Entrepreneur

The 5 people you need to meet when Global…

Since we launched finder.com globally, I’ve realised why networking is so important. It’s part of our launch journey and sets the foundation to success.

Our global journey began two years ago when we launched finder.com in the USA. We now operate in 10 countries: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain and Chile. We’re also launching in more countries next year.

It’s the connections you make that will set you apart and allow you to launch more successfully in a new market.

When my co-founder, Frank Restuccia, and I first started finder about 10 years ago, we networked at free business events for the food because we had no money. We ate so much food that we didn’t need dinner.

But we also got to meet people in the same industry, learnt about the different skills you need to run a business and met some amazingly talented people. These events can be so inspiring. The best part is that your brand becomes known in the industry.

These events are even more important when you’re launching in unfamiliar territory. In fact there are five types of people you need to meet when hitting a new market.

1. Media

The media can give you an audience and customer base, and leverage your brand and credibility.

Find out the top media publications for that market (a quick Google search can do the trick), and look for  journalists who write about the issues and industry you work in.

For us, we’re interested in meeting business journalists so when we launch in a new market we know who to talk to. We are also interested in meeting consumer finance press to help them with comment and research around banking and other industries.

For example, in the early days of our US launch, we planned a trip to our LA office around a Business Chicks event, where Arianna Huffington was the keynote speaker (founder of the Huffington Post and one of the most powerful women in the world). We hustled our way through the crowd and pitched a blog idea – and it worked! It was my first blog in the US and was about some of the challenges we faced with that fragmented market. Check out the blog here.

2. Talent

Finding people to work with is equally the hardest and most important thing to do as a startup. Networking can be a big help in getting in front of the brightest people in your industry.

We invest heavily into professional development and send our crew to conferences to not only learn from experts in the industry, but also to find talented people to join our team. We’ve hired many people from meeting them at events.

So don’t be scared to speak to the speakers and delegates.

3. Experts

Experts can also be found at in accelerator and entrepreneurial programs, and startup bootcamps, which are becoming more prolific in every market. They specialise in growth and launching in new markets.

The experts who run these groups will often know what you need to do to set up – and who to talk to. They will also know what grants are available to apply for and tax incentives too.

I was introduced to an accelerator program when I visited Singapore in mid-2017 and visited a startup bootcamp. These guys really know their stuff and hooked me up with consultants and advisors to help with legal and tax requirements when launching. It was an invaluable experience.

4. Business Leaders

I like to look up my LinkedIn connections, friends and associates who live in or will be in that market when I’m in town and ask them if they want to meet up before I head over. They will give you insight into the challenges they faced when they launched and share their experiences with you. They might also introduce you to their network.

When we were in Singapore, we met with my mate Nick Hungerford, who is the founder of Nutmeg. He just moved to Singapore with his family so it was perfect timing catch up with him and find out what he’s doing there and who can he introduce me to.

5. Clients

Getting our clients on board can be a long and heavy process, and almost every one is the result of 1:1 meetings. When we launch in a new market, we need to connect with our clients and slowly get the products onto our site, one at a time.

Sometimes we have connections to these clients from other providers, and some are through affiliate deals. But very often it’s a matter of searching for people on their company website and Linkedin and meeting them for a coffee.

When you launch your business in a new market, make sure you launch your hustle too.

Entrepreneur

Just make $1 of Profit

When you are starting abusiness, focus is the hardest thing to achieve. I have 1 piece of advice for every single entrepreneur that I meet. I tell them this usually at the end or the start of our conversation.
Ignore everything else about your business and focus on making $1 of profit.

Make $1 of profit

What is $1 of profit

  • $1 of cash sitting in your bank account that you can access and buy things with
  • The tax is paid
  • Suppliers paid
  • You are paid
  • Its ugly or its beautiful, it doesn’t matter. Profit doesn’t judge
  • No ifs, No buts. No conditional $1s.
  • Just $1 clean.

What isnt $1 of profit

  • You have made a sale and its got a profit but you don’t actually have the money in your account
  • You made $1 of revenue but you didn’t pay yourself for your time.
  • You spent more than $1 to make the profit

Email me, when you make your first $1 of profit

Entrepreneur

Believe in yourself

From “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” a quote from a poem by Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy:

We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams;—

World-losers and world-forsakers,

On whom the pale moon gleams:

Yet we are the movers and shakers

Of the world for ever, it seems.

Email marketing

10 things I’ve learnt the second time round

Read and forget this list at your own peril. I have spent a serious amount of time learning these insights and I strongly suggest you take them on board. Here are the 10 things I learnt when launching my new business HiveEmpire.com.

  1. There are still big $’s to be made in Australia – niche markets are great to start in but if you want to make big $’s in Australia you have to own a major category eg cars, finance, jobs, real estate and hotels. You might think that there are already too many competitors in your market. What I have learnt in Australia is that realistically, most businesses in Australia aren’t that great. No one writes about Australian companies in the major blogs and tech sites. They don’t break the mould, they don’t innovate that well and they tend to just sit and let their market share crumble. Most big Australian companies got big because they were the only option. You can still make big money in Australia if you are willing the persist and fight. How did Virgin steal so much market share from Qantas. If you have ever worked with Qantas you will know why. They are SLOW, OLD and have so many dead wood people NOT-working in their business! I’d prefer to compete with Qantas rather than a quick and nimble company. Make your business nimble and give the customer another option. There are always rebels in every customer base!
  2. If you loved your first biz, you will marry your second! – All of your ideas are clearer and the path to growth is easier the second time round. I learnt fast from my first business and made the mistakes quickly! I learnt what worked and just replicated a lot more of that. If you are thinking of starting a business, just do it. Start small and make $1, its damn addictive. I challenge myself always with any new niche we enter to make the first $1. After that it’s easier to know what is required next –> make $2. 😉
  3. Staff are everything – If you want to create a very profitable business you need profitable employees. The easiest way to get this is to hire motivated employees that can manage themselves to achieve results. This has been my most important fundamental focus second time around. Developing a process for this and knowing who you want to hire have been 2 of my best upgrades to my second business. The 3 key suggestions I have here are:
    1. Don’t hire average staff, or you will end up with an average company – Wait and slow down, before hiring. It’s better to just wait that much longer rather than hiring the wrong person. You don’t actually need to hire a person if you are smart and just optimise the systems you are using at present.
    2. Ask more questions not less. The impact of who you hire impacts your other top performers in your company. Hire poor quality people and you say something to them. Hire high quality people and you breed greatness into your organisation.
    3. You can’t motivate people – You can only hire motivated people. Don’t bother with motivational programs, just hire a motivated person. Do some personality profiling to figure out if a person is motivated or not and you will save yourself a lot of time from creating motivational programs and talking to staff members to motivate them. If someone slips through your process. Talk through it, perhaps they aren’t suited to your company and would be better working in a big organisation where they want slow moving and predictable employees. They will like it there more and you will have helped them out. Stop trying to motivate the average staff member in your company and just replace them instead.
  4. Read More – If you are an achiever you will probably have a small, old and outdated television and a large library of books which you have read and used. I always look at the size of someone’s television and the size of their library in their house. It always gives me a good signal. I read a lot, but try and speed through boring parts in the books these days. I find that reading slow in key areas and implementing ideas is crucial but speeding past stuff that is boring and non relevant. I don’t read fiction, only non-fiction and there is usually a book about any area of business that you are operating in. Read it. My suggested Readings:
    1. HR = Top Grading – learn a rigorous hiring process. I read this book on my Babymoon, greatest book on HR I have ever read.
    2. Business Management = Rework – By the guys who made 37signals. A great book which has helped me a lot.
    3. Motivation = 4 hour work week – Read this fast as it won’t all apply to yourself. I use it more as a motivational tool.
    4. HR and Business Strategy = Good to Great – Bit of an essay, but if you want to build a business bigger than in 4 hour work week, this will help you make a great one.
  5. Outsource everything you can – time is the currency. I have literally put my entire life on the internet and pretty much outsource everything. I havent been into a supermarket in 4 years. Supermarkets are time hell, pay the $7.50 and get it delivered instead of spending 3 hours in a supermarket. Key insights to outsourcing a business process:
    1. Test first with a contract or hourly model then lock in good suppliers with retainers.
    2. Start small – just outsource 1 part of a process, then add to it. Either with the same person or with different people so that you keep core business secrets with yourself.
    3. Document it or they will f**k it up – Assume zero intelligence. Prefer that they don’t think as opposed to wishing the outsourced person would think. You want a reliable simple thing done, over and over again. You don’t want a business strategy for taking over the internet.
  6. Make a simple business – if it’s simple you spend less time producing and more time marketing and improving your product. If you can’t explain your business to someone else in less than 60 seconds, it’s too complex. Simplify it. Do less, specialise and earn more. My business is so simple, we compare credit cards, home loans or savings accounts. That’s it. We just spend all of our time marketing it and improving the product. My previous business was a very smart business, it needed smart people. But, I think I prefer the simple business these days. How do you make a simple business in your niche? Just do the core, really, really well.
  7. Meetings, Emails and telephones, instant messenger and Facebook are trying to kill your business – If you want to be part of the crowd, using the aforementioned tools is a surefire way to make that happen. I have taken active steps to kill these distractions in the business. Four practical tips to dealing with these items of distraction:
    1. Meetings kill productivity – Avoid meetings at all costs. Meet if you are going to make a decision. Meetings sap away time which you could use to be productive and make money. I personally only have 2 meetings per week and they are a maximum of 20 minutes each. Set your meeting times for unusual time increments and start them at unusual hours like 10:17am to ensure you finish your meeting quickly.
    2. Emails and telephones are poison – Only open your emails twice per day. If anyone in your organisation has responded to an email faster than 1 hour, they are spending too much time reading and waiting for the next email. That is just communicating, its not actually getting work done. Read your emails twice per day, preferably on your iPhone while you are commuting. Emails are time poison. At Hive Empire, we don’t have telephones. There is no need. We don’t even have business cards. Email us to communicate and we will reply in a timely manner. Nothing is really that urgent.
    3. Instant messenger – This is the perfect tool to collaborate with when you are working with people overseas. We have several overseas team members. But most of the time there aren’t many things that couldn’t be done over email. Email helps you think out your ideas and formulate them into a productive communication. Instant messenger is a distraction and kills peoples ability to focus and deliver productive work. When you get distracted from your work you essentially lose money. Kill the instant messenger and you will see an increase in profits.
    4. Facebook and Twitter are productivity hell – The walled garden of Facebook is the ultimate time killer. Ever noticed how often someone updates their Facebook or Twitter status? This number of updates is inversely proportionate to their profitability. Kill your Facebook account and only read the twitter updates from your business colleagues when you are waiting for someone or something to happen. In actual fact, if you want to be even more ruthless with your time management, kill your twitter aswell. No piece of information is really that important that you won’t eventually find out.
  8. Great things come to great businesses – you can tell how great your business is going to be by how relevant the current business headlines are to you. If you have nothing to do with it, you’re in the wrong market. If the news is relevant, you are going to be a great business because your market is newsworthy and there is growth potential. I prefer big markets as opposed to small ones in Australia. The small ones aren’t big enough to sustain many businesses, unlike in American where niche markets are really big. I used to work in niche markets with small customer bases, there was little scale and little profit. If you are a niche best of breed biz in Australia you have to go global to expand. Be courageous and challenge a big market in Australia. You will be surprised as to what happens. We started our homeloanfinder.com.au site during a credit crisis, mortgage broker  meltdown and credit licensing. It didnt bother us because we know its a long haul and its a big market, so all we need is a slice to be profitable.
  9. Say no – this time around I’ve learnt to say no to things I don’t want and not grin and bare it. It comes with confidence and experience. Play it slow when you are unsure and wait for a better option. How to say no without actually saying no:
    1. Price – Put the price up so high that you would be ok to do it if you were paid that obscene amount of money.
    2. Refer – Give the work to someone else. You would be amazed as to how referring things come back to you in spades.
    3. Say nothing – Don’t respond to someone who is opening a dialogue with you that you don’t want to engage with because you know they are going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do. Ignoring people is rude, but not opening a dialogue to a broadcast request is different.
  10. Be persistent – In my previous business my Joker card was that I was persistant. I literally just stuck it out and kept picking up the phone. This time I’m the same and I know it’s what makes me win. The most important times to be persistent:
    1. A customer turns you down – If a customer won’t do business with you, wait, they will leave and you can do business with the new person.
    2. You don’t have enough business – Keep marketing and selling. Someone will buy eventually if you have something worthwhile to sell. Pick up the phone and dial your most important prospect.
    3. You don’t have any good staff – Fire someone and hire someone else. Why wait, just do it. It’s not really that bad, stop putting it off and start realising your business potential.
    4. Too much office politics – Fire the politician, no matter how good they are.
    5. You don’t make enough profit in your business – Stop doing unprofitable things and do more profitable ones. Isolate the profitable things and transition to just doing that, and that only.
    6. You don’t have enough time – Stop doing things which take up a lot of time and deliver little output. If you only had 1 hour in a day to do all of your work, what would you do and what would you not do. Outsource the things which are mindless and repetitive and just do really profitable things all day.

