepreneurs absolutely and totally focused and excited, is you show them what they’re hunting, you give them the kill.

You say:

  • Here’s our plan
  • This is what we’re doing
  • This is how you win.

And if you hire the right people, they will walk over hot glass to get to that destination for you.

Alex Charfen leadership

STEVE: Yeah.

ALEX: But if they don’t know where it is, you’re gonna demotivate them and completely de-leverage them.

So number one, you have to have a strategic plan.

In my experience, less than 1% of businesses do. Also, less than 1% of businesses ever hit $100,000,000. In fact only 3% ever hit 1,000,000.

STEVE: Jesus.

ALEX: So when you look at that, it’s not 1% of businesses that hit 100,000,000, 0.01% of businesses ever hit 100,000,000, and the reason is…

Most businesses don’t know where they’re going.

How to be successful in business by knowing where you're going

And Stephen, by you having the tools to build a strategic plan in your business, hasn’t it changed how you approach things?

STEVE: Oh gosh, you guys remember when I tell you those stories of I left my job…

I created 200 grand of revenue really quick but there were no systems

I was the…

  • Support guy
  • Fulfillment guy
  • Sales guy.

I did every role, and I voluntarily, very painfully, had to turn down revenue to go build these structures.

And I want you all to know, it was Alex Charfen’s stuff that helped me go in and actually set those systems in place… and so, please understand my affinity for this man and what he does.

About halfway through the year, I was only at like 300 – 400 grand, which is pretty good still, but that last huge sprint came in because of the things that Alex Charfen and his team were teaching me.

All those planning things that I use, and all the things that I’ve just lightly mentioned, they’ve all come from Alex Charfen, and it helped scale me.

ALEX: That’s awesome Stephen… Man, that makes me so proud.

This is so cool! Like there’s only one Stephen Larsen in the world, and I told you that the first day I met you…

I’m like, “Dude you are completely and totally unique and I think I can help you build the company you really want.”

STEVE: Yeah, you said

ALEX: And for us to be sitting here, and for you to say that, I got chills Stephen, that’s so awesome. Thank you, man!

Alex Charfen coached Steve Larsen

STEVE: Oh man, I’m so jazzed about what we do, but it’s because of what you teach I’m like “I can do it…”

Instead of, “I can do it, but lose my liver or die somehow.”

ALEX: Well, and Stephen, here’s why I was so excited about helping you specifically, and I want to qualify this so that your entire audience understands why.

I’m a weird guy at events. I don’t talk to a lot of people, I actually kind of keep to myself, I watch, I observe and then I hunt.

I hunt unique, crazy, off the charts entrepreneurs who I know are gonna change the world.

Alex Charfen evolutionary hunter

The first time I ever saw Stephen at an event, I did not leave the event until I’d cornered him and told him what I needed to tell him… because I knew you were gonna be exactly that type of person.

…and here’s why it’s so important to me, Stephen.

I could tell the first time I saw you, that you were gonna have a massive effect on the world.

But here’s what I know about entrepreneurs; you’re gonna have the biggest effect on the people closest to you – the people who are most proximal, your team.

And when I see an entrepreneur like you Stephen, I’m like:

“Man, if that guy builds a team he’s gonna change hundreds of lives internally in his company. They’re gonna change millions of lives externally, and I know those hundreds of people will build your legacy.”

And when I see somebody like you, I’m like, “Man! That is the path, let me show you how to do this.”

The fact that it’s working, is like, “Ah, it makes me so excited every day.”

This is why I get up out of bed every morning and do what I do.

Alex Charfen and Steve Larsen

STEVE: Ah, it’s so fun man, feeling’s mutual. You walked up, it was from that FHAT event that you were at.

ALEX: Ah ha.

STEVE: And you walked up and said, “There’s a huge company in you and I don’t think you know it, and I’m gonna help you pull it out of you.”

I remember when you said that, I was like I was so scared. I was like “There’s no way that this is real! I know who you are, are you kidding me?”

It freaked me out, and I had to own my own vision for a while. It actually took me a while to practice that.

