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Do you delegate your work to others so that you can do more? Do you find delegating easy? If you find handing over control over certain tasks difficult, this video might be for you. I discuss mindsets that prevent us from delegating and how we can overcome our resistance to delegating.

Do you resist delegating things to other people? Do you like doing things yourself? Perhaps it’s time to reconsider and be more open to ‘delegation’.

Sir Richard Branson famously said, “If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.”

One important reason to delegate is that it frees up your resources as a business owner. Time is a very important resource—and so is mental space. When you delegate tasks to others, you are not only freeing up time but also your mental capacity to focus on the important things. When you free up your resources, you’ll have more resources to use for the most important things in your business—matters that only you, as a business owner, can do or decide on.

But why does delegating still feel so difficult? I’d like to share with you some statements that I found in my research that support the notion that delegation is difficult.

  1. I’m used to doing things myself and worry whether someone else can do these tasks the way I would do them.
  2. It will take me a lot of time and effort to train someone else before a task is done the way I do it.
  3. My business operates on a very limited budget and I may not be able to afford to employ new heads to delegate these tasks to.
  4. I love doing these things, and I do them well!

Do any of these statements apply to you?

I am not immune to the resistance to delegating, and I can identify with a few of them, especially on point number 2. I admit it, I am with everyone else on this. But how can we change this thinking? How can we shift the mindset that is preventing us from delegating work to others?

Instead of thinking about and concerning ourselves with what we will lose in the process of delegating or outsourcing—control, we focus on what we would be gaining if we let of certain tasks. Take a sheet of paper and write down the pros and cons of delegating tasks to other people.

One disadvantage of delegation is losing absolute control. It sounds like a dictatorship, doesn’t it? But it’s true! There will an increase in costs and there will be a variation in the results, which can frazzle you if you are a perfectionist.

But the advantage is less stress and increased free time, a resource you can use to focus on your business—and focus on growing your business. Your free time can be used to work on your business, rather than working in it.

Here are 4 ways to shift that mindset of giving up control into gaining time and mental space:

  1. You may think that you’re the best person to do certain tasks—and perhaps that’s true, for now. But what if you find someone who does it just as well as if not better than you? Wouldn’t that be better for the business? Instead of using your time to do all of these tasks—and using up so much mental space on so many tasks that someone else can do, why not use your time and mental energy to plan for growth, to strategise, and to execute these plans?

In my video, Your business can only grow as big as you can manage, I discuss how you—yes, you, the business owner—can be holding your business back by continuing to do everything. The reality is, the business owner alone cannot manage all of these areas singlehandedly. Your business can grow no bigger than what you can effectively manage.

What can business owners do instead? Take things off of your plate and retain only the things that will help you achieve your goals. Delegate or outsource the rest!

  • It does take time and it does take effort to train people to takeover certain tasks. Some people may need more time than you probably needed to be efficient in these tasks. But instead of thinking about it as time and effort wasted, why not shift that mindset and think of it as investing your time on something that can help free up your time in the long run? Time is not wasted when there is a return—and regaining back that time is a worthy investment!

Time is the most valuable asset—it is limited and non-renewable. In my video, Managing your business’s most important asset – your time, I provide tips on how business owners can make the best use of their time by focusing on the tasks that matter the most—the tasks that only you, the business owner, can fulfill and accomplish. What to do with the rest? Delegate, of course!

  • You don’t need to employ people full time to get help. There are many ways to get help without increasing overhead. You can hire someone part time, or hire a virtual assistant through online market places such as Upwork or Freelancer.

Outsourcing is one if the three things you can do to take your business to the next level as I explain in my video, 3 ways to improve your business today. Many times, particularly for small businesses, it makes much more sense to outsource certain areas of the operations (such as IT and database management or even payroll and bookkeeping) rather than upgrading systems or hiring new staff, which will only increase overhead costs and erode profits.

There are also many small businesses in Australia that outsource non-core operations to other businesses or professionals. For example, Whole Kids Australia (link to video forthcoming) keeps their operations small by focusing on what they are great at—and that’s marketing and product development, and delegating the rest, such as warehousing and distribution. In this way, they keep their operations small, which is their vision, without compromising on the quality of their products.

  • For any entrepreneur, time is an important asset—and so is your focus. Multitasking hurts you more than you think. In my previous video, Is multitasking hurting your business?, I share what scientific studies say about multitasking (hint: it’s not good for you!), and what you can do instead, which is to focus on the important tasks and delegate the rest!

So, think about what you can delegate and then find the resources to invest in that process. This will be the start of your continued business growth.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

Do you know of Purplebricks? If you have been in the market for a house or looking to sell a house, you might have encountered Purplebricks Australia—the Australian arm of the British real estate startup.

