If you’re an entrepreneur reading this, you have hundreds of marketing, sales and growth ideas for your business.
Anytime you see someone doing something clever – be it a smart new online-marketing hack, a networking strategy or a cold-calling approach – you think to yourself:
“Ooo… that could work for me too!”
And somewhere, you jot that idea down (mentally) as a to-do for someday. You have somewhere in your office (or head!) that looks a bit like this:
If you’re anything other than a absolute newbie beginner, you know you’ll never have the time or energy to action ALL the ideas you’ve picked up along the way.
Even so, we bet you can’t help yourself adding even more ideas to that mental list.
It’s part of entrepreneurial nature to pay attention to what everyone else is doing and want to do the same. It’s a part of your DNA – as an entrepreneur – to always think you have to be doing more, more, MORE!
Stalking the business activities of your colleagues and competitors and wondering if you should be doing less of what you’re doing… and more of what THEY’RE doing… is the daily reality of being an entrepreneur.
And if it’s not that, it’s wishing you had the resources or bandwidth to do all that cool stuff those other people (your competitors!) are able to do!
Call it “entrepreneurial envy”. Call it self-doubt. It’s a part of entrepreneur life.
At Commit Action, we get it. And we understand why you do it.
In this guide, we break down the precise mental formula that a tiny fraction of mega successful entrepreneurs – out of the thousands whom we’ve worked with to track and crunch bottom line productivity and effectiveness analytics – use to stay relentlessly focused on huge growth.
If you care to learn the science – and extra analysis – behind the concepts we share on this blog, click the footnotes throughout: ((Through our one-on-one interactions and our proprietary productivity software analytics we’re able to gather data and gain insights on entrepreneurial psychology from a sample population of business owners that is thousands deep, covering an ultra-broad span of demographics, hundreds of industries and over 20 countries.))
By staying true to this single mental principle, the world’s most elite business owners are able to become invincible to distractions, while building faster and more profitably than anyone else.
It’s so easy to succumb to entrepreneur envy – to wish you could “do it all” in business
What if your next great marketing or business-growth breakthrough is just around the corner?!
Better keep your eyes open for it, right? Better pay attention to everyone!
Better keep LEARNING about all the new stuff you could be doing. Better not get complacent! You might miss an amazing opportunity!
There’s just one problem with all of this.
Entrepreneurs with hundreds of ideas for how to grow their business never get as much done as they need to.
They’re overwhelmed. They don’t know where to begin. They get inspired and learn new stuff constantly, but when it comes to actually putting the pedal to the metal… they struggle.
If you have a hundred and one great business growth ideas, where on earth do you begin?
Hell, even if you have TEN great ideas, you’re going to get a headache just thinking about how to get them all moving!
Meanwhile – while you’re getting overwhelmed with great ideas – the customers and money you need are not coming in.
So many entrepreneurs are rich in great ideas and tactics, but lacking bottom-line results.
Here at Commit Action, we interact with hundreds of entrepreneurs every single day. This gives us unique insight into what’s really going.
So, so many of these entrepreneurs feel this overwhelm.((Overwhelm was consistently described as the leading psychological reasoning for a lack of productivity and business progress amongst the entrepreneurs we surveyed.))
They have dozens if not hundreds of great ideas and are frustrated they can’t get moving fast enough.
I put this blog post together after one of our coaches mentioned – in a team meeting – that a client of his was struggling with “great idea overwhelm”.
This CA member was struggling to move forward in business not because they didn’t know what to do… but because they had too many ideas and didn’t know where to start. And nothing seemed to be working fast enough.
I decided to reach out to that member – via email – and share my rambling thoughts.
