Panel: Business Strategies Q&A
Justine cirillo, ask melanie and devon, what businesses have you started that haven't worked? And when did you know to scrap it and move on, right, right, so I wanted to answer the second question first, because as we've had many, many failures, more more than we can count, but I feel as he moved from one failure to the next on your way to try and find a success, you kind of get more of a gut feeling and an intuition about when it's going to work and when it's not, and I think a lot of went, uh, a lot of knowing when to determine if it's a failure goes in the initial business concept concept's set up and keeping your start up expenses low. We're big fans of that not having to make a big investment in your business and all this risk, because you don't know it's, always going to take longer than you think and cost more money than you think, so if you could go in and keep your expenses very low, keep it bootstrapped and not have to borrow money, not have tto loan money you, your timeline ...
is really extended, you know, a lot of people, and as well as with borrowing money, quitting your job to be full time in your new business idea, where you're putting a timer on yourself in an expiration date essentially if it doesn't work by x date, you have bills that you still have to pay, so you're gonna have to throw up the white flag and quit and, you know, you could be that close to success. You could not be, but you did yourself into service by putting this expiration date on your idea and that's something you got to be really, really careful of, and you get more better at that as you start new businesses of ways to test. And I talked about this in my first presentation of proof of concept, and you don't have a business until you've made your first profit. Now your first sale, but your first profit and that's what, you got a race to teo see if that idea is actually gonna work. And do you want to talk a little bit about some of the things I know? Yeah, so together with dirt way like he did in the fall, like now he's nervous? What is she going? Teo feed. So I think it's also talk about, you know, failures. One of the things to pay attention to is how do you know when something is a failure, like, how do you know when it's actually time to scrap it, move onto the next thing and um we had a business was actually devon's business it wasn't officially my business so we owe called clutch clutch pb you guys wanna know something really funny? Our amazing devon was a professional paintball player like no seriously professional paintball player played oversees all the stuff and so of course yeah, I was a paint no I was not uh but so he started a company actually before we met and he was creating actually designing and manufacturing apparel and hard parts for paintball teams back when paintball was like really big it was really big I didn't know this kind of in early two thousand's right e but this was right when we started dating and so he started this company and what's cool is everything that didn't work in that company and everything we didn't like about that company when we eventually or when you eventually decided to you know, stop doing it is the information we use to start custom greek threats and I think it's one of the reasons it was successful so for example so this paintball company didn't end up working out we had to do really large upfront orders remember that producing overseas we're producing overseas so you know we would order a bunch of pants or something it was hundreds of thousands of dollars we'd have to wait a month to to my four months four months to get this from the container from china and then sometimes that inventory would be damaged or get held up at customs and and it was a lot of money to like that's something that we've always tried to do with over single business we've launches how can we test it for cheaper and cheaper and this business was a lot of money at front to try and start and it just didn't have I mean why do you want it to be eventually why did you eventually decide not to do it? We didn't like the business model overall it was overseas production in and having come with that financial capital upfront and then delay of time it was just causing huge issue so we took those pain points in the business and wait okay let's when we come with our next business structure but we want to make sure it doesn't have what didn't I like about this last business you know it's an educational process the whole way you go through don't just view a project as a failure this it's it's your whole life it's a journey or not done yet you're still breathing it's it's it's not a failure I mean this is just an educational process to the next stepping stone that could be the success and so we identified what points we didn't like about that business and which was the overseas production and capital up front on that helped us come with the business model for customary threats it would be ideal especially with our papal business we dealt a lot with wholesalers and they wanted ninety day terms in some cases which means you send the merchandise to them and they don't pay you for ninety days you're giving them basically credit extension which is really hard for cash flow so imagine this I remember I had to pay a three to four months ago china up front to get the merchandise in the first place when it finally gets to me I have to take time to sell it to the wholesaler so is an unexpected window of time and the whole seller wants three plus months to pay me that's a lot of time between andy from spending the money to getting the money that's really hard in a smaller business so we did not want overseas production so that helped with custom roof threads can we get a business where we get paid up front where where we don't have to have accounts receivables because imagine it the whole service goes out of business or decides they don't want to pay us they have our merchandise already we have devin accounts receivable department to take people to collection that's a pain you have to have staff for that make time for it so it's custom greek threads one of the unique things about the business structure is that on top of having no sales people on very low actuals no sale staff or expenditure. We get paid up front for the item before we after have to pay for the item itself to make it. It's all custom mate says someone goes online custom, I sighed, and they want pays us for it. We essentially using their money to then go by the blanks sweatshirt, let's, say, for american apparel, we get it in the next day. Do are