It’s Time To Get Real

Remember the CEO from Seattle who decided everyone at his company was going to get paid $70,000? Well, he won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, and received global accolades. The story was just about everywhere. Unfortunately – it hasn’t worked out so well for him, but of course the negative story hasn’t appeared nearly as much as the positive one. To find out more – click here. Don’t get too jaded by all the success stories you see online. You never know how it is, until you’re in it.

This is where reality has to kick in. It’s extremely tough in the business world. Competition is everywhere, and if you’ve been following my blog for awhile you know I like to get real. And this entry is no different.

get real, it's time to get real

Let’s get real

The biggest challenge I’ve seen / heard from startups – aside from cash – is how to get more of it. I’m astounded at how many people think they can build something, and just let it sit there, and hope 1,000,000 people buy from them. That’s not how it works. Even though you might not know it – you probably have hundreds of competitors doing what you’re doing in the online space.

My wife and I’s business – Ever Rose – is no different. Although we’re playing to a smaller market – there’s still competition from all over the world. Having said that – I’ve recently seen / heard from a few businesses, who started up around the same time my wife and I did, about their struggles. These businesses are in the fashion category, they launched around the same time my wife and I’s online shop did, but they’ve only had 1 or 2 sales. Their sites look great, and professional, and they’re on all of the social media channels you can think of. Sounds like a slam dunk – unfortunately you can have a website, have social media accounts, pump your SEO, but no one will know you exist. If people don’t know you exist – you’ll never have sales no matter how fancy your site looks. And money is what all businesses need to survive.

The marketing

Here’s how my wife and I have achieved close to 40 sales in 4-months (it’s not a huge number, but it’s on a path to becoming profitable):

  • market our site using Facebook, Google AdWords and Bing Ads (typically $10 – $20 a day)
  • Post and share a product from our page once a day on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram
  • Work with influential bloggers (aka those with lots of activity on their accounts – not just followers, but actual people commenting and interacting) in the fashion sphere. We sometimes give bloggers a clothing item in lieu of a post on their account
  • Pay to be showcased on Instagram accounts (Instagram is HUGE for fashion or any other product in the ‘visual’ realm)
  • Promoted our email list on our website through a contest where we gave away free items (more than doubled the amount of people on our mailing list)
  • Give those on our email list exclusive deals on our products (we typically get one sale per e-blast)

We spend quite a bit of money on marketing, whether it be cash or in the form of clothing to bloggers. And guess what – it works. If you don’t have money set aside to market your product – you’re most likely going to die a quick death. Before you jump in to any business – you should have marketing dollars allocated or at least have a plan of how you’re going to get the word out.

The numbers

Typically – my wife and I spend about 10 – 15% of our sales budget (total revenue) on marketing. Depending on how much our product costs, we understand we’re going to have to dump more money into it, because we need to market it. So, if a dress costs us $20, we add a markup of 2.2 (20 x 2.2), and then ensure we have at least 10% more to spend on marketing. It looks small to begin with, but when you’re spending $20,000 on product and you’re expecting to generate at least $30,000 in revenue (sales budget), then your marketing budget should be at least $3000 (10% of 30,000).

Don’t expect to make a profit right away. You won’t be sipping champagne for awhile – if ever. My wife and I have accumulated some debt due to the purchase of the resale product we carry. However, our assets drastically outweigh our debt, so we’re not too worried. We know if we ever need to get out – we can easily sell off our product, and pay back our debt. I’m not saying its easy, but it helps us rest easier at night. Besides, what’s business without debt?

If you’re burning through cash, not marketing your product, and have limited sales – you should probably stop what you’re doing, and adjust. Either you’re in the wrong line of work or you need some outside help. Don’t be afraid to ask. Feel free to connect with me, and we can discuss, and improve what you’re doing. Or continue to do what you’re doing. Your choice.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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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