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Jan. 6, 2021

074 - Half-Retire with Jim Muehlhausen

Discover how to break free from your business while keeping it running smoothly.

Discover how to break free from your business while keeping it running smoothly.

Jim and I discuss Half-Retirement, a process he teaches to help business owners find a middle ground between selling a business to completely retire and never retiring.

It's possible for business owners to delegate work they don't wish to do so they can focus on their "Picasso" work.

It's not quite an exit strategy, but it focuses on maximizing the business valuation to you and your lifestyle, rather than a random investor.



Like most entrepreneurs, Jim Muehlhausen has an eclectic background ranging from CPA, franchisee, attorney, business owner, consultant, franchisor, public speaker, university professor, and book author.

While still attending the Indiana University School of Law, he became the youngest franchisee in Meineke Discount Muffler history (1987-1991). After successfully selling that business, Jim founded an automotive aftermarket manufacturing concern. During his 9-year tenure with that business, the company achieved recognition from Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School and Inc. Magazine in the IC 100 Fastest-Growing Businesses.

About twenty years ago, he found his true passion, serving as a consultant, business coach, and advisor to hundreds of businesses. He has conducted 10,000+ one-on-one consulting sessions with business owners around the globe. He has written two well-regarded books, The 51 Fatal Business Errors and How to Avoid Them, and Business Models for Dummies, and has contributed to publications such as Inc., The Small Business Report, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and various business journals.

Jim has now turned his attention to the problems facing aging business owners. By studying thousands of business owners, collecting their best practices, and augmenting them, Jim created the Half-Retire Blueprint. This step-by-step process helps business owners create a profitable alternative to selling their business via Half-Retirement. This trademarked system is outlined in Jim’s upcoming book Don’t Sell Your Business Half-Retire: A New Exit Strategy for Business Owners.




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Why aren't people able to figure this out on their own? Why don't people have personal trainers? I know how to lift weights, you know, I know how to do depends on the girls. I know how to do all that. Why do I do? Well, because sometimes you need I call poverty trap. I need a polygraph. Which coaching does. Right. Knowing that if you are going to have a coaching session with me every third Thursday at 9:00 a.m., that's a positive track because you know what's going to happen?


Stuff is going to get done. That's what's going to happen. And you either want to do everything you can to get that done or you don't. And the do it yourself plan is fine. But I think in general, whether it be me trying to screw up, fix my house on the Do it yourself plan or someone trying to do this, you can't see yourself in the mirror. You know, in business, you probably have a pretty good sense of things, but you have a warped sense of things and personal.


Welcome, everybody. Today, I have a guest that actually our work is so in some ways similar, it's kind of scary. So I guess if I compliment him, it's complimenting me. Maybe that's a little arrogant. But when I saw Jim stuff and what he's up to with Half-Retire, I was really in a good way blown away by what he's doing and how he's helping people. And so I'm excited to share that with you today. Like most entrepreneurs, Jim Muehlhausen has an eclectic background ranging from a CPA franchisee, attorney, business owner, consultant, franchisor public speaker, university professor and book author.


He's previously written to well regarded books, The 51 one Business Errors and How to Avoid Them and Business Models for Dummies, and has contributed to publications such as The Small Business Report, Entrepreneur Business Week and various business journals. Jim has now turned his attention to the problems facing aging business owners by studying thousands of business owners, collecting their best practices and augmenting them. Jim created the Half-Retire blueprint. This step by step process how business owners create a more profitable alternative to sign the businesses via Half-Retire in this trademark system, as outlined in his book Half-Retire Keep Your Business, Ditch the Stress.


And like I said, I just brought him on and wanted to share his insights with you because when he suggested reach out to me that he'd come on the show and I checked out his work, which I always do, I was really impressed by what he's doing. So, Jim, welcome to the show. I'm already grateful for the work you're doing. And thank you for coming to join us.


Great to be here, Wade. That's awesome. So what I wanted to do is, you know, you're listed. It feels like sometimes when I struggle you just saw me struggle through, by the way, in case, you know, I edited this like four times. I read his his list of things. There's a lot that he's done.


And like a lot of entrepreneurs, we sometimes do different things. We try different things. And then sometimes you find these common threads. One of the things that I'm excited to get your feedback on, Jim, is why is it that some people would fear Retention? I mean, because isn't isn't the whole goal to retire? So you're telling me I mean, this, you know, for those listening. Yes, this is true. This guy is helping people slow down retirement when maybe they could retire.


Maybe they couldn't tell me a little bit about that. Why would somebody want to Half-Retire as opposed to do it all the way? Well, they certainly are people that want to do it all the way, I think. They've got ten million dollars in the bank and I've seen people walk away from evidence that they have enough in the bank, that they just don't want to do this anymore and throw the keys at an employee and maybe they will take it over and maybe they won't or they just lock the door for the last time and walk away.


And that's a luxury that not every business owner has, which is part of that Half-Retire group that I literally cannot afford, or I don't want to give up so much of my lifestyle that I can afford to lose this very nice stream of income that I built. But it comes with this terrible stress that I don't like. And so that's what we focus on as, OK, would you keep that income versus sell it if you didn't have all that stress, the group that you're talking about it because a little bit smaller group, let's call it.


Seventy five. Twenty five. They don't necessarily need any kind of money injection or they're they're financially they're fine, but they're concerned. What exactly is it going to do. All my social connections flow from my business, my business friends, my employees are like part of the family. Now this is where I get my social needs met. You know, it's Mathlouthi. You know, here's a direct quote from one of our Half-Retire, he said and he said financially.


And so I said, I realize that as I get into this and I've cut my work schedule, that I enjoy coming to work and working on a lot of the things that I do. It just wasn't all of it. And sometimes it's hard to see that when we're so busy and we're younger and we're going one hundred miles an hour, it just all needs to get done and we just do it. That's what entrepreneurs do. You just do the work that's in front of you.


