Episode 162: Navigating The Mindset Shifts Of Scaling To Seven Figures With Michael Zipursky

Scaling to seven figures isn’t just a matter of doing things bigger and throwing money into problems. More than anything else, it requires certain mindset shifts, and for a lot of people, therein lies the snags. In this episode, we are joined by yet another elite entrepreneur to share how he continued to grow his consulting business in the face of the challenges that hit once any business hits the million-dollar mark. Michael Zipursky, founder of Consulting Success, has had an impressive record in growing his business and helping other consulting businesses grow. Tune in to learn from his experience!

What the podcast will teach you:

  • The growth pains business owners face when they hit seven figures
  • Why business owners often get in the way of business growth
  • Why building a team doesn’t necessarily mean adding complexity
  • The importance of clarity when scaling your business


Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


As you know, most weeks I have business owners coming and sharing their real experiences, their real insights, and things they’ve learned that have helped them to continue to grow after they’ve hit some of those challenging spots, after getting to that initial million-dollar mark in revenue. Today is no exception to that. I have a great guest, his name is Michael Zipursky.

I’ve known Michael for a few years now and just am super impressed by who he is as a person, but also the great things that he’s done as a business owner and as a leader to grow his business and to grow himself. I’ll get into a little intro, but before I do, let me at least give you a chance to say hi, Michael. Welcome to the show. We’re glad you’re here.

Hey Brett. Thanks for having me. I always enjoy our time together.

I recently just had Michael speaking at one of our quarterly live events where he gave some very practical tips and insights. It was me listening to him there that had me thinking, why haven’t I had Michael on the show yet? Thank you for saying yes to speaking at our event and for being here again with us today.

I’m excited and looking forward to it.

Let me do some of the formal introduction. Michael is the co-founder and CEO of a business called Consulting Success, which helps consultants figure out how to grow and scale profitable consulting businesses. He has tens of thousands of consultants reading his weekly newsletters. He’s the best when it comes to helping consultants figure out how to build a business around their expertise. He’s a bestselling author. He’s written a few books.

He’s helped thousands of consultants from all over the world in 75-plus industries. They’re all adding six and seven figures of revenue to their consulting businesses because of what Michael and his team have done for them. That’s a little bit of the more formal introduction. Michael, anything you want to add to my attempt to share with people what your business is about?

I think that was great, Brett, so thank you. The big thing that you mentioned is the team. That’s something that I want to give a lot of credit to the team that we have in place and what we’ve been able to create as a company, the way we’re able to support our clients to achieve real results is a credit to the team and the great work that they do every day.

Growing Pains

That might be the perfect segue into our conversation because one of the things that we find over and over as we work with seven-figure business owners is that transition from scrappy, gritty founder entrepreneur who’s involved in a lot of the day-to-day to a place of now I’ve built a team and I have some trust that I can let go and scale this thing with the help of some very amazing and capable people at my side.

That’s an important transition. I don’t want to put any words into your mouth but let’s back up a little bit and say, as you were growing this business, at what point did you start to experience some of those growth pains once you’re hitting that seven figures? What were some of the things that were getting in your way of being able to grow further?

It is a great question. One that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the last several years. As we have gone through that journey, the first part to me is that it didn’t show up in terms of growing pains. There was no real big problem or big issue, which is probably why it was manifesting itself or the potential issue was there for probably a lot longer than we even realized it.

Because it wasn’t showing up as something that was necessarily stunting our growth or we weren’t viewing it as that, we didn’t necessarily take the steps to address it. If I pull that back a little bit more, what was going on is my cousin, Sam, who’s a co-founder in this business, and we’ve built and sold different businesses over the years together.

We had set up Consulting Success for many years, and it was continuing to grow. We were working with more clients, more success, higher levels of revenue and profit, and we had a pretty small team. In many cases, these were contractors that we were working with. We thought this was a great lifestyle business. Even today, I still consider it to be a lifestyle business because we prioritize the lifestyle for ourselves, our team members, and even our clients.

