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2022 Year in Review and a Look Ahead to 2023
Mark Daoust is the Founder, President, and CEO of Quiet Light, a business advisory firm that helps online entrepreneurs achieve amazing exits. Since starting the firm in 2007, Mark has guided dozens of entrepreneurs and small business owners through their exits. Before his work at Quiet Light, Mark founded Site-Reference.com, an online publication with a subscriber base that he expanded to more than 220,000 members. Now, Mark is a well-known presenter and guest author, as well as the co-host of the Quiet Light Podcast.
Joe Valley is a Co-owner of Quiet Light. Joe joined the firm after selling his own e-commerce business through Quiet Light in 2010. He has advisor expertise in all web-based niches, including SaaS, e-commerce, and content businesses. In addition to this, Joe is the co-host of the Quiet Light Podcast and the author of The EXITpreneur’s Playbook: How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar by Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:07] Mark Daoust talks about the pullback of the mergers and acquisitions marketplace in 2022
- [07:34] How does the fear of a recession prohibit growth?
- [13:06] Joe Valley explains why there is a shift to individual buyers
- [17:10] Why bargain shopping for brands didn’t stick
- [23:19] Mark shares how experienced advisors at Quiet Light can better guide entrepreneurs
- [27:49] Some of the unique challenges of running a remote company
- [33:41] Mark and Joe discuss cultivating an enduring team at Quiet Light
In this episode…
The aggregator appetite for quality brands is strong, so, how can your brand meet their needs? If you’re concerned about an unpredictable market, what steps can you take to help strengthen your brand?
When it comes to having traction in the aggregator market, Joe Valley and Mark Daoust recommend you educate yourself on the marketplace. The year 2022 caused fear-mongering and confusion in the market, but to help your brand strengthen and grow during the upcoming years, it’s best to keep a level head. This is how Joe and Mark plan to build out their upcoming year so they can continue the Quiet Light mission: helping people achieve their goals.
Join Joe Valley and Mark Daoust in this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast as they review the year 2022. Together, they discuss the rollercoaster of marketplace fears, why individual buyers are taking the scene, and how the Quiet Light team has grown over time.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Quiet Light
- Quiet Light on YouTube
- Joe Valley
- Mark Daoust
- Quiet Light Podcast email: [email protected]
- The EXITpreneur’s Playbook: How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar by Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success by Joe Valley
- Deanna Berardi on LinkedIn
- Jamie Dimon on LinkedIn
- “An Uncommon Exit Strategy” with Amir Salihefendic on the Quiet Light Podcast
- Ramon van Meer on LinkedIn
- Ramon van Meer on Twitter
Sponsor for this episode
This episode brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.
There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. They provide trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations. So, your Quiet Light advisors aren’t your everyday brokers — they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.
If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.
Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on its website. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!
What are you waiting for? Quiet Light offers the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to quietlight.com, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.
Hi, folks. It’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.
Joe Valley 0:30
Hey folks, Joe Valley here, welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. Thank you for joining us, we are doing a little look back of what 2022 was like, and a look ahead for 2023. And I’m doing it with this guy that he might have founded Quiet Light back in 27 2007. And I think did one podcast last year and Hakka it might have been the most popular podcast, I’m not really sure I don’t look at the stats anymore. Because when he when he when he comes in does a podcast, it’s usually better than mine. So welcome back to the Quiet Light Podcast, my partner, Mr. Mark Daoust.
Mark Daoust 1:07
That’s right. My name is at the beginning of the podcast, but I make my once per year showing. So that was good, good to be able to do this. We did this last year. And it was it was a fun hour to be able to look back on 2021. Obviously 2021 was such an incredible year. And it’s always fun to look ahead and try and predict. Did you listen back by any chance to last year’s I didn’t? I probably should have
Joe Valley 1:31
I was that we’re supposed to do as professional podcasters we’re supposed to listen to the previous year’s episode and try to repeat it. Because I’m just a total screw up if that’s the case.
Mark Daoust 1:39
Yeah, if we were professionals, we would probably do that. But you know, this is not our day job. So that’s a good thing.
