Go Above And Beyond For Your Customers

When entrepreneurs and small businesses are starting out, they’re relying almost completely on the quality of their product and word of mouth. In the beginning, most people simply don’t have the monetary backing to bring in massive, scalable social media and search PPC campaigns. For some, this is discouraging. For others, however, this tiny, tiny scale is actually their greatest strength.

Today’s let’s take a look at how you can scale using, well, the unscalable.

Specifically, the strategies that aren’t practical when your audience or customer base reaches into the tens of thousands are exactly the types of tasks that can help you reach that volume. Let’s take a closer look:

If you ordered something from a website online, say, a competitor to Amazon but who had a certain product you wanted that Amazon didn’t, you’d probably expect that that interaction ended when you pressed the confirmation button.

You expect to receive a package with your item in it, and then, aside from perhaps a marketing communication or two, you’ll likely never hear from that company again.

Imagine for a second, however, that two weeks after receiving your item and having some time to use it, you get a letter in the mail with the same return address. It’s from the company you previously bought from, and it’s a handwritten card. In it, the CEO personally has written you a note saying how much it means that you ordered from them, and asking that you get in touch any time if you need help with your order, or have any questions, free of charge.

Doesn’t that make some impression? If you had to order something similar again, don’t you think at that point you’d know exactly where you were going to order it from? Might you even tell a friend or two about the experience?

These types of above and beyond actions may not be standard, but the companies who end up getting ahead often understand the value of ‘scaling the unscalable’. In your own business, whether it’s with 4 employees, 40 employees, or just you, make sure you are taking so-called unscalable tasks to their breaking point. The average person will get lazy, which means outsourcing a task as soon as they’re able to, or automating a process that used to be done manually and in a personal fashion. The brands that people truly remember, however, will work longer hours and put in the extra mile until there is literally not enough time in the day before they give up on an action that puts a smile on customers’ faces and turns them into brand ambassadors.

You don’t have to handwrite thank you cards, you don’t have to mail anything at all, but find your own special unscalable actions and make them a part of your routine. While everyone else if trying to offload tasks and take the easy way out as soon as they have the cash to do so, be the one who makes so much of an effort that working with you or buying from you simply becomes a given for your customers.

Habits for Working More Effectively

Today we’ll cover some habits for working more effectively:

Slash Your To-Do List

Most of us note down every little task that might need to get done throughout a day and then scramble through in a mad sprint to get them all done. Instead, consider slashing your to-do list down to only the most important tasks to growing your business so that you can actually give those things the attention they deserve.

Say Yes Less

While it’s always important to make sure you’re delivering top quality to your customers, there are situations in which you can get yourself into trouble. For example, software as a service (SaaS) startups often make the mistake of charging their first few large companies to use the product, but not for any kind of priority support. In the end, these companies end up wasting thousands of dollars worth of work hours guiding companies through simple software steps over the phone, helping them fix errors, and playing personal coach.

If you’re not getting paid for something, consider politely declining and letting the asker know that you just have too much on your plate right now. This can free up a surprising amount of time for many freelancers and independent business owners.

Use your mornings you ‘you’ time.

Let’s face it, many of us get up in the morning and jump right into our work – the earlier you start, the earlier you can finish, right? When looking at the lives of highly efficient and successful people across any number of fields, it becomes quickly apparent that morning routines are important to an alarming number of them!

When you get up in the morning, start out in a way that physically and mentally stimulates you and gets you ready for the day. It could be a quick jog and a read through the morning news, a small creative task that gets the juices flowing, whatever works!

The most important thing here is consistency.

Bring others in earlier than later.

Remember those tasks you took off of your to-do list? They may not be high ROI, but many of them may still need doing. To help with this, consider bringing on others to help you with the tasks you don’t deem a great use of your time. For many online marketers, the first step ends up being to hire a virtual assistant who can help you with time consuming but low-skill requirement tasks to free up your own time.

As you grow, you may consider growing your team further in similar fashion, or may decide that the right move for you is to become a registered business and start ramping up your workforce in a big way.

In any event, most people wait way too long to start delegating the tasks that eat up so much of their time – don’t be ‘most people’!

Lose the guesswork.

Finally, start backing up every move you make with data. Intuition is great, but can you really say your sales page needs a new headline before testing? Can you really say that your product or service needs a complete makeover if you haven’t confirmed this through discussions with your customers or target market?

Too often, we confirm our own assumptions with our own thoughts, rather than hard evidence, and that can be a death sentence!

The ‘Weird’ Startup Investment Game You Need To Stop Playing

In the United States, we elect a president every 4 years. One candidate can serve two terms, for a maximum total of 8 years in office. Now, around two-three years through any given president’s first term, a common trend prevails: Legislative agendas generally become less ambitious, previously polarizing views are swapped out for those that are more middle of the road, and messages which were previously more laden with detail and precise figures degrade once again into campaign-esque rhetoric.

What the heck is happening? In short, another election cycle will soon be upon these presidents, and they need to start thinking more about getting re-elected than continuing to push through any work their currently tied up in.

The exact same phenomenon happens with startup founders, except that their term is a burn rate runway, and their election campaign is a quest for further financing. If you find yourself heading up a grand idea, and it turns into a company, the way of business these days is, ironically, not very business-like at all. In fact, instead of focusing on profit margins and costs of operation, most founders are focused on obscure and multi measurable metrics like ‘growth’ and the like, aimed at figuring out they can make the numbers, any numbers, impressive enough to secure another round of funding.

If you find yourself in this exact scenario with a company that you’re heading up, it’s important that you know that, for the rainmakers who founded the biggest, most disruptive companies in the world, these thoughts never even crossed their mind. Indeed, there has recently been a reversal, in which instead of achieving something great in order to secure wealth, people are working on the premise of securing wealth in order to achieve something great. Forgive the cliché, but did Zuckerberg start his ‘The Facebook’ website in his dorm room in hopes of securing millions of dollars from Sequoia Capital? Hell no!

Founders these days who want to not find themselves with a valueless company in three years’ time, need to get comfortable with the idea that they are still running a business, they still need to act and make decisions based on the premise that if they are not profitable very, very soon, they’re out. Most startups fail. Of those that don’t fail, the vast majority will be steady, sustainable businesses that can catapult their founders into the upper middleclass, but they won’t be Facebook, they won’t be Snapchat. And they won’t be a household name.

And that’s OK.

The narrative that everyone has to be a tech founder that turns the market upside down is overhyped and, ironically, not the path to its own realization for most tech world heroes. Instead, the most common path to greatness is a stellar work ethic, a mental resilience to discouragement, and a passion and drive that’s the stuff of legends. So the next time you see that some Silicon Valley hotshot just closed a $200 million C-series, just remember that there is more than one path to greatness.

Productivity Rituals

More often than not, the only strategy ever discussed when it comes to working and running a business from home is the outward facing work.

You can find countless guides on advertising,. Marketing, SEO, blogging, and more, but your own personal productivity ritual is still a bit fringe.

Let me explain: It’s not that you can’t find people out there writing about morning affirmations and habits you can develop that will make you more productive, the emphasis put on them is completely different from the more ‘businessy’ topics.

Well, guess what: Your frame of mind, and by extension how you work, is much more important than you might think, even when compared with what you’re working on. In fact, nothing exemplifies this more than the runaway success of relatively recent startup Brain.fm

If you haven’t seen it yet, Brain.fm is a website that uses scientifically backed engineering to create audio tracks to help people become more productive. Going a step further, the service also allows you to tailor the music to individual tasks and intensity levels of working. One track might help you with coding, another with writing and editing tasks, etc. Don’t believe it? They have a free trial, so at the very least you can try it out for yourself and see if you feel anything you might just be surprised.

Of course, trying to alter your brainwaves with sound isn’t the only way to go, and a number of factors often contribute to our productivity and how we engage with our work. For starters, healthy sleep, exercise, and regular snacking habits can all boost your alertness and your ability to focus in on complex tasks. So often, we get caught up in how much work we need to get done that we actually place ourselves in a state of mind that is counterproductive.

One of the best things any budding self-employed individual can get into is setting time limits on activities, and breaks, in order to start to build a schedule. This is especially useful for those of us who are prone to skipping from task to task, rather than staying on any one thing for an extended period of time. A good starting point is the 25/5 setup. Under this scheme, you set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on one single task for that time. When the timer goes off, set it for 5 minutes and take a break; do anything but work during this time!

When the timer goes off again, it’s back to work for 25 minutes. A couple of things generally happen when people adopt this strategy.

First of all, their productivity on a single task goes up. Second, because 25 minutes doesn’t feel like a long time, and break time is built in, many people simultaneously feel like they are working less, while they’re in fact getting more done.

Pretty neat, right? Ultimately, what works for everybody is different, but this might be a good jumping off point if you aren’t quite synced up with the productivity you want from an entrepreneurial lifestyle just yet.