Do It Anyway

Many of you are familiar with the popular poem Mother Teresa wrote called Do it Anyway. This is arguably one of my favorite poems of all time, and reading it is a great way to spend a minute of your day (even if you do it every day!).

Today I’m going to re-post this famous and meaningful poem, along with a final stanza, which was added by author Kent Keith when he wrote his poem and book, The Paradoxical Commandments. It is an essential reminder that regardless of what people think or notice, we all should be who we are and do what we do.

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you.

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous.

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough.

Give the best you’ve got anyway.

–Mother Teresa
You see,

in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

–Kent Keith

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Great lessons from Napoleon Hill

Last week I blogged about well-known, best-selling author Napoleon Hill’s controversial book, “Outwitting the Devil.” I enjoy addressing the lessons to be learned from this book because they are very powerful, and they are as easily applied to one’s personal life as they are to business. That’s why I’m blogging about this topic again this week.

The book, in which Hill “interviews” the devil, illustrates a certain type of individual Hill refers to as “the drifter,” an indifferent person whose greatest influencer is the devil himself. While last week’s blog offers a larger description of these drifters (as well as Hill’s instruction for overcoming the devil’s scheme in your business and life), in this week’s post I’m focusing on the most poignant takeaways from the book from my personal perspective.

Combatting the devil’s influence

According to Hill, the devil influences the world through indecision, economic times, self-confidence, lack of faith, and fear. To combat these evil influences, Hill has four main principles which he teaches:

  • Definiteness of purpose
  • Mastery over self
  • Learning from adversity
  • Thinking through your plan before you act

While these are fairly broad ideas, they mean something more specific to me personally. Here are what I deem my favorite takeaways from “Outwitting the Devil.”

  • There is a solution for every legitimate problem, no matter how difficult the problem may seem. When you believe this statement, it completely changes your mindset, and has the power to change your business.
  • Failure and temporary defeat are part of the journey to finding true success. Sometimes it’s too easy to accept defeat in life. If you instead believe that it’s a necessary element in achieving eventual success, you will be one step closer to that success.
  • Prayer needs to be part of your life. You have to trust God to “hand over the plan best suited for the attainment of the object” of your prayer. Faith without works is dead. This aligns with Hill’s notion that when you pray, you must not beg. What many don’t realize is that prayer delivers a plan, and you must “work the plan” God delivers.
  • Make an inventory of your blessings in life and give thanks for every gift that you have been given—even in the low points of your life. It is the quickest path up and puts your temporary setbacks into perspective. You’ve heard the phrase “attitude of gratitude.” This is essentially what Hill is getting at here; no matter how tough times get, there are blessings surrounding you, so make sure to always, always count your blessings.
  • Passion + Talent x the right Association x the right Action + a strong Faith = Your Personal Success Equation. Each of these attributes, when put together in this equation, will determine your level of success.
  • Laziness + Indifference = Procrastination, which = Drifting. Says the devil, “I cause people to allow me to do their thinking for them because they are too lazy and too indifferent to think for themselves.” This is fairly simple: flee the devil by being passionate and action-based!
  • The “capacity to surmount failure without being discouraged” is the “the chief asset of every man who attains outstanding success in any calling.” Failure in life is eminent, so do not allow it to discourage you or keep you down. Accept temporary failures as part of the journey, and you will persevere in your success.

Obviously, I’m a fan of “Outwitting the Devil,” and as such I strongly encourage you to read this book—it could change your business and your life!

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Don’t be a drifter

In 1938, the well-known, best-selling self-help author Napoleon Hill wrote a book called “Outwitting the Devil.” Due to a number of circumstances and decisions made by Hill’s family after he passed away, the book was not published until nearly seven decades later… yet it makes as much sense today as it would have back then.

In this book, in which Hill “interviews” the devil, he reveals the concept of “the drifter,” which is a person Hill describes as being largely controlled by the devil himself. He uses the book to describe these drifters in great detail, and to educate readers on how to overcome a drifter mentality (in other words, flee the devil’s schemes in your life).

The concept in this book resonates so strongly with me on both business and personal levels, that I’m dedicating two blogs to it, beginning with today’s post.

What is a drifter?

