Defining the Morning Routine | Balancing Act Between Work and Family | Hiring Generalists Vs. Specialists | Finding Moments to Collaborate | Hutchison on Buying and Selling a Business | On First-timers and Seasoned Buyers | Final Thoughts
Blake Hutchison is the founder and CEO of Flippa, an online marketplace to buy and sell digital assets such as websites, apps, and e-commerce stores. He’s entrenched in the world of digital real estate, and yet he still finds time to be the best father and husband he can be. Recently, Ramon Ray sat down with Hutchison to get his thoughts on fatherhood, family, and balancing it all while running a growing business. Here’s what he had to say.
Defining the Morning Routine
Living in Australia means that Hutchison is far away from many of his peers and colleagues, who are distributed worldwide. “And that can make things super challenging, but at the same time, very, very interesting, and intellectually stimulating because people come from different worlds and different perspectives,” he says.
For Hutchison, his days start early, around 6 a.m., and he spends his nights hanging out with his wife and daughter. Upon waking, he dives right into email and Slack “to see if anything’s happened,” he says. He notes that this can mean waking up with a bit of anxiety; he rises to wonder how the business performed overnight in the markets where most of Flippa’s brand sales and revenue occur.
“I must admit, I’m trying to get better [about my] morning routine,” he says.
Part of that morning routine includes family time. He’ll chat with his wife, make coffee, and run up the stairs to get his 2-year-old daughter, Isabella, out of bed. “We tend to play some music,” says Hutchison — everything from Elvis to Snoop Dogg to the Rolling Stones and AC/DC. “Whatever she’s feeling like in the morning, to have a bit of a jump around and a bit of a dance — make sure she has a smile and a laugh before we go downstairs for breakfast.”
- Related Read: How to Create The Ultimate Sunday Reset Routine
The Balancing Act Between Work and Family
The balancing act between work and family can be challenging at times. On the one hand, Hutchison may have a little anxiety about the performance of the business as he gets up in the morning. And yet this anxiety stems from a desire to give his family everything they deserve.
“To some extent, what you’re trying to do is actually provide for yourself, so you can provide for others by building a good quality business that we can all live and breathe off the back of,” says Hutchison. “So that makes it challenging.”
If you have a similar balancing act? He advises that when you’re in work mode, be the best possible worker you can be.
Spend time delegating to your team, empowering them, coaching them, and expecting the best from them. Otherwise, “you’re going to have to do it all yourself,” says Hutchison. “And that’s not possible or practical or probable.”
The goal is to get to a point where you’ve got an outstanding team, as Hutchison does. This will give you the freedom to disconnect from work and be fully present with your family when it’s family time. And the dance party moments or time spent making coffee for his wife are that much sweeter. “Those little moments enable you to find balance,” says Hutchison.
Hiring Generalists Vs. Specialists
In the beginning stages of Flippa, Hutchison focused on hiring generalists. These are people who have a diverse array of experience and can perform many different functions. As the business has grown, he has transitioned to hiring specialists who have honed their craft over many years.
This hiring strategy allows Hutchison to grow the business and take a step away when needed. “I can pull myself out because I don’t have those [specialist] skills,” he explains. “And I can go back to being a better father or dad or not having to work many hours.”
In fact, on the advice of Flippa’s chairman, Hutchison tries to take the first two days off of every new quarter. The idea is that he’s worked so hard for the past three months, achieving as much as he possibly can.
Taking a step back to carve out time for himself makes him not only a better leader but also a better father and husband.
“I’ve recently taken up golf, and that’s been really great for my mental health,” he adds. “I must admit, I’ve never been able to do that for more than two days.”
On Finding Moments to Collaborate
Although Hutchison takes time for himself when needed, he notes that he gets his energy from others. He’s not the type of person to sit in a room by himself with a keyboard. “It’s just not the way I’m wired,” he says.
Instead, Hutchison prefers being in the office and collaborating — getting the whiteboard out and saying, “What are we trying? What are the problems we’re trying to solve? And what do our customers want us to solve for them?”
“Walking one-on-ones have been a gem for me.”Blake Hutchison
In addition to collaboration, Hutchison enjoys connecting individually with team members through “walking one-on-ones.” “It’s so easy to say, ‘Let’s go grab a room or let’s jump on Zoom’ that’s nowhere near as good as walking the streets and just having a conversation without your laptop,” he says, “talking about life, observing what you see, and commenting on it. Walking one-on-ones have been a gem for me.”
Hutchison’s Advice on Buying and Selling a Business
Building Flippa has introduced Hutchison to a variety of business owners from all over the world. Many of them have built great businesses they ultimately want to sell. For those that come onto the Flippa platform, “it democratizes the exit,” says Hutchison.
That’s the seller’s side of things. As for the buyer side, it’s important to understand a few key things that buyers are looking for:
1. Consistency of Performance
Buyers are not looking to acquire something that doesn’t have predictability. They want to see ROI and consistency of performance from a business. This is the only way a buyer can ensure their investment is sound. “The only way you get the consistency of performance is through the length of business operation,” Hutchison explains. “We call that business maturity.”
To put that in perspective, the average business that sells on Flippa is 4.5 years old. So when starting a business, one should think about whether they envision running it for two, three, or four years. A buyer will look for that.
2. Pay For Performance
Buyers will pay for performance, not for the opportunity. “That means that if I’m doing $100,000 net profit, that’s how the business is assessed,” says Hutchison. In other words, buyers might appreciate the potential that a business may have, but they won’t pay for opportunities that have yet to materialize.
3. Consistency Over Hyper-growth
“Consistency is better than hyper-growth,” says Hutchison. So what business owners should figure out is how they diversify their revenue streams. This ensures that if one part of the business does not perform in a particular month, another can prop it up.
At the end of the day, business sellers have to take a hard look at their business and ask why someone would want to buy it. This enables them to understand better how to tell that story and position themselves for the exit.
Hutchison’s Experience With First-timers and Seasoned Buyers
Hutchison likes the Flippa platform in the real estate market in the sense that there are both first-time and seasoned buyers. The first-time buyer might say, “Ramon, your podcast business is incredible. Tell me all about it,” Hutchison says. “And you’ll have a savvy buyer who comes in and says, ‘Ramon, your podcast business is incredible. I’ve just submitted a letter of intent.”
To be sure, there is a sophisticated buyer on the Flippa platform that sometimes trumps the large number of first-timers. “Now, that’s unfortunate for the first-timers, but it’s kind of equivalent to any asset class,” Hutchison notes.
“Fortune favors the brave, and those who have got the expertise and the money will tend to go a bit quicker. So they’re smart; they’re savvy; they’re fast. They’re sophisticated in the negotiation tactics.”Blake Hutchison
At the end of the day, running a business requires discovering the things that work for you, says Hutchison. As much as Hutchison reads about what works for others, he’s found it critical to discover what works for him and him alone.
It’s something any business owner should do as they start and grow a business. “It could sometimes feel extraordinarily overwhelming to take on all of these tips and tactics from others,” says Hutchison.
“And so just find that little thing that works for you. I’m still discovering that myself.”
About Blake Hutchison
Blake Hutchison is the founder and CEO of Flippa, an online marketplace to buy and sell digital assets such as websites, apps, and e-commerce stores. Blake Hutchison and his team empower individuals and companies to take control, take ownership, and thrive in this new small business economy.