Joe Valley 1:46
No, my aspiration is to be more like the guys on what’s the podcast Smartless podcast, Will Ferrell Jason Bateman and their buddy Sean from Will and grace, those guys just throw on their PJs, flip the microphone on and just start talking and having fun and telling stories and then have the guests on. There’s no preparation whatsoever. And honestly, that’s kind of what I’ve always done. I cannot remember the last time I’ve edited anything out of a podcast unless it was completely, you know, complete. It is idiocy on my park. I think you’re the same right? You don’t edit anything when you record date.
Mark Daoust 2:28
Yeah, but the race is so high. I only have room to do one podcast per year otherwise, you know, just it’d be
Joe Valley 2:34
so much editing. It would be like the intro and then thank you for joining us have pretty much Yeah, absolutely. All right. 2021, as we all know, was a record year in the history of m&a. How was 2022 In your view,
Mark Daoust 2:49
Mark. I know it was better than I anticipated it to be. I think we started off 2022. We started off rocky, January was a bad month. And it was the first bad month we had experienced in quite a long time. And so it was a little arresting. When we got into that we had all this momentum leading up to the end of 2021. And you know, when you’re riding a roller coaster, I don’t know how long it’s been Joe, since you’ve been on a roller coaster. It’s been a while for me. But you’re right on roller coaster, and you’re still going fast. But then you come into the end. And they always apply those brakes so hard right at the end, right and everyone jerks forward and then jerks back as they’re pumping the brakes. January was that that moment where we were coming into the station to reset and see where we were we had just written the roller coaster of 2021. It was a blast. It was a thrill. There was a lot of new things people were screaming, and I’m pretty sure somebody vomited along the way. But
Joe Valley 3:51
I didn’t. It was exhausting. It was nauseous the entire year.
Mark Daoust 3:57
2022 was a time for us to really take a step back. We saw aggregator markets pull back really, really heavily compared to where they were the year before. And can I can I just make an unpopular take here? Yes. I’m so glad. I’m so happy that they did. It was it there was all this money raised. When you raise money like that there’s a pressure to spend it right people don’t invest in a company. So it just sits in there in the actual operators accounts. It needs to be deployed. And that was setting up kind of a crazy market. And I saw this setting up an insurer, right, we’re gonna ride that wave. But you’ve looked at it you think, how is this going to end? Is it going to end? Well, you know, it’s a little bit scary. I think some sanity has taken over in the marketplace in 2022. And with that transition came a little bit of pain, a little bit of a pullback, but not as much as I thought it would be. To be honest, our numbers still ended up very, very strong from where they were the year before and the end of the year. With an election elections for just context here, I’ve been through a lot of elections. Since I’ve owned Quiet Light. There are always periods of pullback in the m&a market people are. No one likes uncertainty. And so elections introduce uncertainty. And so fully anticipated, as a bit of a pause and there was leading up to the midterm elections. But then the end of December, why things picked up just where they they were, at more of a normal level and seen some pretty healthy activity, signs of health and market which is encouraging. Well, look, from your perspective, Joe.
Joe Valley 5:40
Two words, confusion, and fear. Right. That’s my look back at 2022. There was a lot of confusion in the marketplace with you know, what was going to happen in the recession with, you know, thrash to semi imploding, the aggregators, all pulling back, right? People thought, oh, no, there’s never going to be an FBA business sold again, which, by the way, folks, is only a small fraction of our overall transactions. So there’s a lot of confusion there. But really, what happened was that it opened up like this crack in the window where the light could come through. And that light was all from individual buyers. They’re like, thank goodness, get out of the way aggregators, because we can finally buy these businesses. Again, they’ve always been there. We sold lots of businesses before aggregators ever showed up, and we continue to after they’ve pulled back on their purchasing frenzy. They’re still there, but a lot of confusion because of interest rates going up, right? The inflation, you know, the Fed wants 2% year over year inflation, we hit 9% interest rates going up buying power coming down, a lot of confusion there. And then the fear the fear of a recession, we had if we, if we didn’t have the fear aspect of it, Mark, we would have grown by 25 or 30%, over 2021, which was a record year. And the reason we didn’t was because these transactions were under letter of intent. And then fear took hold from the buyers perspective, or the lender’s perspective behind the buyers. Or some of the folks like, you know, in Brad’s deal where Brad had to deal with it was close to $60 million, and everything was approved. And so you got deep, deep deep into the, you know, the money aspect of it on the board of directors, and they pulled back because of recession fears. If we didn’t have the fear aspect of it, I truly think that we would have grown 25 30% over 2022. And as I look back, you know, you talked about January of 2022, I would have gone over 21. I mean, January 2022, and I, again, you and I and our lack of preparation for these things, we talk off the cuff. If we looked at QuickBooks, I would imagine that December of 2022 had a ton of transactions close just to get it in before the end of the year. And things were closing quickly and 2021. Right. In 2022, the time from Letter of Intent to close transactions grew, I don’t have the exact number but it took a longer period of time for things to close. And then in December of 2022, as you and I know, we had a record month slated to close, but because of fear and that longer period of time, buyers didn’t pull back and cancel the transactions, but they’re trickling over to January of 2023. So we’re going to start off with a killer month in January of 2023. Whereas January of 2022 was kind of ugly, as you said. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And
Mark Daoust 8:43
some of the more surprising stats, and I bring these up because people throughout the year have asked, Hey, what does the market look like? What does it look like over the course of the year? What are you seeing, right and we take a look at Centrica puts out some nice reports right now they have shown a decline in in some of the activity being done. And you can see this, across the board. There has been a general pullback as far as the number of transactions. When we started to look at the actual metrics of the transactions, what we see is that deals that are being closed, are closing for higher multiples. And with more offers per transaction that are closing, it’s counterintuitive because we’re hearing pullback, pullback pullback. But you know what’s going on there. My theory and again, this is a theory and we all are trying to do some introspection and understand what’s going on is that there’s still a lot of money in the marketplace. And people are still looking for good quality businesses to buy where we’ve seen the slowdown is 2021 There was a voracious appetite for businesses. Facts be damned, right. We could have businesses that probably shouldn’t have been acquired, get acquired, or probably shouldn’t have been acquired at the prices that they were being acquired. or that can get acquired because there’s so much appetite for these businesses. And now even 2022 saw those businesses not do as well take a longer time to find a buyer and definitely lower multiples on those businesses. But the high quality businesses, there’s still a great appetite. There’s another trend that’s been happening, especially towards the end of this year, which I found, very encouraging. As we head into 2023 2021, so the end of 2020, and the beginning of 2021, my inbox was flooded with new aggregator requests for conference calls, we want to introduce ourselves to you, we’re looking for businesses, here’s our grand plan for what we’re going to do over the next year, we’re going to acquire a gazillion businesses right
Joe Valley 10:47
now to sarcasm folks.
