In this CAS Podcast episode, we share 9 important things on how to be an amazing business person. If you follow them it can massively improve your business like never before!
First in – Last out
- As your business is growing, it’s all you.
- You put in the time to get things done. You make sure every order is perfect.
- You ensure every customer is happy.
- You make sure all the bills are made.
- You know your staff is doing the job.
- You’re on pace for goals.
Relationship building expert
- Your employees want to work for you.
- Your customers like giving you money.
- Your vendors want a long relationship with you.
- Your partners see value in you.
Crisis Management Adept
- Know how to handle an upset customer
- Prepared to work through financial issues
- Have a plan for equipment downtime
- Inventory management problems
- Working through staffing problems
- Ability to make a good judgement on financial decisions
- Know what you have coming in and out
- Having knowledge of cash-flow
- Making quality quick decisions that have a big impact
- Your business is going to change
- You will have to roll with the punches
- Maybe you aren’t doing something the best way
- Learn from mentors and friends
Thirst for new connections
- Network with potential partners
- Sometimes just help people
- Build relationships because you never know where they will go
Hunger to learn
- Take the time to learn things you don’t know
- If you are going to add on a new service, do research
- Before you hire someone to do something, understand the jargon
- Don’t fear competition
- Don’t fold every time
- Be as aggressive as you feel good about
- Understand and research them
- You have to want to do it
- Hunger to get up and make things better
- If you are going to think, think big
Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!
Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!
Mark S: Hey, everyone! Welcome to episode 99 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast. My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. We’re very up close in video, today.
Mark S: I feel like that. Do you know why? It’s because someone removed the CAS sign, so they didn’t feel the need to make sure that it was in the video.
Marc V: Well, you get a close up view, so you can read the notes maybe, here.
Mark S: So, when Marc Vila does his magic, you’ll be able to see it.
Marc V: I forgot the magic trick again!
Mark S: Maybe for episode 100, you can do that.
Marc V: Yes! For episode 100, I’m definitely bringing in the magic trick.
Mark S: Awesome! I’ll be absent that day.
Marc V: Alright!
Mark S: So episode 99! What are we talking about?
Marc V: Today, we’re here to talk about how to be an amazing business person. I think we’re gearing up for episode 100. We’re going to kind of go deeper into that. But this is really what are the things that makes somebody a really good business person all around? Not a great salesperson, not a great marketer, none of those things. How to be a great business person in general.
Mark S: I like that. It’s almost like the requirements for being a good boss, a good employee, a good business owner. You know, just overall.
Marc V: Yeah. I think all of these things actually make you a great person, period. You can even have one of your kids listen to this, if you want to torture them, because these things will make them a great student, too.
Mark S: The one you don’t like.
Marc V: The one you think is most likely to succeed will listen to it, and gain something from it.
Mark S: I like that. Wow! That’s a test for the kids.
Marc V: Let’s go right into it. I think we’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine different things. I think it’s the perfect amount. We didn’t need to go ten.
Mark S: Okay, I like that. The first one is – this one was my idea. First in and last out. The idea behind this is if you are a small business owner, if it’s just you, it’s one thing. But even if you work with a spouse or your kids, or you’ve got one employee or a part-timer, first in, last out really means that you recognize that you are the business, that you’re powering the business, and what you do every day matters. So, you should demonstrate your commitment by being there before everybody else, and leaving after everybody else is done.
Marc V: The reason is that you’re making sure everything is great.
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: If you have somebody that is making apparel for you, and they’re working until five or six or seven o’clock, making apparel, you’re staying late, because you’re making sure that that last t-shirt is perfect.
Mark S: And you’re boxing it up, so it gets shipped out in the morning.
Marc V: Exactly. So, you make sure every customer is happy. You make sure every design looks good. You make sure all of the apparel is right. You make sure all of the bills are paid. You make sure all of the staff is doing their job. I mean everything.
Mark S: Plus, you just want to be there when people come in, in the morning. I’ve found that when I’m here early, I get a different perspective on the business. Because you can see who else is there early, who else is getting stuff done. And often, before everyone gets there and after everyone leaves is where you get to do your owner activities.
When you leave, if you leave before 5:00 or before everybody else does, believe me, the tone of the business changes as soon as you’re out the door. Right? So, you want to make sure that you’re imprinting your wants and needs, your personality, your culture onto the business, every time it’s open, all day.
Marc V: Yeah. And I think that there’s some flexibility in when this may or may not change for your business. Because maybe part of the reason you own a business is because you don’t want to be stuck somewhere forever.
So, you kind of set goals for yourself. You say “Eventually, I’m going to get a production manager. I’m going to have somebody who is going to be in charge of all of the production. I plan to have one person run embroidery, one doing t-shirts, and one who does both, who is kind of the team leader. Then, at that point in time, I’ll feel comfortable leaving, because I know all of the shirts are going to be good.”
Mark S: It’s kind of the same thing, whether or not it’s a side hustle or a full-time gig. If you’re going to sit at the dining room table, and you’re going to heat press vinyl onto a shirt order, you’re not going to go to bed while your teenage kid is still helping you. You know what I mean? You’re going to be the one to set it up. You’re going to be the last one to touch it.
You don’t have to have a staff to do this. It’s almost an attitude where you realize that all of it is your responsibility, and you’ve got to demonstrate the commitment.