Via Hill’s book, according to the devil, a drifter is one who does not think for himself—and, allegedly 98% of the world falls into this category! A drifter has the following attributes:

  • He lacks a major purpose in life.
  • He will never accomplish anything requiring thought or effort.
  • He will have little or no imagination.
  • He will lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything he is not forced to undertake, and he will plainly express his weakness by taking the line of least resistance whenever he can do so.
  • He will be ill-tempered and lacking in control over his emotions.
  • His personality will be without magnetism and it will not attract other people.
  • He will have opinions on everything but accurate knowledge of nothing.
  • He may be jack of all trades but good at none.
  • He will make the same mistake over and over again, never profiting by failure.
  • He will be narrow-minded and intolerant on all subjects, ready to crucify those who may disagree with him.
  • He will expect everything of others but be willing to give little or nothing in return.
  • He may begin many things but he will complete nothing.
  • He will never reach decisions on anything if he can avoid it, and if he is forced to decide, he will reverse himself at the first opportunity.
  • He will eat too much and exercise too little.
  • He will criticize others who are succeeding in their chosen calling.

To sum up the drifter: He will work harder to get out of thinking than most others work in earning a good living.

Obviously, in his book, Hill paints a picture of an unpleasant type of person; however, he also teaches specific ways to overcome the devil’s scheme, and avoid drifting through business and through life.

Hill’s advice for overcoming the devil’s scheme

In “Outwitting the Devil,” Hill focuses on many positive ideas that counteract the drifter mentality. Here I’m going to touch on some of his most impactful strategies for overcoming the devil’s work in your business and life.

  1. Do your own thinking on all occasions.
  2. Decide definitely what you want from life, then create a plan for attaining it and be willing to sacrifice everything else, rather than accept permanent defeat.
  3. Analyze temporary defeat, no matter of what nature or cause, and extract from it the seed of an equivalent advantage.
  4. Recognize that your greatest asset is time, the only thing except the power of thought which you own outright, and the one thing which can be shaped into whatever material things you want. Budget your time so none of it is wasted.
  5. Recognize the truth that fears generally is filler with which the devil occupies the unused portion of your mind.
  6. When you pray, do not beg.
  7. Recognize that life is a cruel taskmaster and that either you master it or it masters you.

We can all learn a lot from Napoleon Hill (I’m sure most of us already have!). And, as business owners, we have a tremendous opportunity to be the opposite of the drifter… to think and sacrifice and decide and be true… to thrive. I ask that we all give hard thought to what Hill teaches us in “Outwitting the Devil,” and work every day towards achieving the following:

  • Definiteness of purpose
  • Mastery over self
  • Learning from adversity
  • Thinking through your plan before you act

Next week’s blog will continue on the theme of Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil, with a focus on my personal takeaways and great lessons learned as a result of reading it.

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Simplification: Three Steps

As business owners, we are often bombarded with “flavor-of-the-month” philosophies on how to get better at running our businesses. There always seems to be a new mindset, a breakthrough growth strategy, a better way to “win…” you get the picture.

What I have found is that being successful in business indeed requires many things: skill, strategy, knowledge, tenacity, and occasionally good, old-fashioned luck. That said, I also have found that simplifying things can often be the best way to kick-start your business, turn things around, or get to the next level.

Three questions
There are three no-nonsense questions I ask myself when I’m feeling the need to change things for the better in my business. The answers to these questions almost always lead me to understanding what’s happening (or not happening), why, and how to make smart changes.

Question #1: Do I have written goals, both personal and professional?

Did you know that only six percent of us put our thoughts, dreams and aspirations into writing? That’s an awfully small number considering how much time we spend wishing and hoping for the life we desire. It’s even more astounding if you consider the results of a recent Harvard Business School study which found that of those people who wrote down their goals, 83% completed them, and they made an average of 60% more money than those who didn’t write them down.

It’s clear, then, that we need to be writing our goals down! And, don’t forget, they must be specific. For example, in my profession I might write, “I will call a minimum of three Realtors a day, five days a week, until I create 15 partnerships” (versus something vague, such as “I will call on Realtors”). Also, remember to include not just your business goals, but also your personal ones.

Question #2: Am I using most of my time to focus on dollar-productive activities?

