How to play the entrepreneurial game

It’s been awhile since I last wrote, so here’s a quick update.

The online store my wife and I started is doing well. We’ve grown to be the largest online-only dress shop in Canada using the tools / techniques I described throughout the course of this blog. Believe me there’s a ton of information here for you to sift through to help get you started on your entrepreneurial journey.

Aside from that – I’ve learned so much in the past year, and below is quick summary on how to play the game.

Put in the work

Sorry kids, there’s no such thing as sitting on a beach on watching the money roll in. You have to put in the work. You have to grind, hustle, struggle, believe, beat yourself up, and then figure out how to succeed. There’s no such thing as ‘passive’ income in this life.

Do whatever the hell you want – even if you change your mind

What I’ve wanted to do with my life has changed about 12 times over the past couple years. I wanted to be a radio star, a sales star, a magazine publisher, a golfer, a restaurant owner, a marketing consultant, an entrepreneurial coach, a video game player and more. I’ve tried it all, and only a few have stuck.

It’s okay to pull the plug if you thought you wanted to do something, then you tried it, and you didn’t get the results you thought. I found by trying to do all the things that pop up in my head, I finally figured out what I really wanted. Right now, I’m playing video games online (check it out here), helping my wife with the biz, golfing and working a 9-5.

If you can work a 9-5 to generate some more income…do it

The money was tight for a couple years after starting a business and trying to get a magazine off the ground. My wife and I did both within the same year, and the finances were tough to watch. However, we persevered and did what we had to do to make a dime. I took up working retail, and finding odd jobs to pay off our living expenses. That’s right – no venture capital here.

Then I finally decided to grab a cushy 9-5 to ensure our finances were stable. It’s a job where I make good enough money (for now) to live comfortably, and I don’t have to take my work home with me. When I leave – I leave. So many people get caught up with work consuming their life. FUCKING STOP IT! Leave work at work. No one will care, trust me.

Play the game

When you have established yourself as a hard worker (or at least you look like you’re working hard) it’s soooo easy to find a job. Use existing contacts, friend, family whoever to get your foot in the door. From there – coast. Do whatever you can to ensure your finances are stable, so you can play / start a business in the evenings and weekends.

I busted my ass for 5 or 6 years to make a name for myself, now I’m trying to coast and focus on the things I really enjoy outside my 9-5.

Get a gimmick

There’s no other way to put it. I slapped on a bow tie, and instantly distanced myself from the competition. Whether it’s hunting for a job or writing this blog. Find something you can do to separate yourself. Unfortunately, being YOU isn’t enough anymore. You need a gimmick. Wear bright red shoes, place a flower in your hair, wear bright shirts…whatever it is find something to make you literally stand out in a crowd.

The above is a quick run through of what I’ve learned in the past couple years. It was a tough grind, but there is a light on the other side. I’ve seen it, I’m living it. If you need some help – feel free to drop me a line at effumarketing@gmail.com.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Why Your Online Store Isn’t Making Sales

This is a common question I see on message boards and through the grapevine of entrepreneurs. It also is a cause for concern in the bricks-and-mortar world, but let’s stick with online.

Anyone, anywhere can have a store. No longer do you need vast sums of money for a lease, employees and stock. You can do everything behind a screen. With that – the amount of online stores hawking goods from dresses (EverRose.com – plug, plug) to backpacks to cheeses is endless. The world is flat in this regard. However, just because it’s relatively easy to set up. It doesn’t mean it’s profitable.

no sale, no sale sign

Here’s why you’re not making any sales

1) Your online store is too cumbersome. You’ve read too many blogs about what you should have on your store, and instead of creating a simple process for those who buy – you’ve confused your would be buyer with link after link after link. Your product(s) should be the first thing people see when they visit your store. You should also have some info on shipping and returns, and a page that reflects who you and your business are (if you want to add a personal touch).

2) Your product photography looks like crap. You can’t sell a shitty looking product online, just as you can’t sell a shitty product. Here are some quick DIY photo tips.

3) No one knows you exist. I hope you’ve read this far as this is probably the most important item on the list. You can’t expect sales without people knowing about you. You need to market yourself. Hook up with bloggers or influencers in your line of work. My wife and I hook up with fashion bloggers to promote our product to their masses. We also buy advertising (funny thought), and it works.

