On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I took a Lyft from one venue to the next. As I typically do, I asked the driver how she liked working for Lyft. She said she really enjoyed setting her own hours and being able to work more or less depending on her needs at any given time, which is definitely an appealing perk.
While we were talking, I noticed she had placed complimentary bottles of water in the cup holders for customers, so I asked if doing so helped her increase the tips she received. I was surprised when she told me she didn’t know whether or not they helped and that she only did it because other Lyft drivers said it helped them. But she wasn’t keeping track of whether or not the free water was actually helping her in the long run.
So I suggested she split-test it. I laid out a simple plan for running the test over a four-week period, after which she’d have a better idea of whether or not the free water was actually working to her advantage. It seemed like a reasonably necessary test for anyone trying to boost their earnings and build a business foundation for themselves. But when I was all done, she looked at me and said, “That seems like too much work.” Wait, what? Isn’t driving all over Las Vegas for eight hours a day already a lot of work?
But the reality is that this kind of thinking is a major problem for many people, including entrepreneurs. They don’t play the long game, because they’re unwilling to make the effort and spend the time needed to make it worthwhile. But true wealth and long-lasting success are only achieved by playing the long term. Jim Rohn once said that there are two types of pain in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Do something today for your company’s foundation today that your future self will thank you for.
If you’re like me and would rather have the pain of discipline, then you’ll have to take a hard look at how you operate your business. And if you’re like many entrepreneurs I’ve met, then you will benefit by addressing these three main lagging areas.
Lack Of Ongoing Business Education
No matter what you do, there’s always something new to learn because things are always changing and growing. Even so, many entrepreneurs don’t study business, marketing, sales, or money. Whether it’s because they think they don’t need to or simply don’t want to, they’re wrong. Ongoing business education is absolutely essential to growth; that’s just a fact. If you’re reading this, that tells me you’re already better than the average entrepreneur, but ask yourself if you’re studying enough. How many books did you read in the past year? How many classes did you take? What’s the next seminar you’ll be attending? How many do you already have lined up for this year?
If you haven’t asked yourself any of these questions, it’s safe to assume you haven’t taken part in any of the activities the questions are about. If that’s the case, you’re already behind on your ongoing business education. This statement isn’t meant to be a harsh criticism, but it should be a harsh revelation. Self-education is one of the easiest things to start doing immediately. Check out my recommendations for self-education that will keep your business in the game. You can also find out how having a newsletter can boost your business in my completely free book, The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters. Find it at NewsletterPro.com.
Lack Of Money Knowledge
How can you make decisions about money if you don’t understand money? When it comes down to it, we’re all in the business of making money. But it’s hard to make money if you don’t understand it.
There’s a ton of info on finance out there, but, at a minimum, you need to know how to read a P&L statement and balance sheet. I once came very close to buying a new company, and I would have made the terrible mistake of doing so had I not understood their P&L statements and balance sheets. Knowing how money works saved me from making a very bad decision that day. You need to understand good debt and bad debt and also realize that some of the information out there about debt is just B.S. There are many credible debt resources available that can help you get started down the right path.
Here’s a personal example of good debt: I paid off my house years ago, and so many financial experts told me that was a dumb move. But was it? I was paying 4.5% interest, which means paying it off guaranteed me an extra 4.5% return on that investment. I don’t need to hope the market goes up; I’ll get my return every year for 28 years, or until I sell the house. I also now have an asset that’s paid for. If the crap hits the fan in the economy, I don’t have any bills to speak of and can simply coast.
I can look at my own business’s P&L, find areas that are out of alignment, and adjust those, saving money that would otherwise be lost. You have to know the numbers. You have to understand money math to make big money moves.
Lack Of Foundation
If you’re playing the long game, you’re building a foundation for your business. This means you must capture and nurture leads. Talking again about that business I almost purchased, one of its assets was a list of 28,000 names and emails. When I scrubbed that list, it dropped by over 70%. Some of the people hadn’t been contacted in 15 years. Only a few hundred had been successfully contacted in the last 12 months. It’s not good enough to have a list with a lot of names on it; you also need to nurture it with online and offline marketing.
How often do you communicate with your customers and prospects? Do you add any value, or are you being selfish and greedy, only talking about what you want and how they should pay you for it? Don’t misunderstand me: I want you to promote and make offers. I just did that when I told you to head to NewsletterPro.com to get a copy of my book. But I also added value by explaining why it’s important. The key is emailing in a way that’s business forward but also influenced by personal marketing.
Another foundational issue entrepreneurs don’t put nearly enough thought into is the front desk. How are your phones answered? Are your employees polite, or are they short with customers? This is an essential part of customer service in your company, and customer service goes a long way in obtaining and retaining customers.
Also, if you’ve gotten this far, that tells me you’re looking to take steps to boost your business. Creating a newsletter could seriously help. Again, you can find everything you need to know about successful newsletters from my book The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters. Get it for free by going to NewsletterPro.com.