This question is easy to answer for most of us. Simply look at the value of your time (your rate per hour), and ensure that the way you’re spending your time is billable time. For example, does driving to and from meetings make you money? Does talking on the phone, using Facebook or emailing people do so? Do most of your meetings result in some form of income? Once you take a hard look at the answers to these questions, rearrange your schedule so that the bulk of your time is spent on money-making activities.

Question #3: Am I building and maintaining the most important relationships in my business?

Many business owners make the mistake of underestimating the power of relationships, and yet relationships can be one of the best strategies for having a constant stream of lucrative leads. In addition, for many businesses, relationship-building and cultivation is a predictable and natural business model, making it easy to execute, month in, month out.

If you think about it, relationship building is leveraging other people to expand your own reach—they become a literal extension of you! Almost every business is a “people” business: it stands to reason, then, that people are going to be your bread and butter.

Is it really this simple?
If you’re stuck in your business for whatever reason—you’re at a crossroads, you’re in a rut, your customers have dried up, etc.—ask yourself the three questions posed here. Then, answer them honestly and in writing, and be sure you start writing your goals down, focusing on dollar-productive activities, and cultivating your relationships. These are three manageable changes, yet they can yield amazing results.

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

The secret to leads group success: give to get

Many business owners—myself included—join leads groups. In fact, there are a number of great motives for joining a leads group! Unfortunately, however, I have come across too many entrepreneurs who join groups to “get leads.” And believe it or not, this is not why we should be joining leads groups.

I admit that, ultimately, you ought to be getting leads out of your leads group. However, I will just as readily say that if your mindset is about “getting,” you absolutely will not maximize the opportunities a leads group can truly offer.

You’re there to serve

When you join a leads group, you must be in the mindset that you are there to serve…to listen…to learn about the group participants and their businesses…to give leads. The mistake too many business owners make is to go in with the mindset of “getting” versus “giving.” When you do this, it doesn’t help your business! In fact, it prevents you from reaping the many benefits of being in a leads group.

To best serve, and take advantage of, your leads group, consider the following tips.

  • To reap the rewards of being in a leads group, you must be an active participant, so make it to every meeting possible… be consistent in your attendance, and you will create real relationships.
  • Pay attention to the other members of the group when they are speaking. This is your time to take notes, and develop a true understanding of their value so you can refer people to them with confidence and knowledge.
  • Be creative in your thirty second commercial. Make it exciting and different each week, and deliver a meaningful commercial that focuses on your expertise, what you are looking for, and a call to action.
  • Regularly schedule and follow through with one-on-one meetings with other members of your group. Learn more about them and their businesses so that you can learn how to refer business to them.
  • Keep your primary focus on generating leads to the other members of the group. Those who give a lot of legitimate leads tend to be those who receive a lot of qualified leads in return.
  • Bring in visitors and new members. They bring fresh perspectives and new opportunities (not to mention large networks of their own coworkers, power partners and friends).
  • Ask your group: what would be a good lead source for us? Have a group discussion on whom/what you want to bring in; you will find you end up with an actionable outcome.

Give, give, and give

My overriding message is that leads groups offer great benefits, but you must know how to think about your leads group. The most important lesson is that you will get if you give. Have the mindset that you are giving, without focusing any thought on receiving, and you’ll be in the best position to experience tremendous success in your group.

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Do you have an innovation policy?

In 1948, William McKnight, former CEO of the well-known consumer brand company 3M Company, made a landmark decision: he instigated a policy whereby all the company’s engineers would spend 15% of their work hours working on independent projects—yes, projects of their own choosing.

Why did McKnight give up control of 15% of the time his technicians would otherwise spend furthering the company agenda? Maybe it’s for the same reason Bill Gates started what became his celebrated “Think Week,” through which he retreats from the world to focus deeply in thought and imagination about the future: it encourages innovation. After all, without innovation, Microsoft would never have become what it is today.

The innovation policy
As it turns out, 3M’s core competency has always been innovation, and McKnight’s policy fostered and furthered the company’s success in that area. Even in tougher financial times, 3M maintained this course of action; had they rescinded the policy, they might have experienced an instant increase in revenues. Then again, they would never have known for sure what would have been lost.

I’ll tell you one invention that wasn’t lost, thanks to 3M’s ingenious policy: Post-it® notes, to this day one of the world’s most popular office products. The well-known weak adhesive used in Post-it® notes was created back in 1970 by one of 3M’s technicians, Spencer Silver, who was actually attempting to invent a strong adhesive. When he ended up with a weak adhesive instead, he put it aside at the time.

