At Addicted2Success we want to bring you worldwide game changers and success advice. With this in mind, I recently had the pleasure to interview the Managing Director of the Thankyou Group, Daniel Flynn. He is an amazing inspiration to talk to and he has so much wisdom. Daniel won the 2014 JCI 10 Young Outstanding People of the World and Victorian Young Australian of the Year 2014, as well as a host of other awards for his social enterprise startup, Thankyou Group.
His startup sells a range of products including, bottled water, food and body care. The profits go overseas to where they are needed, to help with safe access to water, as well as food and hygiene solutions. The code on the packaging of the products allows you to follow where your money goes via an app, as well as showing you the exact GPS location and notifying you when the project is complete.
In the below article, you will learn some amazing advice from Daniel that will help you with your own startup.
1. Choose the right one just like you choose your holiday spots
Make sure that you narrow the list of large corporations you wish to approach to ones that you know well, understand their business model, are a good brand fit for your startup and know they have the ability to deliver what you need them to. In the case of retailing, it might be that the organisation can sell multiple brands as opposed to some, which can only sell one.
2. Find out who the decision makers are
Sometimes the right decision maker is at a lower level of the organisation. The natural tendency is to want to go straight to the top of the organisation on everything. It can sometimes work to go to CEO level or head of a department, but you shouldn’t rule out going to someone at a lower category level who has the decision-making power as well.
It’s also important to research everything from their LinkedIn profiles to articles that have been written about them. If you’re pitching a really big concept you need to think to yourself, who’s the visionary of that brand?
3. Method of contact is crucial – we are all kids at heart
There are many ways to approach the key decision maker once you determine who the best person is. Daniel says that he often doesn’t send them a note on LinkedIn, but actually puts a call through to the organisation and speaks with a Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant, to let them know he is sending through a package to their respective manager without giving away any more information. He also mentions that he will be following up with a call.
The reason, why you should think of sending a package, is that key decision makers have 100’s of people contacting them every week via emails (too many to read), letters and packages. If you think about your own life, aren’t you like a kid on Christmas when a package arrives? A package has more intrigue, so consider sending your product sample to them via courier so they need to sign for it. All of this might seem like a lot of effort with the cost of couriers and packages, but it’s hard to cut through, especially with large corporations.
Once the organisation knows that there is a package is coming you then write a letter. If your handwriting is really good it’s a great idea to hand write it, if you’re like me, best to type the letter, print and sign it with a pen. The reason why you do this is that it’s personal. If you send someone a generic mail out you will probably find that they won’t respond to it. Make sure you send the letter by courier (not post) because it seems to have this magic sense of urgency.
The key when writing the letter is to make sure it connects with them. It can often take hours to write the letter and even rewrite the letter a few times, to make sure its short, sharp and succinct. In the letter, you ask them if you can catch up with them for 15 minutes. 15 minutes is the magic amount of time because it’s almost rude to say no to. If you ask for an hour then you can understand why they might not be able to catchup, but 15 minutes is a lot different.
So there may be some out there who want to supercharge this process, so listen to what Daniel did.
He once sent a one metre by half a metre wooden crate to a CEO of a big distributor. In the crate was a letter to the CEO requesting a 15-minute meeting. The funny part was that they hammered the crate shut and got their friend to wear a high visibility vest to look like a courier, and then deliver the crate with a hammer to the front reception of the organisation. Their thinking behind doing this was that they may not open it at first, but eventually they will wonder what’s inside and open it. This stunt ended up working for them and they got through to the CEO and had a response.
“Stand out and be remarkable. “
4. Make sure you pitch an opportunity not an idea
Daniel said they spent years going around presenting ideas, but what really changed the game was when they started presenting opportunities. The right time is when you actually have an opportunity not just an idea. You need to make it clear to them why you chose to see them before their competitors, and that you will most likely approach their competitors very soon.
To be successful in this you almost need to make them feel they are missing out without being too high pressure. If you take this approach and do it with good intention, you may even find that you will get a yes at the end of the pitch and not even have to wait for an answer!
When you present them a good opportunity, that’s really when you have the chance to partner with them. One lever, that you can use, is to pitch to multiple large originations and their competitors, at the same time. As a startup, you probably don’t have millions of dollars to impress them but what you do have is the ability to pitch to their competitor. Use that lever to present to two large organisations that are in competition with each other so that both of them know that one could say yes, and makes them want to be first.
If your startup is a social enterprise with a cause, this might get you some smiles but it ultimately comes down to the commercial offer and whether it stacks up. Remember that most large organisations already support some sort of charity so make sure you present an opportunity to them.
Even if you’re only 18 or 19 years old don’t be afraid of your age. A bit of naivety can actually help you stand out. At the same time, you should mention if you have any mentors or board members who are older to balance out your inexperience.
5. Presenting the perfect pitch – Be BOLD and OUTLANDISH
Don’t rush the process of coming up with your pitch. For Daniel, he learnt after 4 years of getting no’s from the supermarkets, to take his time and not to rush things. He then spent the next 12 months with his team, coming up with what they call the “ultimate pitch”.
In a great pitch, you need to cover off all the commercials, who you are, your concept, the future marketing plan and the demand for what you do. The most important factor of the pitch is that you want them to remember it so that it cuts through all the other pitches. When arranging your slides, consider having more images and keywords, and then have a few slides that are more detailed. The slides should back up your pitch but don’t walk in and read off your slides. Make sure that each pitch deck you do is tailored and it addresses their objectives, how they measure success and how they measure profit. It’s worth spending the time to make your pitch deck good because you may only get one shot at it.
Before you get into the room decide what it’s going to take for your pitch to cut through. Daniel often finds that he won’t know whether he is going to pull out his pitch deck until he is in the room and then he will go with his gut. He finds the greatest pitch is a conversation where you look them in the eye and take them on a journey. See the next paragraph for an example.
There were two architects pitching for a $200 million dollar development. One went into the boardroom looking like a slick salesman in a suit with all the flip charts etc. The second architect was an older guy who was dressed casually. After the first guy is finished with his flip charts, the second guy walks into the room with only a pencil. He then asks for a piece of paper and sticks it up on the wall. From there he tells the story of the building he wanted to create as he drew it. The decision was later reached and architect number two won the contract. Large organisations are used to getting pitched to all the time with slick, sharp presentations but what are you going to do to stand out?
Once your pitch is ready to present you need to think about how many people are going to be involved in the face-to-face pitch from both sides. The general rule of thumb is however many people you are meeting with, that’s how many people you should take. If you’re meeting 5 people you might take 3-5 people with you but turning up on your own could be strange. If you meet with one person from the company it’s going to be hard for them to sit back and relax when they are meeting a lot of new people for the first time. Too many people from your team can create an imbalance in the room. If you’re meeting 1 person you might meet 1 on 1 or maybe 2 on 1, but 3 is pushing it.
6. How to cut the decision time down using Social Media
If you want to be really clever and ensure you setup your pitch for success, consider using the power of Social Media like the Thankyou Group did. When you do your pitch the biggest question a large organisation will have is whether or not your product or services will actually sell. If it’s an established business doing the pitch, they could solve the problem by saying that they are going to put millions of dollars into marketing to make sure it sells. The way you can alleviate this problem, if you’re a startup, is through social media and getting your support base or followers to commit that they will buy the product or service if the large organisation agree to partner with you.
“ Social Media can help you prove demand.”
To be able to leverage social media and get your followers to show there is demand for what you’re doing, you need to have built a community first. You can do this through events, networking and posting really great content. Once you have some sort of community then you would typically do a mail out to your email list and tell them what you’re trying to do. In turn, they would then go to the large organisations Facebook wall, Twitter etc, and tell them they will buy your product or service if the partnership with your startup goes ahead.
“People are not consumers or customers they are part of your community.”
For the success junkies out there who want to supercharge this process, you could then reach out to celebrities and get them to do the same. If you approach a 100 you might get 10 to say yes. Use a similar strategy to the previous advice on approaching key decision makers, and write a hand written letter with an ask of a 15 minute meeting.
Some of you might be thinking that you need to have millions of people to make all this work.
When Daniel and his team pitched for 7-Eleven they only had about 12,000 in their community, and now they have over 130,000 in their community. Daniel thought initially that he would need a few hundred thousand supporters backing his 7-Eleven campaign for it to be successful. It ended up being just a few thousand people posting on Facebook, that convinced them the deal should proceed.
‘It doesn’t take a lot of people to convince someone of a good idea.”
7. Don’t let the decision time required discourage you
Often it can take 1-2 years to get a large organisation to say yes and start rolling out your products or service. This cycle is the same whether you’re a startup or a global company. Just because that’s the timeframe that it can take, it does not mean that you can’t get a decision sooner. A lot of it comes down to the terms of the deal you negotiate and how well you communicate the opportunity.
Daniel said an important lesson he learnt the day he did his first ever pitch, is that you can get a yes instantly. When he got his first yes for a large order, he didn’t have a company registered or any of the backend legal stuff completed! This is because, like most startups, he thought it would take months to get an answer. The key here is have faith and be prepared to deliver instantly.
Just getting a yes in the boardroom is still not the final hurdle though. You need to get the actual roll out to occur and this can also take some time. There are still plenty of examples though when this can happen within a month like it did for Daniel after he got a yes from two of the Largest Australian Supermarkets. The caveat for Daniel on having such a fast delivery to market was that he spent 5 years beforehand, trying to get them into the supermarkets. It’s through an utter persistence and a belief in what they were doing, that made it happen.
8. Dealing with failure and no’s – Persistence pays off
When you’re a startup it’s a pretty big call to think you will get the pitch right the first time. Getting a no to some, or even all of your pitches, is a reality. At the time you get a no, you can often feel like you want to give up and that you don’t really need the support of that large organisation anyway. You can easily say a lot of things to yourself because there is a lot of emotion involved. If your team is strong you will unite together and learn from the failure. Ask yourself, why didn’t the pitch work? This process of failing multiple times can really help to refine your startup and your process for future pitches.
“Your failures are your lessons learned which become your road to success.”
If you get a no it’s worth going back a second time later on, with a different offering. When you fundamentally believe that they are the right fit for your startup and there is a benefit for them, you don’t stop. As you follow up later on, every contact is a pitch and you want them to feel that they missed out and you’re having massive success. Daniel’s team has worked on some deals with large organisations for 5 years and never got a result.
All of this persistence ended up paying off for Daniel because they eventually came up with the ultimate pitch which will go down in history. You can watch it below on Youtube right now.
The one business book that Daniel recommends you read is called “Do Purpose by David Hieatt”.
If you would like to continue to follow Daniel’s story and his company, then you can visit thankyou.co
You Are The Problem With Your Business
A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.
I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.
Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.
Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?
Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.
The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.
Your company is a reflection of you.
It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.
One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.
The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.
In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.
The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.
The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.
Take responsibility and it will change.
When you own the business, everything is your fault.
You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.
The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.
Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.
Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.
Change is a must.
Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.
“Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”
You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.
Not the business.
The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up
You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.
How to Evaluate Success
As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.
But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).
“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson
When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?
The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.
So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.
1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems
The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.
This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.
In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.
Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).
In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins
For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.
The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.
Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.
4. Time for Friends and Family
As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.
Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.
A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups
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