Scaling a Business

Episode 976: Scaling a Business, with Mike McDerment

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Scaling a business, a podcast episode with Mike McDerment. Experience a remarkable growth journey by learning the secrets to scaling a business.

Scaling a business means adapting to change while also learning new critical skills. Mike will guide you through how he and his team achieved this for their business.

Mike McDerment is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing and collecting billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.


What you will learn in this episode about scaling a business:

  • How mistakenly saving over an invoice led Mike to design the accounting software his business needed, leading to the birth of FreshBooks
  • How the company that started with six team members in his parents’ basement now has millions of users in more than 160 countries
  • Why Mike was reluctant to raise outside capital and instead self-funded the business for a long time
  • Why Mike believes that accepting venture capital during the early days could have undermined the value of the business
  • What important lessons on scaling a business Mike learned growing FreshBooks from just six employees to more than 400
  • What key organizational growth breakpoints Mike identified on the journey, and how the company had to adapt to each new breakpoint
  • Why having shared values and alignment within your organization is the key to success, and why every problem in business is ultimately a people problem
  • How Mike addresses the difficult situation of a team member not being in alignment with their role in the company
  • Why Mike has chosen to dedicate time to his thought leadership efforts, and why he considers it to be “soul food for entrepreneurs”
  • Why shifting from time-and materials-based billing to value-based billing can be a powerful game-changer for your business
  • Why scaling a business is important for growth

How to Connect with Mike McDerment:

Additional Resources:



Scaling a Business: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success and in scaling a business from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning. I am Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation, where I interview today’s top business owners so we can learn their recipe for success, how they built in, how they scaled their business. In fact, my team at Predictive ROI, well, we’ve been rebuilding, we’ve been scaling, we’ve been expanding our free resources section on


So you can download free practical and tactical guides for how to build your own authority sales machine. Everything from how to create your ideal client avatar, how to create a value ladder, a sales funnel, how to make sure your content strategy aligns with the ten truths to what makes someone an authority within their niche. Just go to


And as always, it’s all free. Everything you request, we will send it right to your inbox. Before we welcome today’s very special guest, I want to share some additional context around why. When I asked Mike McDerment, the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, which is the world’s number one cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals, business owners just like you and me.


Why? When Mike said yes, I was over the moon excited because I knew that their company’s path and journey was going to be super helpful to all of us who are building our companies, focused on scaling our companies. And and we’re going to be able to learn a lot of golden nuggets, take golden nuggets out of this conversation with Mike, and be able to take those and apply those into our business right away.


So, what are some of those golden nuggets? So you’re going to hear Mike share with you nuggets like how they started to build this company, FreshBooks in his parents basement. And they did that for three and a half years until they had grown to a team of six. So there were six teammates working in his parent’s basement. And then they moved out of the basement into another office or into an office, and now have over the last 17 years, grown to 400 team members.


Wow. And what was the process? And when did they start looking for outside financing to grow the company even faster? And what were some of the lessons that they learned along the way in doing that? And now they’ve raised almost $100 million over the last several years. But when did that start? And what were some of the golden nuggets and the lessons learned?


And looking back on that path journey. And now today, Mike spends a portion of his time doing interviews like this, or out speaking or, you know, sharing the message in, you know, unique in different ways. Well, why does he do that? What is the why that is driving the thought leadership? In fact, Mike and I had a really interesting conversation about the term thought leader.


And his answer to that is exactly why I would consider him to be an authority, because of the generosity and the contribution and the sharing of content about scaling a business. And we’ll talk about that. And I think that you will find that very insightful. And then and then lastly, what were some of the lessons that he has learned around, value-based billing and in this contribution that he crystallized into an e-book, which is going to be a tremendous asset for you?


So for all of those reasons, I am so very excited for you to hear this conversation with Mike. So without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, Mike. 


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: Mike McDerment’s Introduction


Oh, well, thank you for having me, Steve. And good morning Onward Nation. Well, thanks for saying yes. I greatly appreciate it. And I think this is really an exceptional opportunity, as I mentioned in the intro on our nation, for you to really hear the behind the scenes scaling story of a company that that you know and potentially know really, really well.


So before we do that though, Mike, actually take us behind the curtain and tell us more about you and your path and your journey and, and then we’ll dive in with, what I’m sure is going to feel like a litany of questions coming your way, but then we’ll dive in with the questions. Now that’s great. Okay, so, yes, Mike McDerment founder and CEO of FreshBooks, and, you know, my story began, you know, more than a decade ago, I was, you know, I left school in fourth year.


I started two businesses. one of them, I needed to learn how to market and promote. It was an event. Business happened once annually and started building websites. Well, you know, pretty soon my caterer for that event needed a website. And so I started not just building them for myself, but for others. and, you know, I basically progressed that service business and up, a series of rungs.


And by the end of it, we were just consulting with firms who wanted better conversion of, you know, they want to attract and retain and convert website visitors. long story short, I was sending an invoice to them on scaling a business. I accidentally saved over it and, the, prior one and said, you know, there’s got to be a better way to do this.


And so I built what is now FreshBooks to scratch my own itch which was to build a really, really, you know, best in class or, or just build the build the accounting software that I needed, which was really like client building software. I need the client billing software because that was the biggest thing, a simple way to track expenses.


You know, my expenses were relatively simple, but, you know, following up with clients, making sure they paid, making payment collection, easy reporting and all that was much, much more challenging. So that’s that’s where FreshBooks came from. And, that was back then, ended up moving in my parent’s basement for three and a half years to make it happen.


And, you know, we made it out of there. We were six people. We left. The seventh person joined us the first day in our first office. Yeah, we’ve been through about 5 or 6 offices since then, and, it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of challenge. We’re about 400 plus people today. you can think of us as, like, a pre-IPO scale software company.


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: Backstory of FreshBooks


You know, gone and raised, you know, probably closer to $100 million than not, at this stage of the race, but after, you know, more than a decade of saying no to interested VCs and things of that nature. So, you know what? We’re going to cover lots of ground today, I’m sure, but can talk service businesses can talk, you know, client, management and strategies and consulting kind of stuff and all the way to scaling and growing companies and how to transition from one to the other, and more.


So with that, that’s probably a bit of a primer on, where I’m coming from. Steve. Okay. So I want to make sure I got this data point right. Because there’s so, this is so awesome. Not only were you, it sounds like bootstrapping three and a half years working in your parent’s basement, but you did that with five other people. So there was a total of six of you right in the basement when we left.


Yeah. Started out as, like 2 or 3, and we. Is what you said true? There’s some, we had people still in the consulting business for a little while, and then they kind of transitioned out of that into the software business over time. And so, yeah, it was six people on the software business by the time we left.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: The Early Years of The Business


That is awesome. Okay. So, give us also on that passive journey. So amazing kudos raising close to $100 million so far. But that didn’t happen in the beginning. So like tell us a little bit more about that in the early years of the business because you were truly bootstrapping, if I understand the story correctly, right?


Yeah, we were, you know, we started out as self-funding and using some of the money from my consulting business to finance what was really a side project to begin. Yeah. So I, you know, I guess I’m trying to think about the best way to sort of answer your question, but it was very much a lean operation at the start.


And, you know, I would actually say it, I really started out with an orientation that, you know, Venture capital was Vulture Capital, and I needed to sort of watch myself. And I was very leery of it. Yes, I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs fall under, you know, really 2 or 3 different buckets. But there’s some people who just kind of worship at the altar of fundraising and think that fundraising is a big success.


I would say to you, it’s a sign of progress. But it’s the start of the next leg of the race, right? As soon as you have somebody invest in, you know, your organization there, you know, the expectation of some kind of return and to manage to that is the next thing. And so you know that that’s fine if you have a good predictable model and you know how to go ahead and scale things and what have you, you know, on the other side. There’s people who never want to have another person who owns any percentage of their company.


And that’s great to like, just know who you are. And then there’s some things in between. We went, you know, kind of one path knowing that, hey, we’re completely you know, I was very reluctant to raise capital because, you know, I guess a business school background, but I just knew that.


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: Raising Capital


Well, I just knew they knew so much more about what they did than I did. Such an information imbalance. It’s a lot better now. You can access a lot of information online, and get educated. There’s a lot more people who have, you know, sort of raised capital. Then seems like there was that you can network to people more easily.


