Profitable or perfect?

profit_ahead

Here’s an interesting question – would you rather be profitable or perfect?

To answer this question I’m going to focus on an article that is too good to pass up. It’s what I’ve been writing about and preaching for years.

Take a look here 

Tech startups are very similar to small businesses. Although you’ll probably have better success with a small business than a tech start up (only about 10% of tech startups survive past a year or two).

Why don’t more businesses survive?

1) It’s an uber competitive market place
2) Small business owners are worried about too many things other than profit
3) Small business owners don’t allocate enough money to marketing

The ‘Build it and they will come’ mentality WILL KILL YOU. Everyone thinks their own product or service is great. Guess what? You’re never as good as you think you are. If every small business owner is thinking the same thing than why do so many businesses shut their doors after a couple years (or should shut their doors as some businesses haemorrhage money year after year)?

The truth – you need to get your product or service in front of as many people as possible. You need to use traditional media, digital media and/or start knocking on doors. You need to do whatever it takes to make your business known. Setting up in a good location doesn’t cut it anymore. Bottom line – YOU NEED TO SPEND MONEY ON MARKETING YOURSELF. Whether you’re sponsoring a community group function or spending money on media.

How do some of the most profitable small businesses get to be to where they are today? They got in front of as many people of possible. Heck, some of them are at the point where they don’t need to do as much advertising as they used to because they’ve done such a good job in branding themselves. As a result, business just comes to them. And guess what? The number one line item they track is PROFIT!

For example – I spend thousands of dollars every year on myself. Whether it’s marketing, education or books. And guess what? This past week I quadrupled my return on investment. IN ONE WEEK! That’s a pretty good profit margin.

I don’t want to be boastful, but I get it. I understand it takes money (and time, but time is money) to make money. I spend the dough and I get it back…every single time. I’m not afraid to spend a few thousand dollars if I know I’m going to get tens of thousands in return. I believe in myself and if you believed in yourself you’d stop what you’re doing and start marketing and focusing on the things that are going to make you money.

This past week I spoke with a small business owner who was holding off on marketing because he wanted to make a few things behind the scenes, “perfect.” Fuck waiting to get your product or service perfect. YOU’LL NEVER BE PERFECT! You’ll be broke before you’re perfect. Start doing and stop procrastinating. If you’ve opened the doors of your business your product or service better be at 70 – 80%. Then you can tweak it from there, but you need to start making a name for yourself NOW. Start investing in yourself and your business and you’ll see the returns. How do I know? I’m living proof and I’ve dealt with hundreds of businesses who are living proof.

What would you rather be? Profitable or perfect? You can’t have both.

Jordan

Powerful decision-making questions

left-and-right-brain

When it comes to making a decision, your brain lights up like a Christmas tree as it tries to figure out the issue at hand and devise a plan of action. This can be time consuming and mentally draining depending on how big the decision is.

Thanks to a couple decision-making coaches of mine, Chip & Dan Heath, here are a few questions you can ask when faced with a BIG decision:

1) What would your best friend tell you to do?
2) If you only had 10 more years to live, what would you do?
3) If someone came into the same position you’re in, what would their first reaction be?
4) What would happen if the decision you make goes wrong and how far along would you let it go before you change course?
5) What would happen if the decision you make goes perfectly well?

Seeing as I have moved across the country a couple of times and have had to make quite a few life changing decisions, here’s how I used one of the questions above to figure out what I should do.

When I was living in Halifax an opportunity came up for me to move west and closer to home. It was tough because my head office was based out of Dartmouth (across from Halifax, if I said it was in Halifax, people from Dartmouth would probably kill me) and I would be moving across the majority of the country to plant roots in Calgary. It was a tough decision…leave a job, team and friends I really came to love and pack up my family and move across the country…again.

I was mulling over this decision (with the help of my family) for months. Then I asked myself, “What would my best buddy Blair tell me to do?” I instantly knew what I was going to do. Blair would’ve said, “Move you big dummy.” So, I moved and now I’m happily set up with my family in Calgary although I still miss my friends in Halifax.

On a business level, I found some of the above questions to be very powerful. Within the first week I moved to Calgary the team was faced with a HUGE decision that would affect close to a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

I asked, “If we were all fired today and a new team replaced us, what would they do?”

The team’s eyes lit up and instantly rendered a decision. It was magical. A quarter-of-a million-dollar decision was made in the equivalent of you snapping your fingers. All based off one, seemingly simple question.

As you can tell, questions are extremely powerful. The tough part is figuring out which questions to ask. I hope the questions above help you in your decision-making process.

Discover more questions by visiting Chip & Dan’s site and ordering their books. All of them are great. They have helped shape my colleagues and my career. I’m sure they’ll help you too.

Jordan

Just do it!

upholstery

My dad was faced with a tough decision 15-years ago. Sell his shop or give it a go for a few more years. My dad is an upholsterer and a very good one. He was working from home until he decided to ramp things up and open a shop in a high traffic area. He based his decision off the whole, “Build it and they will come,” mindset. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Especially in the highly cluttered market place where seemingly everyone and everything is trying to get your attention.

