business partnership

A Quick Guide to Forming a Productive Business Partnership

Last week, I got the great news that AMS was finally a licensing company.

The news officially went live on the net via this post on Endurance Sportswire.

We’re licensing our Viking Dash series to a company in California known as Spectrum Sports Management. They are known for doing fun and unique runs. Viking seems like a great match for them!

That said, as a board, we didn’t jump to this decision quickly. We had a list we used to make sure we found exactly who we needed to help further this brand.

Because partnering is no easy task. It needs to be treated with care in who you’re choosing – you have to be particular with whom you’re bringing on or negotiating a contract – such as a license – with.

So in today’s post, we’ll be looking at some of the things you should consider in partnering with others in a new business venture.

 

Matching Values

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that when people are building romantic relationships, many people do so with someone they don’t share values with. I know for me, I had a list of 100 some traits and qualities I was looking for when I met and started dating Maria.

She hit on a good number of them. In retrospect, I’m pretty happy I made that list. Thanks LTD for the giving me the idea! 😉

The same thing should be done when looking for a partner in building a business. You need to have a list of qualities that you believe are important in someone who’s essentially going to be another spouse of yours in many ways. Your business is the baby in this situation.

So just like if you were dating, you need to be asking certain questions to find out if you align. However, I wouldn’t go doing it in an office – that just has interview written all over it.

No, instead I’d opt for something informal where you’re just getting to know each other. For me and Maria, we had tons of coffee “dates” where we would just chat and find out more about each other.

Same thing can be done when starting a business.

 

Ideas for Questions:

“Date” questions for a potential co-founder should get to not only find out about their character, but also their business savvy.

Here’s a few examples that I’d ask when seeing if someone lines up with your believes:

  • What do you want out of a business?
  • What do you like about this particular idea?
  • Where you see this business going?
  • Where do you see your role in 2, 3, or 5 years?
  • How do you find good employees when you’re ready for that step?
  • What are you expectations of an employee?
  • What are you expectations of me?
  • Is there anything that I should know about your family that might cause periodic issues with your ability to help with the business?
  • How do you feel about the business contributing to nonprofit or political causes?

 

Complementary Skills and Personality

When I was searching for my wife, I knew that I wanted someone that was intelligent but I also knew that this person had to have a complementary skill set.

I know there’s just some things that I have no interest in doing or am simply not good at. I was talking to Albert about this in a recent Ascension Council meeting and mentioned that there are some things that Maria does 100x better than me – or cares about things that I don’t:

  • Making the bed everyday
  • Laundry
  • Tidying up

Albert and I both prefer organized chaos – but that’s because we’re both idea guys. Our wives seem to be more of the executor types.

In a business situation, you need to be looking for this at all different levels – but it’s especially true at the cofounder level.

As John Maxwell says, “Take advantage of your strengths, and hire for your weaknesses”. Well in this case, you’re not hiring – you’re partnering! It’s going to be even more important here.

  • So if you’re broke, you need someone that has money.
  • Are you good at creating? Then you’re going to need a marketer.
  • If you’re good at design, then perhaps your partner needs to be good at writing code.
  • Are you a strong Dominant (D) personality? Then you’re going to need someone who’s supportive. Or if you’re a the Calculative (C) type, you’ll need someone who’s Imaginary (I).

Of course there’s examples out there where having two or more founders have similar skills, it’s not often the case. The more well rounded the leadership is, the better this thing is going to have!

 

Start with the End in Mind

Earlier I wanted you to make sure you asked questions that were pertaining to the future of the business. The reason for this is that if you do end up doing well with the business, then there might come a time where you’re thinking of an Exit Strategy.

The Exit Strategy needs to be in stone at the beginning. The business you and your partner(s) are building – are you going to hold onto it as a lifestyle building business? Or are you going to build it and sell the right of the business if a bidder comes along with a ton of money?

Or, perhaps another case is that you need money to keep the thing going – you consider starting to sell stocks vs “keeping it in the family”. Are either of you the type that wants the opposite of what the other wants?

This is stuff you want to consider.

 

Background Check

When Maria and I were dating, she asked me a ton of background check questions. Did I have kids? Was I a convict? Did I have chicken pox? Well… maybe not that last one – but you get the idea!

Anyway, you want to do the same for your future business partner as well.

Find out the answers to these questions:

  • Does the candidate move from project to project without getting anything done?
  • Have they ever owned a business themselves or ever been part of a successful one?
  • Have they ever had financial issues?
  • Do other people get a bad vibe from them?

 

Just remember that no one is perfect and sometimes troubled pasts make a person that much more committed to what they’re doing now with their life. Sometimes people actually learn from their mistakes. If they have had a spotted background, see what they’ve learned from it.