If you’ve ever struggled with great-idea-overwhelm, you’ll love this email:
Letter to a Commit Action Member
Hey <name-withheld>! I just wanted to personally reach out and check in with you… Alex brought your name up in a meeting this morning. I want to make sure I’m being a resource to you, and helping as much as possible. He told me a little bit about what you’re struggling with, and I have some thoughts for you. You sound like you’re at a phase in business where there are dozens of things you need to be doing to move your business forward. I know, I’ve been there. I feel that way from time to time even now. Especially with anything related to the internet, it’s so easy to get totally overwhelmed by the hundreds of different strategies and platforms and tactics that you *could* be using… and easily fall into the trap of believing you *should* be using all of them. And the truth is – eventually – you SHOULD be doing all of them. The key word is eventually. It’s important to understand that the big, successful companies get the luxury of “doing everything” and “being everywhere” because they built the scale that supports that. When we’re starting out, there is ONE SKILL that we must – as entrepreneurs – master. Mastering it is the only way to win our seat at the big kids table where we can do a bit of everything. We have to identify our core growth-driving-activity. This is the 80/20 principle, but more like the 99/1 principle. Let me explain… It simply isn’t possible for very small startups or bootstrap companies to do it all. Especially when it comes to marketing tactics. Instead, you have to systemically try small experiments – one at a time – until you hit upon a winning formula. The definition of a winning formula is a rinse-and-repeat-able strategy that drives revenue profitably into your business. Once you have that, you hit it again and again and again until you’re so busy servicing those customers that your strategy has won you… that you’re winning so hard you can barely handle it. Then, you systematize, outsource/hire and start exploring the next avenue for growth. This can take months or years. It’s not a “baby steps” principle… feel free to take big steps, but take ‘em in just one single direction. Did you know that for Commit Action – for the first two years our company existed – the ONLY strategy I used to drive customers to us… was to tap my social network for podcast interview opportunities? Yep. I figured out early on that networking with podcasters and pitching myself as a guest would drive super warm leads straight to us and get us new members. For two years, I did nothing else. I didn’t have the capacity. But I hit that one strategy so hard that I appeared on practically every business podcast around. That whole time, I *knew* in my heart that we should be:
- Doing Youtube videos
- On Instagram
- Starting our own podcast
- Publishing guest post articles around the web
- Running ads on Google
- Running ads on Facebook
- Using twitter
- 20 more things!
… we still do less than three things on this list, to this day. And we’re an enormously successful young company by anyone’s measure 🙂 I encourage you to pick out one growth-driving activity which you are confident will produce results for your business. Then, execute on that tactic – and only that tactic – until you’re experiencing growth enough to scale and bring in help to support the NEXT growth-strategy. Does that make sense? Immediately, your overwhelm will dissipate. You’ll be able to think/see clearly what needs to happen to make your “one thing” work really well. You’ll be able to powerfully serve the clients you get. Then, you’ll be able to mindfully scale. All because of the power of focus. I spend a lot of time with extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs. Many of them are “online” people too. Without fail, they all started out by searching around for “the one thing” and then – upon finding it – just smashed that one thing for ever and ever and ever. When I first started my online brand “The Shrink for Entrepreneurs” I did nothing but blog and submit guest posts for 3 years… and it turned into a quarter-million-dollar per year coaching business where my only employee was an assistant. From one single strategy. You need to find yours. And I know that if we can help you do that, it’ll be a revolution of success for you. So, let’s do it. I’m in your corner for this and will not rest until we make it happen 🙂 – Peter Shallard
Founder & CEO
There are a few key insights between the lines of this email that can be broken down further. If you’re interested in going deeper, keep reading…
The Law of Customer Acquisition Success
There is one simple question every successful business owner can effortlessly answer… and which every single struggling entrepreneur can only squirm in response to:
How do strangers find out about your business and decide to become customers?
This question is the great separator of winners from wannabes.
Your answer to this question will place you at one side of a chasm with the elite (tiny minority of) entrepreneurs who smash home run after home run… OR with the struggling masses on the other.
A business cannot and will not win until there is an answer to that question that meets the following two criteria:
|1. There is an actual tactic the company founder (or an employee with a good track record of taking action) can pour their energy or resources into which will reliably bring new customers and revenue in the door. 2. That tactic can be predictably “rinse-and-repeated” indefinitely, or for at least the medium-term future.|
The insane rocket-into-the-stratosphere successful entrepreneurs take it one step further. They add a third criteria to their answer to the question which is:
|3. The tactic acquires customers at an insanely profitable rate – given the time, energy and actual cash-money required to make it work.|
Are you trembling and sweating yet?
If this stuff is scary to hear, it’s because most aspiring entrepreneurs don’t yet have a good answer to the question.
That’s okay, and if that’s you… it simply means you have one job: Find the one answer to that question.
Find YOUR answer to that question.
