Today I have an announcement that is both personal and significant, but I’ll get to that in a bit. I want to talk briefly about this notion of when and where to invest in your own business. It’s something every entrepreneur wrestles with.
There is only one type of investment that can be made within a business: The kind that brings in revenue. That adds to the bottom line. That makes money. In other words, when we put money (or time!) into our own businesses, there needs to be a return.
Business owners delay opening their wallets and their schedules, for fear that their investment will go awry. That the ROI… won’t.
I just made a pretty serious investment and I’m really, really happy with the outcome. Case study time! I’m sharing the criteria I used (that you can to) to make the decision and take the plunge…
Smart entrepreneurs focus on sales
Big businesses get to the point where it makes sense to invest in efficiency and streamlining. Spending $100k to make your paper consumption 11% more efficient makes sense when you spend a few million a year on office supplies. But I don’t and chances are neither do you.
Small and medium sized businesses are far better served by focusing the investment of both money and time in their sales funnel.
“How do we turn more strangers into happy customers?”
This is the first question you should ask. The second step is to look for the weakest area in your sales process. By definition, that is the place where any energy spent will yield the maximum result. If your brochure is doing a great job and getting complimented and shared, don’t bother reworking it – look for an investment you can make to fix one of your “blind spots”.
For me, this meant testimonials.
As The Shrink for Entrepreneurs, my business is built on consulting – highly personal and severely non-scalable. Just the way I like it. Consulting is all about the client and the results it creates. It’s probably the most ends-justify-the-means field imaginable.
In my sales process, there are a lot of things that work great. I have a way of personally reaching prospects who are committed in their curiosity. I’ve got a sexy, powerful website. There are things that need to be re-worked for sure, but testimonials are the blind spot where some attention would create maximum leverage. They’re an area ripe for investment and I’ve ignored them for too long.
Figuring out the best form your investment can take
Once you’ve identified an area you want to innovate, you can’t just blindly throw money at the problem to make things better.
To figure out the very best way to invest – that yields the optimum result – check in with your values. Go deep into your intuition.
I’ve always known that there’s a place where my values, integrity, general style and attitude all intertwine. It’s the place where the fundamentals of my business’s brand is formed and any major project I embark on has to be in alignment.
So I asked myself, how do I create some killer client testimonials that match my values? They would have to…
– Be extraordinarily classy. Way above the “industry average” in terms of brand aesthetics.
– Be deeply and powerfully real. Like look-you-in-the-eyes-and-judge-my-sincerity real.
– Be genuinely interesting. The goal of everything I do professionally is to evoke curiosity from the smartest people I know.
– Be about them, not me. It’s my client’s stories that matter.
– Be a whole heap of fun to produce. I wake up and look forward to my day and this project would not be an exception.
The commitment to these criteria resulted in the investment of a good half of my summer and thousands of dollars. It was a commitment to my values and to representing the best of myself and my brand possible. I knew what I needed to do.
I called ultra talented film maker (and my good pal) Stephen de Villiers and got him on a flight to New York. The investment that ensued, consisted of thousands of dollars spent on one of the smartest minds in the business, renting the best film equipment available, dinners with clients at the finest restaurants in Manhattan and hours spent planning, playing and more. There were copious Old-fashioned’s consumed too.
Steve designed a visually stunning shoot, where I simply provided the clients then surrendered to his process as interviewer and director. I wanted the integrity of making this real, so this film is more Steve’s than mine. In fact, I don’t even appear in it!
Instead, I worked hard as producer to ensure that the values and criteria I outlined were met. And some. And I think we succeed.
The result is what I’m announcing today, and it’s here at last:
Five clients, a wide range of industries, and the story of how psychology and business intersect. This is something I’m really, really proud of so I’d love for you to take five and a half minutes to check it out. If you’re reading this via email or RSS you probably need to click through to my actual site to view the video.
There’s two messages to this post.
Investments in your business need to happen. Connecting with your values and out-do them will ensure that your spent time and money actually yields results. And it’ll make you proud.
When I watched this video for the first time (just on Saturday!) I almost cried. Almost. It’s so, so gratifying to see the results of my work (years worth, in some cases) communicated with sincerity and eloquence.
And, this video has (within two days of pre-release) already covered the cost of production through new client acquisition. Boom.
Message number two is this:
I’m proud to say that working with me is really, really damn effective. If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to create wealth, freedom and impact… we can make that happen. Think of it as an investment that’ll pay a serious dividend. See video for details.
What do you think? Dig the video? Let me know your thoughts and impressions in the comments. I’m fishing for compliments, but I also want to hear about the investments you think are important.