4) If you have traffic to your site, and you’re still not making sales – check the options above. If you’ve done all of the above then you probably didn’t research your product upfront. If you haven’t tested to see if your idea works through family friends, then your idea is probably not going to work to others. Just because you think it would be cool to run an online t-shirt store, it doesn’t mean people are going to buy from you. Ask your friends and family first – see if they would buy. My wife and I’s online dress shop did this, and our first few customers were family and friends. From there the word spreads.

The above should point you on the correct path. I could write an endless post on why you aren’t getting sales, but the points above are the most common reason. You can always ask me to take a look too. I’m always free to give open and honest feedback.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Working 9 – 5 while having a business on the side

It’s an elusive balancing act that takes some time to master. You want / have to give 100% to your 9 to 5 employer, and you want to build something on your own on the side. I’m living proof that it’s very much possible, however it takes a serious amount of commitment. It’s a game of give-and-take. Do you watch Netflix or do you buckle down and do some bookkeeping? These are just a few of the questions you’ll ask yourself.

Here are some tips on how you can find time to build your business on the side while continuing to commit yourself to a 9 to 5:

 1) Build something online

It’s going to be extremely difficult to build something on the side that you have to attend to like a 9 to 5. That’s why e-commerce is so amazing. You can work on your site whenever you want – and the income rolls in 24-hours a day with little to no work on your behalf. Yes, there is a HUGE amount you have to put in before hand, but when it’s built – it’s a recurring income generator. If you don’t have an idea of what you can do on the side – here’s a quick guide to finding a product to sell online.

 2) Evenings and Weekends

This is your bread and butter. When your 9 to 5 stops – you put on your entrepreneur hat. This can be exhausting, so if you’ve had a tough day at your 9 to 5 – you may need to take an evening off. You don’t want your side biz to interfere and hurt your ability to work your day job. However, it can be done. You’ll have to work for it, and maybe miss out on things in your social life, but if you’re devoted to building something, and providing value to your future customers – you’ll succeed.

My wife and I both have 9 to 5 commitments, which we excel at. Then we come home, and get to our online fashion store – Ever Rose. I usually take 30 minutes to an hour in the morning to work through our social media channels – then I put my 9 to 5 hat on. In the evenings, my wife and I will fulfill orders, take product shots, edit photos, and do website maintenance. We also do our own bookkeeping using Wave.

It’s not easy knowing you won’t have a ‘day off’, but I’ve never done something that is so rewarding. Getting glowing customer reviews and having random strangers purchasing items is pretty cool.

Seth Godin, Seth Godin quote

 3) Have a Calendar

This is uber important. You need to keep track of what you’re going to do. The best way to do this is to have your 9 to 5 calendar as well as your side business calendar. I literally put everything into calendars. My wife makes fun of me because I always say, “If it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist.” This helps me use my 9 to 5 brain power for what needs to be done, and helps automate the side biz for when I come home. It’s nearly impossible for me to forget what I need to do when I come home because an alert pops up every 30 minutes.

This also helps you focus on what needs to be done. You will be worn down, you will be tired, but those little alerts will go a long way in helping building your side biz. They’ll keep you on track, and keep your focus on what needs to be done.

4) Don’t worry about perfection

When it comes to your side business – just do it. Don’t worry about it being perfect or you’re never going to sleep. My wife is big on perfection – I’m big on getting things done and off my plate. What you see as perfect, may not be perfect in your customers eyes. Never waste time on being perfect. You never will be. Just get it done to the best of your abilities and move on.

At the same time, if one of your skills isn’t solid – than you may have to outsource. For example – if your English sucks and your trying to write product descriptions – get someone to proof your work. Whether it be a family member or friend – play to your strengths. You can also look at outsourcing work by using UpWork.

Finally, I know the struggle. I live it everyday, but I also know it can be done. You can be a 9 to 5 superstar and crack the whip on yourself everyday to ensure your side business is a success. Even a few hundred bucks on the side can make a HUGE difference. Whether you’re selling a product or service – you can be a 9 to 5er and an entrepreneur.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

95% of what you do is BS

I lost a family member this weekend. It was my first loss of someone who was really close to me, and when most of these ‘big’ things in life occur, it gives you a chance to reflect.

What’s important in your life? Does your job come to mind as the first thing? Or is it family? Is it a friend? Where do your priorities lie? Are you comfortable with that?

You need to prioritize what matters

In business, in life, in leadership, etc… 95% of what you or I do is BS. The other 5% matters. Out of the hundreds (or thousands) of emails, texts, or DM’s you get every day – a small portion matters. You’re gut knows what’s important and what’s not. Follow your instinct. Your human, and 9 times out of 10 your instincts will lead you in the right direction. Corporations will weigh you down in useless paperwork, emails, messages, small talk, and a whole bunch more. I always think of the movie Office Space and the mind-numbing reports the characters have to fill out. They’re pointless.

office space, tps reports

In small business and startups – the only thing that really matters is money. YOU NEED MONEY coming in. If you don’t have it – you’re dead. Everything else is BS. It doesn’t matter if you used the proper Instagram technique to gain followers. What matters is making sales. If you are making sales – how do you get more of it? If you aren’t – why not? If you need answers to these questions, and you can’t think of any – search for them online or get in touch with me as I may be able to help out.

So many of us get caught up, and drive ourselves nuts over pointless things. Things that stray from our priorities. When I first started my career, I was hungry for climbing the ladder, and money. I was very rarely present at home. I didn’t see my friends or my family much. Recently this has changed. I value family so much more, especially after losing a family member.

Your goals, and what’s important in your life and work can change

If you’re not happy with your life – it’s probably because your job is crushing you. If you’re not happy with your job, it’s probably because it doesn’t match up with what you want to get out of life. The biggest thing to remember is you have a choice. You can change your scenarios. You can align your life and business priorities. The transition may suck, but in the end it will be worth it. How do I know – I live it, and I continue to live it. I’ve seen numerous friends and family members on both sides of the coin. Those that love their life, and their work, and those that are miserable with either work or life or both.

Constantly ask yourself what’s important. It’s okay if what’s important changes, and it’s okay if you’re not 100% satisfied with where you are. You’ll get there (maybe not 100% of the way, but close). I put the questions at the top of this post in my calendar regularly, so I know to always check in with what’s important.

Appreciate what you have. Appreciate that you’re able to change and better yourself. Most of all, appreciate that you get the opportunity to do exactly what you want in life. You can do it, and enjoy it. You may not be the richest or smartest person in the world, but you can be comfortable and confident in who you are and who you can become.

What’s important?

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

The World has changed and Big Business hasn’t kept up

Adapt or Die. You may have heard this phrase before. It’s never more apparent than today. As a startup or small business you need to value your ability to adapt. That’s what keeps the ‘big guys’ on their toes. You have the ability to adjust on the fly where as the big businesses don’t. They’re mired in red tape, and meetings on top of meetings, and middle managers who are more concerned about keeping their jobs then about taking a risk to move the company forward.

The world of business is moving so quickly that most can’t keep up. Twenty years ago you went to school, got a decent job, worked your way up, and stayed with that company for many, many years…maybe your whole life. Now, on average you stay at the same job for 4-years. That’s nothing. There are so many options for you and I that it’s very easy to jump ship. Or say screw the corporate world, and start your own business. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it can be done. The tools are out there, and you no longer need a fancy degree from a prestigious college to get to where you want to be.

time to adapt, adapt or die

Here’s where Big Business is failing

  1. Hiring – take a look at job postings, especially those at larger companies. They want certain degrees, knowledge, etc…even for more entry level positions. However, the world has changed where the new wave of job seekers aren’t looking to get a MBA. They’re sticking with the arts or something more liberal. In essence, those large companies who are seeking new employees are effectively limiting their scope to a small percentage of the population. When in fact, they could have hundreds of candidates they don’t even look at who are equally as qualified or willing to learn, but they don’t have that pricey piece of paper.
  2. Benefits – my wife and I always joke that we missed the ‘Golden Era’ of business. Large expense accounts, business class flights, great benefits, etc… Before I left my corporate job within five years, my benefits were slashed by close to 30%. Did profits and revenues go down by 30%? No, but large corporations thought they could do away with benefits. This is the exact opposite of what most new job seekers are expecting. In the age of work life balance, and caring for one another – it’s a huge slap in the face to those looking for a corporate job right out of school.
  3. Transparency – before it used to be put your head down and get your job done. Now, with all this access to information – you can’t hide behind a pleasant email from the CEO (or CEO’s assistant). How many times have you heard of something positive or negative about your company BEFORE anything was said from within the organization. Nowadays you get updates straight to your phone. You didn’t have to wait for the news at night, the newspaper the next day or to go searching for it on the radio – it comes directly to you. New job seekers, and employees expect the truth – whether it’s good or bad. Or at least a version that’s close enough to the truth. BS will KILL YOU.
  4. Technology –  you only have to look in front of you to see how this world has changed. Whether you’re reading this on your computer, tablet or phone, you know exactly what I mean. Everything is changing quickly, and large corporations are mired in hierarchies, red tape, and endless indecisive managers. Something that may take one day in the startup world could take months or even years in larger corporations. Even with technology larger corporations have been slow to adapt. Those who aren’t looking forward – are in big, big trouble.