Anyway, so much has gone on in mental clarity and development from what you’ve taught, not just these systems and things around, it’s really cool.

ALEX: – So let’s give the second one, Stephen

STEVE: Yeah, sorry, sorry.

ALEX: oh don’t apologize, shit I love this part.

So first you have a strategic plan…

#2: Second, the thing that you need to have is

  • A system to communicate that plan.

Business system communication

Let me tell you something about us as entrepreneurs…

We think we’re good communicators, but we’re lying to ourselves.

The fact is, we are haphazard and emotional, and we’re pumped one second and we’re not the next, and we’re all over the place…

Here’s what happens…

When we have a team that has to deal with a personality like ours, and there’s NOT a system for communication, it’s random and haphazard and overwhelming… and it comes from all angles, and they’re waiting for word from on high.

Here’s the fact, if you’re the entrepreneur in charge, you’re the MOST important person in the building all the time.

You’re the most important person on the team, in the tribe, in the group, and they’re all waiting to see what you say.

And if they’re waiting for days and nothing’s happened, they start thinking:

  • Is something wrong?
  • Did something go bad?
  • Did we do something wrong?

Where did my business system go wrong

So you need a system.

As an example:

  • My team knows every Monday at [spp-timestamp time="4:00"], we’re all gonna be on a weekly meeting together.
  • They also know every day at 9:27 a.m. we’re gonna be on a daily huddle, and I’ll be there.
  • They know that once a month we’re gonna have a meeting where we show our strategic plan.
  • They know once a month we’re gonna have a meeting where they all get the results.

So they all know when they’re gonna communicate with me and how.

From the first day you’re on our team there’s a system that controls how you hear from me.

Not just me pumping stuff out there haphazardly.

As a result, my team knows they’re gonna hear from me, they trust it and here’s what happens.

I set the expectations, I meet the expectations, we create trust. I create trust with my team every time I do that.

And here’s the fact:

  • If your team trusts you, you get way more out of them.
  • If your team trusts you, they will do more for you.
  • If your team trusts you, you’ll get discretionary effort

… which means when they’re driving, when they’re showering, when they’re doing something else, they’re gonna be thinking about your business.


…because it gives them momentum.

So if you have a strategic plan and a system to communicate it, you’re ahead of 99% of companies out there.

And Stephen, same thing for you with the system, the structure?


We all fight structure, but once you put it in place, isn’t it incredible?

STEVE: Oh, it’s amazing! Stuff’s getting done right now, that we set in place once. and then, I’ll be like “Oh, podcast episode just launched,!Oh, what day is it? Oh, that’s sweet! Everyone just put it out, all right, cool!”

ALEX: Right, I remember when I started getting messages like, “Hey, I love the new podcast!” And I’m like “Oh, we put a podcast out? Nice!”

Alex Charfen podcast

STEVE: I didn’t do that, what are you talking about?

ALEX: So you have #1: a strategic plan, then #2: a system to communicate.

#3: Here’s the third one, now this is BIG, really big, and most business owners just, they don’t look at this ever and it’s the biggest struggle is, or one of the biggest struggles is;

  • You have to have a system to consistently document the right processes in your business.

And by documentation, I mean having:

  • A flowchart
  • A process document
  • A checklist
  • Something that shows you how the important things in your business are done over and over again.

For example:

If you walk into a McDonald’s, and you look above the fry cooker, there is a process to cook fries above that fry cooker.

McDonalds business system

Anything that happens in that McDonald’s, there’s a process for literally every single thing, including:

  • Unlocking the door
  • Turning off the alarm
  • Sweeping the floor

That’s why there’s a consistent experience at McDonald’s; I’m not saying it’s a good experience, I’m saying it’s consistent.

In most businesses, in most entrepreneurial businesses, there’s no process.

In fact, it’s even scarier than that…

The process lives either in the owner’s head or in an individuals head – so you lose a person, you lose the company.

You lose a person, you lose a big chunk of what you’re doing.


ALEX: So you have to have a system in a business to consistently evaluate what processes are in the company, and then on a monthly and weekly basis document the right ones.

