Have you ever had someone tell you or thought, “you know, I need to go back to school to learn more. That way I will make more money? That might be true for an employee in corporate America. For us business owners, however, there is only one degree that matters and will make us money in the long run. Unfortunately, it can cost us a lot more than the cost of a Harvard PhD if we are not careful. Check out this episode to find out how to earn this degree without going broke.
Hey everyone, it's Robert Poole with the Growing Your B2B Small Business podcast. Let me ask you a question. When it comes to making money and being financially successful, what does our society normally teach our kids even from grade school all the way through college? I mean, it's usually something like, "Study hard so you can get good grades, so you can get into a good college, which will get you a good paying job and you might get money." What they don't tell you is that education, even a business MBA is not where the real money is made if you want to own a business, there's a much better degree that's available to everyone out there and it eventually leads to money. Let's talk about how to get that degree and set yourself up for success as a business owner.
You have a small business that sells to other businesses? If so you probably know that there are plenty of resources for companies that market to consumers or companies that sell to large and fortune 500 type companies, but what about the small businesses in the middle who sell to other companies, where do we go to get answers? How do we grow our company consistently while still keeping our sanity? That's the question, and this podcast is the answer. If you're listening to this podcast, you're part of an elite group of achievers who aren't willing to sell it for just a 9:00 to 5:00 job, you're one of the heroes in our society, and you should be proud of it. Welcome to the tribe and welcome home.
Okay everyone, I hope you're having a fantastic day today. In the last episode we talked about the concept of buyer's remorse, why it happens and how we can prevent it a lot of the time. If you haven't listened to that, I'd suggest you check it out. So today I want to talk about a degree that every successful business owner needs. You can't get this degree at any accredited college in the U.S. and it can be earned in a few years, or many years, and it can either cost you a reasonable amount of money or a stratospheric amount, the price is really dependent on you. So any guesses what I'm talking about? Well the degree I'm talking about is a PhD or multiple PhD sometimes in failure, yes the F-word. That may sound kind of stupid or simplistic, but give me a few minutes and I think you'll understand why I'm spending time on this.
So what do I mean when I say a PhD in failure? I mean, what I mean is that if we want to be successful in growing our companies, we have to fail and fail a lot. I mean, sometimes we see a lottery winner who wins a million dollars and we think, "Well hey, maybe I can too." But what we fail to look at is that it took failures of most likely millions of others, even tens millions of others to get that one ticket. I once heard the country or pop singer Shania Twain say in an interview that she was an overnight success that took 25 years or something like that. She'd been singing on stage since the age of two and only after failing to make it big for 25 years plus or whatever it was that she finally get there and succeed.
Again, we've all heard this before, but that we have to kind of fail our way to success or whatever, but we give lip service to it, but most of us don't do it enough to succeed or make the money we want. The buzz in the computer world and the business world over the last couple of years has been all about artificial intelligence, and how AI is going to take the world. But think about it, why is AI so good at solving problems that humans have difficulty with? The computers are programmed to be masters at failure. The way the computer learns is by doing thousands and millions of tries every second and toward stumbles on an answer, something that works.
When it gets to an iteration or a test that doesn't work, it doesn't say, "Well, this sucks, I quit." It doesn't get discouraged or depressed, and yet that's what society programs us to do in our business lives and probably success in general. If you've been in business for any time and have failed multiple times, it's very likely that you probably had well meaning friends or relatives that had told you, maybe you should get over the fantasy of being a business owner and just get a normal, secure job like them, and this is because they don't understand how to be successful in business or life for that matter, in my opinion.
I mean, even though your mother told you, "Well, if you fail, try, try again until you succeed," the average person tells us to give up. Again, they're probably well-meaning, but it's not real helpful for our success as business owners. The only way we can succeed in business is to fail enough times to put the law of numbers on our side. If we fail enough, we really will fill our ways to success. One of my favorite sales speakers, Myron Golden tells a story about how he started in insurance sales back in the '80s. And he was out and hitting the pavement and making presentations every night, and even with that effort, it took him over 18 months I think, before he sold a single policy. I mean, talk about failure, can you imagine that? I mean, I don't know how many presentations he did, but it couldn't have been pleasant.
I think most people would give up far before that. And I've seen most salespeople give up way earlier than 18 months, that's for sure. He says in Tongue and Cheek that the reason he eventually made a sale and became the top agent in the office within a few months after was because he'd figure out all the ways not to get a sale, so it was a process of elimination. I love that story because it illustrates what I've seen in business owners over the years, including myself. No, we usually fail for quite some time before succeeding. And more importantly, those failures are the very things that allow us to succeed. But we're taught in school as children that, "Hey, you failed the test," like it's a bad thing in and of itself.
I mean, if you didn't study or didn't try, that's one thing, but instead we should be teaching our children that failing a test is number one, it's feedback that you don't understand the subject, number two, that you need to try again until you get it and it's called learning, not failure. Again, this is basic stuff and I'm sure you get it, but let's look a little bit deeper into it and why we need this PhD degree in failure. First, business is a learned skill. Anyone that tells you, well, they're a natural born leader or they're a natural born entrepreneur or salesman or whatever, that's simply not true in my opinion. I mean, I know some people would disagree with that, but I believe that's true. I mean, there are definitely people born with personalities that are more inclined to do well at certain tasks, but when it comes to business, it all comes down to acquiring a skill set, as question of how fast you acquire those and how many skills you acquire.
You need to understand and have some knowledge of sales and marketing, you need to learn how to lead people, you need to learn how to deal with people and create good relationships with your customers and your employees, you need to understand a little about finances, and the list goes on with the skills you need to acquire. And none these are innately in us, we aren't born with these skills, so they have to be learned. I mean, how many billionaire seven year olds do you know that just started their first business with a lemonade stand? They haven't had the time or the understanding of how to learn business skills, of course. And even very smart young people with little experience who've stumbled on a golden opportunity have to learn how to exploit that opportunity, and the best way to do it is with lots of failure.
For instance, everybody forgets that Microsoft was not Bill Gates first company, he previously failed. And Mark Zuckerberg had to learn not just to be a nerd program that could create a social networking platform, but as it took off, he had to learn all the other skills on how to grow a business. And so there's... Excuse me, there's no substitute for experience, and since you're inexperienced when something's new, you're going to fail, but that failure teaches you lessons if you pay attention and you try again, each time you get better until you eventually succeed. That's much easier to learn a new skill by doing it versus reading about it or hearing it. So why else do we need to fail over and over again in business? And this sounds a little strange, but I think failure actually helps us with our egos.
And that's hard to hear sometimes, but I think this is actually a big one that we don't talk about. If we're constantly succeeding, getting kudos and feeling great about ourselves, how motivated are we to push through to the next difficulty? Success unfortunately breeds complacency and complacency usually leads to a lack of growth and withering on the vine. For our Eagles to tell us that we're so great because we succeed all the time and never fail, well we're usually not going to have the drive or motivation to move on and achieve, and actually obsess with success. I've met a lot of very smart people in my life, and I went to a school with a lot of them, however, in terms of making money in business success, I've had more success than a lot of them.
And that's not a kudos to me though. What I'm getting at is that, what I noticed is very smart kids who get straight A's without having to study are never really pushed to fail, it comes too easy to them. As humans, if we aren't challenged and fail we lose our motivation. And that's why I believe it's actually a handicap to be very smart in school. You have to make sure that you don't let yourself coast just because you can, a, to make sure that you artificially push yourself, you're very intelligent limits to new heights, experiencing failure, experiencing difficulty and develop an attitude of perseverance because it's just important as being smart. And that's why I think failure is so important and having the right view of it. I kind of played with this concept of a PhD, but the reason is because I wanted to dispel a notion that formal education is going to give you success as a small business owner.
I think sometimes, we as business owners fall into this trap of thinking, well, kind of like society tells you, "Maybe if we just had more formal education, we'd do better financially, or we'd earn more money or well that person's a Yale grad and so no wonder they're successful in running a business." I mean, I know that's crossed my mind the last 25 years in B2B and I've even considered going back to school every now and then, but fortunately, at least in my view, I never did go back to school and instead I got an even better education and eventually that PhD in failure. And I believe it's the reason that I eventually found success in business. So, to clarify before I start offending everyone with a degree, I'm not dissing this formal education, college or whatever, I'm just saying that is little to do with succeeding as a small business owner and growing your business, which is what this podcast is all about.
And just so you know, I'm not a disgruntled guy who's jealous of guys with fancy degrees or whatever, attacking higher education. I have that education that I'm criticizing, and I'm just saying it's not horrible useful, or necessary to become a small business owner. I mean, I bet the equivalent of an Ivy League degree, I went to West Point and majored in economics. And the year I graduated West Point had more Rhodes scholars than Harvard or Yale combined. So again, I'm not bragging about me, I mean, I was third from the bottom of my graduating class of over 1,000. So I'm simply saying that my perspective is not a one of someone who resents those that have an or get an excellent formal education. The point is that real-world experience is much more valuable than what you'll learn in a formal school setting, and has little to do with your success as a business owner.
As proof, let's take someone who does have a formal education, like a doctor, obviously very well educated. Typically, the person has to have a four-year degree in something then three to four years of medical school and then an additional four to seven years of residency. I mean, that's a lot of school, but if you think about it, there's more time spent in practical experience, i.e. residency than the actual academic world of medical school. Interesting, huh? I mean, there are a couple of reasons that formal education doesn't necessarily translate to success in business. Number one, the professors and teachers are usually academics often with no real-world experience and at least not any recent experience. I mean yeah, sometimes you have an active business person come in and teach, but tenure professors are just that, they're professors. And it's not a bad thing again, but the reason that formal education is not geared towards learning how to start and run your business, is that our education system is not really set up for that.
I mean, for over the last 100 years, big businesses had a major influence in what's taught in universities. If you're in big business, which would you rather have? A bunch of people train and especially become good employees, or those who are trained to become great entrepreneurs and we're going to compete against that business? I mean, for proof, you can look at guys like Carnegie and Rockefeller, both of them were extremely successful in the richest man in the country of their time but they also had very little education. But when it came time to give away their fortunes through philanthropy, where do you think they gave a lot of their money? I mean, it wasn't to fellow non college graduates, they gave it to universities because it was in their self-interest to have universities crank out people who educated and yards towards being future employees to work in their businesses.
Okay, so I got a little carried away with the education piece, but I did it to encourage other business owners that they don't have to have a fancy degree, and if they don't have one, they're not any less capable of having a successful business. I actually like formal education, I think it's a great experience everyone should have if they want to and can pay for it without going 100s of 1,000s of dollars into debt like we're doing these days. We just don't want to make the mistake of thinking that it's what we need to grow our business. So back to the failure part, let's get to the action part of this. I mean, how do we get this PhD in failure? And are there ways to minimize the cost? Well, so how do we get it? I mean, I think there are several ways that enable us to get it.
Number one, we're going to change our definition of what failure is and remind ourselves that definition consciously until it becomes a default thought. We should get excited when we experience "Failure," because we know that we've just given ourselves something to learn and potentially something that could make us a lot of money in the future if we use that knowledge that we just gained. And this takes conscious effort as I said, but like anything, if you do it long enough, it becomes habit. Second, movement. Sometimes because of our fear of failure we tell ourselves, "Well, I need to do such and such before I can take action." I mean, don't let yourself fall for that cop-out, start moving on your idea, just start taking action. You start acting, you're going to gain momentum and you'll be able to make adjustments on the fly. You can't steer a parked car or an idea that's not being acted on.
And this last one is, this is a hard one, get our egos out of the way. Because society has taught us that failure is bad, and you're basically a loser if you fail over and over again. Our self esteem and ego sometimes hesitates us and keeps us from taking action because we're afraid of it, the ego hit that we're going to take if things don't work as planned. So let's quit trying to tie our self-worth to the results of our actions in business. Business is all about failure. In fact, failure is a requirement in business. Next, to continue on this idea of momentum or action, let's get over to the idea that things have to be perfect or we have to know exactly how things are going to work.
Master taking action, you'll definitely have to make some adjustments, so why wait to get started when you know you're going to have to make the adjustments anyway? Again, this is all common sense, but society has done a good job of brainwashing most people to believe that failure is something to avoid. Okay, so that's how it gets started on the road to our degree in failure, so to speak, but just like a college education it can take three years, or it can take seven. And there are ways to speed this up and there are ways to make it less expensive than other ways. The quicker and the more you fail, the quicker you're going to find success. So I'm going to quickly run through a laundry list of things that we can do to accelerate our learning curve and get enough failure slash learning experience under our belts to have success.
I'm sure there are more, but these are just some off the top of my head. I mean, first of all, an obvious one money. Most of us don't start out with a lot of money in our business, so this may not apply, but if you do have access to it or when you do, money allows you to try more things and in a quicker timeframe than if you don't have it. I mean, for instance, if you can only afford to advertise in one place on a limited budget, it's going to take time to learn what works and what doesn't. If you have a larger budget, you can dedicate more money and therefore speed up the results and figure out what failed and what works quicker. Next, it's simple one that doesn't cost you a lot of money, surround yourself with people smarter than you.
I mean, you aren't that smart and neither am I. By taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of others, you're able to skip over the failures by kind of letting other people's experience, do their experience on their dime and their time and yet you can borrow it. You get their experience for free and you can get much more failure under your belt quicker than you could by yourself. Another great technique I've learned is where and how you're learning. Just like surrounding yourself with smart people that you can borrow their failures from, being around people with much better and much more successful than you allows you to glean their knowledge and skip over that trial and error. I mean, if you want to learn something, you need to learn it from somebody who's doing it and is actually successful at it.
It's funny, my third grader just started class the other day and she came to me and said, "Dad, I feel like I'm the dumbest one in my class. I'm so overwhelmed and the other kids all seem to know more than me," and started crying. So like a great father, I turned to her and said, "Wow honey, that's awesome." Father of the year, probably not the reaction she was expecting. And in retrospect, maybe I should have said it differently, but I then tried to explain to her that she's in the best possible position. She wants to be at least good at the topics that they're covering in our class. Why? By surrounding herself with kids much better than her, she's going to learn quicker via peer pressure and it's going to push her to learn quicker to keep up with others, and she just might be able to get that help from some of them as well.
I mean, think about the opposite scenario. She's in a class where she's the smartest by far. She just sits there, bored out of her mind because the teacher is spending time talking about stuff she already knows, she didn't have the opportunity to struggle, fail or learn. I mean, it goes back to that old real estate advice thing. I mean, you don't want to the most expensive or valuable house in your neighborhood, you want to have the least, that way, the nicer house alters naturally raise the value of yours. So get yourself in groups that push you to fail at an accelerated rate, because you're trying to keep up. I mean, things like getting in a mastermind or a coaching group, or some type of environment where you're surrounded by people who are more successful than you are from their failure experience.
This next one is a phrase I heard from Steve Larson, the internet launch guy, which I really like. And he talks about this concept he calls just-in-time learning. And what he means is, if your sales are on fire, your marketing is generating plenty of prospects, but your internal team and processes are a mess, you should be spending your time learning how to build an effective team and processes, not learning how to improve your sales and marketing. That sounds kind of dumb, but if we're actually trying to educate ourselves and improve ourselves, what we're spending our time on is really does matter. In other words, I mean, spend your time honing your skillset based on what's holding your business back at this particular time. If you're spending time improving your sales and marketing when that's not the roadblock, that's slowing you down. But if you're focused on learning the wrong things, you're going to do more trial and error on the things that you really should be focused on, which is costing you more in terms of time and money when it comes to.
If you can focus and learn things that are the bottleneck in your growth, you can skip over some of the necessary failures. And again, borrow the failure experience from the author of the book, The Seminar, or whatever. Now finally, one of the best ways to quickly move through the necessarily failure is through direct mentorship and any kind of access that you have to others. And we talked about the idea of a mastermind type thing where you're getting in proximity with people more successful than you, but take it a step further. If you don't have a mentor or a coach or a partner, or even some kind of coaching program that allows you to tap into others failure experience, you really got to slow things down. You just want to make sure that whoever you hire is qualified to share their failure with you, i.e. are they successful in the area that you're trying to accelerate the failure curve in?
So there are others, but those are some of the quick strategies for accelerating your failures so you can get that PhD faster and the success that comes with it. So take away some of this episode. I mean the key to success in business is how quickly you can fail, how quickly you can learn from your mistakes, fail again, and move on. The quicker you fail, the quicker success path will be. And get over this idea that failure is a bad thing and start looking at it as a way to learn and accelerate your growth. And don't use the excuse and by the myth that formal education is what you'll take to succeed as a business owner, because it's not. And use the failures of other people to fail more times than you possibly can yourself, and take this knowledge to skip over some of those failures that you would have had to take time to experience yourself. That's all I have for today, thanks for listening and I'll talk to you soon.
Thanks for listening today. I know your time's valuable and it's really an honor to serve you. And if you found this content useful, I'd really appreciate it if you could rate the podcast on iTunes and leave a review with your honest feedback, whether it's good or bad. Also, if you're interesting growing your B2B business through direct contact marketing like we do, please call my office sales number and speak to one of our sales representatives. We can chat for a few minutes about your business and what you need most to grow your business, even if it's not our services.
And as a side note, if you listen to this podcast regularly, you probably know that I have a little pet peeve about using fancy words that talk in code, so to speak. So we're not going to do a "Discovery call" or a "Strategy call," just a quick question and answer call. And yes, if we think you're a candidate for our service, we'll try to sell you, but we're not going to hide behind fancy corporate, the news is we know you're smart enough to see through that. We believe in telling the truth and even if it's not what people want to hear. That said, give us a call at (480) 401-1926 if you're interested in talking about how to grow your business and have your best year ever.