It’s just a lot easier to deal with that side of things. But, you know, when we started out on scaling a business and, you know, call it the first decade of the 2000, you know, it was very much, you know, information arbitrage in favor of, investors. Would you do it differently today? I don’t think so. I, you know, I don’t look back and have too many regrets.


We have had various, you know, sort of forks in the road. And I think we’ve done a good job choosing over the years if I can be completely honest. So I don’t look back thinking like, oh, geez, you know, and I’ve got to be intellectually honest about stuff, too, you know? Hey, were we ready? Was I ready?


And we sort of systematically chewed through some things. And there are times like we almost raised money from an angel group very early, like, you know, $300,000 for 30% of the company. And to be honest, if we had done that, and I think this is what people don’t always understand, if we had raised that capital, I think we’d be out of business a long time ago because, you know, the expectations of sort of return and some of these other things would have probably trumped, you know, what we had, which was, hey, we love what we’re doing.


We know we haven’t figured out yet. But we’re going to progress like we were. We’re building a software company before, you know, there were any real books written on that or, you know, it’s. Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, a lot has changed. Do you think it would be fair to say that?


Let’s say that you did that 30% for $300,000, that those early on angels would have looked for some sort of anti-dilution past, future rounds and so forth. And that may have really handcuffed you when you decided to proceed with Venture Capital, because theoretically that money is going to be smart money. Maybe it’s a board seat, maybe it’s, you know, really active in the business somehow connections, introductions, whatever.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: Partnering With the Right Investor


And then having that dilution in place would have been problematic. Right. Because then you couldn’t reward them for their participation. Would that be a fair assumption? Well, we can go as far down this rabbit hole as you want to go and happy to field a bunch of these questions, because I’ve learned a bunch over the years.


But, you know, what I would say is it’s probably a little different than that, you know, there was one angel who’s Collie in the group. Who, you know, is just a wonderful human being. And I honestly wish she was on the cap table. I called him back later when we were raising and saying, like, listen, you’ve been so helpful.


Like, do you want to just, you know, write a check so you can, you know, you can be part of this? And, anyways, you know, that didn’t come to pass. And, you know, it is what it is. I think that one of the larger problems in the dynamics, I think, would have been twofold.


One, they would have had an expectation of a return, you know, and progress towards that, you know, potentially saying, come on in a hurry. They were pretty relaxed. I’m not so concerned about that. I think the other more material thing is, you know. Frankly, hindsight being what it is, putting our heads down, going a little further, I think the level of dilution to raise that amount of capital, I think that’s the bigger problem I would have at this stage, you know, had less incentive or less incentive to keep going.


Right? And, you know, less capital to award to others. And so, you know, I’m somebody who really believes, like, hey, if you can take the capital and grow your company by more than dilution, go ahead and take it. That’s simple math. And you should. That’s pretty simple. But I think $300,000, you know, like for 30% of company, you know, back then would have been the wrong call.


And, you know, my stake would be 30% less today than it is. And, you know, if they exercise any and, you know, anti-dilution, you know, sort of pro-rata participation, things like, you know, they probably were still. So, anyhow, I, you know, I don’t think I’ve ever had this exact conversation any better with all that, but, you know, that is, that’s how I look back on it.


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: Don’t Undermine the Value of Your Work


And so I once saw Barry Diller speak, and he said something that stuck with me as if you have something that you believe is a value. Hold on. Okay. So it’s one thing to raise capital, but it’s another thing to raise too much capital or too soon and sort of undermine the value of what you’re doing.


You don’t. Yeah. In most cases you don’t have to raise today. Right. Can you go a little further? Can you make it go a little longer? and so that’s what we pursued for like a decade. Yeah. And that is such wonderful advice from in the trenches, advice from experience that you’re sharing with unfinished business owners right now, because that gives them great perspective of when there’s trade offs.


