Luke Hansen is the founder and CEO of CompanyCam, a SaaS company featuring project management software to help contractors build trust with their crews and customers through photo documentation. The company has made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies 3 times in 7 years.
What were you looking for when you hired John?
We needed to get our house in order. It was becoming more and more evident that our lack of structure and organization was holding us back at every step of growth. At five people, “Whatever.” But 25 people? Well, now you have a problem. When we started with John it was probably like 30 people.
It was kind of like getting a handle on your business. It just felt like at one point I could almost hold it in my hands. It’s kind of hard to keep hold of it, but I’ve gotten hold of it. And then all of a sudden it’s big enough that it’s like I’m holding all of these balls, but I don’t have anything to carry them in.
It’s like carrying a bunch of eggs without an egg carton. If you had a carton, they’re all sitting in the right spot, and sometimes you’ve got to move them around, but it balances. I didn’t have the egg carton. I was just holding all these eggs in my arms. You can’t even set one down. It’s going to wobble and roll off the table.
Carrying the eggs in a basket would be better. But they’re still just clumsily in this basket. If you look for one that’s hard to find, you may break some other ones trying to get to that one. Versus if you have it in a carton or some sort of organized structure. Well then hey, you can carry it around. You can also set it down and move around easily.
Then there’s the amount of things I would spend mental energy on. Things that should be automatic, right? Like our weekly meetings, hiring process, payroll, giving raises, a structure, all of these things would come through me. That just shouldn’t be. They should be an established routine. Someone else should own them and have almost complete control, outside of outliers.
Way too many things were going through me that shouldn’t go through me, and I felt like I was wasting time. Not able to operate at the right level because of the mess that was happening over here.
Once you had that mental energy freed up, what did that make possible for you? How did your life improve?
It’s almost like walking and having to look at the ground right in front of you. Versus being able to trust that the ground in front of you is in good order. The more you can trust the ground in front of you, the farther you can look ahead and the faster that you can move, basically. And that’s what I felt the business operating system was about. Allowing the entrepreneur to have a plan in a sense.
Step one, fix the ground you’re standing on. Build the path, so to speak, and then be able to move down that path without looking at the ground. Like the visionary style, looking into the future.
Like in a video game where there’s a map. When you start out you’re standing there and the map is all cloudy and black, I can’t see anywhere else. And then the more you move around, you’re exposing more of the territory. Especially to me, it’s like looking at what’s possible in the future. I feel like the farther we go down the road, the more in a sense freed up I am, the farther I can see in distance, but especially in time.
Instead of having to sit here and focus on like, daily things, hourly things, weekly things, with the business operating system it’s like we’re going to help you build a plan inside of the structure to handle the daily things, the weekly things, the recurring nature of your business and the immediate plan, the immediate process, where to build all that out.
So then once that’s done, then you don’t have to think about that all the time. And you can, instead of thinking tomorrow, next week, next month, you can think next quarter, next year, next 10 years. And that for me is really important.
And I find myself telling people on my team, “Hey, you need someone to own this, because you can’t do your job properly. If you’re sitting up at two in the morning tweaking spreadsheets, you’re not giving yourself the space and standing on solid enough ground to then think truly long term. Think like an executive.”
I’ve also told my people, “You need to hire the person that you would work for.” That executive mindset of, you bring in people that are just awesome, that can handle a ton of responsibility, that think along these angles, that are so great that you would work for them. They’re just a leader, they get it, and they create that room so you’re helping them fit into the larger picture and making sure they’re still aware of it.
If you can just keep putting people like that under you, then you’re just moving up. That’s not entirely your job, but it feels like a lot of it. Whereas if you can’t do that, then I have to find someone that’s going to do that.
What was CompanyCam and your life like before you started working with John?
CompanyCam had potential, but was highly disorganized and suffering from the inexperience and unpreparedness of my leadership. My weaknesses in this role were very clearly manifested. There was no structure for getting a raise. There was no process established for hiring people. It was like the Wild West.
John really helped us at this crucial time.
What would you say to a fellow entrepreneur about working with John Fulwider as a coach? Why hire John?
John is listening, and asking the right questions. Often those were hard questions that other people kind of know to ask, but they don’t want to ask, and haven’t. They may not want to run with this and bring some of the discomfort of sorting things out to the top and engage with it. To help sort it out.
I stand by the questions John asks. It’s almost dumb questions, but not really, but they just seem kind of obvious. But John’s the person who does not have a bunch of preconceptions about the thing, and I think that is really important. You’re dealing with any group of people, they have a bunch of baggage and whatever coming in with that. But instead of just maybe saying it or pushing it, John tries to approach it via questions.
I think John’s also very hospitable. It always felt like when you go to one of these days with John, that he enjoys making that experience an enjoyable day. I don’t know how much of that is standard across the board, but that is it. It makes a difference with how you experience the day.
I think John’s really good at teaching, explaining these principles to people. But the facilitating is where the money is made. We can all go learn this stuff, buy the books, watch YouTube. There’s inevitably a better teacher than John on YouTube, guaranteed.
That’s just universal, with almost anything now. But John’s taking that stuff and taking it from the level of abstract knowledge to this place in time, these people, this business, what does that look like?
I try very hard to take accurate stock of what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, what I’m doing well with, and what I’m not. I’m trying my best to be a fair observer, and I do think that knowing that you aren’t a fair observer is crucial to becoming better. I see this most when it comes to product stuff that I have a strong opinion about, that I’ve thought about for years. When you have an idea in your head of what a thing should be, or even a design just like you just imagined it, it’s really hard to let that go when someone else brings an alternative. And to try to put yourself in fresh shoes. John’s questions are really good at bringing that stuff. To help people see where they’re coming from.
“These are good exercises. It’s nice to be facilitated. Otherwise, we’d just sit around.”-Luke Hansen
“I appreciate your energy and your genuine interest in working through this stuff.”
“Accountability Chart gives you wings.”
“You’re a talented facilitator, I appreciate you.”