Let me know what you think?

Here is a presentation I did about this post.

Entrepreneur

Too aggressive

I have a phrase that I use when I want to describe something as a little over the top and a little bit challenging to people. Generally if you are doing something and you are described as too aggressive its a good thing.

Examples:

  • If you found a way to send out 1,000,000 emails for the same price as sending 100, thats too aggressive.
  • Americans are too aggressive when they do sales pitches.
  • Time Life daytime “old music” repackaged up and sold as classics is too aggressive with the words they use to describe the product.
  • If someone cuts in the line at the bank when you wanted to bank a cheque just because they didn’t consider you, that’s too aggressive.
  • For girls they would prefer to be described as being assertive as opposed to aggressive.
  • If you go to someones house and do something a little offensive, like spill something on their couch that they just bought, that’s too aggressive.

You get the idea.

Let me tell you now whats too aggressive in online marketing.

Spending more money on your PPC than on your SEO is too aggressive.

Investing in SEO is like putting money into a savings account. Sure the interest is small at first, but if you get enough cash in there, you can pull in some serious dollars.

Just investing in PPC is like spending all of your pay cheque and not saving a single cent. (too aggressive)

My advice, get the SEO book. Aaron Wall is a golden SEO’r who can actually write down the techniques. I knew SEO and I bought it because I wanted more traffic. I got it, read it and now dominate. Buy it, read it over time, implement the techniques and save $10,000 in SEO fees that some consultant will charge you.

It will help you generate new ideas for campaigns, build a robost SEO site, fix problems with your rankings to get more traffic and actually help you understand technical things that most of us don’t get.

P.S. The ADMA Forum campaign at present is too aggressive. Sex sells, but I don’t want to pick that thing up at work, what are my colleagues going to think? I reckon a simple up the centre, “ADMA Forum, Make your DM pull better, June 25 – 27th 2008, Sydney Convention Centre. Register Now” would work better. The die hards will already go, they just need to know when it is. Spare me your creative mumbo jumbo just give me a simple benefit with some golden copy for this one, the authority is al.

Rob Edwards, if your reading this, invite me to speak and I will help you get some more bums on seats.

Career

NSW Young BizStar Entrepreneur Competition

My fellow director of Freestyle Media, Frank Restuccia had a great time talking at the final of the NSW Young BizStar Competition 2007 yesterday.

He told me it was a great opportunity to pass on our experience of the pros and cons of being young and starting a successful business to the next generation of entrepreneurs

I know he inspired them to great deeds with our story of:

  1. Starting Freestyle Media while studying at University in 2001
  2. Building it up to group revenues exceeding $2M in the past financial year
  3. My being appointed ADMA Australian and NSW Young Direct Marketer of the Year 2006 for pioneering work combining traditional direct marketing with online marketing techniques.

Most importantly he motivated them to persevere in their quest to be entrepreneurs because in the words of former President of the United States Calvin Coolidge they should:

“Press on: nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent”