Want to become a mid-career entrepreneur? Here are 20 actions to take now.

I always loved the idea of being an entrepreneur. But like most normal people, I started my career as an employee. I worked for my first employer for 10 years. I worked for my next employer for 9 years. I liked my jobs. But I always knew that in my dream scenario I wanted to own my own business. I bet your dream scenario has a similar entrepreneurial ending. And maybe a swim-up bar.

After years of semi-scientific research, I have concluded that there are 3 great times to start your own business. I have published my findings below for your evaluation.

The 3 Great Times To Start Your Own Business.

  1. When you are first out of school, and have nothing to lose.
  2. When you retire, have plenty of money and time, and have nothing to lose.
  3. When you are 40ish, have a lot of experience, skills, contacts, and confidence. And a lot to lose.

The first 2 paths are popular for obvious reasons. Like the-nothing-to-lose part. When you are right out of school, you aren’t giving up anything. And at the end of your regularly scheduled career, you get to choose an overtime period. Which is fun. And only threatens your shuffleboard time.

I am a mid-career entrepreneur. Jeff Hilimire started his entrepreneurial adventure while still in college. We’re both happy with our decisions.

Track Switching

But how in the world do you switch from the employee track to the entrepreneurial track mid-career? Even more challenging, how do you do it if you have a really successful career and are well compensated? How do you make the transition when you have a significant mortgage? And car payments? And kids? And a spouse you really want to keep? Plus, there is the insurance thing. And the annual company Christmas party with all the free alcohol! How do you walk away from all that gravy?

Dream it up and make it happen.

You can do it!

Well W-2 Nation, I did it. And it has been an amazing experience. When I turned 40, I realized that if I died then and there, on the dance floor, while doing the Electric Slide, my greatest regret would be that I never started my own advertising agency. So I resolved to start my own business within the next 2 years.

I launched The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency, 6 years ago. Today, we have 26 clients, 2 offices, health insurance, dental insurance, and a matching 401(k) plan. (Never forget the k, or all you have is an area code.) We are looking at a 50% year-over-year revenue growth rate. And most importantly, I got to create the dress code.

Make the move!

Now, I want to help you begin your mid-carer entrepreneurial adventure. What lies below the fold is the collection of tips, how-tos, and advice I wish I had 7 years ago. This isn’t how-to-build-a-unicorn stuff. I’m not talking about a Zuckerberg, Gates, or Jobs path, where you drop out of college and start a trillion-dollar business. I am talking about advice for regular people, with regular careers, who want to use their experience as a launchpad to entrepreneurial success.

That’s what I did. And you can too. Here’s how, brown cow.

20 Key Steps To Becoming A Mid-Career Entrepreneur.

  1. Surround Yourself With Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a mindset more than anything. It helps to spend as much time as you can with other entrepreneurs. It helps rewire your brain to see opportunities and become a problem solver. It will help you develop your risk tolerance. Because once you are around entrepreneurs who are enjoying the rewards of their risk tolerance you will realize the nice homes, cars, vacations, and freedoms are well worth the wager. Ask your Mentorpreneurs all the questions you can think of. They will want to help. And by hanging with your Mentorpreneurs, you realize it is far riskier to leave the control over your income to someone else. Plus, you quickly realize that you can create anything you dream up. Like the word Mentorpreneur.

2. Become really great at what you do. When you are great at what you do you become sought after. And when people seek you out, it means you no longer need your employer to develop opportunities for you. Because you can create those opportunities for yourself. This is called career capital. The more you develop the easier it becomes to call your own shots (shots shots shots!) When your clients at your day job are more in love with you than the company you work for you have a green light to start your own business. And green means go, Mario!

3. Develop And Maintain Your Network. People work with people. And they love to work with people they like and trust. Continuously expand and strengthen your relationships. The more people who like and trust you the better. Those people will become customers, partners, connectors, and referrals. And those are the 4 most important people in an entrepreneur’s life. (After the supportive spouse and great coworkers.) If you’ve neglected this area of your career, it’s time to get to work. When I started The Weaponry I quickly realized I had done much of the hardest work of entrepreneurship decades earlier through my relationship-building.

4. Save Your Money. By having reserves in your bank account or investments you can tap into, you buy yourself running room to start your own business. Most people can’t consider starting their own business because they don’t have the luxury of not having a dependable paycheck for several months. Don’t be that kid. If you don’t have the money on hand yet, start your Run-My-Own Business Fund today. You might not need the money. Or not much of it. But simply having it available provides the confidence to jump, like David Lee Roth.

5. Live Below Your Means. As your income increases, don’t let your expenses rise at the same rate or you will always need your current level of income. That’s a problem. You’ve heard of the golden handcuffs of a high-paying job that keep people locked into their employer. But the most dangerous career situation is the one where you need your current income level to support your lifestyle. Because you will never be able to downshift into a lesser-paying situation, even temporarily. And the first move an entrepreneur needs to make is downshifting into a lesser-paying situation for an undefined length of time. That is the price of entry. That is the entrepreneurial initiation ritual, my friends. Tip #4 helps you bridge that gap. My dip only lasted about a year. But it really made me hustle. And hustling helps you make money. #dothehustle

6. Don’t Quit Your Day Job. To combat the money challenges outlined in the previous points, don’t do something rash, like quit your job. Hold onto your job as long as you can. It will be the primary source of funding for your startup. Use your current job to help pay for the expenses of your next job as long as you can. Work on your startup at night and on the weekends. Like Shania Twain said, no one needs to know right now. Not quitting your day job allows your startup to gain speed, momentum, and cash flow. Not quitting until you have to makes it much easier to jump from the Employee Train to the Entrepreneur Train. If we were swinging from ring to ring on a playground, think about not letting go of the ring you are holding until you have your hand firmly on the next one. And if you never have a firm grip on the next ring, then you never let go of the one you were already holding. No harm. No foul. You tried. You can be proud of that.

7. Read The Book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This book is the bible on how to start and run your business the right way. (Only there is no Jesus.) I followed all of the guidance in this book before launching The Weaponry. It helped me think about the whole process the right way, and avoid a lot of problems. When people tell me they are planning to start a business, or are floundering in their startup, I always recommend they read this. And everyone always thanks me. If I were you I would hit the link above and order the book right now. Tip #8 can wait.

8. Create Your Legal Entity: It’s easy to create a legal business entity. Start simply by applying for your FEIN. Which is your Federal Employer Identification Number. It’s like your business’s social security number. This ID number enables you to do everything the way the government and IRS want you to. With this in hand, you can file your legal business entity with your state as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), Corporation, Limited Partnership, General Partnership, or as a Sole Proprietor. I set up an LLC. (Yeah you know me.) It’s quick and easy. Then you can open your business bank accounts and get your company credit card. With these things in place, you have your financial and legal structures ready to roll. Which means you won’t need to ask your customers to pay you in cash. Or chickens.

9. Get Quickbooks. Quickbooks is the accounting software that makes it easy to track and manage your accounting. You connect all of your bank accounts and credit cards to this. It makes it easy to create and send invoices (bills) and to know what is due and when. It also provides reports (profit and loss, profitability, balance sheets, etc.) and dashboards that help you manage your business. Get this going as soon as you can afford to. It will become the backbone of your accounting system. And your scoreboard. Best of all, Quickbooks is not the book equivalent to quicksand.

10. Get A Good Bookkeeper. Bookkeepers are God’s gift to entrepreneurs. They are reasonably priced specialists who have a valuable skillset that you likely don’t have. They can help you stay on top of your accounting while enabling you to spend more time on the things only you can do. Like finding paying clients. And putting on your deodorant.

11. Collect Recognizable People And Logos: You can start your business by working with anyone. But the goal should be to collect recognizable names as customers. That could mean that you work with well-known brands or people that other people know. When you share the kinds of brands or people that you work with you are elevating and legitimizing your brand by using theirs. If you work with individuals, work with the most popular most trusted, and most respected people you can. Their decision to work with you will carry more weight than say, your grandma. Sorry, Grandma.

12. Get involved in your community. The more involved you are in your community the more you will be connected to others and the opportunities they can introduce you to. You could be involved as a volunteer, member, attendee, or sponsor. You are going to want strong ties to the people around you and this is one of the best ways to get to know as many people as possible. Even better, when you support your community you will find that your community supports you too. It’s a thing.

13. Grab Chocolate Milk. Entrepreneurs understand the power of spending time with other people. Getting together for chocolate milk, (my preference) or coffee (most of America’s preference) is not about the beverage. It’s about the sharing and comparing of experiences and ideas. Through the process is sitting down with another person and talking you discover new ideas and resources. It creates a great transfer of knowledge and experience. It is the best way to tap into another person’s perspective and network. You could also meet for breakfast, lunch or drinks. Or fricken caramels. It’s all ah-bu-trary. #namethatmovie

14. Start A Blog, Podcast, Or Regularly Published Knowledge Share. It is not about who you know. It really is about who knows you. The more people who know about you, what you know, and what you are doing, the better. I started a blog right when I launched The Weaponry. And it has been a great vehicle to share my thoughts, ideas, successes, and learnings with the world. By doing so, my business and I are both top of mind when people have relevant opportunities. Podcasts, newsletters, columns, and social media channels all work too. The key is to share information and value with the world broadly so that more people than you could reach through individual messages know about you, your skills, philosophy, and eventually your business offering.

Me and my crew.

15. Find a supportive spouse. In the middle of your career, you are likely to have a spouse or life partner who is tied to your success or failure. Their support and encouragement are critical to your success. My wife Dawn has been amazingly supportive. She never batted an eye or raised an eyebrow when I shared my entrepreneurial vision with her. I would share this post with your partner so that they have an idea of what you are trying to do. That way they can help and support you as much as possible. If they are not supportive you have an important decision to make. And that’s all I have to say about that.

16. Read Read as much as you can about business ideas, successful companies, leaders, and entrepreneurs. This is the greatest entrepreneurial hack there is. Learn all you can from others who you admire and want to emulate. Read about how other Founders did what they did. There is no end to what you can learn from others. Read books, online articles, and blogs. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks as you commute. Drink that knowledge in. Create your own curriculum. And give yourself your own, self-directed advanced degree. You can even walk across your own stage and hand yourself an official-looking piece of paper. That would be weird. But you could do it.

17. Grow Your LinkedIn Connections. LinkedIn offers the best measure of your network. Create a profile if you haven’t already. Become an active user. Add everyone you meet to your LinkedIn profile by sending a custom invitation reminding them of how you know them or why you want to connect. This will become ground zero for raising your profile and staying in touch with your broader network and the opportunities they bring. Like, comment, and share content from other people. Make people who don’t know you curious about who you are. Insider Tip: LinkedIn offers an audio icon next to your name that let’s you share how your name is pronounced. Click on mine to see how it works.

18. Learn As Much As You Can About The Business You Are In Now. While you are still employed by someone else, take advantage of the experts in the organization. Learn from the finance or accounting teams. Talk to HR about how benefits, recruiting, and reviews work. Talk to sales about how they generate leads and close deals. Talk to operations about what makes them such smooth operators. Talk to IT about, well, IT. You can learn about all of the things you are going to need to know as an entrepreneur while in your current job. Think of it like studying. Your coworkers will love your interest in their work. And they will be flattered when you start your own business and credit them as your sliver mentor in their specialty. You’ll also know who would be a good resource to hire after your non-compete clause expires.

19. Write down your plans. It’s one thing to think about starting a business. It’s another to write down a plan to make it happen. Once you have a vision for your dream business, write it down. The more details the better. That written plan becomes your blueprint to build it for real. I followed the written plan approach from The E-Myth, and it gave me great structure and clarity around what I was creating. Do this too. Also carry notebooks. Not only are they great for capturing spontaneous ideas, but if you get shot in the notebook, it just may save your life.

My great client-friend Nicole Hallada was one of the first people I told about The Weaponry.

20. Talk To Former Clients About Your Plans. Your best prospective future clients are your past clients. When I launched The Weaponry I discussed my plans with several former clients. Within the first week of discussions I had 5 clients tell me that if I created a business they would send work our way. That confidence, interest, and demand in my offering made it much easier to jump. 4 out of those 5 former clients became future clients. The other one is living with constant regret. Right Chad?

Key Takeaway

Starting your own business in the middle of your career can sound intimidating. But the more you know, the easier it is. You can do it. Utilize the knowledge of those who have gone before you. Most of it is easier than it seems. With the tips above (that I wish I knew when I was starting out) you will be able to start taking steps today. Then simply never stop. If you need a Mentorpreneur, just reach out to me through Linkedin. Tell me I sent you.

*If you know someone who wants to start their own business and could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why you should bring an entrepreneurial spirit to your social life.

At some point we all experience dissatisfaction. You may find yourself disappointed by your career path, your opportunities, your social interactions, or this game Prince called, Life. But don’t go crazy. Because if the elevator tries to bring you down there is always something you can do.

Entrepreneurship

Remember that you have the power to start your own business, be your own Bruce Springsteen, and control your own career. It changes everything. Entrepreneurship is the big excuse eraser. Because you no longer are at the mercy of the decisions of other people.

Beyond Business

But regardless of whether you decide to start your own business, you can take an entrepreneurial approach to everything else in your life. Instead of starting your own business, you can start your own social group. Made up of people you want to spend time with. That’s what Mark Zuckerberg did. (And besides the congressional hearings and the Winklevoss twins, it’s going pretty well for him.)

A group of some of my oldest friends at a gathering I organized this summer.

Social Creation

By starting your own group you are creating new connections and ultimately, a new community. That community may have a greater impact on your life than simply starting your own business. In fact, the community may create new opportunities for you to grow and expand your career in ways you had never considered before.

Create your own social circle. Then put a camera on the floor and take a selfie.

Key Takeaway

If you love the idea of being an entrepreneur, but don’t have the risk tolerance to give up your job and strike out on your own, start a social group. Find great people. Organize them. Activate them. Foster and strengthen the connections between them. You will have created your own organization that could offer far greater profits than a business alone would provide.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Fun Fact: This pic is me and my cousins after our Grandma Albrecht’s funeral.

The best way to grow your own business, or a giant pumpkin.

The world is full of possibilities. There is no shortage of problems to solve and great new things to introduce. If you have an entrepreneurial mind you will find a never-ending parade of opportunities to convert into businesses.

This is a problem.

The infinite opportunities you see distract you from the one business you should start. Or should continue building.

Ideally, you should look for opportunities until you find one great one that fits you. Then you should wear blinders and block out all other possibilities. The same way you should scout for a mate until you find one. Then you should NOT scout for a mate anymore.

If you want to grow a gigantic pumpkin you start with a gigantic seed. Then, when the plant starts to grow, you snip off all the blossoms but one. That way all of the energy, nutrients and focus of the plant go into growing one huge fruit. Although if you can find seeds to grow just the pumpkin spice, do that. Pumpkin spice is where the real money is.

When I started The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I became obsessed with it. I put all my energy into it. Which forced the business to grow. I have had a million other business ideas since then. I detail the ideas in my notebooks. But my focus remains on the one business I am committed to growing.

You need to do the same thing.

Find your giant seed. Plant it in good soil. Fertilize it with your energy. Water it with enough cash to keep it hydrated. Shine your light on it. And make sure to snip off all but one blossom to maximize your focus and growth.

Key Takeaway

To maximize your chances of creating a wildly successful business, find one opportunity and go all in on it. Don’t dabble. Don’t sample. Don’t put 1% into 100 things. Put 100% into one thing. Until it soars. Then you can sell it, or have someone else run it for you. At that point, go find another opportunity to make fly.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

The money lesson I taught my son that he then shared with his class.

Over the past year, I have been able to spend more time with my family than ever before. For several months I conducted all of my work from my home office. Which allowed my 3 kids to see more of what I do during the day. This created interesting new opportunities to talk to them about work, business, and making money.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I couldn’t resist talking to my kids about the challenges the pandemic was causing for businesses. And how toilet paper didn’t grow on trees. (They corrected me). But more importantly, I shared how much opportunity there was for businesses to innovate, solve new problems, and benefit from helping others.

As the stock market went into the toilet like a dooky, I shared that this was an amazing time to invest. My kids asked me if they could invest some of their money. So I helped them buy their first stock.

We also read books on money, investing, and wealth. I was surprised by how interested they were in the topic. And it gave me hope that someday they may be able to afford to put me in the good nursing home.

I was even more surprised when my youngest son Magnus came home one day and told me he wrote a story in school on how to get rich. I was curious to read it. I wanted to know what his 10-year old mind was thinking. When the paper finally came home I was tickled, like Elmo, to read what he wrote. I have reprinted the story here in its entirety with permission from Magnus.

How To Get Rich!

The first thing you need to know to be rich is the difference between what you need and what you want. Another way you can put this is you need to know the difference between an asset and a liability.

A asset is something that makes you money. A liability is something that wastes your money.

Some assets would be starting a business, buying stocks, set up a lemonade stand, or any stand, mow someone’s lawn or sell things.

But buying stock is the most efficient way to make money. Especially at a time like this when all the stocks are down.

If you don’t know what a stock is, it’s something you buy on any device and without doing anything you make money. You can also hold on to your stock and get paid four times a year.

My stock pays me 30 cents four times a year. When I bought the shares of my stock each one cost me $3.75. So in total I paid $37.50. And that stock has went up so high that last time I checked it was worth $120 if I sold it.

You can sell things, but I sometimes wouldn’t recommend it. What my Dad taught me is sell when it is high, buy when it is low.

A book I would recommend to get you started is called, Rich Dad. Poor Dad. That was the first book I read about how to get rich. So after reading this get up and ‘Act Now!’

-Magnus Albrecht 3-9-21

Key Takeaway

Teach others what you know. By sharing your knowledge you raise the intelligence and confidence of others. Talk to kids about important life lessons and skills, including financial literacy, when they are young. They are like sponges, primed for learning. Make it fun. Make it interesting. And you can make a positive, life-long impact. It may just be the most valuable investment you ever make.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message please share it with them.

Do you love your work like Stephen King loves writing?

I love to shop for books at Goodwill. I love the treasure hunt. I love finding great books for cheap. And I like picking up value that someone else discarded. So when they toss it and leave it, I pull up quick to retrieve. Just like Sir Mixalot.

Stephen King

One of the books I nabbed at the G-Dub was On Writing by Stephen King. It’s the only Stephen King book I have read. I’ll admit, there was way less blood than I was expecting.

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This was written on the inside front cover of the book I picked up at Goodwill. Sorry Mom. I don’t think Ben loved it as much as I do.

I am always trying to improve my writing. And I figured who knows more about writing than a guy who has written a bazillion novels. (I guess a person who has written 2 bazillion novels.)

This morning in the section on editing Stephen King made a statement that jumped off the page like an Acapulco cliff diver. On editing he wrote:

I love this part of the process (well, I love all the parts of the process, but this one is especially nice).  -Stephen King

I love this statement! Not because Stephen King loves editing and re-writes. But because I love hearing that someone loves all the parts of the process. Loves all the parts of their work. Because that is exactly how I feel about my job.

Advertising!

I love everything about advertising. I love pitching new clients. I love the research. I love studying the audience. I love developing and sharpening creative briefs. I love the creative thinking. The ideating and concepting. I love pulling ideas and language out of the ether. I love directing creative. And I love presenting new ideas the way an obstetrician loves presenting naked newborns.

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I love that nobody really wears socks.

I love it when clients love our ideas. But I also love it when clients give us a difficult challenge. Because I love being thrown a good curveball.

I love big budgets, and I can not lie. But I also love small budgets and short timelines, and the way those constraints force you to think harder and dig deeper.

I love production, casting, shooting and editing. I love finding the perfect music track. I love testing and optimizing. I love creating work that produces laughter. Or chills. Or good tears. I love the results that come as a result of the work we produce. That’s the best. It is the reason we exist.

I love the people of this industry, both on the agency and client-side. I love how interesting and smart and varied they are. And they are very varied. Like Vera Bradly and aloe vera

I love the dress code. I love the travel. I love that I met my wife Dawn at work in an advertising agency. And I love that she understands all the things I love about my work.

Entrepreneurship

Since I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry,  I have found that I love everything about owning an agency too. I love the competition of business. It’s my all-time favorite game.

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This guy loves to write about things he loves. 

I love budgets and revenue and profit & loss statements, and balance sheets. I love taxes and capital expenses. I love adding software and apps to our infrastructure to create a better, smarter, more efficient machine. I love filing our annual report with the state. It’s a reminder that I am officially a business owner.

I love finding office space, and negotiating leases.  I love partnerships with other businesses. And dealing with our client’s CFOs and procurement and reviewing legal agreements. Which may sound like drudgery. But it feels like a privilege to me.

I even like the challenge of a crazy global crisis that comes out of nowhere. It tests your preparedness, your resourcefulness and your resolve. The do-or-die nature of such challenges is a thrill. It forces you to ask yourself just how much you want what you want. And I really, really want. Just like the Spice Girls.

Key Takeaway

Find work that you love. It makes every day fun. It lets you wallow in your passion. It makes you look forward to every day and every new challenge. A love for your work is a key performance indicator. It’s hard to be passionate about your vocation and deliver poor output. Because the time, energy and interest you invest will drive continuous improvement. And over time you’ll become frighteningly good at what you do. Just like Stephen King.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.   

Sometimes the good times are hard.

This is a very good time for me and my business. The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, is flush with opportunity. The demand for our work is high. The projects we are working on are exciting and rewarding. We met our revenue goal for the year on December 3rd. And we just issued our team new Fight With Your Brain t-shirts. It feels like we are rolling like Tina Turner. Or John Fogerty.

On The Other Hand

However, good times in business can be really hard. The demands are high. Timelines are short. Bandwidths are narrow. Margins for error are nonexistent. During really good times you aren’t just doing your job. You are also juggling, horse trading and plate spinning.

I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane.

Our December is full of airports, hotel rooms and film shoots. I will be working straight through the weekend. The demand for my team’s skillz, experience and thinking will pack all but the untouchable holidays this December.

It is exactly what I have always wanted.

But it is also hard.

Key Takeaway

It is not just the bad times that are challenging. When you are trying to do something difficult the success often hurts. Which is why so many entrepreneurs settle for more leisurely lifestyle businesses. Where they are not constantly pushing and confronting the pain of growth and greatness.

That Ain’t Me.

I want growth and greatness. And challenge. I want to evolve The Weaponry into a better, bigger, stronger, faster machine. I want to scale and improve as we go. So we can become the perfect agency for clients, employees and partners. I’ve never been afraid of pain or discomfort. So I charge into the day excited for whatever comes my way. I hope the day is ready for me.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

How to really make your network work.

Your network is one of your most valuable assets. But how much work should you put into building and maintaining your network? It’s an even more important question to ask than how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would. But I bet you don’t have a good answer to either question. And neither did I. Until now.

Gary Keller

Recently I bought a couple of books by Gary Keller. In addition to being a best selling author, Keller is the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty. Which, my Spidey Sense tells me, is how the company got its first name.

The One Thing

The 2 Keller books I now own are The One Thing, which I have not yet started, but assume is about going number one, and The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, which I highly recommend.

The Millionaire RE Investor

Your Work Network

In The Millionaire Real Estate Investor Keller writes a lot about Your Work Network. He breaks this network down into 3 concentric circles:

  • Your Inner Circle,
  • Your Support Circle
  • Your Service Circle

The inner circle is comprised of your mentors, partners and consultants. The support circle is comprised of the core people you need to support and advise you on specific work transactions. The service circle consists of all the people that you may need to perform specialized tasks with a limited scope.

Your 3 Rings

Regardless of whether you are involved in real estate or a stay at home mom or dad, you have a network with a similar 3-ring structure. Which is not to be confused with the 3-ring circus, 3-ring binder or the 3-ring rule when answering a call after a first date.

The Aha

Envisioning your network as concentric circles is useful, but not not mind blowing. However, I found Keller’s recommendation on how to maintain your network relationships thought provoking.

Maintaining Your Network

Keller writes that to maintain your work relationships you should:

  1. Call Them Every Month
  2. Mail Them Something of Interest Every Month
  3. Meet With The Members of Your Inner Circle Every Month

This is a great rule of thumb. Most of us probably fall nowhere near this level of contact with our network. But we should. Calling is easy. If you broaden the term mailing to include email and texting you can certainly do a whole lot of #2 (#snickering). And meeting with the members of your inner circle once a month should be a no brainer, scarecrow.

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My college teammate Bryan Jones is a Realtor with Keller Williams, and someone I talk to every month and meet with several times a year.

Key Takeaway

You get out of your network what you put into it. Try Keller’s advice to stay connected to those in your network once a month. Start with your inner rings. We should all fully invest in our inner circle on a monthly basis. However, increasing your investment in your middle, or even your outer ring could pay huge dividends for you both personally and professionally. So as Rhianna said, work, work, work, work, work on putting more work into your network. And you are sure to draw more great things your way.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please share it with them. 

What this crazy astronomer can teach you about business.

500 years ago there was a rebellious Polish astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus. He was born with a name worthy of a faculty position at Hogwarts. More importantly, we was blessed with a contrarian world view. Copernicus developed a crazy heliocentric model of the cosmos. In this model, he declared the sun was the center of the universe, and the Earth and the other planets actually revolved around it. #ohnohedidnt

The Universal Truth

At the time heliocentricity was considered a radical idea. But as every graduating preschooler now knows, Ni-Co was right. His revolutionary solar-centered model of the universe soon changed how we viewed and understood the world. It applied rules and order that helped the world make sense. It also gave employees at the local Sunglass Hut a false sense of superiority.

Copernicus-Style Thinking At Work

The same thinking that makes sense of the cosmos can also be applied to business. You must never lose sight of who is at the center of the business universe: the customer. In your arena the customer might be called the client, member, student, attendee or John (#nojudgement). Regardless, the person paying for goods or services is the central figure around whom everything else in business revolves.

Customer-Centric

Your actions and decisions should always be driven by your customer’s wants and needs. Your products and services only exist to serve your customers. It is the customer that provides the forces that propel all business activity. Because without customers businesses drift into oblivion. (#Blockbuster #Sears #AllianceofAmericanFootball)

Your Customer’s Customers.

At my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, everything we do is driven by 2 forces: our customers, and our customer’s customers. Without those forces money does not move and business does not exist. Sales, marketing, engineering, research and development, customer service and accounting are all driven by the gravitational pull of the customers. Remember, you can dance with yourself, but you can’t do business alone.

Key Takeaway

If your business is not customer-centric, it is time to re-center. Ask yourself ‘What Does The Customer Want?’ before every business decision. Even better, ask them what they want, and what they want to avoid. It will help you maintain proper focus on the star of your show. And prevent you from thinking the world revolves around you.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

The most important ingredient to entrepreneurial success.

There is a fun debate about what it really takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Some think the key is having a great idea. Others think it is all about your network. While still others think the key is not running out of cash. I would argue that running out of cash is an awfully bad thing for a business. In the same way that running out of blood is bad for the human body. But that’s kind of like saying the key to solving global warming is not letting the Earth get warmer. It may be accurate. But it will make you look like an idiot when you suggest that at your next Mensa meetup.

Jeff Hilimire’s Recipe

Recently, my friend, and entrepreneur, Jeff Hilimire shared his secret recipe for whipping up a successful entrepreneur on LinkedIn.

 ‘50% amount of runway + 40% hard work/execution + 10% initial idea. I might have overshot the importance of the initial idea.’  -Jeff Hilimire. CEO of Dragon Army and Founder of 48in48

As a good facilitator of engagement should do, Jeff then asked the LinkedIn collective brain if we agreed or disagreed. Which provoked a healthy sharing of opinions. All of which had merit. None of which matched my own.

My Recipe for Entrepreneurial Success

My recipe is simpler than Jeff’s. In fact, I believe there is only one ingredient that matters at all. The absolute essential, non-negotiable, Holy Grail of ingredients, is action.  Without action you are guaranteed not to succeed. But with action, continuous action, all things are possible.

The Idea

The idea is not at all important to entrepreneurial success. Because absolutely everyone has an idea. You have had an idea for a product, service or business that could have worked. I know you have. The only reason that idea hasn’t become a successful business is that you haven’t taken enough action. Yet.

Time, time for some time for some action. (#obscurelyricreference)

Your runway, which is your brine of time and money, is continuously increased by taking more action. Action makes opportunity. Action spins straw into gold. Action is what builds and maintains your network. Action is what makes luck. And action is what makes for a really great date. #amiright

In the past 2.5 years since I took action and launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I have had hundreds of discussions with people about the business ideas they wanted to pursuit. Every one of those ideas could have been successful. And every one of those people could have become a successful entrepreneur if it wasn’t for one missing ingredient. You guessed it: Action, Jackson!

Key Takeaway

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur the verb is the word. You have to take action. Absolutely nothing happens without it. The best of ideas, the best networked humans, the deepest pockets and the best of intentions are powerless without action. Talk is cheap. Potential is nothing. Ideas are everywhere. So as Nike once so famously and succinctly commanded, if you want to be successful entrepreneur, just do it.

Why you should be thankful for your competitors.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a monopoly? I’m not talking about the Parker Brothers board game. I mean a situation where one player, you in this scenario, has exclusive control over the supply of a commodity, product or service.

You could jack your prices sky-high and offer crappy customer service. You could say things like ‘This is how we have always done it.’ And, ‘If you don’t like it, take your business somewhere else!’ #maniacallaugh Because when no one else is trying to steal your cheese, you can run through the maze as slowly as you like.

Thanks, but no thanks.

A monopoly sounds terrible to me. Because without competition there is no game to win. You never have to push yourself to improve. There is no pressure to find the next competitive advantage. And therefore, there can be no great victory.

It is competition that makes business a grand adventure. It is what makes us admire the bold entrepreneur. Because without competition there is no risk (again, not the Hasbro board game).

Michael Dubin

dubin-hidi-01-2017_231531

I recently listened to the How I Built This podcast interview with Michael Dubin, Founder of Dollar Shave Club. When Dubin launched the DSC he had a momentary monopoly on the direct-to-consumer razor model. But he wasn’t the only one in the category for long. Soon major razor brands and upstarts alike started cutting into his space. But Dubin didn’t get mad. He didn’t throw in the shaving towel. Instead, he recognized the great benefit of competition.

‘The presence of competition pushes you to define yourself more specifically. And focuses you on the things that you want to do. And makes you work a little bit harder.’

-Michael Dubin, Founder of Dollar Shave Club

Key Takeaway

Your competitors are a gift. They motivate you. They sharpen you. They offer your team a common enemy. And nothing pulls people together like a common enemy. Except maybe a black hole. Or a tray of nachos.

Competitors make you define your uniqueness. They force you to declare your mission, and what success looks like. So be thankful for those you compete against. They are making you better. And they make your work and your wins more rewarding.