In this video, I discuss one of Britain’s business success stories: Purplebricks. More particularly, I share with you reasons why it could not replicate its success in Britain.

What is Purplebricks?

Purplebricks is a real estate agency that has a different model of selling homes; it claimed to be a disruptor in the United Kingdom real estate market. Launched in 2014, the online agency set out to disrupt the real estate market by implementing a fixed-fee structure, rather than commission, to make the process of buying and selling real estate more transparent and cost-effective.

Purplebricks rode on its successes in the UK and launched in Australia in September 2016. It promised to save Australians an average of $11,500 under this new model. However, in May 2019, it announced that it was quitting the Australian market, two and half years after entering it with a promise to shake things up.

Why didn’t it work out in Australia?

A press release from the company claimed that market conditions in the Australian real estate market have become increasingly challenging. But some real estate experts believe that problems began even before the real estate market became a challenge.

Purplebricks spent more on marketing than they made in revenue. They spent about AU$20 million to create buzz and attract the market in the hopes of growing the company rapidly. It is difficult to sustain this kind of spending.

They put most of their marketing spend on expensive TV ads instead of focusing their efforts on targeted digital marketing. Not everybody who watches TV will be selling their property at that point in time. Not only is this expensive, but it is also wasteful given their budget and the geographical reach that the company was trying to achieve. Digital marketing, on the other hand, could be executed with specific targets in mind—those who are looking to sell their property or to buy one. And when used properly, digital marketing can be effective in nurturing customers.

In my video, Small business, big problems, I discuss why managing cash flow effectively is important for any business.

They didn’t nurture customer relationships. When you spend AU$20 million in marketing, you should at least aim to nurture long-term relationships with your customers—potential, current, or past. But customers felt that their relationship with Purplebricks remained purely transactional.

They didn’t provide value to customers. Property sellers were required to pay the full fee whether their property sold or not, which left no incentive for Purplebricks agents to sell the properties. The fixed fee model typically works in booming seller's markets, when buyers would gladly snap up whatever is available. But when the market slows down, agents will tend to prioritise properties that they can immediately sell because each property owner pays a fixed fee.

They didn’t listen to their front lines. Purplebricks did not want to change the model to suit the Australian market. There is a difference in the markets. For example, most UK home sellers would gladly handle their own open homes. In Australia, home sellers expect that agents will do this for them. Purplebricks was not transparent about charging property sellers for doing open homes, which surprised many. Their agents communicated this with the company, but the company refused to budge until October 2018, when it became too late for any changes to save the failing company.

The business model itself seems to be the issue. In the outset, a supposedly low-cost, fixed-fee model seems to benefit the customer—AU$11,500 in savings is very substantial. But it only makes sense if the customer gets the service it promises—in this case, if the property gets sold. But it turns out, paying the fixed fee does not guarantee that the property gets sold. The fixed-fee model also does not provide the traditional incentive model that spurs agents to push to sell a property. In the end, it feels as if Purplebricks is the only one gaining from this because it receives a fee whether the property gets sold or not.

What lessons can be learned?

What happened to Purplebricks Australia is similar to what happened to Bunnings UK. In my video, The Bunnings Lesson – What we can learn from it, I discuss how business arrogance can lead to costly mistakes. Business arrogance is when you think that what happens to other businesses could not possibly happen to yours. In reality, it can. It happened to Bunnings. It happened to Purplebricks.

Understand the market. In the case of Purplebricks, failing to address customer concerns despite being raised by the front lines proved to be disastrous for the company. Just because it works in the UK does not guarantee that the model will work in Australia. A product or service is only as successful as its effectivity in solving a problem. Australian property owners face different problems and issues compared to their counterparts in the UK.

The goal should have been to develop a product that suited the needs of the Australian market. In this case, Australian property owners put a lot of value in open houses that are organised by agents. It makes sense to build a model that accommodates this.

Another way it could have prevented this pitfall was to inform or educate customers about services that the fixed fee didn’t include. This is important when you introduce a low-cost model. Customers need to know in advance which features and functions will be pared down and which ones you will be offering.

Customer expectations matter. And when you choose which features to take out or offer as a paid feature, you still need to take into account what the customer values. Again, it boils down to understanding what the market needs, what it wants, and what it values.

Rationalise spending. It is unwise to spend more than what you make. And when you spend on something, make sure that you make the most out of it. Make every dollar in marketing spend work—and it works best when you work to develop a relationship with your customers. This starts when you make an effort in solving their problems.

