So far, the second episode of Crowd Rules (the one that aired Tuesday, March 21st, 9 pm EST) has been my favorite. That’s because I was lucky enough to attend the original taping and see the show live. The question I got to ask was unfortunately cut from the episode –Tweet me @techTherapist if you want to know what it was! – If you watch the show, you’ll see me in the audience. How cool is that?
Now let’s get back to business. This was a great episode that highlighted some of the toughest lessons entrepreneurs need to learn about the responsibilities that come with running a successful small business.
Let’s Meet The Players
As always we have our two hosts and special guest host.
Hosts: Kendra Scott, American jewelry designer and CEO of Kendra Scott Design. Pat Kiernan is a TV anchor for NY1.
Special Guest Host: Larry Winget; known as “The Pitbull of Personal Development,” he is an internationally renowned motivational speaker and consultant.
Week 2 Debt:
Keeping with our theme, here are the Twitter Bios of each of the contestants.
DirtyGirl Disposal: Woman-owned and operated professional waste disposal company, with all female drivers. Roll-off container rental. Junk removal. Waste disposal. (@DirtyGirlD)
Mystery Brewing Co.: An artisanal brewery in Hillsborough, NC. Follow my personal tweets are over at @topfermented. (@mysterybrewing)
Sky Fitness 24/7: 24/7 Gym No Contracts No Sign Up Fees No Excuses Free Weights & Machines Personal TV’s on all Cardio Equipment skyfitness247@gmail (843) 293 3488 (@SkyFitness247)
3 Lessons Learned
You Need A Devil’s Advocate On Your Team
As business owners, we all have a vision of what we want to accomplish. Without this vision we could not be successful or excited about our journey.
When I started my business I was a junior in college. I was determined, passionate and clear about what I wanted. I had, however, a limited perspective as a young entrepreneur. I learned early on that you need to find people to challenge you as you build your business; people who support you, but question your motives and choices based on business experience. Each of the three companies certainly got a glimpse of that with a visit from Larry Winget.
This lesson really jumped out at me when Larry visited Mystery Brewing Co. Erik Myers, the owner, has a great vision for his company, but as we saw on the show, everyone around him, including his investors, supported him. What a great feeling, but yes men are not enough!
Just like an athlete trying to win the gold, business owners need more than support. We need to be pushed. We need to have our decisions questioned, so we are forced to re-examine our choices to make sure they’re the best for our brands. We are not all lucky enough to have an opportunity to have Larry as our Devil’s Advocate shining a spotlight on our choices, but we all should have a soundboard in our lives.
As a business owner, you should find someone with more experience than you to bounce ideas off of; someone with a knowledgeable perspective who can help you see all the options and outcomes – including those you may not have thought of on your own. It is the best way to get from good to great.
Walk The Walk & Keep Your Books
Giving your business a unique voice is a great way to compete in today’s world. As the owner of a digital agency, I will be the first to say it is important to create a brand and position that helps you stand out from the rest of the competition. Integrating a message of purpose and empowerment is notable, however, as Larry Winget pointed out to DirtyGirl Disposal you need to walk-the-walk.
DirtyGirl Disposal has a great message for empowering women in an alternate, traditionally male-dominated field. When we put out a big message, we need to back it up. Authenticity matters! At Technology Therapy Group, we practice what we teach. We push our clients to use the web to market themselves and build their business, just like we do everyday.
You can’t run a business without cash flow and you can’t have cash flow without an organized accounting system. Poor DirtyGirl Disposal had a big spotlight put on this issue in their business. But as someone who started her business out of her dorm room let me tell you, I’ve felt her pain. I learned the hard way how having one person focused on money and keeping the books makes such a difference in how you can grow. There are great programs like Quickbooks and Freshbooks, but you still need to have a real bookkeeper’s eye on this to make sure you are not missing anything. Oh, and my CFO says you need to make sure you settle your banking each month.
Service Is Key
I love this topic, because customer service is the greatest competitive advantage any small business can have. Service does not “technically” cost us anything, but we need to devote our energy and effort to setting up our organizations with attention and detail on this very important ingredient.
Sky Fitness 24/7 was called out on this issue in this episode and it is an important lesson to be learned. When you set-up a business like a 24/7 gym that will require a keycard to access, but you are looking to attract new members, you need to make it easy for them to come in. If a prospective customer’s initial experience with your business is frustrating, they may not come back another time!
No matter what type of business you are in, your service makes the difference. When you are small, providing good customer service can cost you more than it would cost a larger organization. For my own organization, I decided a long time ago that we would not have voice mail. I did this for service purposes, because clients prefer to speak with a real person. There’s a cost involved with this, of course, but it has paid off numerous times in terms of client appreciation.
Think about what little adjustments you can make in your organization that will take your service from every day to outstanding. That might even include some better information on your website.
We never stop learning in life and in business, and hopefully this week’s “Crowd Rules” Review has helped you find something new to focus on in your quest to improve your business. I know it has helped me in mine.