Marc V: Exactly. We’ve talked about this before. What you put into it is going to be what you get out of it, for the most part. That’s the rule. When you look at any of these folks that you can watch YouTube videos on, or listen to on podcasts, or read their books, that are these entrepreneurs that opened up ten businesses, and they’re multi-millionaires, their story is almost always “I woke up before dawn, and I went to bed at midnight every day, and all I did was work for eight years, and that’s how I became a gajillionaire.” And that’s true.
So, if you want to make enough money to go on an extra vacation this year, then yeah, maybe you only have to work a few hours a week. If you’re looking to do something to replace your full-time job, you’re almost going to have to work basically full-time, doing that.
Mark S: There’s a great show called The Prophet. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times before, with Marcus Lemonis. This guy goes in and looks at companies that are in trouble, and buys into them. And almost 100% of the time, you can tell what the outcome is going to be, when he shows up on the first day, and the owner is not there. For any reason whatsoever, that’s a sign. So, don’t be that owner. Don’t be that guy.
Marc V: Yeah. There’s the first one.
Mark S: First in, last out.
Marc V: Now, be a relationship-building expert. This is one that I personally think is the key. Whenever I see people who are great sales managers, great marketing folks, great business owners, great teachers, whatever it is, anybody who is in this position of leadership, they’re great at building these relationships.
That means your employees want to work for you. Your customers like giving you their money for the product. It’s not just they like your product, and not just that they’re happy it’s a fair price or it’s cheap, or whatever it might be.
Mark S: They’re happy it’s you.
Marc V: They’re happy it’s you, exactly. Your vendors want to have long-term relationships with you. If you’re leasing a storefront, the owner that you’re leasing from or the leasing company, they want to do business with you.
Mark S: We talked about this a little bit, while we were getting ready for the episode. The perfect example of this kind of relationship-building expert is Scott Colman. He’s the owner and President of ColDesi, and it doesn’t matter what the topic is, or if it’s a vendor, potential vendor, Scott has a connection. And when he picks up the phone to call somebody, they’re happy to hear from him.
It’s not like “Oh, this guy is asking for something.” It’s all these personal relationships that he’s built over the years, in the industry and outside of it, that led to, for example, we’ve developed a partnership with Jersey and Fruit of the Loom. We were able to do that because Scott reached out to set up that relationship.
He’s been doing it for so long, it’s very comfortable. He’s also got great relationships with his employees, like us. You can come in and sit down, and talk to him about an idea. Or if you have a problem, you can talk to him. Everyone wants to do business with him, basically.
Marc V: Yeah. And we also discussed how it’s not the same as being likable or nice.
Mark S: Those are qualities that are in there, but it isn’t the same.
Marc V: It’s about building that relationship. That means if you’re going to do business with somebody, for example, and you decide to not do business together, you end it with just a friendly gesture. “Maybe one day, we’ll get to do this. We can’t right now. In the meantime, if I can do this or this, or refer you to somebody,” whatever it is. Then, you keep that going.
We’ve talked about it before.
Mark S: Belquette. Just like the Belquette situation, where we had competitors close by for years, that Scott and sometimes one of our sales managers would just have lunch with, keeping the relationship going with them. And it turned out to work out for everybody’s benefit, just last year.
Marc V: Yeah. And this also means about your competition. It means everybody. So, the next one, go ahead.
Mark S: Crisis management. I definitely want to spend a little bit of time on this one, because I think it’s really important. Crisis is a big word. What we’re talking about doesn’t have to raise to the level of crisis, where you come in one day and your shop is burned down.
It’s you come in one day, and the phone isn’t working right. When I was doing Colman and Company marketing, it was a regular event for the website to go down, like for hours at a time. That’s a little bit more of a crisis.
But you are going to be presented with challenges, as a business owner, 100%. I’ve seen it over and over again. Crisis management is what you do to react to those challenges. That’s going to make a big difference to the future success of what you’re trying to do.
Marc V: Yeah. You probably already know this, if you’re a business now, that there’s a crisis every day. Some of these are very small things; you broke a pair of scissors. Others of them are big things, like the electricity is going to be out for the entire day. You can’t do any work.
They’re going to be going between, and some of the things you need to – know how to handle upset customers. Prepare to work through a financial issue that could happen.
Mark S: Well, I’ll tell you what. Can we talk about upset customers for a minute?
Marc V: Sure.
Mark S: This is really important, because even if you try to do a good job. I’ve built relationships with a lot of you out there on the CAS group and on Facebook, and in person. You’re all really nice people, but I know at some point, you’re going to have a customer that’s upset with you. Because we get that, right?
We get that all the time. And your reaction can’t be to shut down. It can’t be to get upset back at them. That’s not productive. So, you have to, like right now, if you’ve never had an upset customer, or you’re due for some reason, then right now, I want you to be able to strategize, and just think to yourself how you’re going to react to that.
Someone comes in, and they throw a box of shirts back on the ground. It was in the group today. Somebody brought up that they do $1,000 worth of custom caps for a customer every year. And every year, they swap the logos. They put a different logo.
So, this person had gone through the whole process. The assistant came in with the logo, they had the logo approved, they sent it back to the assistant to get signed off. Everything was fine. They shipped the hats. They looked great.
The owner of the company saw it and said “That’s the wrong logo.” He picked up the phone and started cussing at the owner, saying “I’m going to come back and return my order.”