As a new player, the odds are already stacked against Purplebricks. They are already at a disadvantage at having to educate the market about their service. And because they operated a fixed-fee model, Purplebricks does not have the same revenue-generating capacity as their competitors operating on the traditional commissions-based model. To overcome these disadvantages, they needed to attract market share immediately. To do so, they needed to make huge investments in marketing resources. Unfortunately, they didn’t maximise their marketing spending and focused on mass market channels such as TV ads. They were too focused on generating awareness that they didn’t prioritise nurturing customer relationships.

So what could Purplebricks have done differently? They were correct in focusing on marketing and educating their market. But they could have done so more systematically. They could have targeted their marketing dollars in digital marketing or utilised unconventional marketing practices that their competition weren’t fully utilising. Most importantly, listening to people working in the front lines from the start could’ve prevented some of the problems that they encountered.

I’m sure Purplebricks entered the Australian market expecting to make a profit and did not expect to make mistakes discussed above. However, no business has ever expected to make such fundamental mistakes—and it doesn’t mean that business won’t make them. Just make sure that you don’t.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

Small businesses can do big things. In this new series of videos, we will look into small businesses in Australia—their humble beginnings, their growth story, and the lessons that we can learn from them.

Today, we will look into the story of Mountain Bikes Direct and it’s unique business model that allows employees to work while pursuing their shared passion for mountain biking.

Their story

Mountain Bikes Direct is an Australian-based online business selling mountain bikes and related products, such as parts, accessories, and clothing. It considers itself as a pure play company or a company focusing merely on a specific niche—in this case, products related to mountain bikes.

However, while this 8-year-old small business caters to a specific niche in the sporting goods market, it turned over AU$10 million in annual revenue in 2018.

This is impressive considering that this online-only company operates with only 14 employees—4 of which were only added in the last year. They pride themselves with their topnotch customer service. They are not only able to supply the largest range of mountain bike parts, clothing, and accessories in Australia, but they also provide expert knowledge to their customers.

If that’s not impressive enough, consider this little tidbit: this small team rarely even sees each other. That’s because Mountain Bikes Direct does not have a central hub or office—they all work remotely, but communicate and collaborate regularly through platforms like Slack and Asana. The team resides all over Australia: the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne, Mount Beauty, Canberra, and even Colorado, USA.

Every single member of the Mountain Bikes Direct team is a mountain bike expert who continues to passionately pursue their love for mountain biking, thanks to their unique culture and work set-up. They are all required to be online and at work at a pre-determined set of hours—but beyond these hours, team members are free to pursue their hobbies and interests. They are not even required to respond to queries sent outside of their work hours.

Each team member works remotely from home and provides customer support through chat. And because they are scattered all over Australia and with one team member based out in Colorado, the team is able to provide almost round-the-clock customer service support.

What we can learn

  1. Build a business model that supports your business and life goals.

Before setting up Mountain Bikes Direct, the four founders owned and ran a brick-and-mortar mountain bike shop. They realised the limitations and challenges of operating a physical store, and so they decided to sell the physical store and focus their attention online.

While an e-commerce business provided a different set of problems and challenges, they felt that this business model allowed them to pursue their business and personal goals. For example, being a purely online store meant that they could provide a wider range of parts to customers because they do not face the challenges of keeping inventory in a limited space of a physical store.

They also don’t need to deal with overhead costs associated with running a business in a physical space. This is certainly an advantage particularly because the cycling retail industry is a highly competitive industry, as large international competitors are increasingly slashing retail prices to earn market share.

The other obvious advantage of going online-only is that it eliminated the time restrictions of running a physical store. They didn’t need to show up in a bike shop day-in, day-out to run the operations during store hours—or stay after hours to check inventory and do back office operations. They instead used the time to pursue their hobbies and passions, and it provided them with more time to be with their family.

Jen Geale, one of the co-founders, said, “Over time we realised that we wanted to focus on e-commerce for reasons both business and personal, so Michael and I took the lead on creating a new brand, Mountain Bikes Direct, that was online-only.”

  • Provide the right infrastructure to support your business model

One of the challenges of having an online-only business is the lack of face-to-face interaction with customers. In the early days of their operations, people would call their hotline just to see if there were people behind the website and to check whether they were a legitimate operation. The team quickly realised that the best way to handle these issues was through better communication.

They re-designed the website to include many trust signals and answers to frequently asked questions. They eventually took out their hotline and replaced it with live chat that allowed the team to provide a personalised and real-time response to customer queries. Best of all, they are able to serve more customers. And thanks to the different locations of their team members, there is always someone you can have a live chat with at the Mountain Bikes Direct website 17 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Geale strongly believes that their structure truly supports the business goals they are trying to achieve. She says, “Being online-only means we can offer a more comprehensive service time-wise. We can help more customers. We can help customers simultaneously. We can provide expertise between six a.m. and eleven p.m. seven nights a week.