The way that I would suggest you start, is you look at your customer experience:

Customer experience business system

  1. What is the customer experience in your company?
  2. What process documentation do you have to back it up to make sure that is completely consistent?

If you do that, you’re gonna beat most people out there…

99% of entrepreneurial companies have little to nothing documented in any type of process.

STEVE: They’re just shooting in random spots 24/7.

ALEX: Or they’re doing stuff like, “Here’s how we do our customer onboarding…”

  • I trained Suzy
  • Suzy trained Annie
  • Annie trained Bob
  • John does it now

…and you’re like “Oh, cool! Let’s go and see what John’s doing?”

Well, John’s doing nothing close to what Suzy and Bob and everybody else was originally doing, and so you have these degrading processes in your business.

Degrading processes in your business

And here’s what happens…

When you look at entrepreneurial businesses, they tend to…

  • Go up in revenue
  • Come back down in revenue
  • Go up in revenue
  • Come back down.

If you’re inside those companies, hundreds of times like I have been, here’s what I can tell you…

Revenue goes up as the process is working, and then when it breaks, it comes back down.

Business system processes


That’s why businesses don’t continue to go forward – there are processes breaking in the business.

Whether it’s marketing, sales, delivery, whatever it is there’s a process breaking.

When you document your proceses, you make them bulletproof.

So in our business, we actually use:

  • Lucidchart Flowcharts
  • Sheets in Google Sheets
  • A new product called Process Street – a distributed, automated process document system, which is incredible.

So we have all of our processes in Process Street, and we have a distributed team around the world.

We have somebody in Ireland who can do their part of the process, as soon as they hit the last button it transfers to somebody here in the US who can do their part of the process.

STEVE: That’s awesome.


Documenting your processes + Putting them in place = Game-changing

STEVE: Holy cow, okay I wrote that down.

I’m taking tons of notes so everyone knows, I hope they are as well…. And I’m not sharing! 😉 is the company, and we are so happy with it because… Stephen, here’s what I want everyone to know,…

Cadey and I have had five businesses get over $10,000,000 a year, and all five of them ran them with paper checklists.

Business system checklist

This is the first time we have automated checklists in Process Street.

The last information products business that we had, we literally had three-ring binders that we would carry around the office and check stuff off.

Having a three-ring binder with a process was so much better than having somebody trying to do it from memory.

Now with Process Street, we can distribute that three-ring binder, and I can get reporting on who’s doing what.

STEVE: That’s amazing.

Yeah, I’ve actually seen the three-ring binder and I’ve thought, “Holy crap, that really is how he’s doing it.”

You would teach it and then I watched you actually do it.. ’cause you would record your stand up meeting calls in the morning

ALEX: Yeah.

STEVE: And I was, “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool! I’m NOT doing that, interesting.”

Then I’d go back and take notes and start it.

ALEX: And then implement.

Well, and you know, there’s this phrase in the entrepreneurial world. Ah… I kind of get a little triggered, right!

STEVE: Let it out, baby!

ALEX: You know the thing that people say from stage:

“Here’s what I want all of you to know. All you have to do is stop working in your business and start working on your business.”

And I’m always like:

“Oh, good, thanks. Thanks for solving it all for us dude, that was awesome. You just solved all my problems with that really cliched BS thing that everybody tells entrepreneurs.”

Alex Chafen entrepreneur

When I was in my twenties, my instant thought was like, “How do I get on stage to punch that guy in the face?”

And my then my second thought was like, “What a load of crap! If I don’t work in the business nobody’s answering the phones, sucker.”

Like, what’s going on here? I don’t know how to make that change.

And so the way you make that change is…

Working on the business means documenting processes.

By making it:

  • Clear
  • Repeatable
  • Real

And so you have…

  1. A strategic plan that everyone understands
  2. A communication system everyone knows is gonna happen
  3. A system for documenting processes so everyone can repeat what’s going on with your clients

#4: The next step,(and this is BIG), is..

  • A consistent system for identifying, documenting, and then prioritizing the right project in the business.

Consistent business system

STEVE: Ah, this changed my life. *HARDCORE*

ALEX: Whoa, Stephen, you know how game-changing this is because, here’s the problem in most businesses…

Projects are selected emotionally.