We talk about the importance of getting clear on what you want in terms of lifestyle and then structuring your business to support that lifestyle instead of the other way around where you have to have a business that you focus on, but now you’re making all these sacrifices within your lifestyle and your relationships and family and friends and everything else takes a backseat.

For us, we saw it as let’s build a business that supports the lifestyle that we want, but what we started to run up against if you will, or it’s more that we start to see or to acknowledge is that if we want to be able to take this to that next level, if we want to be able to help and impact more people, we can’t do that with our current model.

The current model was both Sam and I were involved in not necessarily every aspect but in a lot of aspects of the business and a lot of the day-to-day. When we started to explore that and think about our beliefs, and these were our own limiting beliefs, it was that if we want to grow to that next level, if we remove ourselves from things by nature, the idea is let’s create a much bigger business. It means we have to hire people. It means we have to manage more people.

To us, that initially showed up in our minds as added complexity, and we don’t enjoy complexity. We probably backed off of that idea for a lot longer than we could have and that belief that we had was that we should keep this lean and profitable and not hire people. What we didn’t understand is that you don’t necessarily have to create more complexity by adding more team members.

When you have the right systems and the right processes and the right people and the vision and all other stuff that I’m sure we’ll talk more about, you remove complexity and create significantly more possibility for significant growth by adding those things in. Our old mindset told us that adding was complexity and I don’t think that it is today. My view has shifted. My beliefs have changed over the years.

You don't actually necessarily have to create more complexity by adding more team members. When you have the right systems and the right processes and the right people and the vision all other stuff, you actually remove complexity. Share on X

I’d love to get into that a little bit more because we started in a place that’s a little bit different than many of my guests. Many of my guests are talking about, how we were hitting this growth ceiling. We’re hitting these pains. You said, “It wasn’t so much that we were experiencing pain. It was just that our appetite to do something bigger increased.”

We saw that we could have more impact if we decided to do some of these things that we initially thought would be undesirable with adding team members and what you thought might be complexity. Let’s unpack that a little bit more, and help all of us understand how growth doesn’t have to equal more complexity.

The belief that I had was, as I mentioned, you start hiring more team members full-time, contract, or whatever it might be. In our case, our business model is we work with consultants and small consulting firm owners as you mentioned earlier to help them grow and scale their businesses and do so very profitably, but in the early days, it was me and Sam who were doing all the interaction with our clients. What we thought was if we start hiring coaches and additional team members, isn’t that going to cause all kinds of issues? They’re not the same as us. How’s that going to work? How will we make sure that clients get great results?

That had us backing off a little bit, going to that next level of starting to develop a framework and “certify” our coaches and all that, but when we started to see that in order to get to that next level, we needed to take a leap. We needed to trust and to try something. The worst-case scenario would be that we’d have to make some adjustments.

What we started to look at was how can we ensure that our clients get not only the same level of results they would get if it was myself or Sam working directly with them, but they can even get better results because if it’s just us, we’re not going to have the capacity to work as closely as we’d like to with clients unless we charge significantly higher fees, but our goal in our model is to help more and more people.

What we did is we made sure that we documented as much as we could about how we create results. That led to the development of what we call The Consulting Success Framework and that led to bringing in people who understand how to teach these concepts and how to train on these concepts. How do we make sure that we have the SOPs and all the different aspects that, with the end client in mind, we want to get all that in place?

Once we had that, then it was pretty easy to go ahead and find people because most of our initial coaches have either been past clients of ours, they’ve gone through our program, they’re active consulting business owners themselves, or they’re people that we’ve known, they’ve been in our network, they’ve been following Consulting Success.

Once we were ready, we put out that call and said, “Here’s what we’re looking to do,” and we had a lot of people who showed interest, which led to finding our initial coaches and building up from there. Today, we’re at 10 or 11 coaches and they’ve all gone through the Consulting Success Framework training and they’re able to do as good of a job if not better than we can, working with our clients. Now, that allows us to help a lot more people at one time.

Wisdom That Transcends Industries

I want to talk a little bit more about what you’ve done, but try to apply it across different business types because it’s not just consulting success types of businesses that this would work for. What you and Sam did was get clear about what success looks like. How do you take a client from A to B to C and all the way down to wherever they need to be for success so that you could then hand that off more readily or more easily to a set of certified coaches?