Four years later, another 3M scientist by the name of Arthur Fry was singing in his church choir, and when his markers kept slipping out of his hymnal, he recalled Silver’s invention. He tried out the adhesive to coat his markers, and lo and behold! They stuck to the pages, without damaging them when he removed them. The result? 3M introduced Post-it ® Notes in 1980.

Did Silver’s discovery take place during his ‘independent project’ time? In my opinion, it’s highly likely.

First Friday
I have taken a page from 3M’s book. For me, it’s what I call “First Friday of the Month.” Every first Friday of the month, I take time to be alone and retreat from the world. I think, dream, consider opportunities, and create possibilities. I eliminate all distractions—yes, I turn my phone off, shut down my computer, and even leave an “out of office” message on my voicemail.

I challenge you to follow in the footsteps of the Bill Gates, the William McKnights, and many more of our most successful business leaders and genius innovators. I challenge you to create for yourself your own innovation policy. I bet you’ll be surprised and pleased with the results.

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Selling Lessons from Mom

With this being Mother’s Day Weekend, I decided to write about the selling lessons I learned from my mom years ago. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed writing about this wonderful woman.

Mom was only around for thirteen years of my life, but the lessons that I learned from her has carried me throughout my life and my profession. For example, mom taught me about religion–“You better pray that stain comes out of the couch!” She taught me about logic–“Because I said so.” She taught me about Irony–“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.” And, she taught me about weather–“It looks like a tornado went through your room.”

Mom was a pretty good sales trainer herself as she started me and my twin brother doing the dishes at four years old. I remember she sold us how fun it was to dry the forks, knives and spoons and said when we really got good, we would move up to the plates and cups. We didn’t realize that she was grooming us to do all the dishes from that day forward. When we got older and when we were a bit wiser-or thought we were, we started to complain about having to do all the dishes all the time. Mom used the Old Testament promise, “Honor your mother and father and you will live a long life, so get back to those dishes and quit complaining.”

Mom had us selling at an early age. My father was a door-to-door salesman for the Fuller Brush Company back in the early 60’s. He would ring the door bell and introduce himself and then offer the customer a free cheap plastic pen. Using this as leverage and the “Law of Reciprocity,” the potential client would feel obligated to buy something from my dad. We had a couple hundred pens at the house, so mom divided them between my brother and me and said that we needed to go throughout the neighborhood and sell them. She taught us how to knock on the door, how to introduce ourselves and the “sales pitch” to use. I still remember the script as it was yesterday, “Good morning, my name is Tom Ninness and I live down the street. I have some excellent pens that I’m selling today. They are priced one for a nickel, three for a dime or seven for a quarter. You can try them out and also choose the color that you would prefer. How many would you like to buy?” I was probably no older than eight years old at this time.

When I was about ten, my brother and I needed new bikes, but unfortunately, my parents couldn’t afford to purchase them. Mom said that we needed to figure out how we would earn the money to pay for them. In the back of a magazine, a company was advertising a product that we could sell to our neighbors called Blue Sanitizer. You would hook this plastic container full of blue chlorine and every time you flushed, it would turn your toilet water blue. Not sure the product worked, but it sure was cool to see blue water. The neighbors loved the product and we sold enough of the “Blue Magic” to get our bikes. Mom taught us if we worked hard to accomplish our goals, the bikes and outcome would be more rewarding.

I was a paperboy when I was 11 and had my route for two years till I became a teenager and it wasn’t cool to be a teenager and have a paper route. Any contest that the Detroit News had, we had to win. My mom encouraged us to be the best in all that we did. She would encourage us to keep calling on the neighbors who weren’t on the route to join the rest of the neighborhood in getting the paper. Be persistent and show them that you want their business she would say. Mom got me ready for cold calling and understanding that if a customer says no, that really means “not yet.”

The biggest life lesson my mom taught me was to be self-sufficient. Mom was a very religious Catholic. I thought everyone was a Catholic and was surprised to find out that the neighbors down the street were Baptist. She was truly a person of faith.
Mom came to us and said that an angel came to her and told her that she was not going to be around to raise us and that we needed to be prepared to raise ourselves. For the next two weeks, that woman taught us how to do laundry, shop at the grocery store, and take care of the rest of the household. Mom was pregnant at the time and back in the 60’s, when a woman was pregnant in their 40’s, there could be issues. We asked our dad what was going on with mom and he really didn’t have any answers for us. Unfortunately, mom did have complications and in October, 1967, she went to the Lord. I learned about having a personal relationship with the Creator and as a parent, I was responsible in raising my sons to be self-sufficient also. I’m proud to say that all three sons are “financially independent” and are wonderful young men.

Closing message to my mom
So, here’s to you mom. I wish you could have met Pam, my bride of 35 years this June. You would be so proud of my legacy of sons—Ryan, Kyle and Aaron and my two daughter-in-laws Candice, Carissa and soon to be Danielle. I now have a grandson Eli to carry on the lessons I learned from you.

Sorry that I didn’t marry in the Catholic Church, but Baptists are also pretty neat people and it is the same God. I hope that I made you proud and thank you for all of the life lessons that you taught me.

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

TGIF… a new approach

Have you ever noticed that people in business love to say “TGIF?” As in, thank goodness it’s Friday. As in, thank goodness work is almost done, bring on the fun.

Now, I’m not opposed to enjoying the act of shutting down the computer and hitting the links or the couch at 5 or 6 on a Friday. However, in the offices that I run, I do demand that the weekend doesn’t start before the week is really over…which is why I am opposed to that productivity drain we call Casual Friday.

If you ask me, Casual Friday should be called Lazy Friday. Why? Because, when offices full of normally motivated employees adopt the Casual Friday mindset, a number of things happen, which, over time, can negatively impact your business bottom line:

  • Procrastination—Casual Friday makes it too easy to push certain activities, like client meetings, to the following week.
  • Appointment opportunities are lost—If you and your employees are dressed down on Fridays, I’m betting you don’t have face-to-face appointments or do prospecting (both essential to business growth).
  • Working half days—If you’re dressed like it’s the weekend, it’s easier to start the weekend early.
  • Confidence wanes—It’s a fact that being buttoned up increases confidence; being dressed down does the opposite.

TGIF: It’s Formal Friday!
Now that I’ve said my piece about why I don’t care for Casual Friday, it’s time celebrate all the great things about dressing up on Fridays.

  • Self-confidence—Being dressed up increases confidence, and it’s much easier for customers to trust confident business people.
  • Respect from your clients—To be taken seriously in business, look like the money you want to make! If you’re a professional, dress professionally, and your clients will have more respect for you.
  • Attitude—Employees who are dressed up reflect the attitude of a professional… not a couch potato or weekend warrior.
  • Performance—Casual attire can easily become casual performance.
  • Respect for your customers—You are asking your customers to invest their money in your service or product; dressing up shows them you are handling their business like a professional would, which demonstrates you respect them.

Convinced I’m off base?
If you think I’m off my rocker, and are utterly convinced Casual Friday can increase productivity and produce positive results for business, I’d like to hear from you. Come on, persuade me!

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Bird dogs are your best friends

For a game bird hunter, his bird dog is his best friend. For each hunting outing, the highly trained and instinctive dog engages in focused observation, followed by seeking and retrieving the bird, and ultimately delivering it to the hunter.

Now imagine: What would a hunter be without a bird dog? He would not catch many birds, would he? In fact, without the bird dog, the hunter would likely catch as many birds in the field as he would by staying home and watching football.

Now imagine for a minute that the hunter has not one, but a whole pack of loyal bird dogs. How does his kill look now? That’s right: exponentially more fruitful.

Sales professionals are a lot like hunters, and bird dogs are a lot like referral sources. Just as the hunter understands the bird dog and its necessity to his success in catching birds, the sales professional understands referrals and how essential they can be for cultivating new clients and customers.

Be a bird dog’s favorite hunter
If referrals are the life blood of sales (and many a smart business professional will argue they are), as a business owner it’s essential to become a trusted “hunter” (businessperson) to whom many “bird dogs” (referral sources) flock. It just stands to reason that the best bird dogs will naturally gravitate toward the best hunter. So, what makes a great hunter?

