Simple Business Growth “Math-efied”

I’ve always thought about basic business growth, execution, etc… this way:

G = (p – r)ts + (ra – rc)

G = Growth  p = proactive thinking  r = reactive thinking  ts = team strength
ra = resources available  rc = resources consumed

Notice that “team strength” is a multiplier to thinking.  The resources address execution, and come to label a variety of things including monetary, intellectual, etc…

So, if you want to grow a business, increase available resources and proactive thinking.  If you want more monetary resources, focus on venture capital, or the three typical ways of generating revenue (avg. ticket, more customers, repeat customers).

But focus on the strength of your team, as that is a multiplier.  A strong team of people who think proactively, will beat a strong team of people who think re-actively any day.  Etc…

So hire well, don’t settle just because you have an opening, hire the best AND pay them well (if they are the best).  Develop, nurture, retain the people who will take care of and grow your business.

Because after all, as I have always said (since 2006 online), business is about people.

Contact me today, and let’s see if we can get to work on your growth equation.

Exponential Thinking

When I wrote my last post, I framed it in the context of a “contract.”

But, that said, I do not want to discourage exponential thinking as a whole.  It is good to be able to conceptualize on an exponential basis.

It’s good to be able to think beyond the “linear.”

I just didn’t want us to be bound to exponential thinking as a path we must take.  My last post was written to provide a choice.

You think the way you want to think.  Don’t be bound by anyone’s exponential contract.

But, think exponentially, because then you’ll be able to more accurately “see” where the “contract” is leading.

The Publishing Experiment I Didn’t Know I Was Conducting

I have done some slow thinking over the holidays.

Writing my book, The Slow Manifesto, has been an interesting effort to say the least.

Slowly, it has been written with the intent to provide a “jump start” of sorts for anyone who might be introducing themselves to the slow lifestyle.

To get to the point, I’ve decided to use this publishing effort to experiment, to test some boundaries for myself.

I’m not going to publish the book in any sort of “entirety.”

Instead, true to the mission behind writing it in the first place, it will always remain a slowly evolving “book.” That is, it will never be completed in the traditional sense.

You can read The Slow Manifesto right now, right here on this website (opens in a new window).  You are free to keep reading it as long as I keep publishing different parts of it on that site.

The “Table of Contents” for the book itself will always be located here.

Not a TOC in the traditional sense though. There will be no page numbers, no chapters, no footnotes etc…

There will only be one, slowly evolving work always focused in the general direction provided in the manifesto.

And you can read each addition to this book for free, via a RSS reader, and/or via email if you’re logged into your WordPress account (look in the bar at the top of your browser).

It will always be there for you to read.  It was the book publishing experiment I was writing and conducting all along.

But no, it won’t be available on Amazon … and it won’t appear on the shelf at your local Barnes and Noble.

It will be there, on the website, as an ever-evolving online book … a permanent project if you will.

I never intended it to sell in the mainstream anyhow, so commercially publishing it wouldn’t have made sense.

My objective for this book was clarified even further as I ventured through 2014 and some personal challenges (close family dying, etc…).

I realized over the holiday that we live only once, and we must live slowly (it’s amazing, the automatic reflection process many of us go through around this time of year).

I didn’t want to keep revising a traditional or digital book, so I left The Slow Manifesto online so I can add and subtract from it at will.

The mission behind this book was also strengthened considerably. In fact, I would strongly state that the consequences for holding to the “status quo” are even more dire.

Status quo = heads in our gadgets, lack of connection to nature, lack of genuine human connection, etc… (more in the book)

But that’s only my opinion.

My book will be my constantly evolving statement for some of my guiding principles of life.

And I will leave it to you, dear reader, to discover for yourself as you dive deeper into what “slow” means for you and your family.

Use this online book to start you on your journey, but realize that your journey will never be complete.  It is always beginning.

Slowly.

And I will leave it to you dear reader, to decide whether or not you will support my work.  You’ll see a Donation button in various places on the book’s website.

Donate any amount you like, donate monthly if you would like (because this book will constantly be added to), or you can feel free to read without any donation at all.

In any case, I appreciate the fact that you have read what I have written at all, and I thank you.

Start your journey at the book’s Table of Contents

“Evergreen” by Noah Fleming

I have cool friends in this writing business of mine.

One of those friends is a business strategy consultant by the name of Noah Fleming.

He was trained as a consultant by Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting.  That fact alone provides enough credibility for Noah to build a consulting practice for decades to come.

Then, he wrote a book titled Evergreen.

I was fortunate to secure a review copy of that new book, I read it, and then I asked 5 questions of Noah and his book.

The questions are below, with Noah’s written answer below each one:

QUESTION #1:  Your book starts off strong; tell us what being “addicted to sex” means for the small to medium sized business…

The thrill of the chase.

The satisfaction of a successful seduction.

It has long been said in the business world that customer acquisition (getting customers) is sexy, and retention (keeping them) is boring.

Why is that?

It’s simple. The marketing stuff is more fun. It is sexier. It’s glitzy and glamorous! It’s far more exciting than focusing on the customers you’ve already got.

The problem, though, is that the customers you’ve already got are there for a reason. They like what you do. They want what you offer. They’re willing to spend more money with you. But many companies have already moved on to the next marketing campaign and the elusive new customer.

It’s an addiction and we need treatment.

QUESTION #2:  Explain a little bit about the “Three Cs”…

The Three Cs of an Evergreen organization – character, community, and content. These are the core principles that I believe generate true customer loyalty, great marketing, and an evergreen business.

I have worked with over a thousand entrepreneurs, executives, and companies since 2005 I noticed that the best all focused on three key areas whether they knew it or not.

When I looked outside my client base and looked at some of the world’s top companies, I found many of them were also carefully focusing on the same three things.

Character is about why you do what you do. In Simon Sinek’s great book, Start with Why, he found that the world’s best organizations started with “why” before considering the “what.” Character is all about your why but taking it to a much deeper level.

The second C is community. The best companies in the world are building a strong sense of community amongst their customers.  In the book, I give examples from various industries from restaurants to mechanics, to toy manufacturers. I show readers how to do it in any type of business.

The third C is content. Your content is the thing you give in exchange for money. Your content is your core product or service, but it’s no longer enough to rely on that to bring customers back again, and again, and again. The other Cs shows you how to make your content stand out!

QUESTION #3:  I love how you stick with the “Evergreen” theme throughout the book. My favorite chapter is chapter 6, about becoming intimately familiar with your customers.  Surprisingly, you reveal why Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is broken starting on page 107.

Then, you reveal how to fix it.  Can you give us a little taste of what you mean by “fixing it?”

Measuring CLV is often seen as the holy grail of data analysis. It’s an idea that’s seductively simple & makes great intuitive sense. “Of course, if I knew the average value of any new customer, it would be useful in my business! I could use that to figure out how much I was willing to spend to attract new customers, and have an idea of the total value of my business.

What’s not to love?

The biggest problem with the concept of CLV is many companies allow it to become the driving force of all of their marketing efforts.  They treat the entire customer base as an amorphous blob instead of accurately breaking down the different types of customers that make up their customer base.

Instead of looking at the entire customer base as a bunch of “average” customers, I suggest building archetypes for your various types customers, and I show readers how that’s done.

QUESTION #4:  On page 162 you show the letter Amazon uses when they “fire” customers.  This is in chapter 8 of your book.  Can you give us your perspective on Amazon’s letter, and also what it means to “give yourself permission to fire customers?”

Amazon is one of the most customer-focused companies on the planet, but they’re not going to let people walk all over them because they’re afraid of losing them. Even Zappos will fire a customer if they have to.

I identify two types of problem customers in the book: problem children and Hungry Hippos.

The problem child is the customer who is insatiable and never content, no matter what. They exist in every customer base. No matter what you do, they can’t be pleased. They are typically the lowest-value, most price-sensitive customers you have.

From a returning-customer standpoint, they might be considered loyal, but are they worth it?

I was visiting a client recently when the phone rang. It turned out to be a specific “regular” customer. The problem? Not one single employee wanted to take the call. The customer was rude and arrogant.

This year for Christmas I’m giving my kids the classic kid’s game Hungry Hippos – the classic game where players whack a lever that causes their hippo to “eat” a marble. The player whose hippo eats the most marbles wins. Many companies have customers who are Hungry Hippos. These customers may frequently visit.  They might even be great spenders, but they are concerned with eating the most marbles.

This is the customer who overstays his welcome at the buffet, or takes the concept of “unlimited refills” literally. It’s the customer who constantly complains and wants discounts or cheaper pricing. They’re the customers who constantly call the cable companies asking for discounts, or the ones intent on figuring out how to use an obscene number of coupons!

In the Amazon example, Amazon fired a customer who was constantly returning and exchanging opened Blu-ray discs. Not once. Not twice, but dozens and dozens of times. Amazon isn’t dumb. We’re not dumb. We all know what he was doing, and Amazon knows there’s a better customer out there to replace this one.

QUESTION #5:  In chapter 10 you focus on “getting back lost customers” … can you offer the readers some actionable pointers on how they could start doing that until they get a copy of your book?

Sure. Look at your business over the past year and do this.

Who are the customers who stopped doing business with you this year?

Do you know why?

Have you lost any major accounts, suppliers, distributors, retail outlets?

Try this: Pick up the phone and call three lost or inactive customers. Seriously. Just try it. Tell them they’ve been missed.

Figure out why they left if you don’t already know.

Ask them what you can do to gain their business back in 2015.


 

You can pick up a copy of Noah’s new book via Amazon from this link.

You can research more about Noah Fleming and his marketing services here.

We Need To Be Kids Again… Part Deux

Inspired by this comment on Reddit.

In the first part of this “We Need To Be Kids Again” series I explored the thoughts of a child, and how adulthood buries our best ideas.

In part 2, we’re going to take it up a notch, and it isn’t warm and fuzzy…

People, have you ever stopped to smell the roses?

