10 Principles for a Fun and Profitable Business

Some of these took me a long while to accept, others to discover, and some to implement.

All of it is, I guess, a work in progress – like the self, our business, and life in general.

So here’s what I learned over the years, in no particular order, to help make your business easier, more fun, and more profitable.

1: Learn how to write copy. Business will always require writing, and the sooner you get a grip on how to write tightly, in a way that’s clear and compelling, the better you’ll do. It’s an unmissable skill in business.

2: Learn how to enroll people. You can call it selling or persuasion or whatever you want, but if you have a business, you deal with people and you want people to align with your vision, right? Whether we want buyers, high-performing teams, active and responsive followers… you want to really *get* psychology in such a way that you’re able to *move people*. Because that’s what enrolling and selling are ultimately about.

3: Always stay active in growing your list. It’s the core asset of your business and you should never stop growing it.

4: Speaking of assets: your business is full of them, except we tend to overlook or discount them, especially when they aren’t tangible. A fleet of cars is an asset, but so it a list of past customers, who might buy again or introduce you to someone. More assets: your reputation, your network, the quality of your work… all assets that can be leveraged, and your life and business are full of them. Get of your assets, and put them to use for your business.

5: Never get good at the small stuff. Sure it’s great if you know how to fix the printer or design a logo – but if your money-making activity is, say, doing SEO at $100 an hour, you spending an hour fixing the printer cost you a hundred bucks. Better pay someone 25 and use your time to do work that pays.

6: Protect the owner (that would be you, operating as a business owner, instead of a business operator). Most of the time, we work *in* our business, and forget to work *on* our business. This is a massively bad idea because it keeps us stuck in the hamsterwheel of doing and making, stealing time from architecting, strategising, and planning, which is what make for business growth.

7: Values and shared values are the core of finding product-market fit – and enrolling buyers. Not everyone who shares your values will be a good client for you, but if you look at your best, most lucrative and most fun clients, you’ll likely find that those people had a lot in common with you, in terms of values. Find more of those people.

8: Keep it simple. And that’s how simple I’ll keep this point :)

9: Systemise everything. Systems aren’t boring: they are what free up your mind for creative thinking, problem-solving, and creating content that attracts people or that people will pay for. After all, these days we’re all a publishing company, whether we publish work for marketing or for getting paid.

10: Talk to your people. Video, email marketing, public talks or social media: it doesn’t matter where you do it, but you’ve got to show up. Nothing will show up (clients, opportunities, partners, etc) unless you do.

There’s a lot more that goes into a business that’s fun and profitable of course, but if you look at this list, you’ll see there’s a nice set of do’s, don’t’s, skills and attitudes in there, enough to keep you on the right track.

Cheers,

Martin

Look! Book! Ten Rules for Ethical Selling

One of my favourite things when working with clients, is looking at the assets that aren’t being utilised in their business.

Makes for fun and fast growth, when for instance you take the asset called ‘subscriber list’ and you start talking to the people there. After all, most people collect email subscribers, but never send.

But once you start to communicate with them? Replies, downloads, sales… like I say: it’s fun!

And in the spirit of eating my own dogfood: I’ve taken some of my own assets, and put them together in a little ebook, for your entertainment and education.

Click here to download ‘Ten Rules for Ethical Selling’

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Martin

The Cost of Short-Term Thinking

It’s not that I’m a consultant or coach for the hospitality industry, but man there’s a ton of lessons to be learned from what I see here in town – this time, courtesy of a different establishment than the one I wrote about last week.

“I need another waiter”, said my buddy the restaurant owner. “Just for serving drinks, but I can’t find anyone”.

I suggested he attract a quality waiter by paying above average wages – say 20 or 30% more, but he said he can’t afford that.

Which seems to make sense in winter: Not enough diners to make up for the extra cost.

Except it’s backwards thinking. Short-term numbers games, and it does his business damage.

Because if today a large family shows up – and the Spanish love to dine in groups of 8, 10, or 12, and because you’re understaffed they get sub-par service, it might be the last time you see them.

10 diners is easily 500 euros worth of food and drinks, and if you treat a group like that well, they’ll easily be back at least two or three times before summer is over.

And, they’ll be telling their friends how awesome the service was and how well we were taken care of.

So losing the support and loyalty of just that one family can cost his business anything from 1000 to several, or many, 1000s in lost sales, over the course of a year. And that’s just one family. If ten families decide to never return, he loses tens of thousands in sales.

Contrast that against an extra 300 euro per month in paying a waiter above-average… i.e. a total increase of wages of 3300 per year (11 months) and you’ll see it not only makes sense to hire a superb waiter at higher prices… you also see that it’s outright stupid not to.

But such is the mentality on the coast: pan para hoy, hambre para mañana. Bread today, hunger tomorrow.

Short term thinking is expensive.

Long term thinking works to leverage current costs against future returns.

In other words: If you want your business to be fun and lucrative, you can’t afford to make short-term decisions that clip your earnings later on.

And if you HAVE to make short term decisions in order to protect cashflow, the last area where you ought to save money, is in customer experience.

Cheers,

Martin

Better or Worse

He’s a terrific guy, an awesome waiter. He does have the Granada ‘mala folla’ attitude, but once you accept that, you realise he’s actually not boorish at all – that’s just his sense of humour.

And at work? I’ve never seen a waiter run faster than him. It’s astonishing.

But the other day, having lunch with friends, the terrace was just so full that we had to eat our paella starved of drinks. He just wasn’t able to keep up.

This morning over coffee I asked if they shouldn’t hire another waiter, to help him.

Turns out, his boss doesn’t like paying wages. Thinks he can handle things by himself.

Which he can, but if you’re serving 25 tables at the same time AND there’s nobody behind the bar pouring drinks for diners… Then it simply is impossible to handle things well.

This owner, they are doing damage to their business.

Everyone I know in town loves this restaurant – and everyone complains about the service.

Which isn’t my friend the waiter’s fault – he’s running as fast as he can.

But to the customer, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. They want a good meal and decent service.

And the greediness of the owner… well, customers only care about that once it affects service or quality, right?

Here’s the moral of the story:

While profit is essential in business, and you sometimes need to make tough decisions, never let quality and service suffer.

Yeah, it’s bad for business.

But more importantly: it’s backwards thinking, because quality and service grow a business, while inefficiency and wastage slow it down.

If you’re going to optimise for profit, start by looking at bottlenecks, redundant assets and processes, and numbers to grow: traffic, inquiries, conversion rate, number of followup actions and all those fun digits that tell you whether
your business is doing well or not.

Make things better, instead of worse.

Are you looking to make some choices at the moment? Maybe I can help you there… and help you make things better.

Cheers,

Martin

Because Nice People Should Finish First

Last night, a friend held my feet to the fire about my work, USP, and elevator pitch.

To her, ‘coach and consultant for ethical business growth’ isn’t what I should run with.

So I tried to explain: “You ever notice how people high in integrity, folks who really want to do right by people, are often the ones who have most trouble growing their sales and their business? I help that kind of person sell more because of, not despite, their values. I call that ’solving the good-egg problem”.

“Yeah”, she said: “Too long”.

By this time, I was getting frustrated: I mean, she knows
me, she knows what my work is about. What I stand for, and which values are sacred to me. And besides, I wasn’t sure if she was challenging me on my USP, or my tagline, or my elevator pitch.

So I blurted out: “I help nice people sell more”, and that seemed to hit home.

Because the harsh truth is that in business, many people believe that nice people do finish last.

And that’s not how it should be.

Nice folk should finish first. Not despite being nice, but because they are nice.

And helping nice folk grow their enterprise, that’s something I get up for every day.

So if you want help with the mindset and decision and strategy side of things, I can coach you on how to be a powerful, skilled business owner. The leader in your own team, whether you’re a solopreneur or not.

If you have that down pat but you want your marketing to get you higher returns, I can consult you on that, and/or implement a marketing system guaranteed to grow your business. (actual guarantee, not just words).

Or, if you have your self-leadership rocking, and your marketing rolling, but you want to learn specific business skills, such as selling, email marketing, productivity or negotiation, I can provide you with custom-made training.

Put differently:

If you’re a good egg, and you want to grow, you might be the kind of person I work with.

Because nice people should finish first.

And if right now you’re eager to make that growth happen, then maybe we should talk and see if I’m the right chap for you.

Sounds good?

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

The Case for Being a Technologist in Business

The E-myth says that someone who’s awesome at doing something people pay for, isn’t necessarily also good at running a business.

So when you go from the Operator in, to the Owner of the business, things get easier. You stop exclusively working IN your business, and go to working ON your business.

A level up from the Owner archetype, is the Artist.

The visionary, the architect, the designer… that’s the archetype that turns a good, fun, and profitable business, into a dream machine.

But there’s a level above is: the technologist.

Technology comes from the Greek ‘Tekhne’ (art, craft) and ‘Logion’ (oracle), or:

‘Tekhnologia’: (systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique) and as such can be understood as:

The precise, deliberate, measured and intentional application of skills&knowledge in the art of building a business.

Fun fact: whether or not you see yourself as the technologist of your business or not, you already are it.

Tag!

Question is: are you going to lean in to the archetype and apply yourself to your business, the way a technologist would…?

Cheers,

Martin

Your Way, or No Way?

In your business, how do you handle the sales and price and T&C parts of being a freelancer or solo owner?

Specifically, when clients try to haggle, or try to make you play by their rules – what do you do?

It’s very common for us to then start to appease the buyer.

But when you start to reduce your price, or you agree tot terms you’re not happy with, you’re setting up for an experience that will disappoint your buyer and you as well.

In fact, the more you let go of your own rules, the lower level of customer satisfaction, no matter how good of a job you do.

Saw this tweet the other day:

“Just said goodbye to a potential client because they wanted me to go against everything I’ve learned and start work without a deposit payment.

“But we’re BIG and you’re small. You can be flexible.”

No. It’s because I’m small that I can’t be. Now this is a correct and true response – but it’s also the wrong one.

Because how big a client is doesn’t have to affect your terms and conditions, and shouldn’t.

Because with that reply, the client heard ‘you’re right, you’re bigger and therefore dominant.

In other words, the client shows up with a big social ‘frame’, and says ‘And you are small, so you do what we say’. If you then agree with the first part of the statement, nothing you’ll say afterwards will change things for the better.

It’s a lost case.

But if you’d ‘break their frame’, and show your own, bigger, authority frame (which is rightfully yours, as the business owner), you might have a chance.

So a good and useful reply would be:

“Size doesn’t matter.

You are asking me to sell you this work, which means I also need to tell you my terms and conditions, which I’ve just done”.

With two sentences, you can turn the tables, and position yourself back where you belong:

As the business owner, stating terms and conditions, that a client may refuse or reject – and which they certainly may complain about if they want – but which is your prerogative to protect.

I know it’s cool and scary and exciting when a big company wants to buy your work.

But don’t be intimidated, and never let them bully you just because they’re bigger.

You run the business, you get to define your terms and conditions. You get to decide whether or not business is ‘your way, or no way’.

Cheers,

Martin

Here’s What to Do When You Can’t Decide

There’s a lot we need to think about in business and we only have so little time.

So it’s useful to choose with precision what we do and don’t think about.

One thing to never think about are the kinds of decisions that can only be made when it both makes sense and feels good too.

When all available logic says ‘yes, correct’, and your gut instinct confirms ‘loving this. let’s do it’.

Those kinds of decisions, which are typically the kind that make a diff cause a big positive change, can’t be thought up.

As long as you’re trying to reason with yourself whether to do thing A or not do it, you’re only wasting time, because you’ll end up in an endless weighing of pros and cons, and end up in those boring mental loops where you keep going over the same options and considerations.

When that happens, you can safely stop thinking about it, because something in or about you just isn’t ready yet to make the decision.

Usually, with most people, that comes down to ‘not enough information, incomplete insight’, and that’s usually down to ‘not having seen the forest for the trees, because we were thinking so hard that we didn’t see anything else than what we wanted to see’.

Big decisions, or scary ones, or important ones or those with a lot of ramifications, they need both sense and emotion (in fact, psychologists say all decisions are driven by emotion).

And the sooner you put the brain down, stop thinking about it, and let your subconscious figure things out, the sooner stuff will fall into place, and you’ll end up with epiphany:

‘Ah! THIS is what I should do. And how. I see so clearly now’.

And then you have your decision.

Until your subconscious lobs one of these insights at you, I’d say you can safely stop thinking about the big decision.

There’s plenty of more readily decidable things to consider, and there’s work to do as well. Both will get you a lot more than banging your head against a decision that your subconscious hasn’t sufficiently worked on.

Or, to put all that into one sentence:

“Can’t decide? Then you can stop thinking about it!”

Cheers,

Martin

Can Selling Be Fun?

Almost every day, someone tells me a different reason why they don’t like selling.

