So, we're gonna do this entrepreneur's guide to getting new clients and growing sales. I assume you guys are ready for liftoff, you're ready to go? You think you are. Sometimes people aren't. I meet a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs, sometimes they're maybe a lawyer, maybe they're a consultant at a big company and they're saying, you know, I really wanna start this thing and I keep hearing the same thing for months. And I'm just like what, what are you waiting for? What is actually holding you back? And I think that's an important question to ask yourself 'cause if you don't, you don't know that you're holding yourself back. And so, the worse possible way to think about it is you're really just being complacent. If you think about complacency, that's my personal worst enemy. I think that complacency breeds mediocrity, I think you need to fight both of these things every single day. You only have so much time on this Earth and so, you might as well go for it right now. Now, mind you, every...
one has different situations, maybe you have a family, maybe you have a mortgage, you can't exactly just go full force into an entrepreneurial endeavor immediately but you have to think like, well how do I get myself into a position where I can actually do this? 'Cause if you don't, you may never do it. And for me, my plan was always oh, by the time I'm 30, I'll quit whatever job it is that I have, no matter what, and I'll start my own thing and I said to myself I don't care if I'm selling hotdogs on a cart on the street corner as long as those are my hotdogs and that's my cart on the corner. And so, to a certain extent, I was lucky that I got laid off. I don't know if most people say oh, I was really lucky that I got laid off, I was, I got laid off and I was 27, and so that three year period, I viewed it as sort of icing on the cake, it was my headstart, I'm really grateful, essentially, for that headstart. So, keeping my, complacency is really, that's your biggest enemy, it's really easy to go home and just turn on, you know, the boob tube and hang out instead of diving deep into that business that you really, really wanna create. The next thing that I really encourage everyone to think about, before we go into the whole building sales, and keeping clients and growing them, is the fact that the biggest critic, the worst critic in your life is gonna be yourself. I don't know if you noticed that. It took me, God, it probably took me five or six years before I fully realized that and it's that little voice in your head that keeps saying oh, what you're doing is really just mediocre, it's not that good, you're not that smart, other people are smarter, other people are more creative, other people are better looking, other people, other people, other people. And if you had an actual human in your life that was doing that to you, you would probably physically fight them. You might physically fight them, if you don't, you're at least gonna try to get them out of your life, hopefully it's not your parents or your significant other because that starts to become really, a really difficult thing. It's even worse if it's yourself 'cause you can never escape yourself, you gotta live with yourself all the time. And so you wake up in the morning and you hear that little voice. So, the first thing to do to combat this is to realize that you can be your own worse critic and that's crucial. And to start to, once you hear that voice and start to see it that way, you can start to silence it which is really crucial and has really helped me even, like I said, it took me a long time to figure it out. I think it was year five or six of this business and I already had, I think 30 employees by that time and I'm the CEO walking around, have to put up that, you know, good front that I know all and see all and must be so creative and visionary and great but meanwhile I'm walking, going around thinking like, man I suck at this job. Like, why don't our clients know that I'm so dumb? Like, that's not reality. It's not. Actually, I'm actually really smart and really creative and as soon as you start to see that and realize that you can become your biggest champion and you will be your biggest champion. There's no one else possibly, externally, that 24/7, if you're lucky, could reinforce positive things within you 'cause that would require you sitting next to someone all day and they're just saying you're amazing, you're amazing, you're amazing, you're amazing. That would be nice, you might get a little tired of it, so you have to tune down that negative critic voice and then tune up that positive champion voice before any of the stuff that we're gonna go through is gonna work because, I don't know a better way to say it, people can smell it on you. You walk into a room and you think negative things about yourself, they're gonna be like, eh, this person doesn't really know what they're talking about. They're trying to sell me something, they're not fully confident in what it is that they're selling, why would I wanna hire somebody that's not confident in the work that they do? I'm gonna pay them to do work that's not that great that they don't fully believe in? Or you walk into the room, people are like, wow, that woman's presence was incredible, she clearly gets it and is gonna crush it for us, we want to hire her and them right now and like, I can't wait, how can I get a check to you faster? Like, can you please give us a proposal immediately so that we can get rolling, that's the response that you want. And so you'll see that. Once you believe in yourself, people will really start to believe in you and I know that sounds sorta weird and cosmic, people will say like oh, as soon as you think this way, the universe aligns around you, it sort of does which is really, really great. I think the next thing that took me a really long time to learn but thankfully I think I knew it from the beginning of this business, a long time, 27 years of my life on the onset, I came into this business, I got laid off, as I said, and I was a company of one, working out of my apartment, and like how the heck am I going to compete with these big agencies, these big creative agencies, these big digital agencies that have, you know, 10s, 20s, 100s, thousands of employees, and then there's just me. Like, how could I possibly compete? And I realized early on, I was like, well it doesn't matter, the world is really big, I'm really smart, I can figure out how to do, I think, anything with specifically digital marketing if that's a service I'm offering. The world is abundant. There are really smart people out there. People at home, people in this audience, who are really talented designers, developers, project managers, photographers, videographers, animators, et cetera, who I can find them. If I get the gig, if I can nail this thing down and I can instill in that client the confidence that I'm the person that can lead this effort, then I can get everyone aligned around me which is very different from walking in the room and thinking oh, it's just me, little me, I'm the only thing in the world. Everything else out there doesn't exist. That's kind of crazy. Instead, you walk in and go, well, the world is abundant, I totally believe in myself, super confident in my abilities and if you give me millions of dollars then I'm gonna figure it out and we're gonna do an incredible project and I have absolutely no concerns about that whatsoever, neither should you and people are like whoa, hm, I guess it doesn't matter that it's just one person. He has the ultimate confidence and the ability to do this and as time goes by you can go and I've done it before, and I've done it before, and I've done before, and I've done it before and talk to these people, my references, and they'll tell you and you're like oh, the world is abundant, it's a big place, I can bring in all the talent in the world that I need to and, through the beauty of the internet, like on-demand immediately. So, that's really, really great. Scarcity therefore is imagined. It's absolutely imagined. And if you live in the context of abundance versus living in a context of scarcity, that is probably, that's half the battle. Half of the people that you're going to go up against in competition for work, whether, again, if it's photography or design, you're building websites or mobile applications or doing, you know, video projects for people, they're coming into it going, well, we're only this tiny little team of one and a half and you're coming in going like, I've got the world of talent at my fingertips. Which is a better pitch? Which feels better? So, scarcity is absolutely imagined and it's possible, it's possible, not only to find everything you need, it's possible to attract it to you. So, in later lessons, I'm gonna talk a little bit about sort of prospecting strategies and things like, what is boiling the ocean versus like a surgical approach and the law of attraction is such that if you have this confidence, if you believe in yourself, people can see it. I said it before, like, people can sort of smell that and what you'll find is that people just come up to you and be like, let's find a way to work together. You can say well, I'm a designer, you know, you'll be in a van and you'll exude this confidence and presence and an engineer will come and go, let's just find a gig, let's find a project, instead of this thought of like, oh, I'm a designer and I can never find talented engineers to work with me on stuff. Guess what? You're right. You will be right if you say that to yourself and think that way but if you say to yourself oh, everybody, you know, is gonna wanna work with me 'cause I'm a talented designer, clients love me, I deliver on time, I have high quality of work, and people understand that and start to realize that, you're gonna have people flocking to you saying, I wanna work with you. I've been very fortunate, I think, to have that for, you know, the eight and a half years now of this company. I think just one little piece of data, I think, in the past three months alone, sort of like 900 people have applied to work at iStrategyLabs and we can't hire fast enough to bring them on and we've never used recruits, we have never paid for a job post, this is all word of mouth inbound, the world is attracted to us because they see the work that we're doing, when they meet us they say, wow, they're really talented, they're really smart, they're actually not egomaniacs either, they're actually really nice and that's a nice combination. It's not like, they're really good at what they do and they're total jerks. Not the kind of company that I ever wanted to create. So, this session is not going to be about, you know, how to become a great sales person but I should say, this is not a dirty word. I think some of the most important people in any given organization are quote unquote sales people. I guess I'm a sales person. I grew up, you know, with a mother raising three kids single through the 90s and if I wanted candy or a video game, I had to hustle to make money somehow, so I created these little businesses, typical entrepreneurial background story, like, the little selling wrapping paper door to door during Christmas, that was a thing. I made enough money to buy several Super Soakers. If that's not currency for a kid, I don't know what is. So, I'd encourage you, if you have some form of visual reaction to the phrase sales person, just try to wipe away that preconceived notion. Instead think of, am I able to accurately divulge what someone's problem is and then propose a solution to it and in the course of solving that problem, capture revenue profitably? That's business. You need to do that, right? If you're thinking like oh, I'm a designer, I'm an engineer like I don't like sales people, they have greased hair and three piece suits and actually if that's the kind of, if you're in a company and those are your sales people, I don't