Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut in your business? Or do you feel like things have gotten a little boring, complacent, or slow? Maybe, the growth you used to find easy is not so easy any more?
If you have had your company for a while or have worked at mature company for a number of years, you have no doubt had the these times. You may be going through one right now. If so, this article is for you.
Businesses go through cycles and in those cycles are peaks and valleys, especially as they mature and grow larger.
One of the things I have noticed as companies mature is that many settle into accepting slower growth and sales. The mantra becomes, "That's just the way it is. The old days are over." Far from it.
After being part of organizations with this problem and coaching others out of it over many years, I have found that one thing that is constant when companies hit these valleys. It comes down to this:
When companies have the most trouble is usually when the senior people, the people that built the organization and got them there, stop taking time to learn, listen, and spend time with those in the trenches on a daily basis.
You can understand why this is an issue. If you don't know what is happening on the ground, how can you really make decisions for an organization or with regards to clients? I was once working with a group of senior leaders who were making decisions for a world-wide salesforce of which none had been in the field in years. They were relying on surveys to make their decisions!
Surveys are nice, but they certainly don't give you the full picture. The decisions being made not only affected clients, but also cut commissions to their salesforce - and they hadn't consultant with anyone working the day to day in the trenches. Not the sales reps, not even the front line sales managers. Bad move.
If this group had moved forward with their plan, they would have not only hurt their product and brand with their clients, but greatly disincentivized their salesforce. That would have led to less sales, profits, and the loss of some great talent.
Thankfully, we worked through it and had the group members take some time and get back in the field and trenches with the people doing the work on a daily basis and listening to clients first hand. As you can probably predict, there were some amazing insights that they gained. They ended up reworking everything and not only giving the clients what they really wanted (which was different than what their surveys said), but also created some great incentives for the salesforce that energized them and helped them to further succeed.
Whether you are a large or small business, in leadership, or consult for companies, always remember that the further you get away from the trenches, the harder it is to make decisions that really work well. You have to have the feedback loop of real world information on what is truly happening directly from those doing it. The better you get at that, the faster you will boost your success and the faster you can reach the next peak in your business.
You may have heard the phrase, "Those that can't do, teach."
I don't agree with that statement, except for one caveat - If the person teaching hasn't taken the time to really go through the hard work and sacrifice to truly learn what they are teaching, then yes, I agree. It is not that they "can't do." They just aren't willing to. A subtle, but large difference.
One of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to others. If you have integrity and want to help others, doing this will force to learn and put things into practice so you can prove that what you are teaching is correct and works.
It also helps you to learn where the issues may come up or where potential "rookie" mistakes are made so that you can help others avoid them.
I believe the best way to learn anything is by doing, but I also believe the best people to learn from and get taught by are those that have gone out and done it before.
Here are some tips on how start this habit in your life.
So, let's go back to where we started and re-phrase the statement to this: "Those that go out and do, are the best to teach." Now go put yourself out there, learn something new and put it into practice, and then teach others to do the same!
"It' so easy to get rich in America, because almost nobody is trying...". What? What are you talking about? I thought the guy was crazy when he said it to me almost 20 years ago, but after a few years down the entrepreneurial path it became clear.
Most people never reach the levels in which they aspire. The first reason is because they don't really know what they want and therefore don't have clarity of purpose. But, the second reason, the biggest reason, is that they face adversity and quit too soon.
Becoming successful in anything is filled with adversity. You are tested physically and mentally. You are pushed to the brink of quitting - a lot. You are confronted with challenge after challenge. Things hardly ever go as planned. You question yourself and your capabilities.
I believe that is the price, the right of passage, of reaching true success. If it was easy, everyone would achieve it.
If you think about it, adversity is your best friend on the journey to success. If you aren't facing adversity in some way, you aren't truly striving and stretching to be the best version of you and your dream. Adversity is your greatest advantage.
What, if instead of looking at adversity as a problem, we looked at it as a true advantage and necessity for succeeding?
How would you approach your life and business differently? Would you seek out adversity and challenge? Would you embrace the hard times and cherish them? Would you find more enjoyment in busting through the barriers. I bet you would.
The guy was right. Most people are not trying because they are scared to face the adversity. They are scared because they don't want to confront themselves and the fact that they don't have the strength or mind or drive to get through it. But you do and this gives you a huge advantage in reaching you goals.
At some point in your journey you will be faced with what seems like absolutely overwhelming adversity. I'm here to tell you it's not. Even in the darkest moments of our lives, we can take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere has had to overcome something much harder. Whenever you feel like you are facing major adversity or start to question yourself - or want to quit, say this to yourself, "I'll just do it one more day." The next day when you continue to face things, say it again...one more day. If you keep going "just one more day," eventually you will overcome your adversity and you will grow yourself to a new level. You will be able to handle more and larger adversity.
And there lies the secret. The larger the adversity you can handle, the bigger the success you will have in life. If you look at those you think are successful and admire, I can guarantee you that they have the ability to handle bigger problems and higher levels of adversity than you. It's probably one of the reasons you admire them. Always remember that adversity is your friend and your advantage. Embrace it and watch yourself become the success you aspire to be.
But, just in case you need a little extra motivation, watch this guy!
Excerpt taken from "The Ten Year Career: The Fast Track Guide to Retiring Young, Wealthy, and Fulfilled"
Most people don't get what they want because they do not know what they want. They don't have goals or a plan. I want to take that a step further and say that even those who have concrete goals and a plan many times still do not get what they want unless the ask for what they want. Everyone has heard the phrase, "Ask and you shall receive." But very few actually do it.
It is amazing, because many times we want to; it is right on the tip of our tongue, but we shy away or are scared to ask. This is one reason I advocate learning to sell - because it will force you to step out of your comfort zone and ask for what you want, the sale.
It get's easier and easier as you do it too. Many of my greats deals and successes have come from just asking for them. I once saw a way to greatly help a company I was working for, and thought, "If I tell them about this and take on the responsibility, I should get a raise - a significant one." About that time, the little voice inside my head said, "You can't do that. There is no way you will get that much and you may make the Vice President think you are ungrateful for what you currently make and give them a bad impression of you." Sound familiar? Well, I didn't listen to that little voice. I put a proposal together and stood firm in asking for a 25% a year raise.
I bet you can guess what happened next. I didn't get the 25% a year raise, but I did get a 20% a year raise, and in doing what I proposed and making it work, I opened up doors for advancement I never knew were possible. How would making 20% more impact your life?
You have to ask for what you want. It works with anything. If it is on the tip of your tongue and is appropriate, ask for it. What I mean is that if you are going shopping for a new car and walk in and ask for it for free, chances are you probably won't get it. But if you are thinking to yourself, "I would buy it if I could get it for $4000 less," then tell them.
You will be able to do more, give more, and be more just by using this simple mantra in your life. Many people feel like they need permission to ask for things. I am giving it to you. Remember that phrase that you have heard since you were a little kid, "Ask and you shall receive!"
One of the toughest challenges for any entrepreneur or leader is finding and cultivating the best talent to bring your dream and vision to life.
There are a million articles and different systems and philosophies on finding and hiring the best talent - some extremely intricate. Years ago, I was part of a task force in a Fortune 500 to study hiring. We brought in the experts. We analyzed the traits of top hires. We look at what type of interview processes and personality tests gave the best results. It was a year long project. After all the hard work, time, and effort - we found one simple, brutal fact that we could not overcome with any type of system, process, or corporate "crystal ball." It was this, One in Three. No matter what, one in three hires will turn out to be a bad fit or unsuccessful. Even if they have all the traits in the world and are perfect fit for the job in every way, it still happens. The funny (or not so funny) thing was that the one 1:3 ratio was about where we were before we started the whole exercise!
Here's the deal, sometimes people do their best sales job in the interview. They come across as talented, with all the skills and capabilities, but one in three will end up not being what you thought they were. Period.
Once I truly understood and realized this, it made things easier for me as a leader. I resigned to the fact that 1:3 will not work out, but that would mean I would gain two rockstar A-Players for every 3 hires. And if you can do that, you can be tremendously successful.
So how do you find and hire rockstar A-Players? Here are 3 simple steps you can take starting today.
1.) Be Deliberate and Purposeful About Your Hiring
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You get into your office, have a million things coming at you, and you look at your calendar or your assistant tells you, "You have interview you have to do in 30 mins." To which your mind goes, "Damn. I totally forgot. I don't have time for this today." So what happens? You scramble, get into the interview, ask the same old boring questions to check the boxes and move on with your day.
This happens over and over again and it has always astounded me with most businesses. Everyone says that talent is the most important thing and that their people are the most important asset, blah, blah, blah, but for most hiring is where they put the least amount of resources, time, and training.
You've heard a million times that you need to plan for your success, right? Well, if hiring the right people make the biggest impact in your success, then you need to plan and prepare for that area of your business. Be deliberate and purposeful about your hiring. Treat potential talent like a potential client. Do some research on them. Look at their resume and their LinkedIn profile and think through the questions you want to discuss and the topics - and why. Don't "phone it in." You should spend a couple hours preparing and interviewing candidates at the minimum.
2.) Create A Good, Solid Screening Process
Now that you are committed to being deliberate and purposeful in your hiring, if you are going to put the time into these candidates, you want to make sure that you are doing it with the best ones out of the pool you have. In order to do this, you need to have a good screening mechanism. The simplest way is to either have them fill out a questionnaire online or do a 20-30 minute phone screen. You can have someone on your team do the phone screen, but make sure you train them in the specific things you want to look for in the screen and what will constitute whether the candidate moves to the interview. Your screening process should have at least the following:
3.) Make the Interview a Conversation (and one other little secret)
Be wary of HR items of what you can and cannot talk about in interviews, but you should strike to make the interview a conversation. After all, this person might be working for you, so you should be able to get along and have good conversation. Most interviewees have their guard up, so it takes a little while to get them to loosen up and show their true personality. You should always be asking 3rd, 4th, and 5th levels follow up questions on topics you are discussing. Peel back the onion, get to the roots of things. Find our how they think, what they believe, and confirm that what they say their are passionate about is true.
Here's the other little secret. Tell the truth about the reality of the role they are coming into. A lot of advice these days has to do with the fact that "you are competing for talent and you need to sell them on your company, etc." I disagree and think that this is where a lot of hiring mistakes happen. The employer sugar coats the reality of a role so they "can get a butt in a seat." They are concerned more with getting someone hired rather making sure they have the best someone to hire.
Be honest about the role and it's challenges. I tell everyone that comes into my companies that the role will be one of the hardest they ever have, because it will be. We move fast, we are demanding, we expect excellence and results. I also tell them that it can and will be the most rewarding they will every have if they are willing to put in the hard work and stick with it for the first year because I know that is what will take. I ask them to take time and really about what we've discussed and the reality of the role. And if after deep thought, if they truly believe that it is the dream role that they were made for, then we will move to the next step. If it is not - that is OK. I would rather have them find and know they have found the best position to maximize their talents, passion, and capabilities. And if it is not with us, that is fine. In some ways, I am selling against working with us, but telling the truth and giving a very clear picture is most important. I also always tell them to remember our conversation, because if they move forward and we move forward, and things get hard - because they will, they can't say I didn't tell them what to expect. I cannot count how many times a team member has brought that up to me a few months after getting into the role and told me - "Wow, it was tougher than I expected, you were right, but this is why I signed up with you and am excited to get better." As a leader, you cannot ask for anything better.
Picture your vision of a successful person or entrepreneur. Got it? What does it look like?
Do they have they have the perfect business, the perfect life, car, lifestyle, etc.? Making money and growing their business seems to come easy for them. They've got it all figured out, right? Wrong.
