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

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4 Tools Essential To Your Online Business

When starting out you can be swarmed with the endless possibilities of starting, promoting, and ensuring the longevity of your online business. The mass amounts of information at your fingertips is astounding, and you can end up drowning in that info. Here are some of the tools essential to your online business. These tools can also be translated into brick & mortar locations as well. The bonus with online is you don’t have to get into a 5-year lease on a physical location at $20 – $40 (or more) per square foot. You can invest that money elsewhere – like marketing your biz seeing as you won’t have any foot traffic.

apps, iphone, iphone apps

Shopify

Any e-commerce tool like Shopify or Bigcommerce is absolutely essential if you don’t want to develop, and pay big $$$ for your own website. Simplified templates, amazing apps, fantastic support, and a low monthly rate give you the opportunity to test, and develop your offering without diving head first, and pumping tens-of-thousands of dollars into something you’re not 100% certain will work.

I prefer Shopify as it’s Canadian although you still have to pay in USD for their services. Do your homework on the other e-commerce platforms out there, but Shopify or Bigcommerce are great places to start. There are free options, but even the paid options are affordable. I pay $30 a month.

Wave Apps

Another Canadian app essential to your online business – or any startup for that matter. Wave is your online portal to accounting. You can send invoices, pay bills, track payments and do day-to-day bookkeeping. Come tax season – Wave is your friend. Instead of using a bookkeeper Wave will produce all the essential reports you need to file your taxes, on top of being able to keep your finger on the pulse of your business. Plus, they offer professional bookkeepers to help you out when you’re in need.

You’ll still need an outstanding accountant who can help you out with the bigger picture stuff like tax breaks, filing, etc…, but Wave is a free tool you can use when starting out (some options like invoicing and paying bills require an affordable monthly fee).

Social / Search

While I dislike having to pay Silicon Valley for my marketing / advertising dollars they are an essential piece to your complex online puzzle. Unless you have an amazing product / service that people already know about, and a following of devoted followers – you’re going to have to invest some $$$ into social / search. If you’re a product based business – you should dabble in Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use these tools, just start and you’ll figure it out as you go. Here’s a quick starting point. If you’re more service based – think consulting – use Twitter and possibly Instagram and YouTube. Video is a HUGE differentiator in the market right now. If you can provide weekly or even daily videos about your product / service – you’re going to excel. Cost per day is anywhere from $5 per day to $20 per day.

As for search – you have to fight the Google and Microsoft battle. My biggest thing is to own your name. Using Google Adwords and Bing Ads ensure you’re the top ad that shows up when someone searches for your name. For example – when you search Ever Rose on any platform – my wife and I’s online dress shop is the first thing you’ll see. Cost is $5 per day on both Google and Bing.

From there – you can start pulling back your dollars and invest it more in the people who have visited your page or have purchased from you. You can do this through your weekly e-marketing campaign from Mail Chimp or Klaviyo (a cool Shopify app). Don’t inundate your fans with e-blasts. A weekly update will do with new products / services. Even a special deal exclusive to them is always something to keep in mind.

Spreadsheets

It’s a bit old school, but having a few trustworthy spreadsheets will help you in being able to breakdown a few key items. One of my favourites is the profit workbook. When starting out it’s essential to know you’re making a healthy profit, so you can invest back into the business to help it grow. I have a sheet that calculates to the percentage point – how much Ever Rose is profiting from the sale of our goods.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into any of the tools above – a quick online search will help you out or connect with me by leaving a comment below or finding me on Twitter.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

You Say You Do But You Don’t

It’s one of the most frustrating things to come across, and you’re guilty of it too. You say you will, but in reality you don’t ACT on what you say you will act on. How many times have you heard your friend or even yourself say, “I should really work out, but I’ll do that tomorrow.” Then tomorrow comes and you’re on the couch binge watching Netflix.

This is ingrained in our psyches, and it develops through time. This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when you’re selling a product or service. And we’re all in sales in one way or another. Whether you’re selling yourself in a job interview or selling a physical product. The customer / client / interviewer will say something when they really won’t follow through. People are guarded, and they build up walls.

