Many successful entrepreneurs embrace the mantra of Jeffrey Hayzlett’s best-selling book Think Big, ACT Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless. In scientific terms, this is the thought-action theory in effect, great achievement is preceded by a positive, ambitious idea. How can a young entrepreneur learn to build this type of muscle into their daily life and business model? Here are insights from Hayzlett, CEO of the Hayzlett Group, 2015 National Speakers Association’s Hall of Fame winner and C-Suite Network Host.
What’s your best kept secret advice for millennial entrepreneurs?
All entrepreneurs, regardless of age, progress through three stages of development in their careers: individual, accruing devout followers, and retaining skilled technicians, experts, and professionals.
Be focused and be consistent. Ask yourself, what is the overall condition of satisfaction I’m trying to drive? What problem am I solving?
Your clients’ primary concern is how they’ll benefit from your product or service. Millennials often like to explain their motivation for their business. As a consumer I just want assurance your product or service will do what you’ve promised at an acceptable level of service. Your motivation is just icing on the cake. You should have a service mentality, the clients come first.
What is the most effective way an entrepreneur can present themselves to receive financial backing from investors?
Do your homework. Be receptive to new ideas and concepts. It’s impressive when you see someone who knows their stuff and they’re humble. Don’t be a know-it-all. You don’t have to be an expert in the subject but you should have more than a general knowledge of the topic. Can you go more than six questions deep?
Most people I know who are failing haven’t done their research and it shows very quickly. I’ve bought and sold over 250 businesses in my career and I can see patterns quickly. I can see early on if the person hasn’t thought the idea through to fruition or have the experience to execute it.
What is the one thing you’ve learned from experience you wish you’d known when you were younger?
Don’t pay too much attention to what people think. We get focused on every review or comment as if it’s the end of the world as we know it. Those comments hurt, but they can be motivating at the same time. You have to understand they are at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
I’ve been a professional speaker for some time. I used to pour over reviews night after night and try to adjust the way I delivered my message until one day I realized the bottom 10% and the top 10% are irrelevant. The bottom 10% are going to hate you anyway. If you’re not pushing something you’re not going to have haters because you’re not causing tension. At the same time, you’ll have devout followers who’ll drink the Kool-Aid no matter what you say.
You know, your mother is still going to love you, and still say these wonderful things but she’s probably not your target demographic. If you remove the bottom and top reviews, you’ll have an accurate reflection of the impact you’re having. Even when I was the CMO at Kodak, social media had just emerged, people would say ‘Look at these tweets, we’ve got to do something!’ I would tell them wait until it adds a zero then come back and talk to me. What I mean by that is if there are 3 people complaining wait until it’s 30, if it’s 30 people complaining wait until it’s 300, then we have an issue worth addressing. Until then, it’s just someone’s opinion.
How important is authenticity for an entrepreneur?
One of my greatest strengths is being me. The more authentic you can be the better you’ll be. If you’re yourself, if you live it and breath it, that’s very important. As an entrepreneur you need to walk the walk in all aspects of your business. I know the basic operations for all facets of my business. Am I as good as the expert I’ve hired? No, but when someone comes to me and says ‘It can’t be done.’ I know it can, because I’m really good at it. If someone says ‘We can’t do this on social media.’ I know that’s not true because I’ve done it. Knowledge in those areas makes me a leader because I can guide others on their entrepreneurial journey.
Decide between fame and fortune, because you can’t have both. I pursued fortune first. If you’re good at what you do, success will come, and fame will follow for free. If not, you’ll have the capital to buy it if that’s what you desire. Most business comes because of great word of mouth.
Which social media platform is the most important for millennial entrepreneurs and why?
The ones your customers are using. I don’t want to build a baseball field in the middle of Iowa and nobody shows up. In this case, I want to go to the social media platform my customers are already using because it’s richer, more engaged for my customers, therefore I’ll reap similar rewards.
How important is public speaking for an entrepreneur?
It’s definitely an advantage. You are the personification of the company. You must be able to communicate orally, visually or verbally. If you can’t cite your elevator pitch you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. Look at great entrepreneurs in history like Lee Iacocca and Richard Branson. When you see him you see Virgin, when you see Virgin you see him.
Why did you join the National Speakers Association?
If you want to be a lawyer you should join the bar association. If I wanted to be the best speaker in the world I should go where the best speakers are and that happened to be the NSA. You owe it to yourself to join in with other that are like you and to learn from them and share. You give and take.
How realistic is work/life balance for an entrepreneur?
Balance it a wonderful thing to strive for, but in many ways it’s unattainable because we’re constantly making choices and re-prioritizing things in our lives. Steve Covey, an old friend of mine, and the author of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ said you have to establish a balance between work, spirituality, family, and friends. It’s difficult to balance all of that. You prioritize one at the sake of the other. You’re going to have to make choices and be happy with the choices you’ve made. If you say ‘I’m going to have balance’ in the traditional sense something will inevitably suffer.
Entrepreneurs must redefine balance, it’s not always 50/50. There are two week stretches when I work 24/7, then I’ll take my family on a two-week or month vacation to Europe. If you look for balance, it’s not balance in the moment, but it evens out over time. You’re going to miss things. As entrepreneurs we define a ‘new balance.’ that works for us and those most important to us.