Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fishing for Business

I spent a nice day fishing with my Granddad and soon to be Father-In-Law and in between a few bass and casting conversations I began to think how fishing was so much like marketing.
1) If fish were your customers that you are trying to catch, you would have to worry about three things: Are you fishing in the right spot. Are you using the correct bait? Are you fishing at the correct time?

In marketing, you are testing a lot of things until you come across that correct combination. Maybe a certain headline is not working (bait). It could be the perfect headline but you are not advertising it in the correct venue (spot). Perhaps your product is seasonal and you just didn't know you missed that season (time).

2) If you are fishing with a lot of people around, it is easier to spot trends and quickly adjust your bait. However, sometimes you tend to get tangled into each other and make each other mad.

There are actually two lessons: If you monitor your competition (like you should), you can easily adjust to the bait they are using or at least understand the market a bit better so you can quickly change. The second lesson is sometimes it's better to have others around you helping (not always!).

3) You can't catch any fish without a line IN THE WATER!

This one is pretty simple. If you are not putting your product out there, your ads out there, you are just not going to catch any new ones. I mean what do you think, they will magically jump onto your hooks from the water?

Good luck and happy fishing (for customers)!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Be Yourself In Business. Be Successful At What You Love.

I had a very famous musician once tell me, "Don't become good at what you do not like to do or people will expect you to do just that."

Recently I modified and decoded this statement. "Don't be in a business that doesn't follow your lifestyle and values, or you will spend your days unhappy".

Don't do it! Make the business follow your lifestyle and values.


I hate waking up and driving to work. I lothe taking phone calls at all hours. On the phone sales are just not me (although I can sell face to face no problem). But I have always done these for the team. Some I became really good at these things. And lost myself in the mix.

I'm not built for that life. I don't think anyone was built for 9 to 5 work. It is VERY unproductive, life-draining and just plain WRONG!

Which is why I have recently made the decision to only follow MY lifestyle. It is so freeing to be able to work at what time I am excited in a day to work. I can spend quality time with my family now instead of having the phone ring at a family function and people look at me with mean looks. Phone sales are not needed (and do not work anyway in my business).

I am 100% less stressed.


My previous business partners where so focused on money it was almost embarrasing to be seen with them. My values are such that I offer what I have to people, they see the value I can give them and they naturally pay me. In other words, if I do what I do and offer what is valuable, they pay me. It is not, "How much can we squeeze them for this service?" That only produced mad customers.

Another value I have chose to further persue is only dealing with people that understand and want to further understand business. I have dealt with too many that do not understand even the most basic principles of business (like find something that works and do it over and over again - not find something that works, do something else instead because we spent money on it).

Customers are your customers because their values match your own. I want customers that appreciate and value my efforts and understand my value to them -- not customers that complain about a price being too much or I missed their 13 useless phone calls to ask me the same thing over and over.

Having my business follow my lifestyle and values (instead of the other way around) has made me more at peace. Hope you can do the same.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What's the Missing Ingredient - Making a Million Dollars

I asked my spouse recently what it was that I don't have to be a millionaire RIGHT NOW?

She said quite quickly, "A MILLION DOLLARS!"

After 5 minutes of laughing I began to think deeper.

History: Money is made by one method only; Someone takes a dollar out of their pocket and gives it to you. Let's breakdown how you would make a million dollars in different ways.
  1. How would you convince 1 person to take a million dollars out of their pocket and give it to you?

  2. How would you convince 10,000 people to take out a $100 and give it to you.

  3. How would you convince 1 million people to take out a dollar and give it to you.

When you look at this list, #3 seems the easiest but in fact they are all just as hard.

I now know it is just as easy to sell a $10,000,000 house as a $100,000. Sometimes the $100,000 house is even more work.

I also know it is not easy to convince one million people to do anything let alone give you a dollar (unless their was a cause behind it).

I think the easiest way for me is to convince about 33,333 to give me $30. Not too hard. All I have to do is find a market that has 33,333 people dying to buy what I have and are willing to pay $30 for it.

In my case, it will be information. Information that I have amassed over years of business and more particularly the rental business. Let's see how it goes. My e-book is half complete and we are coming into the largest rental market in history. I will likely make more money telling people how to rent then actually renting places.

Wish me luck on becoming a millionaire this year.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Money, The Unwritten Contract.

When a customer pays a lot of money for an item there is an unwritten contract between you and that customer.

In short form it goes like this:

I am paying you a lot of money because I expect to get a product that:
  • works good (better than a cheaper version)
  • doesn't have problems (and if it does, you will move earth to fix it for me)
  • you will respect me as a customer

OK, let's take two live samples.

1) We bought a Whirlpool front loading washer about 10 months ago for over $1000. I've always paid under $100 for a used washer and my fiance wanted a top-of-the-line computerized model as our laundry needs have gone up exponentially. Within a few months the computer board inside had to be replaced. We were without laundry facilities for a few days. No biggy. Couple months go by and the seal on the front door fails. It literally took 10 phone calls and 3 weeks to repair one simple piece. Whirlpool promised to give us a cheque for $50 for laundry costs but never did. Our unwritten contract with them was that we give you lots of money and you give us a product that actually works. I have never had so many problems with a product that I paid $100 for let alone $1000.

2) Same time frame. We bought a queen size mattress for $600. Somewhat pr icy for us. After about 3 months the top cover began to rip and unravel. The pillow top is sliding and removing from the top. We called the store and they said to take pictures. We sent them and never heard back from them. We called again and they said they never got the photos and would not likely cover it anyway. Again they broke the unwritten, "I PAY LOTS, I EXPECT LOTS" contract.

