Beth Davis is the CEO and Founder of Gold Star Referral Clubs, a nationwide company that facilitates the ability of businesses to network, refer and form lasting partnerships through its business opportunity, resulting time and again in their overall growth and increased profitability. Her husband, Todd Davis, is the company’s National Director.
Together this dynamic duo represents a longstanding entrepreneurial partnership that has weathered its share of incredible highs and inevitable lows. As a result, what they have to share in the way of expertise is not only incredibly informative, but compelling and inspiring…especially when shared with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange
readers in Beth’s own words:
“Have you ever had a stomach-turning, knot-twisting, stress-filled experience in business where you swore that once you got out of the situation, you’d never get back in? Well, that was me. And that was me…more than once.
“When Rob, a financial planner, came to our real estate office and asked me to start a business networking referral group, it was an easy no. A past experience working as a leader in a well-known business networking organization had soured me. I wasn’t interested. But Rob didn’t give up. He called several times. Until finally, about two weeks later, he came back into my office and coaxed, 'Beth, come on. I’ll help you. You can do it. You were good at this. We’ll do it together. You could start a business networking organization and have groups all over the nation or something.'
“I could feel the urge to start another business slowly rise up, even as my inner voice screamed, 'Bad idea!'
“That night I barely slept. Start another business? God help me.
“I had failed running a restaurant business when I was in my twenties. I published a New Home magazine, and that failed within a year. My husband and I lost thousands of dollars on a Chapel and marriage counseling venture. I didn’t succeed at Amway or the three other multi-level businesses that I’d tried. But now, here we were. Our real estate brokerage business was doing great; we had five agents working for us and room for more.
“We had successful careers, and I was about to screw it all up with another business idea.
“It was kind of exciting.
“Gold Star Referral Clubs started in 2007 with one group meeting at the IHOP restaurant at 7:15 a.m. on a Thursday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We called that first club T-Town. The business men and women that joined it paid $369 a year in order to belong to a well-organized group that met on a weekly basis to exchange leads and referrals.
“Todd and I didn’t start Gold Star Clubs lightly. We were determined not to fail. It was more than that. We were determined to do things right. We had spent months researching, developing and getting good counsel from successful business friends.
“Within a few years, Gold Star grew to a nationwide business. Since 2007, our volume has never grown less than 20%, even during the recession. New Gold Star Directors were starting and building clubs in states that we had never even visited. Business people that we had never met were sending us thank-you letters. Gold Star Directors not only get referrals and customers for their current business, but they also earn a generous second income for starting and managing their business networking clubs. Then they can earn more by bringing on other Directors, who start more clubs. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.
“As our income grew, Todd and I stepped out of real estate. Gold Star Referral Clubs, this fascinating business, fit us perfectly. It seemed that every job we had ever had, every success and failure, every sales training, and every experience was now being used. Our love of training, speaking and leading now had an outlet. We had created a platform that used all our skills and experience.
“For us, we have the ideal business. And to think, I almost talked myself out of it.
“We make money doing something that we truly love, and we help other people do the same. Success is here, and this is what it looks like.”
Beth went on to share her answers to some of our readers’ most asked questions…
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
We all have what it takes to start our own business. The secret is to do what you love and get expert advice about how to do it right. Let me correct myself, follow expert advice. All the help you need is readily available. Most of it is on YouTube. When I look back at any of my business ventures that failed, I can always find a place where I ignored expert advice in favor of “doing it my way.” Ugh!
Also, be aware of the consequences of possible failure. Take off the blinders. Shine some light on your business blind-spots. Consider the fact that your business might fail; it could even involve bankruptcy. So what? Learn from it and move on. It’s not the end of the world. Failure is just another tool that you can use toward success. Learn how to use it.
A true entrepreneur will rise from the ashes of failure a smarter, better and more savvy business person. Personally, I love to work with people who have overcome failure.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
In the beginning, like many entrepreneurs, we struggled with the cost of taking our new vision out of its dream state and into reality.
Daily choices had to be made. What were once real estate office priorities became Gold Star Referral Club priorities. We prospected for new Gold Star Directors, not homebuyers. Money that was ear-marked for improving our real estate office was moved over to the Gold Star column. Time that could have been spent on real estate was spent developing Gold Star.
We were spread thinner than a teaspoon of peanut butter on toast. Our focus had shifted and eventually the real estate business, our main source of income, suffered. We were double-minded and pulled in too many directions.
We met that challenge by embracing our vision for Gold Star and making a conscious decision to begin releasing the real estate business. Within the first few months of starting Gold Star Referral Clubs, I went full-time in the business. It was the best decision we made. When Gold Star took off, Todd stepped up as National Director and we closed the real estate office for good.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
Besides not having enough money, the greatest challenge facing business owners today is getting outside of their own heads. They’ve always done things their own way, and they think what they’re doing is working. Because of that they live in the box of failure, destined to repeat mistakes.
To address the challenges presented with succeeding in a business, we have to get outside of our own thinking and seek the advice of others who know more than we do. Surprise… there are people smarter than you.
What is the single strongest piece of advice or wisdom you would share with someone just starting out in business for themselves?
It will take longer and cost more.
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
As part of Gold Star, Todd and I work with business owners and entrepreneurs every day. That’s what we do. We find that new business owners will sometimes fail to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat. They become stubborn about using only the methods that they are comfortable with and ignore other possibilities.
What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
I believe that implementing relationship strategies, referral marketing and building strategic alliances with other business people combine to create the best, most affordable and effective way to start a business. There may be faster ways to start a business, but I find that most new business owners don’t have deep enough pockets to afford the impact of a large media campaign or a fleet of vehicles or a large staff.
The other advice I would give any new business owner is to learn how to use QuickBooks as soon as you can and develop a budget. If you’re not interested in handling the finances of the company, pay a bookkeeper to do it. Staying on top of your company finances will help you to not overspend on marketing when you’re tempted to try the next best thing.
Believe me when I say, there will always be some advertising, social media or marketing guru with a dynamite presentation that would love to spend your money on their marketing ideas.
When someone says to you, “This is what we’re going to do with your money.” Take a step back and check your budget. The biggest ROI might be in their checkbook, not yours.
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
Todd and I love helping business people succeed.
After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful? Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles?
After the initial start-up phase in business, I think the biggest obstacle we see slowing down businesses is that they move out of growth and into management. They quit prospecting and move their time and focus into “micro-managing.” Prospecting goes right out the window.
I had a director say it this way, “ABR is the key. Always Be Recruiting and you’ll never have a bad month.”
What on-line, software or other resources have helped you the most in managing all aspects of your company? Why and how have they been helpful?
If you asked Teresa, our office manager, she would say Intuit.com and QuickBooks are her best friends. Yesterday was January 3rd and by 3:00 pm, Teresa exclaimed, “Well, all the 1099s are ready to go. I love Intuit!”
I’m just glad we hired Teresa.
What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?
Oh, my gosh! I’m sixty years old and my resume is longer than the lines at Disney. My approach has been that life is one big adventure. Face it fearlessly. Want to learn how to do something? Dive in, take a class, hang onto someone’s coat tails or hire a coach.
Over the years, Todd and I have developed multiple business skills and talents. We even served as volunteers with the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office and worked with the local SWAT team.
What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale? Any tips?
Here are two tips on how to successfully close on a lead or referral:
Success is in the follow-up. Email is nice, text messaging is quick and easy, but for goodness sakes pick up the phone and call your leads as soon as possible. If you can, get in front of the prospect—belly to belly, eyeball to eyeball. When you truly believe in your product or service, closing the sale is easy. Your belief level transmits through your voice, your face and your actions. You’ll be amazed how good follow-up can make a success out of anyone.
The other thing that Todd and I have always done is to develop and then train ourselves on objection-handling techniques. We write conversation guides for our own use with tabs so we can flip easily to dialogue that will help us to handle an objection or to close the sale. We role play and take turns pretending to be the prospect, and we practice our talk-off until it rolls naturally right out of our mouths.
Todd may say it one way and I might say it another, but no matter how we say it, we are never at a loss for words.
If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
For many years, Todd and I worked from home. The biggest drawback for me is that I love to cook. I found myself planning lunch rather than getting my work done. The benefit was that it was cost effective at the time. The drawback was separating work from home life.
If you own more than one business, how have you integrated your businesses to juggle it all successfully? Any suggestions?
In today’s economy, many business people are dual-careered. Having a Plan B is necessary to meet the bills and to even think about someday retiring. But I am a firm believer that a double-minded person will never fully succeed. If you have more than one business, I suggest that one of the businesses should empower the other.
That’s why Gold Star Referral Clubs is so perfect as a second business and a Plan B strategy. Gold Star Directors receive referrals on their current business, while earning commission and residual income for building and managing referral clubs. Could it get any better?
For example, we have a director that earns thousands of dollars in Gold Star as a Director and on top of that, he has received so many referrals for new clients for his insurance business that he has had to hire more people to handle it.
When he retires, he will have the money to live a fulfilling life.
When a secondary business enhances your primary business, it’s a win-win.
If you bought into an already existing business opportunity, distributorship, licensee opportunity or small franchise, how and why did you make that choice?
Todd and I love the ingenuity and quality of many multi-level and network marketing products. I also like buying wholesale. Some of the products we use are Mary Kay, and we enjoy being distributors of Send Out Cards. We found a wonderful health product with Protandim. However, the only business we build and focus on is Gold Star Referral Clubs.
What are your favorite mottos and/or quotes when it comes to business? Any final words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?
Count on it. It will always take longer and cost more.
Learn to build on your strengths and manage your weaknesses.
Work with willing people. Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Convince a man against his will, and he’s of the same opinion still.”
Well-developed relationships are values you can bank on.
A good relationship is like money in the bank.
Lack of listening skills may be your biggest obstacle to success, but it’s one of the easiest to overcome.
Communication is the key to understanding.
80% of your problems could be solved by listening.
When it comes to conflict management, remember, there is her side, his side and what really happened. Never judge or act before you’ve weighed in all the facts.
Bad customers should be fired. They steal time, they suck your energy like a vampire, and they never generate true profit.
Your biggest and best client is one that is willing to work at referring you to others.
Tell it with a story. People will remember your story long after the facts have disappeared.
You are always standing in the middle of a referral. Learn to recognize how to give business to others, and they will give business to you.
Givers outlast the getters. The best return on investment is a giving mentality.
Time will solve most problems. If you can’t decide what to do, it’s okay to make a decision not to decide until you see what a little time does to the crisis.
Life is like a game of Monopoly. When in trouble, read the rules.
Treat life like an adventure…buckle-up and enjoy the ride.
After the dust clears, ask yourself, “What good can I learn from this?”
“When in doubt… don’t,” is the best advice I ever got from my mother. Trust your instincts. When I look back, there was never a time when I knew that I knew what to do that it was a bad decision. But, I find I mostly regret the decisions I’ve made when I had doubt about it in the first place.
Another thing my Mom told me is, “Beth, in the end, people is all you got.”
And finally, Todd and I pray before any major decisions. I think God likes it when we win.
For more information on the Gold Star Referral Clubs Business Opportunity and how you can become a Director for your area, click on Start a Gold Star Referral Club today!