Leadership & Timing is Everything for a Business Opportunity

My wife and I just left San Francisco on our way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a retreat with big thinking, big performing financial entrepreneurs. The buzz around Silicon Valley was that people work for a “brand name” like Google or Facebook to pick up skills and experience on someone else’s dime…then they leave for a startup business opportunity to make their big money.

When would be the best time to make a lot of money as a business opportunity with Apple, Facebook or Starbucks. Would it have been 10, 20, 30 years ago hatching out of a garage or dorm room, or getting involved with them, only today?

Sure, you can eventually climb the corporate ladder and land a six-figure income to work there…but what about the crazy money that comes along with also owning the business versus just working for it?

I don’t watch much TV but when I do, I enjoy binge watching Shark Tank. Each “shark”, a self-made billionaire themselves, evaluate a business opportunity from a startup entrepreneur to invest in their business both financially and intellectually. Of course they stand to “make money” and in the process, help a startup entrepreneur get further to building their dream.

So when does a startup company begin to grow up? When does a startup company begin to have the crazy, exciting times of going from survive-ability to the beginnings of an explosion phase?

Consider the following chart above on the lifecycle of a business. Personally, I view the rapid growth stage one of the most exciting times for a business and the opportunity then, is greatest to get involved. Most of the entrepreneurs who have “done it” still talk about the moments they went from good to great. These moments they speak of with a grin on their face, is usually between “startup” and “rapid growth”.

Think about it. If you watched the movie Social Network, about how Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook out of his Harvard dorm room in Boston, when was the exciting time? It was when he connected with Sean Parker who introduced him to some of HIS contacts who poured money into rapidly expanding Facebook.

Are you in that moment right now with your company? (Either as an employee working for a corporation or building your own corporation. You’ve got to know where you are in the lifecycle of a business.)

Identifying a Business Opportunity as a Business Plan Judge

As a financial coach to startup entrepreneurs, one of my sidejobs over the past five years is serving as a national business plan judge for the MillerCoors #TapTheFuture contest. The startup entrepreneurs that partake in this business plan competition go through a gauntlet of interviews, submission of company financials, a Shark Tank-like “pitch” and a business plan review for scalability and profitability. After deliberation between the business plan judges, finalists will earn a piece of $250,000 to fund and finance their business.

I get to sharpen my saw and stay on the cutting edge of what a good business versus a great business. Furthermore, rubbing shoulders and gleaning higher business IQ with other business plan judges, who operate their own wildly successful businesses, is an experience I look forward to each year.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what these startup entrepreneurs face when they come in front to pitch us their business opportunity and why they should be awarded a portion of the $250,000 on the table.


You better have your game face on, baby!  (Click here for 8 Quick Tips for Startup Entrepreneurs from this event)

Why does this backstory matter? Back to my original thought and motivation for writing this post.

It stems from what my friends and mentors have done and currently doing at PHP Agency. History has way of repeating itself and CEO/Founder of PHP Agency, Patrick Bet-David is taking an old, boring industry and making it young, fresh and exciting, again!

Simply put, his leadership and execution of his business plan is disrupting the financial services industry, the bureaucratic ivory towers and suits that run it by making the insurance industry hip, cool and fun.

What Makes PHP Agency a Unique Business

Let’s assume you don’t have much money, so you’ve got to have the other component to starting a business…time.

Now when it comes to opportunity, when would be the greatest time to get involved with a business? Would it be in the startup phase? Rapid growth or maturity phase? I think we’d all pass on decline, but how about the rebirth phase?

I recall stories of Mark Zuckerberg inviting 15 of his friends to his dorm room to start something called “The Facebook”. And of course, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak gathering their ideas together and developing a “personal computer” out of the garage.

Who you have simply laughed at them then…or would you see the unique business opportunity at hand? The fact is, most people are trained to evaluate just job and career opportunities. They are not trained, schooled or brought up to quickly evaluate businesses that are game-changers that ultimately makes average and ordinary people wildly rich, wealthy and significant. History books are filled with these types of people as the create industries or in this case, recreate one.

It goes as no surprise that the American middle class is suffering financially. In spite of the economic growth reports, jobless claims going down and the stock market continuing to soar since 2008, the average person is still struggling to make ends meet.