So, there’s a couple of ways you can react to that, right? Reasonably, I think the person in the Facebook group did the right thing. They were like “Sir, we did everything we could. We have a signed approval.” He was threatening to cancel the charge on the credit card. He said “You’re welcome to try that, but I’ve got all this paperwork.”
What are you going to do in that situation, when you have somebody that’s angry like that? The best strategy for you might be to just develop a little menu for each one of these things, for crisis management.
Marc V: Good idea.
Mark S: Like give me two things that you would do to handle an upset customer, that we can give to these guys, that they might want to use. Because you tick people off a lot more than I do. That’s what I’m trying to say.
Marc V: I love it. I’ll start off with actually what not to do, and how to do it, how to do it correctly, something like that. So, what not to do is, we had a customer just recently. It was yesterday or the day before, whatever it was. They just got a piece of equipment, and were furious that they couldn’t learn it in like the first hour.
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: For one, unreasonable.
Mark S: Yes.
Marc V: They further proved that they were an unreasonable person by calling up and cursing at the receptionist, who obviously doesn’t support the machine, didn’t sell the machine, doesn’t own the machine, didn’t make any of the money from the machine, all of those things. This is the person who makes sure that you get to the right person on the phone, attempting to say “Alright. Let me get you to the right -.”
It continued, curse, curse, yell, run them over. So, wrong thing to do. Don’t do that.
Mark S: Obviously not local. That’s what I’m just going to say.
Marc V: Yeah. You don’t do that, right? That’s a wrong way to handle things. If something is wrong, a bad way to manage the crisis is to yell at the person. I mean, you’re going to go yell and scream at your dentist, right before they’re going to put a drill in your mouth?
Mark S: No! And go back up to point number two; relationship-building expert. Because we are this person’s most important vendor at this point, because they bought $25,000 worth of stuff from us. And we’ll always take care of them, but he’s going to be happier if we’re excited to do business with him. Right?
Marc V: Yeah. The proper way to handle it is, eventually the receptionist finally got the point through, “I have to get you through to somebody. I’m going to go ahead and just get you to the manager.” And the manager then, calmly, “I want to help you out. Let’s resolve this together. I know you’re upset. We’ve gone through all of that. If you want to get some more out, feel free. Then, after that, let’s solve it, okay?”
So, that’s part of what you do. You empathize with the customer. You let them know, like “I understand you’re upset. I understand why.” You wait. Just be quiet. Let them go. And if you want, you pause. Just wait, and wait for them to be done. Be sure, because as soon as you try to talk, they’re going to go again. So, you wait long enough for them.
And then, “Hello? I want to respond. I just want to make sure you got it all out. Do you want to add anything else, before I respond yet?” And you calmly slow the conversation down.
So, I would say some good things you could do would be, if it’s an employee of yours, escalate it up to a manager, if you have a manager, or yourself as the owner. So, an escalation is one thing to do. It lets the customer know you care.
Another thing to do would be to slow the situation down. If it’s hot and yelling, you speak softer and slower, and pause longer. Those are a couple of things you could do.
Mark S: I like that. And by the way, our receptionist is a pro. She handled it perfectly.
Marc V: Yeah. I didn’t hear. You listened to the recording?
Mark S: Yeah. So, be prepared to work through financial issues. I think that’s important, because you’re a very extremely amazingly fortunate small business person, if you never have some kind of financial squeeze in your business, or your personal life, for that matter.
Marc V: Yeah. It could be anything. It could be personal, you could get sick. It could just be something breaks. It could be anything.
Mark S: There are parts of most pieces of equipment, you’re going to have to replace one day. And it’s going to happen when you’re in the middle of something. So, that’s a little bit of crisis management right there. But it’s having the financial resources to be able to handle that.
Marc V: You make sure that – we have podcasts where we talk about it. You make sure you’ve got money put aside, to handle those things. You can’t predict everything. You can’t put away enough money to say “What if my floors get ruined, and I have to put all new wood floors in?”
Mark S: No. But what you can do is you can have a strategy in place for if a customer doesn’t pay you. A big customer doesn’t pay you, or you get a great contract with the school, and they pay in net 60 days, no matter what you do. You’ve got to be ready for this.
Maybe just strategize, like “If I needed $4,000, what would I do?”
Marc V: Also, make sure you’re insured in the proper places where insurance should be insured.
Mark S: Yeah, right.
Marc V: So, if you have a shop, it’s probably a good idea to be insured. What if there’s electrical damage? What if there’s a storm? What if there’s a flood? Are you insured for these things? Does it make sense to insure this equipment? Sometimes, it’s about talking to experts, whether it’s in insurance or money management, or taxes is another one.
Mark S: True.
Marc V: All of these things. Just be prepared to work through expected and unexpected financial issues.
Mark S: Yep. I like the next one, too. You have, have a plan for equipment down time.
Marc V: Yeah. I think one of the simplest ways to prepare for equipment down time, because that could be anything. It could be the actual equipment not working. It could be a supply, there’s an issue with a supply. It could be that the electricity is out. We don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to happen.
The simplest one, I think, is just don’t over-promise delivery times. If you know it’s going to take you four hours to do it, and you tell somebody “I’ll have it done for you by noon,” and it’s 8:00 AM, you’re squeezed! Right?
Mark S: Yeah. There’s no wiggle room.
Marc V: There’s no wiggle room. So, that’s a situation where you say “Noon tomorrow. If I can, I’ll get it done today, but noon tomorrow.”
Mark S: Yeah. I’m going to go back to two things. The first one is, that’s being a relationship-building expert, and also the previous podcast episode that we did on working with your competition. So, the answer to equipment down time is to have somebody near you, that you feel good about saying “Hey. My screen printing setup melted. Can you help me out with this order?”
Just have those people on hand, so you’re not scrambling around looking for someone that you don’t know, to help out at the last minute. So, you have somebody as a backup, that you know you can offer the same thing for, that will help you manage that crisis, if your equipment is down.
Marc V: That’s perfect. That’s combining a lot of these things together. All of this stuff together is not individual things. They all accumulate into things that merge together. Because the financial issue and the crisis management, and the relationship-building, and the fact that you stayed late to figure out that there’s a problem, all merge together, into the problem being solved.
Mark S: There you go! I like that.
Marc V: We’ve got a couple. Inventory management problems. That’s talking about like shirts didn’t arrive on time.
Mark S: You forgot to order white ink.
Marc V: Yeah. You forgot to order something. Something that you ordered is backordered.
Mark S: Which happens.
Marc V: Which we’ve talked about a lot, that you don’t be ordering to replace zero. Be ordering to replace a certain level of inventory, when you get to a certain level.
Mark S: I agree, because it’s happened to us. As your supplier, it’s happened to us. There is something that happens overseas, or there’s something that happens locally. It could even be that there’s a storm in the northeast, and UPS can’t do deliveries. There’s nothing that we can do. There’s nothing that you can do, except have some kind of a plan.
Marc V: Yeah. I don’t remember the exact story, but it shows how these things overflow. There was a strike in a port.
Mark S: In San Diego.
Marc V: And a ship got stuck, that had part of a material needed to build another thing. So, everything is ready to go in this factory, and they’re missing this one facet of it, and it’s stuck.
Mark S: They’re closed.
Marc V: Yeah, they’re closed. They can’t it. And nobody can predict that. Nobody can control that. You waited until you were bare bones zero on this, and then you ordered it next day A.M. early delivery, because you need it tomorrow morning. And there’s none available, because it’s on a boat that you have no control over.
You never know these things, so be prepared on your inventory.
Mark S: True. And I like this last one that you’ve got here, working through staffing problems. I was going to say even if it’s your family, but especially if it’s your family that’s working for you or with you. There’s going to be some kind of fallout. Somebody is going to get sick, they’re going to get sick of you, they don’t want to work, they move.
Marc V: They get their dream job.
Mark S: Yeah. They get a better offer.
Marc V: Being a good relationship expert is good with this. It will help you solve some of those issues.
Mark S: And maybe you’ll know someone that you can keep in mind as a backup.
Marc V: Absolutely.
Mark S: Financial acumen. This is one that – because I do some consulting on the side. Part of that is looking into small business finances, and the way things are priced, and things like that. And man, I see not knowing your numbers as a key. That’s a great way to go out of business. It really is.
If you don’t know your money, and where it is, and what it does, and what is coming in and what is going out, literally everything about it, or have someone that does for you, that you trust, then you could work really hard for nothing. And nobody wants that for you. These are important points.
Marc V: Things like this work out, for example, you decide “You know what? These guys are right. I’m going to stock up on some supplies. I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to make sure I’ve got two months of everything,” whatever you decide it is. If you don’t know your money well enough, you do that, and then all of a sudden you’re like “Oh, my gosh! I didn’t realize I have to pay some taxes, and now I don’t have that!”
So, knowing your finances. Like you said, personally, I think that doing finances, from what I know about small business owners, is not easy for most people.
Mark S: Yeah. I mean, like most regular people, everyday people. Most people don’t know their finances, and a lot of people are broke.
Marc V: It’s a hard thing to do. You have to think of math within time. And that becomes a challenge.
Mark S: It’s planning and discipline, not to empty your bank account.
Marc V: It’s a hard thing to do. I think that in any of these things, in my opinion, from what I know about a lot of people, if you don’t have good financial acumen, then you’re not alone, and don’t beat yourself up over this one.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: If you’re bad at building relationships because you’re a jerk, I’m not going to give you any credit for that.
Mark S: That’s between you and your parents.
Marc V: But if you have financial issues, then don’t be ashamed of that. Figure out a way to solve it. Hire somebody, work with somebody, get somebody that you trust and know, to help you.
Mark S: Just be objective. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Marc V: Exactly. Because it’s the biggest challenge. Selling supplies, we see that, where folks, they’re struggling to kind of get that, because they’re not planning, and doing it right. So, I think it’s an important one. This is one of the ones where I think – everything else, I think you could do alone, if you’re not doing it right. This is the one that if you’re not doing it right, getting help is a big deal.
Mark S: I agree. Be careful about who you pick, but whoever it is, even if it’s starting to read books.
Marc V: That’s actually great.
Mark S: You could do some of your own research. We talked about buying customers on this podcast, and we talked about – I can’t remember the name of the book that we had.
Marc V: Profit First?
Mark S: Profit First. That’s a great tool that you can use, to re-think about your money.
Marc V: It’s one of the things that you’ll be a much better business owner, if you’ve got a handle on it, however that means, whether you’re doing it or someone else is doing it. But you’ve got to know it.
Mark S: I agree.
Marc V: The two points to make here, that I think kind of summarize it, are having the ability to make good judgement on financial decisions.
Mark S: Yes.
Marc V: And then being able to make a quick decision, when it’s going to have a big impact, with good judgement. Both of those two things.
Mark S: And you had specifically mentioned one that I really didn’t think about it that way, because when I think about financial management, I’m very self-defense. But it’s being able to react quickly to a big opportunity. It’s having the confidence that if you get a big job, that you’re going to invest a lot of money in blanks and in supplies, and you may not get paid right away. If you can take that job, because you know your dollars, then you’re going to grow faster.
If you get the opportunity to expand, if you’re in a retail space, or there’s a once in a lifetime deal on a refurbished piece of equipment from ColDesi. If you know your numbers, and you can take advantage of that, you can jump on it.
Marc V: Yeah. It’s like you have a little shop. You’re hoping to get bigger. You find out that the unit next door is moving out. You get inside information from him, because he tells you “Oh, yeah. I’m going to sign off to cancel my lease next month.” “When are you doing that?” “I’m going today.”
Now, it’s like “I’ve got to make a quick decision.” If you know your numbers, you have the ability to make that quick decision. Also, you know it well enough that you know that decision you make isn’t just “I want a bigger shop.” But “I’ve already kind of done the numbers on getting a bigger shop, and I can afford it. I’m going to make the decision. I’m going to do it. I’m going to jump on the opportunity.”
Versus if you would have waited the day, it might have been off the market.
Mark S: It’s perfect. So, put financial acumen, financial knowledge, knowing your numbers and where your money is, put all of that really high on the list of what you do.
Marc V: The next one is being flexibly-minded.
Mark S: Yeah. We started off with open-minded, but I feel like that’s a little different. We’ve talked to customers before, and non-customers, too, just people in general, that this is how they do things. Or worse, they’ve never done it before, but they have an innate understanding of this is absolutely how it should be done.
We get that with the transfer systems, especially. “Oh, I did sublimation eight years ago. This is how you do it.” Like “No, this is how you do it.” They’re smart, and I wouldn’t say they’re close-minded, but they’re inflexible, because they’ve got this channel in their brain that they have to follow.
You’re not going to be as successful as you could be as a business owner, if you’re not flexible in your thoughts.
Marc V: Yeah. Your business is going to change, whether it’s internally your business is going to change, or your market is going to change, or your community is going to change. Technology is going to change. And if you have the flexibility to think – it’s not just about being flexible to change, but I think it’s also about kind of flexing your mind muscles to evaluate, truly, if you should change.
Mark S: Yeah. And that was the first competition episode that we did, was to evaluate the competition. Don’t just look and make a change, based on what you think is happening.
Marc V: Yeah. I’ve seen people, from a video, look at a video of a transfer printer, and they’ll poor relationship-building rudely say something like “Transfers never look good,” or “Transfers don’t work,” or say something. And that’s not being flexibly-minded.
The flexible mind would say “Interesting. I remember I did try transfers on an inkjet printer in 1996. I hated them. I didn’t like doing it at all. It was too slow. This new one is interesting. I don’t know if it’s right for my business or not. What I’ll do is I’ll call them up and ask them for like an info pack and a sample. I want to learn about it, because for one, if my competition starts doing it, I want to know how to sell against it. Or if it’s right for me, I might want to invest in it. Or at least I know, so maybe in 2020, this will be a new decision for me to make.”
You have to be flexible in the whole thought process.
Mark S: I like all of that. It could be something like you sell rhinestone transfers, and spangles are becoming more popular. So, you’ve got to be a little bit flexible in the way you think about your business. You may love, love, love this one piece of technology and the way you use it. Then, gradually over time, people could not love that. So, you’ve got to be flexible, and be able to change in your business.
It could be the way that you have been doing your financial planning. You’re not going to do that once, and put it on a stone tablet, and it’s never going to change. You’ve got to be flexible. It’s going to change all of the time.
The same with first in, last out. When your business grows, that may not be the appropriate thing. The same with relationship building. You’re going to have to be flexible. If you’ve got your go-to person for delivery, or your go-to supplier might not be the right guy anymore. So, you’ve got to have that flexible mind through everything.
Marc V: Yeah. There’s so much to this. One of my favorite ones about it is maybe you’re not doing something the best way.
Mark S: Shock! I’ve heard that happens to other people.
Marc V: Yeah. That could be anything. But for business, it’s just maybe the way – it could be as simple as the way your shop is set up. And you talk about like The Prophet or the Gordon Ramsey restaurant show.
Mark S: Kitchen Nightmares.
Marc V: Kitchen Nightmares. He’ll do something like that, and he’ll say “Why do you have your sauce station over there, and your pasta station all the way over there?” And they’re like “Well, this is how we’ve set up the flow of our business.” And he’s like “No, they should be right next to each other.”
And the owner of that business, the one who’s got kind of the flexible mind says “I see. We’re going to have to change our flow, but that does make sense.”
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: And the stubborn one that refuses to believe that they could possibly be not doing something the best way, doesn’t want to touch it. So, you have to pay attention to all of those things.
Mark S: This came to me in my life, when I finally realized that no matter how I load the dishwasher, I’m not doing it correctly. So, I have to be very flexible every day, to make sure that I load it correctly.
I also like your note here, is you have to be able to learn from mentors and friends.
Marc V: Yeah.
