For more information on the Idea Collective Small Biz Retreat, click here.
Pat Miller has been bringing small business owners clarity for years now. As an idea coach and founder of The Idea Collective, he’s helped over 100 small business owners and seen a little bit of everything along the way.
In today’s episode of The GoGedders Podcast, Pat sits down with host Richie Burke to tap into that wisdom to provide some key insights for our entrepreneurial-minded listeners. No matter where you’re at in your journey, there’s sure to be some valuable takeaways for you. Listen in here, and read on below for a more detailed overview.
One of Pat’s favorite things to talk about are the myths and fallacies of small business ownership. Having seen so many examples across a variety of industries, each with their own set of unique problems to be solved, he’s gotten a pretty good handle on the often-overlooked pitfalls.
It’s common for folks to veer off-course right off the bat when they’re coming up with their concept and trying to avoid going "too narrow" or being pigeonholed. However, it’s that mentality that sets a lot of entrepreneurs off on the wrong foot, if they even get that concept off the ground at all.
They want to do the thing, but they want to do it for everyone.
Though that kind of thinking is appealing at first, it quickly becomes clear that a more narrow focus off the bat lends itself to growth more in the long run. Having a clear view of who your customer is, and solving a specific problem of theirs, is what leads to success.
It’s key to get known for something, to find a differentiator – and there are a few different ways to go about that.
The first piece of advice here is to follow a dream or passion, and to quickly find out who your product or service is for and who it’s not for. Meaning, you’ll have to put things out there, go after a narrow market, take feedback and pivot – not being afraid to fail a few times along the way.
Next is avoiding another common small business fallacy, and that’s thinking that people care about your why as passionately as you care about your why. As Richie remarks, people got obsessed with Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” and started thinking that if they just shared their why, people would start buying their product.
The issue here, according to Pat, is that people take a great piece of advice – “Know your why," which is meant to help guide decisions – and use it as a marketing strategy. As he puts it, a plumber that’s trying to save the whales is great, but people won’t ultimately choose you because of that. You have to still offer a great product and service. A clear why can help you stand out, but it’s not the end-all, be-all differentiator.
Another great takeaway here that you should be focused on the customer with your messaging – and not focused on yourself. When building a website, for example, lots of people like to tout their about section: in business for X amount of years, family-owned and so on. While all that is great, and certainly something customers will love in the long run, your messaging should speak directly to them. Let them know specifically how you’re going to alleviate specific pain points they’re having.
Another great way to differentiate is the method in which you deliver your product or service. Pat sees that as a commonly overlooked differentiator that can really set people apart in the market. For example, maybe it’s the time in which it takes you to do something – you can deliver a typically-lengthy service in 72 hours, say. Or, you offer free shipping and an at-home customer experience in an industry that’s typically in-store and takes a lot of time out of a customer’s day. (Think Warby Parker versus LensCrafters.)
So it’s not just your customer base or your product that can be your differentiator – your method can also really help you stand out.
Pricing is another spot where entrepreneurs get stuck, and it’s a factor that can significantly contribute to the mental health and burnout of an entrepreneur or solopreneur. There are a number of ways to figure out pricing structure, but Pat recommends a value-based system. Why? Well, for starters, hourly is impossible to scale. You can’t scale your time, as there’s only so many hours in a day, and it’s impossible to manufacture more. So, you’ll either run out of overall revenue increase or get completely burnt out. (More on that in the episode and later on here.)
That’s why value-based is the move. Pat’s advice is to look at how much money and time you’re saving your customer and work backwards from there. If you’re saving your customer $5,000, but the service you’re providing is typically priced at $499, it’s OK to rethink that starting point and start your pricing evaluation from a different perspective. Instead of going hourly, ask yourself, “What happens when someone works with me? What is that worth?”
Another reason to take this approach is because it helps avoid burnout, something that’s all-too-common in the entrepreneurial world. Often, how a business owner feels is much more important than how they’re doing from a business perspective. To combat this possibility of burnout, it’s important to outsource and do it faster than you think you have to. Virtual assistants are key. A lot of business owners don’t want to hire out because they can’t afford it, but Pat’s takeaway is this: You can find someone to do something that you hate or something you’re not good at for significantly less than what you’re charging per hour.
Think about it: If your rate is $30/hr, but you can hire out a virtual assistant to manage communications and to-dos for $15/hour, you just freed yourself up to make your full hourly rate ($30/hr) for the time you would’ve spent doing something that can be outsourced for cheaper.
It’s like you’re double-dipping: Every hour you give them something, you make $15. So, be sure to hand things off that aren’t in your field of genius, as Pat puts it. After that, things get much easier. They start moving faster, you can take more meetings and focus on the important bits.
Speaking of focusing on the important bits, Pat has a retreat event coming up through The Ideas Collective that’s entirely focused on small business owners being able to put things into perspective and make clear, realistic, actionable goals for 2022.
“Fat cat CEOs go to Palm Springs and daydream about their business and nobody bats an eye," he said. "It’s time for small business owners to stop the world and think, too."
The retreat is designed for small business owners to think about what they’re going to do in 2022, recognize how things are going and how they can change, and make power partnerships to help take things where you want them to go. After all, The Ideas Collective is completely about collaboration and building a network of other like-minded, driven individuals that can help each other out.
At the retreat, Friday is about connecting, unwinding and recognizing your wins. Too often, especially as solopreneurs, there’s nobody to point out the victories, so there’s no time to waste celebrating your wins. This focus on the negative constantly leads to – you guessed it – more burnout, so Friday is all about celebrating everything that went well in 2021.
Saturday is half conference day, with the morning focused on marketing and the afternoon focused on mindset. Jesse Cole is the featured guest on Saturday. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s the fan-focused owner who turned the Savannah Bananas from a zero-turnout minor league baseball team into a club that’s sold out every game since 2016 with a 10,000-person season ticket waitlist.
After a Saturday night wind down with barbecue and beers, Sunday is all free business coaching. The extremely-highly-requested Mel Robbins will join over the airwaves, providing over an hour of live Q&A before moving into a goal-setting session.
If all of that sounds like it’s up your alley, check out https://www.smallbizretreat.com/ for your chance to grab tickets.
As always, thanks so much for reading and listening. If you have any suggestions for guests or topics you’d like us to cover, please contact Richie Burke directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you have a moment, we’d truly appreciate it if you subscribed, rated and reviewed the show wherever you listen. It helps other people find the podcast.
Gabe is bringing you stories on Milwaukee that matter. Tune in for The GoGedders Podcast every Tuesday.