It Doesn’t Have To “Look Pretty”

Honing Your Focus to Maximize Revenue

I’m no MMA fighter, but I know that when two people step into the ring (or octagon) for three rounds of beating each other to a pulp, it can only end three ways:

  1. A knockout, where the competitor loses consciousness, or the referee decides a fighter can’t defend themselves anymore and steps in;
  1. A submission, where one competitor puts the other into a hold where they have no choice but to “tap out” or suffer irreparable damage;
  1. The match goes to a decision. Neither competitor dominates, and the judges have to decide the victor based on who performed better. Naturally, matches that go to decision are more controversial. 

When someone wins via decision, you’ll hear commentators say things like, “A win is a win is a win!” This means that regardless of the controversy, the victor will go down in history as the winner. 

Or they may say: “A win is a win, it doesn’t have to look pretty.” This means the result of the match matters far far more than the style

How does this relate to marketing and entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurs often focus on the wrong things. They want everything to be a “first-round knockout” instead of something less flashy.

They polish their website for months, before scoring a single client. They spend hundreds on templates, plug-ins and designers without a cent of revenue. They may also invest money they don’t have into logo design. Or they spend time making their pitch decks look better than the next person’s.

It boils down to this: we don’t just want to win. We want to look good while winning. Frankly, some of us want to look good more than we want to win. That’s why, out of all the businesses that start in 2021, only a quarter of them will last.

Remember, YOU are the unique selling point! Your clients care more about YOU than the look and feel of your business.

Why We Focus On the Wrong Things

The reason we focus on style over substance boils down to fear, misplaced priorities, or both.

While you work on your website, you don’t have to worry about a prospect rejecting your pitch, or a client ending their relationship with you. While you design your logo, you don’t have to put yourself in a position where true failure is possible.

Put simply, fear of rejection and failure keep us working on things that don’t matter. Getting through “no” on your way to “yes” isn’t sexy. (But at least your website looks good).

Additionally, misplaced priorities keep us from the essentials. Maybe we don’t understand that only 20% of what we do gives us 80% of the results, and that 20% is certainly not glamorous.

But, if you focus on the superficial elements of your business, you will only attract superficial clients. This isn’t good, when who you need are clients willing to commit and pay for real results.

A wise person once told me, “It’s better to take ugly with millions than pretty with pennies.” Think of some of the biggest companies like Facebook and Zoom. Go to their websites and look at the icons.

Not very attractive, are they? And yet they rake in billions. Clearly, someone very high up in those organizations has their priorities straight. They’re focused on the long term, unattractive, barebones win, not the first round knockout.

Speaking of which, here’s a FREE guide to getting your first big win. Avoid startup killers and traps that doom you before you even start!

How To Shift Your Focus

If we want Zoom-level success, it’s time to start thinking like them. We need to shift our focus, re-examine our priorities, and leverage our newfound success toward more glamorous stuff.

  1. Go Back to the Fundamentals

To continue the cage fighting analogy, it’s time to focus on fundamentals. The best fighters practice the basics until they never get them wrong. They go over footwork, basic strikes, and simple maneuvers every day, even if they’re known to end fights with something complex like a spinning backfist or wheel kick.

Decide on your fundamentals. What are the basic Revenue Generating Activities (RGAs) you should take care of every single week? RGAs lead directly to cash flow, rather than simply being related to it.

Designing your logo is not an RGA. Sending cold emails to potential clients is an RGA.

Performing research on how to create well-performing ad campaigns is not an RGA, but creating effective ad campaigns makes money move in your direction.

Here’s a good rule for beginners: When you start out, spend 80% of your time on client acquisition, and 20% of your time on research, planning, and design. Keep going until 80% of your time is spent doing client work and 20% on everything else.

  1. Limit Your Focus

The more things you focus on, the less you actually “focus.” Decide on two or three things to prioritize at a maximum. For everything else, delegate and outsource it.

In my business, I focus on getting my clients more sales, and marketing my services to new clients. That’s it. For everything else, I bring in outside talent who focus on things I don't have time to do. For example, I have someone who edits and uploads my podcast. I have another person who helps with my schedule. Still another helps manage all of our written content. 

If I tried to do everything myself, I’d spend every day switching contexts to the point of exhaustion, and failing to move the needle.

  1. Use Your Results To Improve Your Looks

Final note: I’m not saying that a good-looking website and logo are “evil.” By all means, invest in the look and feel of your business. But don’t invest your initial capital into them. Invest surplus revenue into looks.

The only thing you should spend money on during the early stages are things with a direct return, like RGAs. When profit comes, then you can decide how to reinvest it. However, always invest in things that generate income, or you’ll won’t have funds for anything.

As you shift priorities and focus on fundamentals, you’ll succeed where others fail. Then you can reward yourself with more style. This is something I would do different if I had to start over, which is the focus this season on my “What’s The Secret?” Podcast. Take a listen, and learn from a veteran’s mistakes!

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

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