Monday, January 31, 2011

You Can Be My Wingman.

Sometimes a movie can speak to your inner being in ways that you never realized until you get a little bit older, and a little bit wiser.

For me, Top Gun is one of those movies. And as a full-time self-employed business owner, I tend to relate a lot of what I see and hear to the business world.

It seems to me that there are a bunch of people who want to start a business but they don't. They have obviously forgotten that they are "The Best Of The Best" simply for being willing to take the leap of faith necessary to start a new venture. And sometimes if they DO get started, they get so bogged down in the "paralysis of analysis" that their competition "Flies Right By Them"

This is the third post in a series I've been calling "Are You Waiting For Your Business To Take Off" and I want you to know that being successful in business doesn't require being a certain "type" of person. You can be a "Maverick" or you can be "Iceman" but you have to be willing to get in the fight and engage.

What is a "Maverick"?

Much like the character played by Tom Cruise, a "maverick" is someone who lives on the edge... someone who takes chances... someone who leaps without looking... someone who (if he doesn't have a "wingman" looking out for him) can get into a lot of trouble... but a "maverick" is also someone who gets the job done.

So what is an "Iceman"?

Like Val Kilmer's character, an "iceman" is calm regardless of what's going on around him... he's calculating (not in an evil way and not over-analyzing everything, just thorough in his research)... he's confident in his abilities but not overly arrogant about it... he always does things by the book... and he too gets the job done.

The ultimate combination is when a "maverick" finds an "iceman" to be his wingman (or vice versa). This can be a business relationship (although I personally do not recommend any sort of business model based on a partnership). It could be a sort of mentorship situation. Or it could be a friendly competition among peers.

The "maverick" needs an "iceman" to calm him down and help him to step back and take another look at the situation and get a different perspective.

The "iceman" needs a "maverick" to spur him on and motivate him to stretch his imagination and jump in with both feet without worrying about the possibility of complications down the road.

I hope you have a wingman or someone you trust that can help you keep an eye out for bandits and bogeys. If you don't, well, you can be my wingman any day.

How about next week we "buzz the tower?"

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hit The Brakes, He'll Fly Right Past Me

Last week, I started this series of posts entitled "Are You Waiting For Your Business To Take Off?" and the things I learned about business from watching the movie Top Gun.

Out here in the business world, it can be overwhelming for the small business owners and entrepreneurs to keep focused on the goal. We've got so much on our plates that sometimes we don't know which end is up. And every business owner's goal is different.

Some are trying to "build a better mousetrap" and develop a product that can change an industry. Some are trying to establish themselves as the go-to service provider in a market. Some are trying to refine their business model so that it can be duplicated in other markets, thus allowing them to franchise their idea and create long term ongoing revenue. Some are just trying to make enough money to pay the bills. And they are all equally admirable, because wherever you are... you are.

But if you remember last week I tried to remind you why You Are The Best Of The Best.

Lesson 2: "...Hit The Brakes, He'll Fly Right Past Me..."

No truer words have ever summarized what can happen in the business world. In the movie, "Maverick" was explaining a risky maneuver he was going to perform while in combat against an enemy aircraft. In the movie, it worked to his advantage. But we all know that movies and real life have very little in common.

In business, however, if YOU hit YOUR brakes, HE (your competition) WILL fly right past you. So you have to stay on top of your game at all times. And you don't slow down or hit the brakes until you are sure that either (A) you have reached your goal, (B) you have the right people in place the maintain your business momentum until you reach your goal, or (C) have effectively eliminated your competition.

DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME!!!! I am NOT advocating violence against your competitors.

Simply provide a better service or product at a better price or value and become the company everyone wants to do business with. So much so that the competition sits home at night wondering where their customers went.

So if you are moving forward, you keep doing what's working and don't change it just because you hear about some cool technique from somebody in a webinar or you read about some smooth line to use to close a sale. The people on a webinar or in a book you pick up probably don't know you from a hill of beans. They may be nice people, but have you ever noticed that frequently these "hot tips" have disclaimers attached to them (results may vary, success not guaranteed). Hey, I'm pulling for you. I hope you succeed and succeed BIG. But I don't have a vested interest in your company. Don't mess up your system, if your system is working.

If it's not working, then that may be when you need to invest some time and maybe some money getting access to the resources you need in order to fine tune and modify what you are doing so that you can change your results and find processes and techniques that will work.

Of course, the lawyers want me to remind you that I cannot guarantee your success at any endeavor and individual results may vary.

But, hey, I'm pulling for you.

Next week: I'll let you be my wingman.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Are You Waiting For Your Business To "Take Off" ???

Allow me to give you a few words that will hopefully help...


(C) Iain Warde I mean (if you are still reading and haven't figured it out) is YOU are the PILOT of YOUR business. And your business will never "take off" until you are in the cockpit at the controls.

Now I'm not a pilot, although I always wanted to be one. But I am a business owner and I've seen the movie Top Gun more times than I care to admit.

And believe it or not there are some great lessons about being in business that can be learned from that movie. For the sake of brevity, I am going to break these up into several posts.

Lesson 1: Realize you are the best of the best.

You may not feel like it some days, but if you had the guts to step out on your own and start a business (especially in today's economy) you have separated yourself from the general population. Most people are not willing to take that risk. Most people have a "settle for" mentality that prevents them from achieving what the really want out of life.

Remind yourself why you started your business. Was it an idea for something you believed in or had a passion for? Was is a path you could use to achieve your personal and financial goals? Was it a way to create a legacy for your children and your children's children?

Whatever the reason was, keep that in front of you and use that to motivate you and move you forward.

If you are currently thinking about starting a business, know that it can be one of the most difficult things you can do, but it can also be one of the most rewarding.

And even if nobody else is... I'm pulling for you.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parents Just Don't Understand...

Image: Grant Cochrane /
...And Neither Do People Who Have Never Owned A Business.
  • THEY said "should you really be starting a business in this economy..."
  • THEY said "the timing's not right for you to start out on your own..."
  • THEY said "what if it doesn't work out, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits..."
  • THEY said "you've never owned a business like that before..."
  • THEY said "what about your competitors, they've been in business a lot longer than you, they probably have the market all wrapped up..."
  • THEY said "why don't you call your (insert long lost relative here) he would probably hire you..."
  • THEY said "you could always go back to school and finish your degree, then you could get a good job with a good company with a good retirement package..."
  • THEY try make you feel like you've got a bulls-eye on your back and the enemy is surrounding you, waiting to attack.
However, business owners and entrepreneurs typically disregard what THEY say.

If entrepreneurs waited for the "timing" to be right, there would no longer be any entrepreneurs. If a potential business owner waited for the "economy" to be favorable, there would be fewer business owners in the marketplace.

Entrepreneurs start a new business often times in spite of - or because of - the competition in the area. They do so because they believe that they can supply a better product or service (or a better price on a similar product or service).

And after all, competition is what keeps a free market economy honest.

Starting a business typically falls into two categories.

A full-time endeavor that is intended to pay your bills and feed your family from the first day you start. This may or may not require a storefront or formal office space. Frequently these can be run from your home if you have a ''designated area you conduct business from'' (i.e. a spare room you turn into an office).

A sideline business or money making hobby that you use to fill in the gaps created by a lack of income from your ''day job.'' These are almost always run from home and sometimes a sideline business can grow and evolve into a full-time endeavor.

For those with the heart of an entrepreneur that want to start a business that will be a full-time endeavor please consider the following...

If YOU believe that you can make it work, then you can make it work. A wise man once said "He who believes he can and he who believes he cannot are usually both right."

Research and study everything that you can on the business and the area that you live in to develop an understanding of what it will take to be successful in your market. However - as a word of caution - do not become victim to the "paralysis of analysis." Sometimes you just have to dive in head first with the information that you have and make adjustments as you go.

Buy a copy of Frank Betteger's book How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success Through Selling and read it a couple times. Even if you are not going to be selling a product per se, you are definitely ''selling yourself'' to your potential client base. (For the guys out there - also go buy a copy of Wild At Heart by John Eldridge and read it. It may open your mind to a few things that you never realized about yourself.) If you have previously read these books, go read them again.

Have a ''get the job done'' mentality embedded in your mind. That means no vacations... no season tickets to the local baseball team... no ''dinner and a movie'' with the spouse more than once a month... until you have your business established and generating enough revenue that you will not be stressed out over the mortgage payment if you take more than three days off in a row. You have to be focused and committed to doing - not just "your best" but - "whatever it takes" to be successful.

Realize that you are going to lose some sleep. You may lose sleep because you are adding the finishing touches to your latest and greatest piece of marketing materials and you simply lost track of time. You may lose sleep because you have a mountain of paperwork to go through before you can go to bed. And you may lose some sleep because you are not sure where the next client is coming from.

If you find yourself in the latter situation, whatever you do, do not toss and turn and let stress and worry consume you. Go pick up a book (like Wild At Heart or How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success...) and start reading it. You may discover something you missed the first time. You may remind yourself of a concept that you've been meaning to implement but haven't done so yet. You might even find yourself still reading when the sun comes up and the alarm goes off - in which case grab an extra cup of coffee and hit the ground running, you will definitely get some sleep the next night.

Understand that people who have never owned a business before can't understand what motivates and drives someone to take a leap of faith and charge into the realm of uncertainty by starting a business. It doesn't make them bad people (they may be your parents or your grandparents or your brothers and sisters). It just means that you can't go to them for advice about growing YOUR business. And after all, at the end of the day it is YOUR business and YOU are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of it - not your parents, not your neighbors, and certainly not the government.

Lastly, to use a familiar cliche, "Work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God."

Good luck. I'm pulling for you.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Follow Up... the Achilles Heel of the entire sales industry - regardless of the product line or service being offered.

Having someone who knows how to properly follow-up with clients and prospects is just as valuable as having effective and efficient customer service to "hold down the fort" back at HQ, but harder to find.

Being someone who can properly follow-up can be the difference between having a good month and a not-so-good month in business. Especially if, like most start-ups and sole-proprietorships,you are your business.

Go to the local book store and you will find entire shelves devoted to "sales techniques" and "tips to close that sale." And you can read every e-zine and blog post ever written on the internet, but sometimes, there is only one relatively simple thing that needs to happen...

Whether it's writing an insurance policy, or selling a house, or winning a service contract with a property management company, or signing a new client, or even just landing a new job...

Sometimes all you have to do is answer the phone or at the very least, return the call (the same day if possible).

Don't end up like Ifida...

Ifida is the designer that says "If I'd a just returned that lady's call, I'd be the one redesigning her kitchen."

Ifida is the salesman that says "If I'd a simply taken time to respond to that email the same day, instead of waiting a week, I'd be receiving a $10,000 check as a deposit on that order instead of my competitor."

Ifida is the insurance agent that says "I can't believe so-and-so moved their business to another agent. We've been friends for years. If I'd a only gotten back to him with that quote sooner...."

Are you an "Ifida" or are you "The Phenom Of Follow-Up"?

What do you do to stay on top of your follow-ups?

Where have you dropped the ball?

Share your comments, and let us know.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, Old Insanity

It's January 1, 2011.

Time to close the books on last year and start fresh for the coming year.

But here's the crux of the situation... everyone talks about making resolutions and usually by February they are depressed because they have not followed through on any of them.

They haven't followed through - quite simply - because they are INSANE! To borrow a line from the movie The Sixth Sense... "I see insane people. They are everywhere, walking around, but they just don't know they are insane."

How do I know they are insane? It's simple. Insanity can be defined as: doing the same things over and over, while expecting different results.

You know the first step is admitting you have a problem.

So if someone asks you why you didn't stop smoking like you had "resolved" to do, just tell them that you are insane.

But there's good news, every problem in the world can be fixed (it may take time or money, but it can be fixed). And that includes this type of insanity. Here are 3 simple steps you can take:
  1. You have to take some time and determine what it is that you want that you don't have.
  2. Then you need to take some time to determine what it is that you are doing now that is not getting you what you want.
  3. Finally, you need to take some time to send me some money for a self-help book that I've written... (just kidding). But you do need to take some time to find out what actions you need to change in order to get what it is you want.
Most of the issues that you are dealing with can be overcome by changing the way you think.

The English novelist Charles Reade put it this way:
We sow a thought, we reap an act.
We sow an act, we reap a habit.
We sow a habit, we reap a character.
We sow a character, we reap a destiny.
A good friend of mine tells it this way...
Once upon a time there was a man who wanted to be on the other side of the wall that was in front of him. He tried to climb over it, but it was too high. He thought about going under it, but didn't have a shovel.
He decided that he was going to bust through it, so he took a few steps back and ran at the wall shoulder first. The wall didn't move but he was determined. He kept trying to break down the wall until he was so tired that the only thing he could do was pound on it with his fists and bang on it with his head.
A short time later, the man's friend comes along and asks what he's doing. He tells his friend about his struggle and how badly he wants to be on the other side of that wall. His friend pats him on the back and says "Let's take a walk." They go a short distance and the friend shows him a spot in the wall that is different than the rest. The friend shows the man a door.
What is your destiny? Does the way you currently "think" get you closer to your destiny? Do you have a friend that is willing to show you a door? Will you listen to them or will you go back to banging your head against the wall?

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...