All of a sudden you start get a little bit older, you start going, I'm getting too old for this blankety blank and you want to get rid of some of the stuff that's garbage that you're going, OK, I don't want to be doing this, but I can't figure out how to do it. It's like playing catch with yourself, like you throw the ball, but there's nobody there to catch it. If you want to get rid of it, we'll call that the delegation that you want to throw the ball.


But there's nobody there. But to your question, I think that you've got perks that go with the business. You've got company, car, country club membership, you've got sports tickets. You've got things that are tied to that. You got your social connections and you've got something meaningful to do when you get up in the morning. And not everybody likes to travel. Not everybody likes to play golf for. Yeah, and that's something that I find is the thread there's certain commonalities in you and I are targeting a slightly different group, though, with similar ideas.


And again, it is almost a little creepy. When I went to one of your parts of your site where you had your spreadsheets laid out, like, wait, did I do this in my sleep? Because sometimes I go back when you do enough spreadsheets, after a while, I'll dig up something and realize, oh, wow, I created that and I'll remember it. So it's kind of like for some people, family pictures. It's like spreadsheets for me.


And yours was so similar, like did I. Now I don't think I did then it's OK. It's on his side. It probably didn't do it. But one of the things that I find that people struggle with is what you said is. You know, what part do I do? So I was just talking to somebody on a call earlier today and this person was asked me, said, well, what is it that you're the people you work with?


What do they struggle with? And the way I explained it was they're very often doing 10 things. And when they do these 10 things. Everything works. But first of all, they don't like doing all 10 things and they also don't know which of those 10 things are causing the success, so they kind of get nervous. It's OK. It's almost becomes like like a voodoo or like watching a sports game and sitting in the same chair and wearing the same hat and not changing your underwear or whatever it is that we as men do.


That's kind of stupid, but it's just one of those things that. The person says, I don't know what I can give up, I certainly know what I don't like, so say let's start there and that might be important or might not be important. How do you help a person sort of go through that?


Because I saw your process and the implications of it. It seemed to me that that was a huge part of it. In fact, I think you outlined a few stages where you kind of go for some of the low hanging fruit first to give this person confidence because this person might have built a business 10, 20, 30 years and kind of want you're still some outside guy, some X factor or some variable that's suggesting that this person tinker with something.


And most entrepreneurs, you know, we don't like to break stuff if it's not broken. Well, if it's that part that provides for our livelihood, maybe other stuff. Sure. How do you help them perhaps systematically go through that? And and where do you start that conversation? All right.


So now we've got three boys. I had two bullets a minute ago. They used to have the third. Sorry about that. So there's a six step process. And obviously it's outlined in the book. You could find that there's a blueprint on the website that you can download for free as well and Half-Retire Dotcom. But what I'm what you're alluding to in the third one is what I call the magnet. And yes, me, you know, every business owner walking the planet does not want to screw up their business.


And anything that is tinkering is like I remember back in the old days when Half-Retire to know that I had a real Honda that was running well, but it hit like ninety thousand miles and I had the great idea to tune it up and it ran worse. It ran worse after I cooled its car up that had never had the car close to the old auto repair shop, you know, was not a problem deal. But I, I ruined the car by tuning it up.


And that's the way we feel about our business, too. Right. Don't mess with it if it's working. OK, but here's the problem. I'm going to be one day older tomorrow, as are you. And eventually those three hundred and sixty five start adding up and we start hitting milestones. And it's like, OK, I do know one thing. I will not do this forever. I don't know. I don't know whether it's one more minute or fifty years, but I'm not going to do this forever.


And at some point something is going to have to change, whether it be physically, mentally. I just I've got a large group of clients that are really struggling with what I'm going to call not caring. I have a different name for it, but I wouldn't use if we were not recording. OK, but think it's like I just don't care. It's like I used to care about this. I know it's important to my business. I just can't muster up the energy to give a hoot about this.


And it's like, where did that come from? When you're forty five that never happens. But when you're fifty five, sixty, sixty five, all of a sudden you're trying to muster up thirty years of caring about something that is probably menial. My point is that step one in our process that we call a magnet, it is a reason that you want to Half-Retire and if you don't have a reason, you're going to end up exactly where you set.


I don't want it right there, let's let's unpack that real quick, because that's something I've told people say, look, if you can't come up with what you want to do on Friday to use the 4-Day Work Week now for a slightly different, then, of course, you can combine the two. But if you can't figure out what you want to do on Friday, if your work life is more interesting than a person, your personal life, to put it real simply, well, you're not going to try to work a 4-Day Work Week and I'm not here to sell to say everybody should.


But a lot of people don't have an awesome personal life. And a lot of times it's nothing fancy. It's not deep psychology. It's they haven't planned it. Awesome personal life. They planned an awesome business or an awesome career.


And they've put their energy there. They've put it into their workouts or achievement or different things. And they don't have achievement set as a goal, like one of my coaches says, you know, there's certain people that if you tell them to stop and smell the roses, they're going to win first prize at smelling roses.


You know, that's just everything is a competition or an objective or something like that.


And I think there's that idea that, yes, you've got to be moving towards something that's more exciting or inspiring. That's why you started a business as opposed to working from somebody. That's where you worked from for somebody instead of sitting on the couch. There's there's always something that's got to be more engaging or more exciting or perhaps more fearful if it's paying bills or whatnot. But, you know, the people you're talking about are more in that stage where there's a little more choice, as you said, you know.


Yeah, if I could keep my same lifestyle, I might retire, maybe not. So as they get clear about that, how do you help? Because I want to. Because this is such a huge piece. What do you do when you find that person doesn't have something that they're in contact with? They're they're connected to a great reason. Why can many of them remedy that? Or do you find that that's kind of it is what it is.