 

Take Them for a Test Drive!

Well, not literally, of course. But if you’ve never worked with this person before now, you need to see what they’re like with other projects.

In the dating world, you can continue to date. I know for Maria and I we just felt like we were long lost friends. Really, the only thing we ever have quarrels about are our dogkids and whether or not they were sleeping on the bed recently or not. I imagine that in the future, when we do conflict, it’ll probably be about the kids!

In business, you want to have this trial time as well – even if it’s with friends you’ve had forever.

Start a working relationship and see how things go in smaller projects. Find out if they’re as committed as you’d like. Are they flaky about time? Do they even have the same vision as you? Maybe they’re just too naive about certain things that might drive you crazy?

These issues can mount up over time and you should know about them first before you build something on a larger scale with them!

When you believe it’s time to move to the next level, make sure you get a founders’ partnership agreement. It should include things like:

 

  • The contribution and obligations to the company of each party
  • How long a party must be with the company to vest in percentages of their promised ownership
  • Whether partners can be fired or bought out and under what conditions
  • What voting percentages are required to validate any of these actions
  • Any other issues unique to the business

 

If a partner is reluctant to put something as big as this agreement in writing, then there’s a big red flag there.

I mean, it’s like going without a prenuptial agreement in a marriage after you already have a fortune. It just doesn’t make sense!

 

A Special Note About Friends as Business Partners:

One of the original people involved in AMS was recently in a lawsuit with us. Needless to say, he’s no longer considered a friend after what he did and wasting the time of all parties involved.

The thing is – you can’t predict what’s going to happen down the line.

So here’s a few tips with this.

You need to realize that if you do decide to get in business with friends, that things can potentially go south and the friendship will more than likely go that way too.

Don’t ever go into business with family or friends just because they’re family or friends. Again, make sure you take time to test them out first. Just because you know someone as a friend, doesn’t mean you know them as a business person.

If a friend screws up bad once and promises that they’ll correct their ways, you can give them a second chance – you still like them as a friend. A great way to make sure it doesn’t happen again is to draft a secondary “social” contract with them saying what they’ll do to make up for how they screwed up. Another part of that new contract needs to mention what will happen if they do screw up again. Let them help make it so they believe it’s fair punishment as well.

 

Action Steps:

If in the future you find yourself negotiating partnerships, make sure you give it some deep thought. A business is a baby and if it has multiple parents, it needs them to work together and not fight about little things all the time or one getting the short end of the stick.

When you have great partnerships from the beginning, anything is possible. However, that said, if you have to carry dead weight – then it’s going to be twice as hard.

Have you had a partnership that worked extremely well or fell apart? Have any questions or comments about this post?

Let me know below!

 

consumer research

Consumer Research: The Most Important Part of Understanding Your Market

Once you set out on your own entrepreneurial personal mission, it’s important to know how you can actually be of value to those that you’re looking to add value to.

The best way that you do this is through market research.

However, what that actually means can differ depending on who you ask. In this post, we’ll look at some mistakes people make in their research, and how to make sure you’re asking the right questions.

 

Anti-Disruption: One Secret to Not Going Broke

When I was in grad school, I had the opportunity to judge business plan competitions a couple of times. As part of those business plans, students were to do some “market research”. This basically meant they got to use essentially academic research methods to learn about the industry in which they were going to bring “disruption”. Many of these methods are discussed in this article in a Entrepreneur Magazine post.

Haha. Talk about fun. 😛

Until I got into The Foundation, 3 years after I got out, this was the way that I thought ALL entrepreneurial endeavours started.

However, what I learned, and what many people make mistakes in is that your business doesn’t have to be disruptive at all.

In fact, if all you’re wanting to do is make an income via your personal mission, then trying to go for the home run your first go-around might not make the best financial sense.

Instead of going to go dig for gold yourself and potentially going broke in the process, why not build a strong foundation by first supplying the tools to those gold diggers? Some might be striking it rich, but there are many MANY more of them who are failing.

Don’t run those odds on yourself – play it safe and be a tool maker. Just like jean and shovel makers were needed in the actual gold rush for those going after the gold (and the most consistently profitable), people who are providing simple services are still needed today too.

 

Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Primary Research

In the above linked Entrepreneur magazine, primary research is briefly mentioned. Most of the article discusses SECONDARY Research.

What’s sad is that most aspiring and existing entrepreneurs do the exact same thing. They don’t do any consumer research!!

It’s like surveys and talking with one’s customers (or potential clients) directly is the last thing most business owners want to do – even though those same customers are the ones that are directly impacting their bottom line.

Another thing about secondary research is that many times it’s old data. You hear more talk about trends and being “where the market is going, not where it’s at” then you should. Some people really don’t know what that last statement is really saying! Sure it’s a great place to start, but it’s not going to ever you the full picture of what’s actually going on.

 

Getting it from the Horse’s Mouth

There’s an idiom that goes “straight from the horse’s mouth”. If you haven’t heard this before, well, chances are you aren’t near a farm. But basically, it’s referring to the fact that farmers want to check the mouth of a horse before they buy them from someone.

In our case, it means “to get information from the person most directly involved or best informed” or the customer.

Now I know what you’re going to say, “But JC, people hate doing surveys! How am I to get them to answer my questions?”

Good question.

As you know, there’s a few methods which can be done online or in person:

  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires

I’ve listed them in the order that you’ll get the best results. If you actually get the chance to interview someone, you’re going to have great data. If you send someone a survey or questionnaire, there’s going to a much lower chance of getting results back.

 

Questions to Ask

Now, based on whether you’re developing something new or something you’ve already made, you’ll have different questions on what you’ll be asking those individuals.

If you’re planning on releasing a new product or service to a customer, there are 6 base questions you need to know the answer to.

If you were going to put these in a questionnaire, they might go like this:

  • What is the biggest challenge that they currently have in their work?
  • What are their long term goals?
  • How will achieving those long term goal feel?
  • Have they already tried in achieving that long term goal? Any failures or frustrations did they experience in getting there?
  • What are their goals right now?
  • What are they willing to change to achieve those goals this next year?

These matter for various reasons – but the main reason is that you’re looking to ask questions that they often don’t think about as often as they’d like. Also, if you’re going to be helping them, you need an emotional anchor in what they’re trying to achieve. This anchor is their Why for doing whatever they’re doing.

People don’t buy facts – they buy feelings.

However, I will add that the more personable you can make the experience, the more information you can collect and the more emotion you can tie to their responses.

That’s why it’s best to learn how to properly conduct an interview. Not only will these base questions be answered, but you’ll be able to get more clarification. If you get the chance, ask these questions as followups:

  • Can you describe your typical working day?
  • In your typical working day, where do you feel like you’re wasting the most time?
  • What factors do you consider when purchasing a certain product (or service)?
  • What do you like or dislike about current products (or services) currently on the market?
  • Any areas would you suggest for improvement?
  • What would be the smallest version of this product (or service) that’d you pay for?
  • What is the appropriate price for a product or service like this?

These are good questions because most often than not the answers don’t lie on the surface. (That’s why idea extraction has the name it does!)

Action Steps: Get Some Answers!

Depending on the type of work you’re looking to do, these questions will change. For example, if you’re looking to build a certain kind of software like The Foundation initially focused on, you’ll want to ask more software oriented questions. If it’s a service, lean that direction.

Sure, the more responses you have, the better. However, I would attempt to get 12 to 15 responses at first so you can start recognizing some patterns. The most used response – that needs to be included in your (minimum viable product). Anything after that validates what you’re already doing.

Let me know below how it works out for you or if you have any questions!

 

performance coaching

Marc Mawhinney – Performance Coaching for Coaches – Learning How to Make a Living as an Online Coach (AoL 091)

They say that any good professional coach is going to have their own coach. The reasoning why is that iron sharpens iron and it’s good to have that  accountability of growth. This is especially true if you’re working directly with helping other people grow.

I learned of this when I was first getting into the John Maxwell Team back in 2011. As I look back now, we were lucky enough to have a coaching mentorship program.

There’s other large names that provide this service as well. For example, co-host Clay Green is a Certified High Performance Coach through Brendon Burchard. BUT – the thing with with that is that you have to have gone through High Performance Academy to be part of that.

To be frank, I hadn’t actually met anyone that specifically was helping other current coaches get better at just coaching.

That’s where today’s guest, Marc Mawhinney, is really starting to make a name for himself as being a coach’s coach.

Having started his newest business, Natural Born Coaches, he has amassed a heck of a following on Facebook with over 6000 people adding themselves to his group in a short couple of years.

Besides having a great niche to work in himself, Marc is also the host of a podcast where he brings on other folks who can help coaches get better at their craft too.

In our conversation today with Marc, Al and I discover how he ended up doing this work in the first place, what he really helps other coaches with, and some nuts and bolts about how he’s built his business including his Facebook group.

If you’re wanting to be a successful coach in a particular field, then Marc is a great guy to know.

Thanks for listening, and enjoy the show!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • How’d Marc get started in Real Estate? 8:28
  • How did Marc make the transition from real estate to coaching? 12:50
  • What does Marc help his clients with? 15:51
  • What kind of things does his programs specialize in? 18:51
  • Why does Marc send daily emails to his list and believe it’s ok to do so? 20:46
  • Where does he get the inspiration for the content he shares in his group and his emails on a daily basis? 23:52
  • What’s some keys in starting a good Facebook group? 28:52
  • Did Marc have any influences in how he built his group? 32:27
  • Why did he personally opt to go with a podcast instead of doing videos on YouTube? 34:03
  • What are some of the cornerstones that a successful coach uses to build their business? 39:53
  • Three teachers who have helped Marc get where he’s at. 43:25
  • Hardest thing that he’s ever had to say no to? 44:13
  • What’s something that isn’t as bad as he thought it’d be? 44:51
  • What’s a service which doesn’t exist he’d gladly pay for? 45:28
  • What’s it mean to live a life of abundance? 46:03
  • … and MUCH more!

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

Lesson from Matthew McConaughey:

Testimonials for Marc’s “Your First 5 Clients” Program:

Marc on Growing a Coaching Business through Online Courses:

Vanessa Talbot’s Q&A session with Marc:

performance coaching performance coaching performance coaching performance coaching


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud, and/or Google Play Music. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

How to be more productive

Work Smarter, Not Harder – How to be More Productive In Your Day Without More Discipline with Lisa Crilley Mallis (AoL 090)

We’ve all heard the phrase Work Smarter, Not Harder. But for many of us that’s much more easier to say than actually do.

The prevailing advice that’s out there is that there’s only certain ways to get stuff done. To be successful, you must:

  • Race the sun
  • Crush it
  • Find the schedule that best suits you
  • Exercise first thing in the morning
  • Answer email first thing in the morning
  • Tackle your least desirable tasks first
  • Knock out simple tasks as they come in.
  • Disconnect from technology
  • Automate and systematize

These are just some of the solutions that are out there when you google “entrepreneur productivity hacks“.

It might be me, but some of them seem to conflict with each other. For example, if you’re racing the sun, that means that you’re a morning person and you work until sundown. Well, what if night is your best working time? Can night owls make the transition to morning birds so easily?

I know for me, it takes me a bit of time for my mind to fully boot up in the morning. Usually I spend an hour just seeing what’s new on the web, having breakfast, and working out (yay for home gym equipment you actually use!).

This is completely different than how many people approach their days – and frankly when I approached my days like that back in high school, I was always a zombie until 3rd period.

Apparently, there’s nothing wrong with that, according to this session’s guest, Lisa Crilley Mallis.

People do have their own schedules and processes when it comes to being creative and getting things done.

She also acknowledges that many people’s day to day work life doesn’t allow them to actually be efficient in their own zone. While it might be expected of them, it’s by no means healthy or really productive for that matter.

In our conversation, we talk more about her mission, some of the things that she helps people with in her practice, and how you can keep focused in what’s important in your daily routine.

Thanks for listening, and enjoy the show!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • What was Lisa doing before she started Impactive Strategies? 7:32
  • Was owning her own business something she always saw herself doing and how did she end up starting it? 11:21
  • What kind of material did she study as she was starting the foundation of her business? 16:46
  • What’s the secret to getting more done in a person’s day? 20:15
  • How can someone battle the busy work in their day? 24:11
  • What’s Lisa’s definition of true busy work? 30:04
  • How does she know when to say no about a opportunity? 34:40
  • What’s a simple way to keep people focused on what’s important? 40:23
  • What’s going on the rest of this year for Lisa? 43:24
  • Who are Lisa’s favorite teachers? 45:45
  • Something she wishes was still a thing? 46:25
  • What is the smallest decision that has had the greatest impact on her life? 48:08
  • Something she believed in her 20’s but now knows is completely inaccurate? 49:21
  • How can someone be a difference maker in their community? 51:16
  • … and MUCH more!

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

 

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

How to Start and End Your Day with Routines:

Learning About WHAT You Can Delegate:

Lisa’s interview with Marc Mawhinney:

Lisa’s interview with Erica Duran:

how to be more productive


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud, and/or Google Play Music. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

business practices

5 Business Practices You’re Probably Doing Wrong… and How to Fix Them

The last couple of years have been a heck of an experience for me. I’ve been learning a ton. Many times through mistakes and many times much later than I would have liked to.

One thing that I’m glad I do regularly is reflect – specifically weekly, monthly, and yearly.

And since we’re just about to hit halfway through 2017 already (dannng!) I thought now would be a good time for me to hit you with a few things that either I’ve struggled with or business friends of mine have.

So here are 5 things you just might be doing wrong in your business:

 

You’re Not Prepared for Scaling

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here – and just say you’re a workaholic. Whether you’re still in a 9 to 5 and work on your business at night, or you’ve gone full entrepreneur mode and having no problems finding customers – there’s a really good chance you haven’t prepped for scaling.

What do I mean by that?

Well, for one, if you’re doing this thing on your own and have full blown superman syndrome – how do you plan on getting out of your own way?

Sure, you can hire help to do certain tasks – but what good is that help if they have to spend a year watching you do their work?

Wouldn’t it make sense to have systematized everything so you can hand over the reigns of particular job in a week to a month’s time and not worry about if it’ll come back right?

Start documenting what you’re doing on a regular basis so that when you are ready to hire someone, it’s much easier to do and you’re not completely saturated with work.

Here’s a good SPI Podcast session on this topic.

 

You Don’t Think You Need to Market Your Business

This weekend, I had to go to the vet. I asked one of them if they thought that they needed help with Facebook Advertising. Since this is something that I know a lot of businesses struggle with, and I’m just recently learning about it, I thought I’d reach out and see if they’d be open to simply testing the waters.

Their response to me was, “Oh, we have pretty good customer traffic as it is now. We’re always busy!”

That response kinda took me back a bit. I’ve never been the type to believe that the best way of working is to fill out all your working time with as many clients as possible.
Sure, it’s one way of measuring success – but I’ve always been a “pay me by the job not time” kind of guy.

If you’re this type of business owner, you might want to reconsider doing marketing – and what that actually means to you.

How are you doing when you reach out to customers you already have? Did you know that repeat customers are worth up to 10 times more than new customers? Is YOUR online presence consistent and up to date? If not, might be time to make that something you get help on.

 

If You Are Marketing Your Business, You’re Probably Not Using Social Media Correctly

Facebook is not LinkedIn and Twitter is not Instagram. All of these formats have different ways of engaging its users.

First off, if you want to get more out of social media – you’re going to have to figure out which platforms work for you. Trying to do more than 2 well isn’t really feasible as 1 person. So remember this before you spend anymore time on a platform you have no business on:

Here’s a short quick run down of each platform according to Luan Wise.

  • Facebook – Business to consumer and peer to peer content sharing.
  • Twitter – If your business is about ‘In the Moment’ news and topical discussion, Twitter is a great place for you. It’s all about trends here!
  • Google Plus – This is a great platform if you want people to find your products or services through SEO. (Not sure what SEO or backlinking is? Here’s a great resource.)
  • Instagram – Do you have an image-friendly business (like Laila’s?) or have quotable guests on a show? Then Instagram might be a good way to get your message out!
  • LinkedIn – If you’re looking to get your current business circle up to date on what you’re doing, LinkedIn is the way to go. However, don’t go adding everyone like you would on Facebook – LinkedIn isn’t meant for that.

Need more help here? Be sure to get Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Much of it still applies to today.

Your Business is Flying Under the Radar

Even if you’re a freelancer who barely gets any work, you should really consider giving your business some legitimacy.

First of all, make your business at least an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). There’s a couple of reasons to do this.

  1. If your business ever gets sued, you can’t lose your personal assets if it’s incorporated.
  2. If you’re considering doing any kind of affiliate marketing work, there’s a good chance they’re going to ask you what your business name is and if you can’t prove that you actually own one, you might have some issues.

Another recommendation here – make sure you find an accountant for tax purposes.

Doing a 1040EZ through H&R Block online is one thing – but when you start looking to start keeping track of deductions and all of that… Get someone that knows how to do this.

In fact, this is probably the first “hire” you should DEFINITELY make for your business.

 

You’re Not Networking As Efficiently as You Could

There’s a saying I heard recently that keeps resonating with me. It goes something like…

“It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.”

Here’s the thing. You need to know people. You need to be a connector. And frankly, if you’re not helping other people find business, then the favor isn’t going to get returned.

The more you help others get what they want, the more you’ll get back yourself. Karma is a real thing – especially in business.

Want to network more? First off network with me, other fans, and guests of the podcast here.

Be sure to check out Ascension Mentorship – I can introduce you to the founder Albert Winks if it sounds like something you’d like to know more about.

Get a book called “Coffee, Lunch, Coffee – a Practical Field Guide For Master Networking”. Find out more about this book via Joe Crane’s podcast, Veteran on the Move.

 

Action Steps

So, yes, these are just a handful of things that we all might do when we’re starting out in business. Maybe you have a few years under your belt and you never had the need to do one of these items.

Would it help?

That’s for you to think about.

Personally, I’ve implemented all of these with New Inceptions.

I have systems in place, I’m marketing (better and better all the time!), NI is legit, AND I’m networking.

How about you? What are some things that have bit you in the past before? Let me know!!

live your dreams

How to Live Your Dreams: A Definitive Guide

Whether you call it living off your passion, living your dreams, or simply working your mission, it’s no secret that if you really want to be successful in life, you’re going to have to do what satisfies you.

Those that find that satisfaction in a traditional job (where they’re working for someone else) are increasingly becoming the minority.

A Forbes article in 2014 showed 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. Sure, we’ve been climbing back up since 2010 – but when you look at the entire picture, we’ve been on a slide since 1987.

This said, it’s simple to understand why more and more people are opting to work for themselves. It’s the one way we can control our day to day working lives.

However, there are certain questions that come up time and time again when starting on this path.

In this guide, I’ll be looking at some of the most common concerns folks have when starting out with their first business and everything you need to get over those humps yourself.

Let’s get started.

Chapter 1: Passion is Optional – But it Helps!

There are two people that many people think of when the term passion is discussed. On one side, you have Gary Vaynerchuk, who says that if you want to stick with a business through the thick and thin, then it helps to have found your passion before you get started.

On the other hand, Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame says that many of the folks that he’s talked to over the years have found out that they’re good at doing a certain job. After doing that the job for awhile, the passion follows.

For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that passion is nice to have. BUT – it’s not everything.

Find Your Mission

What is everything is an idea that David Anderson shared in his TEDx talk. He says that we need to have a mission in our life. Figuring out what this mission is for ourselves is truly how we’re going to succeed in whatever we do; we’ll make our career decisions based on that mission.

Now, to to find that mission you’ll have to put some time in and try some things out and see if you like them. You can’t just say “Oh, hey, yeah – I like to do <insert cool thing here>. You’ll really have no idea.

It’s important to go take dumb action, or what I like to call it, perform self-experimentation. You need see what you like to do, and then mold your mission around what you’ve learned from that action.

That’s really what you should be doing in the first 20+ years of your life: testing the waters. I believe that’s why many kids who have guided their own homeschooling properly are set up for success. They get to figure out what they like to do as opposed to formal education telling them.

I found a great guide to help you find your passion/mission. It’s over at Live Your Legend. Back in 2012, Scott Dinsmore (RIP, buddy) wrote about The 3 Simple (& Absolutely Required) Steps to Doing Work You Love: Live Your Legend’s Passionate Work Framework. This was one of many tools that I’ve used to find my own mission.

 

Chapter 2: How to Start a Business without a Degree?

They say that experience is the best teacher. So I make it a point to pay attention to people who have results that I want.

I’ve been doing this since college because I learned back then that there are definitely folks who teach things that they have no experience at. There were professors who taught business, even though they had never left academia. It was pure speculation or hearsay that’d they use to power their courses.

Likewise, in the rest of the world, there are people who never graduated college who are some of the best business teachers.

Recently I’ve been learning more about Russell Brunson and his Clickfunnels empire. In his new book, Expert Secrets, he wrote about how even he had the imposter syndrome early on. But now, 10 years later, he’s considered by many to be one of the big experts in online business!

Unless you’re going to start working with something that is highly specialized and regulated, then yes, you probably should get training before hand to do it. This would include some doctors, lawyers, dentists, construction, trainers, engineers, etc.

While not all of these require the same amount of education, they all should know what they’re doing before they get started.

 

Just in Time Learning

just in time learning

As a Creative, it’s important to practice Just-In-Time Learning.

Now, if you’re starting a business on something that doesn’t require previous education to get rolling, then you have the ability to be only one step ahead of the people you’re trying to serve.

In fact, when you’re getting going, that’s probably as far as you want to be. Because if you have much more, you might overload your brain with information you might not be ready for.

The way to do be only one step ahead of the folks you’re trying to serve is called Just in Time Learning. Note: You can also apply this method of learning to anything in life, not just what you’re helping clients with. If you’re looking to build a new skill, then practice it then. If you’re learning how to be more social – that’s a great time as well.

Note: If you’re interested in learning things quicker, then you should check out Jim Kwik.

His most recent interview I heard of his was with Jordan Harbinger. But he’s also been on the School of Greatness and other podcasts. If you like what you hear there, check out his show here.

 

Chapter 3: Is a Business Plan Needed?

When I was still studying at Purdue’s Burton Morgan Center, one of the things that came up again and again were business plans. In fact, it became so popular that there were business plan competitions. I’m sure there still are.

Truth be told, unless you’re partnering up with some folks, whether as co-founders, investors, or key clients, then you’re not going to need a traditional business plan.

However, what you’ll need to do is make sure you have focus and clarity in what you’re actually helping people do.

A resource I wanted to share with you guys is something our friends over at Fizzle put together.

It’s called the Business Sketch Template.

Fizzle’s Business Sketch Template

 

Business Mission Formula

Also, for the times when you need to express what you’re doing in a summary format, you can use the Business Mission Formula.

In this post, I shared a formula that goes like this:

I help X (your “niche” audience): _____________

Do/Understand Y (something you’re good at helping people with): _____________

So that they can Z (a benefit your audience would want): _____________

 

Which then, for me, I turned into:

I help aspiring and veteran entrepreneurs, artists, and experts

Discover, share, and monetize their life’s work

So that they can live a lifestyle they’re truly proud of.

Not only do you get a simple mission, but you also get an elevator pitch that you can share with others about what you actually do.

 

Wait, There’s More!

One more thing that I want to share with you guys from Fizzle is this awesome post where they shared 10 Steps to Start a Business. It’s a good follow up piece that I think you need to consider when starting your business.

Fizzle’s 10 Steps to Start a Business

 

Chapter 4: How to Know When It’s the Right Time to Start

Check out Kate Erickson’s Perspective on why you should start NOW

There is no right time. Period.

Ok, so those of you who know me, might realize that this is something that I struggled with for years. It never seemed like it was the right time until… it wasn’t.

I finally started working on New Inceptions full time when I decided to leave my post at AMS as a day to day content director.

Now in my second year of development, I’m almost 100 episodes into the AoL Podcast and have just as many (plus a few more) blog posts.

I feel that I’m finally in the creative groove – that I’m no longer experimenting.

In fact, there’s been some local opportunities that have started to pop up because of my continual focus.

That said, had I moved onto another job right after leaving AMS – or something that took up my creative time (like teaching a ridiculous subject to college kids) – then I wouldn’t be as far as I am.

If you’d like more perspective on this topic, Kate Erickson over at EoFire did a great write up of this topic.

 

 

Chapter 5: It Takes a Lot of Money to Start.

Live Off Your Passion

LYL’s Article on 6 Money Myths when Starting a Business

Actually, you couldn’t be further from the truth on this one. Some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs I know of started with nothing.

Take Dane Maxwell, known for starting The Foundation (TF), for example. The dude practically taught folks how to start businesses for free – it’s just knowing how to do presales and coming up with a really REALLY good idea for a business.

Of course getting the training from TF wasn’t cheap – but the knowledge that I got from there is practical to just about any idea out there.

There’s a post over at Live Your Legend that I thought would be of benefit to you if you’re struggling with this part as well.

In the post, Leah Hynes and Nazrin Murphie talk about 6 Myths that relate to money being a problem when it comes to living your dreams.

 

Chapter 6: How to Scale the Manpower of Your Bootstrap Business

Will It Fly book summary

Check out Pat Flynn’s Book, Will It Fly, If You want a Step By Step Procedure of Starting a Business

There are two beliefs which are very predominant in the psyche of new entrepreneurs. Either they feel they need to hire a staff right away to do what they’re doing or they feel that they have to do everything.

Here’s the thing. While you can, you don’t have to raise big money to get that business off the ground.

If you’re just starting out, you can just start out with a bootstrap business – which might be just yourself.

If this is the route you choose, then you really need to start knowing yourself well.

Who you are and what you’re capable of.

If you can make an income from providing value on your own, then scaling is going to be much easier.

So, test your idea.

Is that through being a consultant first? Then be a consultant. Perhaps it’s through being a freelancer in some other way?

Perhaps it’s through being a teacher, or one of the other 9 archetypes.

But find out if your thing, whatever it is, can actually support itself. If not, you can adjust easier as one person than you can as a “startup” with a team of people.
From there, that’s when you can start thinking about getting help as you start to scale your services.

Start Small

At first when you do get help, start small.  Starting with a VA is probably the best choice you have if you do online work.

You might be wondering, how will I know if I need help?

If feel there are two ways to know if you need help.

  • If the work that you’re doing over and over is something you could teach a high schooler to do in a week or two, then it might be time to find that high schooler.
  • If the work you’re doing doesn’t lie in your creative arena. Then that might be a sign as well.

If you answered yes to either one of these, then it might be time to think about getting some assistance.

If for some reason you don’t think that your budget would warrant bringing someone on, even as a VA, that’s ok.

Don’t forget, as someone who is running a lean business, bartering is an option. While it can be somewhat of a headache, it’s totally possible.

Or, perhaps there’s a college near you who has some students who might like to get internship experience.

Don’t overlook these other opportunities.

 

How to Not Get Superman Syndrome

For years, Pat Flynn would hire random VA’s to help him do some work here and there. But it was pretty sporadic.

After repeatedly being told by his friends that he needed to have a more permanent staff, though, he finally took the plunge and started Team Flynn.

Today, Pat is one of the biggest proponents of getting help as soon as possible. It has taken his business to the next level.

 

Chapter 7: You Don’t Have to be the Next Gary Vaynerchuk – #Anti-Hustle

Back in 2016, Gary really started making a big name for himself. His videos were everywhere. In fact, they were so well known that to many in the online entrepreneurial space, that mostly everyone thought that if they weren’t living and breathing their business all the time, then they’re not going anywhere.

Eventually, even the Fizzle Squad had to come and answer this issue:

Here’s the gist, though. If you’re not enjoying the rewards of your work, then you better LOVE the work you’re doing. Even so, there’s a thing called burnout. That’s a place you really don’t want to go – believe me.

In Gary’s case, I really believe he gets satisfaction of his 24/5 grind. It’s 24/5 because he doesn’t work on the weekends. In fact, somewhere I heard him say the reason his accounts go dark over the weekend is because that’s when he spends that time with his family.

 

Action Steps

So, there you have it. 7 different concerns that keep people from pulling the trigger all answered.

I hope that does a good job of answering them for you. If not, I’d love for you to comment below or shoot me an email.

If you don’t have any further questions, let me know which one(s) you had to deal with before you finally decided to get started.

P.S. If you want more info about starting your own business and want to get to it right away without wasting time, check out my FREE eBook, the 6 Cornerstones of a Successful Business.

Cheers!

the key to success

Make a Living From Your Passion: Pivoting – The Key to Success

Recently I heard an interview of Lewis Howes on the Glenn Beck Program. For one, it’s awesome that he was able to be on the show. It gives the online marketing world a bit of credibility when one of our own goes mainstream like that – even though Glenn really isn’t that mainstream.

But secondly, he talked about many things in the interview that I didn’t know. Things that started filling up some holes in his story that I didn’t know.

One of the biggest things he talked about in the chat was a word called “pivoting”.

This word is something I want to discuss in this week’s post and why it’s important that you know how to do it.

 

The Importance of Pivoting

Sometimes, in doing work we believe is our passion, we find out that the work we’re doing isn’t sustainable.

Perhaps it’s not bringing in as much revenue as we would have expected, or maybe we just grow tired of the work itself.

Whatever the reason, it seems like it’s just not working for us anymore.

The question then comes up, should we simply persevere, quit, or pivot.

For many, the solution would be to either persevere or quit. You either keep going through the bad times because something good is eventually going to happen… right?

Or, on the other hand, you choose to just stop.

Here’s the thing, though. The perseverance thing is borderline insanity. And nothing ever happens if you just “quit”. Nothing.

What I learned from Lewis in his conversation with Glenn is that his life is full of pivoting.

He chose to get off his sister’s couch as opposed to being mad at the universe and staying there.

He chose to win.

 

How to Pivot:

Now you might be wondering – how exactly do I pivot.

Well, pivoting simply means to figure out what IS working and then adjust.

 

Let’s say you have a niche product that you designed with the help of your potential clients in the hospitality industry.

You ended up with a site that would allow your users to book tables online. However, you realized that they simply were using it to check menus.

How could you pivot from that?

Since the menus are all they want, maybe focus on getting as many menus as possible and giving away a few with a free account – if they want more. Or you could make the service free for a certain amount of time and then charge a certain amount from there.

 

Here’s an example using niche marketing.

In the movie “The Founder”, we saw that Ray Kroc felt that he was getting screwed out of what should have been owed to him by the McDonald’s brothers.

So, instead of simply selling the idea of the restaurant to the potential franchisees, he started the actual real estate side of what would eventually be the McDonald’s Corporation. The company would do the work to find the best locations for the store, and then turn around and lease that land to the franchisee when they started their own restaurant.

 

Additional Sources:

If it sounds like it might be time for you to pivot in your life or business, I have a few other sources just for you.

I want to make sure you hear the conversation between Glenn and Lewis from this past Friday. It’s great stuff that I think anyone who’s trying to build their own passion based business should hear.

When the NFL didn’t work out for Lewis – he could have quit right then, but he chose not to:


Another source is from Success Magazine. In this post, they say to keep from failing completely,  you need to ask “What’s next?”. As you’ll find out, being to answer that question is vital to being successful.

 

And finally, our friends over at Fizzle discussed this question early on about businesses. They answer the question of knowing When is it time to quit, pivot, or persevere?

Action Steps:

Here’s the thing, pivoting is a huge part of being an entrepreneur. If something isn’t working, you simply can’t give up and quit.

When things are definitely not working, you can’t just hope for the best.

 

There was a book I read in college called “Who Moved My Cheese?” about two mice that found themselves in a maze on a daily basis. The goal was to get to the cheese the quickest. After a while, the cheese wasn’t there anymore. One mouse decided that they would keep going to the same place, day after day, hoping that the cheese would come back.

The other mouse, set out into the deeper parts of the maze to see if had been moved.

Low and behold, it was.

A good entrepreneur always has plan A’s, B’s, and C’s so that if one of those plans looks like it’s actually failing, they can move on to the next one.

If you’ve had to pivot in your life or business, I’d love to hear about it!