Period, I can’t tell you that they’re done any other way – they’re emotional.

  • You go to an event and somebody says “I’m doing this thing,” and then, the next day, you’re doing that thing.
  • You listen to a podcast or you hear a webinar, and the person says “Hey, I added this thing to my business,” and the next day, you’re trying to do that thing.

In our business, if I have a really great idea that I want to implement today…

If I’m like, “Man, this is a really high sense of urgency, we should get this implemented.”

It’ll probably be somewhere around 45 days, and I’m totally okay with that.

That’s the timing it should be in my business.

Business system timing

Now if there’s an emergency we’re gonna fix it that day, but if I’m like, “Hey, I see an opportunity here with something,” it’s probably a 45-day event…


I have a team and a structure, and a plan, and we have a system that’s moving forward. We’re already hitting our numbers, why would I mess with anything?

  • I actually protect what’s going on in the business
  • I add things gently
  • I add things carefully
  • I make sure my team’s into it too
  • I make sure we have consensus

In just in the last 60 days, we’ve gone from two million recurring to two point three million recurring,

STEVE: That’s awesome!

ALEX: So why would I mess with what we’re doing?

STEVE: Yeah.

ALEX: Yeah, so when somebody’s like “Hey Alex, I got this “great idea for your business.” I’m like “Awesome, get in line.”

And we’ll put it into our system to see if we want to actually do this…

Because the fact is…

If you’re getting sold as an entrepreneur on what your next project should be, you’re probably in the wrong place.

Alex Charfen stop tolerating too much

STEVE: Yeah, that’s fascinating. I really agree with that.

It was your planning system for figuring out which projects, I still do it.

Top of every three months and it has guided everything we do.

And while I do follow a few rabbits and I’m practicing bringing it back in, we still largely follow the plan as to what the business needs, and that’s ‘grow and scale’ rather than this impulse of like:

“Yeah, oh shiny object, shiny object, “that looks good, that looks good!”

And it’s been that discipline, that’s the other thing that’s always up is my waterfall…

ALEX: Yeah, yeah, always! I mean mine’s up right now. I mean I could share it right now.

And the reason is I always have my strategic plan pulled up in front of me, I’m looking at it every single day.

I’m asking myself:

  • Is the team doing what we need to do here?
  • How do I support people more?
  • How do I help them do this more?

Because when you look at our strategic plan, here’s what it’s made up of.

  • Our one-year outcomes
  • Our client-centric mission – which is our Superbowl, our hall of fame, the long term
  • The 90-day projects we’re focusing on right now
  • What we’re doing this month to hit those targets

So that waterfall of long term, to one year, to 90 days, to 30 days, I can see it all on one document and it tells me EXACTLY where I should be supporting the team and what we’re getting done.

And so here’s what happens…

I went to an event a couple of weeks ago, and I had an idea that was like “Oh man, we have to do this.”

Then I come back to the office, I look at the waterfall and I’m like “What do I want to kill in order to do this thing over here?”

And you know what the evaluation was? *NOTHING* I’m not going to take anything off this, that would be crazy.

There’s no way I’m gonna go to my team and say “Hey guys, in addition to all the other stuff you’re committed to, here’s a hot potato.”

I just backed down and I waited till the next time we had a planning meeting and I said, “Hey, there’s this thing I think we should do.”

  • We evaluated it
  • It went into the system
  • It went into the plan

Alex Charfen business plan

There is very little knee-jerk reaction in our company because we are going so fast in a forward direction, that for me to challenge that in any way it has to be game-changing at a different level – so it rarely even happens.

STEVE: Yeah, black-ops right? Call them black-ops?

ALEX: Black-ops.

STEVE: No black-ops!

ALEX: No black-ops, baby!

If it’s NOT on the plan, you don’t do it… or it’s black-ops.

And usually, the biggest creators of black-ops are guys like Stephen and I.

So my team has an open license to tell me if I’m doing black-ops.

They will actually call me out in a huddle, in a meeting, they’ll be like “Ah, this sounds like black-ops,” and then we’ll make a note, we’ll put it in a parking lot and do it later.

Alex Charfen black-ops

STEVE: Oh, that’s so cool, okay.

ALEX: Yeah, that’s one of the most important things you can do when you have a team Stephen…

You train your team to criticize you and then you congratulate them when they do.

STEVE: That’s really cool, then they have a license to actually flex their brain instead of feeling like they’re in a box.

ALEX: Absolutely. You know I heard a story once about Larry Page, who runs Google,

He was in a meeting and he really strongly stated a point. and one of the team members got emotional about it and started yelling at him.

She was like, “I think you’re wrong and this is why you’re wrong,” and Page was smiling…

Alex Charfen smiling

Afterward, she asked somebody “Hey why was he smiling?”

‘Cause she backed him down, and he actually said “You know what, I think this deserves more investigation. Let’s do this.”

She walked out and she was shaking and all adrenalized up, she had just yelled at the CEO of Google, like, “What the heck’s gonna happen to me?”

She turned to somebody next to her, and was like “He was smiling, is that because he’s gonna come down hard on me?”

And the person was like, “No, he was smiling because you confronted him, he loves it, he wants it.”

He knows that if people aren’t confronting him, he’s in a bad place.

So I look at it in my team and I’m like, “Hey, if my team’s not challenging me a little bit, then we’re all just marching behind a duck.”

Challenging business system

You know, I don’t wanna have ducklings behind me. I want people who are saying:

  • Hey, this might work
  • This might not work
  • We might have a better idea

So you give your team license to criticize and license to call you on stuff.

STEVE: Gosh, I love that.

#5: So here’s the fifth one…

So we have:

  1. Strategic plan
  2. Communication system
  3. Selecting and documenting the right processes
  4. Selecting and achieving the right projects,

….and then, this is *BIG*

  • Finding the right people

Finding the right people for your business system

It’s NOT just finding the right people, its…

  • Evaluating the company
  • Understanding what the company needs right now
  • What can you offload that is going to create the most momentum, not just for you, but for the team, for everything that you’re doing together?
  • What is the position that you need to put in place next – so that the company moves forward the fastest?

And unfortunately, just like everything else I’ve named, planning, projects, process, all of those… people also become emotional.

An entrepreneur wakes up one morning and says, “I’m doing too much, I’m gonna hire an assistant.”

Then they have the assistant sit next to them for three weeks, and they wonder why this doesn’t work out?

Alex Charfen quotes

It’s because you had the thought to get help, (which by the way I congratulate you on), but there was no process there to actually make it work.

And so here’s the process you need…

  1. Evaluate what’s going on in the company
  2. Understand what the company needs
  3. Turn it into a job description
  4. Then you use it to recruit
  5. You do tons of interviewing
  6. You drive it until you have three people that you can select from
  7. You hire one of them and then you do at least a 90-day onboarding, high-intensity onboarding.
  8. When I’m onboarding an executive team member, I meet with them every day for the first month, three times a week for the second month, and two times a week for the third month.

People tell me, “Hey man, doesn’t that “feel like overkill?”

I’m like:

You don’t understand what it means to have an executive team. Your job is to build relationships with those people.

You want to know how you build relationships?

There’s one commodity that builds relationships. One!

*TIME* – that’s it.

And so when I’m onboarding, when I’m bringing somebody on, (whether it’s on my executive team or anywhere in the business), somebody is doing that high-intensity onboarding with them…

Up close and personal every single day for the first 30 days making sure we have no drift.

Alex Charfen up close and personal

And so, when you have a system to select the right people, bring them on and then onboard them the right way…

Here’s what you avoid, (and Stephen this is like, Ah, this statistic drives me crazy)…

In corporate America, I know because I used to be a consultant there.

In corporate America, they would say things like, “Well we just hired so-and-so in that position so they’ll probably be productive in four to six months.”

The first time I heard that I was like “Did he just say four to six months? Does he mean four to six days, or does he really mean four to six months?”

Because in my business, even way back then), if I had to wait four months for somebody to be productive I would have been, “They’re gone”!

STEVE: Yeah, yeah, they’re gone!

ALEX: And so in our business, we actually have this experience right now.

We recently brought on somebody else, a new person to help us in marketing, and with our onboarding process, he was actually achieving products within the first five days of his first week.

High achieving business system

STEVE: That’s so cool!

ALEX: And that’s how it should be.

You want somebody to come in, be effective and start contributing and creating momentum.

Because here’s what will happen…

As an entrepreneur, if you’re wired anything like I am, (and I know Stephen is), if you have somebody on your team that starts to feel like they’re not carrying their own weight, you won’t sleep.

Loosing sleep over a business system

You won’t sleep, it will rip you apart, Stephen am I right?

STEVE: Yeah!

ALEX: It will destroy you…

And so here’s the question though…

Are they not carrying their own weight because:

  • They’re lazy?
  • They don’t want to?
  • They aren’t the right person?
  • Or is it because it’s not clear what they’re doing?

STEVE: They have no idea what they’re doing. They don’t have confidence…I didn’t help them!

Making a business system work

ALEX: Right, ’cause here’s the thing.

Your team needs three things in order to ultimately be effective and to be the type of team you want.

And here’s what I mean by that…

As an entrepreneur here’s what you want, you want a team that just does stuff and asks permission later.

You want a team that achieves and lets you know how things worked out.

That’s it! I just know this is how entrepreneurs work.

  • You want people who make really good decisions.
  • You want people who move things forward.
  • You want people who don’t stand around waiting for stuff.

And if you want to have a team that actually moves things forward as an entrepreneur…

You gotta spend the time with them and let ’em know what your ethos is, and let ’em know how you make decisions…

That’s how you duplicate decision making.

STEVE: Hm, gosh I love that. Okay, so…

  1. Strategic plan
  2. System to communicate
  3. System to document processes that can be shared inside the whole biz
  4. Documenting projects and the ones you’re gonna work on
  5. Finding the right people

…and I actually personally just went through your onboarding training and it’s so awesome!

‘Cause it goes through and it’s like this, you basically create a runway for ’em, right?

And if they don’t land, don’t worry you’ve got parachutes and there are jumpy cords all over the place…

– you’re doing everything you can to help ’em win fast and lots of small tiny wins that build that confidence, and I was like:

“That is brilliant. ‘Cause that is not the way you’re taught anywhere else.”

ALEX: So Stephen, check this out, man.

Alex Charfen and Steve Larsen interview

We recently fell out of the lucky tree on recruiting and we hired this guy named Greg Duby and he is, ah, amazing.

He’s like, he’s just one of the most exciting guys I’ve ever worked with because he’s so solid and so centered, and just so good at what he does.

Greg is a former nuclear propulsion tech in the Navy, so you know what that is, that’s the guy who rides the bomb around in the submarine, okay?

STEVE: Yeah, that’s amazing!

ALEX: Yeah, you have to have advanced degrees in Physics, advanced degrees in Math.

He’s literally a rocket scientist.

So he worked in the Navy, then he worked at NASA, then he worked for some of the larger consulting firms out there…

I mean, he’s done incredible stuff in his career.

He’s just one of the most solid people I’ve ever worked with, and within about two or three weeks into our company, in one of our daily huddles, we said, “Who got caught being awesome?”

It’s where we call each other out, and he said:

You know, I just wanna call this company out for being awesome.

“ I’ve been here for three weeks, I’ve never had an experience like this getting onboarded anywhere…

I’m up and running, I’m excited. I feel like I’m really part of the team. I feel like I’ve worked here forever and I’m three weeks in.”

And this is somebody who worked at some of the best consulting firms in the world, NASA and the Navy!

And our little tiny company has impressed him so much because we did onboarding because he knew what he was supposed to do.

And as a result, Greg, I think we’re about three months in with him, and dude, there are projects that I thought were gonna take a year or two that are getting done this week.

STEVE: That’s so cool!

ALEX: It’s crazy.

STEVE: It’s just a completely different way to do it. One thing I hated in the military, I love the military, but you know, some things that are rough and that is that there are no clear guidelines on how to win ahead of time.