I dont trust words I trust actions, actions speak louder than wordss

 

A couple real life examples

1) In my wife and I’s online dress shop (EverRose.com) we carry a few Fair Trade products (on top of trying to carry as many conflict free items as possible) from India where women are paid a living wage to design, and produce amazing looking dresses. We decided to carry this particular line of dresses because in our research we found this was a particular issue with our fans. They wanted Fair Trade dresses, at least that’s what they said. In fact, not a single one has been purchased. Maybe the design isn’t appealing or maybe the price is too high (they usually run $5-10 more). Whatever it is, there’s also a bit of psychology at play. Sometimes you just aren’t who you THINK you are.

2) I publish a couple small community magazines, and one of my tasks is to encourage companies to advertise and connect with this niche market. Rejection comes along quite a bit, and the most often thing I hear is, “Send me something.” I continue to ask for the specifics on what they’d like to see. I then send them what they requested, and guess what – 90% won’t even take a look at it. How do I know? I follow up. Maybe my pitch is off or maybe there’s not enough time in the world, but when you say to send you something, you better take a look at it. Again, there’s a bunch of psychology at play here.

You say these things because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or you don’t have a good enough excuse at the time to turn someone down. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy dealing with US business men and women. Business is more black & white, and decisions are made quickly. In Canada – especially in the smaller communities – emotion plays too much in business decisions involving money changing hands. What can I say – us Canadians are too nice, almost to a fault.

Instead of the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings – you’d rather stretch out a decision, waste a bunch of time, and not even take the 2-minutes to look at something from someone who’s trying to help grow your business. Once you’re aware of this – stop doing it. I answer every sales persons email, and phone call whether I’m interested or not. I value other people who are just trying to make a buck, and the last thing I want to do is waste their or my time. On top of that – I may find something I didn’t know about that could be extremely useful to my business.

Actions speak louder than words

In business – while research is a great tool – you also have to be ready to move with what your customers / clients are actually doing. In the dress world – my wife and I have found our best sellers are more form fitting dresses opposed to A-line dresses. Therefore, we’re stocking more form fitting dresses, and getting more sales.

In the consulting world – I’ve moved away from big business, and I’ve started working more with entrepreneurs where English is their second language. In doing what I do – I’ve found this to be the best market for me at this time, and it’s where I can provide the most value.

However, you’ll never know these things unless you act. You can spend thousands on research, and surveys, but you’ll never REALLY know what’s going on unless you do. You have to remember people will not act the way they say the will. They will act the way they act. Saying and doing are completely different things.

Love you (and I’m not just saying that),

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Why It’s Okay To Have A Bad Day

You know how it feels when nothing seems to go right. You feel it in your gut, and it’s just one thing on top of another. It feels like the world is against you, and nothing can change. You’re having a bad day – and here’s why it’s okay.

bad day, sign, bad day sign, Guy with Bow Tie

1) It’s nothing personal

The world works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. It’s a roller coaster, and you’re along for the ride. You can choose which roller coaster to get on to and which one to get off of, but you can’t control other people’s moods, relationships, choices, etc… They’re along for the ride, as you are.

You can’t let it get the best of you. You can be aware of the poor day you’re having, and stop. I usually like going for a walk. You can shut your door and work on admin tasks instead of having to interact with other people. You’re bad day won’t last forever, and tomorrow is an opportunity to start over again.

2) Bad days aren’t a bad thing

As long as you’re aware that this particular day has gone awry – you can act and change your direction, and attitude. I was a firm believer of the concept – NO BAD DAYS – however this is unattainable. When doctors or firefighters have a ‘bad day’ people die. Good thing ‘bad days’ are few and far between. When you have a ‘bad day’ your business might fail or a strong employee might quit. It happens.