The above isn’t solely my opinion. I read / hear about these situations regularly. Recently, I spoke with a head hunter, and she was saying how most of the 20 – 30 year-old job seekers are looking for those companies that are willing to adapt. That are willing to change the status quo. Unfortunately for her, most of the larger businesses aren’t quite ready to adapt. Hell, I know of one company in the financial sector who, up until recently, didn’t have any digital / social footprint. Someone who was including tech stocks in their funds, didn’t have any idea how to use these platforms themselves. Thankfully, a bunch of younger fund managers urged the President to dabble in these areas. The blue-hairs are going to die off soon, and change is coming…FAST!

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

5 Things Your Business Can Learn From Millionaires

First off – never get too excited about money. If you’re hungry for more money, go after it, but it’s a long grind. You also have to forget about other parts of your life in the pursuit of dollars. Having said that, they’re are many things you can learn from those who have made many dollar bills through their business(es).

Canadian Money, Money

Whether you’re content with grinding it out in a large corporation or if you want to hustle day-in and day-out as a scrappy startup – here are some things to consider:

1) You are in charge of what you want

Fate or coincidence or hard work. You may believe things happen for a reason, but you also have to understand you have a choice in the matter. The rest is left up to chance, but you can sway things in your favour by how much you’re willing to put in. You don’t have to accept the circumstances as they’re presented to you. You can choose what you want to do with your life, business, family, love life, etc… YOU HAVE A CHOICE!

2) You probably know a millionaire, but don’t know it

If money is what you’re after – you’d probably be surprised to see who has money and who doesn’t. Quite a few ‘flashy’ people I know are in HUGE amounts of debt. From the outside – they look like billionaires, but they’re living pay cheque to pay cheque. Don’t be fooled by looks. In fact, in the book The Millionaire Next Door they lay out some interesting stats about millionaires:

  • 20% of the affluent households in America are headed by retirees
  • Of the remaining 80%, more than ⅔ are headed by self-employed owners of a business
  • In America, fewer than ⅕ households is headed by a self-employed business owner. However, these self-employed are 4 times more likely to be millionaires

No flash, just gaining the fruits of their labour. No need to shove it down your throat. It pisses me off to see the amounts of money being thrown around by those ‘successful’ entrepreneurs. I’m assuming here, but 99% of those who have money, don’t flaunt it. Unfortunately, the social world has made it cool to show off your dough. You don’t have to be one of these people.

3) If you want to make it big – you’ll have to work for it

Nothing is given to you – unless you come from an extremely well-off household. Even then, you may not know it, and you’ll have to work for it. When you see successful businesses or ventures you mustn’t forget those are many years in the making. The best athletes and business people in the world didn’t get to where they are by luck. Yes, a bit of that helps, but so does hitting the gym every day, so does not being afraid to take a risk and get out of your comfort zone. Hustle will always win.

4) Passion is BS – most of the time 

There are so many la-la stories about finding your passion. For the most part – your passion doesn’t pay. I’d like to golf 100% of the time. That’s my passion. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills. Here’s something to keep in mind from Illusions of Entrepreneurship:

  • 63% of new business owners admit their ventures don’t have a competitive advantage.
  • There’s no evidence that entrepreneurs select industries where profits, profit margins and revenues are higher.
  • Only a third of those surveyed say they really did a search for a good business idea.

Aka – if you don’t have an idea, think you’re special or don’t know what you’re passionate – that’s okay. If you currently like what you’re doing, and it pays the bills, then maybe there’s something in that line of work that can help you. My wife loves to write fiction. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills. However, she freelances on the side as a writer doing odd jobs from writing descriptions of bird cages, to being a word-smith for one of the largest branding companies in North America. THAT PAYS!

She had to hustle on sites like ODesk (now UpWork) for a few months until she landed a big fish. Hustle always wins.

5) Understanding delayed gratification

Everyone is a victim of this including me. You and I always want that instant gratification. We instantly want a return. We put in – we get out. That’s it. Unfortunately, when starting your own business, or working for YOU INC (aka yourself at your 9-5) you have to put in the hours. I started working at the age of 12 filling out scorecards for Men’s Club Championship at the golf course I was a member of. I also cleaned clubs. I did this for 2-years until I worked my way up to handling the junior program, scheduling other staff members, and selling items in the pro-shop. I didn’t go from 0 – 100 overnight. It took years of hustle, and me being as reliable as they come.

The same can be said in business. If you have the ‘build it and they will come’ mentality – you will die a slow, bank breaking death. You have to keep in mind there’s someone else out there who’s just as hungry for success as you are…if not hungrier. It sucks, but you have to put in the work.

Since we started our online fashion business (Ever Rose) back in January – my wife and I haven’t had a single day off. We work 7-days a week. We work 9-5 jobs then come home and work on the store. We just had our best month of the year in one of the slowest months for fashion. We’re also ranked in the Top 5% of store traffic on Shopify out of all the stores that were created around the same time ours was. Why? We hustle. We’re exhausted, but we hustle. And the money is starting to follow.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Entrepreneurial Expectation vs. Reality

You have this amazing idea, that’s going to change the world forever. Or you don’t have an idea yet, but you know you’re going to be an entrepreneur and make buckets of money. Funny how the mind plays trick, and lets ambition and hope take over to make it appear as though you’re destined for greatness. While this may be true – it’s not going to happen immediately. Expectation and Reality are very different things.

expectation vs reality, expectation

Expectation

You’re going to solve all the worlds problems with your new app or idea. And / or you’re going to be an instant billionaire. All of these thoughts will pass through your mind if you have the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to be going around these days. We’re all entrepreneurs in some way, shape or form. We’re all owners of Me Inc.

With any new venture you will always see the end of the road – whether it’s an awesome house, fancy cars or whatever you’re dream future may be. You rarely look around the corner, and she the other side – bankruptcy, lay-offs, creditors, etc… It’s always good to have the positive in mind, but you cannot forget about the bumpy road to get you there. Plus, if you have the blinders on and all you’re doing it for are things that can be purchased with money – stop doing what you’re doing. I know of countless people who make upwards of 400k a year. A rough estimate would put about 80% of those people living what they would call a miserable life.

Your mind has been altered to show you all of the positive entrepreneurial experiences. You think Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and so on, while forgetting about the long road it took them to get to where they were / are. Not to mention – not everyone receives the accolades or the successes of those two. For every Zuck – there are 1,000,000 middle class entrepreneur’s duking it out in the trenches.

It’s like when you meet THAT girl or guy, and you have all these dreams of love, and happiness, only to have reality kick you in the ass…HARD! This is one of my favourite scenes showcasing Expectation vs. Reality in the real world. It’s great to visualize success, but you must not forget about the Reality lurking around the corner.

Reality

The stats are floating around everywhere. Only 20% of new businesses will make it past year 2. One out of 10 startups will eventually turn into something. Every time your entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, please keep this in mind. It’s going to be an extremely tough road ahead, and there’s a good chance you won’t make it. However, you MUST try.

My wife and I had these HUGE ideas of how successful our online dress shop Ever Rose was / is going to be. It’s getting there, but not as quickly as her or I wanted. When we started – expectation took over. And we’ve been hit with a firm dose of reality time-and-time again. You learn from this, and carry on. We understand it’s a marathon, and success isn’t going to be given just because we built something. We appreciate all the little moments of success, like a positive review, a new order or getting the chance to make someone’s day.

We celebrate the small wins, knowing the BIG wins will come. We keep working at it every day. Yes, our social lives have taken a hit, and we’ve taken on some debt, but we’re trying. Trying to create jobs, and create what we feel is the right and honest way to go about business in the very crazy world of e-commerce. Win or Lose we’re trying.

You have to take the positive with the negative. You’re a fool to think you can get into a boxing ring with the expectation of not getting hit or hurt by your opponent. The lumps and bruises will come. It’s surviving these ups-and-downs that make you an entrepreneur. It’s getting up every morning, on little to no sleep to do what you want to do. Not what someone else expects you to do. It’s building, creating, and providing value to those around you.

Set your expectations high, but never forget that reality will always kick you in the ass.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft