Sunday, June 28, 2009

Getting burnt out is temporary

"Successful people are successful because they form the habits of doing those things that failures don't like to do." - Albert Gray (one of those habits is perseverance)

Otherwise little Joey here is going to stomp you out like a used cigarette. Capish?

Anyone who works hard for a living will always experience the dreaded phrase we call "burn out" It is when you are always tired, hate what you're doing and wish you could just retreat to a tropical island and never have to worry about anything. There are those who keep persevering, and then there are those who simply give up.

The old belief is that "Quitting never gets you ahead in life." I don't mean to shock you, but that phrase can be WRONG. We've been programmed to automatically assume a negative connotation with the word "quit" Sometimes, you need to quit something to get ahead.

For example, to quit wasting time definitely gets you ahead. Quitting smoking saves you money. Quitting telling dumb jokes saves your reputation. It's not necessarily a question of WHEN to quit, it's a question of WHAT to quit. Once you know what to quit...then you know when to quit (which is usually between Right Now and Immediately)

To avoid burning out, or to recover from burn out, you need to define what to quit. A lot of times, it's the little things that break the camel's back. So...what are some things you can quit to improve your experience?

  • Quit doing things that do not directly contribute to the completion of your primary task or make you any money. Activity does not necessarily equal productivity. Do NOT work for the sake of work.
  • Quit getting distracted. This means constantly checking email, responding to unimportant messages, or taking social calls during times you should be productive. Productivity relies on momentum. Distractions only hamper your momentum.
  • Quit sacrificing personal time to work. When you're tired, stressed and/or unhappy, you are less productive. Be resolute in making sure you get some time to spend for yourself (and your family...if applicable). This one of the biggest mistakes people do, and why they get burnt out quickly. As the old saying goes, "When something's important, you MAKE THE TIME."
And lets say you did all that, and you still feel burnt out...then you should reconsider what you're doing entirely. It may be as simple as your job/business just isn't fulfilling to you. In that case, you should move on to something else that's more fulfilling, even if it means earning less money. You don't need to be rich to be happy. You need to be fulfilled to be happy.

If any of you have read the book "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss, you will find that these concepts are quite similar. For those of you who haven't read the book, I HIGHLY recommend you buy it. It is extremely useful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Be a "dad" to your business

I wonder what the card would have said...

Yes, in case you were wondering, this is a Fathers Day themed post today. First off, I want to wish everyone a Happy Fathers Day. I would also like to make a quick T-shirt recommendation for the future:

Because everyone's celebrating their fathers (or at least pretending to ;) ), I will keep this post quite short.

The reason I say you should be a "dad" to your business is that, in a lot of ways, your business is like your child. The younger your child is, the more attention you need to give it to make sure it grows up to be healthy and independent. As such, when you have an embryonic small business, you need to be there for it all the time until it can "walk" by itself.

As a "dad" you want to ensure that your business grows up with your values, but with the ability to be independent. A lot of entrepreneurs sometimes hit a plateau or wall in their growth because they get so consumed in their business, that they cannot start new businesses or just grow their current business beyond tiny increments. (See: "Don't be a helicopter entrepreneur")

At times, just like a child, sometimes you will need to stomp your foot and make tough decisions for your business (i.e. cutting employees, services, etc.). For entrepreneurs, "tough love" is sometimes a necessity to ensure your business' survival.

When you small business grows up to be healthy and strong, make sure to buy yourself a crappy T-shirt ;) Oh, and I know we have women in the audience here. You can be "dads" too, just PLEASE don't overdo it ;)

Happy Fathers Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Get out of your comfort zone

Sorry, I found this picture to be too funny to not use, even though it's totally irrelevant.

On the subject of gold chains and mohawks, I pity the foo' who does the same things over and over and expecting different results.

If you look at any successful entrpreneur, they all have many things in common fundamentally. One of those things was the sheer determination to do things that most people would be uncomfortable or afraid to do. It is precisely because they do what most don't that leads to their inevitable success. Of course, that's not to say that these people never fail. In fact, all successful entrepreneurs will fail AT LEAST several times before finally succeeding.

Failure is uncomfortable. No one likes to fail. Many people will refer to the quote, "Play with fire and you get burned." what if you get burned a little? You become all the wiser. It is the fact that you made a mistake or failed that teaches you to appreciate not only what you have, but to appreciate what you're aspiring for.

When you can bring yourself to do things that most people won't (within reason of course...I'm not saying go walk naked out on the streets...) you will find that there's very little competition on the other side of the fence. If being an entrepreneur was easy, don't you think everyone would be one then?

I know I used this quote in a previous post, but it begs to be repeated. A successful entrepreneur once told me, "You know why people never get ahead in life? It's not because they set the bar too high. It's because they set the bar too low, and they keep jumping over it each and every time in a ritual of sheer habit."

As an entrepreneur, you will be faced with many unknowns. You will have to become something you've never been educated or trained to do. You will learn as you go, and you WILL make mistakes along the way. However, don't let it get to you, it's just part of the process of being successful. Starting something is always the hardest thing to do.

Take running for example. When you first start your run, your muscles burn and you're practically wheezing...because you've went from a state of comfort and low activity to a state of motion. However, you find that after the first 10-15 minutes, your body adapts to being in a state of motion...your breathing slows down and your muscles stop burning. It is a simple example, yes, but it is true of any endeavor in life. It will always be difficult at first to get out of your comfort zone...but when you do (and persevere), you will go far.

And with that, I shall leave you with a wonderful quote by Mark Twain:

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

Ok, seriously. New Post on Tuesday (6/16)

Through ice and hellfire, I WILL have a new post up, even if it means staying up until 3 AM Tuesday NIGHT (and no...that doesn't mean 2 hours from now...for you wise-cracks out there) to do it. Stay tuned.

...YES, I know it's technically Tuesday. ;)


Monday, June 8, 2009

Apologize for the delay

Hey everyone, the next post on the blog will be next Sunday, June 14th. Business demands my time, so I need to give it the proper attention before it kicks and screams ;)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Be a relationship builder, not a client controller

Alec Baldwin's character in "Glengarry Glen Ross" was definitely a client controller with his "brass balls"

If you were to ask any successful entrepreneur on what sustains his/her business, most (not necessarily all) will tell you it is repeat business and referrals. Entrepreneurs are not just leaders, but they all have to be salesmen at heart. When you go out there to get business and promote yourself, you are a salesman for your own company.

There are two kinds of salesmen out there. The first type are called "client controllers" These salesmen are true hustlers. They will use pressure tactics, and every trick in the book to "beat you into submission" and get you to sign on the dotted line, regardless if the sale is even beneficial to you or not. To them, ABC (Always Be Closing) is a religion for them, and they are its fanatics. These salesmen are good at getting customers quickly, but rely on a steady stream of new business. Depending on what kind of person you are and what you sell, this is not necessarily sustainable nor recommended.

The other type are known as "relationship builders" These salesmen, although not necessarily as aggressive as "client controllers" are even more effective in the long run. These types of salesmen do not necessarily "sell" you, they get you to "want" or "need" something. They do what is best for the client, even if it means sacrificing a juicy payment or sometimes even an entire sale. These salesmen delay gratification to reap the long term benefits. To many people, salesmen that actually have their best interests at heart are rare. However, many customers appreciate honest salesmen. It is the old phrase, "If you do good by me, I'll do good by you."

As a relationship builder, you will find that your customers will be more loyal to you, and they will be more than happy to give you referrals. In business, referrals are your lifeblood. When you have a referral, it makes selling MUCH easier. Don't be afraid to take the high road, even if it costs you profit. I cover this in my previous post "Be selfishly honest"

So what are key things you should do to be a "relationship builder"? Here are some key ones:

  • Develop a strong rapport with your customer through sharing things in common (i.e. both of you love baseball, etc.) and some humor
  • Take the time to really understand what your customer needs and show the customer how you can address their need with your product/service. Fulfill their needs, not your paycheck.
  • Always maintain regular contact with your customer. Send them a birthday card, or just check in on them to see how they're doing. This is a great opportunity to sell further to them, or just simply get more referrals.
  • ALWAYS ask for referrals. Be sure you treat those referrals with the same professionalism and attentiveness as with your original customer. It'll make your customer look good in front of the people he/she knows.
As an entrepreneur and a salesman, just be genuine, go the extra mile and most of all, always put your customer's needs first.