From Startup to Empire: Lessons Learned from 800+ Companies with CEO Jim Tannehill

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Show Notes:

Do you want to build a successful business empire that stands the test of time? Then, you’re going to love our new episode!

Meet Jim Tannehill. Jim is currently the CEO of Empire Operating System, a company helping businesses go from start-up to empire. He’s Empire Certified, Trainual Certified, and an Expert in LucidCharts. Jim was able to take a company from start-up to viability in a brand new market in 12 weeks using the Empire Operating System. This system is already being implemented in more than 800 companies. Using the Empire Operating System, Jim helps businesses identify which of the 5 phases they are in: Startup, Perseverance, Viability, Scale, and Succession.

According to Jim, you can build an empire by laying one brick at a time. He’s passionate about helping other entrepreneurs create long-term and sustainable growth in their companies.

In this episode of the Think Business With Tyler podcast, we talk about the importance of business viability, why your mindset might be holding you back, how to build to sell, and why your people are key.

If you want to hear how to turn your business into an empire, make sure you tune into this episode to hear what Jim has to say.



💡 Name: Jim Tannehill

💡 What he does: He’s the CEO of Empire Operating Model.

💡 Noteworthy: Jim is also a business coach and a process expert. He was able to take a company from start-up to viability in a brand new market in 12 weeks using the Empire Operating System.

💡 Key Quote: “We talk about a brick, and the saying goes, how do you build an empire by laying one brick at a time?”

💡 Where to find Jim: LinkedIn

Key Insights


Your main business goal should be to get viability. Every business goes through these five phases: startup, perseverance, viability, scale, and succession. But what should be your end goal? Instead of putting all your energy into scaling your business, your top priority should be viability. A viable business is strong and can stand the test of time.

Jim explains, “The goal for any business that is being built, the goal for that business should be to get to viability. That should be the number one goal. It shouldn’t be to sell it, it shouldn’t be to scale it. Those shouldn’t be the goal. The goal should be to get viability. And once you get there, you can assess, do I want to scale it? Do I want to sell it? What do you want to do with it?”

Is your mindset holding you back? Your mindset can be either your friend or your enemy. That’s why every business owner needs to understand their limiting beliefs, so they don’t hold them back. The truth is everyone experiences self-limiting thoughts; that’s why it’s vital to acknowledge them in time before they take control of your life.

Jim says, “What we do need to spend some time on a lot is mindset. There’s a lot of limiting beliefs that we put on ourselves that can prevent us from doing that. And a good exercise we do is we have them verbalize what they’re feeling. Let me hear it. Because once they hear what they’re saying, they’re like, oh, well, that’s not true, I guess. But while it’s cooped up inside and in their heads, there’s no way this is going to work. But once you’re able to have a conversation with them about what that limiting belief is and help them overcome it, then that becomes easy.”

Build to sell. Even if your current goal isn’t to sell your business, you should still build it to sell it. When you decide to build your business with the intention of selling it one day, you have a much better chance of doing it right. Jim explains, “We always tell them, build to sell. Whether you end up selling or not that’s not important to me. I want you to build it, to sell it, because if you do it that way, you’re going to do it the right, you’re going to do it right the first time, knowing that somebody’s going to come in and look at your forensics and look at your books.”

Faster alone, but further together. It’s a tale as old as time; if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. This couldn’t be more true in business. If you want to grow a sustainable and bulletproof business, you need people. Employees are the backbone of every business, so surround yourself with valuable and reliable people.

Jim explains, “To me, collaboration, I’m always looking to collaborate with people, even some of these operating systems that I’m specifically not naming, but even some of these coaches in the leadership team, I’ve talked to a few of them. I fully believe there’s a way for us to collaborate and work together. If our goal at the end of the day is to help business owners and entrepreneurs, we have the same goal in mind. We might have different methods, but there’s a way for us to find some synergy and to be symbiotic. So, that’s something that I wish I would’ve realized earlier in my career and in my life was that you need people.”

Top Quotes


“Coaches are great, but our desire is that companies don’t become so dependent on a coach. They become dependent on a system or curriculum. They will need a coach for a phase of the business, and if they want them for the entire journey of the business, then great. But we don’t want them to be so dependent on that coach that they don’t have the independence to go out and build what they need to build without having somebody from outside their business, inside their business, if that makes sense.”

“A lot of things that I see as we go through these journeys with these different businesses is the incorrect action, a correct action at an incorrect time.”

“Urgency and focus. I forget what it’s called, but it’s that thing where if you’ve got a garage and it’s messy, disorganized, if you give yourself eight hours to organize it, well, it’s going to take eight hours. If you give yourself less time, it’s going to take less time. So it’s one of those, and I forget what that’s called, that law or what whoever came up with that principle is called. But that’s the concept we tie really into that is we, hey, let’s get focused and hyperfocused on this task, and let’s get this off the ground.”

“I love focusing on that building your empire because it’s going to be different than my empire, than Eddie’s empire. Everyone’s empire needs to be different.”

“Our brick concept is we’re looking to find that brick that’s going to cause mass acceleration. And we call that brick, your predominant KPI, your predominant key performance indicator to where if you focused on that, that’s how you grow.”


Who Not How by Dan Sullivan

Email Jim at

Use the code “thinkbusiness” to get free access to Empire course



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