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How to Create an Employee-Owned Business Geared for Success with Shawn Burcham
22nd August 2022 • Seek Go Create - The Leadership Journey for Christian Entrepreneurs, Faith-Based Leaders, Spiritual Growth, Purpose-Driven Success, Innovative Leadership, Kingdom Business, Entrepreneurial Mindset, Christian Business Practices, Leadership Development, Impactful Living • Tim Winders - Coach for Leaders in Business & Ministry
00:00:00 01:04:28

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It’s easy to become blinded by money when you’re running a business. You can lose focus on your purpose as an entrepreneur. It can also cause problems in your company and with your people. In any business, company culture will lead you to success and help you avoid money problems.

Shawn Burcham joins us on this episode to talk about the realizations he’s had that changed how he runs his company. You’ll hear about his journey and the successful growth of his business. Shawn shares what it means to have open-book leadership and be an employee-owned business. Find out how these strategies cultivated a wonderful work culture that led Shawn to success.

Curious about these strategies and eager to use them in your company? Tune in to this episode to learn more about having an employee-owned business!

3 Reasons to Listen:

  1. Find out how reading can open up new opportunities for you as a leader.
  2. Discover how open-book leadership contributes to success.
  3. Learn and understand what it means to have a 100% employee-owned business.


About Shawn

Shawn Burcham is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and the founder of Pro Food Systems, Inc (PFSbrands) and GRITT Business Coaching. He worked in various companies before starting PFSbrands with his wife in 1998. From there, the company has grown with over 140 employee-owners, 1,300 foodservice locations and is now entirely employee-owned.

Shawn greatly encourages starting businesses and has started and grown over 10 of his own while investing in others. His passion is helping others and empowering owners to become more successful in work and life. He continues to do this with GRITT Business Coaching and as an entrepreneur for over 20 years.

You can learn more about Shawn on his website. Connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Episode Highlights

[03:07] What Shawn Burcham Does

  • Shawn loves to create opportunities. His company focuses on helping people become better.
  • His company puts food programs and franchises into supermarkets and convenience stores.
  • He was interested in entrepreneurship as a kid and has worked in both big and small companies. After a while, he realized he was meant to be his own boss.
  • Shawn enjoys seeing people excel and become successful. 
[06:26] “I think it's pretty cool to see other people excel, especially those that do something from nothing.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[06:54] Defining Success

  • Success is different for everyone. It’s important to think about what it means to you.
  • Shawn leans toward an entrepreneurial or corporate definition of success.

[09:10] Lessons While Growing Up

  • Shawn has a loving family. They focused on hard work to achieve success.
  • He considers his dad his best coach, mentor, and hero.
  • Mowing lawns became a good business lesson and source of income for Shawn.

[11:46] Shawn’s Turning Point

  • As a kid, Shawn didn’t enjoy speaking, reading, and writing. Later on, a part-time CFO he hired encouraged him to read and learn from business books.
  • Shawn thinks he would have been a better leader if he had read more when he was younger.
  • Before he started reading, Shawn’s business wasn’t doing too well — he had no vision.
  • Shawn realized he had to focus on helping and teaching the people he works with. Giving them opportunities became his passion.
  • This realization and the change that came with it put Shawn on the path to success.
[14:22] “I think I could have been a better leader from 28 to 40 if I would have made a conscious decision to read and study some good books on different leadership tactics.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[21:14] The Growth of PFSbrands

  • PFSbrands, Shawn’s company, started in 1998. He used to sell products from their garage.
  • His vision was to support people in the food service industry and offer quality products.
  • They originally use a licensing model. As the company grew, Shawn realized the need to build a stronger brand and have more control. They eventually shifted to franchising.
  • The difference between franchising and licensing is the level of commitment, control, and restrictions for the operators.

[29:07] The Ideal Franchisees

  • They interview franchise applicants to ensure that the store, person, and site are qualified to become an operator.
  • Franchisees and employees can impact your brand both positively and negatively.
  • They aim to work with people whose goals align with PSFbrands.

[31:36] Shawn’s Light Bulb Moments

  • In the past, Shawn didn’t put enough resources into the infrastructure of his company. 
  • One of his biggest realizations was the low financial literacy among the population. He focused on sharing more about the business.
  • They now implement open-book leadership. Everybody is included in the goals, plans, and processes.
  • In Shawn’s company, they encourage setting objectives that people. This led them to succeed more at work and in their personal lives.
  • Understanding and managing your finances is important. This helps business owners predict their future cash flow needs.
[33:04] “It's not a minority percentage of the population. It’s a majority percentage of the population that has no clue what's going on in business.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[37:10] Open-Book Leadership

  • The average person’s perception of business shows how much they’re unaware of how business works. There is a misconception that owners take home a lot of cash.
  • You can correct this misconception with open-book leadership.
  • Share the actual numbers in your company and give them an opportunity to affect these numbers with profit distribution.
  • It’s more than sharing numbers — it’s also about teaching your employees financial literacy.
[41:00] “Open-book leadership is not just showing. Open-book leadership is teaching, educating, and then getting everybody rowing in the same direction.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[42:27] Challenges of Success in Entrepreneurship

  • Shawn has tough skin against insults. He feels sorry for those who are jealous of other people’s success. 
  • More people should seize the opportunity to dream and work hard to achieve it.

[46:00] Employee Stock Ownership Plan

  • Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) means the company is completely owned by the employees.
  • There are tax advantages that allow them to grow without paying taxes. Employees who cash in their shares pay their taxes.
  • Private equity can lead to the loss of a team-oriented and open book leadership system.
  • Education and open-book leadership encourage a positive culture in the company.

[51:54] Shawn’s Experience in Writing

  • Many people have encouraged him to write a book. Despite thinking he had little to tell, he was convinced to write one.
  • Writing a book became a goal for him. Despite his past hate for reading and writing, Shawn’s book has become a best seller.
  • Shawn wrote it to share a story and encourage other people.
  • While writing, he realized how similar he was to his dad.
  • Shawn wants his readers to set goals and accomplish them. Define what success is for you, find your purpose, and work toward it every day.

[59:16] Shawn’s Passion to Create

  • No matter what type of business you have, you can create a good work culture.
  • Shawn loves to create. He’s passionate about creating jobs, companies, and opportunities.
[01:00:09] “ becomes all about what type of culture you want to build. And that becomes a cliche word today, too. But if you treat your people correctly, if you show them what they're working for, that culture can be created.” - Click Here To Tweet This

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