It must have been the hottest day of the summer the day my buddies and I decided it would be a great idea to set up lemonade stand; you know the set-up, card table lugged from the basement down the street to the corner, poster board sign and ice melting faster than customers stopping. It was fun for about an hour and we spent the afternoon frying under the summer sun, our only way to survive was to drink away our inventory. I remember wondering why on earth kids continued to have lemonade stands, it must be one of the worst money making ideas ever.
The next day my associates waived off the idea of the lemonade stand, citing potential carcinoma, too much work, no money… They took off down the road on their bikes, I turned on my heel and went back inside. I had an idea…
My mom whipped up two flavors, I pulled out my red wagon and loaded it with drinks, ice and cups and headed out. There was a construction crew building a small apartment complex just a block or so away. I showed up just as the workers were going on break, they were parched and I sold out as fast as I could pour. Even better, I came back twice a day for the rest of the summer. I may have made more money from my lemonade wagon that summer than every lemonade-selling kid in America, and I did it in a fraction of the time. I was done, had money in my pocket and by 3:30 was peddling my way to the community pool to meet a certain cute little freckle-faced girl. That lemonade experience opened my eyes. It provided me with a completely different lens and I was seeing the world in a whole new way.
I could see clearly that the way typical lemonade stand works poorly, yet everyone continues to do it the same way. I saw my friends giving up too soon. I noticed the way my dad worked and wondered if he looked through this lens if he could figure a better way and be home more. It seemed the more I looked through this lens the more it appeared that a lot of things might be done differently.
Growing up, that lens was a good companion. I helped me take the path less traveled, both in life and with fun business ventures all through high school, college and beyond, but then at the age of twenty-seven I lost track of that lens. It was then I followed someone else’s lead, and why not, they seemed to have it all going on. My lens may have been cute thing to have as a kid, but this was going to be big time and it was time for me to start playing like a real businessman. I put that lens away, put on my business suit and headed into the real world.
Turns out the guys I was following were the wrong guys. I felt like the old story of Pinocchio where he gets mixed up with the wrong boys. Sure enough, they cut my financial throat and sent me floating down the bankruptcy river. In retrospect I was naïve, but it was real and so was bankruptcy court. I still remember the light and smell of sleaze in that bankruptcy courtroom, the worn wood benches and standing in front of the judge with my wife and eighteen month; I couldn’t believe I’d drug them into this. It was embarrassing and I’d have to explain myself for the next ten years until it fell off my credit report. But the worst days of your life can also be your best. I walked out of that building vowing to take my life back; first step, find that lens.
Thankfully that lens was right where I left it. I picked it up dusted it off and gave it a great big kiss and then my lens and I sat down got crystal clear on what I wanted in life, no more letting others dictate my way, this is my life.
Like most folks I wanted things and money, but what I found that came up again and again and again, I wanted time. Time with my family, time to create, time to think and time for me. And not just a couple weeks out of the year, I wanted it every day. I wanted BREATHINGSPACE. But I also wanted money. I’d never heard of how to make the two happen together. Most successful people I knew worked constantly, so they had little time. Most of the people I knew who had all the time had little money. The trick would be to figure out how to have both.
I’d found this poem a few years before and it’s always given me inspiration, and boy did I need it now.
“My Wage” by J.B. Rittenhouse
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening when
I counted my scanty store.
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.
If I could figure it out then I could pretty do pretty much whatever I wanted in life. And though it may have sounded unrealistic to most folks, and I wasn’t sure what I’d find, I was, in the deepest piece of my soul, 100% committed to figuring out.
Just like the lemonade story, I found that they way we’re traditionally taught isn’t set up to provide more time, just the opposite. Because it’s not a super effective system, we have to work harder (forever) to get more. That was exactly what I didn’t want. Seems that old adage; you need to work smarter that harder, is the key. But the challenge is figuring out what that looks like and how to systemize it for daily use. I’d use that lens everyday to look at how things work and look at how I wanted them to be and then I’d rewire my life and business piece by piece.
I’d find that it actually takes more time to both; a) work to make money the typical old-fashioned way, while b) building a machine to get free. But, as more of the machine comes together, the more money you make, and the more freedom you gain. Soon you have the machine, the money and the time. (graph 1 and 2)
Meanwhile, 99.999% of the population would have given up because at first it takes more time and you don’t see immediate gain, just like my buddies at the lemonade stand.
Disclaimer: Because in this day and age you’re required to have disclaimers everywhere, here it is. Everyone’s going to have their own results. My results are not common or typical of anyone anywhere and I am in no way implying you can have the same or that anything I talk about or write about will work for you.. I have no way of seeing what you’re doing or how you’re doing it and just like the treadmills that people buy that certainly would benefit them if they’d use it, most don’t use it, except to nag their laundry, and therefore don’t get any result. Many people are way more successful than me and I probably make less than some folks because I take so much time to do other things in life.
You don’t have to have all the pieces rewired; one will probably make a dramatic difference. The more you can rewire, the more you’ll be free.
Here’s the progression I found to work.
What if every month all your customers automatically bought from you? You don’t have to contact them, you don’t have to advertise, they automatically bought; how would that change life and business? That’s evergreen income and it solves a lot of problems, creates a lot of revenue and builds massive BREATHINGSPACE.
When you have enough clients your entire overhead is covered. Add a few more clients and now your business is spinning of extra cash every month.
These are the type of businesses Warren Buffet buys (he calls them Tool Bridge Businesses) and how he became a billionaire. He buys newspapers (subscriptions), insurance companies (premiums) and banks (transactions fees and interest)… The question is; how can you get in on the action? Even small evergreen businesses are extremely valuable.
Today you’re seeing more of these types of businesses. In the book The Automatic Customer, by John Warrillow, uses the example of his own consulting company changing from a hefty fee upfront to a smaller monthly fee; making it easier to get the business and keep the business rolling month after month year after year. I started simple experimenting with a $5.00/month service fee and soon had thirty customers. Though that’s only $150.00 per month and most people would have quite because it’s not enough money, but I was excited! I could see where this could go and I eventually grew that to $20,000 per month, yeah, $240,000.00 per year, starting with one $5.00 customer.
Of course now I figured I was a young Warren Buffet and went on the hunt for more evergreen income streams. Problem is so is everyone else. Warren has the money to buy these businesses, I didn’t, I needed to grow them. Here it’s competitive too. I had no interest in going at the speed of average business, it’s not profitable enough and it doesn’t provide enough freedom. I needed tools and methods that speed results and systems that handle things for me.
Remember, BREATHINGSPACE is about money and time. I don’t mind investing loads of time building evergreen income streams because it gives me massive time after it’s built, same with building machines that constantly lob new customers to me. Seems the moment I quit focusing on getting sales and started focusing on building a machine that would send me interested prospects; I went from a salesman to a business builder and life changed.
The trick is to think of it like a machine. You draw it out, build it, and tweak it to make it run smoother. In the case of getting more clients, you put raw prospects in the top and at the end they get pitched to you, warm and interested. The number that comes out is a factor of the number that you put in and what the machine does with them along the way.
This system solves a few problems right off the bat, how to get more customers faster, how to stop chasing mediocre customers and how to be able to take time away from finding new customers as the machine keeps working while you’re away.
It’s probably the most important marketing breakthrough I’ve ever had. It works so well I trademarked it Remarketing™.
You can see exactly how in my book REWIRE or in FREE Training at our CRM site www.connect.cx, click on Free Training.
I do not target single customers cold, it’s just too much work for payoff and time invested.
I ask everyone for referrals, because it makes my job: a) a success vs. a failure b) easier. I read a study once that said, “Only 11% of the time do we ask for referrals when 91% of the people would have provided them.” That’s 827% more referrals by simply asking. If you don’t ask for referrals where’s your next contact going to come from and why would you pay or go cold? Making everyone a “Referrer” is simple; start there and when you want to go completely vertical, target multiples.
Rather than target single customers, I’ll target a company that already has loads of the type of customers I’m looking for. So rather than loading my day up with 100 calls to prospective single customers, I’ll load my day up with prospects who have 10,000 to 100,000 customers, I call them “Multiples.” Think of them as mini joint ventures. Sure, my margins are lower because the middleman prospers, but that middleman is trusted and when he recommends me, I’m trusted too. Also, when I’m coaching my kids’ sports or in Sweden visiting my relatives that middleman is still promoting me.
I lay some of this out in my book REWIRE and more in a lot of my free classes and other parts in classes that are not free, but worth more than you’ll ever pay.
The best communicators rule the world. Communicate more effectively and you can get whatever you want. Problem is, changing the way you communicate (speak, write, sell, copy write, present…) seems to take a little time. Because of this I believe it’s better to install all the technical pieces (above) and then work on your communication. The pieces I’ve found that needed work in me often seem to be the same that others. And now, after working with 22,708 entrepreneurs and business I see it’s true.
The biggest one thing I’ve found is to “understand your targets’ motivation.” You can do this only two ways: 1) being a psychic, or 2) asking questions. But what questions are best? When you’re genuinely interested in your prospect’s business, life and passion, you almost atomically come up with the right questions. Why? Because you’re engaged and interested and discovering, we call this process “Discovery.” Even better is being so tuned in that not only are you asking Discovery Questions, but also the questions you’re asking are leading (we call them Leading Questions) to a point where they become a client. This s a very honest and trust-building way to connect with a prospect, yet almost nobody does it because it’s a skill and takes a little time.
I’ve found that the sales goes up. The number of people who say, “I have to think about it goes down.” It just takes all the schwary salesman ick out of selling and just makes it a cool conversation.
I wrote a detailed book about this piece and called it “Lead. ” It’s pretty powerful stuff, it’s just waiting to be released or turned into an expanded curriculum. I’ll let you know when it’s available.
If you want to take back your life, it starts right here. Guard every minute relentlessly. When you do you’ll find yourself deflecting loads of unnecessary things that used to interrupt, distract or tie you down. You’ll end up with more time and a happier life. The more you deflect the more you can breathe, the shorter your workdays and the more you can be away for longer periods of time. You can choose to set up deflectors shields, or like me, you can be forced to.
When I decided to take my life back (remember, I wanted time and money) my wife was working part time and I was home with our son. The times I had between getting him up and ready for the day, feeding him, taking care of him and playing with him had to be used completely right. I had no wiggle room, no time to lollygag or surf the web. When he napped I made phone calls, when he was awake and playing by himself I’d make more phone calls or market. By the time my wife came home I had about two hours to compress and complete everything that was left. It wasn’t lost on me how ineffective I had been in the past and how ineffective most of us are everyday. I was basically getting a whole day’s work done in four hours.
You can start right now by turning off email, texting, Internet browsing and social media. I know I know, these things seem important, but test it. Or leave them all on, but be aware when you touch them and record the time. You’ll be so ashamed of your behavior that you may unplug it all. It’s ok to have all that stuff, just chunk your time using it. I mean really, are you here to promote social media and respond to things that really don’t need you? Are you here to live your purpose or be a part of someone else’s?
If you want more my book REWIRE actually includes a sample calendar you can test, free classes and Shortcuts has instant techniques for you to take back your life, speed results and breathe.
Some people find that they can immediately take back two hours a day. Test it yourself and live.
When you want change, get irritated. That feeling and energy is good, as long as your then constructively focus that energy to get results that make your life and business better.
You’ll often see me in video often lead with “Here’s what’s bugging me…” It’s not ranting, it’s leveraging irritation to innovate and it works. You may remember my bankruptcy story where I leveraged that feeling of embarrassment and being taken advantage of and being naïve into getting crystal clear and vowing that no matter what I was going to make it happen. That was some powerful energy and a big example, but that same kind of irritation, with your lens in hand, can help you come up with the best plans of your life. Use that irritation!
I think it’s what Steve Jobs meant by “Think Differently.” It seems it’s what Albert Einstein used to see things differently and come up with answers that baffled science before him.
You can test it out on yourself right now. There’s a two-page exercise in my book REWIRE (pages 22-23) that takes only a few minutes. I guarantee you’ll get emotional leverage on yourself. Use that leverage, that irritation and out it to use and you will get what you want in life, it’s how it works.
I must have been really irritated that day vowed to take my life back, because I paid off my home in 5 ½ years, set sales records, wrote three books, created software that saves time, developed shortcuts for entrepreneurs and folks with careers, attracted an award winning team, traveled the world with friends and family, learned from the best learners of our day, coached my kids’ sports, and took long walks on beautiful beaches with my wife. Yeah, I was really irritated, good thing.
I don’t tell you this story to impress you, but to impress upon you that you can make big or small changes and you can make some this very instant. Grab your lens, hold it up and look through it. See your life the way it really is and then turn the lens around and see it how you want it to be. Some changes take a while and some can happen this very day.
Feel free to test the methods I’ve provided, from there customize, learn more, keep reaching; make it all even better.
I wish you health, happiness and plenty of B R E A T H I N G S P A C E.