Fire Yourself First: Jeff Russell’s Guide to Successfully Growing Your Business

Feb 23, 2024 | Listen

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"Fire Yourself First": Jeff Russell's Guide to Successfully Growing Your Business

If you’re like most business owners, you probably started your business because you craved a life where work and your personal time meshed together in perfect harmony. 

But as your business gains momentum, reality often hits hard. Your growing business now comes with a whirlwind of demands, leaving you feeling caught in a vortex. Instead of owning your time, you find yourself wrestling with an endless to-do list, struggling to reserve moments for yourself and your family.

But what if there was a way to get your freedom and time back while steering not just one but even multiple successful businesses?

Jeff Russell: A Serial Entrepreneur’s Perspective

In today’s episode, our guest Jeff Russell shares how you can achieve this seemingly impossible dream. We discuss how he successfully built and scaled multiple thriving businesses across a spectrum of industries.

His recipe for success? A blend of strategic hiring, implementing smart systems and processes, and mindful business evaluation. His experiences are a gold mine of insights on how you can work smarter, escape the daily grind, and live your life the way you deserve.

Timestamps for this week’s episode

09:39 Adopting a shared services model for business growth

14:43 Focusing on long-term strategy is vital for business growth

18:15 Transitioning from owner-operators to true owners by implementing systems & processes

24:47 Natural learners are great hires for your growing business

39:34 Actionable steps to be like Jeff: not just an owner operator but a true owner 

Adopting a shared services model for business growth

Jeff efficiently manages his six businesses by sharing financial services across three of them. This model allows for efficient pooling of expertise, encompassing roles like bookkeepers, CPAs, tax attorneys, and more, crucial for handling complexities in different areas, from finance to legal compliance and strategic planning.

This shared approach tailors financial support for each business, minimizing unnecessary expenses while maintaining high-quality services. Additionally, Jeff uses a versatile multimedia designer role that rotates across all six businesses to ensure consistent and professional branding efforts.

Sales should be core to your business, and you really want to own and control that process.

Focusing on long-term strategy is vital for business growth

Constantly grinding away might feel like the way to succeed, but it might even set you back. Focusing solely on the day-to-day can make you miss the big picture in your business. Stepping back lets you plan for the long term. It’s a chance to see where your business is headed, spotting opportunities, and preparing for what’s coming. It’s not slacking off or getting lazy; it’s a smart strategy. Working hard is good, but working smart is what really drives business growth.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is by being critical of your business, you’re devaluing your business. So when you go to sell it, it’s going to be worth less than if you weren’t a critical part (of operations).” – Jeff Russell

Becoming a “true owner” by implementing systems and processes

Transitioning from owner-operators to true owners involves a mindset shift.

Instead of doing everything, you move towards implementing systems in the business and refining your hiring processes. It’s about stepping away from day-to-day involvement so your business can function independently, pushed forward by your strategic hires that are all aligned with your company’s vision. This shift boosts your business’s value when you want to sell because now your business is not reliant on just you.

I want someone proactive because I know I'm not going to be there all the time. They need to come with batteries already included - ready to work.

Natural learners are great hires for your growing business

When you’re focused on strategy, hiring those with day-to-day operational experience can be a game-changer. But don’t just look for any individual. Looking for natural learners in your potential hires is well worth the effort because they can be key assets for a growing business. 

They bring diverse skills that often lead to exponential outcomes – meaning instead of 1+1 = 2, these are individuals that make 1+1 = 5 or 10. These individuals excel at swift task execution, offering efficiency and hands-on expertise. Their different perspectives create a synergy that elevates team output, surpassing individual efforts.

Understanding time’s value in monetary terms helps delegate tasks effectively. It’s not about finding replicas of yourself; it’s about appreciating their unique abilities and efficiencies.

In essence, embracing natural learners transforms hiring from filling roles to building a team that boosts productivity, efficiency, and business growth.

“What do you want to do in 10, 20 years? If someone wrote you a check for 20 times what your profit is right now, would you take that, and then what would you do?” – Jeff Russell on finding purpose in your business

Actionable Steps to Attain True Ownership in Your Growing Business

True ownership in your growing business involves four key steps: 

  • Define your purpose beyond daily operations—envision your long-term goals. 

  • Implement strong processes, and systems, and hire like-minded individuals. 

  • Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track business health and guide decision-making.

  • Think big, take breaks to plan with family, and prioritize personal time without guilt. Remember, caring for your mental health is crucial for business resilience.


  • HR investigations start with employee complaints over discrimination and harassment or bullying they’ve experienced at work.

  • Common causes of small businesses HR investigations include wrongful termination and harassment, requiring a balance of accountability to restore a positive workplace.

  • Creating an employee handbook depends on your business location and size, and should include essential policies to ensure a respectful environment at work.

  • Policies and handbooks are vital for businesses working with contractors, offering protection for both you and your contractors. 

  • For business without HR expertise, talk to HR consultants and lawyers. Not only will they help during crisis situations, they will also update you on HR regulations.

  • The next step to take to protect your business from HR investigations is to beef up HR education and align your new hires with your company values, mission, and vision.


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About guest – Jeff Russell

Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Serial Entrepreneur and CEO 

Oakridge Financial Group

Jeff is a best-selling author, speaker, and business owner. He is the founder of the Oakridge Financial Group, Oakridge Financial Investments, IAPAM (International Association for Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine), Glenmore Healthcare, Oakridge Leasing and Clean Start Weight Loss®.  

As a successful serial entrepreneur, Jeff teaches entrepreneurs how to unchain themselves from the daily grind by creating a business that runs without them. His latest book, Fire Yourself First, provides a four-step plan to free up time and allow business owners to do what they love next. 

Jeff has taken his secret sauce on how to analyze, systemize, and scale businesses, and packaged it in, Fire Yourself First, providing all his strategies and tips, so business owners can unchain themselves from the daily grind. 

Over the last 20 years, Jeff has taught thousands of people how to start their own businesses.






Author of “Fire Yourself First” :

Other Resources:

Dan Sullivan:


Dawn Fotopulos : Accounting for the Number Phobic

About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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