decoration to it all with the original customers. Money so we never have. Now it's it's flipped instead of us having to pay all this money to china front and wait seven plus months until we get actually money coming into the business from the merchandise we paid for before its opposite. We get paid money up front. That's, the key thing outta business, wins the money going out into coming back in how how long? A period of time. And if there's a gap between them, are you making interest on it, which, with most are businesses were not that gets into banking standards real quick on that. Even this nothing to do with me with this conversation. But I want to jump in any way. Is that is that, you know, something that kind of tipped to take away from this kind of failure conversation I think super important is that you should be kind of analyzing your business from a macro and micro level on every single thing you do. So but what about what I mean by macro? Is that the entire business? Right? How's the entire business the good, the bad, the ugly and also micro level let's. See you launch a new product new program, right after it's done analyzes what was good. What was bad? What was ugly for next time? It's? Not just entire business. So the people that I see that have success, devin melanie, perfect example is they said, oh, god, we didn't want to do whatever it was overseas shipping. So guess what? They limited it? The people that don't have success, I see is two is they'll say they'll write read it will say, you know what I learned? No partnership with my best friend or something like that let's say they wanted they write it down. They say, great next business, no partnership of the best friend six months from now, they run a new business with our other best friend, do what I'm saying, and they wonder why there was it wasn't a success is the second time because it was not about necessarily you know, failing and then re failing it's just that can you do that and it's the same thing with a product and program or anything that you launch anything? I don't care if it's e commerce information coaching whatever learned from each one of those and just edit as you go along? Yeah, great advice mel, do you have any anything you want elaborate on with failures? No, I think it'd be great to take more questions, right let's do it so we have a unique question that came in from cross patch who brought up the large but we have not the lord, but we do have a large majority of our large portion of our community that's hit he capped not necessarily creative live, which is in general get work and shot from their beds at home with that lack of mobility, they want to have businesses and an income audience also like a podcast over the phone, you know, be a laptop online business. What would you suggest for someone like that who does have a limit on their mobility and can't necessarily go out two seminars or something? But they still liked to interact with other business great probably a lot of question and probably usually comes from that audiences I can't do video because, you know I don't want to be on video I want to take this one well, I think there's it's, easier than ever to connect with people online, even though we're saying online fencer or something, if you can do are great. I don't know that any of us met in person before we ever met online way all tosh online and virtual first, so, I mean, between joining programs like membership communities, teo meeting people on linkedin, finding them on facebook, I we meet so many people, I don't think that is particularly limit launch projects, and I mean, david, we work together, we didn't meet for ten plus months, and we had I mean, it felt like we'd so knew each other we've worked together before he ever met in person for the first time, so don't let that be a hinderance, tio it's, easier than ever, and melanie, you hadn't done that much speaking when you had all your success with the pinterest product not at all, but done like one one like big speaking event or something? Yeah, it's a lot of you launching, right? You know that wasn't a big component before then, yeah, there's so much you could do without you know, I'm a big fan of getting out there, but also there's also the telephone, you forget that you can call up someone you know, just the other day, someone in my kind of one of my peers called me just to check in and chat and we hadn't talked forever and it was so different than emailing him so there's a personal connection you can make but I'll say a podcast is great if you don't have a lot of mobility a podcast is a perfect place to be and also video I do tons of videos where I just show my screen you know it takes a girl a long time to get ready for video so yeah you get it you too james so I don't love to be on video all the time but I am constantly turning out videos in my training programs because I record my screen I use something called screen flow and I record what I'm doing so there's a lot of opportunity you don't always have to be on video to do that great great cue from happy photographer I'm a wedding photographer and when I start to think of what content to create I always come up with tips or ideas about the way I run my business which ends up targeting other photographers in my industry instead of actually targeting actual photography clients so now I'm confused as to which audience I want to serve could it be both yeah I get it dance dance it up wait you know I see this a lot online and this is not surprising information has had a lot of times someone will do something, and then other people want to do what they have done, and that is the entire business model that is out there, right? Like I've got I've got a friend who does I mention her all the time? Because it's in the interim presidency yogi yogi preneurs business. Okay, so it's like she does and she ran a successful like, I guess it's, yogi, yoga, yoga, whatever studio um, and she then was approached them by other she had a really strong online marketing for her studio. And so guess what ended up happening? Other studios started calling up and saying, you know, how do you do your online mark? Can't you do one on one coaching that later became a product that later became now like a six figure plus business that is just crushing it? Okay now, does she still do the original studio? At this point, she's actually evolved away from there, but I think you can work either way. I've seen it done either way, where you're both doing and teaching or you evolve and you know what ends up happening a lot of times I'm not guaranteeing in on this at all, of course, but is that that second thing thatyou d'oh ends up being the most profitable, and I've seen that happen time and time again. It's it's a great question, because that's, what happened with me and melanie with running ar e commerce businesses and then getting into coaching very similar to the example you just said, david, people wanted to know the strategies we were using in our businesses so they could use it in theirs, and that is how the power of pinning course was created by melanie. She basically packaged the strategy she was using to promote luxury monograms n e commerce business on pinterest and making it our number one traffic referral source and sharing those strategies and a digital download course, and I think that's the best way you can do it sometimes, too, because then if you've actually walked the walk, you're not just teaching strategies out of a book, but you can show the rules, rules salts you've gotten and then show how you got there. I think it's really powerful everyone I would just buy my opinion on this is that if you do decide to both you you you separate it. Um, I used to run an event staffing business, we'd provide bartenders and cocktail waitresses stuffed a local event, and then that was my next step was that I taught how to how to do that with my first online e book, and my customers did not like it they're like, oh so you're now you're like trying to show people like the sneaky stretches you do to get customers and blah blah blah is like great I feel cheap like that and they did that was the exact impression um and they didn't like it so and plus it it it muddies the message when you're trying to be two things to one person or two people at the same time it could be very confusing so it's to me that's two completely different websites channels fan page it's important to separate it when we first got into teaching are the melodies pinter strategies we didn't try and market it to our luxury monograms customer base is entirely different business entirely different demographic so there's a certain point where god beside I need to separate this because it's photographers that want to learn the strategies of his successful successful photographer comparative and on my way don't forget though you know you will also with any audience there is always that percentage of crossover people getting married and also have a photography um where where the bottom line is you can just having a nice link somewhere on both sides do mean to go back and forth because you don't need that pain you don't forget to include and this is such a inching business because in theory in theory people gonna hire you one time for the wedding unless they're doing some other stuff out there, I don't know, but you know, that it could be a very like specific one time and maybe referral on business, but the other one teaching the wedding, you know, photographers themselves could be something twenty four seven, so there is no reason really not toe be able to do both in that situation. I want to throw something in there, though, about service space businesses, and they tend to struggle with what to write about because their service, so that question kind of stemmed off. Some people don't want to teach what they're doing, but they want to serve their clients and don't be afraid, it kind of comes back to what melanie said is you can tell them exactly how to do it, you can tell them every single step you take in a photography session, that does not mean they're going to do it so people, you know, thinking of content for a service based business, you could tell him all your secrets, but I can promise you they're not going to do it themselves. The majority won't. If they do, they weren't your ideal audience anyway, so don't be afraid to give those tactics if you don't want to go the other out huge majority of people do not take action, even if the material but they're impressed that you spell it out because they're like oh this girl knows what she's doing yeah doesn't mean you're not an authority figure an expert in the industry yes just there there deal s o I want to get in one more question before time's up but are there one more question from you one more question for me but and then we can keep going with the web audience great thank you so one thing that I get asked a lot and I think you guys do is well when is the right time to know into expand and hire or just fly don't start your team so it's like a little bit about and I know amy you address this question in your last presentation for you personally but bring people on full time scaling small how are you paying them how do you start that process and what are your personal systems and strategies also you first by the time you think it's the right time it's too late yes thanks question done time for your time before you think you're ready say that war time james I want people to really get excited by the time you feel like you're ready which you probably won't ever but that's too late um when you're in that scary spot is usually when it's one of these definitely time when you there is going to be an amount of uncertainty that's normal um so how did how do you set up this pay systems or the expectations of the employees? I mean, they want to get a certain amount of work and how do you set this up? Because you're not sure if you're ready, and some people will definitely make mistake of hiring too early. How do you protect yourself against the hire someone full time and make this commitment to another human being and it's their only revenue source, or talk a little bit about virtual assistance or the options there for outsourcing individual tasks? And, david, you talked about the tool jing, a screen recording tool to hand off to someone, so you're handing it off to a particular person. So I think one other thing, uh, is if it's a first hire, you should, uh, and it is a scary decision, a scary step. It should be someone that is going to contribute to the bottom line, uh, like a great example is a customer support person where you might know, I mean, they definitely would contribute to the bottom line because the last thing you want is refunds because of poor customer service or emails that are answered way too light, I mean, that's, they're literally leaking money that way, and so but other things where you know that that will free up your time. What it really just ends up doing is forces you because you feel the pressure because now you have another cost, like, what are the most important things that the priorities that I should be focusing on just like what you said earlier, david, about starting with, like, a money making task at the beginning, your day you end up feeling I mean, that's, like what your entire that should be. The goal is like everything in the day should be those money making tasks because you found someone else to do everything else for you. Ok, ok, so I got a good one right now. Everybody's listening online in our studio audience there's probably one thing that you've been sitting on for awhile decision you haven't made. You've been thinking about it talking to your mom and dad about it, calling everybody about it, but you haven't made a decision for you, I say in the next forty eight hours make a decision on that because that is what changes everything in your business when you're constantly moving forward with momentum, so that decision needs to be made great, great james, I think mine is something I used to personal struggle with was a lot of frustration. Mostly was frustration because it wasn't working now I wanted the results quicker and what you know I put all the work and see the result I felt like, you know, I might as well just get a job at mcdonald's because I'd be making more money there. Andi was very frustrated so the advice I would give to that frustrated james of a few years ago is that it it is this this journey that is inevitable that you can get to that, you know, elusive end result uh and it's only a matter of time as long as you know you're moving, you're making those decisions and you're moving forward it's like a road trip going from new york to california not gonna get a songs you see the gps and you see yourself moving you're talking to frustrated because you're in middle the journey, you know? Well, it's gonna take a few days to get there, I just have to be patient and I think patients was one of the biggest lessons I've learned. A lot of people talk about persistence and and, you know you gotta be persistent even whenever things not working out jam the square peg into the round hole and I take a very different approaches its patients it's confidence that what you're doing or something will work out of what you're doing now it's just a matter of time that's great. I love that, uh, mine's kind of corny, but it's done amazing things we both personally and professionally and that's do one thing every day that scares you, uh, whether its right and email to someone that you've kind of been afraid to reach out to our film. Your first video that's terrifying finally do your first webinar um, you know, say yes to speaking on stage or doing something you've been afraid to dio write your first blawg post. I mean, it can really be anything but if you're constantly just doing one thing that's a little bit scary, you know, talking to someone new, I'm reaching out for a podcast interview to someone that you're kind of afraid to do it. It's amazing how much you can grow over the course of a year if every day you're doing something a little bit outside your comfort zone. All right, this one gets me like, prepare for this gets me fired up okay, I'm ready. Uh is the not letting technology hold you back? Okay? Alright, sir. I almost have to, like stand for this because it's good. I don't need a stool for the technology. I cannot tell you how frustrated I get on this because I understand you were looked like some of the people upon the stage myself included okay and a lot of people that we know that our that our successful space are not so good with techno amy and I the other day run a webinar I think and we couldn't figure out like how to plug something in there was something problem I once did a webinar for twenty minutes with that microphone not plugged it okay bottom line is you're going to screw up the stuff but here's the thing people get held back by fear of technology all the time and here's your job as a business person is an entrepreneur you have really two options right? You have two options when it comes out in the technology right option one it is you figure out the damn thing right so meaning someone says you know what here's a great tool office autopilot here's a great tool jing here's a great tool lead pages here's a great tool base camp all right option one you open it up you have no idea what you're doing you go to the help section you go to support you cry a little bit but you figure out the darn thing and there's a learning curve to everything but you get the damn thing done right that's option one option two is you pass off the thing I don't know how to code I have no pride I have no inclination? I learned how to code it confuses me, but guess what? I have someone else that I can pass it off to because I'm not going to spend the time to do so. And the problem is I see people do neither and they get stuck and they said, I just don't want to do the video because it's so hard and you hit the button and I don't know what's happening and I understand it. I understand the fear but you cannot let that hold you back there's plenty other things I could hold you back please, please don't ever on a promise look in there and promise me raise raise your right hand and say I will not let technology hold me back studio you could do this. I will not let technology hold me back. Amen. With a good resource, a book that is definitely helped me learn how to break down goals and projects and their most simplest form. And that is a book called rework r e w o rk rework. So going amazon right now by that very short chapters very easily digestible and can you can implement an hour after reading it and it may mean melody of really thirty seven signals yeah eso it's ah it's huge! So if you're on entrepreneur and you need help breaking ideas down a small, actionable goals to actually get things done and projects done and shipped. And things checked off her to do list. That will be a game changer for you. So rework. Well, I mean, today has just been it's, not been work. I think all of this might feel like this. But, you know, today has just been one of those joys. Like, wow, this is my job. I, um I know everybody online has just been loving it. We have to give a great big, creative life. Thank you. To all of you joining us online today, you're the reason we're here. I mean, we're just really grateful for you to be here. We'd also love to give a thank you in a shout out to our in studio audience. You guys are terrific, and we're happy to have your support and the big, huge panel. I mean, you guys are just rock stars. We love having you here, it's. Amazing! And the biggest shot of the day, of course, is to our incredible instructor, devon, so let's. Just give them a big round of applause.