The phrase “patience is a virtue” has been known through the ages and across the world. More than ever, one has the impression that the entrepreneurial community has abandoned this virtue in the vigorous pursuit of opportunism. Looks like patience is seen as a holdover from a slow paced business cycle. The belief that those who hesitate are lost and that you have to strike while the iron is hot (insert additional metaphors) to be successful drives many entrepreneurs to irrationally throw themselves into untimely opportunities. There is still a virtue in delayed satisfaction; trust me, getting it right is more important than doing it right now.
I spend most of my time these days helping companies and CEOs shape their story for the market. I see hundreds of business presentations and business plans, most of them looking to raise money to start or grow their business. Too often I see these entrepreneurs 'rushing' into the market. They often find themselves struggling with questions, objections, and rejections that they could have avoided with a little more time, experience and patience. There is too much emphasis on being “first in the market” and not enough on “best in the market”.
I encourage many CEOs to be patient and wait for the right time or opportunity, rather than jumping on the first joint venture, partnership or financing option that presents itself. I've seen some of the most impressive companies, and the strongest deals have come from those who were willing to wait.
One of the most dynamic examples of patience as a winning entrepreneurial strategy is the story of the 'godfather of the medical cannabis movement', Alan Shackelford.
You may have heard of Dr. Shackleford in Sanjay Gupta's documentary "Weed" on CNN. At the time, Dr Shackelford was the doctor at the center of the hugely controversial treatment of a 6-year-old. Charlotte figi. Horrific seizures weakened Charlotte, and her parents moved to Colorado to try cannabis for her rare form of epilepsy. Dr Shackelford risked his license and his livelihood to accept Charlotte as a patient. He helped formulate the cannabis treatment that proved so effective that it stunned the medical community and revived the cannabis industry. The results made Sanjay Gupta an advocate for cannabis and propelled Alan to the forefront in the use of cannabis for medical treatment.
Since then, Dr Shackleford has been approached on several occasions to start a multitude of cannabis businesses. As companies rushed to go public to cash in on early legalization openings, Alan refused to get into the shallow end for the quick dollar. He decided to stay in his practice and continue to expand his knowledge base. Today, Dr Shackleford has treated more than 25,000 patients and developed what many in the industry consider the most advanced database for pharmaceutical grade cannabis treatments. Alan patiently waited for the right timing and the opportunity to launch his business, Shackelford Pharma, and now his patience (and his patients) are rewarded.
Working with Alan, I was curious as to why he had waited so long. "The industry was focused on packaging recreational marijuana in medical packaging, without the proper data and research. I just knew there was a greater opportunity if we looked at cannabis and cannabinoids as pharmaceutical treatment." , he explained. "I saw the results with my patients; I just needed to find the right partners who shared my vision."
From a business and financial perspective, Shackelford Pharma has successfully registered its Reg A with the SEC and is essentially a "crowdfunding" of the growth of the company. His patients and thousands of supporters made the offer a success in a way that was not available a few years ago. More importantly, for Alan, the company will cater to a collection of personally motivated investors, not anonymous bankers or adventurous vultures.
Dr Shackelford is a shining example of how patience and timing can fuel opportunity. And this is the example I use when I speak at business schools and entrepreneurial seminars. It helps me illustrate the two key benefits of being a patient entrepreneur.
Advantage 1: you get better with age and experience. In an entrepreneurial business, mistakes are costly and you don't want to 'learn by doing'. There is a fictionalized version of the entrepreneur who throws caution to the wind and "finds out as he goes." I went there, I saw it, it's not pretty. My investor network is infinitely more interested in companies created or led by determined and experienced leaders who have developed and honed a valuable set of skills.
Advantage 2: the right opportunity will find you. The first person to offer you money or the first company interested in a joint venture is rarely the right person. Many entrepreneurs make decisions early on because they are not confident enough to play the long game. If you have a good idea, a solid business model, and a successful track record, opportunities will find you.
Don't let the pace of today's corporate culture influence your decisions. Don't let FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) rule your timing. You will find that patience is always a virtue that can pay exponential dividends.
more information about Shackelford Pharma or Dr. Alan Shackelford here
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The biggest problem founders and small owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a business. That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.
Don’t let that happen to you. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about , starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.
Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank. Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is course out of cash. If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now. You can’t fire bad employees fast enough. You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you ( see next tip ).
The problem is probably you. When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.
Take care of your stars. This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a vedette employee is enormous, yet leaders rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated. Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink. If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche ?
Learn to say ' yes ' and ' no ' a lot. The two most important words owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no. ” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.
It boggles my mind how little most fondateurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest to get. Learn two words : meritocracy and nepotism. The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The second is how you don’t run an organization – by playing favorites and being biased.
Know when and when not to be translucide. Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.
Trust your gut. This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea. ” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.
Protect and defend your intellectual property. Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.
Learn to read and write effective agreements. You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors ? ” It’s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your business relationships will be.
Far too many créateurs d'entreprise run their like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right business entity and keep it separate from your personal life. Know your finances inside and out. If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits ( gross and net ), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for dysfonctionnement. Big trouble.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Humility is a powerful trait for leaders, and that goes for new business owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers. Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business précurseurs. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.
For every success you have in growing your market share, another business or other businesses will inevitably lose ground. Here are 11 quick and easy business tips to gain a competitive advantage over your rivals and insulate yourself from the threat of new entrants in the market.
Of course, we all want to spark business growth and increase revenue. But the way you do this in a sustainable way is to focus instead on the building of a loyal database of avid fans. Content digital, paired with optimized website forms and compréhensif mail automation follow-up is critical to success. This approach builds trust by giving away free value before asking for someone’s hard-earned money. Not an expert in creating optimized lead generation pages on a website ? No worries, use a trusted tool like Leadpages to make it happen.
Like it or not, folks out there aren’t searching for your brand, they’re just looking to solve a problem or find a particular type of product ( unless you run Starbucks or Adidas ! ) Don’t list all the benefits your product brings. Focus on the solutions. Explain to the customer in simple, straightforward terms how or why your product can help them or assist in the attainment of their goals. Consider FedEx’s iconic slogan : When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. This was a clear example of addressing widely-spread anxiety about the reliability of delivery services. Run through some market research to profile your target customer. How does your product or service – and your delivery and and price point – solve other people’s problems and make their lives easier or more pleasurable ?
Dropping prices doesn’t necessarily raise sales, for instance ( though it will definitely squeeze margins ). If you place yourself as a de haute gamme brand, then your customers aren’t necessarily value-driven in the first place, and cutting prices could even tarnish your brand. Consider this case study from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book ‘Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion’ : a jeweller sold out of turquoise jewelry after accidentally doubling, instead of halving, the price. The inflated price tag lent the product an unwarranted cachet ! If you are a de haute gamme brand, there are ways to optimize your pricing without lowering prices. For example, offer the quality-conscious customer an ‘exclusive’ benefit that your rivals do not or cannot provide. If you are at the value-driven end of the market, on the other hand, don’t assume slashing prices means incurring a loss. Low pricing can help you rapidly onboard a heap of new customers who may also buy other items in your shop and return again. Context also counts for a lot with pricing. The best way to sell a $5, 000 watch, for instance, could be by putting it next to a $10, 000 watch. Think strategically when it comes to deciding any price point.
Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s so very important ! Whether consciously or not, people are more likely to buy a product if they like the sales assistant who’s attending to them. While the employee’s personality obviously has no bearing on the price or your product’s ability to serve their needs is irrelevant. Friendly customer-facing équipe will always attract more sales. Be rigorous in hiring people who are genuinely cheerful, friendly and outgoing. Make sure your training program teaches them to adopt a consistently friendly approach that puts customers at ease and feel like a priority.
Say you’re a bricks-and-mortar store and you’re getting a rush of customers as closing time approaches… why not close up an hour later ? While this may cause disgruntlement among équipe, solve this venant by getting creative with rosters. Monitor customer footfall throughout the day and week to identify your busiest periods, and staff people accordingly. You can also reduce headcount during quieter periods to offset the higher costs and longer sérieux hours created by your extended opening hours. It’s a win-win !