There are potential consequences to scaling a business. There’s a long time, long term valuation to consider. Could the capital today be accelerant, lighter fluid, help you get into new markets faster? There’s you know, opportunity cost to consider and so forth. Sure. But the way that you pragmatically dealt with that for like you said, a decade, adds a lot of value into the business today for whoever the current shareholders are.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: Don’t Get Distracted by Money


So that really, really smart. Congrats. Thank you. Yeah. I think people spend a lot of time thinking about the money. I, you know, about 50% of the health I or just the conversations lead to capital with various entrepreneurs that I speak with for one reason or another. And, you know, probably greater than 50% of my time, probably more like 75.


I’m like, why don’t you go a quarter and just promise yourself you won’t think about this. Just forget about fundraising for the next three, six months and then open up the file because it’s just such a huge mental distraction a lot of the time. And people don’t know how to deal with that, and they generally don’t need the capital.


They just get to thinking they do, or they should be doing this and whatever. And so it can just be such a huge distraction thinking about it. And then even once you start trying to raise like that’s, you know, another set of distraction. That’s really a huge golden nugget. I love that perspective of the go quarter without thinking about it.


And then come back to the file and then readdress it, because if they survived that quarter, if they were able to double down in different areas and be creative and launch something or whatever, that then helps them show that maybe I don’t need it, or maybe it’s a different amount, or there’s all sorts of what ifs, right?


Yeah, maybe things shift in my favor a little more if I am going to go ahead and raise it or, you know, new paths open up and I think it can just be, I don’t know what it is. There’s something about money that, you know, it’s seductive and people kind of can easily lose their way. And so to just shut it out for a while is a good thing.


And there’s not many issues in business that just kind of become ever-present like that. you know, there are a handful of decisions that will come up of. Should we do this? Should we do that? And almost all of them, those that handful, that very small handful that are really like that, that will keep with you, you know, day and day for a quarter or longer, you know, are good ones to put on the shelf for a quarter to know this next question is, going to maybe initially it’s like, well, duh, of course, there were challenges.


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: Strength In Numbers


When I think of going from and I know that it didn’t happen overnight. That it took a lot of hard work in many years to to scale from six employees to or teammates to 400, which is just an amazing success story. I know that through it all there were times that it didn’t feel like, you know, wow, this is awesome.


There’s challenges all the time. So if there were just maybe a couple of golden nuggets, pearls of wisdom, lessons that you’ve learned along the way with respect to scaling from 6 to 400, what might you share looking back on that? And I know that you’re not done yet, but what might be a couple of things that stick out?


I think there are these and I give this talk sometimes because I think it’s, you know, it’s so non-obvious but so important. And let me just give a little bit of, you know, bias and context in this kind of thing. So I’ve never really worked anywhere else. Okay. So I don’t have the model of having worked in a large organization to understand, like how things were supposed to work.


You know, what a leader was supposed to look like, what a CEO does or does not like. I had no, no sort of model for that. So everything is is first principles. But what I learned, and I think again, it’s non-obvious is there are just these organizational break points in the first I’ll go, you know, sort of let’s call it 10 to 20, where you start to introduce managers for the first time.


Right? So everyone’s a direct report to begin with. If you, for lack of a better way of putting it, but then you have managers and that’s like weird because now there’s like, you know that and then and then about, you know, 20 people. What happens around 2020? You’ve certainly got managers. but, you know, you’re also, you know, culture is kind of getting away and you’re not working with everyone directly quite the same way.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: Creating A Strong Management Team


40 is a very special place, because that’s the part where, you know, if you’ve worked with a group of people for any length of time, not everyone knows what’s going on anymore. And that gets to feel like a very different company. And for us, we had people have been with us for kind of years, and all of a sudden it’s like, oh, this just feels so different.


And then 80 is where you’re, you know, if you don’t have the right communication mechanisms and rhythms down like a quarter of the meeting with, like, you know, vision, mission, you know, result, like all that kind of stuff, like your company will fall apart, like there are just like you have to have certain, things in place there.


And then, you know, 150 and, you know, 300 or other organizational break points. I think if you have a strong management team in place, these things kind of take care of itself. But, you know, often you’ve made it this far with the team you have. You know, another thing that happens through all those places are like, oh, you’re great, you know, but maybe you’re not the person or the, you know, capability set that takes us to the next place.


And that’s very hard. That’s probably one of the hardest things. If I was going to have a gold nugget, it’s very hard to outgrow people and very hard to know whether it’s you who’s the problem or they who are the problem. Unless you’ve worked in like a large organization for us and like that. So I spent a lot of years trying to figure out, like, is it me and I always I always start there.


And then, you know, you start to get better at it, you know? Okay, that person doesn’t have the ceiling for the next thing. And, you know, you got to make a change. And then, oh, how do you hire for that next thing. But you know, every so here’s another little nugget and maybe, everything. So in the early stages focus is a four letter word.


You got to focus on scaling a business. So back to turning things out for a quarter and just focusing. Very important. Then you learn that every problem is a people problem and every solution is a people solution. Right. So whether you need to unblock some people’s thinking and help them do that or you need, you know, different people doing stuff for you, those things are true.


And then, final thing, I’ll do my three, how about three things here? Three little pearls of wisdom. you know, for me, I believe you only need two things in business. And this is the most important thing, two things in business to be successful, which is shared values and alignment. And if you have those two things, people have sort of shared values, and you have alignment with those people.


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: It’s A People Problem


I believe you can do any of this. This is awesome. Okay. So why do you believe so strongly that every problem is a people problem? Experience? I don’t know, like, you know, even let’s use like fundraising or something. Like I was afraid. I was afraid to, you know, go and fundraise all these kinds of things.


You know, if I had a CFO next to me who was like, listen, this is no problem. I can really manage this. I know how to do it. But, you know, I probably would have felt much differently around the capital-raising problem in the early years. Right. So there’s an example. You’d say it’s capital. And like for me at least, it was like, you know, no, it was, you know, it was really having that it was more complicated.


And that’s a little facile. That wasn’t my particular case exactly. But you know, that is part of it. Or, you know, two people aren’t getting along, right. You know. Yeah. That’s often it, you know, the departments not doing as well as it could, you know, that’s a people problem. So, you know, I want to explore a new opportunity.


We don’t have the skill set. You know, it’s that people problem. So, you know, business partners, you know, can’t get along. it’s a people problem. So, you know, all of the really all the problems are, you know, people problems, all the solutions for people. So. That’s right. Yeah. So then when it sounds like you guys have put in a lot of hard work around shared values and making sure there is alignment, around those values, that sounds like that’s the litmus test.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: Repotting The Plants


And so when you were talking about, you know, outgrowing people or leveling up or needing to grow and maybe outgrowing somebody. So how did the values in the alignment play in that recipe of moving somebody off the team and bringing somebody different in that could then take that growth to that next level?


Yeah, those are just really hard conversations, you know, very challenging to sort of navigate and stick handle. And it starts off with, as I say, is properly diagnosing the problem. And maybe the problem is not the person. Maybe, you know, they don’t have the resources. They really need or the lay or under them or, you know, just there’s all kinds of, stuff in there.


And so, you know, for me, what we always tried to do is focus on, you know, like in a situation like this, I’m just going to go the conversations, like, I generally don’t want to make it about the person. Right? It’s like, you are great. You’ve been here. You’ve contributed all this stuff. I can’t say thanks enough.


You know, here is the situation. Here’s what we need to go ahead and do. Right. You know, is that something that you know, you feel like you’re up to? Because then I might give them a shot at it for a little while. Okay. And depending on timelines, everything else, or it’s like, hey, we need to go ahead and make a change.


Here’s what I’d like you to do next. Right. And, you know, I’ve had lots of opportunities where we’ve said, listen, here’s what I’d like you to do next. Like, don’t answer me now. We’re going to make this change. It’s necessary. Or I’ve deemed it necessary. And so you can blame me, but that’s what I believe is the right thing to do.


But we’d love you to be here. Still, we believe you have lots to contribute. We’d like you to look at this kind of a role. Or maybe we’ll find another one that we can kind of design for you or something like that. And so, you know, that’s because you want to keep people to the extent you can.


I’ve heard it, you know, being repotting the plants. Right. You know, sometimes you have good plants. You don’t, you know, they’re you want to keep them if you can. And, you know, ultimately, sometimes it’s time to set them free. All right? Sometimes, people need to go for their own health and progress and what have you, and they’ve given everything they can to you.


And it’s like the humane thing to do. So, anyways, it’s all complicated and situation dependent, but, you know, those are some of the things. 


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: Making An Effort on Thought Leadership


That’s awesome. And because what you just said recognizes also the fact and maybe this helps tease it out that they may be feeling stuck to and just didn’t know how to express that in a way that is respectful because you’ve given them a great opportunity and they’ve really worked really hard to fulfill that obligation.


But now they to feel stuck maybe. Right? Oh yeah. Like, I, sometimes, you get thank you for helping on scaling a business. Right. Like it’s happened right where it’s like and sometimes they didn’t know that they were stuck or they didn’t know how to, you know, unstick it or whatever it is. But you know, it can be a release.


It’s like, oh, you know what? That’s a load off. Yeah. I’ll go do that other thing happily. All right. So, other plants. Awesome. Well, you know, part of what I respect about the journey is now the 17-plus years in is that you are so active from a thought leadership perspective. That you’re out speaking in and or guesting on podcasts, like on Rotation and many others in and out, and not just carrying the FreshBooks flag as a, you know, here, I’m here to promote FreshBooks because that’s not why you said yes to this invitation.


And, am I hoping that we’re going to expose our audience to this great platform? Of course I am, but it’s not like you’re here pitching FreshBooks. You’re here because of this broader thought leadership effort. And so tell us a little bit more about that and why you are committing such time to it. Like, why does it mean something to you?


Okay, I’m gonna talk about in two parts. And first I’m going to disclose, like the notion of it being thought leadership almost, you know, forgive me. And this is not meant to be, you know, disrespectful in any way, but, I’ll attest, it makes me cringe. And I’ll tell you what. Let me tell you how you’ll be thinking of yourself as a thought leader.


Makes you cringe. Yeah. Or that. I’d be doing it for that purpose. So let me just go ahead and I’ll give it to you the way I think about it. And people can judge for themselves.So,, I don’t have a mandate to become or be a thought leader.


That’s not why we’re doing this. I’ll give you this. There’s two parts to it, and one of them is decidedly commercial. Okay, so this is marketing. Okay? There’s no question we’re here. You know, your audience is going to listen, and, you know, hopefully they’ll hear the name FreshBooks. They’ll think they need really easy to use accounting software.


You know, for my small business, I’m going to use FreshBooks. That would be a great outcome from all this. But that’s you know, so that’s the commercial reason I have to choose how I spend my time. And that’s a big part of the reason. But when I do these shows, the very personal thing, and I think the thing that’s more impactful from a marketing standpoint, frankly, is not to market, but instead, you know, to share.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: It’s Creating Something and Serving Customers


And, you know, with a purpose of, you know, I think about, if you spend enough time around with me and we talk about this kind of stuff, but it’s like soul food for entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur is really hard. And so I have learned a number of things. I am here because I stand on the shoulders of people who have helped me, you know, a thousand times over.


And, you know, to be able to go ahead and share some of what I’ve learned in hopes of inspiring somebody on that dark day when they’re like, you know, hey, I was thinking of I’ve literally had people come up to me. We host events, you know, FreshBooks. I make a living, we’ll take them to various cities we’re looking at.


Can we do that online now because of Covid? All that good stuff. But I’ve literally had people come up after one of those things and say like, listen, I came here today and I was thinking about folding my tent, you know, like just I’ve been at it for years, but I’m not going to. Right.


And that’s the soul food part to keep going. You know, if you’re doing it for the money, you’re doing the wrong thing. Go get a job. Right. That’s you know, that’s not really what this is about. This is about creating something. It’s about serving customers. It’s about challenging yourself. It’s all those things. And, yeah. So for me to be able to contribute, whether it be some knowledge.


Okay, I’ve learned about, you know, fundraising, scaling teams, managing people, that’s great. But also, more than anything to just keep the spark alive, you know. So somebody who is listening to your show and building their business like you should love doing that. And I know I listen to a whole bunch of podcasts and all these kinds of things along the way to keep me going.


