Was The Inc. 500 The Reason For This Founder’s Exit?

July 26, 2019 |  

About this episode


James Roman grew iVelocity’s revenue by a whopping 1000% – was the stress that ensued worth it?

To read a transcript of this episode, click here.

James Roman founded iVelocity, a digital marketing agency for healthcare professionals. With a goal of getting on the Inc. 500 list, he wanted to scale quickly – and he did. Between 2013 to 2016 the company grew 10 times and increased its gross revenue by 1000%.

…But it was the stress of a big company that broke the camel’s back.

Roman wanted out and would ultimately sell iVelocity for 3 times EBIDTA. Find out why the success of his company pushed him out sooner.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The unseen stressors of running a company
  • While accolades like being on the Inc. 500 list can be bittersweet
  • The rules Roman broke as part of his sale, and why he did it
  • How to use contractors as a way of ‘dating’ potential employees
  • Why you need to run your company like you’re not planning to sell, even as you approach the sale’s finish line

Bringing your employees along the journey of a sale can be a difficult conversation to have. Team Involvement is one of the key drivers of a satisfying exit – if you have a good understanding at what your team’s involvement will be. Take your free PREScore™ to see when you’d tell your team – and if you’d regret it post exit.

About Our Guest

After 11 years in a private chiropractic practice, he sold his successful office in Atlanta, GA to move out west to Denver, CO and start iVelocity Marketing. As the Founder and CEO of iVelocity, he grew his agency 10X and was listed on the INC 500 list of fastest growing businesses in the country. His agency focused on helping doctors, dentists and chiropractors market online and acquire new patients using Facebook and Google Adwords. After selling his agency for a 7 figure cash out, he coaches and trains private practices around the country on management and growth strategies.


John Warrillow:                And you hear from James Roman, who’s sold iVelocity for three times EBITDA. One of the things I really loved about this interview was the humility James brought to the table. He talks a lot about the stress of running a company and managing employees, and he did it with candor. He built a company that became an Inc 500 company, so a significant business. But the stress was ultimately, I think, the straw that broke the camel’s back, that made him want to sell. And if that resonates with you at all, you’ll love James’s story. He goes into details about how he found a buyer, how quick, in fact, and seamless it was for him to find a buyer. How to go through negotiation, the rules he broke along the way. He talks about using contractors as a way to date before you get married. He shares a little bit about his bucket list, which I think was really cool.

John Warrillow:                He also talks about the resentment that was formed among his employees when they found out that they were an Inc 500 company. And all of a sudden, they had higher expectations of him as an employer. And the mental duplicity, if I can use that term, of having to run your company at the same time as you start to imagine life once you’ve left it.

John Warrillow:                Here to tell you his story, is James Roman.

John Warrillow:                James Roman, welcome to Built To Sell Radio.

James Roman:                  Oh, it’s great to be here. Thank you so much, John.

John Warrillow:                You are a back cracker by trade.

James Roman:                  I know!

John Warrillow:                You crack people’s backs! What [inaudible 00:02:30] entrepreneurially these days?

James Roman:                  I’m a back jockey.

John Warrillow:                You’re a back jockey. So you’re a chiropractor.

James Roman:                  A spine jockey. I’m a chiropractor by professional training, yeah.

John Warrillow:                Cool. And you had a chiropractic practice.

James Roman:                  Yeah! So I practiced for 10 years. I had a successful practice in Atlanta, and decided that I was really good at marketing, so I wanted to get out and start the agency.

John Warrillow:                Fantastic. We’re going to get to iVelocity in a moment. Before we do, though, what was it like to sell your chiropractic clinic? What was that experience like?

James Roman:                  So you know, I … And I went through similar phase with the selling of iVelocity, but I just got to a point where I felt like I had done everything I wanted to do in chiropractic, and I enjoyed the marketing side of it. Well, selling the chiropractic company, I didn’t know it’s different with a agency, but that took me a solid year.

John Warrillow:                Really?

James Roman:                  It was quite the interesting process. It was hard to find buyers, because there’s only a small number of people that are looking for a professional chiropractic practice to buy.

John Warrillow:                Because I guess people just set up their own, right?