know, that kind of concerns me. I am quote unquote a sales person and my job is to make sure that people never think I'm selling them anything, that I'm really just listening and objectively proposing a solution that can help them and if you can do that, you're gonna be really happy 'cause guess what? Sales person is therefore problem solver which, I think most of us who have a good brain on their shoulders, in their head, they wanna solve problems and solving problems makes me, personally, very happy, so, doing sales all day therefore makes me really happy 'cause I'm just solving problems all day which is great. So, it's also not about quote unquote becoming a sales person, this whole session is about how to demonstrate the value that you have in the world. And I started earlier by saying, you really need to believe that. Like, you really have to work on yourself to believe that and use whatever tactics you want. Meditate if that's something that is gonna help you, go on a long bike ride, workout, and when you clear your mind, let the first thought come into your head that is, how am I valuable in the world and how can I become more valuable in the world? And it can simply be, I'm really great at photography or I'm pretty good at photography and I'm gonna get better this way or I'm a pretty good engineer but I need to learn a little bit more here so that I can demonstrate more value in the world 'cause the more value that I demonstrate into the world and push out into the world, the more comes back. So, people talk about this, you know, pay it forward approach to the world, which I 1000% believe in, and I think for the first four or five years of this company, it become very obvious to me, the more value I pushed out into the world in terms of mentoring other entrepreneurs, hosting events where people could learn about marketing, or digital in some way, shape, or form, like, I put out one X, one unit of value into the world and like five and 10 units came back, whatever those units are, I don't know what they are, maybe it's just word of mouth, maybe it's blog posts about us and me, maybe it's press, maybe it's clients, right? Which this is very much what it's about. So, think about, you know, how to show the world how valuable you are and how to push more value into the world and it'll come back, I guarantee you, 10 fold. So, a little more tactically, you are gonna learn how to pitch, I hope you ask me tons of questions about that. For those of you who are online, be writing down those questions, we're gonna do a lot of Q&A today. And Chris is gonna be feeling those questions for you so they get them up here. You're gonna learn how to build a business. I have built this business from being laid off, starting it in my apartment, bootstrapping it to about 80 employees now, and having 21 of the Fortune 500's clients, over 10 million is revenue last year, after revenue doubled last year, company sized doubled too, so some real craziness, and for those of you who are students of entrepreneurship, it's one thing to be zero people, well, one, you, that first hire is, that's the gap, that's the biggest change. You do that and then maybe five people, things start to change again, 15, 25, 50, and now we're getting close to that other inflection point, around 100 to 125 people were, you going from being a tribe of people, going after something in the world to being a village and villages need different structures, so, gonna be happy to answer any and all questions about that and you're gonna hear along the way of how to build a business and hopefully by the end of this you'll really have a sense for how to view and value yourself depending on what it is you wanna create in the world and depending on what services you plan to provide or are providing and who you plan to or hope to sell to. So, this is an outline of the sessions we're going to go through today. We're gonna talk a little bit about preparation, we're gonna go into the service mix, and how to figure out what kind of service mix you should offer. We're gonna talk about the materials you may or may not need, we're gonna talk a lot about prospecting and then we're gonna go into marketing. After that, we're gonna come back strong with scoping. Now, for those of you who know what scoping is, we can commiserate on how fun that can be. 'Cause sometimes it can be really difficult and if you screw that up, you could really screw it up. You underpriced it, you promised to deliver it too soon, you didn't have the right resources associated, you didn't figure out how to constrain the project so that you didn't get asked to make the logo bigger 5000 times without being able to charge for it or something like that. So, we'll spend a lot of time in scoping. We'll go through several different exercises, I'm gonna go through a pricing exercise with you which is gonna, hopefully, show you a different way to think about how to price something and we'll look at rates, the rates are irrelevant, but it's a way to start thinking about rates because rates are gonna vary dramatically across the board depending on discipline and level of seniority and geography, so I'm not gonna give you a rate cheat but we're gonna look at that. Then we're gonna talk about operating the project, how do you operate a client project for maximum happiness and profitability? Happiness on both sides, profitability, well, hopefully on both sides also. How to exit those projects in a diligent way, in a consistent way if possible. That can be one of the hardest things to do and I'll say even in, you know, year eight and a half of our company, sometimes having final, final on something can be tough, if anyone's been in this business, that final final starts to be a joke 'cause like oh, it's final, yeah but you have the final final and then it's like the final, final, final, final, oh god. How do we not do that? And we'll talk about upselling, either new services or within a preexisting client context and lastly referrals.