Pat: Hi, Mike. Thanks for being with us today. My name is Pat Parkinson. I’m the Director of Public Relations at PRMarketing.com, and I am pleased to be here today with Mike Mann. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion, Mike. We’re going to discuss parts of your book. You recently wrote a book called Make Millions Secrets to Business and Personal Success. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your book, and I’m excited to speak to you, especially about some of the passages in the first few chapters. How are you doing today, Mike?
Mike: Doing well, thanks. I appreciate everything.
Pat: Tell me, sir; as you know, the first chapter of your book is extremely interesting. You begin by discussing some of the traits from your experience that you’ve seen that have made people successful. Some of these different traits are:
- Be confident
- Be a machine
- Be charitable
- Be a success
- Be there and aware
- Be the edge
I’d like to take you to these and break them down a little bit; maybe have you explain where you came up with these, and what experiences influenced you to write this chapter. Let’s start with be confident. Why do successful entrepreneurs need confidence? All throughout your book, Mike, you speak about confidence. It’s definitely a recurring theme. Can you share with me some of your thoughts on that?
Mike: Sure. I think the basic idea is that I reverse-engineered everything I’ve been doing for years. We’ve built several successful businesses and charities while trying to figure out what strategies separated our businesses, charities, and activities from those of my competitors, and what things made us better. I never had a good education; I had a very modest education at best. I skipped a lot of school in the early years for example. So the question is how was I still able to be successful? And the answer was mostly a mental thing: mostly through those items you identified as bullet points. The fact is that I’m more confidence. I’m a believer that I’ll succeed. I’m almost more a believer than almost anybody else, and that gives me a strategic advantage every time I do a deal, build a business, or write a business plan. The fact that I enter the equation with greater self-confidence than almost anybody gives me an enormous strategic advantage, which didn’t take me any schooling, really. It’s just a mental trait, essentially.
That same idea is very similar with those other bullet points. Be a machine—that’s very similar to being confident. I’m confident that if I work hard enough and stay focused enough, which is essentially being a machine, I’ll be able to succeed in what I’m doing. Again, that’s another strategic advantage, so we have one advantage on top of the next advantage on top of the next advantage until we have a better-performing corporation.
Pat: Throughout your book, Mike, you offer a lot of great advice, and I want to probe a few more of these passages in a bit more detail, especially some of the stuff about confidence. One thing that really rang true to me was when you were talking about cutting your losses. There’s one passage in there: you say, “Cut your losses if you are certain that you’ve failed.” Later on you say to stay calm and move forward. You speak about the importance of moving forward and not regretting your mistakes. In the book you say, “This calm and confident mindset will help you focus on your exponentially expansive, efficient, and evolutionary money machine.” A lot of that’s easier said than done. Can you offer any other tips to people who maybe are having a hard time getting over that last failure? Maybe they’ve made some mistakes and they’re really beating themselves up about it. Can you speak to those folks about the importance of just moving on?
Mike: Yeah. I think you said some important points there. You said “easier said than done,” and I think that is really key here. I can actually explain in a relatively simple way—a bunch of simple ways—for entrepreneurs to make millions of dollars and serve charity. What I explain is very simple and accessible to people. The work itself is a lot of years of hard work over and over—being confident, staying focused, keeping your plan together, organizing the correct team, making them follow the same Best Practices and strategies. That’s the beauty of what we’re trying to do here is just to have all simple, accessible stuff that everybody can use to go get what they want out of life and out of their businesses.
Pat: You say that failure and rejection are required for success. In your book you write that, “A key to your small tests is to get the process rolling quickly and get through all the embarrassing mistakes so you can improve rapidly. It is important to realize that failure and rejection are required for success.” You state that, “You have to dare to fail every day.” What do you mean by that?
Mike: Again, it’s going to take years of hard knocks to get what you want. Every day, you’re going to be undertaking all sorts of hard tasks. The most important one is getting clients and customers and doing sales. So all day, every day, you and your team should be exposing your brand, your message, your products and services and attempting to get more exposure and more clients. Now, a certain percentage of this has to be a failure. Otherwise, you’d have a billion dollar contract tomorrow. You’re going to strive and strive, sell more, and do more, but you have to assume that people aren’t just going to hand money over to you hand-over-fist every time you want it. You’re going to be rejected the vast majority of the time, or whatever your percentage is. The objective is to improve and improve and have a higher percentage closing rate than everybody else—than your competitors in the market space you’re in. So again, failure is an absolute part of it, and failure can extend to an entirely failed business in some cases, which is a horrible idea but it happens. It doesn’t mean that a person has to starve and be homeless, necessarily—they can start over and move on with the next plan, I suppose.
Pat: What you’re saying here is a nice transition into being a success. In your book you write about being a success, and there is a passage there where you state, “Avoid blaming external forces or people for problems that are in your own best interests to solve, irrespective of how they emerged.” I think that dovetails nicely into what you talked about as far as accepting those failures and moving on. Why is it important to not place blame or misdirect your hostilities, so to speak?
Mike: The main reason is because you’re just trying to make money here. This is a money thing, and if you’re not focused and distracted by whatever happened in the past and other people or things going on, you’re missing the earlier ideas of making more sales and building your team and your brand. That’s what you’re supposed to be spending all your time doing.
Pat: That’s very good advice, Mike. What about the “be there and aware?” A few of these headings might seem a bit abstract to people. We can understand the concept, but break that down for me a little bit. What exactly do you mean by “be there and aware?”
Mike: Right. Well, the titles are supposed to be a little whimsical to draw people in, if it’s successful.
Pat: It works.
Pat: Sometimes. “Be there and aware” is back to this idea of focusing on your business plan, whatever it happens to be and whatever market space you are in. Let’s say we own SEO.com—we want to sell as many services as possible. We want to stay focused on that. We want to be there in the SEO space and know everything about it: all the potential employees and customers, all the technologies and software, all the ideas and tricks. We want to be there; we want to stay focused; we want to knock out our business plan. We want to hire people, train people, make as many transactions as possible as long as they are all beneficial to our business model. We don’t want to be distracted or play office politics. We don’t want to do anything other than hit our goals, essentially.
Pat: Later on in the webinar, we’re going to speak to Mike more about this advice. We’re going to speak to him about where to begin if you have an idea for a business. He’s going to offer some advice about conducting market surveys and questioning potential clients—really the initial jumping off point—what type of business should you start? Mike’s going to address some of those issues. But as a lead-in, I want to talk about the final bullet point here, and that is to be the edge.
In the “Be the Edge” portion of the book, Mike, you write, “In order to achieve a winning edge—the element that separates you from the rest of the pack and ensures your success in business—you will have to find ways to identify good ideas and ways to develop them quickly and effectively.” And I think this leads nicely into our next slide, which is about making a winning plan and deciding exactly what type of company you want to start. You’re a budding entrepreneur, you know you want to be in business for yourself, but what type of business do you go into? Can we talk about some of the different points you discuss in Chapter Two, Mike? Maybe we’ll begin with “Working in a Field You Know.” Is that the most important—and perhaps the most rewarding—choice you can make is to start a business you’re already experienced in?
Mike: That’s true. If it’s an area you’re already trained in and passionate about so that you’re able to go to work every day for dozens of years, then that’s probably your best bet. If it’s appears to be a profitable industry with a promising future, and it’s something you’ve been exposed to, then you’re in the door and you might as well go for it.
Pat: What if I’m passionate about something that I haven’t worked at in the past? Maybe there’s a topic out there or a product out there that I would like to pursue, but perhaps I know nothing about it other than that I really like it. Is that a good road to go down as well?
Mike: Sure. There’s an endless variety of choices for you. But in that case, you would want to totally enmesh yourself in that industry—meet the people, go to the conferences, read all the books and publications about it, take any training courses, etc.—become one within the industry. It’s very similar to what we spoke about before: to get passionate, get engaged, and be aware of what you’re doing. You could start from scratch—there’s nothing wrong with it. If you don’t have a promising job, a promising career, a good future today, then you should start over. And in fact, I would recommend going to our site Aux.com, which has links to lots of different ideas, ways of writing business plans, all sorts of Internet tricks that have links to everything. It’s all free and non-commercial. It has good ideas for starting businesses: Aux.com.
Pat: Well said, Mike. Perhaps we kind of jumped into the webinar. We were late in starting, so I really wanted to get some of the points out there. However, now might be a good time to introduce you to the audience. For those who don’t know Mike Mann, he found a lot of success in the domain industry. Mike is the owner of extremely powerful domains like Phone.com and SEO.com. He’s started many companies over the years, and I think he’s experienced a few failures of his own, so he knows of what he speaks. And what he’s talking about now, to me, seems a little daunting. I want to start a business, but perhaps that business will be in a field that I know nothing about. I need to—Mike advises me to go out and study different industries, maybe look for industries that are not fully developed yet. It seems like such a daunting task, though, Mike. Is it as difficult as it sounds?
Mike: Again, there’s a lot of work to do. But if you’re working in the Internet, there are a lot of tools to help you. There is Google Analytics to help you keep all your ideas analyzed and organized so you can make proper business decisions. SalesForce.com is a great way to organize all your leads and contacts to go out and make sales. SalesForce integrates with your website and your web forms. There is a lot of work to do, but there are relatively easy formulas, ideas, and processes to follow that you can move forward with, and they’ve proven profitable to other people. You keep trying more and more good ideas—conceptually profitable ideas—and let them develop and compound over time. Generally speaking, you should be able to compete in whatever industry you’re in and make a living for your family.
Pat: It requires a lot of homework. You’re a big fan of studying industries. I know that you read profusely. You read all kinds of different information about business finance. Can you offer any tips to the folks who might be listening today about different media channels that they should be paying attention to, or even the places that you find really strong information? What kind of papers do you read, Mike?
Mike: Things keep changing in the media really quickly. Most recently, YouTube has all the smartest business people in the world, so anybody you’re interested in, you can go to YouTube and find something that they’ve developed and watch it immediately for free. There’s also Bloomberg Television. They opened a new one called Bloomberg Web. You can find Mark Andreessen, Jim Clark, the founders of eBay, Skype, and Twitter. They all keep showing up on TV and telling us how they built these incredible Internet corporations. I’m interested in Internet corporations. Other people might be interested in other topics. There are good channels on cable TV with good business information if you catch the right stuff at the right time, record it, etc. On the Internet, there is an unlimited wealth of excellent information. You should find the topics you’re interested in, find the very smartest people that talk about those topics, and listen to and read all of it. Once you’ve become one of them, then you’re allowed to compete in that space and your share of the profit—hopefully a disproportionate share of the profit.
Pat: Well, summer is coming up as you know, and there are probably many aspiring entrepreneurs out there who will be spending time at the beach this year, etc., on their vacations. Can you offer any summer reading tips for these folks? I know there are a few books that you hold near and dear. Maybe you could talk to us about a few of those.
Mike: Sure. The ones we listed up here are the old classics I originally read that got me more into business. Again, there are a lot of new channels of media and information. These are the old-fashioned books that are some of the fundamentals of good business practice and good deal practice:
- The Sales Bible is an older book by a gentlemen named Jeffrey Gitomer.
- What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School is a great book. I think it’s by Mark McCormack, who’s a sports advertising executive. That book is very street smart—how to do deals and make money. A lot of it is about what we were already talking about: being focused, doing transactions, and growing your business.
- Swim with the Sharks is by Harvey McKay. He’s an old-school guy with lots of great business advice.
- In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters is a real classic book from McKinsey & Company. One of the main themes I took away from it is the idea of constant incremental improvement. When you say something is daunting, I say yes it’s daunting, but we start on a level playing field and make constant incremental improvements across all areas and deals, and you end up with a lot of Best Practices that improve your business. That fundamental concept came to me from Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence.
Pat: That’s good advice, Mike. Now, I don’t really want to jump ahead. In this conversation, we’re really speaking to people who are at the first step of starting their own business. Some of them might not even know what type of business they want to start. What can people do by way of conducting market surveys and questioning potential clients? What kinds of insights can they gain? I don’t want to compare you to Gordon Gecko. Gordon Gecko, as we know, is the famous investor from the Wall Street movie of the ‘80s. A good quote from Gordon Gecko in that movie is, “Information is the most valuable resource in the word.” It sounds like what you’re speaking to here: market surveys, client questionnaires—that’s all in an effort to gain information. Why is that so important, Mike?
Mike: In fact, all of what we’re talking about is about gaining a strategic advantage through information. Google Analytics, learning and studying math for your website, it’s all information. Your website itself is information, and your web form. SalesForce.com is a way of aggregating information on all your clients and all your prospective clients. Market surveys prior to entering a business are another opportunity to find out more information and create a strategic advantage.
So, as far as modern market surveying goes, I would highly recommend a mostly Internet-centric approach. Here is just one example: the idea of crowd sourcing. You go out to the crowd, which is essentially a potential market, and you ask them what they think. So you’re surveying the crowd–you’re crowd sourcing—which is basically market research, and so where is the crowd? Today the crowd is on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn—but there’s a commercial service done by Amazon.com which is called MTurk.com.
MTurk.com is a crowd with probably a couple million people in there, and you can go out into the crowd and ask any sorts of questions you want, and you pay the people probably a couple cents each to answer your question. For $50 or $100, you could get hundreds of people to tell you that your logo sucks or your logo’s great, or your company’s business plan is good or bad, or your website is good or bad. Depending on what you pay, you can get people to rewrite your entire website and do anything imaginable online.
Again, the idea is that you can go out into the crowd, the market, and do your research; do your sourcing, send out all your ideas and information. Then, before you invest in that market space and those niches, you’re going to know what the crowd thinks in advance. And you want to be careful about trying to select the best crowd possible, but as the idea develops, it will be easier, better, and more accessible to get this information.
Pat: Have you had success crowd sourcing? I would guess that there’d be a credibility issue sometimes, depending on which crowd you are speaking to. Have there been any pluses or minuses in your experience to conducting those types of surveys?
Mike: Actually, if you do it correctly, you can get relatively unbiased results in a large survey. It should be a valid sample if you do it right. If you do it wrong by not getting enough input, then you won’t get what you want. But on the other hand, just the most basic concepts—I put three logos up on Facebook, which I do all the time, and the people on Facebook say, “This is good, this is bad, this is good.” Usually within a few minutes, you probably have a relatively good idea what the market thinks. You can expand that into a more sophisticated survey anytime you want to. You can do a small, simple survey with some general feedback or you can survey millions of people and do very analytical, detailed research. It’s just what you’re trying to accomplish, essentially.
Pat: Now, once you gather the information, and you have this pool of data that you’ve collected. To the extent that you haven’t spoken to it yet, how do you implement that information into what you’re trying to accomplish, by way of starting a new business and such? How do you use that information?
Mike: It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, again. Our most recent crowd sourcing thing is: I’m trying to write a new book. The original name I wanted to use was Applied Evolution. Then I found this other name that sounded pretty cool: Understanding Humans. So we went out to 200 people, and 150 of them thought that Understanding Humans was a better name. So it was very simple, and it cost me about $50 to get the crowd to tell me that they liked my second name better than my first name. The point here is: how can I use that information? I can write a book with a better name, and it only cost me $50 to find a better name which might get my book distributed to thousands more people. It’s not clear what the result will be, but when I do a cover, logo, and slogan, I’ll have all sorts of options too, and I can put them back into the crowd. And by the time I’m done, before I go out into the market, I’ll have an idea that I have already selected things that the market will like.
Pat: Good advice.
Mike: I’m using that particular example, but you can do that for all your business text, your business plans, audio, video, logos, anything you want to do. You can go out into the crowd with an existing business or when starting a new one. The Facebook thing takes one minute and it’s free. You could go to MTurk for $50 and take a couple days, or you could hire a professional market research firm to scour the globe for a million bucks. It just depends on what direction you’re going and you’re trying to do. You shouldn’t miss it. It’s so cheap that everybody should try. There’s no reason not to.
Pat: That’s for sure. I have a question that leads nicely into our next slide here. I wanted to ask you about business plans and business models, and I’ve got someone asking a question: if their idea is 50% developed, is it possible to raise money for their business without a business plan—if they’ve already flushed out half of the information and it’s a great idea?
Mike: Unless you have a really deep resume, you cannot raise any money without a business plan unless it’s from your friend.
Mike: You can’t go to a venture capitalist without a business plan and ask for money unless they’re your friends or you’re Mark Andreessen.
Mike: Mark Andreessen invented the browser, for you young folks.
Pat: Was he the Netscape guy, eventually?
Mike: Yeah, he’s the Netscape guy.
Pat: Nah, I’m older than that. Tell me, what about plans versus models? Can you speak to us about some of the differences? And maybe you could lead in to some of our other bullet points here. I’m assuming you want these plans and models to be short and simple. Knowing your audience is always key. And then I want to wrap up this slide with what you say about believing in your mission. First, Mike, briefly: plans versus models. Can you give the reader’s digest version of that?
Mike: Sure. It’s mostly a matter of semantics. I try to start up a bunch of businesses as you know, and the issue is whether we’re going to raise money or not. In every case, the business entrepreneur needs to be able to explain what they’re going to do and what they’re doing. For one thing, they usually can barely explain it verbally, and if they can’t explain it verbally, they need to write it down for their own internal purposes no matter what. And secondly, if they want me or anybody else in the world to get involved or to hire anybody, they need to write it down so that it’s digestible for the rest of the world. That’s not a model—it’s just writing down what you’re doing for internal purposes.
Then, if you want to take that thing and raise money—have somebody give you hard cash that they earned on their own—then you have to make that a really bullet-proof, button-up document with all sorts of propsective information about the future market, your financial statements, your potential investors, your resumes, staff, the whole nine yards. If you go to Aux.com, there are links to all the things that you need to know there. Aux.com links to various business plans for ideas and things you can learn.
Pat: Now I appreciate you addressing that briefly here. Another place you can go to learn more about this is MakeMillions.com. MakeMillions.com is Mike Mann’s website where you can download a free version of Make Millions Secrets to Business and Personal Success. You read that book, and you’ll hear more from Mike about these ideas that he’s speaking about today. I appreciate you speaking to that.
Now moving on… We might be jumping ahead again because we’re speaking to people who are really in that beginning stage of starting a business. And as far as getting situated and getting their ducks in a row, to use the cliché—talk to me about dealing with bureaucracy. You say in your book that any sized business, no matter how healthy, if they don’t properly deal with bureaucracy, they might fail. Can you speak to me about that?
Mike: Sure. It’s amazing how insidious bureaucracy is. Once you have three or four employees, then somebody starts creating procedure manuals and all sorts of things which are probably actually necessary. But you never know when it starts becoming part of a big bureaucracy where you’re spending time on manuals and details and not selling to new customers and not training new employees. Everything is a time issue.
So the idea is that you build a company—let’s say with 50 employees—and your competitor has a company with 50 employees. They spend tons of time in meetings, getting signatures, getting signed off, running around in circles, filling out paperwork, taking care of their computers and personal items, and all sorts of random stuff. They are competing against your company that is spending more time selling to customers, servicing customers, hiring and training additional employees.
So bureaucracy again can paralyze all sorts of businesses. Small ones have a chance to avoid the bureaucracy while bigger ones always get some bureaucracy. The question is how you can minimize it, survive it, and use it as a weapon. Use the paperwork and computers to your advantage, and hopefully your competitors will trip over themselves, overdo things, overcomplicate things, waste time and money, while you’re selling to new customers.
Pat: Well said. One of the ways to navigate those tricky waters of bureaucracy is to hire professionals. If you need an accountant, hire a professional accountant. If you need an attorney, hire a professional lawyer. Maybe you could speak to that. Again, you’re a very shrewd businessman. I know that you don’t just throw money away, but aren’t lawyers and accountants and other professionals expensive to maintain?
Mike: Yes, and that’s the biggest problem. That’s a problem for your competitors, so that’s good. Either A) they have a lot of expenses for accountants and attorneys or B) they have weaknesses in their financial and legal systems. Most of those would be conceptually strategic advantages for you, assuming that you don’t have those same problems. In your case, you cannot leave any holes in your legal or accounting and you have to cover them. The issue is how you can cover it without going broke. Again, your competitor may be going broke with it. In my case, I believe it’s possible to incentivize everybody by giving them stock options, usually, or something equivalent to stock options.
Pat: Well said.
Mike: Then you can say, “Hey attorney, you might make a million dollars. If you take a little gamble on me, I’ll pay you half of your hourly rate. I’ll pay you half your hourly rate and I’m going to throw you a bone with these stock options. If I run a good company, you might make a million dollars on top of your hourly rate. If I don’t, you’ve got half of your hourly rate, for example.
Pat: Yeah, indeed.
Mike: In my case, the lawyers that take the stock options almost always get paid much more than the ones that just take the cash.
Pat: Interesting. This is the kind of stuff I like to hear when I speak to you. You’re a very interesting guy in that you’ve always got an anecdote to share, or something from your past where you had a big decision to make. … Just the way you’ve told me stories in the past, it has really helped me understand some of these more complicated concepts.
I wonder if at this point in the discussion—the things we’ve discussed already—do you have any kind of personal anecdote that maybe you could share with the folks, whether it relates to one of those attributes you discussed in the first chapter, some of the characteristics that successful entrepreneurs need to have, or whether it pertains to what we just discussed about hiring a professional. Is there a time in your life where hiring that attorney or having that accountant saved you a lot of money? Or maybe even more interesting for the folks might be to take one of those traits in the first chapter that we discussed at the beginning of the webinar and maybe expand on it a little bit. Was there a personal experience where you realized confidence was key? Was there a personal experience where you realized how important charity was for being successful? Is there a personal story you could share with us, Mike?
Mike: I think I can give you just one anecdote that kind of ties it all together. It’s a combination of things. You’re generally working on a team, and the general goal of those teams is to go for the money—to try to get a payout. In my case, we like to sell the companies, usually at the end, to try to make the biggest payout, or conceptually we can take dividends forever. The question is, at the end the day, what combination of character traits made the biggest amount of money in the actual day-to-day operations and day-to-day work? The answer is in selling a company or selling a brand, and the combination of factors that we already mentioned that make that achievable is the self-confidence and mixing the incentives together.
So in my case, whenever we go to do a deal, every time I’m in the room and every time I’m at the table everywhere, I always have the highest self-confidence. There is no chance that I’m going to go in there and not think that I know what I’m doing and not know what I want out of it. That’s going to be a sure thing—everything will be on every faction. I’m going to have the confidence. And I’m going to have people in the room that are incentivized that are going to make a fortune if we close this deal—the lawyers, for example, or other stockholders, the presidents of the company—so everybody’s highly incentivized and highly confident. So you bring those two attributes into the room, and you have a very highly disproportionate success rate, as opposed to going in the room and not being sure and not being incentivized. For example, some of my competitors have people the room that A) don’t hold any stock or stock options and B) don’t go in there absolutely sure that they know what they’re doing. They’re weak. They can’t compete. They’re going to get rolled over.
Pat: Well said. And I think you’re right. Everything we’re discussing here comes back to selling your brand. Before we can sell our brand, we need to create a brand. Your book, Make Millions Secrets to Business and Personal Success has a lot of information about creating a brand. In fact, that’s been a big part of your professional life, has it not?
Mike: For me, creating a good brand is the key to the whole thing. Brand awareness—how are people going to buy your product and tell their friends if they don’t know the name of your company and what it stands for? What it sells and why it’s a good idea to spend your money there. Getting a simple and powerful brand that’s contextual and keyword-heavy is always a good idea.
Pat: “Keyword-heavy.” If I’m not schooled in search engine optimization, what exactly do you mean by “keyword-heavy?”
Mike: In the modern day, and particularly for my businesses, we’re going to do marketing on the Internet, and the best way to do that is through Google, essentially. And in order to do work in Google, people search in Google based on the keywords that are in their minds. They’re not going to search for “my cool techno-wizardry,” but they might search for Phone.com or “phone services” for example. Again, in the modern-day Internet marketing sphere, one wants to have keyword-heavy names in their marketing name, so I would suggest that everybody who starts a new business clear English descriptive names just like we name our companies. You can’t always get that level of name, but “SEOservices.com” would be much better than “My SEO Company,” for example.
Pat: And tell me, Mike, how have you learned so much about what works by way of a name or a logo or a slogan? In closing on this slide, share with me some of your advice about spreading your logo around, the plusses and minuses of trademarking your logo and slogan (if that’s even possible), and coming up with the perfect logo. Really, you’ve already spoken to it, but I’m wondering in closing—maybe you could really emphasize, because in your book, you state that these decisions cannot be underestimated—the importance of these decisions cannot be glossed over. Why?
Mike: The idea here is that you and your staff are going to work on these plans every day for years trying to promote your brand. It would be foolish to pick Name A if Name B has a much more powerful public perception. You need to make sure in the beginning that you’ve picked the very best name; the very best brand slogan logo. You don’t want to change it or replace it—that’s called brand dilution, which makes your brand less valuable, more complex, and more confusing. You want a clear, simple, keyword-heavy, good-looking brand and domain name in clear English on day one. With that, you can stick with it and build it every day indefinitely. You won’t have to change it, so you won’t confuse your market space. They’ll know what you do, why you do it, where to find you; and that’s the way you make money, essentially.
If I can address a simple method of finding a good name for your company, there are lots of domain brokerage sites out there—including ours, DomainMarket.com—where you can go and search by keyword. For example, if you sell ocean-related services, you can type in the word “ocean” and find all the domains with the keyword “ocean” in them. And then you could look at those—let’s say there are a hundred of them. You could narrow it down to the top ten: the ones you like the best for your business name. Then you could go to MTurk, and for $50 you could have hundreds of people vote on those top ten names. And most of the names in the domain market cost $350. So the point is that within 48 hours and $350, you can have a great new name for your company that you can use for the rest of your life.
Pat: Well said; great advice. Now, as I read your book, there are several themes that you touch on all throughout the book. I’m talking about themes such as self-confidence, hard work, and another theme that occurs throughout your book is the term “Best Practices.” You are a strong subscriber to “Best Practices,” are you not?
Mike: Yes. That’s just a simple way of saying what works. Best Practices are what works. What are the Best Practices or software for managing sales leads? My book tries to talk about what those methods and products are. For example, we already know that SalesForce.com, or a product very similar to that, is the Best Practice: online marketing Internet-centric sales software that works great, that’s well known—that’s a Best Practice. So we can lock that in and tell everybody: you use SalesForce every day forever and do a good job at it. Again, that gives us a huge strategic advantage.
The next thing is: we have a website. What’s the Best Practice here? The Best Practice is to have a web form, put in potential customers, and have that data translate into your SalesForce database. It’s a simple concept; it’s a Best Practice, and one could do it forever. Every day you can develop hundreds and hundreds of Best Practices, lock them in, and make them standard operating procedures for your staff. That ensures that your staff will be efficient and profitable by following Best Practices instead of by crappy practices, which is the opposite of Best Practices.
Pat: And in the book you state—and in the examples you’ve given here—they seem a bit further down the line than where we’re at with still coming up with a concept for a business or writing a business plan. However, in your book, you state that Best Practices should be documented from day one. The processes you have already been describing here: branding and coming up with a business plan. You can be documenting Best Practices all throughout that process, no?
Mike: Absolutely. So, in everything you and your staff do, you should be constantly logging them in. And really, most of them are already out there. For example, my book is mostly an aggregation of Best Practices. I mentioned a lot of the books and magazines, YouTube, and things like that which I study, follow, and watch. For the most part, I just tried to grab the very best things that are already out there in the public domain, the Best Practices, and put them all in one place and tell people, “Hey, this is how you make millions of dollars. These are the Best Practices.” So, new and existing businesses can take those practices, copy and paste them into their own standard operating procedure manuals, and tell their staff, “Hey, here are your Best Practices.” They can add to it—add as much as possible. The point here is that everybody has the procedures and ideas to make money without having an inefficient and ineffective bureaucracy. They can stay focused on their business plan, follow Best Practices, and follow constant incremental improvement for years. That provides a big strategic advantage and should allow them to make a disproportionate amount of profit in their existing market space.
Pat: And it leads nicely into our next slide, which is: “Don’t miss opportunities.” Perhaps properly documenting Best Practices, replacing old ideas, having a future to-do list—are these ways you could avoid missing out on opportunities?
Mike: There’s a concept called opportunity cost. Very frequently, business coast along and do what they do, and they say, “My business has been going good. It’s been going like this for years. We grow at such and such a rate, we make such and such amount of profit.” And somebody on the outside can say, “Well, why didn’t you try address this law in your business? Why didn’t you try to expand into this market over here?” They lost that opportunity—the cost of that opportunity. If they could have made a million dollars over that period exploring this other business avenue and they failed to do so, their opportunity cost was a million dollars. They lost a million dollars and they didn’t even know it because they were just sitting there coasting along. That’s actually a huge thing.
If you’re always looking and paying attention and trying things out, you’re not going to miss very many opportunities. You’re not going to have that opportunity cost. It’s an abstract expense that is conceptually dragging you down while your competitors eat away at you. In my book and my mind, there’s no such thing as a static business. Businesses are dynamic—you’re either moving forward or moving backward. If you’re coasting along, you’re really losing out because you’re being compared to the performance of your competitors, who are moving forward. If there’s a gap widening, that means you’re actually falling behind even if your numbers are steady. So there’s really no such thing as standing still. You’re either moving forward you’re falling backwards because of your competitors. It’s a competitive, dynamic market space, and you’re always supposed to be pushing for the top and not allowing opportunity costs or bureaucracy to harm you. You want as much of that on your competitors as possible.
Pat: Wow, again, seemingly daunting to me. These principles you’re describing do take a lot of confidence and hard work to achieve these goals.
Mike: Yes. There’s a final takeaway if you’d like. Most people I talk to are already working hard a full week. For the most part, my ideas are not really making one work any harder for more hours because most people are already working as many hours as they can. It’s just working differently, working smarter: using better tools, people, and ideas, you can make more money in the same number of hours of the day.
Pat: So we try new methods, we work smarter, and we also “don’t throw cash in the garbage.” That’s from your work as well. How do we avoid throwing cash in the garbage, and when will we know if we’re throwing cash in the garbage?
Mike: The idea is to try lots of small, incremental tests. If you’re trying lots of little things over a long period of time, you double down—you reinvest in the things that are giving you positive feedback, profits, and analytics. You keep investing in it. Conversely, those things that you invested in that constantly show you they’re not going to work that you don’t have confidence in, then you’re going to stop investing in it, so you won’t really throw money in the toilet because they’re small, simple, low-cost tests—ones that work you’re profitable on, you’re growing; ones that don’t work—you’re dumping them before you lose too much, essentially.
Pat: Well said. We’ve got some questions coming in from the audience. I know there are several people listening to this webinar, and Mike is going to be answering a few of your questions when we’re done here. We’re almost done with the presentation. I’m excited to get into a few of the questions, and I’m sure he’s ready to answer them for you. I’m just going to wrap up the presentation here.
Mike, you talk a lot about making progress. One concept that appealed to me in the book is this idea of improving a little each day. Sometimes I’ve been known as a procrastinator. The first line of your book—I love it—really speaks to that. The first line says, “Getting started in business is the hardest part.” I think “getting started in business is the hardest part” and “improving a little each day” relate to each other. You can’t take too big a bite. You speak in the book about charting your progress, having small tasks to accomplish each day, and those will obviously add up over time. Can you address that concept a little bit for us?
Mike: It makes some sense that getting started is the hardest part. If you look at other things in the world in that light, you’ll notice the same kind of thing as well. For example, if I wanted to dive into the ocean, getting my brain acclimatized to getting cold would be hard. It’s like jumping into the business world where you’re going to have to compete viciously every day with a bunch of competitors and have hundreds of meetings, paperwork, spreadsheets—it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have to acclimatize your brain to deal with it. Again, jumping in the water, you’re going to be cold, but you can start stretching, swimming around, and warming up; and pretty soon you’ll be an Olympic swimmer and cold won’t affect you any. It’s a matter of training and incremental improvement every day.
It’s the same with business: you start with confidence, jump in there, and get really cold. We spoke about a lot of failures that will happen along the way. As you fail, your ratio of successes increases so you get more and more successful every day. You warm up, you get better, you get trained, you get more fit, and you get more confidence. And at the same time, you’re building a team. The team is getting those same attributes. They’re all adding to your Best Practices, confidence, brand, and constantly incrementally improving every day. The more you do it in lock-step, the better. I like the example of SEO.com, where we started a few years ago with a handful of people. Now there are 100 people in lock-step moving forward using successful practices—selling, serving, and training customers—just as I’ve described.
Pat: Well said, Mike. Another thing I think I’m guilty of at times is that I trip over a lot of dimes to save pennies, I’m afraid. You say that sometimes saving money may not be your best option. You say that sometimes you’re going to need to spend a little bit of money to make money. Is this important for that entrepreneur who is really at these early stages of starting a business? Is that an important concept to remember?
Mike: It’s really important for everybody in some cases. Now, you don’t want to waste money, but you want to make educated bets and constantly test those bets; reinforce those bets that seem to be working and drop out the bets that don’t seem to be working. If we think about it conceptually: if you want to make a million dollars in the ocean business but you don’t have a boat, then it’s going to be really difficult. Unless you’re willing to spend money and invest in a boat, you’re screwed; you’re not going to get anywhere.
If you have two entrepreneurs standing on the beach, and one says, “I have the confidence to take the risk to go get a boat. I’m going to get a cheap boat and see how well it works.” And the other guy says, “No, I can’t spend any money. I’m trying to make money. I’m unwilling to spend any money because I need to make money. I can’t afford to spend any.” He’s going to be at the mercy of the other guy who owns the boat, so he’s just going to get the first guy’s scrap. He’s going to be an employee of the first guy or he’s going to be unemployed. One has to be willing to take some educated bets and risks, invest time and money—time is equivalent to money—in order to make a greater amount of time and money.
Pat: And just so people know that you know of what you speak: Mike Mann did not go to Harvard Business School. Mike Mann is a self-made businessman. You’re fond of saying that you didn’t attend the best college, you didn’t come from very privileged roots, but you became a success over time because of hard work. You write in your book, “Overall, hard work might not be only disparity separating the rich from the poor, but it certainly enhances any other advantages the average professional brings to the economic table.”
Mike: Can I just clarify that a tiny little bit? I sort of came from privileged roots in some respects but I didn’t inherit any of it. I just had a chance to get a good education and live in a good community. I didn’t come from Donald Trump’s family, but I was privileged in the sense that I got a reasonable education. I did go to some college, and I did go to a good college—I went to Santa Barbara City College for two years. I got an ‘A’ in business management at a perfectly decent school, but it wasn’t any competition to Stanford, Harvard, and schools like that.
Pat: No offense. That was the dualism I was trying to create there.
Mike: No, you were actually mostly correct, but I just wanted to clarify that Santa Barbara City College is actually a good school. I didn’t want to say that it’s not a good school—it is a good school—it’s just a two-year local institution.
Pat: If there are any Santa Barbara City College people in the crowd, I apologize. Don’t get the wrong idea.
Mike: Harold Whiting from Santa Barbara City College. He might be here.
Pat: Another passage from your book and then we’ll take a few questions. “Simply by being in the game and being serious about trying to succeed will help you win 50 percent of your competitive battles, and therefore account for half of your success.” This has got to be encouraging for folks.
Mike: Right. This makes perfect sense. There are ten people standing on the beach. Five of them jump in the cold water and the other five cannot compete for the swimming title because they didn’t get in the water.
Pat: Nice, excellent.
Mike: It’s the same thing. There are ten people thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. Five of them have a business plan and the other five can’t compete. So just by being in the game, you’re 50 percent ahead.
Pat: Well said. We’ve kind of gone over time here. I apologize if any of you had anywhere to go. Again, speaking with Mike… I could talk to you all day, Mike.
Pat: Now, I do have a couple questions. There is somebody who has submitted a couple of questions. So before I leave, I just want to throw these out at you and hopefully get an answer. Is that okay?
Pat: Somebody in the audience wants to know: Where is the best place, or who is the best person to go to, for writing a sizzling business plan?
Mike: To have a third party write it for her?
Mike: The answer is: I don’t know. But I would go to LinkedIn and try to search by the correct keywords—business plan writing expertise—and read the plans that they have written and talk to the presidents of those companies. A simpler metric is: did they get funded or not? If they did, then hire them. If they didn’t, then don’t hire them.
Pat: Excellent. My suggestion of course for a winning business plan would be PRMarketing.com. We create awesome business plans—sizzling.
Pat: I appreciate that. One last question: Do the Best Practices need to be part of the business plan?
Mike: You certainly want to identify that you have methods of following Best Practices. You could either mention them or reference them. You want investors to realize that you’re studied, you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be serious, and you’re going to follow good practices and not random practices. A huge portion of business just plays it off the cuff and doesn’t have any organization and documentation—it’s just a survival technique.
Pat: Mike, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversation today. My name’s Pat Parkinson. I’m the Director of Public Relations at PRMarketing.com, one of Mike’s companies, by the way. Mike, is there anything else you’d like to add? I think it has been an excellent discussion. We’ve hit on many topics from your book Make Millions Secrets to Business and Personal Success. That is available for free. There is a free download at MakeMillions.com. Do you have anything else to add before we close today?
Mike: I’d just like to tell people: if they want to learn more and follow up, they can go to MikeMann.com. There are links to everything I speak about, mostly. There is InternetApplications.com, which is loaded with great ideas and other free sites. There is Aux.com with all sorts of links. All those links are at MikeMann.com. And also if you’re interested, I put tons of stuff up on Facebook. I can be joined on Facebook through MikeMann.com or through anywhere. I appreciate everyone listening in all the time.
Pat: Definitely friend Mike on Facebook. I love following your posts.
Mike: I appreciate it.
Pat: Okay, thanks for your time today, Mike. I’m sure everybody has enjoyed the conversation.
Mike: Great. You did a great job, Pat. Thanks a lot.
Pat: Thank you. Have a good day.