Even in the digital age, some customers will always prefer to contact you by phone rather than email or Facebook. While many online companies with tight margins eschew manned phone lines altogether, it’s worth giving customers the option of having a voice-to-voice conversation with your brand. By all means, slash the time and cost spent responding to queries by funnelling customers to standardized, pre-existing responses on your webpage ( i. e., FAQs ). But if their query isn’t listed in the drop-down menu of FAQs, then don’t make them click more than once more to find your phone number. Put it front and center on your web page, particularly if you’re a retail offering. ‘Live chat’ bots are an inexpensive way of offering real-time communication, too.
Why not give your happy customers a voucher with their purchase to redeem on your products and services ? If they love what you do already, they’re only going to love you more for this. It’s good for you because : It guarantees they will return to your store again. People hate to waste freebies ! When they return to your store to redeem their voucher, they may buy other items, too. If your business operates online, then the freebie could be strategically timed to coincide with a special sale. Oh, and guess what ? Chances are customers who have received vouchers or freebies won’t stay quiet about it either, so you could enjoy some positive buzz on social media.
Local businesses can arguably connect with their unique communities with much greater authority than any global chain. A local retailer, hair salon or gardening company can sponsor a kid’s sports team and offer deep discounts for OAPs at the same time. Some cinemas feature special ‘sensory’ screenings where parents can bring kids with autism ( who would normally be overwhelmed by busy, noisy environments ) to enjoy a movie in a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere. This reflects well on them and also guarantees them a loyal customer niche. Whatever you choose to do to support your community, make sure it authentically fits with your brand offering and journey to date.
Social media is a great medium through which to build a solid relationship with customers – just don’t forget what ‘social’ actually means ! Soul-less corporate shop-talk won’t work on Twitter. Try to give your brand some ‘personality’ when you write updates or posts. This can bring its own risks, bien sûr. But if you get it right, the benefits can be très grande. Develop a tone of voice that aligns well with your brand identity. Seek to inform, help, entertain or amuse. And most importantly – given the dire PR consequences – don’t patronize, try too hard to be funny, or tweet after a few alcoholic drinks !
Sometimes it’s better to be a master of one discipline than a jack of all trades. Admittedly, multiple revenue streams do spread your risk : if one falters, others can take up the slack. Nevertheless, consumers often associate ‘specialists’ with higher quality products or services than generalists. And with good reason, too : specialists typically invest all their resources into perfecting a single product or service. So what should you specialize in ? to state the obvious, it should be something in which you excel. You could also pick something with rising or recession-proof demand which is resilient to technological change in which you possess a competitive advantage over your rivals or where there’s an obvious gap in your local market. Own it, whatever you do.
Don’t ever get too satisfied with your business. You can always improve – and improve you must ! Don’t get me wrong : without the odd moment of smug satisfaction, what’s the point ? Do relish in the successful launch of a game-changing product or take pleasure in positive customer feedback. But don’t let your customers hear you banging on about it time after time ! Be alert to the common element that has led to the downfall of countless hitherto thriving brands : complacency. Imaginative, nimble and innovative start-ups often do better than big market leaders that just got lazy. You may be the disruptive innovator today, but tomorrow you could be the complacent market leader with a tired model. So try to be humble and always strive to improve. Seek inspiration from other fondateurs, from books and from seminars. The moment you think ‘mission accomplished’ is the same moment you become vulnerable to being usurped.
There are lots of ways in which you can improve your business, and not all of them are complicated ! Try out the above tips or integrate them with your existing strategies, and let me know how you go in the comments below. Guest Author : Faye Ferris is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Dynamis APAC Pty Ltd offices in Sydney. She develops the DYNAMIS stable of brands and their expansion into the Asia Pacific region as well as BusinessesForSale. com, FranchiseSales. com and PropertySales. com. If you have an interest in partnering up with Faye or advertising on any of these websites in the APAC territories, please do not hesitate to contact her on faye@businessesforsale. com.