  • Service. The reputations of referral sources are directly impacted by the businesses and professionals they refer their clients to, so you must provide top-notch service before you can expect referrals.
  • Loyalty. If you are loyal to your referral sources, they are bound to be loyal to you. Always try to reciprocate (even if you start the process by referring someone to them first), and nurture these relationships consistently.
  • Tap power partners. Track down companies or professionals that provide products or services in your value chain, but that don’t compete directly with you. These types of complementary services are natural opportunities for referrals.
  • Networking. Join productive networking groups (productive meaning those that exist for people to share ideas, solutions and referrals).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Do not hesitate to explain and remind people that referrals are critical to your business. You’d be surprised how many people want to help!
  • Make it systematic. In my industry, the mortgage industry, a referral system is systematic. Routinely ask your clients for names of their friends, family members and co-workers who may have a need for your services in the next 15 months or so. Explain that it’s not too early to start educating them on what to expect down the road.

Maintain a steady stable of referral sources
By considering and implementing the tips outlined here, you will be well on your way to having a thriving stable of referral sources who will delight in referring clients to you. Happy hunting!

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.

Lessons from the shark tank

You’ve probably heard of the popular ABC television show “Shark Tank” in which five of the world’s most successful business moguls evaluate investment proposals, and decide whether or not to invest. The proposals come from a host of eager entrepreneurs, all of whom have an “amazing” business idea and a dream to make it fly.

Now, the “sharks” have all have built multi-billion dollar empires out of nothing, so they know a thing or two about how to create a successful business. Over the course of the hour-long show, they listen to each entrepreneur’s proposal, and then they either jump in… or they swim away. As business owners, we can learn a lot from these sharks and the business owners they get involved with.

Be willing to give a little away
For the entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank,” an offer from a shark means a chance to gain essential financial backing, not to mention priceless expertise. You’re probably thinking, Yes, and wouldn’t that be nice? Sure, it would. The caveat, naturally, is that the investing shark requires compensation for their funding and their risk. This means the business owner has to be willing to share the capital… to give something up.

As the show reveals, the businesses that were willing to give a little way have gotten an exponential return on their risk. To see for yourself, take a look at this article from Entrepreneur which features the success of three such companies:

Knowing when to walk away is as important as knowing when to move forward
This is one of several key lessons we can take from “Shark Tank.” As business owners, it’s easy to become not just financially involved, but also emotionally attached to a business idea… and almost 100% of the time, the result is that you end up spending time and money on something that will never be profitable.

For example, let’s say your amazing business idea didn’t sound so amazing to anyone else, so you didn’t sell anything… and it’s been five years. I’d say it’s time to consider that you should walk away. Or, say you’re investing in shopping cart advertisements in an effort to drive brand awareness for your business, yet you’re not getting a single sale out of it. What should you do? Throw in the towel, and try something new!

When ego and emotion are involved, you simply can’t make smart business decisions. The bottom-line lesson here: if it’s not working, walk away.

Listening is key; there are elements of truth in every piece of advice
Another important message we can receive from the illustrious sharks is the importance of listening. It might sound like common sense (and, well, it is), but as a business owner, you must seek advice—a lot of it.

The sharks journeyed from the ocean floor up—way up—and they didn’t do it alone. They accepted help, sought advice, and absorbed information from people with expertise. That’s how they knew what to do, what to try, and what to walk away from!

Many of the most innovative and successful businesses began as small seeds (think Microsoft and Apple), and they grew, thanks to the collaboration of several people, which became multitudes of people. As business owners, we must put pride on the shelf, and turn into seekers of input, seekers of information. Do research, listen to your significant other and trusted friends, and watch what other successful people are doing. In other words, listen up!

Do what you do best
The business owners on “Shark Tank” who won backing from the sharks have something in common: they allowed outside experts to help them succeed. Instead of trying to do it all so they could keep it all, they were able to admit their weaknesses, hire out experts, and go about doing what they do best. This can be a challenging idea for entrepreneurs who are emotionally tied to their idea, product or service, or who are pinching pennies. However, once it’s been done, the sailing becomes much, much smoother, and the success comes much, much sooner.

Sharks are survivors
As you pursue your business dream, remember the sharks and their many lessons. After all, there’s a reason they are one of the Earth’s most impressive survivors.

Tom Ninness is Regional Sales Manager for New American Funding in Denver, CO.  He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success, a powerful 90 day action plan . For additional sales coaching tips and advice, don’t forget to sign up for the FREE weekly eCoaching Letter.