Most business advice is garbage.
It centers around how to make more revenue or use a bunch of hacks to market a business. None of the traditional MBA advice has ever done anything to increase my net worth. The quirky advice from people who’ve made money in ethical ways — without succumbing to the typical mind-numbing hacks — is what has. These pieces of advice come from all sorts of weirdos — a bong/hemp startup founder, a 21 year old fitness guy who tweets a lot, a $100M real estate investor turned bankrupt and the owner of several fruit & veg shops.
Your Zoom setup is the equivalent of “dress to impress”
Many people roll up to Zoom calls with t-shirts, bad lighting, poor sound quality, and a cat walking across the desk every 2 minutes. Zoom is now the main way we meet new people. Some crazies even say it’s the Metaverse. Either way, first impressions matter.
Buy some cheap lights to brighten up your face. Get a Shure USB microphone so your voice sounds bassy. Construct a nice Zoom background. Add a few pot plants. Buy a cheap Ikea bookcase and put some things you love on it. Place a few pictures on the wall. Up your Zoom game. Looking like a professional makes you more money.
Like being married, but we’re not fucking
Doing business on your own can be lonely. A second person helps keep you accountable. Before I met my current business partner, I slept around with a few others. The last partner got to make money with me while having zero social proof. I brought most of the value, he was along for the ride. These are the worst partnerships. You spend a lot of time with a business partner.
Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham says he had one co-founder where they started out as friends. Before long they saw each other daily. They’d argue over finances and get angry over who left dirty dishes out.
They called their startup their baby. Paul reckons their relationship was like being married but without the fucking part. Choose a business partner with who you’d happily be “married.”
The best money ideas are hiding in your customer’s sexy minds
I get strangers on the internet asking for feedback on their business all the time. Makes no sense. Whenever I want to make more money I speak to my customers on coffee chats, 1–1 calls, webinars, or through surveys. They tell me how they’ll spend more money with me. Speak to customers, not business gurus.
Copywriting makes more money than a good product ever will
There are some geniuses out there. They have the coolest software or the most impressive code. They can run rings around anyone in their industry.
But they’re flat broke.
The difference in business isn’t the product or service. It’s how you sell it. And what makes a product sell extremely well is copywriting.
Apple is a great example. They sell a normal computer for a huge price. Their copywriting makes their products sound simple to use and better than anything you’ve ever seen. The truth is they’re same-same.
Too many people who want to make money online write their own copy. The simplest business hack I know is to pay a great copywriter a lot of money. You’ll make 3–10 times more sales. The money is in the copy.
One-time orders are trash compared to repeat buyers
“Referrals are king Timmy!”
That’s what an old dude said to me back in 2010. He rolled up to work each week and aimed to have one great sales call. I worked like a dog trying to sell to new leads every day. When a customer bought I went back to the leads list to start all over again. It was exhausting. The old-timer with the walking cane didn’t do that. After he made one great sale, he got the customer to agree to refer all of their family and friends. He told me only a certain type of person is open to this. So he spent a good amount of time screening before his one great sales call.
Once he found a natural networker, who also wanted to be his customer, he’d put them to work. One customer he closed made him over 500 sales. It paid his salary for several years.
I immediately stopped what I was doing.
I adopted the same strategy. Within days I landed my one great client and got him to be a referrer. He was a coal miner and knew thousands of other coal miners in his town. Once he bought from me I got him to refer everyone he knew. I made 250 sales off him.
Stop trying to sell to everyone. Sell to a handful of people and then let them use their LinkedIn network and family to sell more for you.
The huge difference between an employee and a free person
Some will build businesses and become free. Everyone else becomes the employees or freelancers of those businesses. It’s not that the people who start businesses are smart. It’s that they’re willing to help solve a problem, not give up, then get paid.
Business is more about psychology than an information advantage. If you can keep going at a goal when it gets tough, you’re probably a perfect fit to become a great business owner. A lot of it comes down to energy too. As they say … a business doesn’t die, the founder(s) just runs out of energy.
We systemically overweight experience and underweight motivation.
The way a business starts is now ten times dumber
Business used to be fancy.
“I want to start a business. I shall go to Harvard and get an MBA,” we’d say.
Not anymore. A minimum viable product can begin by writing content, setting up a free group chat, or slapping up a landing page. The last two literally take less than 30 minutes. LOL.
Data drives modern decisions, not business information. All you need is a business idea or a love for a topic and you can get started. I love writing so I started a free group chat. Then I asked people about their problems. They told me. So I gave them products to solve those problems. In the process, I realized something weird…
People don’t want to solve a problem. They want to achieve a goal.
So I figured out their goals, then built step-by-step systems to help them reach them. When they succeed I succeed. It’s a new way of thinking.
Learn how to build systems so you can outsource
I met an odd fellow who used to play AFL football. After he retired from football he started a succession planning business. It’s boring as fuck. But he taught me something I didn’t expect.
“The system is what you can sell. No system, no exit strategy.”
Most businesses are just glorified jobs. If the person running the business stops tomorrow, the whole house of cards falls down. When people buy a business, most times, they can’t own the founder. So what they need are the systems that allow them to run it without you. This sounds complicated as hell, but it’s not. Whatever business you decide to start (full-time or part-time) the goal is to write everything down into google docs. Fancy people use Notion. To simplify that even further, what you write down are checklists of every task you do. When someone says show me the system, you show them your Google Drive. Simple. You can even sell the system as an online course and charge money for it.
It’s called best-SELLING author, not best-WRITING author
Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki said this.
People think authors who sell lots of books are smart or gifted writers. Or they mastered how to use the oxford comma. Nope, most of them are as thick as a brick. What they understand is how to SELL books.
The #1 piece of business advice I got is to learn how to sell. “Sell” is a fancy word for persuasion.
- Figure out what makes people buy
- Understand basic human psychology
- Learn good ethics and how to be fiercely honest
The money is in the follow-up
The average person talks a great game. They can get you all hot and bothered and make you feel like you wanna rub one out. Then they stop right after the pitch. They do all the hard work to earn a decent stack of cash, but never bother to do enough follow-ups to collect their prize. The more times you quietly follow up the more money you’ll bank. Less pitching, more follow-ups.
Treat negotiation like making love
Business leaders that are smarter than I’ll ever be tell me that the boy’s club of treating business like war is stupid. The most common time this happens is in negotiations. A person with a big ego will try and screw the other side to take home more bacon. The killer trick not many people use is to give the other side in a negotiation slightly more of the value than you get. Make love not war. Generosity leads people to reciprocate.
Paradox: you get more in business by giving more.
Visit a retirement village often
Let’s finish on a philosophical note.
It’s easy in business to lose track of what matters. Before you know it you can be stacking cash and playing Porsche games with your next-door neighbor. Several business mentors have told me to focus on my mortality. A practical strategy is to visit retirement homes regularly. They’re the last stop before death. You’ll meet people who could only wish to have the same opportunities as you. And so you’ll stop being obsessed with business and start spending more time with those you love.
There’s such a thing as too much business and not enough life. Be careful.