Patrick Bet-David, a former Army enlisted soldier and broker for Morgan Stanley, started PHP Agency in 2009. I asked him why he decided to build an insurance agency instead of a broker-dealer. He said, “There’s no emotion in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. No one doesn’t really care if you helped make them 5% or 50% because that’s what you’d supposed to do. But insurance, well, that changes people’s lives. Dreams and legacies can still be carried out. Retirement, financial freedom can still be salvaged and families can still have a shot at winning the money game.”

He runs the nation’s fastest growing financial services agency with over 2,000 agents across the country. Not bad for a company that had it’s first annual convention with less than 200 people. When they first started, insurance carriers balked at the idea of growing their distribution with a startup agency but today, many of them wish they hadn’t.

Today, PHP Agency is the #1 producer of index universal life insurance in the country for AIG, going on four years in a row. PHP Agency, this summer, did a 16-city tour to inspire entrepreneurship (#WhyStartUp). The theme of this tour was New Entrepreneurs = New Jobs. Guess who sponsored it? AIG and Nationwide.


PHP Agency Announces National Expansion Financing

Currently, PHP Agency is in 30 offices in 12 different states across the country. Witnessing first hand the energy, tenacity and determination of both the executive team and field leadership, it is no wonder they accomplished so much in so little time.

In a press release PHP Agency announced a financing partner that has given them a “checkbook” to accelerate their national expansion.

“PHP has been operationally profitable since inception, with 2014 being its strongest year ever. Company performance continues to accelerate in 2015 and, as Q3 comes to a close, results have eclipsed 2014 levels.” – Daily News LA

Furthermore, PHP Agency brings a new president to the helm in leading this new phase. Thomas (Tom) Ellsworth, who has had built three different companies from scratch to sale totaling over $1.1 billion dollars, is very excited about going from the “board room” to the “engine room” of PHP Agency.

“Beyond our ongoing reinvestment of profits in growth initiatives, the commitment from Decathlon Capital Partners enables us to accelerate our strategic plan and invest in programs, technologies and processes that drive expansion, speed and efficiency.” – Thomas Ellsworth

Can you say, “this is a BIG DEAL”?

The way I look at it, there are two types of people. There are FANS and there are OWNERS.

Fans love to work for a big, sexy, well-established brand. At times they think that have such clout brings them business and a great resume. And to some extent, they are right. Companies need fans. They need fans to help run their established operations already put in place knowing full and well they can always cut them off when their position gets too big on the corporate spreadsheet. Sadly, that fan who is willing to put their life into the company doesn’t have reciprocal opportunity from the top, to build something they own. Why? Because there are just a fan. It is a sad moment when they (fans) realize they were just renting their experience as it gets taken away when someone else has had enough of them.

Now an OWNER is someone who is willing to build something from nothing. Sure, they don’t have a sexy, established name but are willing to create one. Sure, they may have to sink EVERYTHING they have, emotionally, financially and mentally into their chosen endeavor. They are willing to take the attacks, ridicule and skeptisicm from the fans over the test of time until they develop, exeecute and implement their strategy. Owners deal with deeper failures than fans in that they have no one to lean on or a salary/benefit plan to bail them out. Nobody believes an owner when they start out because there is nothing shiny, sexy or credible about them in the startup phase. Owners HAVE to stick with it and their focus it completely at a higher altitude than fans. However, when their vision is realized and they become a force to notice and be reckoned with, they payoff is MASSIVE.

Consider the story of Ronald Wayne, one of the original co-founders of Apple. He sold his position in Apple for a mere $800 and later accepted $1500 to forfeit any claims against Apple on April 12, 1976. In February 2015, Apple’s value exceeded $700 billion, making it the most valuable U.S. company by far. Had Wayne kept his 10% stock until then, it would have been worth approximately $60 billion.

The next time you think you’re having a bad day as an entrepreneur, remind yourself of this example. Ouch doesn’t even begin to explain it. Ronald Wayne decided to stay at his job (as a fan) with Atari. Today, he lives in a mobile park selling stamps and rare coins.


A rare combination of executive leadership and a strong, dynamic field force that PHP Agency Inc brings to the table makes for a strong argument of taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity. Their ability to scale and spread their  distribution of financial products and services without increasing their overhead to the overlooked, underserved middle income market in the US makes for a very strong argument about the importance of leadership and timing for an opportunity to take advantage of.