Whether it’s a home service business of some sort, a professional service business, or a marketing firm, the principles are the same. You all need to understand what it takes to move a client, a patient, or a customer from the initial point of sale to success. If you understand what that work looks like, how to break it down, how to hire to it, how to train to it, now you can hand it off to somebody.

It sounds like you started off thinking that would be hard to certify other people to do this the way we can but now you’ve found that once you put in the work to outline all of that and put it in a form where you could teach it to somebody else and give them those responsibilities, now your ability to impact lots of people went way up. I think that’s an important key that I wanted to pull out of what you said.

What I would probably add to that too is my observation of going through this ourselves over the years. It is that because we didn’t have the plan in place, we didn’t think through what is the best case scenario, what is the worst case scenario, and how do we make sure that we get closer to that best case scenario.

Not just in our minds, thinking through it or talking about it, but putting it down on paper, getting a plan in place, getting those details in order. All the stuff that maybe seemed a little bit daunting or scary or gave us reason for pause or hesitation, once we got that all documented and became very clear on what those different scenarios look like, made us feel much more confident to say, “Let’s take that first step.”

I’ll tell you, we were prepared for some potential blowback or issues to come up when we shifted our model from what we were doing before to what we’re doing today, but we didn’t have any blowback. There were zero issues. It doesn’t mean that there are never issues. Things always pop up as in any business, but the expectation that we had that this probably wouldn’t be a smooth shift was not the case. It was much smoother than we expected.

I think that goes back to the preparation and the thought that we gave to it. Writing things down and getting all that in order allowed us to make that leap and it worked out better. I’d say to anyone who’s in a place right now where you think maybe your current model isn’t serving you as well as you’d like it to, maybe you know or you have some ideas of something else that you’d like to work towards, but you’re not trying it.

Work through and think through what are all those different pieces, what’s the best case scenario and worst case scenario, and how do you plan for if something were to go wrong? That’s going to probably make you feel much more confident to at least try something out and see how it goes. You might be pleasantly surprised as we were about the value and benefit of making that shift.

I think it’s hard for a lot of us as founders. We have so much of our identity or the value of the business wrapped up in ourselves. We think this works because I’m part of it but what you and Sam did was you demystified the work. It wasn’t just in your head and in your talent anymore. It was, “Here’s what successfully leading clients through this work looks like.”

Now we can hire somebody to take that and do it. It sounds simple. I guess in actuality, it wasn’t super difficult work, but it did take work and it took intentional effort to put that all together. Now that you’ve done it, you’re serving more and more clients successfully than you ever could have, just you and Sam.

That’s super helpful. Let’s talk about other lessons that you’ve been learning as you are scaling your seven-figure business. Let’s talk about some mindsets for a minute. I think you talked indirectly about it doesn’t have to be me or Sam involved in everything. There’s a mindset piece there that you guys overcame. Are there other mindsets that you’ve come across that you had to make a shift on to enable you to keep growing?

Even as the one that you mentioned right around that idea of delegation, I view that as an ongoing process. Even though when we go back many years, it was maybe 3 or 4 of us. Today, we’re 19 or 20 people. Even myself and other team members as well are still going through this process of thinking through, “What can I shed? What am I doing right now that I shouldn’t be doing?” We still think through that balance of continuing to hire but doing so in a profitable way.

The Elite Entrepreneurs Podcast | Michael Zipursky | Scaling To Seven Figures

Scaling To Seven Figures: Delegation is an ongoing process.


We’re a bootstrap company and while we’re very profitable and we’ve been growing year over year, I never want us to try and do something so big that it could hurt us. We need to be thinking in my mind strategically about how to make smart investments that allow the business to grow and still support the values of the company and shift areas that I’m involved in, or maybe that Sam or another team member might be into, or over to somebody else but do it very thoughtfully.

We’re not just all about, “Let’s add more people and spend more money and hope that things work out.” We want to be very intentional about how we grow and think through, “Is this the right person to bring on? Is this the right time to bring that person on? What is the value that that person will create? How will that person help the business to grow? Is there an alternative to doing that?”

We try and be thoughtful about all these pieces. I’m sharing this to say that even at this point today, I’m still constantly reevaluating where I’m spending my time and asking myself, “Is this the best use of my time?” Maybe just one very tactical, hopefully, practical tip for everyone is I have a document online that I add to, it’s just like a little list. Every time I’m spending my time on something, I think to myself, “This may not be the best use of my time. This is something that I don’t enjoy, or this is something that I definitely should be delegating, or maybe we should just stop doing,” it gets added to that list.

Now I have something to talk to other team members about and come up with a plan around so that it constantly improves the business because I can shift away from lower value creation things to higher value creation things. I can feel more energized and make sure that I’m spending time on stuff that gives me energy, as opposed to stuff that takes my energy away.

I love that as an ongoing practice of evaluating, “Where am I aiming my energy?” I have this precious life source energy and when it’s applied to the right things, it’s amazing. There’s a multiplying type of thing that happens when my energy is applied to things that I’m not great at or that I don’t enjoy or that somebody, a lower-cost resource in my business could take.

I’m stifling the growth of my business or what could be possible if I’m doing too many of those things. I love that. I heard one of our other guests previously talk about how they’re growing fast and he said, “If I’m still doing something six months later that I used to be doing, I’m not giving it away fast enough.”

He had a little time, I guess a cadence around it where he’s like, “If I’m still doing something today that I was doing six months ago, I’m hurting the growth of my business. I have to figure out how to pass that off.” I like the practical example you gave, just a Google doc of, “Here’s my ongoing list of those a-ha moments. I don’t have to be doing this or I shouldn’t be doing this or I don’t like to be doing that.” That’s really good, thank you.

One point on that I can just add because it’s something that I have a pretty strong belief around. When I have conversations with other entrepreneurs and take the other entrepreneur that you mentioned has this own practice of every six months shifting off, I’m personally a very big believer in the idea that there’s no one way or right way to do something.

The Elite Entrepreneurs Podcast | Michael Zipursky | Scaling To Seven Figures

Scaling To Seven Figures: There’s no one way or right way to do something.


Somebody might be high growth, have a system, and let’s shift things off all the time. That might be the best system and the best approach for them but I’ll tell you, I talked to a lot of other successful consultants and entrepreneurs through our podcast, the Consulting Success Podcast, and talked to some very successful consultants who are running much larger firms.

Some of them will still spend a good portion of their own work time doing delivery and doing work with clients because they enjoy it, and then I’ll talk to others who say, “No, my whole goal was to shift away from doing any client delivery as quickly as possible. I should only be doing strategy and business development.” My whole thing is there’s no one way. I think each of us, because as you said, very accurately, it’s our life.

That’s the time that we have is one most precious assets that we can never create more of. Optimize for what gives you the greatest satisfaction, the greatest fulfillment, supports your values, and what you want to create long-term. That’s unique to each individual person. I believe that if you get clear on that, then you’re setting yourself up for really great success.

If you get clear on what gives you the greatest fulfillment, then you're setting yourself up for a really great success. Share on X

The Biggest Mindset Shift

I love that. I just want to give one more, I guess, plus one to that. One of our long-time elite community members has a personal injury law firm. Back when I first knew them, they were doing $3.5 million or something like that. The owner was doing all the trial litigation. In any case that went to trial, he was doing that and he loves doing that. Now they’ve since five extra businesses. They’re doing tens of millions of dollars and he doesn’t have to try any cases, but he absolutely loves it.

It’s almost like a vacation. One or two cases a year, he knows, “I want to plan in a couple of weeks of trial litigation. I want to do that. I love it.” I think you’re right. There’s not a one-size-fits-all in that. The principle is our business cannot outgrow what we’re able to lead and develop in our team. If we hold on to all of those core pieces of value delivery, then we’ve just capped what our business can do.

As we build a team that can take some of those pieces as much as we want to delegate, then the impact can grow beyond what we can do ourselves or with our co-founders. Good stuff. Let’s talk about maybe you still have a lot of 1099s, but I know at one point it was just a few of you and mostly you and your cousin and then some 1099 support.

Now it sounds like you’re building out the team, you’ve hired some people, maybe as an employee instead of just 1099s. What have you learned about hiring and getting the right people in place that might be of use to some of our audience?

Two ideas come to my mind that hopefully will be of interest or value to people. The first is how I personally view the idea of building a team and how my view has changed. Going back many years, I viewed hiring people and managing people more with the mindset that this is complexity and this also is an expense. It takes money out of my pocket. Yes, I know the idea of being able to create more value, but I viewed it a bit more transactional or on the expense side. It wasn’t something that we were actively doing very much of.

Today, the way I view building the team, not only do I see the direct correlation to achieving greater growth and making a greater impact on our clients, but I’m excited about the idea of building a team because we’re building people. We’re supporting great people. We have the opportunity to work with great people.

We have the opportunity to pay those people well and above average market rates and find ways to compensate them and have them participate in our growth. As the company becomes more successful, they get to also benefit from that. To me, it just feels nice. If I went back in time, I don’t think that idea would have made me excited.

Today, it makes me excited because I feel like if we can grow as a company, our team gets to also grow as a collective. Essentially, if everybody is growing, our clients are growing, our team is growing, our company is growing, I’m growing personally, all of these things together, that’s such a beautiful thing that gets me excited.

Now I think about hiring somebody. It’s like that’s going to be an extra tens of thousands of dollars or whatever that number looks like. It’s a positive, not a negative. It’s not something that I shy away from. It’s something that I lean into and go. Of course, it has to make sense. It has to line up with the goals of the business. We have to see a path to greater value creation in terms of direct revenue or brand building or whatever our goals are. If we can see that, then great.

The second thing is there’s a lot that I’ve learned from you over the years and from the Elite Entrepreneurs Community, being a part of that a few years back. You guys taught us about the value of the vision, the mission, and the values. If I hit the rewind button, the way I used to look at a lot of those is that’s for larger companies. They have that.

We’re a smaller business. We know what we want to do but going through that initial exercise on what is our mission? What are our values? I’m in the office here right now and we have this printed out as a canvas and we send that to our team members. It’s on the wall and it’s on our website. Those are the things that we live by. We filter our decisions about what we’re going to do and why we’re going to do it based on our values.

We know it’s not necessarily set in stone. We’ll update those as time goes on and those will evolve but getting clear on those things has been so important. As it relates to hiring specifically, I can think of at least two or three team members, just even in the recent period, who specifically said, “The reason that I applied to work at your company, the reason I left a larger organization to come and join a smaller organization is because of your values, because of what you stand for, because of what you’ve communicated.”

When we create job descriptions and you know this because this came from your world, we lead with our values. The job description itself takes a bit of a backseat to make sure that we’re communicating what the company is all about. If somebody doesn’t align or doesn’t resonate with our beliefs or our values or what we view as being important, what our whole mission is, then the job description by itself doesn’t even matter.

That has been very important for us. It continues to be very important for us. I would just, in terms of anyone thinking about hiring, we hire essentially to our values and we communicate our values. We try to communicate our story very clearly. If people go to ConsultingSuccess.com on our story page, which is essentially our about page, we have an 11.5-minute video that we created several years back that talks about our story.

Not about just the company, but about Sam, who’s my cousin, our father, the twins, about our grandparents and our parents and how we got to where we are, the ups and downs. That’s the stuff that people always comment on. They don’t want to just work with, work for, or be advised by a company. They want to know who the people are behind that company and what those people believe. That stuff is always at the forefront for us.

I appreciate you jumping into that a little bit because I geek out on that stuff, to begin with, but I think when we can go as business owners from the mindset of more employees equals more headaches to a place that you were describing, “I get to build something that develops these people, that helps them to reach potential that maybe they haven’t even thought about before.”

I’m unlocking potential and helping them achieve greater heights as they help us do this thing together in our business. That’s cool when you can wake up to that change in our thinking around people from being just expenses and more headaches and drama to when I do it right to align or gather a group of people together who are all excited about this cause that we’re up to together, who share beliefs and values, and who are going to come together and work in a way that creates tremendous value. That’s fun.

It was fun for me to hear you talk about that transition in yourself. As a last thing, we need to wrap up. Maybe it’ll be hard for you to put a finger on this. I don’t know if you can. Is there anything, in particular, you could point back to that helped you go from what I’ll call a more traditional mindset around adding team and that complexity and expense to the mindset that you have now, which was a beautiful contrast, but how did you get from A to B? Where was the transition in that?

First was getting clear about what is the impact that we want to have. What does success look like? In our case, it was continuing to help more people achieve great success, by growing and scaling their consulting businesses. We couldn’t do that in the way that we envisioned or the way that we wanted to, we wouldn’t be able to have the level of impact with our old model. That was one big thing for us.

The other is what I’ve been able to enjoy over the last couple of years and it continues to get better and better which is, by building a team, what that’s doing is it’s freeing me up. When I was down in Arizona, giving a talk at your event and being away for a few days, the business ran just fine. If I’m away with my family traveling for a few weeks even, the business runs, and it doesn’t require me. It doesn’t mean that I’m not necessarily checking some emails or interacting here and there with the team.

The business is now at a place where I don’t need to be involved in every aspect. I don’t have to even be involved in the day-to-day and we have such a great team that they can run it. That to me is another driver of why we create a business. It could give us a lot more freedom and flexibility to not necessarily remove ourselves from the business but to be able to choose, how we want to interact with the business. Where do we want to spend our time and where do we not want to spend our time? That I think is the other big driver behind deciding that this is the model that we want to go with.

I think there are two things you mentioned. One was that we got so clear about what we wanted to create. That clarity drove enough excitement for us to change what we were doing. That vision was bigger than what we had currently created. We knew we needed to change something there and then as you got involved with building a team and realized that that allowed you to have more of that time, freedom, flexibility, whatever you want to call it.

I think many of us started the business thinking that that’s the nirvana, that we’re going to be able to have all this time. You started to taste what it was like to have great people taking things and you probably had less weight on your shoulders and more ability to go do something else. That turned you on to this team-building thing even more.

Anyway, that was great. Michael, I could talk to you all day about this stuff. We better wrap it up. Thank you so much for being our guest today and sharing some of your real insights into your own journey as you’ve made transitions in your business. How would people learn more about Consulting Success, check out your podcast, and connect with you on social if they want to do that?

ConsultingSuccess.com is home to everything that we put out, with lots of free resources and information on some of the different programs that we have as well. You can find us on YouTube. If you just type in Consulting Success, you’ll find us there. There’s the Consulting Success podcast on Spotify, Apple, and all those places. Then if you want to connect with me personally, LinkedIn is probably the best place. If you can put a little note in to let me know that you are coming from the podcast here, that would be great and I’m happy to connect with people there.

Michael, I appreciate all you do to help others learn and grow in their own entrepreneurial journey. We’ve certainly enjoyed having you as part of our show today. For everybody out there, please share, like, and do all those things that help us put this in front of as many seven-figure business owners as possible. Especially for any of your consulting friends, this is a unique opportunity to find and connect with the absolute best when it comes to helping consulting firms figure out how to grow their practices. Please do all that and tune in next time for another great episode. Thanks for now.


Important Links


About Michael Zipursky

The Elite Entrepreneurs Podcast | Michael Zipursky | Scaling To Seven FiguresMichael Zipursky is the co-founder and CEO of Consulting Success® where they specialize in helping entrepreneurial consultants grow profitable, scalable and strategic consulting businesses. He has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, RBC, and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets, but more importantly, he’s helped over 1000 consultants from around the world in over 75 industries add 6 and 7 figures to their annual revenues. Over 45,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. Michael is also the author of the Best Sellers ACT NOW: How successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty, The Elite Consulting Mind and Consulting Success® the book.

Want to listen to more?  View all episodes here >