James Roman:                  Yeah, they usually set up their own, or they work for another doctor. They’ll go in and partner with somebody. So I sold that company myself. So it was … I worked with a broker for a year, and I finally … I was the one that found a buyer for that, and it was one of my competitors. We were friends, but we were also competitors in the same market.

John Warrillow:                Frenemies.

James Roman:                  Yeah, frenemies. And he’s like, “Look … ” I said, “The practice is for sale. I haven’t sold it yet, because it’s been on the market.” But I’m like, “Dude, if I don’t get something in the next few months, here, I will probably sell it for half of what it was worth.” And at that time, he’s like, “I have that money in the bank, and I can buy that.” And we … That deal, I thought about it for a day. It was way less than what I was looking for, but I knew if I stayed in that practice for another six months, I probably wouldn’t have that business. So I took the offer. We closed in a month, and it was … It ended up being a much better deal, because I had all of my collections still coming in from the company, so I was able to keep my accounts receivable. That deal ended up being … We sold it for $150, but I ended up getting another $100,000 in receivables. So it ended up being about a $250,000 deal.

John Warrillow:                And how did that relate to your revenue? What was your revenue at the chiropractic clinic?

James Roman:                  So at the chiropractic … My revenue the year prior was $700,000 a year. And then it dropped down to $550,000, and that was just … 2011, before I sold that practice, was the most challenging, difficult time, I think, of my entire business experience.

John Warrillow:                Hmm.

James Roman:                  I had … We were going through an insurance audit. And if you’ve ever run a healthcare practice, one of the things that strikes fear into any healthcare entrepreneur is going through an insurance audit.

John Warrillow:                Right! Of course.

James Roman:                  And we ended up winning it, but it literally took me off my A-game. I mean, it took me off. It challenged my confidence, it rocked me to the core. And then I had marketing issues and insurance, and it was this perfect storm of stuff that I went through that … I got through it, but it was a challenging year. So our profits took a dip, and at about that point, I was like, “You know what? I think I’ve achieved what I wanted to do in this industry. I love marketing, so let’s just go and do that.”

John Warrillow:                So let’s get into the next company, because that’s the one we actually wanted to talk about.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                iVelocity. So what does iVelocity do?

James Roman:                  So we are a digital marketing agency. We do paid advertising for healthcare practitioners. So it was a nice transition for me to kind of go into that, because I understood healthcare. So we work with chiropractors, dentists, medical doctors, and we help them grow their practices through paid advertising.

John Warrillow:                So I’m trying to think of the last time I changed doctors or dentists or chiropractors. I think I would’ve been a little squeamish about clicking on a paid ad by my doctor. I would’ve gone to a Yelp review. So people actually click on paid ads to-

James Roman:                  Oh, they do. They do.

John Warrillow:                Wow.

James Roman:                  They click on … So they’ll go in and Google and they’ll type in “local chiropractor,” or “top dentists,” and so that’s one avenue. And then on Facebook and social media. So we started out as an SEO company.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  So we went from SEO to SEO and AdWords, and then we shifted, in 2014, 2015, to really being a Facebook ad company. And then we transitioned back into kind of doing multiple PaperClick, Google AdWords, Facebook advertising and SEO services.

John Warrillow:                Got it. SEO being search engine optimization, where you get your Google ranking up to naturally sort of up to the top.

James Roman:                  Yeah, yeah.

John Warrillow:                Which is a whole black art in and of itself.

James Roman:                  SEO, you know, we don’t do as much SEO, because paid … And I think that whole industry has changed over the last few years, because it’s become way more difficult. So paid advertising, if you’re a local business, a local brick and mortar company, it’s way faster and easier to get an ad set up on paid advertising and start producing within, I mean, literally two to three weeks you can get it producing, versus if you’re doing SEO. That’s a six-month, nine-month, twelve-month strategy. And in today’s fast-paced economy, most businesses can’t take that long to show results. And that’s really kind of why we veered more into paid advertising.

John Warrillow:                Makes a ton of sense, right? You threw up a Facebook ad, and the phone’s ringing like 10 minutes later, maybe.

James Roman:                  Absolutely

John Warrillow:                Got it, okay. So how did you staff this company? Because the current CEO … Knowledge of how to structure a paid search campaign has become very expensive to buy.

James Roman:                  Yeah. So you know, how I staffed it, I started with myself.

John Warrillow:                Yeah.

James Roman:                  So I started iVelocity with literally no … My first client hired me as an SEO, and he was like, “Will you show me how to do this?” And I was like, “Well I can either show you, or you can just pay me, and I can get it done way faster.” So that was my first client. So we were cash-positive from the very … I had four clients with my agency while I was still in practice, and I had no website. I had no business cards, and I just had the business name.

John Warrillow:                So it was you in the beginning, but you built it beyond just you.

James Roman:                  Yeah, we built it to 26, 27 team members. So I started hiring contractors first. You know, I started a contract. I’d have a contractor that would do this portion of the SEO, and I’d have this contractor that would do this portion of the account management and work with the clients. And so I started with me doing these positions, and then I would start delegating those positions to a contractor, and then eventually moved into hiring employees, full-time employees for this.

James Roman:                  And so we would essentially … As we started to ramp up and grow … So we started from five clients to 10 clients to 15 clients. I think I hired my first team member when we had about 15 clients.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  And then the next one was when we got to 20, 25 clients. And the next one was 30 to 35 clients and 40 clients. And so we … I had learned business management skills from when I ran the chiropractic company. And that transferred over to here, where we started working on divisions. So we had the account management side that would work with the clients, and then we had production side, which was essentially [inaudible 00:10:26] the services. These are how we’re going to deliver the service. So this would be our SEO person. This would be our Facebook advertising manager. This would be our Google AdWords person.

James Roman:                  And we broke those down into different departments within those divisions. And they all had to report to a senior team member. And they were approved before their work can be done. And that’s essentially how we built out the team.

James Roman:                  How we hired everybody was … if I can … This is one nugget that I will still continue to do no matter what business I’m in. We always hired people for our marketing firm as a contractor first. So if you were going to come on for iVelocity marketing … And I think the new owner has kind of changed this. But my philosophy was I want to date first before I find out if we’re going to be a really good fit for each other.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  So we always did a two to four-week dating period, which was like … You’ll come on as a contractor first. We’ll pay you a set fee. And then once we kind of do this dating period, when we can kind of see if we like each other, you can find out if you like our company, and I can find out if you’re a good fit for us. Then we’ll move you into a full-time employee. And that has really worked. I mean, it’s how we built this team to … I think when we sold it, we had about 17 or 18 full-time employees, and then we had about 10 contractors that we worked with. That’s how we built that team.

John Warrillow:                It’s fantastic. Fantastic. So you’re growing this company, and I understand you hit the Inc 500 list. Is that right?

James Roman:                  Yeah. Yeah, so my … Back in 2013, 2014 when this started to really kind of … In 2012, I sold my chiropractic practice, and I really started doing this full-time. So 2012, 2013, I’m starting to think like, “Man, I would love to the Inc 500.” And then you figure out what are the requirements. And it’s like you need to do at least $2 million in revenue to even be listed on that thing. So I’m thinking far off. And I wrote this down as a vision that I keep going back to it, and it was one of my bucket list items. I’m like, “I want to get the Inc 500. I want to be not on the Inc 5,000 list; the Inc 500.”

James Roman:                  So we worked our butts off from 2013 to 2016. We grew 10 times. We did 1,000% increase in our revenue, in our gross revenue. And at that time, it was listed. We were doing $2.9 million at the end of 2016, and that’s what they base those numbers on. And so we were published in the 2017 episode of Inc 500, and it was huge.

James Roman:                  You know, for entrepreneurs and business owners, I think it’s a way bigger thing for us, like it is for anybody else. I mean, even the clients thought it was cool. And some people really appreciate it, but there’s nothing like another business owner … I can say it to regular people, people that are not business owners or my team members, and they think it’s cool. But another business owner appreciates how difficult that is to do. And so it gives you instant credibility when you’re around other business owners.

John Warrillow:                Absolutely, absolutely. It’s a calling card into a very elite club. Well, congratulations. That’s awesome.

James Roman:                  Thank you. Thank you very much.

John Warrillow:                Did you frame the picture?

James Roman:                  I did!

John Warrillow:                There you go! That’s good.

