Thursday, April 17, 2008

Learn from Everyone

I have three business mentors right now and they likely don't even know the lessons they are teaching me.

1) Landlord that is younger than me. When I met this guy I was very cocky (still am). He taught me lessons about renovations I had no idea about. Since then these lessons have saved the business thousands. I have become better at mudding drywall despite 20 years experience (which is an art, not something learned)! He is also teaching me how to read perspective tenants. Stuff I thought I knew but actually didn't.

2) Uncle. My father died when I was 8 and my aunt's husband took on the job of keeping my 5 brothers and sister in weekend kid activities. Sledding, fishing, just silly stuff but so important to someone without a father. He has since taken over the MANAGER part of the business. Things get done, they get done fast and we make money. He does this all while working a full-time demanding job.

3) Kid across the street. Here is a guy that is a natural salesperson helping me do renos. The other talent he has is collections. He doesn't take any sh!t. He insists people pay me so I can pay him and he is happy with that.

Learn from any source you can. If business is always in your subconscious mind, people will turn over their experience in little understood ways.

Forcing People to Keep Their Word.

Rule 1. Be ethical in business and expect others to be ethical with you.

I've had tenants try to give me literally a week's notice they were backing out of a lease. What to do? I can advise Landlords to say no but they are keeping the tenants deposit. I can advise them to say ok but you have to help find someone to replace you or we will sue. Who are they going to find but a friend that might do the same thing -- or worse!

Maybe its best to stop putting negative into a negative situation and begin from scratch.

Rule 2. Make people responsible for their promises.

You have been straight with them. Make them be straight with you.

I think the best thing to do is see what went wrong. All my 12 month leases have cut out 2 to 4 months early (and don't have any remorse), yet a few 8 month lease tenants are renewing for 4 months. Solution? Draw a policy and enforce it. Also let the tenants know this is not how they should be beginning their lives (student tenants). Have a lawyer send them a letter informing them that if the Landlord loses costs, they are going to sue them for those costs and I personally will be showing up in court to defend the Landlord. A lease is a contract, an agreement with a Landlord and the person they are letting occupy their land, their domain. If you didn't intend to keep your word, you should not have signed it.

Rule 3. Don't back down.

The other party (in my case tenant) will start to spew BS facts. I can tell you from experience they are lying and bluffing. Remember you are the one in the right because you were honest with them in the beginning and all your dealings with them. FORCE THEM TO DO THE SAME!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Business is Not for Sissies

I have come to the realization why people avoid beginning their own business...they don't have the stomach for what is ahead of them. Our business has gone through major hard lessons cycles which are as follows:

1) Beginning Business. Going to find clients. Ending up taking whatever comes along.
Pretty simple. No hassles. Just not the vision I had.
2) Getting clients that want a deal. Ok, I have a bit of savings to hold out. It will be worth the experience.
3) Experiencing the fact that they gave you the work because it was a HUGE problem (either financially, legally, morally, time wise.) Fine, that's what I get paid to do.
4) Not getting paid for what I did. Up my services by hiring people.
5) People are not showing up to work. No reliable workers, just everyone with their hand out. Ok, do the work myself until someone comes along.
6)Working 16 hour days not getting paid. Ok, take on work that pays and somehow keep things going. Almost broke.
7) Broke. Finally say thats enough.


8) Decide to change things. Dump non-paying clients despite everything (them giving you referrals or their complaints.)
9) Collect every dime owed you by whatever means.
10) This one actually surprised me but I all the sudden was BROKE and had massive amounts of people pissed at me.

I had did everything correctly according to the book and was not giving up. I don't have the choice of giving up.

11) Expand beyond your capabilities. Take on guys that see the possibilities of your business and hire them on pro-bono. Go get new good clients. Insist on your terms.

12) Get to your last dollar. Spend it on the business without hesitation. Money now coming in from collections. It pays to starve now and then!

13) Service the hell out of your new clients. GROW GROW despite people being pissed at you or a zero balance at the bank or equipment breakdowns.

You now have the "business pepto bismol" to survive any stomach aches.

Things Are Moving Once We Addressed PAIN!

Well once we dumped the old weight, we've signed on several new clients these few days. They are paying right after the completion of each job and cash is starting to flow again. There are 5 requests for QUOTES since then as well.

As the front man, I've gotten to the point where I am saying, "Hi, I'm John with Spruce It Up. What's your pain. How can I take it away?"

By starting out on this basis, they are then pretty well willing to pay anything once they see we can take their pain away, QUICKLY! And they are smiling once the pain is gone.

Solve those pains and make millions.