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Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 42

Take control. Don´t be afraid to cut people off if they are of no interest to your enterprise. When somebody is trying to impose their will on you and dominate you you have to be able to cut them off really fast. You don´t want anybody to have the upper hand on you regardless of what situation you find yourself in. In general others will try to impose their will by controlling where, when and how a conversation is taking place. Also, people will try to get the conversation going in “their direction” when something is at stake. A perfect example of this is the salesperson who calls you. They tick both boxes. First, they are trying to control the situation and second, they are also steering the conversation in “their direction”. A typical salseperson will try to control the situation by controlling the “when-where-how” of the call. This is accomplished simply because you are often caught off guard. The salesperson has probably been hot on the phone all day long. You are already listening to his/her canned opener pitch before you even realize that somebody is trying to sell you something. And by then they are already too far into their script to allow you to interrupt them or regain your composure and control of the situation. You need to cut them short much earlier.

If you allow a salesperson or somebody else to control the first moments of any interaction, chances are you are going to be playing according to their gameplan for the rest of the conversation. This is especially true for sales calls and sales meetings but it applies for any type of business meeting really. Don´t allow somebody else to gain the upper hand by bullying you around. In fact, if there are any bullying signs available from the beginning of the situation deal with them swiftly. Interrupt or sabotage their canned openers. Throw them off balance by catapulting something completely unexpected into the conversation. Make chaos out of their structured selling approach. And as soon as they blink, go in for the kill and regain the control of the situation. How you do that? There are literally hundreds of ways. One approach that we find particularly funny and refreshing is one that was first taught to us by a fellow entrepreneur who happend to be chairman in one of our companies many years ago. Whenever a salesperson called him and started the conversation he would completely kill their sales pitch by making a simple statement. How he did it? Well, the typical conversation would go something like this:

Salesperson: Hello, this is so-an-so calling from so-and-so, maybe youve heard of our company?

Chairman: So nice to hear from you. Of course I know your company, I´m one of the original founders.

And that´s about it. This kind of approach will kill their script off in an instant and most of their memorized rebuttals will be worth nothing. We know this for a fact, because we have tried it on several occassions. It works. As long as you use the instant chaos that your statement has caused to regain control of the situation and the conversation. All salespersons will react differently to a statement like that. But more or less everyone start out by missing a beat, before they bring themselves back together. And that beat is all you need. The best response we have had so far is one salesperson who started to share his resume with us. Appearantly he figured that since he had one of the founders of the firm on the phone he might as well try to attempt a climb up the corporate ladder. We felt a bit rotten yet we couldn´t resist it. Hilarious. And the way he praised the excellent top management had made with the company was priceless. He made our day.

Being able to control a situatin and a conversation is not only important with regards to salesepeople. It comes in handy in many different types of situations. Take a meeting that is going the wrong direction for instant. Why would you want to waste you time with that? Your time is valuable and you should never let somebody else steal it away from you just because it fits their agenda. Who cares about their agenda? Concentrate on your agenda instead. We find ourselves in this situation from time to time. Either we have accepted a meeting with somebody who is clearly not working according to the agenda they announced during our phone conversation. Or sometimes they simply have nothing of interest. They might be dreamers with nothing results to back them up or they may be looking for funding only the have zero credibility in terms of track record and they are putting in zero cash of their own in their “mindblowing” idea.  Those are just examples. Some of the meetings we have had over the years are so bizarre that if we wrote them down we know for a fact you wouldn´t believe us. There are just times when reality makes fiction seem dull and lacking creativeness.

But whatever the reason for us wanting to end a meeting we always try to be nice about it. If we can help it. We are always friendly about it. Why, it doesn´t make any sense to come out swinging straight away. Most of the time the best approach is to be a bit laid back about it and just end it in a painless and polite fashion. It´s the smooth way of dealing with it and as long as it gets the job done we will pick that approach nine times out of ten. If, however, you are dealing with a moron or your polite approach is getting shot down you need to be able to go caveman. By that we don´t mean that you should smash their heads in. Rather you need to let them understand that you are capable of doing just that. Along with a bunch of other unpleasant stuff. Cut them off, be assertive, take control of the situation and try to end it as soon as possible. Use body language to establish the right “frame” to it all. You don´t want trouble, but if it should come to it you are more than capable of taking care of yourself. Remember that it´s not about winning an argument, it´s about ending it as quickly as possible. When you are clearly dealing with an idiot your goal should be to end it, get away from his/her as soon as possible and switch to doing something profitable instead.

When it comes to salespeople calling us we have a rule that we try to apply at all times. It´s called the “30-second rule” and just like the name implies we don´t give the conversation more than 30 seconds before we kill it. In most cases it doesn´t even get to 15 seconds. How we do it? Very politely. Almost like pulling out a tooth, only with plenty of anesthetic. It doesn´t really hurt, but it´s not exactly pleasant either. We use some direct kind of question to assert that they want to sell us something. Then we throw them a one-liner that will throw them off balance for sure. And the we use a canned finish. Something along the lines. I appreciate your call but I´m not really interested. But have a fantastic day!. And that´s it. There are other approaches that are less polite. But why would you want to go there. Just end the conversation and move on with building your business into something truly oustanding.

There are several reasons that we like this rule. First of all, if we know from the beginning that we are not going to be buyers anyway we might as well save them the effort of the pitch, and at the same time save both of us some valuable time. Second, you don´t want to give them a firm footing, because if you do that will only take a lot more of your time. They have been trained to keep you on the phone, talking to them. If you don´t cut them off quickly they will only gain in strength as the conversation continues. If you let them work those canned openers and switch into the Q&A and rebuttal phase you are in for a long conversation, unless you are just plain rude and hang the phone up.

