If you watch any of the old western movies, there is a common theme in all of them that’s just as true today. Pioneers often get arrows in the back. Among Silicon Valley high-tech firms there is a variation of this that says there is a dangerous bleeding edge beyond the cutting edge of innovation.
Yes, pioneers have the greatest opportunities to stake a claim or find the mother lode, but they also take the greatest risks. Once they have found gold, oil, or water it’s all too easy for someone to set up shop right next to them and tap into the same source from an adjoining field with none of the risk or cost associated with the pioneers’ venture.
In this economy most people are already up to their armpits in alligators and don’t have the time or energy for much strategic thinking, they are just looking to survive. So they do what they have always done. Trim some hourly employees, shop for cheaper (usually inferior) vendors and discount a little more in the hopes of gaining ground. Or they simply maintain the status quo, changing nothing hoping things will just get better while they slowly bleed to death.
Twice in my early business career I have been at the crossroads where I thought I had tried everything and was about to go broke!
In fact the second time I was already beyond broke. My home was mortgaged to the hilt and I had $126,000 on nine different credit cards! In both cases, a small change of marketing strategy and I mean something that took just a few seconds to come up with and a few hours to develop, completely changed my financial fortunes forever…
Speed and creativity are the entrepreneur’s greatest weapons. I have a passion for fast cars, but my passion for speed is not limited to pleasure behind the wheel. It includes my business because speed is an important strategy in business.
Two people whose books influenced my early career and made me err on the side of speed were Brian Tracy and Mark McCormick. Both men believe that most great ideas are killed or copied by others while people pursue perfection in developing them. I fully believe that a good idea executed quickly—even if it is less than perfect—will massively outperform a perfect idea that is implemented six months later. In addition, you’ll get months’ worth of leads that much earlier.
Having quit school at 15 and never graduated college, I have never put much stock in certificates, diplomas, accreditation, or resumes of any kind. But just because I don’t doesn’t mean the rest of the world doesn’t. In fact it astonishes me how much people crave such paperwork.
One of the easiest ways in the world to gain instant credibility is simply to form your own association. This practice was rampant in the martial arts world in which I once lived. As soon as an instructor felt he had gained enough knowledge from his master, he simply broke away and formed his own style and own association. King of his own nation and master of his own subjects in one fell swoop. This association would then offer membership and rank accreditation, generating membership and testing fees at every turn. The fact that the new master might only be 23 years old seemed to bother no one (other than his previous master). As long as his students had something more to learn from him, they gladly paid.
Napoleon was once asked if he believed in luck in warfare. He replied, “Yes, I believe in luck. I believe in bad luck, and I believe that I will always have it. I, therefore, plan accordingly.”
I often joke that the two reasons for all failure are lack of talent and poor planning. Both are fixable. You can take lessons, coaching, and seminars to improve your talent, while poor planning is even easier to fix.
Start each endeavor with a deck stacked in your favor. Know your goals, vision, and strategic plan inside out. Know your product, know your staff, know your resources, know your customers, and know your competition. Anticipate objections, eliminate roadblocks, and be overarmed with solutions.
If you asked each of the following—all very nice people— whether they feel they have a good reputation for service, each would unequivocally say yes. Each would tell you how they love working with people, how they are excited about their jobs, and how everyone who deals with them has good things to say about them. All would be wrong because the service or the follow-up service I received from each will forever brand these people in my mind as also-rans.
The first house I bought in Florida generated a very large commission for the real estate agent who was both the listing and the selling agent. She spent a grand total of one day with my wife and me before we bought it. Now, admittedly, for one reason or another, we didn’t move in on time, but the fact remains she spent less than eight hours on a deal that made her firm tens of thousands of dollars. Did we have fruit waiting in the kitchen, a bottle of Dom Perignon, or a thank you card? NO! In fact, we got nothing—way to build your reputation lady.