4 Secrets from a Business Strategy Expert And coach
(Episode 1 of 2 with Don Markland)
Don Markland is the CEO and owner of Accountability Now, an executive coaching and business strategy company. He has over 20 years of experience in the world of sales, marketing, leadership, and business growth and uses his knowledge as a Forbes contributor.
In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss four lessons Don learned in his entrepreneurial journey: Prioritizing family, learning from our mistakes, monetizing social platforms, and gaining reviews and testimonials.
1. Prioritizing Family
Don is really passionate about his family. The reason he decided to work with small business owners and start his own consulting and coaching practice is because of his love for his wife and kids.
While Don was a successful executive with a successful business, he was so busy he became overworked and overwhelmed. When his wife, a cancer survivor, first got diagnosed, he realized he was living the wrong life. He said, “I was mis-prioritizing . . . and so I changed the way I looked at things.” Don realized he needed to change the reason why he worked. Instead of working to make money, he decided to work for his family.
He quoted David O. McKay who said, “Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
After discovering his passion and prioritizing the most important things, Don decided to become an entrepreneur and take more control of his life. He became the co-owner of Launch Leads where he helped them make a large profit. When Don joined the team, Launch Leads was stuck in a hole and losing money. He was tasked with making the operation profitable again, and he helped them cross the million dollar mark.
After his first big success, Don started his own business from scratch and recalls getting his first sale as one of his biggest home runs. His journey has now taken him to becoming the CEO and owner of Accountability Now, where he can help other business start-ups get out of the hole and become successful.
The key thing that changed for Don was his ability to prioritize the right things. He knew that no matter how successful he was in his business, it wouldn’t make up for any failures in his home. As entrepreneurs, we often get overloaded with new problems and different tasks. Despite this, we should remember that the most important thing we should always take care of is our family.
2. Learning From Our Mistakes
As entrepreneurs we are bound to make hundreds of mistakes. The best thing we can do is learn to be grateful for those mistakes and take them as learning opportunities.
While Don saw a lot of success in his career, he also experienced failures that helped him grow and learn. One of the biggest mistakes he made cost him $900,000 in marketing funds. Because of a silly mix-up with a vendor, they didn’t get a single lead from that marketing expenditure. Despite this, he said, “I would have done it again in a heartbeat. I learned where my mistake was, where my due diligence was, and I don’t regret spending the money.”
Don learned from his mistakes and helped that same company earn nearly $30 million in two years by taking small risks and moving quickly. One of the lessons he learned was to make sure to test everything and find a balance between moving quickly and recklessness.
He said, “There’s a big difference between moving quickly and recklessness. . . . I expect urgency, but I don’t want recklessness, and that’s a delicate line. Sometimes people are so cautious and so patient, they are borderline slow.”
While moving fast and taking risks is important as an entrepreneur, we also want to make sure we are testing and double checking processes so we don’t end up making small mistakes that cost us thousands of dollars.
As we begin to accept our mistakes and learn from them, we will become better entrepreneurs with better business strategies.
3. Monetizing Social Platforms
When I asked Don to share his thoughts on tectonic shifts, he explained that movements in social media are one of the most important shifts we should be watching out for.
“It’s [about] businesses being able to capitalize and then monetize off of every new social platform,” Don said. “You better believe that every major company will have to have some sort of communication and monetization channel through social media platforms.”
He explained that things come and go, but things also come and stay. Businesses should be able to capitalize and monetize off of every new social platform as consumers continually change. For example, customers have moved away from phone calls and emails. While there will likely always be call centers, customers are wanting to communicate via social media and text. Every business should adapt to these changes and leverage social media in order to stay connected with their customers.
“If you’re trying to collect payments, if you’re trying to issue orders, you better be able to do it through Snapchat, through TikTok, through whatever social channel, and you better be able to implement it through a new social channel quickly,” Don said.
4. Gaining Reviews and Testimonials
Another one of the most important tectonic shifts we are seeing today is credibility marketing, or as Don called it, reputation management.
“If you don’t have an online reputation strategy, you’re 10 steps behind,” Don said. “Everybody should be on board with your online reputation management strategy because everybody in one way or another is going to touch a customer.”
Often, the company that has the most and highest reviews in an industry, is going to win. We should develop a reputation management system within our business to make sure we gain good reviews and testimonials. Having a system like this in place can help us appear on credible ranking sites our customers trust.
At his last company, Money Solver, they got rated as the #1 financial services in the country. This is because they had over 3,000 5 star reviews simply because they asked for them. Don’s team trained everyone in their business on how to ask for reviews. He believes you can ask for a review or testimonial at any point in the customer journey, and each team member should know how to do this.
“You have to take care of your online reputation,” Don said. “You have to get strong testimonials, and small business owners and big ones aren’t doing enough. Typically it’s because they don’t have a system. They don’t train their salespeople, they don’t train their customer service, and they don’t train their entire team how to ask for reviews.”
We can even ask for multiple reviews from the same customer down the value chain. We could ask for a review about our website and then ask for a review on a product. The more positive reviews and feedback we get, the more likely it is that ranking sites will recognize us and place us on their site.
“Your online reputation is the best indicator of future business,” Don said. “You need it everywhere . . . because people are going online and for whatever reason, when they see it online, they believe it as truth.”
Thank you so much Don for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- No success outside of the home can compensate for failure in the home.
- As entrepreneurs, we will make many mistakes. We should learn to be grateful for them and see them as learning opportunities.
- We should try to capitalize and monetize off of every new social platform.
- If we don’t have an online reputation strategy, we’re 10 steps behind. We can build our online reputation and credibility through reviews and testimonials.
- We can ask for a review at any point in the customer journey.
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