There is not a single successful business that didn’t start with one particular tactic that was a breakaway success – way better than all the others – at finding strangers and turning them into customers.((Large, established businesses gain a strategic advantage by saturating every customer acquisition channel available to them, starting with the cheapest channel in terms of Customer-Acquisition-Cost (CAC) and systematically ramping up to the point where CAC almost meets LTV (Life Time Value). Doing this often gains a monopolistic advantage: By saturating these channels the CAC can become effectively too high for smaller businesses with less capital to compete. The point is, the big dogs sew up the market place by doing “everything”. It is the job of small businesses and startups to search for new opportunities with low CACs that can thus enable them to build BIG businesses.))
If you don’t know how to answer the question well… then your job is to treat your business as a science lab. You are the scientist. And it’s time to put on your safety googles.
Think of your fledgeling business as the bubbling, steaming lair of a frizzy-haired maniac who is obsessed with finding the secret to one simple formula:
How will strangers find out about your business and decide to become customers?
Here’s how to find your answer to The Question with a “science lab” business:
|Brainstorm as many “experiments” as possible, that will test each of your “formula” ideas Narrow down your list of potential experiments to just the cheapest, most promising ones that require the least (time) commitment Get creative about ways you quickly test your ideas, get real data on them and move on Get started, with the #1 most promising idea Don’t be afraid to fail, or to abandon bad ideas. Failure is learning.|
The key here is to try a lot of stuff, but to try it just one thing at a time.
The science lab mad-scientist metaphor is key.
You’re searching for a formula. You WANT the floor of your lab to be littered with discarded experiments. You want to abandon anything that fizzles out, immediately.
In the old days, building this kind of business science lab used to be insanely expensive. Now, because of technology… it’s almost free.
You can test out content marketing by publishing ONE post to medium.com … and asking your friends on Facebook to share it if it resonates.
Does it get traction? Then double down and experiment more. You’re one step closer to winning!
You can test a networking strategy by going to one meetup.com event. Be generous, add value, ask questions and listen more than you talk. Do you make connections with potential clients?
… then double down and continue the experiment!
You can test cold calling by GOOGLING potential companies in your area and simply making calls. It’s scary, but there are dozens of clever angles you can use to get you past gatekeepers so you can have meaningful conversations.
Again, if it even smells like it might be working… continue the experiment!
And if not? Abandon it and move on to the next thing.
You won’t run out of ideas because this is 2016. There is no shortage of amazing business and marketing ideas out there. In fact, there are probably too many! If you’ve been living in a cave and you REALLY don’t know what to do, read a book!
If you don’t know how strangers can – reliably and repeatably – find out about your business and decide to become customers… then your business is in science lab mode. And you have a TON of stuff to do.
Your job is to mix weird and wacky test tubes together until something starts fizzing like crazy!
Like I said in my email: Your job right now is not to do everything. It’s to find your own customer acquisition strategy.
Big businesses started out small and became big by finding that one thing… and hammering it.
Once you have it, hit it again and again and again… until you’re so damn busy and so damn successful you can hardly breathe.
Then, and only then, are you ready to move on to the next thing. Then, and only then, do you get to brainstorm other growth ideas.
Why your life as a business owner is about to get WAY better
The stress and overwhelm entrepreneurs struggle with comes from not knowing what they should be doing.
It’s not even that you have more ideas than you know what to do with.
The real problem is starting to question and second guess yourself when you sit down to work on that great new email marketing thing (or whatever it is).
The real, crippling brain fuzz happens when you doubt yourself and constantly wonder if you’re doing the smartest, best thing… or if perhaps you’re screwing yourself over, and sabotaging any chances you may have had for success.
The great thing about the science-lab metaphor and the law of customer acquisition is that it removes all those doubts.
If you haven’t answered that one question, there is literally no point in doing anything besides trying to answer it.
Sure, you can do work for those clients who found you through word-of-mouth or whatever. Sure, you can do your books and file your taxes. Sure, you can work on your branding.
But just know – with total, utter certainty – that all those things are the wrong things to focus on. The one right thing is finding your answer.
No more overwhelm. No more doubt. Not even any decision to make.
Growth. Driving. Activity.
Become a real business. Become a huge success. Take your place at the elite entrepreneur table of people who’ve built their businesses exactly this way.