We all know there are certain actions, habits, and behaviors that we should be doing each day to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve read countless blogs, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and observed my mentors on the subject. I know that to be a successful and productive entrepreneur, I should be and need to be reading one great business book a month, exercise daily, drink water, wake up before 6 am, check emails before 7 am, eat healthy, find a mentor, plan your day, set goals, save money….and I completely agree with every single TO DO.
Ideation: Entrepreneurial Gold
I thought I'd start this blog off by talking about how you engineer yourself into a place that's different from where you currently are. Or maybe I should say how I go about it. How do we actively choose to create a watershed moment, a dramatic change, a moving towards our ideal self?
The ideal is to start with intention. A more thorough thinking through of what the goal actually is. There's absolutely a series of steps that I take myself through to ensure that I successfully end up where I've set out to go. More importantly, that I accomplish my goals along the way.
I can't stress enough how important it is to actually do the hard work. It doesn't matter who it is that you want to be, or what it is that you want to do. It's important to have the right insight and the right tools and skills at your disposal to make you successful in your pursuits.
Whether we'd like to admit it or not success comes at the hands of being a good practitioner. Whether your desire is to communicate with people as an Influencer, tell a story that promotes truth as a journalist, or become a web marketer, the basic access for those roles is by becoming an expert practitioner of your craft. Whatever that may be.
Entrepreneurship is sexy; don't get me wrong this dude looks so good and smoldering in the mirror some days. Put on the flippity flip, this shit is also a whole lotta hard work and there are tons of times where things are not sexy, not one bit. I mean who the fuck thinks a Facebook Ad Group is sexy? I don’t, but I rock that shit.
I find that day in and day out I try to spend more time focusing on the fundamentals of my craft. Whether that's via blogging or advanced advertising techniques, trying to figure out new ways to grow my list or drive traffic to my offers it's always, always in the forefront of my mind. The more skills I master in the pursuit of success for my businesses, the more of a businessman I become.
Once you get your fundamentals in place the next most important thing is to put together a plan. When I say a plan I don't mean something loosely sketched out on the back of a napkin. I mean a serious hard-hitting plan that tells you step-by-step what you intend to accomplish and how you're going to do so.
The thing that makes having a plan so valuable is that as entrepreneurs we’re often willing to jump in line for the bucket brigade and start throwing buckets of water on the fire without necessarily realizing the most valuable place to apply our efforts. We take Action ya know, so sue us :)
Violent thrashing is great in the early days; it's important to get the ideas out; push the ones that aren't going to survive down to the bottom, let the other one soar! But... there comes a point in time when that will no longer be the best fit for your business. That my friend is the point in time when you turn to your plan.
A System To Put In Place
Once you've developed a plan it's time to test your hypothesis. There's no easy way around putting a system in to place to produce the best results for your project. Unfortunately, it's a long and tedious process of applying ideas, seeing how they perform and then adjusting. Don't get me wrong there's prosperity on the other side of it, you just have to get in the trenches first.
You'll most likely go through a few iterations of your system before you find something worth trying on a larger scale. Often times we assume that our first hunch is the best hunch but that’s not the case. Don't be afraid to try something and fuck it up and try something else again. The route of perseverance is really the key here.
Applying A Focused Pressure Test
Once you have a system in place it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to stay your system forever; or that It's going to be your system for the time being. The thing about systems that are designed to perform a specific objective is that if they don't perform that objective well enough we fire them. No sympathy.
One of the best ways to find out if your system will actually stand the test is to perform a test at high-pressure. That's right, once you get an idea of how things are going to work, and you know that from the beginning to end it actually transitions through, the next step in your journey is to apply pressure and see how it holds up. #Cringe.
If you can scale the volume of the system that you're trying to test and it performs well in small and large capacity then you've got a winning recipe; now it's time to hit the afterburners.
Scaling Your System
Scaling the system that you've built is where all the real fun comes in because you've already proven your idea is good and you've developed a way to bring it to fruition on a larger scale in a manageable system. The fun comes when we get to apply a greater effort and it compounds, giving greater results. This is where all the hard work pays off.
Now you can take your system and begin to scale it by changing out minor variables to have that system apply to more than one persona or demographic that you've identified as a vertical for your business. Quite simply this is the application of multiplicity across a proven idea that more importantly has proven return as you invest more of your energy.
When the energy you invest in a project starts to return to you in multiples the value of proofing your idea and taking the time to understand your product in the beginning will be obvious. Then, you do it again. And again. And again.....
So, how do you proof your ideas? Leave me a note in the comments below! I'm looking for a few great practitioners profile in the coming weeks.
Until next time.....
For more Marketing Awesome Follow a dude on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickRife!
Very excited to announce the launch of the Startup Soirée Podcast! We've had this project in the works for a few months and I'm excited to say that it's finally come to fruition. We did a soft-launch a few weeks ago so we could test the waters and make sure we understood how things were working and so far we've had a pretty great response.
The Startup Soirée Podcast will be waiting for you every Monday morning; eager to bring you the most awesome founder chats this side of Kentucky. The format for our podcast is short and sweet; a one-on-one stream of Q&A's by a founder (yours truly) to a founder (maybe you?) with the sole purpose of capturing a snap-shot of what makes us tick. tick. tick.
We've predicated the entire concept of Startup Soirée on the understanding that we as founders deal in a secret language; one that is expressed and articulated by challenges unique to our set. At Pixilated we meet with amazing business owners everyday and it's always the best part of my day. Those conversations are inspiring, re-affirming and fun and that's exactly what we're aiming to bring you with the Startup Soirée Podcast.
Who the Hell is Whom?
The first three SoiréeCasts (as I like to call 'em) were guested by three diverse founders from our Baltimore community so when you head over to the iTunes store and SUBSCRIBE you're gonna have three excellent episodes waiting for you. Then you'll have something to binge on. Your welcome! Wait, you wanna know whom? Ok, ok, ok.
Marc DeLeonibus is the Founder and CEO of QuotePie and a Graduate of the Virginia Tech, Pamplin College of Business B.S. Finance. Before starting QuotePie in December 2013 he spent over 4.5 years in the commercial insurance industry on the broker side. During that time Marc realized that the process that a business has to go through to buy insurance for their business was terribly inefficient and confusing. Marc knew that this process could be drastically improved, and that is how QuotePie came to be.
Owner and Chief Storyteller at Clickspark & Mozell. Winner of international competitions, featured expert in Baltimore Bride magazine, and awarded #1 wedding cinematographer in the DC/MD/VA market. Regularly speaks at local colleges and universities. Leads a passionate and collaborative team of 4 associate cinematographers and editors. Dreamer and creative at heart inspired by family, strong coffee, and great stories.
Max is "Passionate about startups: getting them built, staffed, supported, optimized, growing and then some. He is a twenty year industry veteran and progressive thinker with extensive experience leading Internet technology companies from startup mode to more efficient and profitable operations.”
Show Notes, Extras and Add-Ons
Alright homies, you get the idea, here are the rest of the details. You can SUBSCRIBE to our podcast currently in the iTunes store or by using that fresh little Podcast app Apple graciously places amongst your IOS devices out there. We'll also be live on Stitcher, BB and the other major Podcasting platforms soon.
You can also find a secondary blog on www.startup-soiree.com that our podcasts will publish to called, wait for it, wait for it, Podcast! There you'll also be able to check out any show notes or cool tools we refer to in each episode as well as all of the pertinent contact info for our wicked awesome guests.
SUBSCRIBE, Don't Make Me Yell!
When you SUBSCRIBE you do a ton for our efforts when you take a moment to go and leave us a REVIEW you make a unicorn smile, a baby laugh and the stars twinkle. How's that for ROI? No seriously, if you like what you hear let us know!. If you have questions you want asked, let us know! If you wanna get on this thang and chat, you get it right?
Alright folks, until next time...
Action vs Inaction: Find Your Tribe
Your Tribe! Yes, you heard right homie! You’ve got a tribe, and they’re just waiting to love on you. This is one of the things I most love about being a business man right now! Without this built in “support system” I don’t think I’d be having as much fun.
Wait, wait, I know what your thinking. But how do I get with this so called Tribe of mine? Well, you can start by figuring out who whey might be and more importantly what you could say to them. I know it sounds a little confusing but stick with me here. Once we get this under wraps we can figure out where they hang out!
Tribeswomen (and men, too!)
Here’s the thing. We’re all in pursuit of communication. Whether we admit it or not, most people you walk by on the street each day are raring for some posi-vibes; they just forgot how to do it. Or they’re overthinking it. We’re human. We crave interaction. We seek out communities of like-minded individuals. They make us feel comfy. Feeling comfy is good!
Also people really do have more fun when they’re talking about something they’re interested in. Add in a second homie who also gets stoked about the same/similar subject, and... Voila! Tribe of Two! Say it again, TRIBE OF TWO!
Danger! Watch Yourself! Danger! Show Me What Your Working With!
Now that you’ve gotten a tribe of two, the rest is easy right? All you have to do is turn up the effort and implement a system, or two. This is the spot that sometimes gets sticky. You start saying to yourself well if I could talk about “blah blah blah" to this type of person, then I could talk about “gah gah gah” to these people, and then I’ll have four people in my tribe right? Well…..not exactly.
Reason being those four people actually belong to two Different Segments of your Tribe. Their dialects are a little different. This is where having a firm grasp of segmentation comes in handy. I know it seems like it makes sense; that they really have many commonalities tying them together but really they don’t. What’s more, the further you get into your Tribe Build the more apparent this will become.
Let Me Just Segment This Right Here...
It’s not that those two other Tribesman aren't valuable, it’s just that you’re putting the cart before the horse. The best advice I can give when you start to take Action vs Inaction in regards to building your Tribe is to stay focused on the first segment of your Tribe until you know them inside and out; to the moon and back. Then and only then, can you bring into focus the next segment of your Tribe. And then apply that same laser focus. Now rinse and repeat. Look at you, you’re a market segmentation ninja with robust tribe growth. Huzzah!
Who Dat | Potential Clients, Influencers and Fans Oh My!
Why the deep dive on understanding each segment? The thing about Tribes is that they aren’t necessarily filled with people who’ll be buying your product tomorrow. A good tribe is made up of all different types of people in many different stages of the “sales funnel.” Heck, sometimes they’ll never even make it into your sales funnel but that doesn’t mean they can’t play a critical role in your community; and perhaps more importantly helping your leads find their way through the funnel.
When it comes to filling and hybridizing your sales funnel, both Influencers and fans will play as critical a role as the people lining up to buy your products or hire your services! Why? Because people like to have their ideas vetted by their peers, friends, family and influencers. It’s called peer pressure; which has a negative connotation (thanks McGruff) so instead we’ll call it peer influence.
Peer influence is the reason we hire advisors and wedding planners. Bring our friends clothes shopping and ask Mom and Dad for their advice. When we have others helping us confirm we’re making a good decision we feel better about that decision. Mmm hmm, thanks Mom.
Feeling comfy is good: Don’t worry about the “Other Guy.”
There’s a million people out there and some of them, quite frankly, only want you! Feels good right? See here’s the thing, that old adage that competition is good? Well, it turns out that’s actually quite true. You see when it comes to making purchasing decisions, and when I say purchasing I don’t necessarily just mean a dollar transaction, having options is GOOD!
Without options your potential Tribe will have nothing to compare you against. Nothing to show them exactly Why your company/offering/product/nursery rhyme is better (read different [read unique]) than the other options.
When we choose a tv show from the guide, we’re “buying into” one option over another. When you choose one way to drive to work over another, you're “buying into” that path to work. Why? For one very simple reason. You prefer it. Easy, right? I know, crazy.
So here's the rub. The same thing is true of similar “products” in your industry too. Wether you’re selling Inspirational Speaking, E-Books or high performing Landing Pages, some segment of that potential Tribe is going to like you better than everyone else just because you are you.
That’s the beautiful thing about the autonomy that the interwebz has provided. We’re now allowed to choose between a wide variety of options for EVERYTHING and there are people out there waiting to choose us...just because we’re us. Let it sit....
Always and Forever. In good times and in bad. Refill that funnel, now your acting Rad.
Alright, I know I've hit you with a lot. But I've saved the absolute best news for last. When your message and work match what you're excited about, the above Tribe building campaign will, after putting in requisite work, begin to feel effortless. Before long segmenting and understanding your Tribe will be as easy as pie. Don't believe me? Ask my Tribe.
Follow Me on Twitter @PatrickRife
You’ve Got Mail. Who? You!
I’m talking about you. You’re reading the best marketing blogs you can find to ensure your business has the most up-to-date information. Time and time again the recommendation you keep hearing is about having your own “List.” It seems obvious where you should start but somehow it’s all so elusive.
Why is it challenges like email marketing always seem to get put off for another day when we’ll have more time? I’m guilty of it no doubt. Lucky for you I’ve put together some solid first steps to getting your email marketing hustle on blast.
What’s a Mail Chimp? DaFuq?
MailChimp, Contact Monkey, Constant Contact, Aweber, huh!? I know, I know. Where to start? Who to start with? The above four companies represent some of the most popular email management platforms. I’ve used three of the four listed and while they each have their own special features they ultimately all work in a very similar fashion.
If you're new to email marketing and haven’t chosen a platform yet, I’d recommend using MailChimp. It is incredibly easy to understand for a novice who is just approaching email management software and offers a handful of stylish FREE templates. For all you pros out there, it scales easily as well.
Why Can’t I Wait Until Next Year? FAIL!
Why, why, why do I have to learn another platform for my business? I’m on Facebook and Twitter, isn’t that enough? The short answer: no fucking way. While it’s a great marketing hustle to have a robust presence on the key social media platforms, it’s even more important to not take for granted that your access to those fans doesn’t disappear.
The reason marketers extol the virtuousness of having your own “List” is because, quite frankly, that shit is critical. You see anytime Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn see fit they can change the parameters and limit access to your fan base. Totally wrong...right!? I agree, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
This is the reason it is so important to optimize your social platforms with strong focused CTA’s (Calls-To-Action) and convert those Facebook fans and Twitter followers to your list. That way, when Zuck decides to start jacking your peeps again you can tell that fool to chill. Dig?
My People (Really Your People)
Ok, now you’ve picked your email management service and you’ve got you’re “Emotional On-Boarding” in place to really commit to this thing; which brings us to the “now what?” phase of our lesson. There’s a correlation to a big list and more sales but there’s an even bigger correlation between a QUALITY LIST and more sales.
While you may be tempted to buy lists for sale or use cheap tactics to artificially inflate your subscriber base, the calm and cool Email Jedi will take the time to grow their list with credibility. The first place to go is all of your past clients. These people have given your business the thumbs up in the past, now it’s time to clinch that relationship; make it a long-term thing, put a ring on it!
Most accounting software will allow you to export a .csv file of all of your previous contacts. I’d recommend starting there. This first “segment” of your list will be critical so make sure that you keep these contacts identified as “previous clients” so you can send them appropriate emails. Nobody likes not being recognized, so take the time to segment past clients from new leads. It may also be useful to create a list that is exclusively for newsletter subscribers so you can offer opportunities for potential future clients to start learning about your company.
List Building for the Social Set
The second place to start optimizing Email List Conversions is on your social media platforms. Do you Tweet? Now you have one less Tweet to come up with every single day! It reads like this: "Sign-Up here for the @StartupSoiree Newsletter! We’re gonna hook You Up!" These same list-build efforts can be put into place on your Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn profiles as well. A good rule of thumb is to have an email signup in place on every platform your business is active on.
One for the road. Pro Turn-Up Tip
Really wanna get slick with that list-build? Create an offer your ideal lead can’t refuse and then trade it to them, free of charge, for one little email address. This is a technique called “Content Gating” and it works really well. For all of you out there running your website on Wordpress this should be a cinch using one of their plug-ins. We’re using Squarespace at Pixilated and Startup Soiree so our functionality is a little trickier since these features aren't built into the Squarespace platform so we’re using Hubspot.
That’s All Folks!
Now you have the fundamentals in place to start getting your email marketing program in place. Apply these techniques and ideas now and start reaping the benefits of owning your very first “List.” I’ll be back soon with the next part of this series which will go further into what types of content you can fill your email marketing campaigns with.
Until then…….work hard, play harder and take action!
For other great Tips, Tricks & Ideas Follow Me @PatrickRife
The place where you begin. Or don’t. The invisible barrier to starting can be so difficult to break through because for many it’s hard to pin down exactly what it means.
Creating a vision from scratch can be a daunting process, but if you put a plan in place and take things one step at a time, anything is possible.
I’m a daydreamer, and that means in a large sense that I’ve spent more of my time thinking of hundreds of incredible things I COULD be doing than actually DOING even one of those incredible things.
For whatever reason, it didn't occur to me that I never made it to the next step of asking myself the “how to," you know?
My internal monologue should have gone something like this… “Ok Patrick, this is a wicked good idea (song, painting, concept, business plan, religious cult), what are your next steps to make this thing actually happen?”
Instead it went something more like “Dude! (to self) That song you wrote is SO GOOD! No doubt the great Musician Finder Satellite will hover over your apartment building in Baltimore and see how many great tunes are on your hard-drives! So stoked I don’t actually have to make an effort.” (insert self-inflicted face punch here)
Maybe it was Catholic School, maybe it was my Dad’s fault. Who knows? Who cares? (I’m looking at you Coach) The point is, I definitely had barriers to overcome but once I was willing to actually look at the writing on the wall they weren’t anywhere near as difficult as I made them out to be.
Conclusion: Go forth and thrash
The battle is so difficult because it’s a fight we’re waging within. We have to learn to manage doubt and fear; summon forth our internal power, break free of the negative. Take the first step.
The good news is that you have the power to silence the noise. Take your fate in your own hands and create your vision. All you have to do is start. Take action. Take ONE step. You’re getting closer.
FOLLOW me @PatrickRife for Daily Tips and Tricks