Thursday, April 10, 2008

Business is Business (Not Personal) Duh!

Over the past week my business has finally become its own self. No longer is it J.J.A. doing business as Spruce It Up Home Services, its now ALIVE! ALIVE!

What exactly does that mean?

It means my people are running things. They are insisting on each person doing their part and me doing my part (build the biz, or as one guy says, being the front man).

It also means I do not think in personal terms anymore. No more, "Can you do me a favor? Can you give me a deal? Can you wait another week for payment?"

"'I' can't do anything for you. Are you asking the business to extend you credit or reduce its rates or change what brought it to life?" Nope. The business will not survive with those practices.

I've stopped work on my largest client's personal properties....not because of person conflict but purely from a business standpoint.

Since the business has be SHOCKED (and I mean literally shocked!) to life, and I have dumped the crap, it is off and running with twice as many contracts and the potential for 5 times more money than previous contracts. The business has the support team to do anything and they are raring to go show this city what they can do.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Books I Can't Do Without!

I will update this on a regular basis. These are not books I promote just to make a couple bucks but things I read over and over to gain an understanding of business and success.

Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude

I literally read this book everyday. It is the ULTIMATE BUSINESS ATTITUDE BOOK. Napoleon Hill is a timeless business writer.

Think and Grow Rich

The original GET RICH book. I cannot say enough about this 71 year old book. Mr. Hill interviews so many millionaires and told us about it that I don't know how everyone is not RICH!

Monopoly Rules: How to Find, Capture, and Control the Most Lucrative Markets in Any Business

If you want to know how to KILL YOUR COMPETITION, check this book out. A Monopoly is not always a bad thing, just a guaranteed profitable practice.

Copy This!: How We Built Kinko's from a 10' X 10' Copy Stand into a Two Billion Dollar Business

You have to search for it, but the jems that make business billions are there.

The E Myth Revisited

Build a business system and make your millions -- just like McDonalds or Sarah with her pie shop.

Rich Dad Poor Dad

This is the book that got me to quit my high paying job and start to focus on wealth. Be warned that if you read it and are an employee, you may quit the next day.

Want to know how to build a multimillion dollar online business? It's just how you would build any business. This book taught me about addressing pain and marketing to only the people with the pain.

Again, Cure People's Pain and Be Rich!

I finally found a doctor after 12 months of waiting in my new/old city. As I was sitting in the waiting room I began to think, HERE IS THE PERFECT BUSINESS!

There was about 20 people waiting, each with a specific pain the Doctor would presumably take away. I waited about 45 minutes in the first room, peed in a cup and waited another 45 minutes in another room (pretty short wait time actually). By the time the nurse took my weight, asked me 50 questions and the 15 minutes I actually saw the doctor, it was a 2 1/2 hours later. This was to tell me I had to go have tests (another wait) and come see him in 1 week for the results (and wait 2 1/2 more hours).

Talk about a business that solves people's pain.

Where else can you get people to sit and wait to see you for 2 1/2 hours?

Find that corollary in your business and you will be RICH! I mean, look at the typical Doctor bill. Can you charge that much to take away a customer's pain?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dog Marketing

I don't have a fenced yard and need to sit outside with my dog while she does her business. When I am patiently waiting, my mind typically goes to business. Today, I thought that my dog is the perfect example of a customer and how you have to market to them.

When she goes out she looks around, listens and sniffs the air. "Anything different than last time I came out?" If there is not, she goes on her way silently. However, if there is the least bit of difference out side, a ball out of place, a sound 1/2 mile away that is not normal, she tells me...loudly!

This is EXACTLY how a customer acts. They are oblivious to the normal climate or landscape. They pass the same billboard 50 times in a month without even thinking.

But when you make that change in their environment, wow! Their eyes pop right to it and they want to know what is different. Bark! Bark!

In that very small amount of time, you have the ability to grab their attention and shift it to your business.

So I thought, what if you have an ad that was always changing. Never the same. This will not work. Because the change will then become normal to your customer and they will not even look after the first few changes.

They say people have to see something about 3 times before the marketing works.

My idea of perfect marketing is changing something in EVERYONE'S environment, leave it there for a couple weeks, then do something totally different. For example, maybe one day you put large glowing signs all over a targetted neighborhood and the next time, send flyers that are printing on circular paper. Anything that is not only different from what you did last time but different from what everyone else is doing. That way you will get a double BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! then BUY!

Be the Good Cop AND Bad Cop...or go broke.

I have been having trouble collecting three very large accounts from clients that are related to each other. My friend has always played the bad cop in our business and I just go out and build the business. However, I have come to the conclusion, if I am not good cop AND bad cop at the same time, I am NEVER going to make the next two months. It pretty well comes to this...if someone owes you money...DON'T BE THE NICE GUY/GAL. If you get into this habit, your cashflow will crash and you'll be broke!