The way you’re instructed is by hitting barriers and then you get punished for it, and you’re like:

“Just tell me ahead of time and I wouldn’t do it! But all right, let’s do more push-ups.”


ALEX: Something tells me you did a lot of push-ups, Steve!

STEVE: I just want to say thank you so much for being on here.

I asked for 30 minutes and you just completely over-delivered, and I just really want to say thank you to you.

My audience already knows very well of you.

Where can people go to learn more about you but specifically also get your help inside the business?

ALEX: So the best place to learn more about us is to go to our podcast.

I publish a podcast four days a week, which is essentially a one-on-one conversation with an entrepreneur growing a business.

Listen to Alex Charfen podcast

And the way that I create each one of those episodes is when a question or issue comes up in our coaching groups, I create an episode around it, we distribute it to the group.

But then also we distribute it to anybody who’s listening, so you can get the same coaching that I’m giving my high-level clients right on our podcast…

It’s called Momentum for the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, and you can check it out at

And then, if you want to understand more about our products, about our coaching groups you can go to our website, but better is to just reach out to me or to one of my team members through Facebook.

The easiest thing, is just reach out to me, and I’ll connect you with the right person in our company, and we’ll go through a process with you to help you understand if we can help you.

You know Stephen, we’re pretty neat, we don’t sell everybody. We actually get on the phone with a lot of people who we sell later, but we won’t sell you unless it’s time.

We know exactly what solutions we provide, and if you have those issues and they link up, then we’ll work together… but we go through a personal inventory in order to help you do that.

So if anybody’s interested in getting on a call with a member of my team, you can also shortcut the entire process by going to

Alex Charfen billionaire code

Answer a few questions and you can just set up a call link and you’ll be on a call with one of my team members and they’ll help you qualify and understand where you are.

And just so you know, we don’t do sales calls, they are all consulting calls.

When you get on a call with my team, you won’t ever feel like you’re being sold, you’ll feel like you’re being helped.

STEVE: Which is exactly what I have felt when I started doing that as well.

Just so you all know he’s very serious about that – that’s very real.

I always feel like I’m being helped by anyone on his team.

…and come to find out later, “Oh that was the sales guy!”

…You know what I mean?

They dare to go in and actually they want to change the world and they’re very serious about it.

So thank you so much, appreciate it.

Check out Billionaire Code.

The Momentum podcast is a goldmine, it is one of those gems on the internet that is actually worth all of your time and attention.

Thanks so much for being on here, Alex, I really appreciate you and love you, and thank you for being on here.

Alex Charfen interview

ALEX: Stephen, dude, this has been an honor.

I hope to be able to get invited back again, and as a Sales Funnel Radio listener, this is really cool. I appreciate you, man!

STEVE: Thanks, I appreciate it!

Hey, awesome episode right?

Hey, once I figured out the simple patterns and formulas that make this game work, I had a new problem…

Back when I eventually left my job and launched my personal business, I sold about $200,000 of product in around three months-ish…

And while I thought I was King Kong, a new problem started.

I was the business, there weren’t any systems.

I was support. I was fulfillment.

I was the one in charge of getting the ads around. I was the sales department. I was the marketing department.

And I knew I wouldn’t survive it alone…

Better yet, I knew I’d never seen a rich solopreneur.

This game takes a team.

Contrast that to now, and my company does tons of stuff that I don’t know how to do…

What changed?

His name is Alex Charfen, check him out at

Alex Charfen rocks

So I usually don’t bring tons of people on Sales Funnel Radio, but you should know that his programs, combined with my marketing skills, are why my business is killing it in revenue today, and NOT killing me personally.

Alex Charfen’s programs and training have been life-changing for me and my family… and taught me who I really am and what I’m meant to be.

So when you’re ready to build an actual business, an actual asset and NOT just make this another job…

When you’re ready to keep the role of entrepreneur but learn the role of CEO, go get started with Alex Charfen at That’s C-H-A-R-F-E-N

The post SFR 255: Alex Charfen’s Essential Systems For Every Business appeared first on Sales Funnel Radio Blog.