My dad swallowed his pride and closed up shop after a couple years. He moved back to the basement and worked part-time in someone else’s shop. It was a big decision and I believe he made the right one. There was no sense putting our family in the hole.

The reason I mention this is:

1) It’s Father’s Day
2) It’s a great lesson in decision making

When people are faced with a decision they will procrastinate and keep putting it off in hopes of it going away or someone else coming in to make the decision for them. How do I know this? I do it and I have been doing it for years.

I used to do up a Pros vs. Cons chart and away I went. Sound familiar? Don’t be shy, everyone does it, but how effective is it at enabling you to come up with a decision?

First – you already have an idea of what you’re going to do and this clouds your Pros vs. Cons list. Should I buy this house or that house? I’m positive you already know what house you want to buy, but you’ll go through the process anyway. However, you’ll find you have more positive things to say about the house your mind already knows you’re going to pick and vice versa. You feel it’s necessary to do your due diligence when really this Pros vs. Cons list is a big waste of time. You know what you want, so make a decision already!

Second – There’s no way you can predict the future and Pros vs. Cons lists are usually future based. Stop wasting time and take action now. Your gut knows what it wants, so go ahead and take it.

When my dad decided to close up his shop, he didn’t use a Pros vs. Cons list. He looked at his family and he knew what he had to do. Yes, he could have tricked himself into believing he could forge ahead with another 2-year lease, but in his gut he knew it was time to give up.

It takes a strong person to admit defeat. I’m proud of my dad for making that decision 15-years ago and I’m so proud to call him my father. To this day I still remember the lesson he probably didn’t know he taught me 15-years ago…stick with your guy and take action instead of wasting time on meaningless procrastination measures.

The best way to do something is to do it. If you fail, at least you tried and hopefully you learned something. Don’t think about it, don’t make a list, just do it. Nike figured it out and made billions. What about you?

Happy Father’s Day!

– Jordan

Be a better decision-maker

What do President Obama, Nick Saban & Baz Luhrmann have in common (if you don’t know who they are ‘Google’ them)? Aside from being men, they all make BIG decisions. Obama makes decisions every single day that effect the world. Nick Saban makes decisions that effect the outcomes of college football games (a very profitable world). Baz Luhrmann stresses over every single minute detail of film making to ensure he’s putting out the best product possible (his lastest movie The Great Gatsby took over 5 years to make). Exhausting!

So, how are these guys able to make decisions? Let’s dive into their world to find out.

President Obama pretty much wears the same thing every day. His look includes a dark suit, white shirt and a blue tie (occasionally he switches up the tie). He wears this every single day (click here for Obama style). Why? He doesn’t want to figure out what to put on every morning as it’s a waste of decision-making power (more on this later).

Nick Saban is the greatest present day college football coach. The dude is a winning machine and he’s also a machine when it comes to decision-making. His day is painstakingly planned out, so much so, he eats the same thing every day. From GQ Magazine:

“He doesn’t drink. For breakfast, he eats two Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies; for lunch, a salad of iceberg lettuce, turkey, and tomatoes. The regular menu, he says, saves him the time of deciding what to eat each day, and speaks to a broader tendency to habituate his behaviours.”

The less decisions Saban makes during the day, the more decision-making power he’ll have for game day.

Baz Luhrmann is one of the most creative and forward thinking directors out there. How does he bottle this creativity? By making his day-to-day activities habits. For example: he and his wife own residences in Australia (their home country) and New York. Baz’s closets and dressers in both residences are exactly the same, so no matter where he’s staying, he knows where his socks, shoes, shirts, pants, etc… are. His clothes are even laid out in the exact same way and in the same drawers. This instantly limits his “What should I wear?” decision-making. Along with, “Where the hell is my underwear?” Plus, each and every Saturday night he and his wife stay in a hotel and shutter the outside world. This is where he recharges his batteries to enhance his creativity and decision-making (great article on Baz here…beware it’s long).

Decision-making power

Imagine your left and right brain as if they were gas tanks. When you wake up, there’s only so much in the tank. The more decisions you have to make, the more those tanks go down. On one side it’s the creative decision-making. On the other side it’s the analytical decision-making. Funny thing is, once you wear down one side the other side is shot too. That’s why BIG TIME decision-makers try to automate and habituate their day-to-day schedules relentlessly. I know of one former senior VP in the company I work with who ate at Earls every single day for lunch. EVERY SINGLE DAY! This eliminated, “What should I have for lunch?” Thus, enabling him to effectively use his decision-making power elsewhere.

Me – I like to map out my day in advance. Every night at 9pm I have a notification pop up on my phone reminding me to figure out the next day. I’ll plan what I’m wearing (I have a limited wardrobe), my hourly schedule (Hello, Outlook and Google Calendar) and what I’m going to have for lunch (amongst other things). This helps me stay fresh while enhancing my decision-making power for the day-to-come.

What are you doing to enhance your decision-making power?

