Creating Luck

Ideas that will grow your business

Think Big: Nobody Ever Got Very Successful by Thinking Small

The other day I was speaking with a small business owner who was tired of being an independent consultant. He wanted to grow his business.

think big

He was using all of the right words. “I know I can only make as much money as the hours I bill.  I need to hire more people so I can bill for their time, too,” he said with purpose.

It makes sense. If you provide a service, your product is the number of hours you work. The more hours you have, the more you can bill. He knew the only real way to scale a service business was to get more business so he could hire more people.

That’s when the conversation started to get little shaky.

Instinctively, he knew what he had to do to grow his business. He had to start spending more of his time on marketing and sales and leverage other people’s time for doing the actual service work. But he couldn’t get himself out of the “I have to do everything” mode. Nor was he open to the idea of digging into his wallet to invest in tools that would save him a tremendous amount of time so he could focus on the most important things.

There was a disconnect: he was talking big, but thinking small.

It’s going to be very difficult for him to grow his business until he outgrows the mentality of scarcity, both in terms of time and financial resources. He’ll stay a “do it yourselfer” till he starts to think big.

If you think that buying a Mercedes-Benz is too expensive, then it is. If you continue to think this way, then it always will be. But if you set a goal for yourself to buy a Mercedes-Benz by a certain date, and you really mean it, then you will figure out ways to earn the money you need. You are thinking big. When you think big, your actions are big. You aren’t scared of small investments of time and money because you see the payoff.

Stop thinking small thoughts. Think big and big things will happen.

Don’t Over Analyze Your Marketing Before You Act

If Apple designed the iPhone with the mentality of “if it works 80% of the time, then that’s good enough,” they wouldn’t have gotten very far.  They spend a lot of time analyzing, testing and tweaking before their final release  (How Apple Works).

Engineers and designers are taught to make sure they account for all sorts of situations in their products. As a result, a technical trained individual who is running a company may view marketing with the same mindset: if it’s not perfect, we’re not releasing it. The thing is, seeking a 99% solution is not as important for some fields as it is for others.

analysis paralysis

There is no way to know whether your marketing material will work until you try it. And if you don’t see traction, you massage your material till you start seeing some progress. And even then, you are never finished. You can always improve it, just like you would improve a technical product.

Continuously making improvements is a key element of any process, technical or business. But often, technically trained individuals – and as an engineer, I put myself into this category – have a tendency to over analyze before taking action. This mentality makes a lot of sense when you’re building a product. But there is a chance that over analyzing your marketing material is costing you business.

Many of my clients fall into this trap. They are engineers who have started a company and can’t make a decision on marketing. This drags out the release of any new marketing material or strategy. In the meantime, competitors who are quick to try different tactics, even if they flop, are speeding by with new sales and faster growth. Their mindset is completely different: “hey, let’s try this… it seems like it makes sense. If it doesn’t work, then let’s change it.”

Just the fact that they are taking action, and willing to make mistakes in their marketing, gets them farther ahead than those who wait. Marketing is not a 100% science. There is a lot of trial and error till you refine the messages that resonate most with your prospects. Large companies with big budgets have the resources to do all sorts of market testing before they launch their campaigns nationwide. As a small business owner, you probably don’t have that kind of budget or time.

If you find that you haven’t made a new marketing-related decision in the last 12 months or if it is taking you more than a few weeks to roll out campaign tweaks, you may have fallen into the trap of analysis paralysis. Sit back and think: what really happens if my marketing gets 80% close to the mark? Answer: you tweak it – after you’ve launched your campaign.

CEOs Seeing Economic Improvement Now, Not So Much Next Year

A new survey by Vistage International today reports that many CEOs are seeing an improvement in the economy with 53% saying that conditions are better than last year. However, only 33% expect this to continue next year. Here’s the infographic:

Vistage CEO Confidence Index

 

(I am a member of Vistage)

Two Parts of the Startup 3.0 Act That Will Help Small Business

This morning, I will be part of a panel discussion to educate congressional staffers on the merits of the Startup 3.0 Act (H.R. 714/ S. 310) that was introduced in both the House and Senate this February. Startup 3.0 has many provisions that will help small businesses. The panel is being hosted by the House Small Business IT Caucus and includes:

  • Doug Humphrey, Serial Entrepreneur
  • Raj Khera, CEO, MailerMailer (me)
  • Morris Panner, CEO, DICOM Grid.com
  • David Pauken, CEO, Convoke Systems
  • Cynthia Traeger, Director, Founder Institute of DC
  • Lamar Whitman of CompTIA as Moderator

My fellow panelists will go into their own experience as business owners and focus on different parts of the proposed legislation. I am focusing on two of the areas: 1) the elimination of country quotas for H1-B visas so that we can bring more skilled workers to build new products and 2) the ability to offset R&D expenses against payroll tax liability via a tax credit. Both of these provisions in Startup 3.0 will help small businesses get the talent and retain more cash to develop innovative products.

The hearing is at 11:00 a.m. today in the House Rayburn Office Building and is open to the public. Below is my testimony:


House Small Business IT Caucus - Congressional Panel on Startup 3.0

Raj Khera
June 28, 2013

House Small Business Committee Hearing Room, Rayburn Bldg

Good morning everyone, my name is Raj Khera. I’m the CEO of a marketing software company called MailerMailer, located in Rockville, Maryland. This is my third business – like several of my colleagues on this panel, I’ve built and sold other technology companies before and have experienced first hand the challenges that Americans face when building a business.

I was excited about several of the provisions in the Startup 3.0 Bill because they will really help spur innovation and remove some of the obstacles that entrepreneurs face. The really strong job growth in our economy comes from companies with products and services in high-demand sectors.

Many of you may know that there is a severe shortage of qualified engineering talent in the United States.  We have to find the talent somewhere or we can’t grow. A few years ago, I needed to hire an engineer with a unique skill set. After looking for a while in the US, I finally found someone who lived in England. It was April and the quota for all H1-B visas had been filled. Lucky for me, his person wasn’t from a country whose quota limits fill up so fast that you have to enter a lottery just to see if your candidate can even come here. I still had to wait until October before the next fiscal year’s quotas were opened up before I could bring over my new employee. That was extremely frustrating. It delayed the build out and deployment of our new product line. The Startup 3.0 bill removes country quotas so employers like me can get the talent we need to build the products that help grow our GDP. There are thousands of companies just like mine and in the same situation.

Another one of the provisions of this bill is a tax credit of up to $250,000 of R&D expenses against payroll tax liability. I’ve used previous R&D tax credits that were available against income and they have helped my company build new products that have been very successful in the marketplace. The Startup 3.0 proposed tax credits against payroll tax liability are unique because most startups don’t have income, but almost everyone has payroll. This provision will help startups keep more cash on hand to build new products.

I strongly recommend that you help to get this bill passed because it is going to enable small businesses to create more American jobs and provide incentives for more investment into American startups. Thank you.


Update: pictures from the event… well attended by congressional staffers with lots of good questions.

House Small Business IT Caucus

Raj Khera - presenting to congressional staffers

Slideshow: Summertime IT Marketing an Hour a Week

Just did a webinar last week that you might find useful if you are responsible for growing your business. While the examples are IT related, the concepts span all forms of business-to-business marketing.

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