Episode 232- How To Be A Successful Entrepreneur and Build Thriving Business
Rob Shallenberger: Welcome back to our loyal Becoming Your Best podcast listeners! This is your host, Rob Shallenberger, and this is going to be a show targeted to a specific group of people. Now, if you’re listening, I’m guessing that you’re going to be in this group of people. So, who is this for? Well, this is for entrepreneurs.
Now, some of you may say, “Well, that’s not me.” Let me explain what I mean. First of all, if you’re already running a business, you’re definitely in that category. If you’re working for someone else in an organization, you’re still in this category because every business owner I know would love to have a group of people thinking like an entrepreneur, taking ownership, contributing new ideas, innovating better ways to serve and do things inside the organization. Now, if that’s not you, but you’ve had an idea in the back of your mind, you are still an entrepreneur. You know, a lot of people have had an idea or something they’ve wanted to do but it never really left the intention phase. And a lot of that is because they simply didn’t know where to start. And look, I get it. It can be difficult and even challenging to take these ideas, whether it’s a stay-at-home business, or whether it’s a new tech startup, or whatever it is. It can be really difficult and daunting to take an idea and actually create a business out of it. I mean, I understand that. I’ve started several businesses, and I know how challenging that can actually be.
And so, that’s why we’ve developed an online entrepreneur bootcamp. It’s an online course that will take people all the way from the startup – basically all the way through the growth mode – and then, ultimately, the exit and everything that happens in between there. Let me give you a little background on this because this will apply to why we’re doing this podcast. This used to be a two-day entrepreneur course that we did in-person. And then, about a year and a half or so ago, we just simply didn’t have the bandwidth to do it anymore. With our travel schedule, coaching, certifying trainers that we were working with, we just didn’t have the bandwidth for this, even though it was something that people just loved. And so, we moved it to an online course, which actually is awesome, because you can now access it from anywhere in the world. You can get it right now and you don’t have to wait or jump on an airplane to go somewhere.
So what’s this for? The online course is designed to help someone from scratch or someone who’s already running their business and really build it into a thriving business. In this course, you get the seven keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur and really building that thriving business. And, let me go back to this: if you’re already in business, you need to be thinking about how to pivot. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. And so, how do you stay on the leading edge of this disruptive curve? So this online course, this podcast will apply to basically everyone. If you’re in business, if you’ve ever had an idea or a thought that you wanted to build on, great! Let’s walk through this together and develop some more ideas.
Now, let’s talk about this online course because I’m going to give you a sampling today and I know a lot more people are going to want to take this deeper and get some additional ideas. So, for anyone listening to this podcast, you can access this course for just $99 and go through the entire course. This is normally $1,000 course, but with COVID, and everything else that has happened we basically opened this up to anybody who’s ever had an idea and wants to do something with it. This will take you through beginning to end on how to get there. And we realize this is a new landscape for a lot of people. Some have lost their job, and this is the time to finally start your business; others are pivoting their business, you’re in a forced pivot because of COVID-19. Whatever it is, there is an opportunity to do something right now. So, we wanted to make this course available to anyone by pricing it in a way that anyone can access it. So it’s just $99.
Remember, the people who attended this in-person, that you’re going to see in the video when you watch the online course, they paid $1200 a person to be there. So, here’s what you’re going to get when you register for this course – and then I’m going to go through these seven keys in the podcast, but really, it’s about the course. And then, you’ll see how powerful each one of these keys are, that I’m going to give a sampling of. For those who go and register for the course, you will get an Entrepreneur Handbook that’s 120 pages and walks you through each of the seven stages on how to build a thriving business and become a successful entrepreneur. I’m going to share a few of those tips on this podcast right now, so you’ll get a sampling of what the course is. You’ll know what you’re getting into. For those wanting to supercharge your idea and get this online course, it’s very simple. Go to becomingyourbestuniversity.com and you’ll see right there, you register, and then you’ll see the breakthrough entrepreneur conference. It’s important that you use the coupon code ‘podcast’ – that’ll take it from $1000 to just $99.
So let me jump in and walk through these seven keys so that we can give you a sampling – and then I know a lot of you will want to go deeper and take advantage of that simple $99 offer. This is the course I wish I would have had 20 years ago. It would have saved me literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of sleepless nights in the process because there’s two ways we learn. We can either learn from someone else by investing in either a book or a course or something, or we can go through the school of hard knocks and learn ourselves. This is an opportunity to literally save you countless sleepless nights and a lot of money. I know from experience because I went through this myself.
So, let’s jump into this. First of all, I want you to know that if you’ve had an idea, if there’s something that’s been molding around in your brain, you can do this. Anyone can start a business. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is – what you’ll get in the course will help you avoid a lot of the pitfalls that most people fall into that cause their businesses to fail. Even if you’re working in an organization, like I mentioned earlier, a CEO wants employees or team members who think like entrepreneurs. This will help you rise to be one of the best in your organization as you start to think like this. You become a problem solver, a contributor, an innovator. And that’s what people want.
The second thing that we need to understand before we jump into these seven keys is that most people who start a business, they take a business idea, and they go from idea to execution – and that is what we call an FFF or a formula for failure – instead of following a process. I mean, really, it’s just like throwing darts and you’re hoping to hit a bullseye. It doesn’t work very often. That’s why the failure rate of a new business is more than 75%. 75% of new businesses will fail. That shouldn’t deter you. All it should serve for is a wake-up call to say, “Let’s not go out there and wing it.” That’s what causes a business to fail, is the ‘winging it’. So, those who get this online course and watch it and go through the entire handbook that you get to download as part of the course, it’s no longer throwing darts. You’re going to understand what the market needs or wants, rather than what you think it needs or wants – and there’s a big difference in that – and you will follow a process. The process is the seven keys. So, let’s jump into this. I want to give you an introduction to each one so that you can think about these and how they might apply to you wherever you’re at in your business-building thought process.
Number one is you’ve got to take care of you. It’s not worth it to start a business if you’re only going to get a few hours of sleep each night or if your relationship suffers as a result, especially if your health goes out the window. That’s why practicing the 12 Principles that you’ve heard us talk about so often in our other books, and that’s why these podcasts are not just nice to have. These are critical for entrepreneurs as long-term success. Vision, goals, pre-week planning. These are the high-performance habits that will help a person schedule their priorities and do what matters most. So, it’s important to not be the squirrel that chases every new shiny object. Instead, get laser-focused and use your vision, goals, and pre-week planning to stay focused on what matters most and take care of you. So, that’s the first key to be a successful entrepreneur: you’re simply not going to work long term if you don’t take care of you. If you’re in this arena, you know people who have burned out along the way. They’ve lost their marriage or they’ve lost something in the process. I have a long list of people I know who’ve experienced that, and it just simply doesn’t have to be that way if you take care of you. Vision, goals, pre-week planning are one of the best ways to do that.
The second key is knowing about your idea. It starts with the idea. However, one of the most common entrepreneurial mistakes is to shoot the cannon before you fire the bullet. In other words, someone may think they have this great idea and they say, “Oh, man, it’s such a great idea!” And they throw this big pile of cash at it because they just simply know that’s what the market wants. So they go all in. They use all their cash in the beginning and they run out of money. That is the number one reason why businesses fail. They didn’t plan correctly, and they run out of cash. This is the number one reason right there – don’t run out of cash. Well, there’s some things you can do to preserve your cash and not have to experience that. Instead of shooting the cannon, you want to fire the bullet first and make the important pivots before you throw your entire wad of cash at something. The best place to do this, to make these pivots, to learn these lessons, is in the idea phase. You will do it again later down the road in some of the later stages, but this is the cheapest, least expensive place to make these pivots. You save a lot of money by doing that here.
Now, instead of going from idea to execution – which is what most people do; formula for failure – in the idea phase, it’s all about finding out what the market really wants, and then testing the idea. You’ll do what most startups never do, and that is, preserve your cash in the idea phase. So, what you want to do in this phase is to find out what is currently in the market for what you want to do. What are the competitors out there doing? Direct or indirect competitors. Ask your potential customers what they like and don’t like about what’s currently out there. Get their feedback, and then identify specifically your target market and survey them asking specific questions so that you can find out what it is they want and a price range of what they are willing to pay. These may seem like simple ideas, but most people never do them. They go straight from idea to execution – they order the prototype, they build it, they send it out and away they go. And most often fail. So, what is your specific target market? And what do they want? What are they willing to pay?
In the online course, in this phase, you’ll see a specific decision tree with every one of those questions that you should be asking your potential target market. So, number one is to vet your idea. Don’t go out there thinking that it’s going to work. Find out what the market actually wants.
The next phase – this is the third key to becoming a successful entrepreneur and building a thriving business. This is what we call the ‘Go – No-go’ phase. This phase is all about doing your due diligence, and this takes work. This phase, I won’t say it’s hard, but it’s definitely not easy. It does take a little bit of work. And this is one of the deterrents to starting a business. However, when you have a process, it makes it a whole lot easier to go through this particular stage. And trust me, it’s better to do this work upfront, rather than lose a bunch of money on the back end, and a lot of sleepless nights because a person didn’t do their due diligence in the beginning. So, in the entrepreneur course, we have this entire decision tree for the Go – No-go phase, and it’s so simple to follow that. The ‘how-to’ is done for you; you just follow the steps.
So, here’s some things to think about in the Go – No-go phase. Now, remember, if you’re already in a fully operational business, you need to be thinking about your pivots this way. What pivots do you need to make to stay on the leading edge of the disruptive curve? Are there new services that lie within your core competency that you can offer? Are there new products? Because every business will need to pivot at some point. So, these processes are the exact same for you. The idea phase is all about the pivot idea. You just walk through the exact same questions. The Go – No-go phase: the exact same thing.
So, here are some of the things you need to ask yourself. There’s about 15 to 18 in the Go – No-go phase, in the actual course, that you’ll see. Here are a few of them that you need to think about: what resources will you need? And you’d better get this one right because this can be very expensive if you don’t get it right. What resources will you need? What legal entity is best for you to set up if you’re starting from scratch as a company? Is it an LLC? Is it an S-corp or a C-corp? There’s a lot of different ways to set up a business. What works best for your particular entity? What are the potential competitors doing both direct and indirect? Basically, you’re doing an analysis of what’s happening out in the marketplace. What’s the trend of the industry that you’ll be in? What does that look like? There’s a hockey stick example. We call it the hockey stick test. You’ll see that in the online course. What market share are you going after and who are you going to take that away from? It’s not just going to come out of nowhere in most cases.
Another one, and probably the most important part of the Go – No-go stage is to run a cash flow projection with both an expected and conservative forecast. In other words, overestimate your expenses by at least 20% and underestimate revenues by at least 10%. And then you’ll probably get a more specific idea that’s realistic of where you might be. One of the big mistakes I see in startups is that people overestimate revenues and underestimate expenses. They have that exactly backwards. So overestimate your expenses by 20%, underestimate revenues by 10% – and then you’ll probably end up with a ballpark projection that’s more realistic and that at least protects your cash. Anything that can help you do this well is a bonus for you.
For those who register for the online course, you’re going to get an Excel document that is a cash flow sheet. We actually got three different ones from different people. We paid over $2,000 for those cash flow sheets. We went through and made some adjustments. We had our executive assistant finalize it. You’re getting that for free as part of your course. So that may be the most valuable thing you get in the course, is that cash flow projection sheet. You just plug in the numbers and it’s going to spit out basically, “Hey, are you a Go or a No-go?” If you don’t have the cash flow, if you don’t have the means to do this, it’s a No-go. You need to make some adjustments until the cash flow projections work out in your favor. Okay, so that’s the third one.
The fourth key is all about the pre-launch. So, you’ve vetted your idea, you’ve gone through the Go – No-go and your idea is now a Go. You say, “We can do this!” You’ve set up the structure correctly, you’ve planned accordingly, you know what part of the market share you’re going after and how to do it. You know that you have a viable plan to do this. So, now, the fourth key is the pre-launch phase. You’ve tested the idea, you’ve done everything you needed to do to get to this point, and now you’re ready to go. So, some things you need to be doing at this point is developing your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition. In other words, what makes you or your service different? You need to create or adjust your website with the right messaging to connect with your target audience. The messaging – and again, a lot of people make a mistake on this – it needs to be about the benefits to the customer. It’s not about us. ‘I, Us, We’ should be rarely seen in those types of USPs or calls to action. It’s all about the benefit to the customer. Don’t focus on features; focus on benefits. You will see a benefit drill-down analysis in the online entrepreneur course. This is always one of the biggest a-ha moments for people who watch the course. They’re like, “Oh, man! Our website’s been wrong for all these years because it’s all about, ‘We, I, us’.” Exactly wrong. So, create a website that has the right messaging to connect with your target audience and move them to action.
The pre-launch phase is where you shoot the bullet before the cannon. In other words, here’s where you want to nail it, make pivots and then scale it. Don’t throw all of your cash at this idea right now in the beginning. This is where you tiptoe in. Fire the bullet – you’re going to learn some lessons. Remember this: no business plan survives first contact with the customer. You will pivot and make adjustments. I don’t know of a single case where that hasn’t happened. So, go in there, tiptoe in, put some cash into it, make some tests and some adjustments, and then once you see that the machine is starting to work, now is the time that we can focus on scaling it. Nail it – scale it.
And that takes you to the fifth key, which is how to scale and grow the company. You’ve gone through the Go – No-go, you’ve vetted the idea, you’ve tested it in the pre-launch, and you know that it’s working – people are investing in it. You see that it’s working. You’ve made some adjustments and pivots along the way and you’ve learned some of those important lessons. Well, now, it’s all about the growth and how you develop a strategic plan with clear goals and specific strategies to achieve those growth goals. You should know what’s working and what hasn’t, so now you’re in a great position to literally shoot the cannon. Now’s the time to move the cash in and really add fuel to the fire of the company.
But you can’t just do that if you don’t have a strategic plan. And again, one of the challenges that I’ve seen is a lot of people are really trying to figure out how to develop a strategic plan. You will see the same thing in the online course. There’s everything there that you need to develop the people, the culture, and the strategy that will help you build a highly profitable organization. And look, you may only have three or four people as part of your team; you can still be highly profitable with three or four people. You don’t have to build an organization with 500 people or 5000, or 20,000. It really depends on what industry and business you’re in, especially with the current tech world that we’re in and people working remotely. So, having your strategy in place for growth is key and essential to your long-term success. That will not happen by accident.
And speaking of the growth: this is also where you need to be thinking about culture. The sooner you start thinking about culture, the better it will be, and you will be on the leading edge because you will either have a culture by design, or you will have a culture by default. And this really is a leadership issue, and it starts as early as you can with the company because you want people coming into your culture. What’s your vision? What’s your take? What are your core values? What are your five key strategies? What are the initiatives within each strategy, your performance KPIs, key performance indicators for the year, that align with your initiatives and strategies? Annual goals, quarterly goals, quarterly meetings, annual meetings, weekly alignment meeting, and your daily focus and execution. That is a strategic plan right there. So, that’s the outline you’re going to get in the course.
The last key is having an exit or a succession plan. The sooner you can figure out what your succession or exit plan looks like, the better it will be for you. It will help you as you develop your strategy to know what your exit might look like. For example, if you know your exit strategy when you start, you can position the company the right way for that long-term objective. So let’s just take an example here. You can grow the company with the intent to sell it within five years. That is a strategy. Or maybe you want to create a company that’s a legacy business for your family, that lasts for decades and decades and stays within your family. That’s a totally different approach. And so, it’s important for you to identify, what does an exit look like? Do you want to sell the company? If so, what time frame or what’s your trigger? So, there’s some ideas that will help you in the online course: some different exit strategies, and how you can set yourself up for success, depending on your exit strategy.
So remember: why most businesses fail? They don’t have a startup process. That is a formula for failure. They go from idea straight to execution. You’re in a totally different place now. When you walk through these seven keys, you have an idea and then you have all these stages in the middle that will help you execute successfully. Most people shoot the cannon before the bullet, thinking they know best and ultimately they run out of energy and or cash. So, when you follow these seven keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur and building a thriving business, it will help you understand your market, preserve your cash and shoot the bullet before the cannon. And then, once you test it and you know it works, it will help you then scale the right way.
So again, anyone listening to this podcast, we briefly touched on each one of those seven keys. Instead of the $1200 that everyone else who attended that in-person paid, we brought this investment all the way down to just $99. Now, why not free? Why wouldn’t we give this away for free? Because we tend, as humans, to invest energy when we have skin in the game. It’s a pretty simple law, right? You get something free, you treat it that way. There’s a value attached to something. If something’s free, we usually attach that much value to it. So, $99 is just a little bit of skin in the game, and the truth is, we’re talking about your future and the future of your family. $99 is less than most monthly cell phone bills. So the truth is, anyone can start a business who wants to. And I’ve been all over the world. Most people can figure this out. They can figure a way to get $99. If you truly can’t, if you truly can’t come up with $99, you write us an email at email@example.com. We’ll give you the course for free. I know that someone’s not going to write us unless they’re actually in that situation. We want to see you succeed and we put this in a way that anybody can do it.
So I hope this has been helpful. I hope it sparks some ideas and thoughts, no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey. Remember, you can do this! Don’t doubt yourself! Get the course, follow the steps. They work! You can take an idea, you don’t have to build it overnight. But the point is to start. Most people who have an idea, never even start. Those who do, they just jump into it and don’t have a plan or a process and they lose out. And that’s the formula for failure. That’s not you. You have a process, you follow the process, it works, it will protect your cash, it will protect you, and all you have to do is walk through how to do it.
So, all I wanted to do is take a few minutes and encourage anyone out there who has an idea, something that you’ve been wanting to build – this is a great time to do it. Start now. You don’t have to delay another week, another month or another year. Just start. That’s the key. Remember this: every great idea started with a single person. And ideas are like seeds. When it’s nourished, and it gets water, it can grow into a massive tree. But it does take action. Otherwise, that seed just sits there and it stays dormant.
I hope this has been helpful for you. Again, for those who want to get access to the online course for just $99, go to becomingyourbestuniversity.com. Register, click on the course, and then the promo code is ‘podcast’. That’s the promo code. You can use that. And look, like I said, if you truly can’t come up with $99, you email us – we’ll talk with you and we’ll get you the course if that’s truly you. We’ll just trust your character on that. But I think that this is something that anybody can do, who’s serious about starting a business and has an idea. So, we appreciate you, we’re grateful for you and the impact that you’re having throughout the world. Every idea can have an impact on someone else. This is leadership and its influence so we commend you for all that you’re doing and we hope you have a fabulous week!