Uncomfortable Investment

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This past weekend, I took Charlie (if you don’t know who Charlie is you can find out here) to the beach for his first sand experience. IT WAS SIMPLY AMAZING. I enjoyed watching him get more comfortable as the waves got close to him and he stopped running away as he did in the beginning. My little doods paws are huge because the golden retriever and poodle were bred for water. Sure, he didn’t want to go near the water in the beginning. However, I knew he needed to take the risk of experiencing something new to reap the rewards from a lifetime of sun and beaches. One of the most serendipitous moments was the reaction by the beachgoers when gazing upon Charlie.

They absolutely loved him in every way. At least two dozen people stopped and asked two things: 1. Can I pet your puppy? 2. What kind of dog is he? The best reaction was a college student from Marquette who wasn’t able to bring his 10-year-old dog to school with him due to his landlord’s housing restrictions. After Charlie sat in his lap on the beach with the waves rolling in and out, the kid told me that this totally made his day and thanked me repeatedly. I was encouraged at how putting Charlie in an uncomfortable position could bring so much joy to someone else.

Making an uncomfortable investment

In order to avoid being a hypocrite to my puppy, I too put myself in a new uncomfortable position. There is a common belief that entrepreneurs are risk takers by nature. To a degree, I can mostly agree that there is risk to starting and running a business. Many times, my wife has told me she could never be an entrepreneur. Although when pressed to think of her dream opportunity, Michele would really like to own a winery and can’t think of another job she would rather do.

One key lesson I’ve learned from running many businesses is that no one will hire you if they don’t know you exist. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s something that many business owners fail to master and eventually go under from not mastering this competency.

After many fretful nights and a few months of savings, we decided to hire Thiel as our marketing company. Talk about an uncomfortable investment. To make a true commitment to our marketing efforts, we’re dedicating a LARGE percentage of our revenue for one year towards honing our message, letting our target market know we exist and getting those targets to contact us.

The goal is clear: We want to increase our marketing investment as soon as we can to justify the ROI (Return on Investment). Historically, the path to get there has been murky for us. We’ve tried several companies in the past to reach these same outcomes with limited results at best and no results at worst. Admittedly, I don’t think we made enough of a financial commitment to the efforts and got substandard results. Like the student petting Charlie, writing about this is actually putting me more at ease about the process however here is the truth. If we are going to grow as a business, we’re going to have to develop a consistent and scalable lead generation process.

Overcoming our limited growth

Using our current process, we will continue to grow in a positive yet limited fashion. The operative word is limited. The thought of that complacency is totally unacceptable to me, in the same way, I wouldn’t want Charlie to be limited by his lack of exposure to different environments. And, then there are the serendipitous opportunities in the risk-taking. What opportunities will we gain by partnering with a marketing firm that will mirror the joy Charlie brought to the college student? Obviously, I don’t know. But, I am confident that our investment with a national branding agency will move us toward our global aspirations.

The question I have for you is this: What uncomfortable investment do you need to make to pursue your greatness?

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