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Key takeouts from our keynote speaker: Jason Cunningham

Our final takeaway from XCON2022 comes from Jason Cunningham. He’s an accountant, best-selling author of Have Your Cake & Sell It To, and business owner since 1997. 

Like you, Jason started his business with the ideals to make money for himself, live by his own rules, and keep control of his life. Fast forward to today, and he’s gone from no clients, no money and no experience to a business with 60+ staff and annual turnover of $14m. 

His overarching advice is to begin with the end in mind. You should start your business thinking about what it needs to be ready to sell (even if you never want to sell). Why? It forces you to think about what a business that is ready to sell looks like – highly profitable, amazing clientele, a great team, repeat business and doesn’t rely on the owner to run.  

Below is a summary of his SUCCESS model, that will help you reach the financial and personal goals you seek.  

S – Strategy  

“Have a plan. Know your plan. Share your plan.” 

Jason talks about having a Sell mindset and approaching your business with a view to have it ready for sale at any time. 

In order for you to achieve this, you have to ask yourself, “Where am I going?” You need a strategic business plan for your business. Map out who you’re going to target (in marketing terms this is positioning), how you’re going to reach them (promotion), what you’ll be offering (your product), and where you’ll set your commission (pricing).  

Share this plan with your team and get aligned on your goals. Everyone you work with has to know the plan, and what their role is in executing the plan.  

U – Understand yourself

“The fish rots from the head.” 

If you’re unclear about you want, there’s little chance your team will either. Again, Jason poses some questions to consider: 

  1. What’s your purpose?
  2. Who do you serve?
  3. How do you serve them? 

Once you know the answer, you can define your Mission, your Core Values and know your Why. You should be able to clearly articulate these and they should be easy to remember.  

As a leader in your business, you are responsible for leading by example and creating an environment that attracts and retains team members that help achieve your mission.  

Don’t have a mission or purpose? Go away and create one. Keep it to 20 words or less (the shorter the better).  

C – Customers

“The more you know your customers, the more likely you are to succeed.” 

Start with your customer. Know what they need to hear.  

When marketing, look through the eyes of your customers. Understand what matters to them, what they need to hear, and speak in a language they understand. Remove all the barriers to them doing business with you.  

It’s no secret the Real Estate Industry is guilty of overcomplicating language used to communicate, just take a look at some of the way houses are described and you’ll see what we mean! 

How you communicate has a big impact. Be yourself, write as you’d speak, and use the first person (the reader should feel as though you are speaking to them and it will build a stronger connection than your competitors).  

C – Cash


Know your numbers and how much you are making. 

If you need to ask your accountant, you need to know your numbers better. Know your revenue and your expenses, as it’s the money you take home that matters.  

As the old saying goes, revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, or as Jason put it in his gold analogy, “driving is for show, putting is for dough.” Remember, it’s not how much you’re writing, it’s how much you’re keeping.

To increase your profit, you should break the habit of “the more you make the more you should spend”. Profit and cashflow is key, treat yourself as a shareholder and ask what return you need to make it worthwhile. Work back from there.  

E – Execution

“Where the rubber hits the road.” 

The definition of a business is an entity with a view to make a profit leveraging off other people’s time.  

To maximise profit, you must know your people, systems & process. Think about how you can create an environment to enable people to be the very best they can be. If you achieve this, and make people want to go above and beyond for you and your customers, the numbers will look after themselves.  

Create a culture by design, using the 3 C’s: 

  • Character: What’s the character of your team? How are they acting when you’re not there? 
  • Competence: Track record and can they do the job? 
  • Connection: Their ability to influence others, positive or negative. 

Don’t allow toxic people to stay in your business and don’t expect people to treat your business like it’s their own. It’s not. Keeping d*ckheads or having unrealistic expectations can drive great people away. 

 S – Sack yourself

“Can your business run without you?” 

The less reliant the business is on you, the more value it has for the buyer. As you grow, it’s up to you as a leader to develop new leaders.  

Are you viewing your business as a shareholder? If you start doing this, it will change how you make decisions and shift your perception of your business as a way to maximise wealth, not just support your lifestyle.  

Refer back to execution – make your people the best they can be and reduce the reliance of the business on you and you’ll maximise your business value.  

S – Sell

“Always be ready to sell, even if you don’t want to.”

Know how to position your business to be ready-for-sale. What do the financials have to look like? How much would you like to get? What’s it worth now? If there’s a gap, what needs to be done to bridge it? Who’ll buy it? 

Whether or not you want to sell, answering these questions will formulate your plan so you are clear on where you’re heading.  


Finally, keep perspective. Jason shared his very personal story about the pregnancy with his twins. Every week he was faced with the chance he’d have to make a decision about ending one’s life to save the other, and knowing that if he and his wife made it to labour there was a very good chance one, or both, may not survive. In the end, it was a good news story and 17 years later his two boys are thriving.  

His point? That’s fear. When you’re thinking about what’s holding you back in business, put it in perspective. It isn’t fear, it’s just business. 

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