What are the biggest mistakes you see business owners and entrepreneurs making?
I think the biggest mistake is they don’t have clarity on how they help their target market. I do a tremendous amount of networking and I ask people I meet what they do. It surprises me how many can’t articulate what they do in benefit-driven language. When I ask them to share more details or give me more information while I’m standing in front of them and having a conversation, they still don’t understand what they do. If they don’t understand what they do I can’t help them. They can’t help their clients. The second part is that they do not have clarity, but more importantly, they’re not working with their core customers because they don’t know who their core customers are. They haven’t identified that they spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, focus and money not getting the great results, they should because they’re wasting time in the wrong market and they can’t provide a clear solution on how they can help. So as a result, they spin their wheels and I call it, being trapped on the entrepreneur treadmill. I sit down with them and get really clear on their business model. They need to know specifics on how they help their clients. We also help them with their vision. What their business can look like a year from now, three years from now, but the biggest help is finally creating a plan, a system, a process so they can create success in the future with a definitive plan one step at a time. If they struggle in developing their plan, which is often quite common, that’s where we help. We help them to create that plan.
Here’s the secret sauce. They have to implement the plan even if they don’t continue to work with us or it’s just a short term project. The disconnect for them and the reason they don’t get success is they don’t implement their plan. They don’t have accountability and as a result, they just flail away and they just hope that they’re going to be successful. The secret sauce or the secret formula is the continuous implementation by taking action, by having us work with them on a regular basis, every couple of weeks, or a minimum once a month which keeps them on track. They course correct and they are accountable for their actions because we’re having that conversation consistently and regularly about what they’re doing, what they’re not doing, and what’s going to move their needle in their business.
What’s your inspiration for doing what you do?
I worked for Proctor and gamble at a university. I was the only one selected that year and had a great time, but I suddenly realized I’m not a corporate guy. My inspiration to start my own company began with a conversation I had with a prospective client. I asked her one question. I was in Denver at the time and working as a sales and marketing director for a home care company. I rang up this woman, and the conversation went like this. “Hi, I’m in home care. You’re in home care. Would it make sense for us to have a meeting and maybe we can share leads, you know, create some joint venture opportunities”? She said, okay. I met her up at her office, and we started to talk about how could we work together in homecare, the firm I’d worked for as well as her own firm, and I thought, wow, this is a really good niche. She seems very interested. So at the end of the meeting, I felt like we were going to work together and I asked her “so does that sound good to you”? And she said to me, “I got to tell you I’m not interested. I’m not interested whatsoever.” I went, wow. In my head I thought, okay, I guess I didn’t read that particular opportunity very well. She said, “John, what I’m more interested in is hiring you as my marketing director.” And I said, geez I’m really flattered, but there must be some miscommunication. I didn’t come looking for a job, I don’t have a resume with me. So I’m really sorry. I miscommunicated and I get ready to leave. And I turned to her and sat back down in the chair in front of her desk and I said, “can I ask you a question?”
I said I’ve always wanted to have my own business mentoring, coaching, consulting company. Would you consider being my first client? She said she’d love to. So I kept my full-time job and I would drive up and actually work with her every Monday from about six-thirty at night to about eight-thirty at night helping her with sales, marketing, finance, and operations. She had bought a franchise and she should have been getting help from the franchisor but she wasn’t. And I thought that was not really fair so I began to work with her one-on-one. I didn’t have the tools that I have today at results-driven and yet, within five or six months, I helped to double her revenue and that’s when I knew my calling was to help other small business owners be successful.
About six or nine months after that, we were having a conversation and she suddenly starts to cry and I said, wow, what did I say or do? She says, “John, I’m not crying for what you said, or what you didn’t in today’s meeting, I’m crying because had I not met you, I came to the realization, John, I would have gone out of business. I would have lost my investment with the franchise and I’m so thankful that you and I connected because now I have a successful business, these tears are tears of joy.” I told her that I’m just thankful to you because I love what I’m doing. I really enjoy helping. And I think it’s unfortunate when small businesses are just like you don’t get help cause you would’ve gone out of business and that’s a shame.