Very few people have.  I don’t use that phrase lightly either.

Most people (and I do mean most, but not all) are buried in their smart phone, laptop, tablet, Google Glass (the few that have one), or other gadgets.  They endlessly multitask themselves to death, in the interest of some imaginary necessity to “be productive”… either for themselves or for some faceless, emotionless company.

Oblivious to the world and the natural beauty around them, these people can’t even hold a full conversation before “having” to return a text or take a phone call, amongst other unnecessary interruptions.  These same folks, for the most part, lack the wonder and curiosity they had as a small child.

We. Need. To. Change. That.

We are not robots people, we are not machines, we are human beings.  Human beings do not live in an algorithmic world, we live in a natural one.  And we’re losing that natural one as this is being written, because most of us seem to be unwilling to truly acknowledge the serious problems that exist (and that we caused) in the climate and environment as a whole.

We seemingly continue to hope that someone (from the Government or otherwise) will just come along and save us.  Won’t happen.  As Grandpa used to say, “You made your bed, now you get to sleep in it.”

Folks, this is a planet with limited resources, it replenishes some of those resources, but the rate wasn’t meant to be exceeded by a living entity on the planet… that’s us.

In short, we’re taking it faster than the planet can recover it.

So I’ll bet you’re wondering what this all has to do with stopping and smelling the roses, and perhaps more importantly, what it has to do with being a kid again.

Think back to when you were a kid.

Did you take more than you could, respectfully?  Did you share with your friends?  Did you meet new kids?

Without question, and you did it with a sense of awe and wonder.

But more than that, as a kid, did you just sit there and wonder?

You didn’t question anything, you didn’t follow some “protocol”… you didn’t have your head in a gadget (I’ll get to today’s kids in a second).  You just wondered.

We need to wonder more, like kids.  We need to ask more questions, like kids (even scientists need to do this more, and drop the religious politics).  We need to respect our planet more, even if there wasn’t a climate crisis looming (science proved it, it will exist).

We need to leave earlier and walk a different path to work, meet people, and quit worrying about the differences between people.  We need to be human beings, not robots.

(btw… technology can create/force a false form of evolution, might be called the Singularity, whatever… but will never replace biological evolution, because technology is NOT biology and never will be)

We need to be kids again.

What about today’s kids?

They HAVE to grow up with the Internet, right?  They must be taught (or learn) how to use an iPad, right?  It’s required to be a kid… right?

Wrong.  That is a big, steaming pile of stinky bullshit.

I’m not saying they won’t be curious, and won’t naturally poke their heads into an iPad, or whatever device… they probably will.  Heck, they might use technology for something good with the awe and curiosity they possess.  So, encourage that.

But don’t stifle the kids.  Let them determine where their awe and curiosity takes them.  And, encourage them to see their world, open their eyes to the enormous possibilities our world (and the Universe) can offer them.

That’s why we need to be kids again… so we can remove ourselves from the demons that are binding us to our machine world… and so our kids don’t grow up like most of us have.  Let them create the world again.

The Eventual Millionaire

Or, how to create your own rags to riches story… by Jaime Tardy

From the Amazon Listing for the book:

Become a millionaire by learning from millionairesAn Eventual Millionaire is someone who knows they will be a millionaire, eventually. But they want to do it on their own terms—with an enjoyable life and an enjoyable business. Eventual Millionaires are everywhere, from the airplane pilot looking to start his own business for more freedom and money to a student looking to start her life on the right foot to a successful business owner needing inspiration and wondering how to take her business to the next level.

There are many ways to become a millionaire, but research has often shown that creating your own business is one of the best ways to build wealth. The Eventual Millionaire will lay the foundation for those looking to start their own business and work their way toward financial independence and a fulfilled life.

  • Contains the insights of over seventy millionaires and their various experiences
  • Written by Jaime Tardy, founder of eventualmillionaire.com and a business coach for entrepreneurs
  • A companion website includes an “Eventual Millionaire Starter Kit” with worksheets, business plan documents, and much more

We all want to be successful and enjoy financial security, but we might not know how or don’t think we can do it. The Eventual Millionaire will show you what it takes.

I’ve read a review copy of the book, and Jaime delivers on everything promised.

She over delivers on everything else.

I recommend you head over to her blog at http://eventualmillionaire.com/blog and soak up some of the many millionaire interviews there.

Then, buy the book.  You won’t be disappointed.

Think

Think.

Think in bits, think deep.

Think critically, but think before you leap.

Think about why you exist in this world, think about why there is something rather than nothing.  But by all means, think.

If we think, we don’t have time to troll, ridicule, fight wars, or end the balance between Nature and human.

I write, I draw, and I think about technology’s impact on society.  The most important part of that is think… because the other two don’t happen unless I do.

Do you?  Do you really slow down and think?

Will you think before you leave a comment that is hurtful to others?  Before you tarnish someone’s name in the social media?

I hope so, I think you will.

Go ahead and set aside time to think… it’s important.