Lesson? Well there is two lessons. If a customer pays you lots, he/she has a contract that they are getting a lot. Whirlpool should have 24 hour shipped the part and had a guy out here within a day. The mattress place should have called the manufacturer and had them deliver a new one.

The second lesson is sometimes if you can provide a good product and back it with a good service, don't be afraid to charge more for it. After all, you are not likely competing with someone that is providing the same thing.

The $2 Cup of Coffee Delivered to You. Not Going to Happen!

At some point in your business dealings you will hear a fantastic idea...that you will later have to throw away.


Because it is not possible to make money at it no matter what.

Recently my spouse said, "Wouldn't it be great to just have Tim Hortons deliver a coffee when you crave it?"

Yes it would. It is even possible to do (by possible I mean physically possible, that technology is here to do it). But it is not even remotely financially feasable. Can you imagine the vehicle expenses alone?

It may be possible once a certain technology exists or if somehow someone figures out, "Tim Hortons Coffee on demand" just like they figured out TV on Demand. But not likely anytime soon.

My recent business is a more realistic example. We thought it was possible to show renters a series of apartments and houses and let them make a decision on which to take. But because of economic, marketing, fuel, and a million other factors, it is not possible to do so. The average cost to send a rental agent out is $75/hr and the turn over rate is not yet high enough to support those costs let alone make a profit. A Landlord will not pay the amount required to offset this cost (at least not yet). Each agent could be spending that same hour making much more money at practically anything.

It is possible to pick one aspect of the business, be the best at it and be able to make a profit at it.

Property management is another very very good example. You would think that you could start a business managing people's rental houses no problem. Every Landlord I talk to wants this service. I can definitely tell you, people will not (cannot) pay you enough to make a living at it. The service level that is required is NOT possible for a small venture.

On a large scale, both of my personal business examples would work. However, they would need way more capital then I have access to.

What I am learning is the simpler the service, the more likely you will make money at it. I make more telling people how to advertise on Kijiji than actually doing the business they are in. In other words, I can show people how to rent their houses and even manage their homes and MAKE MONEY AT IT.

So when developing your business systems, keep in mind that at some point you have to turn a profit. If there is not enough of a market, the materials cost too much, people will not pay enough for your service, either give it up or find a way for it to be profitable. Maybe go even smaller, service a niche with the service.

Eventually you will find the money making business and know how to operate it. I have confidence in you.

Learning What 'Not' to Do So You Can Be Successful

There are two ways to learn in your pursuit of business success:

1) Do something so you can learn WHAT TO DO.

2) Do something so you can learn WHAT NOT TO DO.

Both are equally valuable, especially in the success of your business.

I don't know why most business people I meet do not want to go through point #2 (what not to do) and always pursue doing the perfect thing only. I would rather fail 5 times in a year and learn what not to do then taking 5 years to learn what actually does work and not know what doesn't work.

Let me give you a monetized example:

1) Say you are trying to sell a new service; pool openings/closings. You run ads in the local paper after researching that this is producing the highest return. After a year you are getting about 5 sales per week making $50/sale ($250/week). After 5 years you work this up to 20 sales per week but had to lower the price to $40 so now you are making ($800/wk). Consistent. There is no employee overhead. You are happy.

2) Say you tried to run ads in your local advertiser. Only received 2 calls per week. You ran ads in local newspaper and got 5 sales per week. But what you learned by doing this is that the numbers are not enough to offset the cost of advertising. So you learn your lesson (what not to do). You try free online advertising, search engine optimization, flyers, and finally after making the same money #1 is making you decided to try lawn signs. You put out 50 of them and the cost is $300. From that you find that there is so many calls coming in you cannot handle the work yourself. You farm out the work and turn full-time to marketing this business. Now you are making thousands sitting around all day all because you tried, failed, tried, paritally succeeded and finally tried and hit it out of the park. And what's better, you begin to refine the signs and produce ever more response.

I myself have failed and watched others fail so much that I should be an expert by now at what I do. And I am. But only because I failed along the way and learned from those failures what everyone else did not.

Don't be afraid to succeed through failure. Some of the greatest business people in history understood this and were never afraid to learn from "what not to do".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Chasm Between Decision and Action

My whole life I have tried to develop the "make a decision NOW" skill.

It is what defines me. I am able to make a decision FAST while others are still thinking about it.

Some may call it insanity (and often silently and not-so-silently do) but I call it, "Let's get on with it!"

The reason I decide fast is because until you make that decision, no action can take place and the sooner the action takes place, the sooner things get done (which is the whole point of business!).

Until things get done, you will never make money. Action makes money! Let me give you an example. Who is going to make more money?

Person 1 sits and thinks about how best to design her new line of clothes. She is thinking about colors, current styles, researching, thinking, thinking, thinking. She has targeted 6 months to release.

Person 2 gets a pair of scissors out, cuts, sews and puts it on the rack. The style is already in her head, she may be testing things but at least things are getting made. She makes money within a week.

Of course it could be said that person 1's planning may result in more money, BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN'T! That's 6 months of income lost. Person 2 could have developed enough knowledge AS she was making money as person 1 who didn't make a dime (and actually lost costs).
But some people have a very hard time making these decisions. If you are not capable of doing this, you better hire someone that is!
"Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision" - Peter F. Drucker