So that’s, you know, selfishly to think that I might play some small role in somebody’s journey and kind of keeping the going inspiring. That’s selfish, right? Yeah. So I would argue in a very polite way that’s not selfish at all, you know, and here’s why I say that. And again, respectfully, because what you just articulated, Mike, is you, well, know, I mean, that’s some of the goodness, some of the ingredients of what makes somebody an authority. When they want to contribute using your words, when they want to contribute.


And then a few minutes ago you said share like I’m sensing a sort of like a teacher spirit in you and in the fact that, like, you get juiced by somebody coming up to you and saying, you know, I almost folded my tent today and until I was here experiencing this and all that I learned, that’s awesome.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks


Scaling a Business: Last Advice From Mike


And yeah. Is it marketed? Of course. But leading with the contribution and sharing and wanting to make an impact. And you mentioned the human side of that. That is awesome to often we experienced the quote-unquote self-proclaimed thought leader who is nothing more than a sleeper. And that feels really yucky to the audience. And you couldn’t be 180 degrees more opposite of that, my friend.


Yeah. Thank you on your insights on scaling a business. It is a great privilege to be here and, to think that anyone’s out there listening to us. So, thank you, man, for that and love that word to privilege. Because that is exactly that. Okay. So I know that we covered a lot. I want to be conscientious of your compressed schedule.


So before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, any final advice that you like to share? Anything you think we might have missed?. Any more golden nuggets that you’d like to share and contribute? And then? And then please do tell Onward Nation business owners. The best way to connect with you. Mike. There is lots.


I will do a little marketing because I know you have so many agency owners and everything else in here, and it’s a funny kind of marketing. But often, where I get to in these discussions is to talk about things like value-based billing because we went from time and materials to value-based. So anyone who’s on that journey, I actually wrote a book about it because I spoke with so many of our customers.


We do these customer dinners at FreshBooks kind of all over the place. I travel, you know, I’ll set up a dinner with local customers and speak with them. And I heard about all these pricing and client problems. And so, seeing as how I had worked through a whole bunch of them, I wrote a little book, it takes about an hour to read a little less, actually.


It’s free. It’s online. It’s called Breaking the Time Barrier. And it’s been downloaded by a quarter million people. And it’s really, about transitioning your mindset from, like, time of materials or time of building or project building to value based. You know, I like to offer up a disclaimer that it’s written as a fable. But, you know, one thing for anyone who’s on that journey, go check that out.


It’s free. If it doesn’t help you or if you don’t get a good return on those 45 minutes, I will be stunned. And, it is, you know, it’ll help you on that journey to how do I get to value-based billing? And that is really, I think a really important journey for anyone who’s out there trying to go, I hey, I love the agency business.


Listen to the podcast about scaling a business strategy with Michael Zipursky


Scaling a Business: How To Connect With Mike


I want to go ahead and help my clients. That mindset transition is, I think, critical to your long-term success, like having the kind of profits and opportunities that you want to have. It’s good for your employees and staff and aligning yourself with their clients. Like I said, share values and alignment. Value-based billing is the ultimate in client alignment.


Awesome. So work can our audience go and find it and get access? Yeah, I we just do a search for Breaking the Time Barrier or FreshBooks or for Mike McDerment. And it’s literally I think we offer it in like a PDF or what have you online for free. you know, please enjoy it. Awesome. So is that, is that the best way for us in relation to connect with you as well?


Well, probably the best way to get me is probably Twitter, just @MikeMcDerment, that’s pretty easy. Or at FreshBooks, you can reach, you know someone. I’ll get me to you that way. Yeah. 


Okay. Onward Nation. my hope is, is that you will go back and relisten to Mike’s words of wisdom and all of the golden nuggets that he generously shared and contributed into your business today, but not only just to listen, but to take and apply and accelerate your results.


And Mike, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. And I am grateful, my friend, that you said yes, come on to the show and to share your path, your journey, the lessons that you’ve learned along the way. Because in doing so, you were a great mentor and guide. Help us move our businesses onward to the next level.


Thank you so much, Mike. Thank you for having me. Stephen. Thanks for listening. 


This episode is complete, so head over to for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation.


Read more about scaling a business by checking out this blog category from FreshBooks

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Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

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