I have been an entrepreneur for over 30 years now, and if I had to start all over again, I would do these 5 things differently.
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00:00 If I Were to Start Over...
3:05 What We Have No Control Over
4:38 What I Did Right
7:59 What I'd Do Differently
8:30 Being a Commodity SUCKS
11:20 Chasing the Top Line
13:27 Setting Goals WRONG
15:52 Being a Stubborn Know-It-All
19:12 Failure is NOT Fatal
24:51 Final Thoughts
So think back to when you were in high school and college. Imagine if you had the answers to the test before you took the test. How cool would that be? Well, I'm gonna share with you some things today. Some absolute knucklehead moves that I have made in my career and building businesses that will either save or make you millions of dollars and could potentially, save your sanity and in one case, save your life. I got five different, things that-- I can't share all the bonehead moves I made throughout my career, but I've got five things that I wanna share with you and, they're all important. The fifth one is the one that, quite frankly, is the most difficult for me to share, but I wanted to let you understand this so that you can take your business and your life to the next level and not make the knucklehead mistakes that I've made. Hello, my fellow entrepreneurs. My name is Mike Savage and I am the host of the Savage Entrepreneur Show and the founder of Savage Secrets. I am super excited and honored to be your entrepreneur coach today because I believe that every day is a great day, and if you don't think so, I challenge you to just miss one of them. Every day we have the opportunity to grow. Grow our business, grow personally. There's highs and lows, ups and downs, challenges and breakthroughs, but there's a reality. We only get one chance to go through this journey called life, so we might as well have fun and experience it to the fullest. It is my personal mission to help you win this hard hitting emotional and financial rollercoaster sport so that you can live the life of your dreams. We all deserve to be happy and healthy self-confident leaders. So if you enjoy the episode today, please share this with three of your friends, three fellow entrepreneurs that are trying to take their life and their business to the next level. Let me start today. If I could start over again, if I could start over again, what would I do? I'll tell you what, it's an interesting dilemma that we have, right? It's, if we had all of the answers and never made mistakes, would life really be great? Where's the challenge? Where's the adversity? Where is the breakthroughs? If you had all the answers, I don't know. Does life become boring if you always know exactly what's gonna happen day in and day out? I think it would be a little boring. But I do wanna share that there are some things that I strongly recommend that you don't do in your journey of building your business. Because I've done some dumb stuff. And some of these dumb things that I've done, have cost me. They've cost me dearly. They've cost me financially, they've cost me spiritually. They cost me mentally. And I wanna share these things with you. Just primarily so that you don't make the same mistakes that I've made. Building a business and being an entrepreneur is not a simple, easy path. All the answers aren't laid out in front of you, step by step by step. It doesn't work that way. There's forks in the road. There's highs and lows, there's different things that hit us that were completely unexpected. So when I talk about the knucklehead moves and don't make the mistakes I've made. It comes with a little bit of a caveat. Now, if I could start over again, there's one thing that can never change. If you were to start over again, there's one thing that can never change. We have no control over the first 18 years of our lives or so. We cannot control our parents. We cannot control where we were born. We cannot control if we were born to money or to poverty. If we were born in the city, or if we were born in the wilderness. We have no control over that. But there's a reality. Once we become, call it 18, I throw that out there, we go out into the world. Maybe you finish high school or go to college, whatever may, but you go out into the world and you start to experience stuff. A lot of the decisions that you make have been predicated on what has happened to you for these first 18 years. But, the goal today is to just share with you some things that I've done that have cost me, and I don't want you to make these mistakes. And again, maybe your philosophy on building a business is different. And that's cool. We all can't have the same thing. And part of what I'm gonna share, especially the last couple of knucklehead moves, is more of a moral thing. And it stems from, my belief system. And it's not for everybody. We are all brought up, as I said, differently and we're all gonna have different beliefs on a variety of things. Every one of us is unique in our own right. We've all had different experiences that have got us here. But when you are building a business, there are some things that I really, really encourage you to get good at. Now I gotta first say I haven't been a complete blunder. I have done some things right throughout my career and building businesses. And I would encourage you to do these same things. If you're not doing them, please. I encourage you to learn more, to try more to do these things that, I think, again, from my perspective are the right things to do. So I have, first and foremost, I've chased dreams. I have chased my dreams in whatever the vision I have, whatever the company that I build, what can I do with this business? What is the impact that I can make? What is the ultimate goal? We have to chase dreams. We have to have those big dreams. We have to think about tomorrow because sometimes the today of life is frustrating. I've chased my dreams, I took some risks. As part of the offset to taking risks, you make some mistakes, and sometimes the mistakes are challenging, but as an entrepreneur, you're gonna take risks and your level of risk tolerance, guess what? It's been pre-programmed. I hate to tell you, it's been pre-programmed. So if you wanna get to that point in your business and your life where you're going to that next level, you're gonna have to take some risks. But I've taken some risk. One of the other things I did, especially early on, actually, I shouldn't even say early on, every single company I've started, I've understood cash flow. I've understood the importance of it, and I work with lots of entrepreneurs that you know, aren't necessarily good in this area. But if you're going to grow a business, I promise you things are not gonna work out exactly as your business plan states. There's gonna be curve balls, there's gonna be things that explode. There's gonna be challenges that happen. You gotta make sure that you have sufficient cash reserves to buffer the mistakes. So cash flow is a big one. And another thing is, especially early on when I first started, and I'm not sure where you are in the entrepreneurial journey, you might just be getting started. But if you have another source of income or if you have a job, I strongly encourage you to start your company or try to build your company while you already have a job. Now, there is this philosophy and this theory, like, go ahead, jump ship, go out there and just take all the risk and throw caution to the wind. Yeah, that's great. But when I started, one of my first companies, I had a full-time job and I worked full time, but yet I started my business and I also did that full time. Now there's a reality, when you're building your business, part-time, it's not part-time. You've gotta find those hours. I always say that when you start your own business, you get to work half days. You just get to pick which 12 hours it is. But I had a full-time job, but I would get up at five and I'd work till eight. I'd go to my job and I'd get home and I'd work from five to midnight. Oftentimes when we're building businesses, that's what we gotta do. So, I did that and I thought it was a good move and the most important thing as it relates to all of my entrepreneurial journeys is family always came first to me. I was talking to a friend of mine recently, probably six, eight months ago. Who built a very successful business and ended up selling the business, put about 25 or 30 million in his pocket. We're going through the conversation. He goes, Yeah, Mike, you know what my only regret during the 10 years of really growing that company is I didn't see my children. Like, oops. And I always say regret, I think is one of those words in the English language that is ugh, just painful. I think it's the worst word in the English language. You don't want to be laying on your deathbed and regret that you didn't try something. So now, let's get to the knucklehead moves. Let's get to some of the stuff that I did wrong that I kind of wanna do over. If I had the opportunity to do it over again, these are the things that I would change. These are the areas where I'm gonna say I goofed. I wanna share them so that hopefully you won't goof, or at least you can take this for whatever it's worth, and maybe you want to go and try stuff anyways. I, And I encourage that, but these are just mistakes that I've made that cost me dearly, not just financially, but it also costs me in other ways. The first thing from a business perspective is, you're running a company, and I'll tell you one thing that can sink you faster than anything, and that's being a commodity, a commoditization, really stints. You have to stand out in some way, shape, or form in the marketplace. Now, business gets complicated. We got marketing and sales, and we got operations. We got all sorts of stuff. But the number one single most important thing that you should focus on that I would strongly encourage you to dive into and analyze is what is your product or what is your service? What is it that you do, and what makes you different? What makes you unique? We can't all be doing the exact same thing if you're running a IT company, a managed service provider. If you're running a construction company, if you're running a hotel, if you're running a restaurant, whatever it may be, whatever your business is, what makes you different? Our product is the most important thing. We've got to be different. We've got to somehow separate ourselves from the pack, and I always encourage my clients, I encourage every entrepreneur to run through a SWOT analysis. S. W. O. T. Strengths, Weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are your strengths? The very first thing, what makes you different? What makes you unique in the way that you do things? So that's one of those key things be different. I've had some companies one in particular that it was all about, just generate more revenue and I took my eye off the ball. I took my eye off of the innovation leadership. That I had created and you've gotta get back there. Get back there, and figure out exactly what it is that your business does that is unique and distinct. And the other piece of, that can differentiate your business. Is marketing so for example, there's a lot of companies, you may see the ads on television for insurance, right? Everybody's got insurance. There's, Geico Gecko, there's, Liberty Mutual. There's all of these different, and everybody's got, for the most part, they sell insurance, right? There may be nuances, pluses, or minuses, like differences, but they're trying to make their mark and be different, based on marketing. Based on marketing. And when you can take, and you can combine a great product with great marketing, that is your USP. That is your unique strategic position in the marketplace. So number one, commoditization sucks. If you are gonna do something, do it better. Do it differently. Figure out what is that secret sauce that you have that can differentiate you from the sea of competition that's out there. Now, another sort of bonehead mistake that I made was chasing top line. Chasing revenue, chasing sales only. Now I hear this all the time from gurus and experts and marketing people out there, they're talking about, well grow your business to six figures, or seven figures or eight figures. It's like, who really gives a shit what the revenue number is? It doesn't matter. It's not gonna change things. If you generate $5 million in sales and you lose a million, what's better? To generate a million dollars in sales and make a quarter of a million? Seriously, there is a comprehensive look that we need to take at our business. It's not about just driving revenue. Now I'm gonna say this with a caveat. There are some businesses, there are some growth strategies where growing top line revenue or growing the number of viewers or growing the number of subscribers makes your business valuable, and that's the most important thing because if someone was to look at your business and say, Geez, here's their top line revenue. Here's the number of subscribers they have. Here's the impact they're making. Like, I can take these subscribers or I can take this top line revenue and I can make it profitable. I can morph this into my business. So, a lot of companies called SAAS, S.A.S.S Software as a service." This is how they thrive. This is what they do. They're chasing top line revenue. But for the rest of us, it's not just about top line revenue. We've got to look at the bottom line as well. We have to understand the numbers. So I made this mistake. I made it a few times now, where, revenue, revenue, revenue. Now, I'll tell you what, when you're starting off your business, it's kind of nice to see revenue and there's gonna be a period of time, most likely with most businesses where you could lose money. You may not make money right outta the blocks, but at the end of the day, it's not just about chasing top line. What we want to do is focus holistically on the numbers, because that's how we keep score in business. So bonehead move, chase top line. Another thing that I've done wrong, and I've done it wrong so many times that it forced me to write a book. But setting goals there is, we've all heard of business plans and goal setting and we need to write up SMART goals, right? SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based. Here's an example, and I've made this mistake, I've created SMART goals. Like, I want to be able to generate $500,000 in net profit within 12 months. Or I want to have $8 million in revenue over the course of the next 36 months. I wanna grow my revenue to $8 million over the next three years. Here's another one. Just from a health perspective, what if you're overweight? Hey, you know what, I'm gonna set a SMART goal. I weigh 240 pounds. I wanna weigh 200 pounds by the end of the year in the next 12 months. But a SMART goal as it relates to New Year's resolutions is I'm gonna lose 40 pounds by 12/31/2027, whatever it might be. Say it's one year or two years, whatever it is. Is that a SMART goal? Absolutely. It's a SMART goal, but it's useless, quite frankly. SMART goals suck in my opinion. Now, don't get me wrong, they are foundational. They are the first step in setting a goal, but when we're setting goals, when we're setting dreams, when we're identifying stuff, and a business plan is really just another word for a bunch of goals, right? It defines all the specifics. But when we're setting SMART goals, it's more than just the SMART goal. Like you set the goals like, okay, what action steps are you gonna take? Specific action steps to attain that goal. What are some of the obstacles that could get in your way after you set your goal? What are the things that can derail you or take you in a different direction? What kind of skills might you need? These are just some questions as it relates to goal setting. What are the skills you need in order to attain that goal? Say you wanna run a marathon. Okay, maybe I should get a running coach or maybe I should get a coach or someone that has been there and done that before. So, setting goals in and of itself is not, the end all cure all. And if you're curious about my approach to setting goals, you can download my book, "Dream Big and Crush your Goals", it steps you through the whole process and gives you a whole bunch of free PDFs to fill out your goals. So that's another knucklehead move. Like, well, I set goals, no goals aren't enough. It's not gonna get you there. You gotta dig deeper. Another one. This one. There's no two ways about it. This one mistake, or this one knucklehead move has absolutely, positively cost me millions. Millions of dollars. Because here's the challenge. The challenge is when we are entrepreneurs, we are doing something that others don't have the guts to do. We're going out there on our own. We have a belief system, right? We believe that we can do it, but the mistake that I made is being a stubborn know it all, and it kind of contradicts the reality of, or the definition of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is we're going out there and we're doing it. We're going after it. We're taking the bull by the horns. We're gonna go crush this. But if we don't get sound advice, if we don't get information, or recommendations or someone reviewing or challenging what you do or critiquing or giving you feedback. I say that the greatest learning laboratory on Earth is at the feet of someone who's already done what you're trying to do. Now, if and I really don't care if you come to us and use our services, from an entrepreneur coach perspective, but I challenge you to surround yourself with people that have done what you're trying to do. When we are building companies, I don't care where you're at, you could be running a hundred thousand dollar business. You could be a startup trying to get to the first a hundred thousand. You could be running a million dollar business trying to get to 10. You can be running 10 million trying to get to a hundred. If you're running a $10 million business and you're trying to get to a hundred million, there's probably a bunch of stuff you've never done before. There's probably things that you don't know about that next step. You wanna take your business public. What if you have a private company and you wanna take your business public? Well, if you wanna take your business public, you sure as heck better get someone on your team that has done it before. So my challenge is get someone in your court, get someone on your team that has been there and done that. It is so expensive. I say there's two ways to learn stuff in life. Your experience or someone else's, and when it's yours, it hurts more, it costs more, it takes longer. Some of the biggest mistakes I've made that have cost me so much is when I didn't ask for help. I didn't seek out counsel. I didn't try and find myself a coach. I tried to do it on my own and then, sometimes I would get feedback and I would say, No, you are wrong. Because that's kind of what we do as entrepreneurs. It's like we have a belief in ourselves and someone could come along and say, Hey, that's a stupid idea. You know what? I'm not saying it's easy, but what I am saying is, if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in trouble. So bring other people into your life, whether it be a coach, or whether it be a mentor or a mentorship group, or a mastermind, whatever it may. Don't be the smartest person in the room. So that's a big goof. Now, where I'm at in my career and all the diffrent things I'm trying to do, I'm trying to do more speaking engagement. So I have a speaking coach and a speaking mastermind. I'm looking to continue to build a coaching business and add products and add services and courses and all that other stuff. So I have a coach in that area as well. So I'm seeking out people that have done it better than me, done it more than me, have more experience than me, and will either reduce my pain or get me there quicker. And then the last one. This is the one that you know, quite frankly almost crushed me. There is a reality to running businesses and being an entrepreneur, and that is, you're gonna fail. We're gonna fail, we're gonna make mistakes, we're gonna screw up, we're gonna fail, and most likely we're gonna fail again. Then once we do that, what happens? Failure is one of those things that it will introduce us to ourselves. Failure is going to show us what we're made of. I had an experience several years ago, running a business, I had a whole bunch of other stuff that was going on in my life from a, parents and my mom and, all other health related things. It was just a bad time, man. It was a bad time and my business sucked, quite frankly. It was in a bad place and it was really failing. What I didn't do is I didn't get that person in my camp that could help me get through this. I was messed up. I was on medication. I was, suicidal. I was an alcoholic. All of this stuff was happening because I was not putting myself in the right state of mind, and I did not have the people around me that I needed to in this instance. And the transition that has happened since that experience-- now I've been Mr. Jacked up fired up 99% of my career. This was a moment where I wasn't jacked up, and I looked at failure as Mike failed. No, Mike didn't fail. Mike's business failed. Mike didn't fail. And there are some things that I wish I had done differently, like I talked about earlier. Commoditization is awful. Do not be a commodity, be a island of one. But failure should be your fuel. When you get knocked down, you need to get back up. This is something that I didn't have the right people in my life at the time. Failure to me was not fuel. Failure to me was fatal. Even though I had failed many times before, and I failed many times after. I lost it during this period. One of the things I would encourage you the most, if you're going through tough times or if you failed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Now when you're in the middle of it. When you're in the middle of a shit storm and a firestorm and then just things are not going, it's difficult. That's when you need someone in your camp. That's when you need someone on your team. If there's anything that I can share with you that I hope really resonates is that what has ever happened in the past, it does not define you. It's happened, it's over. And there's only two things we can do. Actually. There's only one thing we can do. We can learn from it, and if the memories are beautiful, we can appreciate them, but if they're failures and their mistakes, what can I learn? So there's a different set of questions that we need to ask ourselves. Now, these are five knucklehead moves that I've made. I hope that you don't make them. Whatever your business is. Number one, don't be a commodity. Be a unique and distinct business, whatever product or service. Number two, do not focus just on sales. Don't focus just on top line. You gotta understand the numbers. This is how we keep score in business. We keep score with numbers. We've gotta understand the numbers. I don't care what size business you run, I worked with $25 million companies that don't know their numbers. I've worked with people that are just coming out of the blocks and have, maybe a few thousand dollars in sales that don't know their numbers. We gotta know the numbers, but chasing revenue alone is not gonna get you there. We need to understand what we are doing, why we're doing, and especially we gotta understand how to keep score in business. Number three, set goals the right way. Don't set SMART goals are great, but I just think SMART goals alone are useless. SMART goals coupled with, what action steps will you take? What are some of the skills that you need? What are some of the obstacles that can get in your way? And most importantly, when you're setting goals, why do you want it? If you're looking to lose weight, why? If you're looking to grow a business, why? Define that. And it gives you the fuel. If your why is not strong, if your reason for getting to that next level's not strong enough, you're not gonna make it. It's just plain and simple. It's gonna be virtually impossible. Don't be a know it all. Get people in your court, get other advisors. When you have a business challenge or when you're trying to do something or take your business to a level where you've never been before. Get help. There are lots of places that you can get help. There are lots of courses you can take. I encourage you. Courses are great, but courses that are surrounded by a mastermind or surrounded by coaching or surrounded by people that have been there and done that, it's so valuable to get coaching from people that are actually doing what you're trying to do. There's a lot of people out there that call themselves business coaches, and you know what? Business coaches are great, but if you're an entrepreneur, make sure that your coach has built companies. Make sure that they understand not just the fundamentals of, how to write a business plan and how to hire people, but the emotional ups and downs of building a business. And finally number five is failure is not fatal. Failure is not fatal. Failure almost cost me my sanity. It, it really did, and I'm so blessed and grateful that I had a coach in my life that picked me off the ground and smacked me in the face and said, Dude, you need to get your shit together. And here's how we can do it, and here's the path that we'll go on and here's the journey that we can take together. Super powerful. That's why I'm so passionate about coaching cuz I know that, quite frankly, a coach saved my life. If you enjoyed today's episode, please, like my page and share this with other entrepreneurs that might be going through the journey similar to you. And if you're listening to this on a podcast, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave me a note or a comment or any other thoughts or feelings you might have, different areas where you'd like me to talk about. I'll just finish with this. We only get one chance to go through this magical journey called life. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. There are times that beat us up and knock us down. But that's the times when we need other people in our lives to pick us up and be by our side. So I wanna wish you an absolutely amazing day. Go have fun, go kick ass and dream big.