126: You are an employer, not a parent

As you build a team and a company culture, you can start to grow a sense of attachment to your team.

This is natural and is actually a sign you are doing things right as a leader.

But at some point that attachment can go too far.

You can start to feel responsible for every team member's life and to always provide for them.

This attachment can get unhealthy and cloud your decision-making.

As an entrepreneur, you are an employer. 

Invest in your people and treat them well.

But you must realize that if the tides turn in your business, you may have to part ways or lay someone off.

And if they do, you will treat people well and help them however you can.

You are an employer.

Not a parent.

Treat your team well, but you can’t get too attached so that it clouds the business decisions that are best for the long-term sustainability of the business.

125: Focus on what you can control

I’ve recently found myself overridden with anxiety.

You see, my company offers done-for-you LinkedIn lead generation and at the core of our business is LinkedIn.

Well, LinkedIn is changing things. Their limits, what they allow, how their platform works.

LinkedIn is changing and I can’t control that.

But if affects me massively. It impacts my business and creates new challenges.

And as this happens, I have found myself overwhelmed with anxiety...

Even though I knew these changes were coming, it still stressed me out to experience them.

They are out of my control and threaten what I have built.

But stressing over them doesn’t help.

It only makes things worse.

I have to accept that I can not control LinkedIn.

And instead, I must focus on what I can control-how I, as an individual, and we, as a company, react.

Focus on what you can control.

Accept what you cannot.

124: Do work that doesn't scale

When Nathan Barry started ConvertKit, he couldn't get anyone to switch and use his platform because it was too much work to migrate from their existing email marketing tool.

So he offered to migrate them for free... by hand... 

This looked insanely unprofitable, considering that is hours of manual work for a $79 per month subscription to his product.

But he did it anyway, and it got people to switch.
So he kept doing it, and then he built a team to do it.
And now it has become one of the biggest drivers of customers for their business.

They still offer free conversions to their customers which is something no one else ever offered before.

It wasn't scaleable, and at the start, it certainly wasn't profitable. But that is what made it work. 

And over time they figured out a way to make it work at scale. They put a floor of 5,000 email subscribers to qualify for a migration. 

In the early days, you need to think in systems and scalability, but you have to balance that with doing human things that you may see as "unscaleable". 

123: Customers want simple services, done well

This morning I was reading a blog post, by Nathan Barry, about what makes a good product and one simple line stuck out to me.

"Ultimately, customers want simple software done well."

This hit home for me because it is a huge piece of why Lead Cookie has worked up until this point. It has been straight forward and simple to understand.

As I am evolving our service and putting together new service lines, I realize I am adding complexity. 

What our customers really want is a simple solution that they can purchase, use, and drive their desired outcomes with.

More features is not better.
Less is more.

Or as my friend Charbel Seeman would say- "Less, but better."

122: Selling is leadership

One of the biggest mistake people make in sales is that they try to force people through a sales process. 

They try to build the perfect sales process that is flawless every time...

But the perfect sales call is not possible.
Because every prospect is different.

So what can we do instead? 

We can lead prospects from Point A to Point B.

We can show them an end destination, and then provide guide posts along the way. 

But we can't make every sales call flawlessly perfect.
We can't make every marketing material perfect.

All we can do is lead and guide. 
We show a Point B, to the prospect.
But how they get there may be a bit different for every person. 

The key is that you must lead them through this path. 

121: Acquisition by intention

Most business owners don't think about selling their company until an opportunity lands in their plate.

Then, they scramble around and learn everything they can about acquisitions while running their company, and dealing with this opportunity at the same time.

As a result, they make dumb mistakes, and are not adequately prepared for the opportunity that has presented itself to them. 

The alternative is to start learning about how to sell your company today.

You don't need to learn every minute detail, but as an entrepreneur you should put some time and energy into understanding acquisitions just like any skill in your business.

"But I don't want to sell," you might say.

And today, you may not want to. But the truth is that there are two ways to exit a business... You can sell it, or you can wind it down and liquidate it into nothing... 

If you care about what you have built, and the team you have built, it is your duty to learn how to let this business live on beyond you. 

120: What you aim for determines what you see

"What you aim for determines what you see" - Jordan B Petersen

Whenever I find myself struggling to make a decision, I often find that it is because I am not quite clear what I am aiming for.

As an example, the other day I was talking with one of my advisors and asking him a simple logistical question.

"So I have this new business line we spun up, and I'm not sure if this should be a separate company, or part of Lead Cookie."

He didn't have an answer for me but instead challenged me to step back, and think big picture. He asked me to think about what I really wanted.

When I did that and I thought long term, I realized a few things.

  1. I will someday sell Lead Cookie to another lead generation company

  2. Since the plan is to someday sell the company to a lead gen company, the new business line does not fit and should be separated out.

The decision was simple and obvious... once I was clear about what I was aiming for.

A clear vision becomes a decision filter for everything that leads up to it.

When you are struggling with a decision, it's often because you are unclear what you are aiming for. 

119: Entrepreneurship as an identity

"For most of my life I self-identified as being an entrepreneur. Now I'm starting to explore other things, and it's really interesting to no longer consider that my identity."

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast interview with an entrepreneur who had sold his business. 

And this quote from him stuck out to me... 

It stuck out to me because I have so much of my identity wrapped up in the work I do and the businesses I create.

And for many entrepreneurs, that is the case.

But what happens when we someday sell our business?
What happens when we make enough cash someday that we don't need to keep building?

Well for many entrepreneurs, they just keep going because that is all they can identify with.

But for this man, he took the finances and the freedom that entrepreneurship created for him and dove into music, theatre, travel, and all of these creative pursuits that he had neglected for years.

And he discovered a new identity that wasn't entrepreneurship. 

It's scary to think about, but who are you when you take away entrepreneurship as your identity?

118: "I'm not a systems person"

"I am not a systems person. I'm more of the creative type."

For years, I told myself that story. I was good at sales, marketing, and doing creative work.

But systems... I didn't want to come anywhere close to that.

Then I heard a simple concept that rocked my world.

As an entrepreneur, there are 3 skills you must master.

  1. Generating leads

  2. Turning leads into closed sales

  3. Building systems to service those customers

For my entire career, I had been focused on 1 & 2. And I assumed I could get by and just hire someone to handle #3 for me one day. 

But eventually that flipped on it's head.

I realized that if I wanted to grow, I had to learn how to build systems. 
I had to learn how to think in systems. 
Because I ultimately had to market and sell systems. 

Over the past two years, I have become passionate about building systems.

And today my story is "I freaking love systems. They give me the freedom to do my creative work."

117: Acquire new skill sets

"I've got this software idea but I'm not going to work on that for now because that's not my wheelhouse. I'm more of a service business guy."

That is an actual statement from me. 

And while there may be some truth in that statement, I am beginning to realize that it's full of limiting beliefs.

Baked in, it assumes that I'm not a software guy.
It assumes I do service businesses.

But here is the thing. While that may be true today, it doesn't have to be true forever.

If I want to become a software guy, I can.
I just need to go out and learn the skills on how to manage software projects and teams.

It means I need to acquire new skill sets.

Service businesses are great, but to limit myself to that "because that's what I do" is weak.

Instead, I should be aiming for expansion of my own skill sets and mind sets which will open the door to greater possibilities for me over time.

Acquire new skill sets and the doors of possibility will swing open wide for you. 

116: Own your mistakes

I had a team member write me a resignation letter this morning... and it was 100% my fault.

This team member was doing great work and then I kept adding more to her plate: new types of work and new challenges. 

I kept adding to the point where she went from flawless execution, to struggling with much more complex work that I was sending her. 

Eventually, she got too stressed out and decided to write me her resignation. 

This hit home because I have never had someone resign like this before. 

And so this was a wake-up call... 

In this moment, I do everything I can to remedy the situation, to apologize, and to take ownership for the situation. 

I can't undo the stress or the damage that has been done.
But I can make her aware that it's not her fault, and that I have failed as a leader to her.

As a leader, you are never going to be perfect.
You are going to screw up at times.

But how you handle that says a lot.

A bad leader will deflect their mistakes and blame others.
A good leader will own their mistakes. 

They take responsibility and actions to do whatever they can to remedy the situation

115: Emotions Sell

As a very logical person, I always thought that logic was the path to making a sale. 
But over the years I have come to realize that even I am driven to purchase by emotion.

While facts about a purchase are necessary, the truth is they most often only drive 10-20% of a purchasing decision.

Instead, a majority of a person's decision to purchase is based on how they feel. 

It is the story they tell themselves about how your offer will change their life.
It is the emotions of confidence and certainty that arise from your marketing.
It is the connection you create with them through your copy and materials.

People don't buy on logic alone.
They buy on emotion.

And learning how to trigger these emotions in your marketing is not a skill you can learn overnight.
But it is one worth investing in.

Because when you can master the emotional triggers that inspire someone, that is when your ability to sell will increase tenfold. 

114: Convert your prospect's mindset

In order for you to turn your prospects into customers, you must convert their mindset. 
To do this, you must reach a series of small "yes's" along the journey until they reach a stage of buying with you.

To see that in practice, here is how we do that at Lead Cookie.

Yes 1: The prospect must come to believe that Linkedin is a viable lead gen channel for them to invest in.

Fortunately, the market is shifting people toward this trend already. Most people come to this conclusion on their own.

Yes 2: The prospect must come to believe that the Linkedin tactics that we utilize are the best approach.

We get them to this stage by putting out free educational content that gives away 100% of our approach. This sells them on the idea of what we do.

Yes 3: The prospect must come to believe that Lead Cookie is the best option to generate leads on Linkedin.

We accomplish this through our marketing, case studies, testimonials, educational content, thought leadership, and quality landing pages. 

--

Each stage is a mindset shift for the prospect. 

If I tried to sell a random stranger, I would fail because they must first achieve those first two yes's, before they can become a customer.

You must convert your prospect's mindset. 

