5 THINGS I LEARNED MY FIRST 5 YEARS IN BUSINESS
I am here to share with you five things I learned the first five years that I was in business. Now for those of you that don't know me, I'm Ronnie Haskins, I'm the owner of AutoSearch USA in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Over the past 18 years that I've been doing this, I have learned lots of lessons on being in business and learned how to continue my business and grow it. My mission has become to give that information back. I want to make your life a little bit easier when you're growing your business, working in your business and making your business a little bit better.
THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY
The first thing I want to talk about is that there are not enough hours in the day. You know, I struggled with this one for a long period of time, and I just realized there's just not enough hours in the day. I would spend all my time in marketing or spend time on sales in front of the clients. You can spend time working on something to grow your business and what you realize is that you just don't have enough time in a 24 hour period to make all of that stuff happen.
When I started this business from zero, and I started growing the business, I found myself scattered all over the place trying to figure out exactly where my time was best spent. What I figured out was that you have to carve out time working ON the business, and carve out time working IN the business. There's a book out there called the “E-Myth”. The “E-Myth” talks a lot about working in the business and working on the business. I think that's one of the most valuable lessons I learned a long time ago. You're not going to have enough time to get everything that you have planned, done in one day. You've got to make sure that you don’t drown in those opportunities that you're dealing with. A lot of you have heard me say this before, “opportunities without direction are distractions”. So carve out your day, write things down, and make sure those things happen.
YOUR HEALTH MATTERS
Do something for your health or you won't be around to enjoy your success. I used to play basketball when I was a lot younger with a bunch of guys every Tuesday. We all met there every week, and I remember early on at those sessions I would tell the guys I don’t have time for this... I need to get back to the office... I should be working on a deal. I should be marketing, making phone calls doing whatever the case may be. My buddy sat down with me and said “Ronnie you're gonna die if you don't do something for your health. How do you expect to enjoy yourself later in life if you're just working yourself to death right now?” To take that time to relax and not deal with business or anything that puts that type of stress on you is super valuable. What I learned throughout that time was ideas come when you're working out or you're walking the dog and going on hikes. Whatever you pick to relax you will find yourself being able to get to a place of peace. Where you can actually think about a decision you made earlier or just a decision that's up and coming and get more at peace with it. Let's face it, you know we've got to put a value on our health. We've got to make sure that everything we're working to build, we are going to be around to enjoy it later on in our life. If we get sick or if we're not able to continue to enjoy our life then what are we building this stuff for?
YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING WELL
You can't do everything well, and more importantly, you can't do everything perfectly. One of the lessons I learned during that first five years was some things I'm just not good at doing. I'm just not good at every aspect of my business. So you have to learn to hire that out. Whether you use virtual assistants, or contract labor, or W-2 employees, you've got to find people to put around you that give you strength. Once you figure that out your business can run a lot smoother. Don't step over five dollars to pick up a dollar. If it means hiring out that labor to do a better job than what you were gonna do, it’s worth it! A good example for me was follow-up or doing certain things in the business like title work. I used to spend a lot of time doing that stuff and I couldn't do it good all the time. I would ramp up and do really good for like 30 days and go okay this is exciting! BUT it would drop off and then six months later I realized wow, I haven't worked on that. It's a specific task that will generate income for us in six months. Hire that out, train people to help you, and that will make your business continue to grow!
CHALLENGE YOUR THINKING
This is a really good one. Even if everything is working, even if you're doing a good job you still need to challenge yourself. As we move through time, things change. Technology picks up, things are happening around you that you may not see because you're in a bubble. So what I like to do is challenge my thinking about how efficient this process is. What's the customer experience really like today? Is it the same as it was five years ago? How are we communicating to them and are we making sure we're meeting all their needs? In business things are always changing. People are competing with you and trying to do a better job than you are. I remember talking to a guy who told me in his particular field it was a fire able offense if you didn't know what your competition was doing. It was the food industry. I'm not talking about working at a restaurant. I'm talking about making a product that goes to market at the grocery store. So they were always checking their competition. Not to compare but just to see what was out in the marketplace. If you think yours is the best all the time you can't learn anything. Challenge your thinking. Make sure that you're doing things as efficient as possible. Make sure you're delivering what you say you're delivering. Over time these things change!
MEASURE YOUR ACTIVITY
For those of you that are new in business or maybe you're not hitting the goals that you want, this is a good one. Understand how to measure your success. Measuring your activity is the biggest most important thing that I think any entrepreneur can do. If you're a solo entrepreneur or if you're building your business, and your team is just starting to grow, you’ve got to find a way to measure your activity. Know that you're not going to get the “Salesman of the Year” award from yourself. If you measure your activity then you can start to claim that success.
Stay with me here. I hate to use another football analogy but you know we all want to score touchdowns. Getting the first down is exactly what gets you into the end zone. The kickers have been struggling a lot lately so you probably do need to get to the end zone but think about it like this, you get to the end of month and you're thinking “I have not done enough business.” “Oh man, my message is not resonating with people. People don't believe in me.” Those types of dark thoughts start to sink in when you're not hitting what you think are your goals because you're not getting the dollars. You're not getting the numbers on the ground. What you need to do is measure the activity that leads to it! How many phone calls did you make last week? How many appointments did you go on? How many appointments did you set? Was all of your follow-up work done for the people that actually purchased from you? Did they get a thank you card in the mail? Did they get a phone call? All of these things, (everybody's industry is different) but just trust me if you focus on the activity it will lead you to the success.
Then you have to reward yourself for it! Me doing weekly videos is one of the things on my to-do list every week. Once I get done with the video I claim that success. I got it done I'm ready to move on to the next task. Doing videos has nothing to do with selling cars today, but it is helping me with my overall mission. To give back over time all the information that I keep acquiring, and that I have acquired over the last 18 years. So I challenge you to think about that one. Think about what you did last week, and what you could do better this week.
I'd like to leave you with this...work on writing down five things that you can do this week. This specific week. Don't wait for tomorrow do it right now. Write down five things that you are going to work on to help move your business in a positive manner. To get to the goals, the end-zone, or whatever you want to call it, but know they have to be activities that you can commit to. That you know you're going to be able to get done and that you can carve out the time for. Get an accountability buddy! I have done that in the past. I wanted to make phone calls to my previous clients and I called a business person who wasn't even in my industry, but he deals with clients on a daily basis. I said, “Hey man let's sit down and make some phone calls and just get through the calls. Let’s check in with our clients, ask them a couple of questions.” We were not trying to sell anything. We were just doing follow-up work. We would get together and do that and hold each other accountable.
I hope you found these points valuable. I wanted to give these lessons back because as we're working in the business we don't see things going on around us. Or we don’t always see the world changing as we're moving. We’ve got to take the time to look back and figure out what we've learned. If you do nothing else you've got to learn something every day or every week or every quarter as you continue to work on your business.
Have a great day, get it done, and keep moving forward!