James Roman:                  I sure as hell did, because it’s a big deal for me. But you know what’s interesting is that kind of created its own challenges.

John Warrillow:                How so?

James Roman:                  Well so after the Inc 500, everybody … So 2014, 2015, 2016, we don’t have an office space. So we’re starting to grow this team. And I think in 2015, we had 17 members. 2016, we had about nine team members. And we were just all using a shared office space up until 2017. So 2017, we actually get our first office space. Up until that point, everybody’s working remotely, or we’re going on a shared office space a couple times a week to have our meetings, and that was it. And I liked that. I did like that a lot. In 2017, we got our first office space. And then when we hit the Inc 500 list, and I think people knew how much money we made, it started to change the dynamics a little bit on the team. You know?

James Roman:                  We went from this … Well here, we’re a startup and we’re in this growth and we’re getting bigger, and everybody’s excited about that to like, “Oh! We’re a real company now.” And so real companies, they require real benefits. And it starts to shift and change the dynamic. I remember … This is when I knew the dynamic shifted a little bit. In 15, 16 years of business, I had never lost an employee because of money. End of 2017, after the Inc 500, we lost a senior team member. And it was really because it was that person searching out more money. And it was the first of several that happened, but it was the first time. It was like … It shifted a little bit. You know? It wasn’t about the purpose so much, and that’s important. It’s important to have purpose. But at the same time, people need to make what they’re worth, and that taught me a whole bunch of lessons in itself.

John Warrillow:                Sounds like it, for sure.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                And so catch me up to how this story ends.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Because you’re on this ramping up period.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                $3 million in revenue. What was the trigger that made you think about selling.

James Roman:                  So there’s a couple things. And I wrote this down. There was probably three things that … But the one biggest thing was after the Inc 500, I felt like I got to the same point with my practice, where I was at with my practice; where I was like … I felt like I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. I felt like I had gotten to the point where I wanted to get to, and even back … Right in October of 2017, I already wrote done in my vision … I was like, “I’m going to sell this company in 2019.” It may take me a while, but I think that’s the next thing where I wanted to go.

James Roman:                  So that’s … I felt like part of me was just like, “I have conquered this mountain.” You know? “I’ve done this. I need a new mountain to climb, or a new thing to challenge me.” And the second and third thing were related to the first one, or they became accentuated because of the first one; but the second was the team dynamics. The team dynamics started to shift a little bit and change in early 2018. And so it was … We had a lot of turnover in early 2018. And it was like the Inc 500, then a bunch of turnover. And then also, the third thing was in early 2018, between January and March of that year, both … My wife works, and she’s a software salesperson, so she’s on the road. And then I was on the road a lot. So the first three months of 2018, I’m sitting there and it was mid-March before both me and my wife were home during the same week.

John Warrillow:                Oh!

James Roman:                  So either she was working and traveling, or I was working and traveling. And I’m like, “This is … I’m working hard and this is just not fun anymore.”

John Warrillow:                Yeah.

James Roman:                  You know? And that was the early signs of it. So the final thing was July of last year, 2018. I’m sitting down with another agency owner, and I’ve heard … You know I’ve listened to your podcast a lot. I mean, during the sales process, I’d listen to your podcast almost … I mean every other day, I was on some sort of episode, listening to it. So it helped significantly.

John Warrillow:                Remedial learner?

James Roman:                  Yeah. But I needed the insight from hearing other people going through selling their businesses. You know? But in that July, I’m sitting down with another agency owner, and he’s talking to me about his health issues. And he was having the same kind of health problems that I was having. And they were stress-related. They were digestive problems, chronic inflammation stuff. And I’ve heard some other entrepreneurs on your podcast talk about health stuff, and talk about stress and all those things. And I just finally was like, “You know, the last three or four years I haven’t taken care of myself. I’ve had these digestive issues. I’ve had this inflammation.” And honestly, I haven’t taken care of myself. And that was the final thing. It was like, “I’m ready to sell this.” You know?

John Warrillow:                Thanks for sharing that, because it’s not a topic a lot of people are comfortable talking about, but I think it’s such a big deal.

James Roman:                  It is! It is.

John Warrillow:                The health toll that running a company takes on … is serious, yeah.

James Roman:                  I had this digestive … So first off, since I’ve sold this company, I’m working on my-

John Warrillow:                Are you going to tell me some facts that you [crosstalk 00:19:36]

James Roman:                  First of all … No, I’m tan! I have a tan, I’ve color back in my face. I have worked out four or five days a week for the last six weeks, almost two months, and it’s more than I’ve worked out in the last seven years.

John Warrillow:                Oh!

James Roman:                  Since I’ve had this company. If I’m being honest.

John Warrillow:                Yeah.

James Roman:                  So that was the key thing. He was talking about it. He literally named off all the symptoms that I was having, and he was … And so it was like-

John Warrillow:                This is a doctor you went to see?

James Roman:                  No, this was another business agency owner.

John Warrillow:                Oh, sorry.

James Roman:                  We sat down and had lunch, and he was sharing … He downsized his agency rather than sell it.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  So he went from a 15-member team member to a couple contractors, and he downsized. And he was like, “I’m so much happier. I’m not managing a team anymore.” And the management aspect of a business is, I think, what took a lot out of me.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  So, yeah.

John Warrillow:                Just the people?

James Roman:                  No, I love the team that I work with, but managing all of that; the team members, at times, was taxing. You know? It was taxing on my stress levels and my body, and I now know this about myself: I love growing a business. I love the creation side, I love the grow side. I just don’t like the management side.

John Warrillow:                You’re not alone, buddy. You’re not alone.

James Roman:                  You know?

John Warrillow:                Yeah, yeah. Totally.

James Roman:                  So I’m okay saying that now.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. Good. Good. So let’s get into the actual sale itself.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                So you went … These sort of three seemingly unrelated things came together and made you want to sell.

James Roman:                  Yeah, yeah.

John Warrillow:                What was that process like? What was your first call? Who was your first call?

James Roman:                  So the very first thing I did, I went to BuyBizSell, that site. And I went and I typed in-

John Warrillow:                BizBuySell.com, I think it is.

James Roman:                  Yeah-

John Warrillow:                BizBuySell.com.

James Roman:                  BizBuySell.com. So I went to that site, and I looked up other agencies that were being sold. And I found five or six different brokers. I just knew I didn’t have time to go through and find buyers, so I’m like, “I’m going to talk to a broker.” And so I knew the first step was talking to them. And I talked to about five different brokers. And the one that I chose, I just … We hit it off from the start. We had a connection on the phone call. He felt confident about my business, and we just connected. And quite frankly, out of all the guys that I spoke with, and girls that I spoke with, as far as business brokers, he was the only one that followed up. And not only followed up, but was like, “I want your business. I’m going to sell your business.” And he was adamant about it.

James Roman:                  So we hit it off from day one, and he told me; he was like … I went into it thinking that it was going to take me a year to sell this thing, like my chiropractic practice was. And he was like, “Everything about your business is so solid, and the profit levels and where you’re at, and clients.” He’s like, “I can probably have your business sold within three months.” And he told me three months, and I was like, “That’s crazy.” You know? But we … I mean, to his credit, we had a signed letter of intent in a month after we listed it. We had three offers. So my fear overcame … It was Dustin and James over at Digital Acquisitions.

John Warrillow:                Yeah! Yeah, give them a plug.

James Roman:                  Is it okay if I give them the plug?

John Warrillow:                Yeah, Digital Acquisitions.

James Roman:                  Dustin over at Digital Acquisitions and James. I worked with those two over there. And they did an incredible job. So we listed it I think October 14th. We had about seven or eight phone calls with potential buyers, and we had three offer letters within 30 days.

John Warrillow:                Wow.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Now, did you list it for a price? Did you put a price tag on it, or did you just-

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                You did?

James Roman:                  Yeah, we put a price tag on it, yeah.

John Warrillow:                What did you think the company was worth, on a sort of multiple … Or, how did you come up with the price tag, I guess?

James Roman:                  So I read your book.

John Warrillow:                Okay.

James Roman:                  Listened to the podcast, so we … They had come up with it. I mean, we were around three times EBITDA. You know?

John Warrillow:                Okay.

James Roman:                  And so-

John Warrillow:                And you figured that was fair? Did you get-

James Roman:                  Yeah, I felt that was fair. I felt that was fair for the … It’s interesting. The number that I had originally wrote down in 2017 was the number that was the final sale price, which was three times-

John Warrillow:                Is that right?

James Roman:                  Yeah. Yeah. We started out slightly higher, but because a couple things happened during the sale process, we came down. We started higher than that number, but we ultimately came back to that number.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Got it. Did you actually write down a number, or did you write down three times EBITDA?

James Roman:                  No, sorry. So I wrote down a number.

John Warrillow:                Okay.

James Roman:                  And that was-

John Warrillow:                Equated to-

James Roman:                  After reading your book, I was like, “This is pretty much three times what I think … ” Well, I knew what the EBITDA was. It was like, “This is three times,” and I wrote down that number. And then when we … And that was back in 2017, because I think I … I had read your book in 2017 when I started first thinking about this. You know?

John Warrillow:                Oh, funny.

James Roman:                  It was either 2017, maybe early 2018. And so when we got the … So the brokers, from … So Dustin came back and he said, “This is what I think the company is worth. It’s going to be three times around EBITDA. And we had it slightly higher than that original number that I wrote. And then during the sales process … And I’d love to share with you what that was like.

John Warrillow:                Please do!

James Roman:                  So we originally came back … So I don’t think anybody talks about this enough. Me and my wife were talking about this. If you take all the stress that I had, in the seven years that I had this; from 2011 to 2019, all of that, in a four-month period between October and … No, it was five months, October and March 1st when we sold this; that four-month, five-month period is way more stressful than the other seven years. It was-

John Warrillow:                What made it so stressful?

James Roman:                  Oh, you know trying to run the company while you’re trying to sell it at the same time. And so you’re doing both. You’re like … I’ve heard from the podcast, and the brokers told me this, too; was like, you have to run it as if you’re not selling it. Right?

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

James Roman:                  But then you’re getting all this information together for the buyer. You’re having to spend time, have them look through your books. And that wasn’t bad, but it was the mental game of … I’m spending this energy getting ready to sell this thing, and I’m starting to think about what it’s going to be like when I sell this thing and I have this money in the bank, and you’re starting to visualize what your life is going to be afterwards. And even though you’re going there, but you can’t go there, but you want to go there. And I would say … And I think I can say the buyer’s name, Scott, who was an incredible person. Incredible buyer. He flew out here, and we sat down, and we had a two-hour lunch which turned into four hours, and we literally hit it off from day one, and I knew he was the buyer. You know? I knew he was the buyer for the company because of who he was as a person. It almost brings me to tears, because I’m so happy that he bought it, and he’s such an incredible person.

James Roman:                  Even with that being said, the way the contract was written, he could’ve pulled out any time up until the money transferred into the bank. And I knew he was a great person, and I knew he was going to the company, but the stress of not really knowing that this was finalized until we got to that final day where the money was transferred; that was incredible stressful.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  It was stressful for me, in that … We talk about it, that four … I definitely aged in that four or five-month period. My wife had to … She had to bear the brunt of that stress, you know?

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  Because she … You’re telling your partner all the stuff that you’re going through, and you’re trying to do both: Run this company, keep the numbers going, keep it going while you’re … To a small degree, you’ve started to check out, a little bit.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  And you’re dealing with all of the … Oh! I even forgot to tell you this? So the government shutdown ended up pushing our deal back almost a month and a half.

John Warrillow:                Why? What was the relationship?

James Roman:                  Because the Small Business Loan Association … The small business loans can’t be written if they don’t have somebody in the government overseeing it, so that-

John Warrillow:                Scott was using an SBA loan to buy-

James Roman:                  Scott was using an SBA loan to go through that. So that even pushed it back even more. It just was stressful. It was very stressful.

John Warrillow:                Okay so you get these three … Sorry. You said you had three offers on-

James Roman:                  Yeah, we had three offers. So there was two other people that had put offers in, and right around the same time. And so we looked at all three of those. And the two other offers were lower, but the bigger thing was that they were people that were not going to be here in Denver to run the company. So they wanted to essentially operate it from afar, fly in, and not run this company themselves. And I just didn’t … One, I knew the company wasn’t set up that way. We need to have a leader here to be able to lead this ship. And I just knew it wasn’t going to be successful if someone was just going to come in sporadically. And so I … Scott was like, “Look, I’m going to come in. I’m going to run this thing. We’re going to grow this business and we’re going to take what you started and we’re going to grow upon in.”

James Roman:                  And we had so many … I know this doesn’t happen that often, or at least what I’ve been told is that the buyer and the seller create a relationship, you know? But we had a really good relationship. And we felt like … There were times where both him and I were like … We were told, “You don’t share this with the buyer,” or he was told not to share this with the seller, and we were just like, “Screw that, man.” You know? We’re just going to be honest with each other, and we were honest during the whole entire process.

John Warrillow:                Give me an example of something that you were told, “Oh, you should never tell the … ”

James Roman:                  So he was told not to give his expansion ideas. You know? Not to give his ideas of how he was going to expand the company. Well, he shared those with me. And I’m like, “Dude, that’s incredible. That’s great ideas.” And so he was told not to do that, and he did it. If you do that in some scenarios, the seller could take that information and just use it to build the company and not sell it. Right?

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  Well, I told him, I was like, “Listen.” I’m like, “I don’t have any desires to take this back on. I am truly selling this to you.” You know? And God, I don’t know if I would have had the energy to go through another … If this fell through, I don’t know if I would’ve had the energy to go through another one, another sales process. I don’t know if I would have it in me.

John Warrillow:                Isn’t that interesting? It’s so taxing. At some point, was your … Did Scott use … It sounds like you were going through, and admittedly, you were exhausted.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                He could’ve used that information, I guess, against you.

James Roman:                  Yeah, he could’ve. But he’s not that type of guy. You know?

John Warrillow:                Yeah.

James Roman:                  He’s not. I mean, I know that all business deals don’t always go down this way.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  But you know, to his credit, he’s an incredible entrepreneur and business owner, and he didn’t. You know?

John Warrillow:                And has he had other businesses that he’s-

James Roman:                  Yeah, so he came from the healthcare side. So he essentially ran … He was CEO for a startup company. So he was essentially working for larger healthcare corporations that would come in, buy smaller companies, and he would be the CEO that would go in there and take these from a small company to a much larger company. And so he’s never owned his own, but he’s run a lot of different companies and organizations

James Roman:                  And so he wanted to own his own company, and to essentially build something. And he explained it to me as like there’s certain entrepreneurs that will come in and get it started, and then there’s other people that will take that and then build upon that. And then there’s people that will then take the third phase, which will then expand out the services. He’s like, “I’m going to take what you started, and we’re going to build upon that, and then we’re going to expand it.”

James Roman:                  And so he has a wealth of experience in managing teams.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  Like managing 80 to 100 people. Which I … You know, we were looking at the team in October of last year. And I’m like … Everybody came in for our quarterly meeting. And there was like 25, 26 people in the room. And I’m looking at these people, and I’m like, “My God!” And I was slightly intimidated by the size of my own company, you know? When I started this thing, it was this big, and then now there’s lots of people. And so you learn those skills of managing people through being an entrepreneur, and you grow into that. And if people are honest with themselves, at least me being honest, at some times, I was a little intimidated by that. You know?

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  And almost a little fearful of that.

John Warrillow:                Yeah, isn’t that interesting? And so for him, I guess I’m curious to know what he was buying when he bought iVelocity. Because I guess there’s a school of thought that would be like, “Okay, he’s got all the skills, he could just start it, but why doesn’t he just buy it?” What essentially, was he buying when he bought your company?

James Roman:                  So he was buying our client list. We had a client list of around 100 clients, at that time.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  We were a niche within a niche. So we weren’t just in healthcare. We were in niches within a niche. So we worked in chiropractic, but in chiropractic, we only worked with integrated offices. In dentists and dentistry, we only work with dentists that did dental implants. In medicine, we only worked in medical offices that did regenerative and stem cell therapy. So we always worked with a niche within a niche, and we always … The one main theme across all of those were that these healthcare offices were selling large cash services, or large fee-for-service services that were not covered by insurance. So they need marketing strategies.

John Warrillow:                I see, okay.

James Roman:                  We also had some brand. I had been in these industries for seven years, and so the name had some value to it. People did know iVelocity marketing. If you were a chiropractor, the chances are you’ve seen our advertising and you’ve heard about iVelocity marketing. You know? And so he was buying the brand. He was buying the company, and the team members in it, and also the client database.

John Warrillow:                Fantastic. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you what’s next for you? Because it looks like you’re at home, you’re enjoying it. What’s next?

James Roman:                  So during the last … So if I can share this story with you-

John Warrillow:                Yeah, by all means.

James Roman:                  This will kind of … get a good leeway. So I had a business … I still have the same business coach, but I’ve had multiple business coaches while I’ve been in … that have helped me during growing the business. And so in October 2017, the same month that I got the Inc 500, I’m back in my office and we’re doing our quarterly strategy session. We had the whole entire team come in to Denver. We had my coach fly in. And we’re sitting there the next day, after we had this big meeting, and all my team members are there, and it’s just me and him talking. And you know, he’s sharing. He was like, “My lifestyle is paid by my real estate and my investments.” And my coach is 60. He’s like, “My consulting is kind of the stuff that I do because I enjoy it.” He’s like, “I really enjoy working … ” And he’s always had five to seven clients that he’s worked with. Personal relationships; he flies out and works with them every quarter.

James Roman:                  But he has no team members, and he has no … This company is just him, but he’s got a great setup where he just comes in. He flies out, he looks at the company. This is what he does to me, or he did for me. He would fly out, he’d spend the day with me, or two. He would tell me what to do, and then I would have to do it.

John Warrillow:                Then he’d fly out.

James Roman:                  And then he’d fly out!

John Warrillow:                “Good luck to you, James!”

James Roman:                  I don’t like … And I’m thinking to myself, and I’m like, “Wow.” And so I kind of … For me, I have faith. I feel God, or whatever you want to call it, universal intelligence always plants a seed for what’s next. You know? And I feel like at that time, the seed was coaching and going in there and doing consulting. So the next thing is, I’m going to be launching this company called Optimal Growth Coaching.

John Warrillow:                Oh, cool.

James Roman:                  And we’re going to be working with just small entrepreneurs and helping them with their sales strategy, with their business management. I love teaching, and I love coaching people. I really do. Out of the whole … And that was my favorite thing with working with my team members, is I loved coaching, and I love leading the team and coaching us into where we’re going to go. You know? Less than I do the management side. You know? I love to kind of give the ideas, say, “We’re going to go in this direction. This is what’s going to benefit the clients,” and how to help us grow. And so I wanted to do that for others.

John Warrillow:                And how are you going to deal with the stress of running a company? As you’ve gone through it now, twice.

James Roman:                  Yeah, yeah.

John Warrillow:                Both the chiropractic and iVelocity were majorly stressful events.

James Roman:                  Yeah.

John Warrillow:                What’s your strategy, too, to manage that.

James Roman:                  So here’s what I’ve … Since I started, I’ve started to do things daily in my routine that I feel like no matter … So I’m going to take some time off. I’m going to take probably … I was going to take a 12-month sabbatical. But I’m probably going to take three or four months off before I start doing the coaching and consulting. But there’s certain things that I started doing since the sale of the practice, or the sale of the business daily, like working out for an hour a day, doing morning meditation then prayer. And doing these things on a consistent basis is … It’s already had a huge payoff for me, and I’ve already benefited from. And so I think moving forward, making sure that I use those practices.

James Roman:                  And for the next phase of my career, where I’m going to go into, I don’t plan on having employees. For this stage. You know? For this stage. I feel like I have a third and fourth business, maybe possibly a fifth business that I’m in me before I finally say I’m done. And I may never fully be done. But I know I will have employees and team members to manager again. I know what I want to do ultimately is going to require that. I’m just taking a break, probably for the next one to two years, from having a big team.

John Warrillow:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Roman:                  I just want a break from managing people for a while, and just kind of help other businesses and coach them.

John Warrillow:                Awesome, awesome. Well, I wish you all the best, and luck with that. And I appreciate you sharing your story. It’s amazing. There’s lots of lessons.

James Roman:                  Thank you so much, I appreciate it.


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