You could say eating the same thing or wearing the same thing every day is boring and there’s no way you could do that. I’m not saying you should do exactly what Obama, Saban & Luhrmann are doing. I’m asking you to find events in your day-to-day life that you can make routine. Thus, enabling you to use more of the fuel in your decision-making tank for IMPORTANT things. Not meaningless things like, “What socks should I wear?”

In the coming weeks I’ll outline more tactics you can use to make yourself a better decision-maker. It will change your life and make you $$$$$$$. I’d also like to give a shout out to Chip & Dan Heath who, with their guidance, have made me a better and stronger decision-maker. I suggest you pick up all their books. DO IT!

– Jordan

Why do people buy?

I’m renovating my bathrooms, so I’ve been dealing with plenty of ‘sales’ people. It puts things into perspective for me because usually I’m the one doing the ‘selling.’ I visited 6 places yesterday where I was face-to-face with a sales representative. After the long, exhausting day, I started pondering, “Why should I buy and from who?”

The first place I visited was referred to me. The show room was amazing and it was relatively busy (people like working with busy aka seemingly successful people). The sales rep was okay, he knew his product and he was very friendly (people like buying from friendly people). He showed my wife and I a few options and he let us leave with some samples.

Then, we ventured to another place. The show room was stacked with boxes of inventory and it wasn’t very inviting. Granted it was a small space and I understood what they were trying to do. However, the average consumer would probably be turned off by a convoluted mess of  inventory and pushy sales people. The sales rep my wife and I received was decent enough. The best part for me – before I left he grabbed MY number. Most places will give you a card. BE PROACTIVE! GET THE PROSPECTS NUMBER SO YOU CAN FOLLOW UP (build that database, baby).

My wife and I bounced around to a couple other stores before we stopped at this AMAZING show room. The building was huge (although it was in a shitty location) and it was stocked with everything. It was neat and tidy, but no one was there. My wife and I were the only ones shopping (again, people like to buy from busy aka seemingly successful people).

The rep wandered over and asked, “Anything I can help you with?” How many times have you heard that? Whether you’re buying shoes, clothes, a computer or whatever. The question leaves the response open to a Yes or No answer. As a sales rep, you’re dead in the water. Usually the response is, “No thanks, just browsing.”

Supercharge your sales force by getting each and every one of your floor representatives to ask, “What brought you in?” This question encourages the prospect to go into detail about why he / she is in the store. If the prospect gives a lazy, “No real reason, just browsing,” response. Hit ’em with, “Anything in particular you were browsing for” or “How did you hear about us?” These questions encourage the prospect to elaborate. It also gives your sales rep the chance to qualify the prospect. If the prospect is merely browsing, your rep can back off and key in on someone who is there to buy. DON’T WASTE TIME WITH UNQUALIFIED PROSPECTS.

Back to the final store my wife and I visited… Not only did the rep ask, “Anything I can help you with?” After my wife gave her a generic response, the rep wandered off and starting sorting tiles. She didn’t qualify the buyer (my wife and I) and then she disappeared. Granted my wife and I probably weren’t the typical customer they see in their store (this was a REALLY high end kitchen and bath place), you never know until you qualify. Even though my wife and I may not be able to drop 25k on a bathroom right now, we may be able to down the road. If the day comes, guess which store we won’t be visiting…

Sales lesson

Never judge a book by its cover. You hear it time and time again. This lesson was hammered home to me by the sales rep who handled my latest car purchase. We had a great chat and he expects every single person who walks on the lot to leave with a car. No matter what they’re wearing, what they look like, etc… He learned this lesson after he was approached by a gruff, older gentlemen who had his socks tucked into his sweatpants. At first the rep didn’t approach him because he thought, “There’s no way this guy is ever going to buy THAT car.” Turns out Mr. Sweatpants dropped $90,000 cash on a car that day. And Mr. Sweatpants returns to the dealership every 2 years to get a new car.

Why do we buy?

1) Familiarity (we want to buy from someone we know and trust)
2) We want to know other people have purchased from you and are satisfied with the product / service

As a business owner – how do we get #1 and #2?

1) YOU NEED TO MARKET YOUR PRODUCT / SERVICE
2) YOU NEED TO GET REFERRALS

Marketing your business breeds familiarity and familiarity leads to sales. The best way to market your business is through referrals. Google your business and check out what people are saying. There could be some extremely powerful messages for you to use (or it will key in on your weaknesses). Whenever you can, ask for referrals from your customers. People are more willing to buy when they’ve heard or read a success story from a third-party who’s used your product / service.

So, what did I buy?

My wife and I are going with the first store, which was referred to us and the only place who gave us samples to take home. The referral and the show room put my wife and I over the top. We’re also going with a familiar store for the hardware (faucet, shower head, etc…). This hardware business advertises A LOT and you could see it as their large show room was packed. For the third time, people like to buy from busy people. The brain is lazy, so when it sees lots of people buying from a particular store, it automatically thinks, “Everyone else is buying, so I should too.” Think Black Friday or Boxing Day shopping. Why do we do it? Because everyone else is…

– Jordan