As you might have figured out by now we are not gig fans of meetings. We will kill those too if we feel they are taking too long or are unfocused. Also if we don´t see the meeting going somewhere, like a specific course of action, we kill it. there is no point in wasting time on something that may sound like work to a corporate employee but is seen as a waste of time by most entrepreneurs. We want our meetings short, to the point and with an end result consisting of an action plan and a division of the labour  so everybody knows what is expected of them until the next time we meet. If you do this correctly there will not be many meetings, and when they do occur they will be short and sweet. An added benefit is that you will avoid the risk of people with limited patience and attention spans (like us) walking out of them.

Control your time and don´t let anybody else take big chunks out of it without your consent. You must be in control of your life. Time is money, and when you are letting people steal your time you are really letting them steal your money. Why would you let anybody steal your money? You have to look out for number one. Manage your time. Plan your time. Be reluctant to give away your time freely. Use those precious working hours each day to build the business of your dreams and use any remaining hours to enjoy the company of your loved ones.

But do not give even a minute to some moron with a sales quota to fill. Be brutal and don´t allow anybody else to dictate the terms of your life. Instead, be in total control of your own time and learn how to fend off those time consuming idiots. Take control. Now. It´s about time you did.


Don´t see problems, see opportunities. Problems are a natural part of running a business. There will be many of them around, Some will be big, some will be small. But if you tell us your don´t have any problems, we are going to tell you that you are probably not running a business. You can´t run a profitable business without any problems. Nor can you run any other kind of business without problems. Difficulties, challenges and problems are a reality of everyday entrepreneurial life. They cannot be avoided. They must be accepted, adapted to and embraced. The question isn´t whether you are going to have any problems or not. The question is how you are going to deal with them when they do occur. It seems most entrepreneurs who have been around for a while have developed a really thick skin as to what may intimidate them. Blackmail does not work with them. They seem immune at times of people badmouthing them. They do not respond to threat. In a way they can come off as being too cool for school. But while the good and experienced entrepreneurs are good at dealing with problems in a casual manner, the truly great entrepreneurs have mastered the art of dealing with problems even better. In fact, they are on a whole different level altogether. Good entrepreneurs may not be daunted by problems that easily. But the truly great entrepreneurs take problems and turn them into opportunities. They change the game, and in the process of doing so they make the switch from loser to winner in the blink of an eye.

Great entrepreneurs are good at spotting opportunities where others see nothing in particular. We know entrepreneurs who seem to be on board every major business trend that has come along for the last two decades. It´s as if the have a knack for really knowing if something will fly or not. Why is this, and is it an opportunity that can be learned. We think there are two reasons. First of all, these entrepreneurs are really skilled at spotting oportunities. We believe it has to do with a developed ability to be highly creative and think outside of the box. Many entrepreneurs see opportunities simply because they do not view the world in the same way as others. They are less likely to think about what is allowed and more likely to consider what the possibilities are. And they see possibilities and potential where others see only restrictions, rules and regulations. In fact they see opportunity at every turn. And that brings us to the second reason; these entrepreneurs get their homeruns since they are swinging their bat at every opportunity they see. One of the best entrepreneurs once told us “You don´t get to read about the thousands of failures. All the journalists and the public are interested in is the one that took off.” And we can tell you that many of the entrereprenurs that are good at being in on new business trends strike out a lot too. Many of them seem to be working in an iterative fashion, that is they try something on on a small scale first and only if it flies are they willing to go for broke. That way they are losing small on they occassions when they are loosing and they get to win big on those occassions where everything lines up nicely for them.

Another thing we have noticed is that the very best (and the wealthiest) entrepreneurs like to try new things out. They just love to hear about a new business opportunity and put some small amount of cash on the line. They don´t mind losing that cash. They consider it to be “play money”, money that can be sacrificed in order to gain an education. We know entrepreneurs who at any one time are invested in literally 50 or 60 investments at any one time. The results from those investments are usually quite scattered, with some being fantastic winners and others being “lose-every-penny”- kind of deals. But that don´t seem to bother theses entrepreneurs. You see, when the find something that is working they turn up the heat. They allocate more money into that investment. Hell, they´ll even leverage the position. Why shouldn´t they? Nobody has died from some extra risk, right? And besides they know that the big money is made from concentration, not diversification like the theory books like to say. Most of the time these type of entrepreneurs tend to do extraordinarily well. Their investment portfolios end up being loaded with a few extremely successful investments and some minor investments that are still in the process of being evaluated.

As you have seen these extremely successful entrepreneurs don´t posess any mystical skills that allows them to pick the business ternds of the future. Nor do they have a particularly sensitive investment nose that allows them to know a winner the instant they see it for the first time. Their greatness lies in being genuinely interested in the world around them, trying new business opportunities as they become aware of them and then having a knack for weeding out the bad investments and keeeping the good ones. And once those good investments have proven themselves they are not afraid of turning up the heat a notch and getting very aggressive. And some of these amazingly successful entrepreneurs are so aggressive they make most other entrepreneurs seem far too prudent (we are among that group). As you can imagine these extreme risk-takers are at the top of the food-chain when it comes to entrepreneurs. The do not utilize anything fancy when they decide on investments. Rather they use a trial-and-error process coupled with some good old common sense to arrive at an optimal mix of investments. For an outsider it may look like they have a flair for finding these investments. In reality what they excel at is filtering and evaluating investments in an iterative process, rather than being able to pinpoint these great investment opportunities in the first place. The end result is a concentrated, and quite often leveraged, portfolio that creates positive cash flow at an astonishing rate. The beauty of positive cash flow is of coure that it creates the opportunity to try on new investments without much second thoughts. When cash flow is reinvested like that you get a perfect money machine with ever growing portfolios of investments that keep generating ever-growing amounts of cash flow. And that´s exactly why the rich keep getting richer.




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