How do you address that with them or what do you do with that? No, I don't believe it is what it is, I think sometimes you can get frustrated with the client. I'm sure you've had it happen to where it's going to land that way, and it's because they just don't want to explore it. So one of the things that we do is this exercise we called Dare to Dream. And it's what you're describing, right? I'm guilty of it as they are.


I won't let myself think. What if I took every Friday off or what if I took a month off and traveled around the world? I just wouldn't let myself go there. As I get older, I get better at doing it. And I've got a client that takes every Friday afternoon off and goes to the movies with its 30 year old son. Well, that's what they do together. He doesn't care about. Is he a Disney movie? He doesn't care.


OK, but he's going to knock off at noon, go to lunch and go to the movies every Friday afternoon. And God bless him. He's got a great business. He does. Well, it hasn't hurt him at all, but he's deepened his relationship with his son. He's just put in the time and he's smart enough to do that. But I think that the first thing that we have to do is just give ourselves permission to say whatever.


And then all of a sudden they're going to come up with the stuff that you're talking about or that I'm talking about and I don't want to I think it's going to be full up, which is what we're talking about. Can't be. Come on. Come on, come on. Or your spouse is nagging at you or whatever. It can't be a push. It's got to be a pull. And that's why I call it a magnet. And I think you and I are philosophically on the same page, but they've got to have us for a reason that will motivate them to do that, to be willing to tinker with those spark plugs.


I haven't thought about that before. Which leads me to point number two. Can we move on to point number two of which which is you were talking about the ten things, and I completely agree with you. It's like trying a tire, putting on makeup without a mirror, OK? It doesn't have to do with your tightening ability. A mere is a tool that will help you do it better because you can you can see yourself now and in your business, you can't always see what the valuable work that you do is probably half right.


But you also see people thinking things are not valuable, that are things that are that aren't valuable, that are you name it. And it's because they're guessing at their own stuff. You know, the doctor by their own family, whatever you want to call it, an outside party makes the huge difference. But the other thing that you said that struck a chord with me is that they have these 10 things that they do. And that's where we dig pretty deep into this in that I don't think it's ten things.


I think it's one hundred and ten things. And that what they have is ten hairballs of twenty five things all round together. And we say you can't delegate the hairball. And every business owner in the world has this where it's just this mess of stuff that is 30 things and we don't even use the word delegable for this reason, because you if if it was delegable work, they would have done it. They know what the allegation is, not read a couple of books on it.


They understand the benefits. Yet why have smart, hardworking people not been able to deal with you? Because it's impossible, that's why. That it is impossible to delineate the hairball. You've got to untangle. And get down to what we call your Picasso work and your Picasso work is that special genius that we like doing as a lot of value enables you to do a 4-Day Work Week or Half-Retire like we're talking about. If you only do your household work in terms of value, you probably like it because you're good at it.


Business needs it from you, but it's it's not laden with B.S. like the hirable. So, yes, so that's something that I find I use it a different word, uses a hairball. I say, you know, there's there's laser light delegation and there's God delegation. And I'm so good at God delegation. And it's a horrible skill, by the way. It's where you just say, I just want to do all this nonsense and I'm going to find somebody who's Tytler.


Something somewhat aligns with this. I'm probably going to end up blaming them later and saying they couldn't do a good job at it. Now, later know put it on them. And yet what needed to happen is just certain things I needed to unpack and help them with. So my parents are now moving out of the house that they've had for 40 years. Well, they've actually been living in a different house for a while, but they're finally selling the old house.


And my brother and sister and I've gone home and helping them to unpack the garage. And there's the garage in the attic and the old trophies, all the stuff my parents have kept. And to your point, there's certain things now we can help them. We can lift things and some of the stuff is ours. But so much of it is we don't we don't have the expertize to know because we do care about them and what's going on to just throw stuff away.


There's certain things we know, but they need to at least in some way. And it is an emotional thing to a certain degree, be willing to say, OK, yeah, that we can let go of that. We're not sure that we can hold on to it for a while and maybe some of it will take up space for all that eventually let go of it. But there are certain things you can't delegate until you at least come up with a system, do something different than what you've been doing, because, again, it's important, as you've mentioned, there's certainly stuff that's easy to delegate.


Somebody already has a title. You say somebody mows lawns. Well, that's an easy one. OK, people mow lawns. Great.


Have the person Multiline or other jobs within a business that are so clearly defined, a receptionist or certain things, a social media manager where it fits into this nice pretty box. A lot of people struggle the things that perhaps they aren't as clear about. And sometimes those things correct me if I'm wrong on in your experience, sometimes some of those things that are the hairballs do have a little bit of the genius work in there, or at least a little bit of perspective that the newbie who just walked in the door can't provide.


So I find a lot of times the people I work with do have at least a gut sense of, OK, I don't know why, but I've not I've not just given that away and where sometimes, as you said, they'll think one thing works and it doesn't and vice versa is I joke with some of my clients. They think their clients buy stuff for them because of their cheesy 1980s sales word tracks. And yet the client buys from them because they can tell that they care.


And yet they're still working on the word tracks like, no, it's because, you know, your process and you studied and you've been doing this for 50 years.


But what are the things how do you find that you help a person then think through that mess?


How do they unpack that in a way that is beneficial to them? Because, again, if they do throughout something that they shouldn't have, now we get back to that tinkering, we might have accidentally caused some undue harm. And I know that for you and I, that's one of the toughest things as an outside consultant when you know enough to be helpful, but perhaps you don't know quite enough of even the things that the client's not telling you, kind of like the doctor, the things that the client doesn't tell the doctor.


They're thinking, OK, what else is going on here that I'm not seeing that's still in play or the the client? It's not that they're withholding. They might not even be aware of. It might be beyond what they're seeing. And yet, if we want to help them, we've got to make sure we don't miss that. How do you how do you address that? We want to back up to something that you said that I think is absolutely true, and that is every airball has the cost of war.


