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

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