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I've had a little bit of success in life. However, I do like to stay very low key. I even hate sharing photos of myself with family (though this is probably going to change with video and live stream projects in the works). I'm not going to start acting like some type of Guru or pretend my brand is better than others. For what it is worth I'll share the rules that I've always used. Maybe they aren't the best and its a little to straight forward and not fluffy-guru enough. I'm happy to hear from anyone and amend if there are additional points, so please don't be shy and leave a comment. I'm open to any opinion.
Aaron's daily business rules.
Unless you have an uncanny instinct for making money and most likely if your reading this you don't like me. Always base your next move on well grounded facts not dreams and hopes. If you are selling something base your purchasing on the worst case not the dream. When your marketing base your spend on the best ROI, not hopes and the sales person being nice.
If your in business your normally in the business of making money. Make sure your spending the bulk of your time of the making money part! To aide in this practice make other actions in the business as efficient as possible. Bootstrapping things with your time and effort is fine, but at some point you'll need to invest time in efficiency or you'll fail.
A typical thing that I did was read a bunch of books on having a lifestyle by working less -> ergo being efficient. I'd will read typical Books like the 4 hour work week and extract all the time saving tips, tools and techniques and compress my current productivity down into a smaller and smaller time period. Then times it by 20 or more and get much more productivity than before and continue work 100 plus hours a week. Yes for real I do this, just ask my poor wife.
Additionally, automate where possible. One of my best skills though is to focus on put my effort into the making of money first before all else. Forget the accounting, the cleaning, the social and focus solely on the one or two things that bring in the most money for the least effort and supersize it.
Test and measure everything. Don't spend a fuckn dollar unless you can test it and measure the results. I don't ever ever break this rule. If I can't track it I don't want to know about it. Yes even social media. ROI everything and everyone in your business. If something or someone is not giving you ROI you need to fix, tweak it or stop it.
If you are selling at some level you are buying. Even if it is labour, you make your money when you buy it. I'll use buying a house for an example.
Most people buy a house hoping the will make $X off it. Few people buy a property knowing a 100% they will make $X off it the minute they sign the contract. The difference is the typical buy hopes to make some money, but many factors can effect the out come, market pressures, economic factors, not the right buyers, wrong colour, higher than expected renovation costs, agent fees .etc .etc the list is endless. The fewer buyers know with out a doubt that when they sign to buy they have made X dollars. They know the market and they know if they have to they can have a fire sale and still make money. This is the profit they make their investment on. Now they do also calculate the upside as well, however it is the money made on signing that drove their decision.
No guessing or wishful thinking. If your in business when you buy something, product, services etc you should know you just made money. This rule is so in grained in me I never break it!
As Gary Vaynerchuk would say hustle
There are few businesses where you can set back and people through money at you and I certainly have never seen or worked in one. Also there are few businesses without competitors. Therefore, often my strategy to bet competitors/win customers is to simply outwork them. Current clients of Mebsites.com will have noticed, I'll reply to an email or action work at 5am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm, 10pm, 2am all in the same day and I'll be doing it every day. I have lots of comments and reviews stating they don't even know when I sleep. Well let me tell you I do sleep and I do probably work more than is healthy. However when I'm in the zone, which I normally am I gotta get stuff done.
I use this to my advantage all the time. Customers need a logo, website finished asap and its 5pm on Friday. I'll get that stuff done overnight, by Monday, next day what ever it will take to get it done. Guess what I win that business and that customer for life! my competition doesn't even get a chance. Customers respect this too and if they don't your putting your efforts into the wrong customers and I'll cover that soon.
I'll leave you with an example I pulled off when in the automotive business. A customer call 5 minutes before closing time on a new vehicle that had been sitting for a while. They liked the vehicle and it literally was difference between ours which was on the other side of the North Island of New Zealand or one that was on the other side of town that he could go and see tomorrow afternoon via an appointment, which was an inconvenience to him. I proposed we could match the price he expected to get at the other dealer and he was happy with that, however the hassle factor to come up to the Northside of Auckland was high for him. The customer said, sadly, if it wasn't for the distance and hassle he would be happy to buy from as he liked me. Without a flinch I said to him, what time do you normally wake up, he said around 7am. I said do you drink coffee or tea? He said coffee. So I hit him with this if you put down a deposit now, I'll have the car on your door step, washed and valeted and a coffee for you by 7am tomorrow morning! He paused in disbelief and said ...ahh uhhh ohh but how. I said If you leave me a deposit now, I'll jump in your new car now and drive it down overnight, valet it at the local 24hr car wash and grab you a coffee and we can finalise the paperwork and I'll catch the next bus back. It is that type of dedication that wins business every time I have found and it just takes effort. I an assure you the other dealer was in total shock, when he called to confirm his appointment that morning while I was having coffee and a breakfast he cooked for me...lol
This comes back to the efficiency rules above. Make sure you always put your effort, focus and attention into the 20% of clients who you actually make money off. Oddly this 20% is often your easiest to keep happy and has the lowest effort to keep happy.
So what do I see and so often in businesses. Owners and staff running around after people they make no money off and who have no good will to their business. In fact some of them leave with freebies, great service and then complain about you all over town. Who gets the freebies and over the top service? the complaining zero you no made no money off in 2 years. I'm tell you this is wrong.
Not only is looking after these customers a total waste of time, it costs you money and it in turn makes you treat your good customers like dirt by default. All your attention and resources are going to the wrong people.
Every customer is not special. Some customers can be just dicks! However, the place you should put your time, effort and resources is into the customers you make real money on. Give them the your extra time, give them the freebie, break the rules and let them have the special price even though the offer is over! The other customers should get fair treatment no more and no less and those losing money customers keep it short and rip that bandage off quick and get rid of them.
If your ok, with loosing your money then by all means let others manage it for you. I'm not saying treat everyone as a thief, but don't be so foolish to believe others are honest beyond all approach.
Dishonest people are often some of the most honest people you will meet. Don't be so naive to think you will see these people working their ways into your life, because you wont until it is to late. Also thieves aren't always thieves, sometimes they are good people in difficult situations. The difference can just be level of distress and a level of cognitive dissonance that allows them to justify the action.
Some tips I learnt:
- If it doesn't feel right it ain't so don't delay - Make people accountable - As people start acting weird, increase your accountablity checks - Set rules for accountablity and stick to them - Don't be lazy, check that balance, check that stock, check that store now not later. - Don't allow the chance to happen - As commodities get further from cash they become easier to justify taking
This does cross over into test and measure and you make your money when you buy. But it does need its own section. We are all mortal and we like the finer things in life. However, burning up capital on luxury items that don't bring you profit brings you ever closer to failure. Yes there will be a point where buying a nicer chair will actually give you an ROI, but on day one of the hustle buying a $2500 chair, leasing a new car, buying top of the line branded uniforms is a dick move.
It is especially important for startups or businesses that need to be pulled out of a tail spin not to spend without it being the maximum return on investment each time. Don't spend a single cent unless you know you get a profitable return. No guessing, no long shots, no gambling, only sure things and test, measure, improve then rinse, work, rave and repeat.
Will you make money on new uniform, no. Then Don't spend the money
Will a new logo improve sale, no. Then don't spend the money
Will a new office chair make you money, no then sit on a crate.
Will a new car make you money, no then don't bloody buy it...I don't care about the bullshit the salesperson said about claiming tax, GST etc.
Put your money where it will get a return.
-All Marketing, directly geared to generate leads, profile, branding, content can mean better leads, more leads it can also mean a nice looking sign or newspaper advert that strokes your ego and empties your bank account. -More product to get a better price to improve bottom-line -Better system to save time/money -Efficiency, can't make it on the frontend, then look to save on the backend.
I'll add a qualifier here: Some ideas and businesses are just duds or will never go anywhere. You do need to recognise and cut your loses on these as early as possible. Don't feel bad about it, just move on to the next winning project. Don't beat a dead horse.
When I say stick with it. I mean when you know your on a winner and life just goes full life on you. You need to fight and claw your way through. Keep pushing, each time I action my above rules I know I inch closer and closer to the tipping point, which I know exists for every project. I just never quite know where it is, which is why you need to keep going flatout.
As you inch closer to that tipping point things seem to get harder and easier all at the same time. I get excited now when I see this happen, because I now at any moment I will break through that tipping point and customers will be pouring in from every direction and then I can work on the next tipping point.
When you break through take a little time out to re-group and get back into it again.