That's why it's on Delegable. It is the focus of work that makes it on Delegable.


That's why they haven't done it, not because they're stupid or their control freaks are all the things that people accuse them of. Right. Well, you need to become a better delegator, Bob. And it's like, well, Bob, that stupid Bob God delegable for a reason as because Bob hasn't figured out how to he's going to happen to Picasso work. We know this is our business, but it is Delegable one. No one else can be Picasso.


Painting the million dollar painting is unbelievable.


And we all have that and our business needs it from us. But it's we sometimes call it 98 to delegation, meaning because we're two percent of what we do. The other 98 in theory, is all. We break it into five phases there. Like you talked about, there's an easy bake. Usually that can happen and you can get rid of a lot 20 hours off of a guy's time with one phone call. OK, is that a dumb guy, the guy with a master's degree and some smart guy can't see his own stuff being Timyra?


And what about this? What about this? You play around and you get the answer. But when someone what we find so stuck to our process is actually what we call mindset. And notice, I'm not trying to fix anything, the stuff that we're talking about, the two step three, so we won't even go to step three. And the surprising part about writing a book for me was I realized there were some minds at work that needed to be.


And then as I'm writing this book, my appreciation for the minds that were kept in and it keeps growing because without that mindset changing to the mindset of a Half-Retire business owner, none of this stuff is going to work.


Yeah, and I think so many people missed that because especially if you've been around, I mean, shoot, I've been in the business world since the late 80s. And if you've even been around anything around vision or mission now, it's called your why?


It's I mean, it's been called something for four decades and I'm sure it was probably done hundreds of years ago. There becomes this fear of, oh, gosh, if the if the consultant definite label stereotype outside coach talks too much about philosophy, mindset, oh, god, there's going to be no substance. So sometimes as coaches or consultants, we have this knee jerk response. Okay, well, I'm going to come in with all the tactics and I'm going to show you every single tool.


But as you and I both know, if they're not ready for the tool, if they don't want the tool, if they don't understand how to use the tool, doesn't matter because you probably run this. I run into more entrepreneurs who will write the check to delegate in a heartbeat. Here's a check. And some of the most dangerous clients for me to take on is the person who won't do the work but wants to write me a good check.


And it can be a four figure, five figure or greater check. But they just want to, you know, they're hoping. And I'm like, OK, well, that's a if that's a done for you, that's a very different commitment. And that's usually why they're willing to write a bigger check.


They're not right and will write a five figure or greater check for a book they're willing to do it for. Oh, here you do this. And then there almost becomes that entitlement if I wrote you a big enough check. So now you're supposed to do what you like. No, no, no, no, no, no. That's I'm a consultant. I don't I don't work for you. I work with you. But to your point, if they haven't gotten a sense of what that mindset is or that ultimately, yes, something needs to change and that's where you can I don't know about you.


I sometimes run up against a little bit of the ego can very subtly come out. And usually it's kind of gentle and you don't want to do the whole thing. We say, well, you called me, right, because that's why we're talking kind of a thing. But in somewhere, there's got to be a willingness for them to do something slightly differently. Like you said before, you can get on to that, unpacking the hairball or taking things out.


How do you know when a person is absolved? Absorb the mindset.


How do you know when they're ready? I don't know. Well, I mean, you're going to see it play out and things working instead of not working guys that easy, like, let me give you a sense of what we actually talk about, remapping them, because and maybe I'd just like to break things down. But to me, it's not there's always a mindset to God Can Be Your Coach, OK, this is a problem mindset. So, for instance, I'm going to call it I'm going to call perfectionism because I think that that's got a bunch of stuff attached to it that I don't necessarily mean.


I'm going to call it getting stuff done the way I like it, because that's not necessarily perfectionism versus pragmatism over here. You will need to redmap that mindset little saying you can get things done the way you like them done or you can Half-Retire those are your options.


There is no C option called. I want it. So you're not going to be there 40 hours. You're not going to have your eyeballs on the business anymore. You're not going to involve in the process anymore. That's all good. Right. But now you you can't just take a result that is satisfactory or better. You have to have it done the way you want it done, which is fine if you're there all the time. But those two don't peacefully coexist.


And that is not a process issue. That is not of that is nothing but a mindset. And until and I've seen it, we're all in the God crappies. Right. And then they snap that mindset and then they start looking at it from that mindset and all these things. Douro That's how they're going to get money out of that because he starts going own only changes. Five mindset. There's, I don't we've got thirty, thirty five mindsets that potentially could be redmap to Half-Retire mindsets.


So you start finding five problem ones. Some people it's a light switch, it's as simple, it can be faffed, it doesn't need to be a process. Egremont five mindsets and all of a sudden need to look at this completely differently. And he is like, holy cow, I can trim twenty hours a week off like awesome.


And it's funny you say something, as I've explained to some of my clients this way, I've worked with clients, I work a lot of clients were Insurance agency owners and their business model is the just the quintessential renewal business model, residual income, whatever word you want to call it. And so a lot of them, to your point, when they start pulling back on the hours. They have what I kind of called the King syndrome, and usually it is a male affliction, so I guess I'm a male.


I can be mean towards males.


It's this thing of it's going to be done the way I want it to be done. And I've explained to him a different way. And it's almost the counterpoint to the other side of what you're saying is. There is a certain emotional right that people will give you when you are in the trenches with them in the office 40 hours a week and you emotionally have less rights when you're there eight to 10 hours a week, you're still the boss. You still write the checks and you can still fire people.


But. You don't get the same level of, oh, we've got to make sure this is so awesome for you because there's still that part that says, well, he's not here all the time or she's not here all the time. And so I'm going to do this the best way I can to your point. And when this person whose only work in 10 hours a week, as far as I can tell, comes in and starts yapping up about their way, their way, their way.


Man, the highway looks really good. And so I think that's also the part where people have to it's a maturity thing. You don't get to do everything. It's that old story of what the boat or the ship captain that's going back and forth and talking to somebody on the other side who says, well, you need to go left. And he sees a light and there's E or whatever it is you need to you know, you need to turn.


And the person says, well, no, I don't. And the captain says, well, I'm a lieutenant or general, whatever is. And the person is I'm simply a seaman. He's like, well, I outrank you. He says, I'm a blah, blah, blah ship. He says, I'm a lighthouse. What are you going to do, man? I'm a White House, you figure out what you want to do with that information.


I'm not going anywhere. You're going to have to adjust. And I think that's one of those that's one of the few ego things that I think sometimes gets people that in the Castle syndrome when they're used to the big castle of 20 employees. And now they've got to admit that there's only 10 employees like, you know, to do this sort of thing sometimes because they can't keep up with the growth. Just that little bit of. Letting go to say, OK, this is something different and it doesn't have to be necessarily smaller, but like you say, a little more of that, whether it's humility, acknowledgment of mortality, of life, of reality, that now you don't know if Michael Jordan could still do what he could do.


He'd still be in the league. He can't. It's not that all of a sudden he he didn't want to share. Do you think any of the top athletes in the world want to share the stage now? His father time? You don't you know, that happens. So I could see where and I had never thought of this way. But you identified the specific issues or, you know, however you wanted them to say this is this problem, this specific way of thinking that's hurting you to people, identify them.


So you said you guys you guys have, I guess, kind of name them and put kind of a sense of what they are enlisted? Quite a few of them.


Well, I'm sure you can make the list and probably get 70 percent of it if I give you 10 minutes, because you've seen the same things that I've seen, like, you know, perfectionism or, you know, unwillingness to sometimes it's troughs. Right now there's there's there's good reasons to trust people and there's good reasons enough of people. You know, trust isn't always I mean, I think entrepreneurs get very unfairly criticized for not trusting their people. And from what I've seen, what I've had lots of employees in my life, my manufacturing company that you mentioned, I have 50, 60 people and I have plenty of people to take care of things and also dropped the ball in a in a spectacular fashion on me over the years have fired more people than we have and the unique workforce, let's call it.


But I think that the other thing I think there's two points that are tied to what you said. Point number one is they need to remember all of the good stuff that comes with. Four days a week, half retirement, OK, and I have people that struggle, which is what I do is I call it wanting them to want what you want them to watch. That's a lot of what's OK. But you do know what I'm about, right?


It's like, oh, you mean your people aren't excited that you're only coming in two 1/2 days a week? Now, what a surprise, Poliakoff. You mean they're not one hundred percent behind you keeping all your money and not being there at all. It's not going to happen. What you need for them to do is do their job so you can say Half-Retire, that's what you do. Maybe that also the pragmatism of pragmatism. All the rest is just, you know, it's funny you say that.


How many of them I want them to want me to be in Tahiti while they're in the office. Dude, seriously.


And again, a lot of those on board this I've spent 35 years building this. Don't they know how hard I work? And again, they're like, blah, blah, blah, old man, don't you know I've got bills to pay? I've just seen some of like. Well, you know, Wade did you know my my taxes were this much this year. Your taxes are more than some of your team members and there's nothing wrong with that.


But you're not the debt. You know, you're not going to get sympathy for them when your taxes are more than you pay them. And again, no moral judgment, but check it a little bit. So, yes, there's a little bit of that lala land question for you.


I'm going to pause a little bit and what I think will still come back to your steps with why aren't people able to figure this out on their own? Because everything you've said to me so far makes sense. So, again, I'm thinking of you and I have done this for a while in different forms and fashions. And if somebody is even on this who's in the consulting field as an entrepreneur to Wade, this is so easy or so easy, why don't they figure this out?


Why don't people have personal trainers? I know how to lift weights, you know, I know how to do it on the girls, I know how to do all that. Why do I do? Well, because sometimes I call poverty trap. I need a polygraph. Which coaching does knowing that if you are going to have a coaching session with me every third Thursday at 9:00 a.m., that's a positive track because you know what's going to happen? The stuff is going to get done.


That's what's going to happen. And you either want to do everything you can to get that done or you don't. And the do it yourself plan is fine. But I think in general, whether it be me trying to screw up, fix my house on the Do it yourself plan or someone trying to do this, you can't see yourself in the mirror. You know, in business, you probably have a pretty good sense of things, but you have a warped sense of things and personal.


Right. You also you can't hold yourself accountable, in my opinion. We deal with a lot of Taipei's, a lot of hard chargers and a lot of people that get a lot of stuff done, and they're very self-motivated. By the same token, if they really accountability is doing something you don't want to do. And every single person that I just described, if they don't want to do it, is going to go, I ain't going to do it.


No accountability is pushing past that. And that takes a disinterested third party, not your spouse, not your brother, not your best friend, somebody who cares about you, but enough to kick you in the knee if that's what you need. OK, so the reason that this stuff won't work as well on your own, even if you read the book, the whole blueprint in the book, you can even download it on the website. You can do all that.


But, you know, we've got a robust training program. We put people through, having covered the most robust part, which is the part about doing all the work of going through that process of realigning the business for Half-Retire. The first two separate you talk about really quick. It's the third, fourth, fifth, six steps that take a little bit longer. So I don't know that I know the answer to that. Certainly unhappy with the miraculous things on their own.


But I think that most mortals. Probably would just do better. I don't know what people say to you, but what people say to me is I know I need a coach.


I know it's something if it's something similar and, you know, it's like anything else I tell my kids, my kids are gifted in different ways. You know, I in school was intellectually gifted. I was a social moron. And so if you were to give me an intellectual challenge, it would be a blind spot to me to think that other people couldn't do it, because I just see it. I can see the multiplication tables or whatever it is.


But if you were to ask me, how do I start a conversation or talk to a girl, I are.


So, you know, it's one of those things that I think there's a certain percentage to your point is I tell people, same thing most of my content, either in a book or the podcast or a very low priced course, it's all there. But as you and I both know, like anything else, it's the execution. And when there's more at stake, it's not just about saying I used to joke to people, you know what, you can buy my book.


This is what I didn't know. I didn't know this part said, well, you can buy my book, you can pay for the online course or you can pay me a lot and I'll private coach and read the slides to you. And I used to joke because, you know, I thought that the only thing that they were doing is they were just lazy, didn't want to read the slides and it wasn't or watch the videos. And of course, it wasn't.


That is like they were actually taking it so seriously. They're saying Wade, I get how big of a deal this is my one mistake. You've helped me identify a ten thousand fifty thousand hundred thousand dollar issue. So, yeah, I'll invest some money to make sure that I get that right. And so that that's very important. So I just wanted to get that. And let's go back, if you don't mind. Step three, step three.


You talked about starting to unpack a little bit.


What's that look like? That's what we call it.


The genius. You're playing the game Jenga with the woodblocks. Yes. So you're playing Jenga and you're like a piece of the middle and you think it's going to pop right out. And then the whole thing spins on you and slides across the table. Two inches.


They're like, whoa, oh, that sucker is stuck. Well, that stuff that piece is the business owner, OK? And if you push on that piece and try to remove the business owner from that little stuff, which it is OK for all of us today, it's just going to tip the towel over and they know it and they can feel it. And that's why they're resisting all this change, because they know instinctually that if they push too hard that piece, they're going to have a problem.


But if you play Jenga, you know that if you wrote this piece here in this piece here in this piece here, you come back to that same page later. What happened? Oh, I cried out. I love that. So we're going to adjust and do all that manipulation in step three so that we can remove the burdens of self. And I'll go fast here because I know some time. Step four, we re leverage assets. Here's my point.


You're the business owner. Your time adds value to the business. If I subtract time, I have to add back other value or else your income goes down. So there are usually spots. It could be Business Week. There's a long laundry list in our bag of tricks that we let me jump in there and I think you said Synod's because of people so Wade I just want to d'elegance.


Hold on. If you only just delegable. Well then you just, you still have added, you freed up time. Great. You've added expense. But you told me you didn't want your income to go down. So we still, you know, in somewhere we want you to do something else that kind of makes up for it. You don't have to. And again, if you can afford not, you might say, wait, I don't need to.


But yeah, it's the money is not going to come from nowhere, especially if you want good help. So, yeah. Helping them see those pieces. I think of something, what you mentioned struck a chord with me. So I have a program I've done for it. I've done pretty much the same program four different times with one of my target audiences and I called it four different things. And one of the times I called it the Automatic Insurance Agency.


It's for Insurance and genres. And that particular title was the one that got the most response the most times by multiples. And what was funny is some people, of course, you get this sort of catch. Twenty two, some people don't believe it'll work and you say, OK, and then some people say it can't work. It would cost a lot then this in a way that cost too much if all these different objections to why it would work or why it wouldn't work.


But the still point I said to is going to be really clear. Let me define automatic. Automatic is you 20 percent depending maybe forty percent of what you're doing now time wise, depending how good you get at this. It's not completely automatic because we're dealing with people. And as we know from the country song, God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.


So you can't count on people to make something completely automatic. And yet again, it almost argu. All three sides of that. There's only two sides to it. And yet because it was still difficult. But I like you. I've never had to explain this with that. Right now we can't remove you. And it makes perfect sense right now. We can't remove it from the process. But when we put some things in place, you'll naturally, in fact, you won't be needed.


It'll become apparent. And I guess that's always been one of my litmus tests, if you will, to when the people start. Hey, Jim, can I take that from you? You say, oh, I was hoping to give that to you and in my mind, I can't wait to give it to you. But when you come to me and say, I've now mastered the five things below that and this is just the next thing in the list, all of a sudden this becomes less magic and woo woo and mysticism and it becomes just more about, OK, well, we're going to remove those pieces.


Is that kind of what it looks like for you all? Yeah, and one of the things that this is going to seem really simple, but I see most businesses are really struggling with this and it's the way that they expect people to take on work. OK, and I have this a lot. So if we talk a lot, I want you to build a brick wall, OK? The way that most. So. So back to that.


There's 10 things to do. And I said it's one hundred and ten. I see each brick. It's one thing to do not build a wall. OK, and so what most business owners do is they take a wheelbarrow for bricks, they walk up to you, they got the bricks at you and they see the wall. And the problem is that's a lot of different things. If you don't know anything and everybody forgets that they didn't come out of the womb knowing this, they learned it.


And especially people that are good at I think people are good at some of the worst trainers. Oh, gosh, that was a horrible baseball hitting instructor was like, what's wrong with you? See the ball hit the ball? What's wrong with you? You know, it was a great hitting instructor, Charlie Liow, a lifeline to thirty seven hitter. That was a good hitting instructor because he had to work and he probably had to work to hit to thirty seven.


Yeah, OK. But to me. So so my analogy is, listen, I'm really one brick get into another. I have a simple saying that I insist that everybody live and that is it is only what someone can do without help. That is helpful.


A pile of bricks there that you just throw your hands in the air and you go, now what? Bonds. Now what? Watch that process. Nuts right after you've heard it. After you've done it. Just like me. Yes.


And then even worse, the owner will sometimes say, build the wall and you'll give it. And I think of who I was when I first entered the workforce. There's a team member I work with in one of the agencies I work with who's like this, where he'll build the wall.


It might not be exactly the brick wall you wanted, but he'll build it so fast. And he said, no, but I want to hold on now. This is like a genie genie. You've got to be very clear. I want a million bucks and a bunch of those critters show up in the bar.


I meant a million dollars.


Well, you needed to be clear. You said you wanted a million bucks. Here's a million bucks.


And that's not quite the same thing. Yeah, and so it does slow down a little bit and think about it, how they were trying to master it and really we call it fractionalization, learning to rationalize everything and look at it. I use the example of changing a light bulb. It's like twenty five steps to change a light bulb. It's not one. It's one of five steps to fall off the ladder. Don't get on top thing. Make sure you push down the prongs all the way up the ladder, turning counterclockwise, clockwise.


All that stuff is steps. And everyone, I'm not going to call it laziness, but at some point it knows that it needs to be done that way in order to work. And then you choose not to do it. Now it is laziness or wishful thinking or or whatever. But we've got a lot of luck getting our clients to get people to accomplish work, table or work that they never dreamed other people could take over for them. I really just doing those two things.


One, a lot of them can also work. They're never going to be able to do it. That's going to blow it up. Number two, let's work on it in a logical five step process to get rid of the easiest work. First focus on mastery, not how much can I give to them. It's only what they can do without help. It is helpful if you can fetch me coffee in the morning, that is helpful. I now don't need to do that.


Cool, great. Now let's go one further. I got to greens. Yes. Whatever would be awesome. Cool. So do me a favor. I've got four more quick questions for you, but go through if you don't mind.


What are steps five and six five we call set the auto pilot. It's the same thing you were. How do you manage it quickly, easily not being there, your eyeballs aren't on the business anymore. How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the business? Step six really is in step and enjoy the spoils. Might have some fun to do to do the things that you encourage them to do on Fridays. Awesome, cool. So all right, fuckwit, a little bit of a lightning round.


What does it look like and feel like to the business owner when they achieve it? I know it might look slightly different, but one of the common themes where they then come to you and say, Jim, thank you, how do you like when they know either that they're on their way, that they're safely enough on their way, that they're going to get there or they're good enough? They're what does that look like? Well, usually you can measure it in hours, right, but for instance, getting out of a sale can be tricky, you know, very, very large construction company, 60, 70 million dollars.


And the owner was pretty heavily entwined in that process. And that's scary, right? You start going from feeling 50 million dollars of sales, potentially getting out of this. And he sent me a note last Christmas and he said, hey, I just wanted to thank you for all the good work we did together, blah, blah, blah. By the way, I'm not involved in sales anymore at all.


That's awesome. Yeah. And you go, OK, there's a victory. I don't care how much you work at. Right. But yeah. So you start feeling it. Right. I think that, you know, sometimes you, you and I don't get the hear. They get these little victories. I'll be like, oh my gosh, I can't believe they handled that without me or whatever it would be. And you need to build upon. Yeah, that's that's huge.


Sometimes the victories are small when I write them down, because sometimes in case people forget to remember, a month ago, you know, you didn't you've got a latte or you got a frappuccino, you don't want a Frappuccino, you know, just something so simple.


Second question in general, how long does it usually take to start seeing results and or reaching the finish line? And those are two different things, because I'm assuming some of this, of course, is managing expectations of somebody when they come in. What do you usually tell clients and what you usually find?


OK, I'm going to give you the answer. I've seen lots of people get some really amazing results in a month, but they're certainly not the Half-Retire. You're not going to be Half-Retire, Wade a month. I've seen some I've seen people quit on me after a month where they were like, oh, my gosh, I thought I wanted to be Half-Retire. And now I'm working half the time and they change their definition to me. Four days a week.


I've got people that want to work more than that, that are Half-Retire, 80/20 Friday afternoons off, OK? That's Half-Retire of you know, you're Half-Retire they'll move the bar on me. Oh my gosh. I couldn't believe I could get 15 hours back. I was working sixty nine working forty five. Good enough because I got people who are 30 and they're 40 that are doing this. But sometimes that will happen or they'll change the bar. But I think realistically it's going to be six months to a year if you really want to spike the ball in the end zone.


But that's dependent on everything from your business model, your profitability. You know what? If I wouldn't want to be a MicroCon right now, I mean, the big one around here to start with coming out with Spike Seltzer and you go, oh, wow, you know, you go, that's not a good sign, in my opinion. That means you're not selling enough beer. I guess that's a bit that's that's I don't even know if it's a business model problem is a trend problem.


Yeah. I can't I can't change consumer preferences. That's a good point.


Yeah. No, there's got to be aware of what you can do. One of my friends says you can only do what you can do it. They have great people, they have lousy people right there. They're missing a key position or I just had a client where one of their key people just took another job, got hired away last week. Well, that's going to impact them. Yeah. And that's going to impact.


And so and how much they want to work right now, how hard do they want to hit it? How much of a personality are they?


But we can we can always get results every month. And I think you set the goal for six months to to get to the end zone. If we don't make that, I think you should be prepared to go longer. But, you know, it's a positive snowball.


I'm sure it's where I found pretty similar. You should be able to see significant results in, you know, ninety definitely by ninety days, definitely by six months. And again, maybe not depending on the situation actually for summer. What do you enjoy most about the process? Well, certainly you get to see these I mean, save marriages and, you know, people that were literally feeling a pit in their stomach every time they thought about retirement. How am I going to be able to ever I mean, I've got people that are in their early 70s knowing I literally can't figure out how I'm going to die at my desk.


I cannot figure out how I am going to you know, who would have figured that 30 years ago when I started this? I'd never get to enjoy traveling or doing anything because I'm glued to this business. I mean, it's it's pretty nice to be shackled people.


That's that's awesome. Yeah. For me, definitely, there are times when I just get one little bit of feedback or something and it almost feels like ducks with Brad. Like I'll just keep going back as long as I get that one thing at some sort of feedback. And it's not always the way I'd like and it's not always in the way I would have written it. But it's something that says something to the effect of my life is different. And it's not necessarily because of you Wade or anything dramatic like that, but it's because I'm seeing things differently.


I'm perceiving the world a different way. And I imagine you have some of these that the client, the only work with a short period of time and then you don't hear from for like 10 years and like. Yeah, and they're doing it even more because they like they really got it. And on one hand, it feels almost emotionally odd because it's almost like if you gave birth to a child, one, they left and then they became like, you know, this awesome person.


Like, well, I didn't have I just told him a couple of good things. And then they went on their own. And yet to me, that's that's some of the most fun ones where I have a friend that actually came to the workshop that I did once, 4-Day Work Week Entrepreneur workshop, and I did it more of hey, will come out, check out my stuff, chakram. And long story short, he went from working probably six days a week, 60 hours a week to anywhere from two to three days a week and about 30 hours and double's income and is traveling with the kids born as kids are now, what, between maybe seven and 13 and just destroyed it like in a good way.


I just did it so well. And sometimes go back to Michael. What did I tell you? Because he was he was ready.


And so that's awesome. And then last thing, and I'm probably become a different way to end up with this question, the wrong order, but how do you know when somebody's not ready? And then what can they do that? So if somebody is listening and they're saying, oh, man, Jim, maybe, maybe not, or they're a little fearful, maybe that's a better idea because maybe that's too part. So how do you know when they're not ready for Jim to work with you guys and or what would you tell that person?


Not that's all. Well, you know, you're you're stupid. You should be looking at this. What do you tell that person? Hey, maybe it's not the right time. Maybe. What does that look like for you, but step one into it, right? If you don't have a magnet, there's there's nothing that we can do. If someone said that they're not going to look at the mindset, forget the specifics of that, OK?


I always joke that feels as if three steps. Do you not have a problem or opportunity? Do you or do you not want to fix it? Do you think that I am the person that can help you do that? B.N. Right now, if we don't check those three boxes, we should not work together. It's a bad fit, but I can't make them have the desire. I did a lot of people that I look at this a year ago and now I'm ready.


Now I had a fifty nine year old that just came into the program and that's great. She's ahead of it. But when I get a sixty eight year old that isn't quite ready and a 70 year old, well I'll think about it. I'm like wow that's what, that's what, that's what I think you should do. Yeah.


So you don't do the mortality charts clothes.


Do you not know which way did you say what I feel like saying. And it's just, you know, I don't want to be a jerk, but you start going, you got diagnosed with cancer, you have this problem, right. That that had a ticking bomb on it. Would you say, you know, let me get back to you three months. Ever think about what to me down the hall where I need to go fix this?


And I think that's that that's that's the tough part as coaches or any agent of change of how ready are they? Because, of course, if they're not fully there, then you can you can get them in. You can even get the checked and then still have this person that drags along. Oh, Jim, thank you so much. This is like I said, this is one of the ones I didn't have to put a lot of questions down.


I just wrote a couple notes. At the end. I realized I had written down no questions after our entire interview because I felt like I was like, OK, I get this.


Where can people learn more about your work and what you're doing and and how can they just started diving into this to see a little bit about the model and see if perhaps if you're somebody can help them. Lots of good stuff on our website, Half-Retire. Not just like it sounds. You can download the blueprint that I talked about. You can actually you can take free course that goes through that, go through the eight steps. That's not too terribly long and a long enough for not too long.


We won't be able to stand free culture. There's lots of good resources there. You know, occasionally we'll do a live web in. You get on our list, you probably get invited to Dan Sullivan, I encourage you to probably do that. You do the download it and you'll make make it onto our list if you want to get information and learn more about Half-Retire.


Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, I listen to and that was one before I even talked to you. That solidified for me. Yes. OK, we really are on the same page and Jim can offer so much value to the audience. I try to service when I listen to I think was like a 20, 25 minute video to explain the process. And certainly it wasn't everything on once, but it was enough to be like, OK, this person really knows what he's talking about and this could work.


So thank you again for coming out. I'm really looking forward to sharing this with our audience. If you have questions. I spoke with Jim a couple of times. He's actually as straightforward as it is. Listen to his stuff, check out his stuff. And if you have any questions, please let him know. And as always, I look forward to helping you. The audience, everybody out there make more money, help more people in less time, doing the best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends in your life.


Thanks for listening.


Jim MuehlhausenProfile Photo

Jim Muehlhausen

Half Retire Expert | Author | Entrepreneur | Public Speaker

Like most entrepreneurs, Jim Muehlhausen has an eclectic background ranging from CPA, franchisee, attorney, business owner, consultant, franchisor, public speaker, university professor, and book author.
While still attending the Indiana University School of Law, he became the youngest franchisee in Meineke Discount Muffler history.
After successfully selling that business, Jim founded an automotive aftermarket manufacturing concern. During his 9-year tenure with that business, the company achieved recognition from Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School and Inc. Magazine in the IC 100 Fastest-Growing Businesses.
About twenty years ago, he found his true passion, serving as a consultant, business coach, and advisor to hundreds of businesses. He has conducted 10,000+ one-on-one consulting sessions with business owners around the globe.

He has previously written two well-regarded books, The 51 Fatal Business Errors and How to Avoid Them, and Business Models for Dummies, and has contributed to publications such as Inc., The Small Business Report, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and various business journals.
Jim has now turned his attention to the problems facing aging business owners. By studying thousands of business owners, collecting their best practices, and augmenting them, Jim created the Half-Retire Blueprint.
This step-by-step process helps business owners create a profitable alternative to selling their business via Half-Retirement.
This trademarked system is outlined in Jim’s book Half-Retire: Keep Your Business, Ditch the Stress.