The expensive lessons I have learned are as follows:

1) Don't let unscrupulous people take advantage of the fact you are just beginning in business. They know you are offering a great service at a great price so make them pay like everyone else, or find someone else. It is better to go without a few customers than have them owing you a ton of money.

2) Get a deposit and contract up front. Do not start any work until the check clears. You can usually tell the ones that will end up not paying by the rush they are placing on you.

3) If someone doesn't pay, SUE THEM! Do it now! Don't wait as there are limitation on certain liens and so on.

Always keep in mind, you are doing good work for a good price and in order to keep doing that, don't always be NICE! Fire your bad clients immediately to make way for the millions that will come to you once that negative force is off your business.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Perfect Marketing

I saw this commercial recently and was blown away. It has so many levels to its brilliance. First, you would think Cadillac was targeting independent "sex in the city" type woman. Not so. They are targeting men that want these types of women and will go buy a Cadillac to get those women. Perfect marketing (target your known buyer with emotion).

Check out Modernista's other videos as well. GM dumped their Top Ad Guy for this place...and rightly so.

I will go into marketing through a large part of this blog and its importance to YOUR business.

Lessons After One Year in Business.

One year in business and here are the prevalent problems and lessons I’ve learned (the hard way!)


#1 Pain: Collecting money owed on time. Cashflow!

I have $6,500 owed that may end up putting me out of business (have to go to work to pay that money off!).

Solution: Ongoing problem but I will not take on work without deposit and iron clad service contract now. Have lawyer on stand-by for amounts owed. I tend to be a nice guy but have become disabused of anyone that owes me money – and make this clear to them!

#2 Pain: Hard to hire reliable people.

Solution: Get people to see the potential of this business and get them to work on spec (I get paid, you get paid (see problem #1) AND get a share of the pie). If someone isn’t willing to put their neck on the line like you, why work with them?

#3 Pain: Losing my FOCUS.

I took on work that was not very profitable just to pay immediate bills and recently found out I may have lost ½ my yearly income because I was distracted.

Solution: As “republican” as it sounds, I ask myself when doing ANYTHING, is this putting money into my pocket or taking it out. If putting it in, when? I then spend 80% of the day on that and 10% on stuff not making money but still necessary, and 10% on future endeavors that will put big bucks in pocket. I am a futurist and can spend 100% on future pipe-dream endeavors instead of focusing on the bottom line.


#1 Valuable Lesson: Marketing. Give people an aspirin to their worst headaches, not just solutions to their problems.

Explanation: What sells more? Vitamins or Viagra? Solve a person’s WORST PAIN, find a way to profit from it and you are guaranteed millions. Talk to people about their worst pains every day. I can literally start 20 businesses in a depressed economy just by listening to people’s most burning pains.

As an example, I recently talked to a guy that owns a chain of local pizza stores. He had a HUGE pain. The government was forcing him out of his most profitable locations in order to run a highway through them. I thought to myself, this is one guy that needs my rental agent services BAD. There are about 1000 businesses that will be going through the same pain right along this 3 mile stretch. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY all based off a 5 minute talk with the pizza guy!

#2 Valuable Lesson: Making money from the aspirin.

Explanation: When starting out, it’s good to give people a deal but remember you are taking their pain away and if they don’t want to pay a reasonable price, someone else with a worse headache will! It takes experience (maybe about 1 year) in order to gain the confidence and guts to say either NO to a potential customer or “I want more money”. I’ve turned down HUGE contracts because I knew I wouldn’t make any money and more importantly it would be taking time away from the contracts that would make me tons of money with very little effort.

#3 Valuable Lesson: Finding the Magic.

Explanation: One of my business partners tells me, “It was absolutely magical watching you begin this business. You could do no wrong.”

But I did! I ignored the magic.

Admit to yourself what that magic is and DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE that you should be doing something else. Not even your logical self. Go on results and listen to your gut.


Well, after year one, I am just about breaking-even so the small business statistics are correct. I made one MAJOR mistake in January by taking on renovations work just to pay the bills at the end of the month. My management part of the business was going thru a seasonal hyper-growth period AND I MISSED IT because I had to finish reno jobs. I focused on some really bad unrealistic clients that pretty well cost me $10,000 directly while I could have been off making $20 to $30K in Jan and Feb.

My greatest “wins” have been in Marketing. I can pretty well sum up a successful business concept in one sentence. “Provide enough people with the aspirin to their worst headaches that no one else is providing AND make huge profits doing so.” If a business does not meet this criteria, I can almost guaranty it is out of business when the capital dries up. When I tell my target audience the pain I can take away, they are practically ripping money out of their pockets. I just have to work the profit part more now. I know I have the experience now to do this after this year.


(Note: Notice I said “experience”. I read books all the time but the most valuable lessons and wins come from going out there and doing it. DO IT NOW! is the most powerful 3 words ever.)

Don't become just another failed business.

I've started this blog to help teach anyone how to begin a business, grow that business and succeed over time. Nine of Ten businesses will fail within 5 years. You will know why after reading my posts and what to do to avoid becoming a statistic.