“Selling is stressful”.

“It’s frustrating that the process takes so long”.

“I wish I wouldn’t have to always look for new prospects”.

“It’s such a waste of time, to issue proposals and not get the sales”.

I get it. Building your business, marketing, having sales conversations, writing proposals… it’s work, of the kind that you simply can’t get around.

But it doesn’t have to be a slog.

In fact, for me it’s the opposite. I find the whole marketing and sales process fun – a ton of fun.

Why?

For one thing, because it’s like a puzzle: who is this for? How can I reach them? Who’s most likely to buy? What do they want to hear, or know, in order to want what I’ve got? Puzzle, puzzle, puzzle. Shifting pieces, figuring out what works, seeing a picture emerge… it’s endless discovery and learning.

Which brings me to the second reason I like sales so much:

Learning. Learning about myself, for one thing, but also: learning other people.

Every person is a world, and for that person to buy my work, means I need to learn that person.

What are their fears and frustrations… which wants and aspirations do they have…?

How committed are they, how can I help them, what can I do to help them get out of repetitive and dysfunctional thinking and operate from the heart?

What’s the key I need to turn, in order for them to see their own abilities, leadership, communication and sales skills?

Who, in other words, IS this person – and how do I need to show up so that they can relate to me?

You can see selling as a separate thing, something you just have to do if you’re in business – or you can see it as an integral part of being human.

Where ‘being human’ means you exist in relation to others, and at any moment you have the opportunity to connect with someone, share in an experience, and figure out how you can create resonance with that person.

Much like you would with relatives, a partner, or a friend.

Selling isn’t some terrible task: it’s what we do all day long anyway.

And once you internalise that, once you make the shift into selling as a normal, helpful human activity, suddenly it becomes fun.

You don’t need to ‘get over yourself’ or ‘suck it up’ or ‘just accept sales’.

All you need to do is discover your own innate curiosity for others, and make it your mission to learn.

It’s fun, and it’ll make selling a lot easier too.

Cheers,

Martin

Three Questions That Determine Whether They’ll Buy – And the 2nd Gets Way Too Little Attention

Yes yes, of course: people need to know you, like you, and trust you, if they’re going to buy your thing.

But Know, Like, Trust, isn’t enough.

On a very primal psychological level, evolutionary style, everyone subconsciously asks three questions when dealing with others.

Do I like you?

Can you help me?

Do I trust you?

And that middle part – the other’s belief in our ability to help – is something often overlooked.

Think about it:

A buyer needs to have the conviction that you help with their thing. Otherwise they don’t need what you have.

But saying that you can do X or Y for them doesn’t cut it.

Whether you say ‘I make a good breakfast’ or ‘I fix your SEO’ or ‘I help you get really good at enrolling buyers’ (that would be me saying it – hi!) does nothing to convince someone.

It’s data, information, a statement.

For someone else to believe it – to trust that it’s true – that you can help them, something has to happen in their mind.

A doubt or question needs to be addressed in such a way, that they go from ‘Can they?’ to ‘Oh wow, they can!’

Saying it won’t make it happen.

Persuasion doesn’t make it happen.

Nor does a list of awards, education, resume or bio.

For a buyer to believe that you can help, they need to have an insight that leads to conviction.

They need to know that yeah, you’re the guy or gal for the job.

That’s when people buy.

So is there nothing you can do to have a buyer go through that process?

Sure there is!

1: Have a conversation, and frame it as an exploration into goals, current situation, and obstacles inbetween those.

2: Sell only one thing: your care and concern for them as a person and as a business owner. Be genuinely interested.

3: Ask questions that invite the other to try out different perspectives.

Keep doing that, and if you’re talking to the right person and you’re truly not being pushy or needy but interested in them, interesting things will happen.

For one thing, bits of the different viewpoints will stick, and the other person will composite their own viewpoint – or rather, their vision – on their situation, next steps, and the way you fit into all of it.

Another interesting thing that will happen: when a buyer reaches that vision, they’ll have decided for themselves – no persuasion required – that for their case, yeah you’re the right person.

And the most interesting: that’s when people ask ‘Where do I pay?’ or ‘When can we get started?’.

And I’ll bet you’d like to hear that more often, right?

Well, then let’s have a conversation, to see what we can do.

Let me know if you’re ready to talk, and I’ll send you a schedule link.

Cheers,

Martin

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