  • Hire based on goals, and keep them motivated

To make sure that they could grow the business sustainably, the founders realised that this meant they had to build a lean team of mountain bike experts who are passionate about nurturing a mountain bike community. This means that anyone working with Mountain Bikes Direct, including its founders, should have the time to pursue their shared passion, which is exploring the great outdoors on their mountain bikes.

How can you remain an expert in mountain biking if you don’t pursue a mountain biking lifestyle? It only made sense to create and nurture a team that works in a flexible environment: a team that “gets to work hours that suit their lives.”

This unique working environment is responsible for a staff retention rate of 100% in the last couple of years. Because Mountain Bikes Direct provides a flexible working arrangement with clear guidelines on what is expected of them, team members are motivated to work.

In my video, How to motivate employees the right way, I shared how providing employees with a reasonable amount of autonomy can lead to highly motivated employees. As team members are able to pursue their passion for mountain bikes, team members are able to provide expert advice to their customers. This creates a virtuous cycle that benefits customers, motivates employees, and enables the growth of Mountain Bikes Direct.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

Small businesses can do big things. In this new series of videos, we will look into small businesses in Australia—their humble beginnings, their growth story, and the lessons that we can learn from them.

Today, we will look into the story of Billie Goat Soap and its founder, Leanne Faulkner.

Their story

Leanne Faulkner, whose youngest son was born with eczema, is the creator and founder of Billie Goat Soap. Her young son used steroids to treat eczema, and she was concerned about the effects of long-term steroid use. This led her to do research on how to naturally treat and manage eczema.

Faulkner described herself as a frustrated farmer—her family owned a few acres of land and had dairy goats in the property. She researched about the benefits of goat’s milk in treating eczema, learned how to make soap from goat’s milk and natural oils, and used her homemade soaps on her son. Seeing the results on her son spurred her to start her goats milk soap company in 2005.

Faulkner used her communication and selling skills to bring the first batches of Billie Goat Soap into the market. She was very strategic on who, when, and how to approach about her product. She started introducing her products to health food stores, then farmers markets, then retail and gift stores, and finally to department stores.

Faulkner worked in organisational development and employee training prior to starting her company, and she used her background to grow her sales team. As a small company, she didn’t have the resources to put a sales consultant in every store. Instead, she trained the sales personnel in the retail stores that carried her product. She built strong relations with these sales people, even going so far as sending a bouquet of edible blooms in every counter with a personal card attached.

By working and leveraging on available resources, Billie Goat Soap grew and sold across Australia. It also successfully expanded its product line to include balms, skin care, and even a baby care line. At its peak, Billie Goat Soap turned over AU$2.4 million annually.

Unfortunately, a stress-fueled breakdown brought by a retail slump and the demands of running a small business led Faulkner to step down from her post and sell her company to The Heat Group in 2012. Today, Faulkner advocates for moremental health resources to support small business owners.

What can we learn

Not all small businesses have a happy ending, but there are lessons that we can learn from Billie Goat Soap’s story.

(1) Forecast what is needed to grow

Faulkner advices small business owners to plan appropriately for growth—specifically, having the right amount of funding to drive business development and expansion. While funding is important, I think the example of Billie Goat Soap also shows that having the right skills, such as management and leadership skills, is also very crucial.

And so, when we plan for growth, we need to also consider the resources needed to grow. In my video, When does your business benefit from seeking professional advice? (link forthcoming—not yet published), I share advice from Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, who believes that planning to grow entails planning to hire or work with people who have the skill base and experience that matches your growth objectives.

(2) Communicate to your employees, to your customers, and to your suppliers

Clear communication helps to ensure that anyone connected to the business knows what the goals are and understands how the business aims to achieve them.”

Build a relationship with the people you work with. In Faulkner’s case, she took the effort to build strong relationships with the sales people working in the retail stores who played a major part in growing the revenue of the company.

How can you continue to build strong relationships with your employees, your customers, and your suppliers?

(3) Look after yourself

Faulkner is an advocate of mental health. She has been vocal about her stress and anxiety—and how this affected her mental health in 2011.

In my video, Overcoming Entrepreneurial Exhaustion, I discuss three things that entrepreneurs and business owners can do to overcome exhaustion. That said, mental health is a medical issue. Whilst we expect to look out for and manage stress that comes with operating a business, bringing consultants and expending your team can help in many areas. But there are instances when stress starts to change who you are.

If you feel that the stress of running a business is getting to you, please seek help from a professional because they are trained to listen unconditionally and provide much needed intervention.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

While reality shows seem to feature fantasy over reality, I find it very interesting when motivated and hardworking entrepreneurs become the subject of a long-running reality show like Shark Tank. Running for 10 years already, the Shark Tank in the United States has produced many successful ventures that turns over millions of dollars annually.

In this video, I explore what small business owners like you and me can learn from successful entrepreneurs of Shark Tank.

In two previous videos, we discussed certain prominent judges of the US version of Shark Tank and the lessons we can learn from them (link forthcoming).

This time, I explore lessons from two of the most successful business ventures to come out of that series—and one venture that failed to seal a deal with a Shark but became one of the most successful companies to come out of Shark Tank, and was later bought by Amazon for more than US$1 billion in 2018.

Lesson from Scrub Daddy: Provide a solution to a pain point

Aaron Krause is the founder and inventor of Scrub Daddy, a non-scratching reusable sponge that made cleaning very easy, thanks to the scrub’s characteristics. He developed his first scrub in 2006, but failed to secure any sales, and so sold most of his sponges to the 3M Company as scraps. In 2011, in need of sponges to clean off his own lawn furniture, he discovered that his special sponges got the job done without scratching any surface.

In 2012, he went into the Shark Tank and secured a deal with Lori Greiner. To date, Scrub Daddy has made more than US$50 million since its pitch.

Scrub Daddy provides a simple solution to an everyday problem. It makes cleaning easy. But that’s not all—the product has also been lab tested to rinse clear of debris and resist odors for up to two months. Krause and Greiner, both inventors, have said it again and again—successful products are ones that provide easy solutions to your customer’s pain points.

It all boils down to your customers. How can you help them? How do your products and services minimise or even eliminate their pain points? How can you improve the products and services you offer today to make sure that you provide a better solution to your customers’ pain points?

Lesson from Tipsy Elves: Identify risks and diversify

Founded by college friends Evan Mendelsohn and Nicklaus Morton, Tipsy Elves started out as a company that designed and sold ugly Christmas sweaters. The company differentiated themselves from other ugly sweater creators by using higher quality materials and also by teaming up with Save the Children, an American non-profit organisation, in dedicating a portion of their profits to providing underprivileged American children with winter clothing. After their pitch, they partnered with Robert Herjavec.

One of the risks that Herjavec and the founders of Tipsy Elves identified from the very beginning is the seasonality of the product—it only came out during a few months in the year. So one of the things that they immediately worked on was diversifying their product line so that the company has business the entire year. They have since expanded to over twenty clothing categories, including Hawaiian shirts and swim trunks, patriotic clothing, and Halloween costumes. Since their pitch in 2014, the company has seen more than US$50 million in revenue.

Most, if not all businesses experience business cycles—and throughout the year, there will be lean months and there will be months when we see a lot of business.

The question you should ask yourself is, how can you diversify so that you can have more business during the lean months? What can you do so that you can extend your busy months?

Lesson from Ring: Have a focused vision

In 2013, Jamie Siminoff pitched his product, then called Doorbot, a doorbell with a camera that sent video to users' smartphones. Despite having made solid sales for Doorbot, Siminoff walked away without a deal. His appearance in Shark Tank only increased interest for his doorbell camera, but this is a story of overcoming many challenges.

The first set of Doorbots he launched into the market produced poor video quality and had spotty WiFi capabilities. Siminoff had to spend 9 months responding to customer complaints. Funding also continued to be a challenge.

But Siminoff was motivated by his purpose: to make neighborhoods safer for everyone. He designed his smart doorbell because his wife had difficulty hearing when someone rang the doorbell and also because of his own concerns for home security. While there were smart doorbells in the market, it did not provide the benefits that he wanted from one.

So he pushed forward. Eventually, he was able to work with a manufacturer who could improve the quality of his doorbells. He also found partners to work with, one of whom suggested to change the name from Doorbot to a simpler name, Ring, that had a better recall.

He was also introduced to Richard Branson who lead the last round of funding for the company. In case you did not know, Branson sometimes appears as a guest judge on the Shark Tank. You could say that Siminoff eventually walked away with a deal from a Shark.

In 2018, Ring was bought by Amazon for US$1 billion.

When things became difficult, Siminoff held on to his purpose and his vision for the company. He was specifically motivated by his desire to provide a solution for an important pain point: home security—much like how Scrub Daddy offers a solution for a pain point in home cleaning. And Ring itself has diversified, offering other complementary home security products—much like how Tipsy Elves diversified their product lines.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >