At our last bi-weekly partner meeting, Jerome, co-founder/CEO of SnapEngage, mentioned that several investors had emailed him to see if he’d be interested in talking. When I asked how he responded, his reply was beautiful…
In the past couple months I’ve participated in three intensive, mind-blowing workshops/gatherings. All three helped me grow and expand my view of what’s possible in my businesses and personal life.
I’ve had a couple experiences as a consumer this summer that have made me want to scream. Things go wrong all the time. Thats ok. It’s when an organization doesn’t own it and communicate quickly about it that erodes trust and desire to do business with them.
Yesterday I had lunch with a really great local publisher who was debating on whether to try to match what their much-larger competitors were paying in upfront advances to their authors. And in order to do so they would need to “leverage” their financial resources which would affect the business in many ways.
I asked what they uniquely bring to authors that was as important to them as the upfront advances. Which then brought out a whole list of cool things like flexibility on licensing, exposure to a unique customer list, a more holistic publishing philosophy, and more.
So why do we copy when we can be uniquely better for the customer in so many other ways? Over the years I’ve had many discussions with entrepreneurs in completely different industries that go something like this:
“My competitor is doing this.” “We should do that too.”
“My competitor TOTALLY copied us on this” “Those *#!*#! We should send them a legal nasty-gram.”
The reality is that customers are typically attracted to us by what we UNIQUELY do well for them. Unfortunately, what I see happening in MOST industries is this copy-cat mentality that forgets to focus on what the CUSTOMERS really want.
Why do we all copy so much then? I believe it is a human instinct that we assume that everyone else has done their homework and must know what’s working best. Why waste the energy and do the hard work on being unique when we can just copy others.
The ironic part is that I believe most of us deep-down want unique authentic experiences and love to be inspired by companies that can provide that.
So I say let’s stop looking at what the competition is doing and have MORE fun discovering what customers uniquely want that they are not getting right now from others. It’s more challenging, more fun, and makes the world a much more exciting place.
At first it was, if a VC would get behind my idea, then all the magic doors will open. Then it was, if I can just hire a superstar sales guy, the whole business will turn. And then I spent a lot of time talking to people who could be my COO and magically bring unfound gold out of our team. And then ultimately when none of those seemed to bear fruit, I focused on selling the company. If I could just hand this thing off, THEN it won’t fail and I can walk away with some real cash in my pocket.
At the core of ALL of it was a fear that I didn’t have what the company needed to succed. I wanted to believe that their was a “Wizard” (in the land of Oz) that could make it all magically happen. When really, what I’ve discovered over time is that the real Wizard is inside me. When I focus ALL of my energy into believing that I can do it on my own, THEN I come into my power and discover all kinds of things start to magically come together for me and my businesses.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately with entrepreneurs who forget that all the magic is already inside them (courage, heart, and mind). And they just need to focus that enegry, rather than give it away to people who like to make you think have the power, but just end up sucking your power away from you.
I received this email yesterday from a great entrepreneur, which reminded me of all this…
“Just wanted to shoot you a quick email to thank you for your help last year. Each time we met, you really drilled down into how we could quickly become profitable. I really appreciate the insight you provided on how important profitability is. Because we didn’t raise money, we ended up becoming profitable out of necessity.
Things are going much better now! We’ve partnered with over 100 partners, surpassed the million dollar mark in revenue, and are growing steadily & profitably.
Thanks so much for drilling that into my head!”
Be your own Wizard.
A couple people have asked about my strategies for hiring. My goal over the years has been to attract great people who REALLY want to work at RegOnline and fit in well with our exisiting team. I believe the best way to do that is to share what makes the company great and then have a challenging interview process. So I developed the following process:
1. Write Craig’s List ads that standout and are personable – Support SuperStar: looking for people to knock the socks off our clients everyday.
2. Take them to an interesting/personable landing page that tells them WHY they would want to work there (I copied some of the content below because this page is going to change because of the acquisition)
4. Make your application an online survey where you can ask some telling questions and have them copy and paste their resume. This is a great pre-screening tool and makes it much easier to track applicants. Plug: get your online surveys from SurveyGizmo.com (a GREAT company I’m an investor in).
5. Make your applicants earn their way into a job by having a challenging interview process. When they do get the job they will feel a lot prouder about having made it. I like to give them a couple assignments*, a couple phone interviews, a couple in-person interviews, and then in-depth reference checking. Describe this process to them upfront. Sometimes the more challenging/exclusive something appears, the more people want it. Plus, you get to see more of the person and the fit prior to hiring.
*What I like about giving assignments is it puts the work on the applicant AND tells a lot about the applicants. Once created, they are real easy to hand out. For example, for our support team we give an assignment to respond to an email for a request for help with a specific feature. What we can look for in the response is: were they resourceful in finding the answer in our online help, did they start the email reply with compassion for the clients frustration, were they articulate and accurate with the answer, did they close in a warm friendly way, and did they go above and beyond in some way. It’s a lot easier to hire for compassion, resourcefulness, articulateness, and friendliness then it is to teach someone to be that way.
Seven Reasons to Work at RegOnline
- Fast Growing – 50% growth per year means more career growth opportunities for you.
- Established – 10 years in business, debt-free, and profitable means a stable workplace for you.
- Great People – 45 fun, smart, happy, and hardworking co-workers means you love the people you work with.
- Da Schizzle – company trips to Mexico, catered Friday lunches, monthly fun activities (wine tastings, happy hour, bowling, Rockies games), and more! Oh yeah, and other mundane benefits: Medical and Dental insurance, Paid Time Off (of course), Retirement Savings Plan, Discounted Health Club Membership
- Based in beautiful Boulder, Colorado at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
- The industry leader in providing online event registration for over 25,000 events worldwide (conferences, meetings, seminars, & tradeshows).
- 15,000 Users Love RegOnline (and the people who work here) because it cuts their workload in half.
Bonus Reason: Because we are a small company, everyone’s ideas are important to making RegOnline even better. Here’s the catch. Our interview process is tough. We have a commitment to our team to bring on only the best-of-the-best to sit next to them. A typical interview process includes: two phone interviews, three in-person interviews, two assignments, and thorough reference and background checks… and it all starts with this application survey. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! (Please refer to #’s 1-7 above)