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

You’re just a Sheep, and that’s okay

You, and I aren’t much different than sheep when it comes to our nature in business and marketing. You tend to follow the path of what others are doing. You do this because it’s safe, and it’s tested. You’re risk adverse, and you’d rather fail doing what everyone else is doing than be the black sheep and fail at something no one is doing. You may not think this is true, but it is. Even if your larger than life ego tells you you’re different. I’m here to say you’re not, and the proof is out there.

sheep, pasture, sheep in pasture

Digital Media

This is the pen where all the sheep are. 10 years ago this was an unkempt grassland just looking to be harvested. Pretty much every player – big and small – has an online presence or will have an online presence very soon. It’s still seen as the ‘shiny’ new thing, and uneducated business owners are dumping thousands of dollars a month into online / social / retargeting / remarketing / SEO / SEM and the list goes on. Why? Because everyone is doing it, and you don’t want to be the black sheep – do you?

Here’s the deal – I’m a firm believer in digital and what it can offer, but let’s pull back the curtain and be self-aware of what’s going on. Your business is currently one of the millions online. You’re just another sheep, so let’s take a look at other, greener pastures shall we.

Direct Mail

This is making a resurgence in the marketing world. Why? Because no one else is doing it. Everyone is obsessed with the shiny objects, and most forgot about what came before the newest, shiniest thing. Maybe your market is different, but I remember getting loaded with direct mail marketing pieces on what seemed to be a daily basis. Now, I usually get a few direct mail pieces at the beginning of the month and that is it. This could be a market for you to exploit. Why be one of millions when you can be the ONLY business in your category mailing direct to your potential customer.

Legacy Mediums

Just like sheep move from pasture to pasture only to come back to where they started and do it all over again. Your business can take advantage of where the sheep used to be, and where they’re headed. Knowing the legacy mediums like print, TV, radio, and direct mail is where businesses used to be throwing their money and now have cut back. This leaves you the opportunity to attack. If you’re going to dabble in one of these mediums – ask your sales rep how many competing businesses in your category are currently advertising. If the number is low – that’s a good sign for you to get an extremely high share of the marketing voice.

Legacy mediums aren’t dying – the fat is merely being trimmed. The strong will survive – the weak will not. I’ve started publishing hyper-targeted monthly magazines that are directly mailed to some of the most affluent people in the country. And we’re one of the fastest growing privately held media companies in North America with close to 3.5 million readers every month. With zero magazines going out of print over the past 7-years. Print isn’t dying. The content has changed a bit, but the medium itself has not.

Go where people used to be or are going to be

One way to gain a considerable advantage in getting your businesses marketing message out is to realize where your competition used to be, and see where it could be headed. It’s impossible to be an early adopter of everything, but at least try and be aware of it. If no one in your category has experimented with e-commerce – take some time and figure out how it works. It could be a HUGE goldmine for you in the future. Or look at other categories of business. What are hotels doing to stay ahead of the curve? You may be in the car business, but you might be able to see how other companies are operating and try and be the first in your category to tap into an untapped market.

New Opportunities

Social platforms are starting to get heavily involved in the e-commerce business. Facebook and Pinterest are both working on, and have launched (in small scale) the ability to buy a product on their platform. No clicking a link and going to a website – you can conduct business directly on the social network. With my wife and I’s online store (EverRose.com) we have the ability to promote our products on our social pages, and with the click of a button you – the customer – can purchase. Unfortunately, these features haven’t been rolled out in Canada yet, but when they are – we’re already optimized and ready to go. We see this as a future opportunity, and we’ll be one of the first to pounce when it’s launched. Total time investment – 5 minutes. Not much when opportunity knocks.

Follow the Sheep

It’s okay to follow, just be aware of WHY you’re doing it, and don’t forget to ask yourself – where did business used to market? Where people have been and where they are going are enormous opportunities for your business to gain market share and invest marketing dollars. Just like sheep go round-and-round looking for the best pasture only to come back to where they started – business is similar. What’s old is new, and what’s new is old. Just be aware of where your market is currently at, and you can gain a distinct advantage on the competition.

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

The War with your Inner Self

Taking a slight detour today, as I wanted to share with you something very close to me. It’s a piece that is with me every day, and I go back to it time-and-time again. It’s a swift kick in the ass when you need it, and a guiding path if you feel lost. Some of you may already have it, and that’s great. If you don’t here’s an excerpt:

The Unlived Life

Most of us have lived two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

One night I was layin’ down,
I heard Papa talkin’ to Mama.
I heard Papa say, to let that boy boogie-woogie.
‘Cause it’s in him and it’s got to come out.
John Lee Hooker, “Boogie Chillen”

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.

Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: We don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission.

Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence? How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first-step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.

You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

war of art cover

The above is an excerpt from Steven Pressfield’s The War of ArtIt’s with me every day. It may help you out, it may not, so give it a look for yourself. It could be just the thing you need.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Keeping it Real – as cliche as can be

I’ve been on quite the authenticity trip lately, and here’s why – it’s imperative to your brand. Whether it be a personal brand or professional brand, people will see through your BS.

My wife, and I started Ever Rose with the mindset of being as transparent as possible. The same holds true for my ‘Guy with the Bow Tie’ brand, and the community magazines I publish. Be authentic, and you’ll start to see amazing results.

Breaking down your brand

How real are you? I want you to stop and ask yourself this. When you wake up in the morning are you excited about doing what you’re doing? Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, and I’m not going to preach about ‘doing what you love’ and all that. I want you to get real, because if you aren’t real you’re robbing this world of your natural talents. And if you aren’t being real when you step into work whether it’s your business or not you’re only hurting your bottom line.

With Ever Rose – we’re proud to be 100% Canadian owned & operated. We even go so far as to run on a Canadian web platform (Shopify is based out of Toronto) as well as use Canada Post exclusively as our shipping partner. We’re also committed to working with as many Canadian clothing partners as possible (although this has been quite the challenge as not too many Canadian clothing companies have clothing MADE in Canada). We may even get to the point where we design, and manufacture our own line in Canada.

Anyway, this comes to mind as I’m working with an inspiring entrepreneur who’s going to be launching an online platform shortly where you can use Bitcoin to book hotels online. You can check out a tiny glimpse here: BookwithBit

He lives in the Southern US, and is originally from India. He runs a couple hotels, and as such he started getting fed up with OTA sites (Expedia, Trivago, Travelocity, etc…) eating into his margins, and taking away from his LOCAL business, and the LOCAL economy. So, he does what any entrepreneur or savvy business owner would do – he’s fighting back. He’s so passionate about creating a fair, online portal for hotel seekers that he decided to build his own platform, and it’s going to be launching soon. His company is a reflection of his personal beliefs, and feelings. He’s REAL.

Your Personal Brand

Jordan with wife

A little photo with my wife

Whether you like it or not, you’re being judged everyday. People are Googling you and colleagues interact with you at work as they try to figure you out. On this note – have you Googled yourself lately? What comes up? Anything?

If who you are in the office, doesn’t reflect who you are outside of it, people are going to find out, and call you out on your BS. That’s just the world we live in. So, instead of trying to have ‘work’ self, and ‘home’ self. Try being you. When I made the change from the corporate world to the life of being self-employed, I was going back to my original self. The guy who I am at home, and on weekends. The guy who I knew I wanted to be when I was growing up. I dropped the act, stopped caring about what others thought, and started being REAL. It’s not easy – it took me 10-years to figure out who I REALLY was, but it all started with my gut. How I felt in the morning was a HUGE indicator of who I was and what I wanted to do. I went from wanting to hit the snooze button repeatedly to bouncing out of bed, and ready for the day ahead. I no longer had visions of me quitting my job while I brushed my teeth in the morning. I’m doing what I want, and what I’m supposed to be doing…at this point in my life anyway.

Anything is possible, if you believe, and follow your gut instinct. Start being REAL and the rest will come.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. If you’re wondering about the bow tie – it’s REAL. I’ve been wearing one off-and-on since I was 4-years-old. However, most of you probably haven’t seen it until recently because I probably wasn’t being REAL around you. I was being my fake, less fulfilled self.

3 Things My Mom Taught Me

If you’re reading this, and you have the opportunity to speak to or see your Mom today – you should give her a call.

Over the many, many years, I’ve learned plenty from my Mom, and the women in my life. Here are three things I’ve learned that I use in my everyday life, but also translates into the business world.

#1 – Never give up until you feel you’ve done your best

Since I was out of the womb this is how my Mom lived her life, and still does. If she’s going to do something – it’s going to be full on, and she’s going to give it her best effort. Even if she fails, she knows she gave it everything. We win some, we lose some, but the one thing we can control is our effort.

Many entrepreneurs I’ve run into either give up too soon or keep pressing when everyone around them, including themselves, know it’s a failed venture. If you’ve done your best, and you know you’ve given it everything – it’s okay to throw in the towel. Hard work, and effort do not guarantee success. You can’t be successful without those traits, but just because you’re giving your all, and your best effort you need to know when to quit.

#2 – Ask for help when you need it

My Mom raised me on her own until I was close to 5 years-old. Although that’s not 100% true. In order to work a couple jobs she had to pawn me off to family members every now, and then in order to save on babysitting costs. She wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Granted she didn’t have many options – she still had no issues with the fact that in order to save money, and provide for me in other ways – she had to let my aunts, uncles, and grandparents watch over me.

Pride, and ego is something every entrepreneur HAS to have. You are, in a way, your business. It’s a reflection of you, and in order to make things happen you need to have pride in what you do, and a bit of an ego. At the same time – you need to be able to check that pride, and ego when something comes up that you don’t know. You struggle with finances, and balancing the books – ask another entrepreneur or business owner how they handle things. They’d be happy to help. My wife, and I’s biggest challenge has been with accounting, so we readily asked for help, and continue to ask for help from trusted sources. This allows us to focus on the items we’re strong at. We don’t know everything, and neither do you. No one will look down on you when you ask for help. It’s in our human nature to help others whether it’s a Mom in need of help watching her child or an entrepreneur who’s math skills suck.

#3 – Don’t give a shit about what other people say – you know what’s best

Being a single mom is no easy task – I’m sure I don’t have to tell all the single mother’s that. Plus, you will be bombarded with advice, some good, some not so good, and you’ll often get weird looks from other parents when you’re trying to change your kids diaper on the park bench because you don’t have the time or energy to take the kid to the washroom. My Mom has an extremely thick skin, and she doesn’t tolerate any BS. She didn’t have the time when I was growing up to give a shit about what other people thought or said. She went on her motherly instincts, and I like to think I turned out okay.

No one knows you like you know you. You have a gut feeling about certain things. Don’t be tainted by other’s around you. Sometimes your gut feeling is right, sometimes it’s wrong, but go with what you feel. That doesn’t give you permission to be an asshole, but trust YOURself especially when it comes to YOUR business.

Love you Mom,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Mom and Son

Me sans bow tie and Mom c.2005

You’ve launched an online business – How do you get your first sale?

The advantage of a bricks-and-mortar location is foot traffic. That’s why you pay a premium for real estate. In the online world – web traffic is difficult to come by. And don’t bother going down the rabbit hole of trying to trick Google or search sites into sending traffic your way. It just won’t work when you’re starting out. ‘Build it, and they will come’ just doesn’t work online, and it rarely works in bricks-and-mortar locations unless you’re in a small town.

If you’re launching online, and you don’t have a following already. That’s a problem. You need to go back to the start, and focus on what I wrote about here. It’s so important to research, and test your assumptions BEFORE you launch. My wife, and I went straight to our family and friends when it came to the research. We sent numerous surveys (using Survey Monkey) to friends and family to gauge interest, and price points for certain objects we were interested in carrying for our online dress shop (Ever Rose). It also helped having this blog, but YOU don’t need a blog to get feedback from friends and family.

The First Sale

Ramit Sethi always preaches getting your first sale as it’s the most challenging one to get. If you don’t know Ramit – check him out here. I’ve learned a ton from him.

Then after you get your first sale you can optimize that, and scale. Your first sale will most likely come from a friend or family member, and that’s okay. It’s what you do after that first sale that counts. Yes, my wife and I posted on our social media pages, and our first fan liked, retweeted, etc…That’s another bonus by having a friend or family member purchase your first item, they’re more willing to share with their friends through their social channels. This is how you can build organically.

On top of that, you should reward your first few customers with incentives to review your products, and share your online store to their friends (stay tuned Kate – you’ll be receiving a gift from us soon!). Kate was our first fan, and she will be rewarded with not only a dress that’s going to look amazing on her, but also with future incentives.

Ever Rose Order Payment, Shopify

First sale!

Building organically

This is how you create a following without spending too much on marketing, and customer acquisition costs out of the gate. You also can figure out your processes to see if they’re working as effectively as you thought. Then you start turning the crank encouraging your first few customers to come back (through incentives / customer service), and share with their friends. All this from simply involving friends, and family in the process from the beginning. Then you can start hammering out the marketing. More on that to come.

Things to watch for

It took less than 12-hours for my wife and I to get our first sale. It may be different for you, and that’s okay, but if you build a strong following through family and friends from the beginning you will see a quicker return. And that’s why I write this. I want to give you some insight into launching your own store as it’s very humbling, and time consuming up front. At the same time – when you make that first sale – it’s exhilarating. It’s also frightening because then you’re like, “Now what?” You actually have to fulfill this order, and sometimes things pop up that are unexpected.

With any online store shipping is a HUGE expense. My wife and I didn’t realize how much of an expense until we got our first order. Having said that, you have to understand there is always going to be costs associated with business whether you like it or not. You have to spend money to make it, and we now have a firm grasp on what our shipping entails, and we will continue to tweak it as much as possible to ensure we’re not adding costs to our fans. We’re trying to make it as affordable as possible. There are some brands who have beautiful packaging, and boxes, and displays when they ship. And that’s okay. You can do that too, but you have to realize someone has to pay for these costs, and usually it’s the consumer. My wife and I are trying to be as affordable as possible while maintaining a solid service, and experience aka we’re trying to limit the costs we pass on to the customer.

At the end of the day – it’s all about your customers (aka fans), and whatever you can do FOR them. You aren’t going to be making thousands of dollars within your first week of launching your business, but if you make a solid plan from the start, and get friends and family involved – you can jump over the largest barrier to your success…and that’s getting your first sale.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. I mentioned Kate above as she is a former colleague of mine who reads this blog often. She was involved in the process early, and it just so happens she was our first fan. Thank you Kate!!!!

Pps. Case and point – the process works.