Mark Daoust 10:50
It was, it was literally multiple calls per week. And it was it was actually exhausting at the time to the point where we brought on Deanna just to be able to handle those. And as soon as we hired her, those actually pulled back really significantly. Well, those calls are picked up again, not to the same level that we saw before. But we’re seeing more and more of those calls with funds, or aggregators, or groups that are looking to get into the acquisition game, or they have plans for more acquisitions in 2023. Let’s call it picking up again, that’s a really nice leading indicator of a better appetite in 2023 than we saw in 2022. I’ve told you, I’ve told the team, this time and time again, in this space of m&a. The transition periods are where we see the pullbacks bear markets, bull markets, I don’t know what it’s going to be I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be a bull market or a bear market. I feel a little more bullish than I have in a while. But it’s the transitions that are difficult certainty is where acquisitions happen. Yeah,
Joe Valley 11:48
I agree. We’re going there. And part of the problem here is that, you know, the history of recessions in our lifetime, as an adult and in this industry as professionals, it’s it’s only the one that we had in 2008. Right? It was horrible. It was the with great, the Great Recession, it was just really traumatic for a lot of people and hurt a lot of people financially. And that’s our experience with recession. So we think going into a potential recession that the sky is falling, it’s going to be awful. And I think the fact of the matter is, it’s not going to me I just read this morning, Jamie, Dimon diamond, whatever, you know, I don’t know how to pronounce his last name. I read it, but I never hear it. So it’s a diamond Do you know? You don’t know either? No. He’s the head of Bank of America, I think, for Morgan Stanley, one or the other. And I’m sure I’m getting that wrong, folks. Just send me an email and correct me and tell me what a moron I am. I’m gonna read facts. I’m gonna quote things. I need to get it right. Anyway, he is the one that said there’s a hurricane coming in the economy, right, a year ago. And I read something that’s very close. Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. It’s going to be cloudy. It’s not really to be a hurricane. It’s going to be cloudy that Yeah. So why do we listen to these people at all? You know, I oftentimes amused myself, if I’m watching the news, I’ll watch, you know, 10 minutes of CNN, and then I’ll flip over to Fox and get a completely opposite view of what’s going to happen. And it’s the same thing when you read one article after another what’s going to happen in the economy. So I don’t think you know, like you said, No predictions to be made all we can tell us what’s happening in our world and in our business. And the aggregator pullback did cause a lot of confusion, the inflation, it causes a lot of fear. But that opening for the individual buyers is there, it’s there in a strong way. And I think it’s going to continue to grow. And that’s part of the outlook for 2023. I got an email the other day from somebody in the in the area that I live in, that runs a credible company. He’s got a friend of his from college that lives up in Michigan that is tired of the winters. He’s in his 50s. And he’s going to exit his company that he works for he’s an employee at his company, and he wants to buy an online business so he can live anywhere in the world. So he reached out, as we mature, there’s going to be more and more people that are individual buyers that are wanting to step into this world in which we live in where we can work remotely from anywhere in the world. So I don’t think there’s going to be a big slowdown in the marketplace. There are more online businesses that are maturing and wanting to sell and the more people that are understanding that it’s not as big of a risk as it was when you first started back in oh seven and I joined this race back in 2010. When what the average deal size was like $125,000. Very different today than it
Mark Daoust 14:41
was back then. It is very different today. And again, I just emphasize, I mean, I’m not I’m not going to make an economic prediction. I can see a case for both growth in the economy or decline. And I really don’t know well listen to Jamie see what he has to say and then realize that even the guys that are paid millions of dollars in their position shins are wrong. So I’m not gonna sit here and make my prediction, I’m sure the listeners here have their own opinions as to what’s coming, the things that do affect our market would be the interest rates, obviously, because the borrowing cost of money becomes higher. And so you have to take that into consideration. And then the actual books of of our clients, right. So if they’re seeing a decline in their revenues, because consumer demand is going down, that would be something to pay attention to. It doesn’t get rid of the the appeal of acquisitions, especially in the space, though, where the desire to sell or the desire to sell Absolutely. And so there’s, there’s going to be good supply and demand, I believe, throughout this year, for these acquisitions. And there, we’ll see. I mean, maybe next year, Joe, you know, will become slightly more professional, we’ll listen back to this and hear just how incredibly wrong we were on things or how much we understated things as well. I mean, it’d be one or the other.
Joe Valley 15:57
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting time. I think, Mark, because, you know, if we’re even within 23, with 22, or down slightly, that’s okay. Because I truly believe that when we get through this fear and confusion, that there’s only upside on the other side, you know, unless as an m&a company, you were just pulling back and tightening things up and sort of like in your shell waiting for things to get better, which we’re not doing. We’re out there, we’re going to events where, you know, Chris, our CMO, folks, Chris Moore, is doing a great job, you know, educating people all over the world, about the m&a space in the online world. And I think that we’re positioning ourselves for great upside. Once we’re out of this fear and confusion phase, we’ve got a great team. And I think that we’re helping as many people as we can understand the value their business where they want to sell today or in the future, as far as what it means for buyers and for sellers. I think that for buyers, for the great businesses, you’re not going to get a deal, folks, you’re not there’s no super bargain hunting. That was part of the confusion in q1 of 2022. Because there was, you know, challenges in the marketplace challenges in the economy, buyers thought, hey, I can get a deal I’m gonna go in really low, didn’t last very long, they found out that, you know, good businesses are still selling at high value with multiple offers, I think the multiples are up slightly on solid businesses. It’s those businesses that you mentioned, where margins are tightening, where sales have gone down, where the trends are not as positive as they once were. That is exhausting the seller, where they’re saying, okay, luck out, I’m ready to move on to my next adventure, I’m willing to take less, that might be the only opportunity for buyers to get a bit more of a bargain. The brand isn’t in trouble. It’s it’s just that the economy heard things and the seller is tired, and they’re ready to move on to their next adventure. For sellers, you guys got to do what you got to do, right? Sometimes you can hold on until the market is perfect, and your business is growing near that maximum value. And sometimes you just add a point in your life, when you’re ready to move on to your next adventure and you sell if your business is still solid, you’re gonna get a strong multiple, or if you can hang on another year. Mark’s not predicting I’m not predicting, but you know, maybe you hang on and you’ll have a stronger multiple or you come back and say, Hey, man, things are getting better now. But if we look at your trailing 12 months, and this is a year from now, you probably ought to wait another nine months to get rid of the last, you know, nine off your trailing 12 so that your business is worth what you want it to be worth. It’s it’s a crapshoot either way. It’s a gamble either way. But I think that it comes down to for sellers, and that people always say what is the best time to sell? And the answer is when it’s right for you. More than anything else. I think you actually said in a podcast you just did recently. The answer was never right the first time. So it’s really when it’s when it’s right for you, personally and professionally what’s going on in your life. So I think 2023 is going to be could be much of the same as 2022 with a little bit less of the fear and confusion. With a caveat, right, as Janet Yellen says there’s there’s a there’s a path, this is what you need to do. Mark when you talk about predicting there’s a path to a soft landing. There’s a there’s a pathway to a soft landing. But if things are outside of our control, look we haven’t even mentioned right the war in Ukraine that is part of that fear and confusion that affected 2022 It affected gas prices going up and all of that affected inflation in the economy and people spendable money and it’s all part of it. And if more of that happens in 2023 If China decides to invade Taiwan If the UK, Ukraine war, you know, gets exacerbated, to all of these things. If those things blow up, there’s going to be even more fear and confusion. And that may, you know, keep things at the same level as they were in 2022. If not, like you said, you’ve got a little bit of positive hope, right, a little bit more positive outlook than you did at this time last year. I’ve always been more positive and a bit more rosy picture than you are a little bit more optimistic. And sometimes that bites me in the essence, and it doesn’t. But But I kind of feel the same way. It’s, it’s a little confusing still, but I feel very positive about 2023 and beyond for this marketplace. Yeah, I think
Mark Daoust 20:42
I think the reason I feel a little bit more positive about the future in 2022, the conversations I had with so many people over the course of that year was we know what’s coming. Right. And it was we know what’s coming. We just don’t know, when we know, we know what’s in. Look, we saw at least the opening the opening ceremonies for potential recession, there could still be a recession this year, and official recession, because last year was not an official recession wasn’t declared one, at least. And so we could still see that this year. But I think that we have a much better feel for what does that actually look like? And that’s where I see some certainty, which is good, right. And I think people are people need to be comfortable with the the conditions that they’re going into. And I think that’s what we’re seeing here. So I don’t think you know, 2021 was an outlier, it’d be a rarity to see a repeat of 2021. And personally, as great as it was for Quiet Light, and for every m&a firm out there. And we grew our revenues by almost 100% that year. I don’t want to see that for the market. I think it’s not healthy necessarily for the market to have that level of growth. But I do think that we’re going to see some some solid growth. I do want to pivot though, Joe, to internally with Quiet Light, and talk a little bit about 2022. And the changes that we made internally, with Quiet Light, we brought
Joe Valley 22:05
a lot of our business, you’re going to share our business, so she was good. All right. sleeve, no Leave, leave all my F bombs out of it. Okay.
Mark Daoust 22:15
We do have a rating system guys internally for our strategic meetings weekly strategics. And we rated at the end of every meeting, and we have a very, very strong correlation between the number of F bombs Joe drops in the middle of those meetings and the quality of the meeting. So it’s like our version of a swear jar with who aren’t good meetings, he has some they have the F bombs, although sometimes they’re well placed and very much needed. Anyway, back.
Joe Valley 22:41
I’m sorry, just yesterday, as I dropped an F bomb, not only did I drop it, but I pushed my chair back and I stood up and I had my desk rising all at the same time.
Mark Daoust 22:51
It was a very dramatic shot, it was it cinematically, it was beautiful. 2022, we brought on a lot of people 2021 2022, we brought on a lot of new staff with Quiet Light. For years, we’ve we’ve built this company, on the backs of the advisors, and the quality of advisors that we have successful entrepreneurs have been there, done that they’ve gone through an exit personally, they’ve gone through an acquisition personally, and fairly significant in that realm. And that’s given them an incredible advantage when trying to guide other entrepreneurs through their own exits, because they’ve been there and they know exactly what it feels like. They also know some of the pitfalls that they ran into. It’s a very, very useful background for them to have. And it was so we built this company largely on their reputations largely on their abilities and their skills. But over the past year and a half, two years, we’ve really started to focus on building the back office for Quiet Light, the support staff, for them, the marketing team, our DevOps team, and a new advisor success team. And last year, you know, as we saw a minor pullback in our numbers, we of course, had all of this new staff going through, frankly, a learning curve. And you and I Joe, trying to grow up and be real managers of a company and figure out how can we manage this group in an effective way, and create a really good working environment. So I’m going to now put you on the spot to say how, what grade would you give us over the past year when it comes to that side of the business which we’ve been actively trying to build out?
Joe Valley 24:26
I think emotionally probably like a D minus right. I think it was a very emotional year for us. Because, you know, we built this company and for years, we were so proud of the fact that we built it based upon what we’re really good at, which is leaving people alone to do their jobs really well, which meant we didn’t have staff for the most part, right. The advisors are all very successful driven entrepreneurs. They’re protected, quite lights brand and reputation by helping people first and foremost. And then all of a sudden we’ve got people that we have to hire which mean we have HR stuff we have payroll stuff we have people that it turns out, are, you know, double dipping, and they kept their full time job and then took a full time job with us. And only for us to to discover it six months later and us wondering, why did they say they didn’t need benefits, even though they’re a single mom, I mean, it’s just all sorts of confusing stuff that you and I have never ever wanted to deal with. Because we have no interest in it yet. Here we are. Because we’ve grown. And we need to have the support staff to help the advisors do more of what they’re good at, and less of the detail stuff. And we need more people like Deanna and Sam, and Lauren, to help with people that are trying to reach the advisors and tell us about what their buying criteria are. It was a challenge emotionally for us. But in terms of business wise, I think we did pretty damn well, anytime I tell somebody, Hey, look, yeah, we were down a little bit, we were down about 15%. Year over year, if things had closed in December, we would have been even if things had closed at the same rate. They closed that in 2021. We’ve grown by 25 to 30%. There was like, really? Wow, that’s it? Oh, that’s amazing. It’s incredible. So I give us a pretty good grades business wise in terms of what we’ve what we’ve done. We’ve taken, again, personal stuff here, we have tripled the amount of money that we cash reserves that we can keep in place, even though I think we’re going to be okay. And 2023 I think it’s gonna be strong year, I think it’s important that as business owners, we solidified the business, with more cash reserves, with more high quality support staff that are going to support the advisors that then can then support the entrepreneur community out there. So I think we did pretty well, from growing up business standpoint, we’ve got the right people in the right seats. I think emotionally, we screwed up a few times. I remember we had a conversation with some folks back in July. And we talked about the outlook for 2022. And we were dead wrong. Right? We were very pessimistic back in July, or actually, it was August. I know because I just came back from vacation two weeks in Maine, on a lake in Maine, folks, it’s just magic. And then you come back and you know you back in the swing of things and you forget you were there for for two weeks. And we were very pessimistic at that time. And we turned out to be dead wrong. So emotionally, the minus maturity business was I think we did pretty damn well, I don’t know if I have a grade for it. And I’m exaggerating on the D minus though, of course, what’s your take? How do you think we did?
Mark Daoust 27:30
Yeah, like you. I mean, it was a year of learning, we learned quite a bit. And I’m fascinated by the the processes that you have to put in place to be able to run a remote company. Now, for the people listening, a lot of you do run remote companies. And you’re familiar with some of the challenges. But there’s there’s different grades when you’re running a remote company, if you have mainly contractors, it’s fairly easy, right? The expectations are very, here’s the project, I need the result back, right, or here’s the standard, I need that standard maintained. Pretty simple. When you get to w two employees, things go haywire. And without getting too political, I will just say our government does not make it easy to have w two employees at all. Especially when you’re looking at multi state employees. We have employees in multiple states throughout the country, which means we have to comply with state requirements throughout the country. And each of these states have different requirements as well. And then there’s tax implications for that. And there’s insurance implicate it’s it’s complex, it gets complex very quickly. In addition to that, as you said, you know, we built this company with the advisors in mind, initially, they’re successful entrepreneurs, they’re driven, they have an idea of how to take ownership. I think that that is something that is more rare to find among salaried employees. Not impossible to find, I think the people that we have right now with Quiet Light, are extremely driven, they have a great sense of taking ownership over their domain and their responsibilities, and they’ve really excelled in that area. But we’re learning how to how to be good leaders for that side of the business. And that’s taken some time and we’ve we’ve taken our lumps over the past year with some some of those decisions that we’ve made. But I think we’re also learning this I know that my one podcast will air this year outside of this one Joe with Amir from todoist.com. We talked a lot about running a remote company, and some of the the unique challenges that come up with running a remote company. I personally, it helps me get up in the morning. I enjoy the challenge of running a remote company and how can we leverage the strengths and the benefits of being remote, which a lot of people want to be remote coming out of the pandemic? So how can we leverage some of the strengths that we’re able to offer there, along with the expectations that we do have and the needs that we do have from our employees? Tip, which is to probably be more responsible, and more trustworthy than the average worker that goes into the office. Because guess what, we’re not babysitting them. We’re not watching them over their shoulders in the office and requiring them to be there every day. So grade wise, as far as that side of the business, I would, I would give us a see, right middle of the road, primarily been lifted up by some of the Rockstar people that we do have, in some positions in the great work that they’ve been doing, and just so excited about them. And I think that we ended the year very, very strong. With starting to identify, how do we do this in a way that makes sense in a way that that’s, that’s good. So I feel good, I feel like we are much more, we have a really solid foundation with the company right now to be able to grow, we’ll add a few more people this year, not a lot, just a few more people. And I think we have a solid foundation for, frankly, years of growth without needing to add a lot of people that that’s exciting. That’s exciting.
Joe Valley 31:00
That’s exciting. I think one of the things we’ve just done it, folks, if you if you’re growing like we have and you’re you’re needing more and more employees remote, or in house, we just hired a fractional HR company called fully HR. And I’m so excited about it. Because you know, Mark, it’s always been on your plate to do you know, a lot of that detail work. And it’s difficult and challenging when you’re not excited about it. And so having, you know, understanding what our own personal strengths and weaknesses are, and not doing the work, where we have great weaknesses, and then finding companies like fully HR to do the fractional HR stuff for us and manage payroll, and hiring and firing and policies and things of this nature now that we’re having to grow up because the industry is growing up. Were growing up, I think it’s a I think it’s an important thing to do. Again, I agree with you, in terms of the foundation that we’ve built in terms of the growth in the future, because like you said, I the explosive growth in terms of the staff and overhead that we’ve had in 2022 is not going to repeat itself in 23 and 24 and 25. We’ve built up a great support staff that’s going to allow the company to grow even further without adding much overhead whatsoever, which is what it always was right from when I joined in 2012 all the way through, you know, 2020, you know, there was hardly any overhead at all, yet we continue to grow every year 55% from I think what 2018 to 2021 or 20. Not actually if 85% in 2021. So 55% on average with them four or five years before that, without having much overhead at all. And I think now we’re in that position. Again, it’s just been an interesting transition for both you and I as people that always have worked remotely in our professional careers in Quiet Light, our team’s always been remote. It’s have actual employees and having to manage them and incentivize them and keep them happy and give them benefits, right health benefits. That’s us growing up. So good on us. And I think overall in the marketplace, I think 2023 is going to be a good year, I think 2024 unless, again, as Janet Yellen says there’s those outside factors that you can’t control. Unless some crazy stuff happens in the world. I think we’re I think we’re going to be looking good in the future and the end the present in 2023 as well.
Mark Daoust 33:35
Absolutely. Well, I will just round out the episode with with this. I mean, we owe a huge thanks to our team, first and foremost, sent out an email to the entire team yesterday about just an example of somebody internally living up to one of our core values, which is fostering a culture of generosity. And we’ve had a number of number of instances where we can look towards our team members, fostering this culture of generosity, it’s made this company an absolute joy to be a part of, you know, to found and to grow and to be a part of and to work with these people every single day, we’ve managed to avoid somehow those toxic politics that can enter into companies and make it just a bare an awful place to be able to work. And that’s a testament to the people and also the value that they have brought to the industry as well, from the marketing team that is going out and producing pieces that are truly educational, something that we value very highly being education oriented, as a company, to the advisors who oftentimes are giving freely of their time without necessarily getting the client out of it knowing that they’re not going to get a client out of it but still wanting to do the right thing to help somebody. So firstly, thanks to the team that is behind Quiet Light that has really grown this company. I may have founded it one day, but I certainly have not been the person who has been the reason for the growth that is entirely the team. Then secondly to All
Joe Valley 35:00
of them are gonna say me for a second there. You’re part of that just for a moment, you know? Yeah, I owe it entirely to Joe. No,
Mark Daoust 35:07
you ever give a slice of a pie? Okay, how big but it’s their slice. Yeah, it’s a slice. We also have to think some of the Friends of Quiet Light as well, other people from various communities who have influenced in their communities who have been just good people, our whole approach to business is, is incredibly simplistic. We just want to work with really good people. And I think we’ve been very fortunate that there’s been some incredible people in our immediate network, that that we could look to and just say, thank you for being good human beings, first and foremost, and wanting to do good business. And then finally, to the people here listening to the podcast to those who have worked with us that have trusted us, with our businesses, to the buyers who bought through us and inquired the rest of you have given us feedback, again, all all sorts of appreciation for every one of you. It’s a blast to be able to work with you and to see the incredible things I’m always blown away and from day one of this business tell today, blown away by just how many incredibly intelligent people there are, and talented, talented people there are doing things that I never would have been able to imagine.
Joe Valley 36:15
Well, I mean, it’s us. So that’s, that’s hard to scale for you. I want to give a shout out to you know, as you mentioned, our clients, right, and I want to call out one individually, and I want to ask everybody listening to consider giving him a shout out on Twitter as well. or Facebook or Instagram, wherever you can find him. It’s Ramon van Meer. He is the quintessential client at Quiet Light. Not only is he a great client, a great entrepreneur, he’s become a good friend, and he’s a damn good human. And on top of it all, he just became a US citizen. That’s awesome. So everybody, if you can track him down, Ramon van near give him a big shout out and congratulations. If you’re in the US. Ramon is now an American citizen, and then we’re better off because of it. So congratulations, Ramon. And thank you everybody for listening in 2022 and in 2023. In the future, we’ll be here for you. Looking forward to some great stuff down the road ahead.
Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at [email protected] Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.