When you’re building a business, a lot of people will offer you advice. But, eventually, you are going to fail in some aspect and don’t be afraid because it will become a positive thing. Make mistakes, take risks, and don’t hold back are all cliché phrases you’ll hear. If you’re never failing, you’re probably never really winning either.
Today highlight some of the comments and questions you submitted and getting Frank’s response on all topics.
As discussed previously funding is hard to obtain especially when asking from friends/family. It’s important if you go that route to understand at all times this is a business transaction. It’s not your money, and there is risk associated with borrowing money from people close to you. Notify them of the risks involved, possible obstacles and a realistic time frame to see an ROI, in addition, how you will handle these obstacles. Treating it like it’s an official pitch to a bank or investor helps take the emotion out of the situation and keeps everything professional.
Making a move to hiring a finance person is always tricky because it depends on what stage your bootstrap startup is currently at. Most time you may be able to sustain with an in-house bookkeeper a few times and transition them into a full-time position. The risk in going to a senior accountant before necessary is the cost associated can be expensive and sometimes unnecessary. Instead, consider having a person who can perform the daily accounting procedures until you reach the point where a CFO is needed.
I have no doubt that many of you were glued to the TV watching the championship games to see who would make it to the Superbowl in a couple of weeks (Patriots vs. Seahawks in case you missed it). While the Seahawks incredible comeback is its own story, I want to focus on the Patriots.
On the surface, the Patriots dominated the Colts 45-7 and earned Tom Brady another trip to the Superbowl. However, what happened after the game were accusations that the Patriots were cheating – specifically for deflating footballs during their championship game. As of writing this, the investigation is fresh and will probably take a while to fully examine. That point though is that this isn’t the first time that the Patriots have been accused of cheating. Back in 2007 they were fined $250,000 after a NFL investigation found them illegally videotaping their opponents.
This leaves the Patriots in a very interesting position, regardless of whether the allegations are true. I know many people who instantly scoff at any mention of the Patriots because of all the constant cheating allegations that have followed them. While they’re undeniably one of the top football teams, their credibility is always up for debate. The question I ask you is this: has anyone on your sales team made it so that your company’s credibility is lost? Worst yet, have they ever blatantly lied just to make a sale?
Whether it’s stretching the truth or promising things that simply aren’t possible, there will be a time when your client finds out the truth and then your trust is broken. Having integrity when selling is something that you would think would be common sense, however I thought it would be important to discuss why being dishonest during your sales process is simply a terrible idea:
Distrust Leaves A Lingering Taste – The biggest problem with the Patriots’ latest scandal is the fact that people are generally saying “again?” Obviously this is not the kind of reputation that any team or company would want when nasty things are being said about them. This doesn’t always have to be about blatant “cheating” as well. Terrible customer service or anything that makes anyone’s experience with your company unpleasant will unfortunately linger a lot longer than a good memory.
Hard To Earn Back Trust – As mentioned above, it is going to take a long time for the Patriots to lose their reputation as cheaters, and for fans to just see them as champion-level team instead of anything else. Earning trust is already a difficult task, but earning back someone’s trust after you’ve wronged them is an entirely different beast. It’s simply much better to not get into that situation in the first place.
Ensuring that integrity is something that is constantly talked about to your sales team will ensure that your company’s reputation stays intact.
Let’s be serious – there is no doubt going to be an overabundance in blog posts detailing the importance of setting resolutions for the new year. Be it lose weight, get a promotion, go traveling or anything in between, resolutions are something that most of us set at this time of year.
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that last year I had mentioned that New Year’s resolutions are something that I’m not a big fan of. Personally, I find that this time of year has people motivated to make this year all their own, but then usually give up by February (gyms are the perfect example of this). I believe that you shouldn’t have to wait for a new year to motivate you to get what you want. You should always be striving to be the best person that you can be, and taking the proper steps in order to reach that goal.
I think it’s much better to use this time of year to set some guidelines for the bigger picture. I feel that the whole point of resolutions is to start thinking about areas of your life that you want to improve. Once you’ve figured out what exactly needs changing, it’s dramatically easier to make a list of objectives that you need to accomplish to reach your final destination. The main difference between setting a goal and a resolution is essentially the thought that you put into them.
This of course doesn’t mean that I’m completely against New Year’s resolutions though. I’ve known many people who don’t even state a resolution unless they’re completely adamant about accomplishing it. The difference between these people and those who I’ve known to not accomplish them is the fact that they turn these into long-term goals – much like I stated above.
And while the goals I’ve discussed are all personal, there’s no reason that they can’t be adapted for growing your business. Be it with a specific sales target, company revenue or anything else, don’t simply make a bold statement to your employees without backing it up. Rather, make them into a long term goal, and discuss with your team what it will take to reach these goals.
No matter how you do it, make sure that you do everything you can to grow personally, and professionally in 2015.
When you’re going through difficult times in your life, it’s easy to think that you’re the only one who is suffering, while everyone else has a perfect life. But in all honesty, if you think that difficulties just happen to you, think again – it happens to all of us.
The difference between those who live their dreams and those who just dream is how you respond to life throwing a curve ball. At a certain point, instead of expecting that things should go your way and getting stressed out when they don’t, the key is to mature and understand that sometimes the greatest gifts are setbacks, and the times where we feel most challenged. Life is about growth, not comfort. And growth means that we must hold steady amid massive uncertainty.
Surprising no one, this is extremely difficult. However, here is what I do when difficult times fall on me:
Take Life One Day At A Time – Goals are extremely important for personal growth, both whether you achieve them or not. That doesn’t mean that you need to trip yourself up by constantly worrying about the future though. As long as you are doing the best you can to reach your goals, the future will sort itself out.
Don’t Get Caught In Fear – Many of my past blog posts touch upon fear because I truly believe that fear holds back many people. So many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are missed because people are afraid of failure, afraid of the risks involved, afraid of leaving their comfort zone… But really, if you’re going to be afraid of anything it should be of missing opportunities. Try not to ever let fear prevent you from at least trying. No matter what the outcome, you’ll grow from it.
Open Up And Ask For Help – It’s incredible what people can accomplish when they set their minds to it, but people can accomplish much more when they put their ego aside and simply ask people to help them. Be it a co-worker, a mentor or a friend, when you need some help don’t think that being “tough” and going it alone will do you any good. In many cases, that’s the opposite.
Finding the opportunity to grow will allow us to find meaning in the seeming chaos and to emerge stronger, wiser and with more gratitude for the journey. No matter what kind of journey you had in 2014, do your best to make 2015 even better. After all – the best is yet to come.
If you went to the mall this past weekend (or anytime this month really) then you’ve been elbow to elbow trying to get some last minute shopping done. This could have all been easily avoided of course if you had just made a plan beforehand and then tackled it strategically.
The interesting part is that not everyone leaves all of their shopping to the last minute on purpose. I know many people who make detailed shopping plans that list everything from who the gift is for, to where they’ll buy the gift and even the exact price. With such a detailed plan, you would assume that getting everything done would be simple since all you have to do is tackle each piece one at a time. Things don’t always go as planned though, and even the most detailed plan can fall apart due to unforeseen circumstances…. See what I’m getting at?
Most entrepreneurs easily recognize this scenario, as a detailed business plan or planned acquisition can fall apart, leaving you scrambling to find alternatives if you’re ill prepared. Cases like this is where you need to be adaptable enough to find other solutions, instead of staying stuck on what could have been. But how?
Always Have A Contingency Plan – No matter how bullet proof a plan may appear to be, you always always need to have an ace up your sleeve. There have been many instances where an organization has been brought to their knees because they had all their hopes on a major acquisition or something similar, only to have it fall through. In essence, since these organizations thought that this one particular action item in a plan would pan out and essentially set them up for success, enough to the point where they don’t even attempt to get new business. Once things fall through, there’s a period of time where everything slows down because you need to build up momentum again and get over the failure – which not everyone does. This is where the contingency plan is useful, because you’ve already detailed what you need to do in the worst case scenario. All that’s left afterwards is to follow that plan.
Don’t “Fall In Love” And Rush In – An old Elvis song says “Only fools rush in”, and I think this ties in nicely with the previous point because the reason a lot of companies don’t have a back-up plan is because they’re completely in love with the potential ROI one of their created plans has to offer, and blindly chase it without considering the downsides. I’m not saying that being determined on a certain item is a bad thing, but I am saying that you need to be realistic about certain things. Get your team together and objectively assess whether or not this plan can come to fruition, and if you’ll have to change details that you might have been “in love” with.
At the end of the day, you can’t depend on anything realistically working out for you. Even those who work their tails off can have things blow up on them. It’s in these moments though that true leadership shines, as how you navigate these stormy seas can sometimes determine your organization’s success.
Ever had those days where you just want a simple product, but are overwhelmed with the amount of choices involved? Let’s say you want to buy a MP3 player for Christmas and wander into Best Buy thinking it will be easy – but what colour do you want? What brand? Should it be water proof? Do you really need Bluetooth? What about the batteries it takes? There have been so many times where I go to buy something and am simply put off by the amount of options available that I lose interest in the product and put it off getting it – or sometimes I don’t get it at all!
This got me thinking to the typical sales person who tries to sell a “complete” solution to someone who doesn’t really need all of the bells and whistles. Offering the right solution to potential customers is critical to closing the sale, but giving them a list of too many options is bound to turn them off. Once your prospect suffers from information overload, they’ll either delay the decision or lose interest. Here’s what you should do to prevent this from happening:
Discuss Their Exact Needs: The first step of any successful sale’s process is having a deep understanding of what your prospect is looking for, meaning that you need to have an in-depth conversation with them – probably multiple conversations actually. It’s no secret that you need to develop a relationship with your potential clients since it’s rare that you’ll sell someone a product or service on your first meeting. As such, when you’re getting to know them you need to see what exactly they’re looking for in a solution and if you can concisely offer them the service instead of saying things like “You might like A, but B and C are probably better! And we can’t forget D, E and F either.”
Custom Tailor A Solution: Chances are that you may not one concise solution available to solve all of a customer’s problems, which is why you offer them so many solutions. In this case though, it would help a lot if you move things around to make a solution that best fits for them, that way they have all of their problems solved in one fell swoop. Sure, it might be a bit of a pain, but there’s no doubt that they’ll appreciate the effort you put into making something work for them. This will also limit their options to their yes or no, making the close dramatically easier.
By making the decision process for your prospects easier and making their choices meet their needs, I guarantee that you’ll have more success with closing sales.
With 37 days left in 2014, families and organizations are undoubtedly feeling the pressure of holiday crunch time. I’m pretty guilty of waiting last minute to buy all of my Christmas presents, but when it comes to prepping for the next year I try hard not to lose my focus and keep it going.
This time of year it really does feel like everything is working against you, though. The dreary weather sometimes makes it impossible for you to even get into the office, unexpected family visiting, hysteria at every store you visit regardless of what you want to buy…. It seems endless. During this chaos though is when you need to carve time to review how the year has been, since you’ll be busy the next couple of weeks preparing for 2015.
Revisit Your Earlier Goals – Hopefully you made a list of goals at the beginning of the year to guide your business. With so little time left in the year, you shouldn’t be looking at your list and attempt a mad dash to the finish. Rather, it’s a time to look at your list and see what has worked well for you. Hopefully you’ll find that you not only surpassed some goals, but that you also surpassed goals you added on a little later in the year. You’re bound to find something that was meant to be your focus that you may have let slip through the cracks…
Tie Up Lose Ends – If you do see a few loose ends that you were supposed to focus on for the year, you should do one of two things: (a) see why you weren’t able to meet this goal and attempt it next year or (b) decide if you should make it a priority for the coming year or if it’s actually a critical goal. Losing sight of a particular goal isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps you subconsciously realized that this goal wasn’t essential to growing your business – especially if you’ve experienced tremendous growth in the year without it. On the flip side, if your business didn’t grow as quickly as you expected, then you should probably make it a priority in 2015.
Plan Your Time Off Accordingly – You’re not seriously planning on neglecting your family over the holidays, are you? No matter what holiday you observe, this time of year is important to spend with your family. I’ve talked about balance before, but I can’t stress how important it is to actually put your phone and computer down for a bit and spend time with loved ones. I can completely sympathize if a 100% disconnect is impossible, but don’t completely neglect your family either!
I’m very interested to know what your game plan is for the final weeks of the year. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments!
You know those days? Those days where everything seems to go wrong, be it on a technical level or something else entirely? Those days are extremely difficult to cope with, but that’s all they are – just single days. The trap to be weary of is letting these days turn to weeks, then weeks to months until you’re consumed by this negativity.
Doing your job becomes incredibly difficult when you constantly create barriers that stop you from performing well. As cheesy or clichéd as it sounds, your state of mind has a tremendous effect on your surroundings. I won’t turn this into a debate on whether you believe me or not, but I do want to offer some points on how to evaluate your negativity to see if something productive can come from it.
Talk It Out With Someone – This of course works with most difficulties in life, but its important to talk this out. Discussing your issues with different people in your life will give you a different view of your situation. You’d be surprised by how many coworkers might be going through the same situation you are. Don’t limit it to coworkers either. Friends, family, significant others… There are rarely any problems you experience that haven’t been dealt with by someone else. Perhaps you won’t like what you hear, but at the very least you’ll have a different opinion.
Pinpoint Your EXACT Cause – After you’ve discussed why you’re feeling so negative with other people, I imagine that you’d have a general idea of what type of negativity is consuming you. What’s important though is that you figure out EXACTLY why you’re being negative. Was it something that has been building over time, a bad experience that you can’t shake or do you feel unfulfilled with what you do? Pinpointing the exact reasons for of your bad vibes can have a better understanding of how to resolve these underlying problems.
Look At The Big Picture – After you’ve talked it out and narrowed down the exact reasons of your negativity, it’s time to act. This will depend entirely on you. Consider the options though, and don’t act on instinct. Perhaps you are long overdue for a vacation, or there’s been something brewing between you and your manager for a long time coming. As drastic as it sounds, you also have to consider that you are simply not happy with the organization you’re with, and its time to move on. As difficult as that might be, in the long run staying somewhere that makes you feel negative isn’t beneficial for either party.
Escaping negativity isn’t easy, but you’ll be thankful once all is said and done.