Monday evening I was getting increasingly nervous as I saw the 21 entrepreneurs’ faces turn from excitement to dread. The guest speaker was on stage telling my students why being an entrepreneur really sucks!
And Gary meant it.
Gary Whitehill, a good friend, is one of the top entrepreneur advocates in New York. His rapid growth has now gotten his Entrepreneur Week events to a global scale, where he just completed his first event in Santiago and next week in Athens. In the near future they will be in a different city every two weeks.
I asked Gary to join us to share his experiences on what it is like out there today and how he’s managed to build his company and brand so quickly and successfully, regardless of the economy and what the naysayers are selling the public.
And while Gary started off by warning the class he would tell them the real skinny and curse his way through it, by the end of the hour, the students were bouncing off the walls with knowing they needed to make a serious shift in their business practices.
As we start 2012, many entrepreneurs look to do the same thing. Here are some to consider taking with your business:
Top 10 UnReasonable Business Strategies for 2012
1) Return to the well—Reach out to former clients… daily. Check in on 5 a week. Meet with them. Give them a free strategy session or sample of your newest product. It’s a gazillion times easier bringing a past client back on board than going out and getting a new one. If done correctly, within two weeks you should have several them back on your roster.
2) Ramp up your SP/JV’s— Develop solid strategic partnerships and/or joint ventures with other firms. Pick at least 3 synergistic businesses that bring something powerful to the table. Collaborating and leveraging others’ skill sets and assets is one of the most powerful sales tools today.
3) Increase your prices—Do not compete on pricing. You will most assuredly lose that battle. Instead bundle your project(s)/service(s) with features and benefits in a way your target customer gets the incredible value you offer. If they balk at your price, never reduce it without taking something off the table.
4) Swim upstream—whatever your competitors are doing, take a look at doing it the opposite way. More than likely you will find a serious opportunity. For example, if all your competitors are offering multiple selections for their products/services, offer only one or two. And explain why in a way that is interesting and makes sense.
5) Scale back the gadgets—Too many people live on their electronic gizmos and miss the business opportunity right in front of them. Instead of trying to get another 10,247 “friends” on Facebook, Twitter or whatever, build real, lasting connections with several people who will go to the wall for you. Stop hiding behind your electronics and make a rule to not spend more than 45 mins. daily on social media!
6) Create an UnReasonable event—One of the fastest splashes you can make to your target audience is creating an event that rocks their world. Tailor it to allow you to brand and position your business in a powerful way. Doing highly creative events, summits or workshops can be a lot of work, but your audience will remember you big time.
7) Promote the heck out of others—Be a powerful advocate for your colleagues… on a regular basis. They will really appreciate and remember you and most likely will reciprocate in ways you cannot imagine.
8) Be opinionated—Be an expert with an attitude. Don’t hold back and be “nicey-nicey”. Just remember this is a difference between being a jerk and being an opinionated expert. Media hates the former and loves the latter.
9) Take a position—Use a social and/or environmental cause that really means something to you personally. Build that into the core of your business infrastructure. Involve your stakeholders (employees, venders, customers, etc.) to work together in a way that builds loyalty to your business and brand while making a real difference for the planet.
10) Make many mistakes—when you are playing an UnReasonable game, you will make mistakes when getting outside your comfort zone. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting it right the first time, or worse, don’t get into analysis paralysis and not do anything. Instead, know how to accelerate through your mistakes to success.
Bonus: Be consistent—this, for most entrepreneurs, is the most UnReasonable of all. I cannot tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve worked with that just do not schedule and factor into their calendars to do these activities.
Don’t be one of them. Schedule your UnReasonable activities for all of 2012.
And while Gary had a lot of strong reasons why being an entrepreneur really sucks, he would not have it any other way. Nor would anyone else in the class.
For it allows us the freedom to create powerful solutions to what we need on this planet: more freedom, happiness, and co-existence, along with a safer and healthier planet to live on.
Happy New Year!
Action Steps for the Week:
Review what you would like to create for 2012. Is what you are doing now going to get you there in a way you want to?
If yes, great and keep going. If no, review the strategies above and choose at least 3 you will start to implement now.
Take these and schedule the tasks into your calendar now.