The reality of becoming successful is that it is a big hot mess of craziness that never really goes as planned. And it's awesome!
Always remember that people are praised in public for all of the hard work, effort, overcoming adversity, and hustle they do in private. You just see the end result. Grant Cardone, he's got issues and challenges just like anyone else - they are just a lot bigger and more complicated. Gary Vee, same thing. He's works like no other behind the scenes to make his vision a reality.
It's the same for any very successful person you think of. They didn't get there in a straight line. They had many detours, twists, turns, and obstacles along the way.
The good news for you is if they were able to do it so can you.
And that is the lesson. Never forget that people have come before you and have been able to accomplish amazing things. Great things. But they overcame a lot more to reach those levels.
You have to have the same attitude on your journey toward your vision. More importantly, you have to understand that you will have many, many challenges to overcome to get it. You will have to understand that you will want to quit many times. And in the midst of all that, you will have to keep going.
A few pieces of advice that I received and made a huge impact on me persevering to reach my vision were the following:
1.) The bigger the problems you can handle, the bigger your business and you can grow. You have to grow yourself bigger than any problem or challenge you might encounter.
1.) When times get tough, tell yourself, "I'll do it just one more day." Tell yourself that every day until times aren't tough any more.
3.) Focus on what you can control and cope with what you can't. There is no point in wasting time, energy, and emotion on things you have no ability to affect or control. It does you no good and derails you. Instead focus intently on what you can control and affect and make sure that it is as good as it can possibly get.
4.) Beliefs lead to thoughts, thoughts lead to feeling/emotions, feelings/emotions lead to actions, and actions lead to results. Take out every word but the first and last...what do you get? Beliefs = Results. What you believe about yourself, your success, your vision, anything will manifest in the results you have. Make sure you input (beliefs) are the best thing to drive your output (results) and challenge yourself in this area.
Becoming successful is amazing journey in which no one ever fully knows how they will get there, but the ones that succeed are the ones that point themselves in a direction and start walking. The understand and are prepared to overcome challenges and figure it out along the way.
You've got a great idea for a business or product. You've spent a lot of time on a really cool website and marketing materials. You created the perfect logo, set up your social media, and even put together your "kick ass" business plan.
Awesome. You spent countless effort, time, and resources, and you've sold nothing.
You don't have a business yet. You have a lot of potentially wasted time and money.
There is only one thing that matters to make a viable business - that first customer willing to pay their hard earned money for whatever it is you are selling. You don't have a business until you sell something.
Many entrepreneurs forget this and get all excited about the idea and creating everything they think the business needs, except for the most important thing - the lifeblood of the business success, the first sale.
Instead of spending all of the time building the perfect website and creating the marketing materials and website, what if you just focused on your first sale? What if you focused on making sure your product or service can sell and that you have a customer for it? You can create the amazing business plan and marketing materials later.
If you are getting started in business or have an idea for a product or solution, there is only one place to focus, the first sale.
Most people make selling more complicated that it has to be. It is the most innate ability we have as humans. From the moment we are born, we are selling ourselves. And throughout life we continue to do so, whether it is in a job interview, to the one we love, or to get someone to buy into an idea or mission. Sales is a major part of life - embrace it and get rid of any stereotypes or negative connotations about it, because your business cannot survive if you cannot sell.
So, what if you are just starting out? How do you get your first customer?
First, get to where you have an MVP, a minimum viable product or service. This is where your product or service at least works and can deliver a result. Don't worry about it being perfect or having all of the things you want it to have. Just make sure it provides to give core solution it was designed to deliver. For example, if you have created a piece of software to help people better track their spending, make sure the core logic works - don't worry about how good the interface is or if it has all the extras. How much has Google's interface really changed from when they launched? Not much. Simple is good as long as it works.
Second, once you have your MVP, ask yourself who you ideal customer is. Get a good idea of who they are, what they want, their fears, and the things that make them act, or in this case buy. Once you know who they are, focus solely on talking to every person you can find that fits the category. You will want to have
3 big reasons why they should try your product. That's it. There are probably 50 reasons you can put down as to why they need it, but with the short attention span of people, pick the top 3 biggest ones and get them to buy using only those, because that is about all they will remember.
If you talk to 100 people, you will get at least 1 first adopter customer, if not more. And, yes you need to charge them for the product or service. You are putting your heart and soul into this thing - and that is worth something. Don't devalue yourself and set the precedent that you aren't worth anything. I'm not saying you can't offer special pricing to your first adopters to get them aboard. By all means, you should. They are taking a chance on you and should be rewarded because they will be your references and early evangelists. Just make sure you charge something.
Third, once you've got one customer, get some feedback, and use that to get your next 5-10 customers. Now, you are in business. You can then start to gather ideas and feedback from the group to make sure you are finalizing the product in a way that gives the market what THEY want. You'll be amazed at how something you thought that customers want is not that important to them and something you thought was not a big deal is the biggest thing they want. Be careful not to build the product you want, but the one your market wants. That is why getting customers in the MVP stage is so important. It is the stepping stone to get you to your finished product using the ideal customers as the vehicle.
Be careful not to build the product you want, but the one your market wants...
Lastly, once you have your first 10 or so customers and have gotten good feedback and ideas on how to finalize the product, you can then put efforts into your marketing, website, and redo that business plan based on real information. Then, as it is for the entrepreneur, you keep going, keep selling, make adjustments, learn as you go, bust through barriers, and make your dream a reality.
You were born to sell. But always remember, as Zig Ziglar said, "Selling is not something you DO to someone. It's something you do FOR someone." Your goal should always be to solve problems and help people/businesses with your solution. No, go out and help the world with your dream!
Closing deals and getting more business is the lifeblood of any business. I recently came across a great infographic on "How to Close 95% of Your Leads." It is excellent and gives you the path to more sales - as long as you are willing to put in a little work and effort. Happy selling!
I was recently watching a really heartwarming documentary about the 9/11 tragedy called "Boatlift." I have placed it at the end of this post for you. The 11 minute video chronicles the largest boatlift/mass-evacuation in history.
To put things in perspective, the largest rescue and one of the most famous boatlift rescues up until 9/11 was at the battle of Dunkirk where over 300,000 men were rescued by boat from almost certain death by the Nazi's. This was done over a couple days and saved the allies chances to win the war.
When 9/11 happened, ordinary citizens - ferry operators, tug boats, commercial boats, and people with boats all came together and evacuated over 500,000 people off of Manhattan and did it in less than
9 hours! It is truly an amazing story that not many people have probably ever heard.
There is one part, at the very end of the video where one of the commercial boat operators talks about how he has one philosophy in life that he follows and has taught his kids.
That philosophy? "Never go through life saying I should have..."
He's right. When your life comes to an end, all of the "should haves" will come into focus. All of the things that you wanted to do, but never took the time or chance to do will be forefront. This has been studied many times and it's always the same. People wished that they did their "should haves."
Never go through life saying I should have...
Don't put off the things you know you should do and want to do with your life. If there is something you know you should do, do it. If you give it a shot and fail, at least you will know that you gave it a shot...and if you succeed, well, even better.
Does this mean you have to do something radical? No, but it does mean you have to take some chances, get out of your areas of comfort, and push yourself in ways that you haven't before. If you do, you'll be better for it.
The only things you miss in life are the shots and chances you don't take. It may sound like a platitude, but it is true and has been since man has existed.
Get out there and turn your "should haves" into "I dids!"
I was recently asked on Quora "What were the most Important things learned when starting your business? Good question and there are about a 1000 things to answer with. I thought about it and narrowed it down to these 4 as a starting point.
There are a ton of other things I could give you, but if you can put these 4 into practice, you will have a good foundation to take on the challenge of starting a business, persevere, and succeed. Now, go make it happen!