113: Be human

Most entrepreneurs forget to be a human in their marketing.

They start reading about tips and tactics, and they just begin implementing them without thought.

They follow the cold email script to a tee without actually thinking.
They write the landing pages on the format someone else gave them.
Or they look to others to tell them the exact tactics of what to do.

It's easy to get sucked into what others are teaching. 
It's easy to turn into a copycat marketer.

But what is hard is to be human.
To put yourself out in an authentic way.
To do things that are unique to you, and not a copy of everyone else.

That is much harder than just being a copycat.

But it is also the path to lasting and authentic success. 

112: Just because you can, doesn't mean you have to

I walked out of the room and shame crept in...

I had paid to attend the conference of a business leader that I looked up to, but I had just received a pitch jam packed with every tool of social persuasion you could matter. 

At the end of the pitch, here is what he said.

"If you are going to sign up and move with forward with my coaching program, then stay in your seat. Everyone else need to get up and head out."

Shame. He was using shame as a marketing tactic to drive people to stay in the room and move forward.

I knew I wasn't going to sign up before the pitch every started, but I still felt the shame.

I saw a women leave the room, nearly break into tears, and then turn around and run back in.

It sickened me. 

He may have just made an extra $10,000 by shaming someone into joining his program.
But he turned me away for life. 

There are mental tactics of persuasion such as shame that are powerful.
But just because you can use them, doesn't mean you have to. 

It may generate short term results, but it erodes your trust in the long term. 

111: Building an authentic audience

"Building an audience is a byproduct of a person becoming something. 

Because we all seek to become something (ourselves). 

And so we're attracted by it.

And so it can't be faked. " - David Sherry

Over the past year and a half, my audience has grown significantly. 
And I have far more engagement from my audience than ever before.

Yet I have put far less focus on "building an audience" or "growing my email list" over the past year.

It's growing because I am growing.

This quote from David Sherry nails it. 

People don't follow someone because they have all of the tactics and hacks in place to capture every email opt-in, and then the perfect autoresponder sequence.

People follow someone because they are attract to that person. 
They are attracted to that person because that person is growing and evolving. 

You can't fake that. 

So stop trying to hack your way to growing an audience.

Instead become someone worth following. 

110: Selling is not sleazy

Do you cringe at the idea of selling?
Do you feel guilty, and instead you just want to help people out?

I see this all the time as people are starting. 

They just want to give everything away
They want to be helpful to others.
But they are afraid to actually charge or put an offer out there. 

They are afraid because they think it will come off as sleezy.

This is a mental barrier in your head. 

Sales is not sleazy if you do it in an authentic way.

Instead, sales is helping people.
Sales is choosing the right people, and figuring out how to support them.
Sales is finding someones pain point, and then solving it.

If you do sales in the right way, then your customers come out on top.

That is a mindset shift. 
It's not about trying to swindle them out of money.

It's trying to create win/win relationships where you and your client benefit. 

109: Get personal

In a world of mass marketing, it's worth being personal.

Taking the time to customize the email.
Recording a personal video and sharing it with someone.
Reviewing their business before you reach out to them.

Mass outreach is easy, because it's spammy.

Personal outreach is hard, because it actually takes work and thought.

At Lead Cookie, we've spent a long time doing mass outreach. 
But we are moving towards personal.

We are tackling the hard problem, because we know that is what will last in the long run.

Get personal. It makes all the difference. 

108: Tension creates attention

Do you know that feeling when a song comes on the radio. You recognize it, but you can't remember who the artist is?

It's on the tip of your tongue. 
But you can't quite get there.

Your mind starts going crazy, and next thing you know you are on Google searching the lyrics.

Then you see the artist and "Ahhhh...." that sweet sigh of relief. 

There is science behind this, and it's more powerful to marketing than we know. 

When a problem is left unresolved in our brain, our brain has a way of focusing a ton of time and energy on that problem, because it want's resolve.

But as soon as the resolve happens, your brain completely shifts gears.

Psychologists studied this by looking at waiters in restaurants. 
They had impeccable memory of a tables order... until the order was delivered.
If you asked them who ordered what even 5 minutes after the order was delivered, they couldn't remember.

This is because their brain had achieved resolve and moved on to other thing.

The key as a marketer is to create "open loops"
To leave things unresolved.

The podcast Serial by NPR does this amazingly. Every episode is full of open loops and questions that they wait to resolve. As a result, my brain hooks in and I just can't get enough of it.

So how do you create tension with your marketing?

Well it's simple... 

107: Consistency is king

Do you know why most people fail to build an audience?
Or most businesses fail to succeed?

It's simple. They lack consistency.

It's easy to show up and write blog posts every week for a few months...
But that's when most people drop off.

They don't see those instant results, or they lose motivation and give up.
I know because I've done it and stopped blogging or writing for months at a time.

But if you look at the people who stand out among the noise, it's the ones who have been at it day in and day out, year after year.

They don't get to where they are by some quick sprint.
They get there by a slow steady marathon.
They get there by being consistent.