Building a Business From Scratch With No Capital, Only a Vision – Michael Sonbert

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Show Notes:

Our guest is Michael Sonbert.  Michael is the founder and CEO of 2 companies.  Michael has a lot of great stories and tips to establish a solid foundation for a growing business.

Do you know what all successful companies have in common? A clear vision. Our guest today is a firm believer in the power of vision.

Meet Michael. Michael is the Founder and CEO of two companies: Rebel Culture and Skyrocket Education. He’s also an inspiring educator and a rebel at heart. Now, he’s on a mission to transform the way teams operate to increase employee satisfaction, performance, and overall success. But Michael’s entrepreneurial journey wasn’t an easy one. He started his first business with no capital, only a vision. And even though he doesn’t recommend this tactic to everybody, there’s enormous power in believing in your vision when building a company from scratch. Fast forward a few years, and Michael is now running two impactful and mission-driven businesses that were born from his passion for educational reform.

In this episode of the Think Business With Tyler podcast, we talk about the power of believing in your company’s vision, the importance of vision and values, why brand consistency is key, and why you should go for impact, not income, when building a business.

If you want to learn how to build a business from scratch, tune into this episode to hear about Michael’s exciting journey.



💡 Name: Michael Sonbert

💡 What he does: He’s the Founder & CEO of Rebel Culture and Skyrocket Education.

💡 Noteworthy: Michael is the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Skyrocket Your Teacher Coaching,” and co-host of the podcast “Informal Observations.”

💡 Key Quote: “Ultimately, folks, if you’re not authentic, people find out. You can milk that for a little while, but if you’re faking it, if it’s not your stuff, if you’re dishonest with people, you can continue that for a little while, but eventually, people are going to find out.”

💡 Where to find Michael: LinkedIn

Key Insights


Believe in your vision. You’ve probably heard that popular saying, ‘If you can dream it, you can achieve it.’ Well, that couldn’t be more true, especially in business. There’s enormous power in believing when working toward your vision. Even when the odds are not in your favor, believing in your vision can make all the difference.

Michal talks about the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey. He says, “I had two little kids at home, a three-and-a-half-year-old, a one-and-a-half-year-old, and a pregnant wife, who thought I was crazy but believed in what I believed in. So anyway, I wouldn’t suggest that folks do it the way I did it, but it speaks to a lot of what I’m probably going to talk about on your show, which is just a belief in making change for people, a belief in the vision that I have and wanting to impact people in a really positive way.”

Vision and value drive everything. If you look at any successful brand today, they all have one thing in common – a strong vision. Having a clear vision and values can make all the difference in a company. It can help inspire employees, guide business decisions and develop brand loyalty.

Michael shares his own company’s example. He explains, “Our vision is to dramatically improve student outcomes in urban areas through the most precise and intense teacher and leader coaching models in the country. And we are unwavering in that. And some of our values are around being mission-driven. So something comes up, and not only do we have the vision, the mission, but then it’s like, are we driven by that?”

Brand consistency is essential. When building a strong and reputable brand, consistency is key. If you want your customers to connect with your brand and trust your vision, you need to always deliver messages aligned with your core vision and values. On top of that, you have to do it consistently and in the same tone. Michael explains,

“I’m sure they could design brilliant-looking sneakers that don’t have anything to do with either of those logos, but then you wouldn’t know it’s Nike. And then it’s like, well, that’s less interesting to me. I mean, at least for most people, some people might like that it’s a little bit different, but there’s a consistency with the swoosh. There’s a consistency, which is, oh, this is what I get when I see this brand when I buy this brand, et cetera. It’s the same thing with working in an organization.”

Impact over income. One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is focusing on the income rather than on impact. Even though income is vital for success, you can’t build a long-lasting business without a mission. And a strong mission is what eventually leads to impact. Michael says,

“I know people have to pay their bills, and people have to make money, and I get it. And I like money. I like making money. For anybody listening, who’s like, hey, I want to start a business, impact over income. What are you trying to accomplish? The money will come if you’re doing the right thing and you do it really well. Don’t make that the first thing you’re driving at.”

Top Quotes


[01:39] “I had an idea and nothing else. I had no business. I had no capital. And I didn’t have a ton of assets, but I knew that I could make a difference for school leaders and teachers in places where support is not often all that available.”

[06:41] “I really do believe that there’s a learning in everything. And I think for me, that was just from the very, very technical, transactional sense, we put legal warnings on all of our IP. Our stuff is free on our website, but to download it, you now have to sign an agreement that says you’re not going to use it for your own profit. So there was that learning in it. But then I think there was the other learning of just what really matters here, and people much more successful than me have lost a lot more than that.”

[13:15] “Every single meeting begins with ‘What’s one way in which you embodied one of our values in the last week? And what’s one way that you could have done better as it pertains to one of our values?’”

[21:46] “There’s got to be an agenda. It’s got to be shared out with the team 24 hours in advance. Every section has to be timed, right? So here’s what we’re working on. And by the way, a lot of people won’t review it in advance, but it forces the leader to be super prepared or, by the way, whoever’s leading the meeting, every section’s timed so like introduction three minutes, shout outs, four minutes, goal reports.”


Rebel Culture Website

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