Mark S: We do that all the time. We’re constantly listening to each other. We constantly rely on Scott. We rely on some of the other people here at work, and go outside and look for other industry experts; podcasters, marketing people.
Marc V: And as you build relationships and all of these things, you just will learn from how people do it. If somebody tells you this is what they think is the best way to do it, and it might be an objective opinion, so it may or may not be actually better, but you learn from that idea. You say “Okay. I’m going to take that into account.”
Mark S: No matter how sure they are.
Marc V: Yeah. And you figure it out for yourself. Then, really, when it comes to being flexible and learning, and doing things the best way, if at any way, you can analyze it with some numbers and facts, then do it. So, if somebody says – you go to another shop and you see how they have their heat press and printer, and it’s different than what you did, then maybe make that change, and do some math on how fast your production is.
And if you save 30 minutes, well, then just take a bite of humble pie, and say -.
Mark S: The other guy was better. “Thanks very much!”
Marc V: Alright, so new one, next one.
Mark S: Thirst for new connections. These are carefully selected words. Because we thought about, like you have to be good at networking and things like that. But no. What you really need to do is want to, or develop the desire to know almost everyone. Literally, the more people you know, the more successful your business is likely to be.
Marc V: Yeah. There’s a lot with that. You don’t have to be friends, and have lunch meetings every week, and scheduled phone calls with all of these people. But know them. At least you know that there’s a shirt shop down the road. You went through the whole exercise, because you’ve listened to the previous episodes, so you know that they’re not your competition. And you don’t have to know them. What’s it matter, right?
But if you at least go in and say “Hey. I own a shop. We’re not even really competition, because I see you sell to this. You do uniforms for hospitals. I do kids’ sports. But I just want to know each other.” Then, that’s it. Then, when you back it up to all of the other things, one day, something might happen.
Mark S: Like I said earlier, I was at lunch yesterday, and the fourth guy at the table, I had never met before. Everybody starts talking, and parts of thirsting for new connections is you should always let people know who you are and what you do. It’s your business. It’s your baby. It’s part of your personality.
It’s the foundation for your dreams. Let people know what’s going on. So, that came up at the table. I assume South Tampa is a little bit more so than other communities, but South Tampa is a community of connectors, in particular. So, we bring this up, and the new fourth guy, he had three great connections to introduce another member there, just like right off the bat.
“Hey, my name is this. This is what I do.” It was just a lunch. It wasn’t a networking meeting. And it’s “Oh, you know who you should talk to? I know this guy who runs a condominium complex. I know this commercial real estate agent, and I know this other person. I know an interior designer. You should really hook up with them. They’re looking for people like you.” Boom!
It’s this thirst for connections that makes you want to do that.
Marc V: Exactly. Just be hungry for the connections. That is harder for people who are more introverts.
Mark S: Yeah. It’s hard for me, really.
Marc V: You make it look easy.
Mark S: No. That’s just on camera.
Marc V: It’s harder if you’re in a small town. There may not be as many people. Know them. You might have known everybody since kindergarten, because it’s that small of a town, and you’re listening to this. Well, maybe you should meet some people in a different town.
It would be harder, yes, it’s harder to do. But what if you went 30 miles, to a different town, and went to that business networking lunch thing they have, or just meet people there? So, be thirsty for it.
One of the things that we noted here is sometimes just help people.
Mark S: I really like that a lot.
Marc V: If you see an opportunity to help somebody that you’ve met, whatever it is, give a referral. You meet somebody who is trying to open up a new business.
Mark S: I’m going to rephrase that.
Marc V: Do it.
Mark S: Look for opportunities to help someone.
Marc V: That’s actually great.
Mark S: Because everything you just said is right.
Marc V: The first thing that popped in my head is you meet somebody, you talk to somebody, and they say “Yeah. I’m just getting ready to open up a food truck. Gosh, it’s so hard. I didn’t realize how much money. The health inspector license thing is going to cost me three grand! I didn’t know that!”
Maybe you just say “Hey, you know what? I’d love to offer to sell you some shirts, but I can see that right now, that’s probably not a priority for you. How about this? Let me make you two shirts. This way, on your first opening day, you’ve got a shirt.”
Mark S: I love that.
Marc V: They’re going to flip out. They’re going to love it. They’re going to refer you to people, and they will probably buy some from you later on. But yeah, you make them two free t-shirts. “Here you go. Opening day, you can look like a champ.”
Mark S: And it doesn’t even have to be business related, though that’s a great opportunity. Any opportunity you have to help somebody, particularly in the business, then you’re going to be better off for it.
Marc V: Yeah. The next one we’ve got is willingness to learn. That’s kind of -.
Mark S: It’s right there with flexibly-minded.
Marc V: It’s like flexibly-minded. I would almost change it to like hunger for learning, desire to learn. That you really want to learn something new about whatever it is. So, this is like the person who called in that was very upset, that in the first hour, they weren’t a master of their new equipment.
Take the time to learn things, whether it’s graphics software, equipment, whether it’s just you’re thinking about getting better search engine optimization for your new website, and you’re thinking about maybe just hiring somebody to help you with that. Learn about it.
This way, when you have that conversation, you know what you’re talking about. You’re not getting ripped off.
Mark S: By the way, there’s a 100% chance that that guy is not listening to his podcast, that complained.
On the willingness to learn, just seek those things out. Like we talked about the financial stuff. You can definitely learn that. If you’re uncomfortable in actually networking with people, there are videos on how to network with people. You could listen to the podcast about that.
I think this hunger for learning fabric, techniques, business practices, this is something that we’re lucky, because in order to be a good marketer, you have to.
Marc V: Yeah. You have to.
Mark S: Like everybody in – Cathy, our Art Director, is constantly going “Look what I found out how to do.” Tom, who handles content for us, he is getting better at analytics and data mining, and things like that. You and I are always going “I heard this podcast about this Facebook thing,” or “I learned this from our Adwords adviser,” or something like that.
It’s really going to serve you well, over time.
Marc V: Yeah. When you’re hungry to learn new things, opportunities are going to fall into your lap, because of this stuff. Because you’re going to learn something, you’re going to realize it, and then again, everything comes together. You’re going to learn something new. You’re going to be hungry to meet new people.
You’re going to meet somebody. They’re going to ask the question about what you just learned. Then, you could help them by “Read this book. I just read it. You asked me the question. The entire answer is this book.”
Mark S: Honestly, didn’t we just do that with Profit First, and Buying Customers? We read those books, and then now, we’re sharing that with you.
Marc V: Yeah, it’s great. And then, what else? We wrote kind of, before you hire a company to do something or before you hire somebody, just understand kind of the jargon in the industry.
Mark S: Know what you’re looking for.
Marc V: If you go back to that, if you want somebody to help you with your finances, “Well, what part of it?” “It’s the taxes part I don’t understand.” Okay. Watch a couple of videos. Read a book. Read some articles, or go to your state website. Understand the concept of it.
Then, you go to the tax person, and then you can ask an intelligent question. And if they say something, you’ve heard the word.
Mark S: Right. That’s really important. Don’t go “What?”
Marc V: The scariest thing, especially when you’re younger, like new in business, or you’re a brand new business owner, somebody is going to say something to you, and you’re going to have no clue what that word meant. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. So, the more you learn, the less likely that’s going to happen.
Mark S: It’s like – I can’t remember the name of the movie – but a young woman goes to work for a design firm, and she keeps talking about “Versase” instead of “Versace.”
Marc V: I don’t remember that. I thought you were going to talk about Weekend at Bernie’s.
Mark S: No! I will never talk about that! Never!
Alright, the second to last group is learn how to, or be prepared, how to handle competition.
Marc V: Yeah.
Mark S: We just did the three podcasts on that, so really, just go and listen to those. But you should have, at least you’ve got to have some kind of a strategy, right?
Marc V: Yeah. I think number one is just don’t fear the competition. It’s not to be afraid of. Most competition is not walking into business every day with the goal to put you out of business. That’s movie stuff. Most people are going into work to make some money.
Mark S: Yes. Those were the 80s. That happened a lot in the 80s. It doesn’t really happen anymore.
Marc V: Don’t be afraid of them.
Mark S: Don’t hate them.
Marc V: Don’t hate them. There’s nothing wrong with kind of being competitive, and desiring to be number one, and all of that stuff.
Another note is don’t fold every time. If every time you hear somebody “Oh, yeah. I’m going to go ahead and talk to this company, too,” and you’re “Okay, that’s it.” Don’t give up every time. It’s fair enough to give up when the time is right to give up.
You know, they’re getting custom made cheerleading outfits that are sublimated and hand sewn, and you don’t do any of that, lose it. But somebody says “I’m going to go down the road. They’re a couple of bucks cheaper.” “Well, what if I told you for that two bucks, you’re going to get a better shirt? Would you like that? Can I show you the difference?”
Mark S: I like that. Don’t let it go, the first time.
Marc V: Yeah. Don’t let the first no be no. Find any reason to get them to say no again. The more you do that, then it will turn into three no’s, maybe. Then, build the relationship, so hopefully you can get the business next time.
Mark S: I like that a lot. This one worries me a little bit.
Marc V: Okay.
Mark S: You said “Be as aggressive as you feel good about.”
Marc V: Yeah.
Mark S: That really sounds like Teddy Kennedy, kind of.
Marc V: Actually, it’s a quote from him. What I mean about that is some folks, I feel like I compare it to maybe sports, or people who enjoy gambling with their friends, like poker and stuff like that. Some people really, they get a thrill out of it. They love it. They love to go out and fight and fight and fight, and be bigger and better and badder, and be number one every time.
If you feel good about that, and you are motivated by that, like it’s motivation to get you to learn more and meet more people, and that motivates you, then go for it. Like fight to be number one. Knock on every door.
Mark S: Alright.
Marc V: If you are the type of person who does not want to knock on any door, and you’d prefer to be a little more mild-mannered, or hide behind the internet, -.
Mark S: Or if it’s not really your approach to business. You don’t need to get any bigger. You don’t need to go looking for a fight, basically, is what I’m trying to say.
Marc V: Yeah. You take the path that’s right for you, because what you’ll find is, as you read business books and you read sales books, there are going to be people who tell you “If you’re not number one, if your business is not making 20% more every year, you’re going backwards.” That can be true for many, many people, and there’s a lot of good logic behind all of those things.
But if you’re happy where you are, as long as you’re doing all of these other things, then good for you. That’s the point. Do what’s good for you. But definitely be a little bit aggressive. Definitely fight for your company.
Mark S: Be proud of your business.
Marc V: Yeah. Be proud of your business. Then, I put just understand and research your competition. That’s all about the past few episodes. Listen to those.
Mark S: I agree.
Marc V: Last one?
Mark S: Be internally motivated. This is something that – if you are already in business, then I don’t know what the percentage is, but I’m going to say you’re in the top 2%. Almost everyone that I’ve ever talked to has an idea about a custom t-shirt, or wants to get into the business. Very few people do, comparatively.
That’s the difference in this kind of being internally motivated. You have to be – not only do you want to do it, but you’re ready to make a move. Like over the past 20 years, I’ve actually got a book of businesses that I want to start. Right? And they’re written down very nicely in that book, and that’s where they stay.
So, it has to be that combination of being ready to do all of these things, but you as a being a business owner and being successful, you have to be willing to do it.
Marc V: Yes.
Mark S: You have to be willing to take the steps.
Marc V: And honest with yourself about it. We’ve talked about it in the past, about different things that I want to do, I still want to do, and I will do one day. But just right now, either at this moment or this weekend or this month or this year, whatever, it’s not the time for me to do that.
Why? I’ve got this and I’ve got this.
Mark S: It’s the way I feel about exercise.
Marc V: You’ve got to want to do it. And if you are going to run your business, or you’re going to expand your business, you’ve got to be motivated internally. You’ve got to want to do it, because if you want to do it, you’re going to do it. And not only want to do it, but want to DO it, because there’s a difference between wanting to go to the gym – “I want to go to the gym” – versus saying “I really want to get to the gym today,” because you want to do it.
So, the difference is wanting to go to the gym, versus wanting a slice of pizza. Those are two different wants.
Mark S: Now I feel bad. See, that’s something I would take action about. If I want a slice of pizza, I buy one. But really, I love the way you phrased this next thing, and that’s hunger to get up and make things better.
Every day, when you pop open your laptop, or you open up the back room, and you’re ready to do your business for the day, whether or not it’s your second job or home-based or whatever is going on, the idea that when you walk into your business, “Today, I want to make things better. I need to find a way. I’ve got to find a way today, to do things better, to make things better, to approach things better, than I did yesterday.”
Marc V: And literally, whatever it is. Whether it’s you’re going to be better because you’re learning something new, you accomplish something that day, that you’ve been wanting to do. You’ve got an additional customer. You made a new product.
Whatever it is, find a way to make it better, change it, learn it, meet somebody new. If you do anything in the above list, it’s going to be better.
Mark S: Hey! Spell-check your emails. That’s on my list.
Marc V: Doesn’t that just happen automatically?
Mark S: No. It tells you that it’s misspelled, but you still have to take action.
Marc V: Yeah, the red squiggly line.
Mark S: I do love that. That, I think, will kind of fill in the blanks on everything else.
Marc V: Yeah. The last one I wrote here is actually, it’s a quote from this business guy in the 80s. Huge business guy, TV show, on Oprah, all this stuff.
Mark S: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good in politics.
Marc V: He wrote a book, and he said if you’re going to think, think big. Alright? This quote was actually like a famous quote, before he became the President, and all of a sudden a third of the people hated him. But it doesn’t matter. The point is that if you’re going to think, think big, and that’s like an internal motivated thing.
Just say “You know, I’m going to sell. I’m going to have the best year I’ve ever had in sales. What do I want my business to be? I want to be able to pay my bills? No! I want to be able to pay my bills and have the vacation that I want, and be able to buy that new toy that I always wanted. I want to buy a motorcycle. I want to buy a boat. What’s my goal? To have this company pay my bills, go on a vacation, buy a boat, and buy a motorcycle.”
Think big! Go for it! If you’re motivated to think that way, then you’re going to be searching for that goal, and you’re going to do all of these things above; making sure your money is good, making sure you’re always learning something new, making sure you’re meeting people, making sure you come in early and leave late. Because you’re thinking these big dreams that you’ve got.
Mark S: And this is what you’ve got to do!
Marc V: And this is what you’ve got to do, to do it!
Mark S: Alright. I think that if you go back and listen to this episode again, or if you read the great notes that Marc Vila put together and will be in the show notes, I think you could really make a move in your business.
If you take some of these to heart, and work on them for a little bit, you’ll be a better business person, and maybe you’ll work up to, if you’re thinking big enough, to be an amazing business person.
Marc V: I think that if you take this list, and you just say “For ten days, 20 days, I’m going to pick up this list and I’m going to make sure I’m doing this consistently.” Maybe not everything every day. But “On Thursday, I’m going to go meet some people, and on Tuesday, I’m going to learn something new.”
And you do this every day for these ten days. “I’m going to make sure that I’m working the right time, putting the hours in,” if you do this is the course of a short period of time, 10-20 days, 100% chance something is going to change in your business. You’re going to see something. It happens that quick.
Mark S: Yeah. Good episode! I appreciate that.
Marc V: We had a good time today.
Mark S: Okay, guys. This was episode 99. Episode 100 is coming!
Marc V: Yeah! We’ve got a big – we’re going to have that party.
Mark S: There’s going to be the party.
Marc V: I’m finally going to get that loveseat to sit in, that you promised.
Mark S: The disco light that’s going to come in. Okay, that’s great!
Alright, guys! Thanks for listening. This has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And Marc Vila, from Colman and Company.
Mark S: You guys have a “think big” business!
Marc V: There you go!
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