Succesful Entrepreneur from small beginnings

The Richard Branson Success Model

By | Follow-through, Hiring, Leverage, Motivation | No Comments

Succesful Entrepreneur from small beginnings

Recently, global sentiment towards entrepreneurs and businessmen/women has become jealous and antagonistic. This antagonism towards business owners is not as strong towards the struggling business owner, but more towards those individuals who build successful businesses.

One target of this growing sentiment is Sir Richard Branson.

While he lives on his own island, hangs out with supermodels and actors, and gives billions to charities, he wasn’t born into such wealth and fame.

You probably wouldn’t have guessed that he would become the 4th richest citizen of the United Kingdom when he started his first business at 16 – a newsletter called “The Student.” About four years later, he started mail-order album sales in two years opened a record store.

Since starting the simple newsletter at 16, Richard Branson has created an international empire with successful businesses in music, airlines, mobile phones, banking, alternative fuels, space tourism, and hundreds of other investments.

So what is it about Richard Branson that separates him from every other person who starts a business?

Find a Need and Fill It – “There is no point in starting your own business unless you do it out of a sense of frustration.” His newsletter hit a segment of the market that no one was providing. His success in music was selling records (first by mail-order and then in his own chain of stores) was being able to sell records at a deeply discounted price and still bring a profit. He signed talented bands that no one else wanted to take a chance on.

Start Small – “A business can be started with very little money.” Sir Richard’s business seed-money came from the proceeds from an unclaimed necklace that his mother found.  His record stores had very little “upper management” as he gave low-level employees responsibility and created a culture of competition for success.

Dream Big – “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them … from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.” Who would think that a 21yr old could start a record label? Or an airline that would compete with some of the biggest airlines in the world? How about starting a space tourism company?

Leverage Yourself – “Find somebody else to run your business on a day-to-day basis.” Mr. Branson runs his entire empire from his personal island in the Caribbean. He has been recruiting others to run the business from the very beginning.

Be prepared – “Protect against the worst eventualities. Make sure you know what they are.” What is the absolute worst-case scenario? Do you have the resources to survive it?




Nice Problem to Have

By | Follow-through, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

spinning-platesHow many marketing methods do you have spinning right now?

About a year ago, I met with a successful business owner. As we started talking about his marketing, the list of systems he had working for him kept getting longer and longer. He had about 15 methods that all were bringing him highly qualified leads.

While there were some systems he recognized that needed some tweaking or refreshing, he had approached me because his client base was becoming too big and he did not like turning people away that he could help.

Nice problem to have.

So how do you get so many plates spinning at one time?

The short answer is one at a time.

But its not always that easy.

Business leaders are frequently bogged down with too many ideas, unsure of the best place to start with each idea, and often dissatisfied with partially (or poorly) completed projects.

Really, a marketing plan is meant to clarify all these ideas and half-completed projects. You start with creating a schedule of projects that will create several promotion systems to get your target market’s attention, qualify customers, and move them to the sale.  Many of these promotion methods converge into a single sales process called a funnel.

Tis the season to review how your 2013 marketing did and develop your marketing plan for 2014.


To get a jump on the process, I will be holding a Marketing Plan Starter webinar on October 18th at 12:00.

Be part of it and sign up here.

You can also email me with questions at dmitchell(at)

Stop satisfying customers. Amaze them


By | Follow-through, Marketing, Operations | No Comments

Quickly write down how you are different from your competitors. (Don’t cheat by looking ahead)

Did you use any of the following three words?

  • Quality
  • Service
  • Cost

Most businesses say something like “we provide the best quality with great service at the best price.” They don’t have any other way to explain it.

If that is what everyone is telling their Stop satisfying customers. Amaze themcustomer, the only way a customer has to define the difference is the cost. When you are defined by cost, you become a commodity and are now involved in “Price Limbo Competition” – how low can you go? The business that wins the race to the bottom of the price race is the biggest loser.

So – what is the #1 way to differentiate yourself?

Here it is. It’s simple. It will require more work on your part.


Create an amazing experience.


Forget quality.

Forget service.

Forget price.

I am not telling you to give crappy quality or service.  What I am saying is that you SHOW quality and service through an enhanced experience for your customers.

The first step is to remove what frustrates your clients. One of my favorite examples of eliminating frustrations is Oil Can Henry’s. They have eliminated the dullness from getting an oil change. You stay in your car and enjoy the most current periodical of your choice (which is available for you to buy and take with you.) No need to sit in a dingy and cluttered 10X10 room with outdated magazines that don’t interest you anyway, cold coffee, or another re-run of Jerry Springer on a TV that doesn’t change channels.

What is the biggest discomfort you can eliminate from your service?

For two more ways to create a great experience – check out FREE eBook, “3 Easy Ways to Get More Referrals,” on the right-hand side of this page.

What do you plan to change for more referrals?

With the information age, we find ourselves looking for a new way to do it - without actually doing it.

Too Much Content

By | Accountability, Follow-through, life style, Marketing, Motivation | No Comments

With the information age, we find ourselves looking for a new way to do it - without actually doing it.OK. I’ve had enough information over-load. I find myself constantly looking for new ideas, new ways of marketing, new ways to deliver my service that will move my business and my life-style forward in some incredible leap.

Each of us reach our “plateaus” – those stages where we have reached a wall and can’t seem to climb it, go around it or even go under it. It feels like you are just beating your head against the wall and can’t get past it.

The key to getting past the wall or moving off the plateau is more simple than you might think. And even I struggle with it:

It’s implementation.

I have seen in many of my clients that they have one of two problems. One problem is they have a hundred strategies in various levels of development, but none of them completed. The other is that they continue using the techniques that have taken them this far, but don’t make the adjustments necessary to continue growing. As Dan Sullivan says, “The skills that got you out of Egypt are not the same skills that will get you to the Promised Land.”

So how do you break those plateaus? How do you get beyond the wall?

The first is complete implementation. Pick one strategy and develop it, launch it and tweak it before moving on to the next one. Rather than starting a new business line, why not figure out how to make the current service/product more efficient, satisfy needs better, reduce your cost or increase your revenue? Rather than looking for a new marketing method, why not develop the marketing efforts you currently have to create more sales?

The second is to stop doing what isn’t working. If you are still doing the same things and can’t move forward, it might be time to start teaching your team to take over some of your tasks (delegation) to free you up to begin taking your business to “The Promised Land.”

Either way, you need someone to walk you through it. You can’t do it by yourself.

You already know what you should be doing, now get someone to help you organize your thoughts and make a plan to follow-through.

Let me know if you are ready to break your ceiling:

contact your clients directly and use a CRM

Make the Call

By | Contact Manager - CRM, Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | No Comments

No matter how much advertising, direct mail, networking, social media, search engine optimization, or email marketing you do, it will never be as successful as you would like without directly contacting your customers.

Marketing can create interest, expose a need or even generate demand. It can help you create buzz, hype and awareness. However, people prefer to buy from people – especially if it’s a big ticket item. You may make a few sales, but without direct one-on-one contact, most people won’t follow through to the purchase.

contact your clients directly and use a CRM

So what does that personal follow through look like?

At the very least, it includes a phone call. At the very most, it means many phone calls and several face-to-face interactions.

Just like everything else, there is a system to it. In any business, having a database of leads, customers and referral partners is a necessity. These database programs are called Contact Relationship Management (CRMs).

But here is the catch; they only work if you use them appropriately. Creating tasks and managing the contacts is your responsibility. Following up on tasks and making the calls can drastically increase your sales and shorten the decision-making process for your customers.

Here are a few systems that i have used or my clients have found useful for keeping track of who to contact, when and in what way:
Price: Free for up to three users and limited features.
Overview: A simple system that allows you to move contacts from leads to clients. Create tasks and simple campaigns. There are premium levels that allow you to add

other features.
Price: Free for up to three users, 200MB of storage or 2,500 contacts
Overview: Another simple, straight-forward system for keeping contacts. This is specifically designed to use with Gmail, Google Contact and Google Calendar – but only for paid use. Integration with Mail Chimp is also available for email

Price: $5/user/month
Overview: This is the mother of all on-line CRMs and the most used. With the basic level of service there are some great features available at their lowest level including email integration with Outlook, Gmail and Google Apps, Mobile access, and Content library. Integrations with Constant Contact and iContact are available at premium levels as well.

Price: $201.99 one-time download.
Overview: This is the ORIGINAL contact managing software. ACT is very robust and best for hard-core marketers. Very customizable and very powerful. Integrates with most emails and allows you to create a custom experience from lea
d generation to sale and sale follow-up. Additional add-ons available for email marketing and mobile use. There is a large learning curve to ACT, however.


Price: $199.00/month
Overview: Another premium CRM that allows you to automate much of your on-line and email m
arketing as well as follow-up calls. The power of InfusionSoft is the ability to create multiple lines of marketing processes that sends predictable and customized emails based on how the lead/customer responds.


If you are not “Tech Savvy,” using a simple note-card system (like the OneCard System) can be just as effective. There are fewer bells and whistles, but it is inexpensive, simple to use and easy to set up.


Find out which is best for you and how to set it up:


lead yourself with systems and regimens

Leading Yourself

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Often we talk of leadership as a way to take a group or team from its current state to a better one. What we often fail to recognize is our personal success depends on our ability to lead ourselves.


It is the human condition to desire improvement. At a fundamental level, we all want to reduce pain and increase joy. The concept is rather simple: “Personal leadership is having the strength of character to take your personal performance from where you are to a better one.”

lead yourself with systems and regimens

Leading yourself is not much different than leading others. It requires defining your direction and plan and then creating systems and accountability checks to keep you on track.


I have found that one of the biggest ways you may be derailing your personal leadership is your lack of routine and regimen.  Often as an entrepreneur, you are wanting the freedom to determine your own destiny, but then that same desire for freedom is sabotaging your success. You want to follow your gut and do what feels right without depending on what has worked well so far. You abandon what works for what feels right.


So my challenge to you today is to develop your regimen and then hold yourself to it. From the way you start your day, make sales, deliver value, etc.


If you want to try something new, do it as an experiment against what is working – not a complete abandon of your regime.



By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Seeking excellenceI have recently been listening to an audio version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I am only half through with this massive book, but realize the common theme: the conflict between those that seek excellence through achievement and those that wish to gain power through manipulating regulation and taxation in the name of “the greater good.”


It has put my mind to thinking about excellence and high productivity.


Being human, we don’t always produce the results in as excellent a way as we would like. I recently had a challenge where my efforts did not produce the results I had planned. As I reviewed what went wrong, I found five basic things that are common in most failures:


  1. Incorrect assumptions
  2. Impatience with planning
  3. Poor follow-through
  4. Communication break-down
  5. Just plain laziness

It is a frustrating and demoralizing moment when you realize that you have run into a brick wall – a wall you placed there.


So how to avoid it? Get help. Have someone look over your shoulder. They can often  provide you feedback and point out your oversights.

Marketing is a lot like being a mad scientist

Test Test Test

By | Follow-through, Marketing, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Marketing is a lot like being a mad scientist - test test testI occasionally get responses to my emails asking me what the best day, time, or how frequently they should send out their emails. Unfortunately, the answer is: It depends.


While there are certain marketing principles that everyone should know and apply, the direct application of those principles really depends on several points:


  1. Target Market
  2. Purpose
  3. Value
  4. Follow-Through
  5. Consistency

If you look closely, these are the same things you should consider before you start any marketing strategy.


Unfortunately, like most marketing, you have to test it to find out. No matter how well you believe you are inside your ideal clients’ mind and know what they need, you really aren’t. It takes time and patience.


It’s very much like a mad scientist trying his latest experiment. Create what you think will happen, develop a plan to see if it works, launch and evaluate.


Think through it a little. Send out a few emails and see what kind of response you get. Know your numbers and what works versus what doesn’t. Make adjustments.


The most important aspect is to BE CONSISTENT. I get more unsubcribes after I miss my regular intervals than at any other time.


Version one is better than version none.

Do you know how well your marketing is working? Click here to find out:


Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

By | Accounting, Cost Controls, Follow-through, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Systems | One Comment

Thou Shalt Know Thy NumbersDo you watch Shark Tank?


Let me give you the basic premise if you don’t. Entrepreneurs and inventors present their ideas to a panel of investors. They are then grilled about their business (or lack thereof) and then investors bid for investment in the business. Sometimes you see an amazing deal made – and sometimes the entrepreneur walks away with nothing.


One of the biggest “red flags” is when an entrepreneur doesn’t know his/her numbers. Here they are, in front of big-dollar investors asking for large investments and they don’t have a handle on how their business performs on important financial measures.


This is no different than any other business leader –whether you are looking for an investor or not.


As I work with my clients, I often see that they manage their accounts based on the number in their bank balance. They cannot tell you what they spend on marketing and what the return is. They don’t have ratios for measuring their COGS, supplies, or other variable expenses.


The numbers are not there for the IRS or to know how much money you made. The numbers exist for you to know how to improve your business from the inside and increase your profit.


The key is understanding your P&L and your Cash Flow Statement. Make sure you know the difference between the two and how to review both of them.


If you already know what they mean, review them. Often.


No Silver Bullets

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Motivation, Strategic Planning | No Comments

no silver bulletThere is something in the business building and advising industry that many coaches, consultants, and gurus know. It’s a dirty little secret that keeps many clients and “followers” constantly on the hook for more.


I have been victim to it and I am sure some of you have, too. It’s all because of one tendency many of us have. We all tend to seek education  – expanding our knowledge of the world or techniques that will move us forward.


Education and developing your abilities is great and very important. However, few actually implement. Of those that implement, fewer implement well.


Here are the biggest trip-ups I see and what business leaders tell themselves:

  • Silver Bullet“There has to be a secret out there. If I can find the one trick that is going to transform my business, my life will improve dramatically.”
  • Strategy of the Week“Hey! There’s something I haven’t tried yet. I think I will give it a shot. All the other things I have going on can wait.”
  • Failure to Launch“I want it to be just right before I put it out there.”
  • Overwhelm“I have so many ideas, I can’t seem to decide which one to do.”


Now since I have diagnosed the problem, here are the remedies:

  • No Silver Bullets – There are as many paths to success as there are definitions of success. The key is measured implementation of one sound strategy.
  • Follow Through – Constantly changing tactics and strategies is going to get us no where but with a shop full of half-completed projects. Pick one and stick with it until it is operating on auto-pilot
  • Just Put It Out There – A friend of mine told me recently that “version one is better than version none.
  • Get Organized – Most people who talk about having too many ideas never write them down and therefore cannot prioritize them. Keep a notebook of ideas handy and write down anything you come up with. When putting together an annual plan, prioritize them and pick only the ones you can implement well.


Much of my time as a coach is not spent in education (though there is some of that). Most of what I do is help people get past the challenges they face above. You know what should be done, they have tons of ideas. But you have not figured out how to implement well.


Sometimes it’s just about picking something and implementing and re-implementing until it works.