Bad days can be tackled by flipping your psychology. Be aware. Don’t let emotions get the better of you. Be in control of your attitude. If you need to cry, if you need to let out your anger – do it. Close the office door, go for a walk, hit a punching bag. Control it and own it, but don’t let it own you for days on end. Tomorrow is a great day to start over. Look at it this way – using the roller coaster analogy – you must go down before you can go up. Know with the bad days there will be a much larger portion of good days. In essence – a bad day means you’re that much closer to having an awesome day.

3) Opportunity

View your bad day as an opportunity to start over. Understand why you’re feeling this way, and think of ways to prevent this feeling in the future. This is why I like going for walks. Almost within a couple hours or so of my day getting started I get a feeling on whether or not it’s going to be a good or bad day.

A colleague of mine would lock himself in his room, turn off his phone, and start over. He would run over why he does what he does, he would read positive reviews of his services, he would go over his scripts, and presentation time-and-time again. This day might have been a poor day for him, but he’s going to ensure tomorrow is a great day.

He viewed it as an opportunity to get better. You can do the same.

4) Roll with the Good Days

Just as you’re self-aware of whether or not it’s going to be a good day or bad day – ensure you roll with the good. Momentum is one heck of a thing. Just as a bad day can ruin you for days or even lead to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and the list of vices goes on. A good day can lead to endless positive momentum. Yes, there’s going to be a bad day thrown in there, but you need to be aware of when to ride the good wave.

You can visualize your day and how it’s going to go positively. You can do this as soon as you wake up. Grab a glass of water, and sit and think. Don’t check your phone just sit and engage in thought. Think of how good this day is going to be, and visualize what’s going to happen. This can be a powerful process.

Just as you can get lost in the bad, you can also get lost in the good. When you’re feeling good, and you know it’s going to be a good day…roll with it. Make the calls you’ve been afraid to make, reach out to those who you haven’t spoken with in awhile and you’ve been meaning to reach out. Do the challenging things you’ve been putting off, and you might find they work out well for you.

You don’t own the roller coaster of the ups-and-downs; good and bad. You’re strapped in and you must be aware of this. Ensure you accept the bad days, and roll with the good. You’ll be amazed at how many good days there are…and how few bad days.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Lessons From My Father

I’ve never met my biological father. He left my Mom before I was born, and has since started his own family. The man who I call Dad took me in as his own when I was 5. I have so much respect for someone who can love and care for someone who isn’t his own blood. He’s the man I’m proud to call my Father this Father’s Day. Here’s what he taught me, and what you can learn from it when it comes to life and business.

Dad at my wedding

Patience

It took my Dad many years to find my Mom, but when he did, that was it. He was patient knowing the right one was going to come along whether or not she had a child. He also understood it was going to take some time to really love the child that wasn’t truly his. His patience paid off on both counts. I like to think I turned out okay, and my Mom and Dad went on to have my brother, who I’m so proud to call my brother.

My Dad also owns a small business. It was an upholstery business out of his garage – as he needed to work a regular 9-5 to pay the bills while he toiled on evenings and weekends in the garage doing what he was meant to do. His first customers were family and friends who referred others to him. It took him 10-years to move from the garage to an actual store front. He understood success, and income wasn’t going to come for some time, and his patience paid off.

During this time he taught me so much about life, and business. I didn’t know it yet, but during this period of seeing my Dad’s success, and failures in business – he ignited my inner entrepreneur. I owe my life, and my business life to him. Although now they’re one in the same. My life is my business. And my business is my life.

Do you expect success to come right away? Do you understand it may take some time to bear the fruits of your labour?

Seeds do not become edible crops overnight. It takes month’s of love. How much love, and patience are you devoting to your business? To your life?

Care

Labour of love is a cliché for a reason. It takes time and dedication to put in an effort without immediate gratification. I’ve been writing this blog for over 2-years now. It took me 6-months to get a paying client. My intention when I first started was never to make money, it was to provide value to those who are in the same situation I’m in. Turns out – they’re many entrepreneurs or soon-to-be business owners that connected with what I wrote, and continue to write about.

My Dad devoted his life to his business, and his family. When his business suffered, so did the family, and when the time came – he chose his family over his business. He shut his doors, and went back to working a 9-5 while dabbling in his own business on evenings, and weekends. His families well being took precedence over his business. His love for his family was stronger than that of his business. It’s an interesting cross roads you’ll be faced with. What’s more important? Are you able to intertwine business and family? I don’t have answers to these, but you’ll know what to do when the time comes.

Being self-aware

This is HUGE in today’s environment. The lines are blurred between who we really are, and who we present ourselves to be through social channels. In the age of selfies, and posting pictures ad nauseam to networks who then sell our personal information – do you become less aware of who you are?

My Dad has no apologies on who he is, or what he believes. He’s as far right-wing as you can be. To the point where it makes most people uncomfortable. I don’t mind it because he’s been that way for as long as I’ve know him. I may not agree with him, but I appreciate that he’s willing to be himself. He’s extremely intelligent, but will never put anyone down for being lower on the totem pole than he is. He has a bit of an ego, but he’s always willing to check his ego to do what’s best for his family. He understands how he is viewed by other people. Do you? Do you pretend to be someone else at your 9-5 only to change when you come home? Is your business self different than your home self? If so, which ‘self’ are you lying to?

Call up your Dad – tell him you love him, and take time to reflect on what he’s taught you – good and bad.

Happy Father’s Day,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Putting money where your mouth is

For the past two years I’ve been passing along unsolicited advice…at least what I considered to be advice. I’ve spent close to a million dollars in the marketing realm from Yellow Pages (yes, they still exist) to Facebook ads. Although 99% of this wasn’t money of my own. Through this I’ve learned the ins-and-outs of how each medium of advertising worked.

Now, I have skin in the game. I’ve followed the advice I’ve been dishing out over the years, and am starting to turn the marketing crank on a couple of my businesses. Maybe the below can help out your business. Here’s a look behind-the-scenes:

Facebook

I hate giving my money to Silicon Valley as I’d prefer to keep it local, but there’s no doubt they have built a successful platform, especially when it comes to marketing your goods / services. There are flaws like not being sure if clicks are actually clicks when it comes to your ads, but you can never really know who’s receiving your message and who isn’t when advertising with any medium.

Typically you can expect to see a 0.2 to 0.3% click-through-rate on your FB ads. My wife and I’s Ever Rose campaigns generate a 2.5 to 4% CTR. Impressions are great especially when starting out because the more people who can see the message the better. At the same time you want to craft a message, that resonates with your potential customers. Here’s how we do it:

Ever Rose Modcloth Directed Ad

The above was targeted to women in certain cities across Canada who had an interest in companies like Modcloth (a US competitor of Ever Rose). We pushed the message out to that audience with a very pointed opening line. We know that our potential fans who are interested in online shopping, especially with a US based company have the pain points addressed in the first line. They don’t like paying duties, high shipping costs or having to deal with a pesky exchange rate.

What are the pain points of your customers or potential customers? If you don’t know – you better find out. Ask questions of your existing fans to see why they spend with you opposed to someone else.

Find what you can own, and hammer away your message. In the case above there was no special tactic. We crafted a message that spoke to the audience we knew we could own (we don’t have a HUGE marketing budget), and we targeted the fans of our competition while knowing the pain points of our potential customers.

Fashion Bloggers

Another way we’ve started to roll out the brand is hooking up with influencers on social media, and the blog-o-sphere. Seeing as we’re a fashion brand – it’s pretty easy to find influences. A simple search on Google or #fashionblogger on Instagram and a bunch come up. From there you can see how many followers, shares, etc… these influencers are generating.

We then reached out to these influences, introduced our brand, and asked to be showcased through their social channels. We have to give up some of our product, but it’s totally worth it to get added exposure.

Another avenue we’ve ventured into is hooking up with like-minded e-commerce businesses. For example – there’s a jewellery shop in Toronto that has some amazing products. We could pair many of these items with our dresses. A simple cross-promotion can go along way.

Who can you reach out to that has a strong following on social media or through their blog? Maybe there’s a blog you read. Try reaching out to him / her, and see if they’d be interested in showcasing your brand in exchange of your product / service. Or extend a hand to a similar business that can compliment your product.

Mass Media

There’s no better way to reach a HUGE number of people with your message than mass media (typically radio, print, TV). At the moment – it’s the most cost-effective way to reach the masses – as long as you believe in their method of surveying their audience. Like I mentioned above – there’s no real way to know how many people are receiving your message.

If you have the budget, and you want to put a strangle hold on your market this is the way to go. At this point and time – my businesses wouldn’t benefit from the added exposure of mass media because there’s not enough inventory or resources to fulfil orders / services.

The key with mass media – as it is with any media – is the message. I can’t stress this enough. How do you craft your message? Check out this post from last year.

SEO & SEM

If you have a decent web developer you shouldn’t have to pump a bunch of money into SEO. I know some companies who charge thousands a month to get you on the first page of Google. What a crock. Find a web developer, who has a clue about how to play the SEO game or reach out to John at Summit Protocol. He’ll shoot you straight. And tell him ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ sent you.

As for Search Engine Marketing – again find what you can own. My biggest thing is to own my name, or the name of my business. I do this through tagging everything on my site with my name or with the brand name of my website (EverRose.com). You might have to dish out some dough to own your name when it comes to search platforms, but it’s worth it. When you Google me – a bunch of articles / social channels will come up. When you Google Ever Rose – we’ll be the first thing you see. OWN YOUR NAME.

If you have any questions or would like a more in-depth explanation on what I covered above – reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn or comment below.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

The Unglamorous Entrepreneur

Money, fast cars, yachts, extreme vacations and all the other things you see in the headlines from 20-something entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, those entrepreneurs are like 1 in a million. For you, and I it’s a grind everyday.

You may hold down a 9-5, while dabbling in a business venture you’ve always wanted to launch on evenings and weekends while trying to provide enough family time, so your other half doesn’t run you out of the house. On that note, you may feel like you have to keep the 9-5 going because you want to keep your existing comforts like the house you live in, the car you drive or the ability to go out to your favourite restaurant. Congrats – you’re the Unglamorous Entrepreneur.

Guy With Bow Tie and Mag

My 9 to 5.

Social media and self-worth

Why is it that your friends and family only share updates about the ‘good’ things that happen in their life? Why does it seem like they’re always on vacation? Do these people actually work?

Social media provides a filter for your life. You can pick and choose what you want to showcase, and what you don’t. You don’t showcase the $2500 vet bill after your cat got ill. You don’t hashtag the dinner you burnt or the suffocating cubicle at your 9-5.

However, you’re proud to show off the caribbean vacation you dropped 3k on, the $200 cat tree you just purchased for your furry friend or the new shoes you bought for work in hopes someone will compliment you. Why do you do this? Maybe it’s validation, maybe it makes you feel good or maybe you don’t even know that you’re doing it. Whatever it is…we all do it. We’re always more willing to shine the spotlight on the good opposed to the bad at least when it comes to what we put out into the world.

Therefore – you may be envious of so and so who just got back from their second trip in as many months to Europe. Don’t be. You don’t know what’s going on behind-the-scenes. And what goes on behind-the-scenes isn’t as pretty as you think.

Day in the Life

Here’s a clip of an entrepreneur I follow. You may know him – Gary Vaynerchuk
Not a lot of celebrity or glamour there. Just believing in what you do, and the unrelenting desire to be successful.

Stop trying to go from an idea to a billionaire. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the work, and the process. Maybe you’ll end up where you want to be or maybe you won’t, but along the way you may fall into something that you never thought of. Hell, I own an online dress shop…A DRESS SHOP… that did 1k in sales in 3-weeks with a little to no push. Never have I ever thought I would have a women’s fashion store under my belt, but I do, and I love it.

You can see the end result at www.EverRose.com, and shortly you’ll get to see more on what happens behind-the-scenes. It isn’t glamours – it isn’t sexy – it’s real and that’s all you can be.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft