We’ve been keeping a big secret. For the last few months, we’ve been busy filming for The Profit.

Yes! The Profit with super successful entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis. Each season, he selects a handful of companies to go through his business boot camp. Businesses open their doors, their books and their He invests his time, money and wisdom to mentor businesses looking to fix a problem, turn a corner or hit a new milestone. It was a pretty awesome experience.

Why We Did It

Since Hangout started as an Etsy store in 2009, we’ve been crazy proud of our growth record and track record. When you grow, though, you can sometimes be so busy running your business that you have a harder time making big strategic decisions, building intentionally versus reactively, and generally taking time to assess and reflect.

We thought having an outside perspective (and an expert one at that!) examine our process and systems would be a great way to dig into our second decade of Hangout.

And who better than Marcus Lemonis? Beyond building a multibillion dollar company of his own, he’s committed to helping the next generation of business owners. Even better, he’s objective, brilliant and doesn’t mess around.

The show can sometimes feature some wild and dramatic personnel or product changes. We felt good we have a great business with room for fine tuning and improvement. We felt confident Marcus would be the perfect partner because he works with a lot of creative businesses, and we’ve had a great track record of happy customers. We were very excited for the opportunity to join The Profit family. He also seemed very genuine, and someone we could learn so much from.

How We Did It

Jen, who’s been a fan of the show for years, said, “It wasn’t a hard decision to go online and fill out the application. I received a call from the producers a few months later saying they were extremely excited about us. After a few Skype calls with some of the Hangout team, we started filming shortly thereafter!”

Filming ran from early February through end of May, about 10 full days in total. Sometimes we knew the crew was showing up, sometimes it was a surprise.

The whole team agreed it was surprising how quickly we forget about the cameras.

Jen added, “I think Marcus himself made me more nervous than the cameras did. I was nervous about how open and honest I usually am or sharing too much. Reality TV means things can get edited out of context.” We trusted the crew and are thrilled with the results!

What We Learned

Lead With Communication and Confidence

Marcus helped us think about conflicts and obstacles we face as a company. We all need the confidence to address any problems we have as a team, not avoid them. Team members need confidence to ask questions, make suggestions and challenge leadership in any good organization. Leaders need confidence to create, communicate and execute a company vision. Good communication matters. It helps smooth things out early on and smooth things out that get away from you.

Smart Spending is Good Spending

We have a people problem. We’re a scrappy team and have always looked at spending as something to avoid. Marcus helped us to think about some components of doing business, like getting our UL approval, as investments and not expenses. It’s a simple mindshift but one we hadn’t been able to make on our own. We learned we actually held ourselves back by being scared to spend money. Moving forward confidently on some big expenses will be a great thing for our company and our customers.

Grow Smart

Marcus encouraged Jen to think about how to put the right people in the right position. Learning how to delegate is tough for most leaders and especially when the business has been your baby. But when you do it right, trusted team members can take responsibilities off a leader’s plate. That both builds trust between everyone and lets team members shine. And, it frees up leadership to tackle things like growth and strategic planning, hiring and all the pieces that make a company sustainable and successful long term.

Own Your Culture

We’re goofy and creative. We don’t need to show up in suits to be successful. Marcus accepted us for who we are and never judged our age or culture. We are probably a bit more artistic than many companies he works with, and he really seemed to understand that and help find a good balance of improving things while still letting us #BeUnique.

Curious if your business should consider something like this? Jen says, “Go for it! I think it is a great learning experience and forces a lot of self reflection, so it’s worth the stress.”