About five years ago, Gene Valdez left a successful banking career to start what eventually became The Loan Doctor and Associates Inc., which helps small business owners arrange financing and become better executives. Today, the former banking executive is at it again.
In December, Valdez plans to launch “CEO to Rainmaker,™” a weekly half-hour podcast show designed to help small business owners systematically elevate their executive skills to improve the performance of their companies so that they can stay in business longer.
In his 16-minute introductory podcast episode, Mr. Valdez stated “The content of the show will be part street smart and part academia,” “Street smart because I have owned three businesses and academic because I earned an MBA and was formerly a professor of entrepreneurship at Oak Valley College in Rialto.”
Valdez spent much of his banking & coaching career helping owners get their businesses off the ground, and take their firms to the next level. He knows how difficult it is for them to survive. Fifty percent of businesses started today won’t last five years, and 67 percent will fail within 10 years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Put another way, if ten small businesses started today, only three of them would make it to their eleventh year,” Valdez said. “Slowing down the mortality rate for these small businesses is the mission statement of my new podcast show.” Valdez, who said he has spent a lot of money getting the podcast started (www.ceo2rainmkr.com) spoke with IE Business Daily. He discussed why he is starting the podcast, what he plans to discuss and why a podcast is an ideal platform for getting his educational messages across.
Q: You’ve done a 16-minute introductory episode. What was it like putting that together?
A: It was difficult. A podcast might sound like a simple thing, but it really isn’t. You have to be an actor, and you have to be able to control your voice. It took me six takes to get my voice right. But the great thing about hosting a podcast is you have complete control of the content which is the key. If you don’t have guests, it’s on you because you created the content.
Q: When will you record your first podcast episode?
A: Sometime in December. I started working on this podcast project about three months ago. I had been hearing a lot about podcasts, and the metrics indicated it was a good business to get into. People can access a podcast at their leisure. Buzzsprout.com seemed like the right host to sign up with. They will help me connect with all of the major podcast directories like Apple, Spotify, Google and Stitcher.
Q: What are you doing to prepare?
A: I’m doing a lot of research. It seems like there are a million business podcasts out there. The goal is to find some unique concept, something no one else is doing, but if they are doing it, they are not doing it well. Needless to say, there is a ton of competition.
Q: What persuaded you to do a podcast? What about that form of media was attractive?
A: The fact that it can reach so many people so easily, and that people can access a podcast at their leisure. There have always been business owners who have needed my coaching services, but not all of them could afford my fees. A podcast eliminates the affordablity challenge as podcasts are free to listeners. All they have to do is download episodes. Something like 55 percent of the U.S. population listens to at least one podcast a week. And the people listening can be anywhere in the world, but I don’t need the world. I only need a very small percentage of my target market to be successful and help a lot of CEOs.
Q: What subjects will you address?
A: Hands-on practical information designed to elevate a business owner’s executive skills. A few examples would be, Why do you need a business model and how to do you create a compelling one? or How to Successfully Access Bank Expansion Capital in these Covid impacted times, etc.
Q: Have you hired someone to advise you? Someone who is helping you get this started?
A: I have a guy who is helping me with the editing of individual episodes. He will monitor the time lengths and eliminate mistakes. That’s important because you want the podcast to sound good, have excellent content and not be boringly long.
Q: What’s been the most difficult part of getting this started?
A: Figuring out what niche to go after. I’ve settled on helping CEOs of certain size businesses. Those CEOs could use the advanced educational information but cannot afford to pay for high quality private sector coaching fees. My niche are CEOs operating businesses with annual sales in the range of $100,000 to $10 million.
Q: How long do you expect this to last? Do you expect to be doing a podcast five years from now?
A: Yes, I do. I think there are enough small business CEOs out there that need this kind of help. It’s just a matter of attracting the listeners.
Q: Where did you come up with the term “rainmaker?”
A: It’s not mine. It originated in the Native American culture, which embraces the idea that an individual could bring rain through science, religion or mysticism. In today’s business world, the term rainmaker refers to an exceptionally talented chief executive officer who can make it rain on a consistent basis, year after year, so that the business is sustainable. The rain refers to current & future customer’s money. Rainmakers can make money fall from the sky in never ending fashion.
Q: This will be a separate business for you? It’s not complimentary to The Loan Doctor & Associates?
A: No, this will be my second business. This is a different venture I’m starting, but the content I will be using is what I have been sharing with my Loan Doctor clients for years.
Q: If you’re a small business owner – say you’re a one-person operation – are you really a chief executive officer?
A: Yes, you are. If there is something wrong – if your marketing is bad, if you have a finance issue or an employee lawsuit – you have to fix it, no matter what it is. Either that or hire someone to fix it for you. The buck stops with you.
Q: But the objective is the same: to help good chief executive officers – and executives in general – become more effective leaders of their companies. To become rainmakers, to use your description?
A: That’s correct.
Q: You’ve been in business and banking for more than 40 years, and you’ve seen a lot of businesses not succeed, especially start-ups. Is there one fatal mistake that they make, or is it a number of factors that cause them to fail?
A: Yes, I think there is one mistake that stands out. They don’t tweak their business models enough. Once they’ve been operating for a few years and they’ve had some success, they believe their best move is to leave things alone. But the external business environment is changing all the time, and you have to change with it or you run the risk that your business fails.
Q: In summary why are you doing the podcast?
A: I’ve had a reasonably successful business career. I would like to give something back to the business community that has helped me. Accessing the podcast will be free, the business coaching and consulting business is a billion dollar industry, which tells me there’s very strong demand. A lot of business owners need help to survive and I have been blessed with the skills. So why not?