What do you do that 95% of the population doesn’t?

I had an AMAZING conversation with a mini-mentor of mine (mentors / coach’s are the best), and we zoned in on the conversation of taking an idea to launch.

This mini-mentor has worked with 1000’s of business owners / entrepreneurs, and although she’s semi-retired now, she’s still advising some ‘big’ businesses in Western Canada. When we got to chatting, she said something that at-first astounded me, but when I thought about it…it didn’t surprise me at all.

She said, “Everyone has ideas, but only 5% of the population actually acts on those ideas.”

How many times have you said, “Ah-ha! I should do that,” and then of course you don’t. It used to happen to me all the time. Now, I’m taking action, and going for it…with a calculated approach.

When you have an idea, what’s stopping you from acting on it? Do you think every one else with think you are stupid for doing it? Are you worried you’ll fail? Here’s the thing – the feeling of failure always seems to outweigh the feeling of hope. STOP IT! Take the ‘lizard brain’ of failure, and get rid of it. Stop caring about what other people think, and take your failure thoughts and flip them.

“Oh my gosh, people are going to think my online bow tie store will never work. There’s not enough people in the world who wear bow ties!” That’s the lizard brain. Let’s flip it to, “I’m going to test to see if this crazy idea of mine will work. I’m not going to let the start-up costs exceed $500, and if I don’t see some revenue within 2-months of my store being online, then I’m going to shut it down.”

THAT’S CALLED CALCULATION

Any time you get act on something you probably have all three of the things below working for you.

Triangle, think feel do, think, feel, do

This is what makes your idea come to life. Some people do things without thinking. Some people think so much, and never do. Most people do things, after thinking about them, but don’t feel anything about what they’re doing (aka robots aka the cubicle effect). Generally, when you’re missing one of the items above – you should probably move on to doing something else.

From nothing to something

When you know you’re going to act on something, you most likely are following these steps:

  • Think
  • Conceptualize
  • Visualize
  • Test
  • Bring to market

This could be true for anything from starting a new business, to launching a new product / service, a new marketing campaign, etc… Side note – you should always be testing, and experimenting with your processes (see my post from a couple weeks ago).

On top of that, it’s okay to ask for help during this process. Don’t worry about someone stealing your idea. No one will. Your idea probably isn’t THAT good anyway. Again, 5% of people actually act on their ideas, so I wouldn’t worry about someone acting on the idea you dreamed up.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to let you into the world of taking an idea, conceptualizing it, visualizing it, testing it, and finally bringing it to market (plus a bunch of other shit I know you’ll enjoy). Why? Because you’re action takers, but you might not know where to start. Every now and then you let the thought of failure, and the lizard brain take over. You feel something, you think about this business idea, but you’re too afraid to DO it.

Don’t worry – I’ll take you on the step-by-step journey to aid in removing the lizard brain’s awful thoughts. It’s the journey of the “DO.” And I look forward to taking the journey with you (I did not mean for that to rhyme, but I like it).

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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Target Pulling Out Of Canada and What Your Small Biz Can Learn From It

Target, Target Canada, Canada

I’m not here to speculate as to why Target didn’t succeed in Canada. 133 stores…POOF! Gone. What I can do is outline my experiences with the Target I knew growing up from my frequent trips south of the border compared to the Target Canada model. I can also point out a few things as to what to look out for in your small biz.

Target experiences growing up

  • My Mom absolutely loved Target. Any time my family would travel south – Target was always on the list of places to go (this stuck with me as an impressionable kid that Target must have some value).
  • When you stepped into Target it had this warm, welcoming feeling to it. It really did feel a step above Wal-Mart.
  • You could spend hours in a Target from food, to clothing, to toys, and just about everything else.
  • Target was a destination, something to look forward to every year.

Target Canada experiences

  • For the most part – it picked cramped spaces to set up, and the lighting was a bit off. It didn’t have the warm, welcoming feel to it.
  • The selection wasn’t even close to being the same as to what it was in the U.S. On top of that, most of the brands Target laid it’s cap on in the U.S. would be sold out, and never re-stocked (or so it seemed) in the Canada stores I frequented.
  • My Mom no longer liked going to Target. However, she still wanted to go to it when she, and my dad travelled south.
  • Target became a commodity. I didn’t have to look forward to it every year, as it was easily accessible.

What your small business can learn from this

Don’t assume that your product / service is going to work everywhere. Just because it works in one place, doesn’t automatically point to success elsewhere. Every time you open up a new shop, restaurant, etc… You have to go back, and start from scratch putting in the time to cultivate the relationship with the community you’ve moved into. Don’t rest your laurels on brand equity. It helps, but it’s not everything.

Experience – this is a big one for me. The brain is wired to expect consistency. It likes consistency, so it doesn’t have to compute as much. It’s so important to ensure consistent service, product quality, etc… across all channels. If your consistent model is to be inconsistent than stick with that. Otherwise, sameness rules. Using Target as an example – my family had these consistent experiences with Target in the U.S., and that’s what got us excited about Target in Canada. However, the experience in Canada didn’t match the experience from the one in the U.S. Target became, “just another Wal-Mart.”

Exclusivity – this one can go either way for me. Yes, people like what they can’t have or only get once in awhile, but it’s not something I would rely on to build a business. When Target was only in the U.S – it was this exclusive experience you could only get once or twice a year. When it moved to Canada – you could get it any time you wanted.

For you – focus on what you can make exclusive, while making other products / services accessible. For example – if you are building a service based business – give an exclusive offer or product to a small chunk of your best customers. At the same time, your regular services are accessible to the masses. Then keep on changing that exclusive offer to include a different set of your regular customers.

For a restaurant – every couple of months you could have an exclusive party reserved for the ‘Top 10 Patrons of the Year.’ It would be invite only, and they could bring their friends…all of it complimentary. This would give you a good chance to get customer feedback as well as introduce new people (friends) to what you offer. This would only account for a couple hours every couple of months, while the rest of the time you’d be open to the public. This plays up on that exclusivity factor, as the people who aren’t partaking in it, WANT to partake in it, and then you can show them how to get involved in the future (email signup, draw, etc…).

Yes, it sucks Target is pulling out of Canada, and the subsequent job loss that is following suit. It just goes to show how volatile the business world can be. It should serve as a reality check for you, and your business.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

2015 Marketers Guide For Those Who Don’t Have Marketing Departments – Experiment and Evolve

cat, scotch, cute cat, cat pic

Will this pic of my cat lead to more hits?

2015 should be labelled as the year of experimentation for you. With so much info about how to do this, and that, you can paralyse yourself, and your business by thinking too much, and not acting. More importantly, you do all the thinking, and strategizing only to find out when you put your new marketing campaign, product, service, etc… to market…no one really cares about your new product / service / marketing campaign / video you think will go viral.

I’m with you, I analyse a lot, and in turn I end up making stupid decisions based off what’s swirling around in my head. Especially after reading books, articles, and everything else being fired at you, and I on a daily basis.

We think we know all the answers, and this is backwards thinking. We know what we know, but also we don’t know what we don’t know. Does that make sense? Or am I thinking too much? If it doesn’t make sense GOOD! One of my goals of 2015 is to confuse the hell out of you…HA!

Here’s what I, and you forget the majority of the time…it doesn’t matter what we think. It matters what THEY think. They being the customer / consumer. This happens in the startup world time, and time again. Some big headed teenager (okay, I’m generalizing here) thinks he / she can ‘change the world’ with a piece of technology. He / she goes out, and generates $$$ through investors, conducts research, builds a team, promotes their product, generates publicity, and then goes to market with their product / service and no one cares. This could have been thwarted by experimenting with REAL consumers with a shitty prototype of the product / service early on in the development stage of the product / service.

You could say the startup group learned something, and failure is the price of learning. I used to think that. Now, it doesn’t resonate with me. Using the model above, you only learn how to fail. If you EXPERIMENT from day one with REAL customers / consumers you’ll learn more in a week than you will in 6-months using the ‘business’ model from above.

Let’s put this experimentation into practice.

My wife, and I are planning on launching a restaurant / cafe with a twist (you have to have a twist with the current cluttered marketplace) either late this or next year. Ideas have been swirling in our heads from price points to location to food offerings, etc… However, we caught ourselves a couple days ago, and the light clicked – how do we know people are going to even want what we offer? Why go through the investment, planning, etc…if we don’t even know if there’s a market? More so, how will our potential customers even know if they want our product (think iPod or iPhone here, people didn’t know they wanted it until they had it, and then the iPod, and iPhone evolved to suit the customer)?

Here’s what we know:
A similar concept has worked in other markets
The overhead is not that high
We have a decent ‘test’ group of friends to experiment

We’re not talking focus groups here, we’re talking people, who will actually use our product / service in the future. This way, we can get honest feedback, and from our hypothesis of “This restaurant / cafe will work” we will be able to experiment to see if it actually will work. Of course, if we find a solid enough market, there will also be a TON of experimenting when / if this thing launches. The best part – we’re not going to wait until it’s perfect (which too many people do). What is perfect? Is it in your mind or the customers mind? All of your customers minds are different, so perfect to one person is anything but to another. DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING PERFECT! It’s a word that shouldn’t exist as perfection does not exist.

Something to chew on

When Disney released Frozen they had no idea it was going to be as popular as it was. They made the regular amount of plush toys, and promotional items, etc… forecasting for a normal box office, and following. However, as you know, the movie exploded. It was a MASSIVE hit for Disney, and for months following its release you couldn’t get any toys, or more importantly stuffed Olaf dolls. At one point Olaf was selling for $80 on eBay. NUTS!

The point – if Disney doesn’t know whether or not a product is going be hit, how in the hell should you or I know? You, and I don’t have a clue just like Disney. We can forecast, and research, and rack our brains, but really it’s just wasted time, and money. Don’t over analyse. Instead get your product to market. Ask your customers questions, see how they use the product / service, and find out how you can make it better. Then keep testing, and experimenting because as your product / service evolves, so does society.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft