Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Right now, my hero happens to be Gary Vaynerchuk. He is a bit rude and crude, but I enjoy how he tells it like it is. Being an entrepreneur is not always glamourous. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance to succeed.
One of Gary’s teachings is self-awareness. To be truly self-aware is to understand what you are good at, and what you aren’t. Most entrepreneurs struggle to come to grips with these weaker areas. This lesson has helped me “growth hack” entrepreneurship by surrounding myself with people who balance out my weaknesses with their strengths in business. As a result, it saves me time, money, and increases my businesses revenue trajectory year-over-year.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Fail fast in order to win big. A mentor of mine once told me this and it stuck. Growing and evolving businesses comes from taking risks, and failing is part of that journey. The faster you can identify the failure, come to terms with it, and pivot is what helps companies grow.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
One of my most recent regrets to date was not starting a content marketing initiative internally at Power Digital until just recently. My partners and I have built a sustainable lead source through channel partners that recommend business opportunities for us. Our referral partnership program does, however, affect our bottom line profitability, as we do have to pay referral fees.
The regret comes from not practicing what we help clients out with on a daily basis, and that is building sustainable lead sources through content marketing initiatives. We could add 15-20 percent back to our bottom line if we relied less on other people bringing us leads and instead generated our own leads through thought leadership online.
I compare this to trucking the oil versus building a pipeline. Until just recently, we were only trucking the oil and paying large transfer fees by relying on referral partners. Building a pipeline takes time, effort and money, but the reward would be the deals delivered directly to the company.
I regret not starting content marketing initiatives two years ago, and what that could have looked like for our year-over-year revenue growth.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
The first hour of my business day is usually spent creating a game plan. I find when I don’t have a solid plan to execute on, the day slips away from me and I get less accomplished.
I typically will reserve time before going into the office, either spent at my dining room table or at a local coffee shop. Once there, the first thing I do is open my little black book I carry around and write three things I’m thankful for. I know that sounds silly, but I find it therapeutic as a busy entrepreneur. As one day blends into another. Things move so fast in the agency world. Sometimes, it is difficult to stop and just be thankful or celebrate personal wins and accomplishments. I find this centers and calms me before the beginning of the day. The strange part about this is when I started doing it, I found it very hard to come up with three new things every day to be thankful for. Now, it comes as second nature, and starts my day on a positive note that reminds me of the gifts in life.
The second thing I do is commit to three work initiatives. Whether it is sales, strategy or team leadership, I plan on addressing all three commitments before the end of the day. This helps give me a clear path when the day starts to pull me in different directions.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Don’t borrow money unless you 100 percent need to. I’m a huge believer in bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is part of the entrepreneurial journey. It teaches you how to wear many hats, be agile, and most importantly, be a smart money manager. The best companies come from humble beginnings and garages.
Money is like oxygen to a business, and you are not truly running a successful business until you are in the black.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Build a following. Whether you do this through email subscribers, social media followers etc., lists keep you in front of the client and up to speed on your service or product.
The larger list/followership you have, across as many mediums as possible, will help grow your business over time and keep you afloat when times get tough. For instance, you can always go back and make a special offer to your list to increase sales in a down month.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success is subjective. Money becomes the byproduct of success. It actually becomes secondary.
The new mission seems to revolve around the endless pursuit of “happiness.” These are passions that typically lie outside of personal business. Seek out authentic people who want to discuss their passions (not just business) in a meaningful way.
Today, I find myself in the middle: I’m still growing my wealth and financial sustainability and working towards that success. I also see the bigger picture and want to invest back in passion projects that help make the world a better place. I’d like to share those thoughts and dreams with like-minded individuals. To me, that’s what success is all about.