1,200 Times More Profits (in less than an hour)

Recently, I’ve been reminded of the old adage “time is money”.

On two separate occasions, with vastly different people, I asked a question where the answer was binary – only two possible options.

Or so I thought.

Both people actually must have heard me ask “what completely irrelevant topic is so important to you that you want to talk about it for forty minutes and avoid answering my question altogether?”

I’m sure of that, because that’s exactly what they did.

So, they turned a question which could have easily been answered in 4 seconds and instead spent 600 times as long not answering it. 

But remember this wasn’t 600 times of just their time alone, they wasted 600 times of my time, too. 

What if a third or fourth person were involved?

If someone wanted to rob your money instead of your time would you let them? 

If I told you there was a way I could make you 1,200 times more profitable, you’d probably be really happy. If I told you all you had to do was shutup, maybe a little less happy…

This reminds me of when Jesus was at Mary & Martha’s house. Martha was really busy – run off her feet – doing loads of things. 

None of which were necessary.

Mary was only doing one thing, and it was the only thing that was needed.

Like most people who are using their time ineffectively, Martha tried to recruit others into her fruitless panic.

When Martha complained how busy she was, Jesus basically told her there was no need to be busy at all.

I don’t think Martha would’ve been very happy with that. But it was probably the best piece of advice she would ever hear.

Is it possible you could be one thousand times less busy and you don’t even know it?

Is there a more profitable way to spend your time? And the time of those around you? 

Maybe, it’s time to spend some time examining how you spend your time. 

There could be a 120,000% increase in profits waiting for you, less than an hour away, right under your nose (literally). 

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My Dream Thief

A thief steals but he isn’t a robber.

A robber takes something by force or threat. A robber will walk into the biggest bank in town, in broad daylight, and demand that you give him all the money he wants.

He is brazen, direct and often brutal.

He may try and disguise himself with a balaclava and arm himself with a shotgun.He doesn’t care if he is the lead story on the evening news¬† – it all adds to the intimidation and fear he wants to create in you. It might even make his next robbery easier.

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ve been robbed. If you survive the ordeal, and you have enough remaining courage, you can tell the police exactly what time you were robbed and what was taken.

Compare that with a thief. He wants to conceal the robbery, not just his identity, at least until he has made his getaway, but often much longer.

A thief aims to be so sneaky that you may never even know you’ve been robbed.

Sometimes, sadly, these thieves have not only stolen, they have also murdered and destroyed.

When I help people with their finances, I often find that there is a hidden thief at work, and they have no idea.

Sometimes, they are even co-operating with the thieves.

Sometimes, they didn’t notice anything was missing because the thief has replaced the real thing with a fake. The stolen goods may not even be financial, but are still very precious; hope, laughter, peace, love, relaxation, friendship, innocence, romance, confidence, trust, integrity.

I know too many people who get to a certain age and realise their dreams have been stolen, killed, destroyed. And they have no idea when or how it happened. When I was young, I used to dream of standing in front of an audience of people who loved what I had to say. In fact, I didn’t just dream about it, I did it. If someone gave me a doll, I wouldn’t play with the doll, I would add the doll to my audience. But pets and pot plants were just as good ūüôā

If I had to explain to myself as a child that I didn’t speak to audiences anymore, because no one invited me, or no one paid me, no one supported me, or no one thought I was any good, child-Shaz wouldn’t understand. Because child-Shaz knew she did it for the pure joy of just doing it.

For many years, my pay packet¬†was actually the fake thing that stopped me from realising I’d been stolen from. I ignored the desires of my heart in exchange for mere money. My bank account was prospering, but my soul certainly wasn’t. Money was my master, my dream thief.

It took me a long time to realise that my job is not my life; my life is my job. Now, I’m following my dreams (yes, Mum, even when I don’t get paid).

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Jesus only mentioned one enemy of an abundant life.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

The work of a thief is hidden. Judas was not a robber, he was a thief. The mask he chose was not a balaclava, that would’ve been far too obvious; Judas was devious.

He looked like He was supporting Jesus, but when no one was looking, Judas was stealing from Him. While Judas was kissing Jesus, he was betraying him. He seemed one thing on the outside, but on the inside, he was the exact opposite. He looked like he was raising funds, but he was depleting them.

Judas had control of the money box “and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6).

Judas not only took money from Jesus, he also got the thirty pieces of silver from the priests. But in the end, he realised the money was a horrible substitute for life. (He tried to give back the thirty pieces of silver, before he hanged himself – Matthew 27:3-5).

Some of the things and people that may have supported you at one time, may now be sneaky thieves robbing from you.

  • Distraction can rob you of time, it kills focus.
  • Debt can destroy freedom, it often brings slavery.
  • Fear can kill faith, it often brings containment.
  • Criticism can steal joy, it often brings shame.
  • Procrastination can rob you of productivity, it often brings barrenness.

I encourage you to take an inventory, actually write a list of things that have been stolen. Check out if everything you have now is genuine, or have you accepted a poor imitation of the real thing? Are you living your dreams, or has someone or something stolen, killed and destroyed the abundant life that Christ came to give you?

How To Make Value Even More Valuable

unsplash focus group

I was invited, along with a number of others, to attend a focus group in the city.

We would be asked to complete a written questionnaire, and then interviewed, about a new insurance business start-up.

As well as being exposed to new ideas and having a chance to give back to the startup community, we would be paid $100 for 90 minutes.

Or we could have an organic fruit and veg and meat box worth $100.

What would you choose?

I was amazed that half of our group decided to opt for¬†the organic box. And half of those who did were quite vocal that we didn’t know what we were missing and had made a “bad choice” by choosing cash.

But here’s the thing, my cash could easily be converted into the organic box (there’s an online order form).

But their box can’t easily be converted into anything much, let alone cash.

So even though we were all getting $100 worth of value, my value was even more valuable.

Conversion makes value even more valuable because it leaves you with more options. What do you do to make value even more valuable in your business?

Attract Income, Funding, Grants, Sales and even Pay Rises

It’s been almost a decade¬†since I wrote my first ever grant application. It happened because my boss asked me to check what he’d written. Even though I’d never written a grant application before, I said “I wouldn’t give you any money”.

So he told me to write it instead. Then, when he’d read what I wrote, he decided to send mine off instead of his. He really didn’t have anything to lose, because he’d never been successful in getting a grant application.

They sent me double what I’d asked for!

From then on, I wrote all the grant applications.

That first one, was only for a couple of thousand dollars, to cover some airfares and accommodation to attend a conference on the other side of the continent.

The biggest grant I ever got was for half a million dollars (to help build a new building).

Although it’s been more than 5 years since I recorded this video, which was years after I’d written my first application, the principles I share are still just as relevant and powerful today.

If you’re looking for more money and you need to pitch or persuade others to get that money, you’ll need to know these things.

Please leave a comment and let me know what your tips are, especially if you use new mediums like social media to attract funding.

Mandurah Metro Credit Cards Seminar

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I’ve got the privilege of speaking at Mandurah MetroChurch tonight. And I’ve put together some resources for this community event.

So if you’re looking for some help with managing your credit card debt, here’s¬†some useful¬†resources – some online, some offline, some free, some paid, some general, some people who will personally work with you.

Nothing will work for everyone, but choose something that will work for you.

Click here–>¬†mandurah metro credit card resources
kindle cover And please leave a reply on this post to let me know if you’ve found something else that might help others – I’m always looking for more resources to help people improve¬†their financial world!

Pitch Perfect – How to Ask for what you want

startup pitch to investors

Warning: Longer post than normal ensues…

None of these thoughts are my own. I went to a pitching seminar at the Innovation Centre of Western Australia recently. I found it helpful, so I thought I’d share my notes with you.

——————— Presentation #1 ————————————————

Sam Birmingham – startup coach at Pollenizer Global and founder of Startup Weekend.

Startup is not about a business plan. It’s an iterative process – everything is a learning loop. Get your product out to the market and start learning.

Uses tools like Lean Startup, Lean Canvas etc.

Start at the problem. Don’t get wedded to a solution.

Problem –> Product, USP, metrics etc

Market –> Customer.

Constraints bring out the best in people.

Do a “twitter pitch”. Confine your concept to less than 140 characters.

e.g. “If Apple designed Salesforce” or “Google Analytics for Offline Stores”.

Gaddie pitch – confine yourself to answering 3 questions, in this order:

1. You know how …. What is the problem you are solving? Help them feel the pain of it so they know you understand it.

2. Well, what we do is …. Introduce the solution. Describe how you solve the pain.

3. In fact …. Provide some strong validation as to why you’re so awesome. Blow them away with a snippet of information e.g. “we’ve connected more than 1,000 people to jobs in the last 6 months”.

Universal Startup Pitch Deck – a simple framework they designed to get some consistency in pitching. But it also helps you think through the strengths and weaknesses of your startup business.

  • Hi, I’m ……
  • from ….
  • The problem we’re solving is ….
  • Our solution is ….
  • We do this by….
  • This is a big opportunity because … ¬†(feel free to get people excited!)
  • Our target market is …
  • Our customers are ….
  • We acquire customers by …
  • We make money by…
  • Our key competition is… (never say you don’t have competition – you must show you understand the market).
  • But we’re better because…
  • Our team is….
  • So far, we have ….
  • What we’ll do next is …
  • What we’re looking for is….

Did a demonstration using a new startup TechBoard (which is similar to Crunchbase and AngelList).

Note: Sam says acquiring Customers (not just users) is the most expensive part of any startup – never underestimate how much it will cost or how long it will take to get to profit.

——————— Presentation #2 ————————————————

Toby – now works with KPMG – formerly worked in Silicon Valley (Is a Cal Bears supporter), responsible for Billions of Dollars in deals.

Mr Right’s best pitch won’t work on Miss Wrong.

Whenever you pitch, make sure you understand your audience. Do your homework before hand if you can, if not, actually ask them questions before you start.

Pitching to get interest (a date) is different to pitching to get an offer (a marriage proposal). Know what you want – they might just say yes!

Different types of investors:

Seed Capital – usually from family, friends, banks – beg, borrow, & steal.

Angel Investors – usually wealthy individuals with higher standards than your family and friends.

Venture Capitalists – institutional investors who have to answer to their shareholders.

It’s not about who you are attracted to, it’s about who would be attracted to you. So look up their website and research them on Linked In, your network etc. Who have they invested in in the past? Who are they investing in right now?

Find a way to get introduced. You shouldn’t have to cold call, if you’ve done your research and networking right.

The Investor is only ever asking one question:
“Why should I invest in you?”

So, no matter what they ask, you should always answer THAT question. For example, even if they ask about current economic problems¬†(e.g. interest rates, share price etc) you should answer “I’m so glad you asked this question, because actually we’re a solution to this problem because…” then tell them what they really want to know:

1. Do you have an experienced management team they can trust?

2. Is there a predictable customer demand (i.e. revenue stream)?

3. Does the product/technology solve a legitimate problem

4. What is the market size and competition

Know where you stand in regards to your:
1. Access to Capital

2. Access to Customers

3. Access to Talent

4. Brand

Other questions that you should think about (and have an answer to) will help them to answer “yes” to their main question.

  • Where did your startup come from?
  • What got you started?
  • Were you in the industry before?
  • Were you a consumer of the industry before?

Use Robert Cialdini’s laws of influence e.g. reciprocity, authority etc.

Have email templates ready to use that implement the Laws of Influence. e.g.:
“Given your interest in Uber¬†and AirBnB, and the current market around this type of domestic-based solution in previously commercial markets,¬†I thought you might be interested in 2015Jobs.com.au, Australia’s leading technology for private and domestic employment, as used by ….

Use Social Proof even when talking about your market e.g. “the market everyone is investing in at the moment”.

Talk about your future before it happens “2015Jobs is well-positioned for international market expansion…”

Elevate61 is an incubator to help people raise funds in the USA. Many USA investors aren’t allowed to invest beyond the borders of USA even if they really love your idea – so you need to be setup there to even start talking to them.

Energise is an accelerator in Australia – that has 12 supporting companies e.g. BHP, Shell, Worley Parsons etc – that will test and possibly use the products being developed by the mainly natural resources and energy startups.

The main thing he looks for in startups is self-awareness around coachability. You’re not able to be good at everything. So knowing your weaknesses can be a real strength.

Credit Card Help At Christmas Classic Videos

If you’ve been maxing out the Credit Card in the lead up to Christmas, you might like this playlist of classic youtube videos … they’ll help you spend more wisely and pay down your debt to get your finances back on track in the new year. Merry Christmas!¬†

 

Please note, since my divorce the Sharon Hague website (and most of these hairstyles) no longer exists, but you can still find free financial help on my blog http://www.shazjones.com or use the links to follow me on twitter and facebook.

Success In Reverse

My mission is to teach the world to profit.

One of the ways I do that is often to tweak strategy.

Some of my clients have great skills and talents, but the wrong strategy.

In fact, many of the talented people I work with who truly want to profit, actually have NO strategy.

I love this quote:

‚ÄúIf you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy. ‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Alvin Toffler

Sometimes, especially for start-ups strategy¬†can be hard. Strategic often means secret. Like a well-wrapped Christmas present, Strategy is one of those “hidden” things, that people don’t tend to advertise.

One of the tools I use to help startups is a “Reverse Activity Timeline”. It’s a bit like a giant game of Snakes and Ladders. Basically, you forget all about time frames and money metrics and focus exclusively on activity.

And you start with the end in mind. Your first customer has just taken some money out of their pocket and put it into yours… why? What did it look like? What action had to happen before that happened? And you keep working your way back through all the activities that had to happen before hand until you have nothing else left. Then you know you’re at the starting point.

For example, for you to read this post, I had to publish it. I could only do that once I had written it. To be able to write it, I had to start a blog. Before I started a blog, I had to choose a name.  Before I could choose a name, I had to find out what names were available.

Now reverse it and make it your To Do List:

1. Find out what blog names are available¬†(Sharon Jones wasn’t available, but Shaz Jones was).
2. Choose an available name
3. Start a blog
4. Write and publish a post.

(Yes, it actually is that easy). I call this stage “Plodders”. It is everything I need to do.

You can now¬†look at different options that will allow you to do all those things – faster, better or cheaper. You don’t have to do them all yourself. Sometimes, outsourcing might be a better strategy. I could have easily outsourced everything on my list if I wanted to (but I didn’t).

Sometimes, doing them online rather than face to face will allow you to reach more people, faster. Sometimes, choosing a different market segment will suit your passions and personality better. There might be several different strategies for achieving the same thing.

Allow yourself to imagine wild things that are totally out of your control. What if you got the dream client, or the dream team of contractors and employees, or the dream investor? Think about all the things that would make you scream (in a good way) “Are you freaking kidding me?!” I call these accelerators of progress “Ladders”.

Now, and this is really key… ¬†Start looking at some of the things that might hinder you from achieving all those things. I call these slippery little suckers “Snakes”.

Imagine if you got given a free ticket to fly to Paris for a week¬†and as soon as you boarded the friendly flight attendant smiled and¬†said “We’ve got a pilot on his first day and he doesn’t like rules, so there’s no safety measures at all today – not even oxygen masks or life jackets!”

I don’t know about you, but I would be rethinking my flight!¬†A good strategy will develop plans to deal with opposition, problems and failure, as well as your ideal scenario.

Now that you are clear on exactly what has to happen, and in what order, you can start looking at timeframes and costs involved in making those things happen as a “Plodder”. But you’ll also be able to see the “Ladders” before anyone else does, and you’ll be able to spot a snake, and still know you can recover.

And it’s all because you started with the end in mind.

My clients have endorsed me on Linked in for “Strategy” more than anything else. They tell me I’m great at uncovering hidden ladder strategies. So if you’d like to have a year with more ladders and less snakes – let’s get started right now. All you have to do is fill out this form and tell me what you want to achieve in the next 12 months.¬†(Don’t worry it’s not a blog comment, all your details and comments will be kept hidden in a private email to me, nothing will be published online).

Where is Success?

Beach Car Park

I don’t know if you have any strong feelings about car parks. But I do.

If I see a packed car park at my local beach, my heart sinks.

I only live a block away from the beach so I don’t drive to the beach. It’s not about getting a car park.

It’s about the fact that if the car park is full, there’ll be lots of people at the beach, and I enjoy the beach more when I have it all to myself, or there’s just one or two people there. Selfish, I know. Don’t judge me.

But the reverse is true when I go to church. If I see a full car park, my heart leaps. I enjoy church more when it’s packed to the rafters.

But this is not a blog post about car parks, it’s about venue theory.

Venue theory explains why given the same stimulus (a full car park), my response can be so radically different.

Venue theory says success happens somewhere. It’s about locating the most viable environment for success. It also helps explain why perfectly rational human beings will pay eleventy squillion dollars to watch a movie and eat popcorn in a theatre when they could see the same movie and eat popcorn at home for free.

More importantly, it explains how our customers arbitrage venue for value. In other words, it describes why certain things take off and certain things don’t (and never will).

And the fascinating insight is that venue has a lot more to do with success than creativity or marketing or technology – or a hundred other things you might think of.

Yesterday, one of my friends rang me with a stock tip. He told me to shift my money out of one stock I had, and put it into the stock he was suggesting. Today, I thought I’ll just check how¬†the share market is doing, and in particular my investment in this one stock.

I was relieved to see that my stock had gone up 7% in a day. I wish it did that everyday – my money would double every fortnight! So I thought I’d check on the stock he had advised me to put my money into… it had gone up by more than 73% in a day. The only difference in my return on investment was not creativity or marketing or technology, it’s just that one venue was ten times more productive than another.

There’s a parable in the bible about a sower who sowed seeds. He did the same activity, with the same resources in 4 different venues. But only 1 venue proved successful. Venue was the difference between no result at all – and a return on investment of 10,000% in the same season.

Think about it. If I write something in my journal, the only person likely to ever read it is me.

But over four thousand people have read my blog.

Same activity. 4,000 times more successful. Venue is the only difference.

Would you make a small change to your venue if it could make you 4,000 times more successful?

Even on my blog, venue matters to leverage my success. I’ve setup my blog so that every post is also promoted via email, twitter and facebook simultaneously – in other words, with every post I am performing in 4 different venues at the same time.

Most of my blog readers, read posts on an iPhone or an Ipad. The number of people who are reading my blog on a desktop is miniscule. Unlike ten years ago, the desk is the least popular physical venue for my content now – many readers tell me they are on a train, or even in bed, when they read my blogs, books and magazine apps.

Right now, only 3% of digital magazines¬†are downloaded on to the¬†Android platform. So if you want success in digital magazines, and your magazine is not on Apple’s Newsstand, you’re in real trouble.

10 times as many apps are downloaded every day as are songs. So even if you are a musician, you can have a lot more success putting your music inside an app in the app store, than putting your song on iTunes.

Where is your success? It may be worth spending a few minutes alone in a beach car park thinking about that….¬†Hint: the venue¬†may have less to do with where you are comfortable and more to do with where your customers are comfortable i.e. where they are already spending their free time.

Dear Control Freak

David Flanagan
With David Flanagan – 2014 West Australian of the Year, 2014 WA Business Leader of the Year, Chairman of Atlas Iron, Chancellor of Murdoch University.

I don’t like the term “Control Freak”. I prefer the term “Control Enthusiast”.

Atlas has been the worst performing share in my portfolio over the last year. In fact, Atlas has lost more than 90% of it’s value – plummeting from more than $3 Billion to more like $300 million… which seems like a lot of money to me (especially when some of it was my money!) ¬†And, as a control freak, I thought I should definitely do something about it. Obviously, I could just sell my shares. But for some reason I felt like going to the AGM would be more logical.

So I spent yesterday hanging out with the 2014 West Australian of the Year, David Flanagan at the Atlas Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Perth.

What struck me as a little bit weird is that the company is focusing on what it can control. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve often heard that one of the key distinctives between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people focus on what they can control. So I should be happy that Atlas is focusing on what it can control, right?

But during his presentation telling us about how they are focusing on what they can control, the Managing Director referenced a quote from a competitor where he estimated future demand. And it struck me, competitors are out of your control, the future is one big lump of stuff you can’t control. And an estimate is a guess. It’s nothing like reality. And it’s not even close to something you can control.

Was the Managing Director aware that even though he was saying he was focusing on what he can control that what he was actually doing was grasping at a squishy straw of guesses about the future from a competitor – all of which was totally beyond his control?

But even if all of those things were¬†in his control, here’s the thing. The things that have¬†in reality wiped more than 90% of the value from the company, indeed even the metric that measures the value of the company, are all beyond the control of the company. And you can’t go on¬†losing more than 90% of the value of the company forever – whether you are in control or not.

In particular, if the share price keeps falling and the commodity price of iron ore keeps falling, at some point you’re not going to have a company anymore.

But no-one said that.¬†Some people spoke about truck technology, some spoke of acquisitions of other companies, I even mentioned corporate governance and diversity.¬†Because it seems what Control Freaks really want to hear is that if the share price and commodity prices start going up, we’re all going to get richer. And what we chose to focus on was the Chairman’s reassurance that “even if the commodity price goes up $10, the profits¬†could go up 500%” . It seems like even when you’ve lost billions of dollars because of factors beyond your control, what you can control is your sense of hope.

So it turns out that us control enthusiasts like to focus our control on simple uncontrollable optimism. How freaky is that?!