OnlineAdvisor.com a website that serves entrepreneurs, business owners, business leaders and organizational leaders.
Bob: Onlineadvisor.com Tell us a little bit about the genesis, the why that you put this together.
- John: Right. Well, thanks for asking on that. What happened was in 1998 I was able to start my own business, and that business was a graphic design company. We did brochures and catalogs. And then the Internet was starting to come into play, and so we were looking at websites and building websites. But when I started my business, I went to a financial advisor and asked him and said, “How do you start a business?” And he said, “Well, I can help you.” Well, as it turned out he could help me, but it was in a limited sense. Because what he knew was investing and insurance and all that stuff, but a lot of the other questions that I had he couldn’t answer. And it was, at times, challenging for me to find what I needed to find.
- Realizing that I needed to get beyond just one person and I needed to go find the information and find the experts and find the mentors I needed I realized that that wasn’t just a one or two-year project. What that was going to be is more or less a lifetime project of finding the best and brightest, finding the people that were most talented in certain areas, so that I could benefit from their knowledge. And then, conversely, I wanted to offer my services and my experience to them to help them. I found that business is a team sport, it’s not an individual sport. And when we work together, we succeed. But if we try to do it by ourselves or that we limit our advisors and we limit our mentors, then we’re limiting ourselves in regards to potential and performance.
Bob: Paint us a mental picture for example of a current client that’s come to you for help and the things that you brought to the table that helped them with their problem.
- John: Well, the first question that I usually ask is, “Where do you want to go with this? I mean what are you trying to accomplish with this opportunity?” And what you’re doing today is what I do with my clients, I ask a lot of questions. And then I throw some suggestions out because I’ve worked with a wide variety of businesses and organizations. And when I’m talking to those folks my focus is to try to drill down and figure out what’s important for them. I mean where is it that their gifts and their abilities and passions lie?
I work on trying to find where folks’ passions and skills are, and then trying to develop a business opportunity or to help them realize the potential that they have and do that in a systematic way.
Bob: If you have an SEO problem or you have an inventory problem, what types of things would you bring to the table and things that I could expect in the conversation with you?
- John: Well, we could even talk…let’s say the inventory control question. That’s the easiest one because it was the first one you gave. In that case we talk about the details of that. “What is your current system? What are you trying to do? Where do you want to go with this? What requirements do you have?” And in some cases folks have all the answers for that. In many cases they don’t. You know, they’re struggling with it and they’re just like, “Well, that’s why we called you, that’s why we need some help on it.” So we go through that and we start to scope out, we start to write out what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.
Bob: What should the business owner be looking at as a broad range of expenses to engage you guys for help?
- John: Well, for us we’re going to look at a situation and we’re going to talk to them for free, we’re not going to charge them anything to sit down and talk with them. And then what we’ll do is exactly what you said, a pro forma, where we’ll lay it out and say, “Here’s what we think it’s going to take and this is what it’s going to cost.” And then as we go we’re going to build a plan for them that’s written, and then we’re going to review that with them and go through all the details of what we’re going to provide for them. And when it’s all said and done, we’re going to give them basically a review of what we did and what we recommend that they need to continue to do whether they want to engage with us or not.
Bob: With an initial discussion or sit-down what should that person expect to hear?
- John: What they’re going to expect to hear is I’m going to ask them why, why do they want to do this. Because if you start a business, you got to be passionate about it. If you’re just looking at it and saying, “Well, I’m just going to do this just to do it,” as an entrepreneur I can tell you that’s a struggle. You got to have some focus. You got to have some passion about it. Because you’re going to have to get up at times in the middle of the night and work on stuff, you’re going to have to get up early in the morning and spend late hours doing a lot of things that if it’s just a job it’s going to be hard to pull that off without some emotion behind it, without some motivation behind it. So we’re going to talk about that. Now depending on your experience and your abilities, if you haven’t, let’s say, gotten a business degree, if you don’t have a whole lot of experience in that, then we’re going to take a certain approach where we’re going to have to talk about just basics. And there is some education in that.
- John: We found there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that frankly have limited budgets. They’re struggling, you know, to try to get things started. Many of them are already working in another position or doing something else and they’re paying the bills, but they want to get things started. And so what we’re trying to do also is give them a low-cost, easy-to-find, easy-to-use opportunity to get things started for them and get their businesses started
- John: I found out for myself was that that’s where my passions lie. I wanted to help people. And then for the information that I had, the knowledge I had, I wanted to be able to teach them or mentor them or help them. And that’s where I found that that’s where I was best at.
Bob: If you were to characterize the inventory of skills that you have, what would you say would be your one key skill or superpower?
- John: I get to see what people normally don’t see. I get to see opportunities that most people don’t. And that’s what I feel like I’m best at. I’m the one that is not looking at what everybody else is looking at, I’m looking at everything around. I’m looking at the opportunities that may be missed. That’s what…frankly what a lot of people call me in for, is to see what things are being missed or what things are just not working as well as they should.
Parting advice from John:
- I remember this from a friend “If you start with junk, you’re going to end up with junk.” Now in Texas language it was a little rougher than that, and I think we can appreciate that. But he said, you know, “You got to start out with quality.” And then he also said, “Good enough won’t work, you got to be focused on doing the best that you can.” And he said, “Anything less than that is going to cause you a lot of trouble.” And that advice was huge to me., it’s very simple. And that is it’s a team sport. Business is a team sport. Running an organization is a team sport. If you don’t know, ask. I coach football, I tell the boys that I coach, “If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask the question.” And a lot of times we don’t ask the question. And in particular as business owners and leaders we don’t always want to look bad, we don’t want to look like we’re weak in something or that we’re afraid or anything like that. But every time I study the best entrepreneurs, they’ve got great teams around them.