The Best Advice I Ever Got
This little incident happened about 30 years ago at an industry conference I was attending. I was in the real estate business and the industry was going through some difficult times. I was young and thought I knew a lot more than I did. I thought I was fairly smart. But I learned a valuable lesson and it was not from the speakers at the event.
You see, we were provided lunch and everyone got to sit around one of those large round tables that seats 8 to 10 people. Well there was one gentleman at our table who was obviously heads and shoulders above the rest of us. He had the appearance and bearing of success.
As we were finishing our meal, he said, “I would like to ask you’ll a question. If you only had $500 left to your name and business was bleak, what would you do with the last $500? Would you save it for food for your family or invest it in the business?”
As I remember, I was the first to speak up. I asked, “Is that a trick question? Of course I would save it to feed my family.”
Then he asked a question that made everyone at the table stop and think. He said, “So in 60 days or so, the $500 will be gone on food. What will you do then? Why spend your precious resources on something that will run out in a few days. Why not invest in something that will guarantee food of the table for a long time to come?”
My face was red, but I had been drawn in. So I asked, “How should I spend the $500?”
That is when I got the best advice I have ever gotten. “You can invest in yourself and marketing. Those two investments, done properly will always generate the highest return possible. But whether you invest your precious resources in yourself or in marketing, make sure you are prepared to take action. Those are not passive investments. You will be required to do some work to make those investments pay off”
Those words have stayed with me for a long time. It is the best advice I have ever gotten.
Think about it. When times are tough, there is very little reward in cutting business expenses. There are huge rewards in growing your business, increasing your income.
It is the old story, would you rather have a fish or learn how to catch fish anytime you are hungry.
Here are some tips for investing in your self:
- Learn to set priorities. You cannot manage time. You can only manage yourself.
- Develop the habit of asking, “What is the most valuable use of my time right now?”
- Learn to overcome self-limiting beliefs.
- Get clear on your goals for your business and your life.
- Take courses that will help you overcome fear and procrastination.
- Get outside your comfort zone at least once a day.
- Learn that all failure is associated with excuses. Stop making excuses for your actions.
- Learn to take action, measure and adjust.
Here are some tips for investing in marketing:
- Focus on what the customer wants, not what you think is best.
- Never assume you know what the customer wants, ask.
- Make sure that all your advertising and marketing has traceable results. If you can’t measure the results, how will you know what’s working?
- Focus on the customer’s needs and you will sell more.
- Develop your unique story. If you cannot clearly articulate why someone should do business with you, you probably should not be in business.
- There is no profit in being second lowest price. Low price is not a sustainable position. Figure out how you can deliver more and charge more. People are not looking for cheap, they are looking for value. Make sure your products or service delivers value.
- Look at all your marketing material – ads, yellow page ads, etc. Does your ad say anything that your competitor cannot say? If not change your ad.
- Again look at your marketing material. Read it and ask the “So what?” question. If there is not a compelling answer, then you need to change your material.