What would you tell your eighteen-year-old self if you could do your business all over again? For Ken, that would be to apply automatic transmission to the growth of the company. He believes that a company needs three gears: marketing, content, and whale hunting. Marketing reaches people. Content places you in a level of authority. Whale hunting is meeting and being on brands with other people. Ken gets right down to each of this as he shares the path to growth.
Listen to the podcast here:
This one I’m going to call The Automatic Transmission. The automatic transmission when it came to vehicles, this is in the 1940s, maybe ‘50s even. It allowed people to learn how to drive a car a lot faster. It helped in the long-distance hauling in the mid-range, even though they went back to manual transmissions. There’s a certain group of trucks that would never have existed had they been a manual transmission. That mid-range market opened a whole new economy for the United States. There’s something unique about an automatic transmission. It jumps into a lower gear or a higher gear based on pressure.
When a vehicle is going uphill, it drops the transmission, the actual gears into a larger gear. Meaning the physical size of the gear is bigger. It’s easier on the engine to turn that larger gear if you know the ratios. It can make it up that hill. When it gets back to things that are easier for the vehicle, it’s a flat or descending surface, it can drop down to a smaller physical gear. The reason this episode came about is I was sitting in a lecture and the question came from the stage, “What would you tell your eighteen-year-old self if you could do your business all over again?” I’ve been thinking about that for two weeks. If I had to do Income Store and TGC all over again, we found out we’re hitting the Inc. 5000 list for what will be the fifth time, what would I tell myself many years ago?You can pick up the phone and make some calls or you can knock on the doors. Click To Tweet
There’s no question, I would tell myself to apply an automatic transmission to the growth of the company from day one. I want to explain how this is in my head. This could be another book. I recommend this for all businesses. When it comes to growth or marketing, a company needs at least three gears. In 1972, they built a 40 Econoline van with a Three-On-The-Tree. I ended up many years later in the late ‘90s acquiring. I paid a whopping $200. I bought myself a beat up old Ford van to move stuff around like a work van. It had Three-On-The-Tree. The steering was terrible. I gave it away for $50.
It was a death trap. I told the guy, “I will only sell this to you if you promise to fix the steering linkage. It’s so loose.” He did. I drove it later. It worked great. What am I saying here? The three-speed automatic transmission for business would go this way. I’m going to explain it through our current company. If we need leads now, let’s say I came home for something and all of a sudden we had to pay this huge bill that wiped us out of all operating capital or something happened and we need to raise money fast.
The first gear for us, something that I can count on within 48 hours to generate leads is two things, Facebook and if I speak on stage or my brother Bill speaks on stage, or Dave Conklin speaks on stage. If we can get any of the major players here to go on the stage and deliver a presentation to a large group of audience, we’re going to do a number of deals within six weeks. It happens every time. If we put a budget together and jump on Facebook, put some creative ads up there, we’re going to get leads coming in literally that very day. For us, first gear is the marketing that I can count on that if, with effort and a couple of bucks, we can turn on leads at will.
Everybody in business needs to figure out, “What is my first gear?” For some of you out there, you might have divisions of a company that you know you can get your ten sales reps or maybe it’s just you. Maybe you’re the only salesperson and you can go knocking on doors. If you eventually knock on enough doors, you’re going to get enough people to listen to you. I’ll bet you there are hundreds of people reading this blog that are laughing to themselves now. You’re like, “That’s my first, second and third year. I’ve been there before.” The old standby is, you can pick up the phone and make some calls or you can knock on the doors and make some calls. A lot of you are going to get grinded out or ground out or get beat to a bloody pulp and give up on your dream because all you have is first gear.
If I was going to tell myself at eighteen years old, I started when I was 22. I’m talking to myself, “Can you develop yourself a bad to the bone first gear? You hit it and you hit it hard.” On Thursdays, one day a week you kick it into second gear. For us, second gear is all the content that we write for our major websites personally to generate leads for us. All the link building we do to get link equity pouring into those content pages so that we rank on page one of Google. We get free traffic. Once you build it, it’s free traffic for the rest of your life. We get free leads for the rest of our life.
We do presentations every single week for free because we spent years building great content and doing great outreach. Second gear for us is also me writing books, me doing podcasts, taking the transcriptions and putting those transcriptions on KenCourtright.com. It’s now ranking for a tremendous amount of traction because I took the time to do 180 different podcasts. The second gear is all of the outreach that creates and proves to the world that we are authorities. We know what we’re talking about. It’s why we’ve been written in Forbes, Inc., Fast Company and all these magazines. We’ve been written everywhere. I’ve been interviewed 100 times on news places. It’s because we took the time long-term to do the outreach, to create authority, to get that constant dripping of leads coming in from second gear.
We have a third gear. My brother, Bill, is working with many NFL and NHL player associations. We’re getting the people that manage the money these professional athletes, when it’s time for them to maybe buy ten Burger Kings or five McDonald’s or ten Subways, they can look at Income Store and say, “I’d rather buy three to twenty of these websites. I don’t have to work behind the counter. It delivers a far greater financial return than a Subway or a McDonald’s and I don’t have to do anything.” Now you can be incredibly active, work and write and be that hands-on, put your apron on the writer and work with us that way, but you don’t have to. Third gear for us is what I call whale hunting. We do it on Fridays. Every Friday, every week we meet with bigger players.
Several months ago, my wife and I spoke to the Alternative Investment Division of the Government of Dubai. That’s third gear. We’re seed planting. We spoke to the EO in Dubai. We’re seed planting. The third gear for us is also once a month we sponsor something massive. We sponsored the City Gala in LA. I don’t know how much money they raised at that event. We’re rubbing shoulders and on the red carpet with John Travolta and Halle Berry. For years now, since 2009, 5% of our gross revenue, not net profit, gets pumped and tithed into six phenomenal organizations.
We make people cry with our money. It is absolutely the right thing to do. In and of itself, that’s whale hunting. It’s because we end up meeting with and being on boards with the same other people that tithe that large amounts of money regularly. What would I tell Ken at eighteen years old? I would sit Ken down in the corner. I’d say, “Ken, what do you do? I’m in insurance, I’m in this, I’m a growth consultant, or I sell carpet. What’s your first gear? I don’t know what you mean. If you had to, if you were starving and you had put money in your bank account and savings, I’d knock on doors. I’d make cold calls. I would do direct mail. I’d get on the radio.” That’s your first gear. You master first gear.
As soon as you’ve mastered first gear, you duplicate yourself with three different people. Why three, Mr. Ken? One third is going to crap out on you. One third is going to do it really well and leave you and start their own company. One third is going to be a flake. They’re going to be a total fruitcake. They’re going to have no idea what you’re talking about. They have no work habit. They’re a bum. Get ready to embrace life on planet Earth. That’s how it goes. That’s the rule of one third. You’re going to replicate yourself for a third.
Once you find out who’s with you and who’s loyal, you remove the other two, get them out of there and get in three more. You’ve got a team. You do it again and again. You master first gear. I’d say now go sit in this other chair, a different corner of the room. “What’s your second gear? I don’t know what you mean by that. While you’re grinding Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, it’s time to seed plant on Thursdays. It’s time to do something that eventually within six to eighteen months, the world will stumble on your website and go, “This guy knows what he’s talking about or she knows what she’s talking about.” You’re going to write great content once a week or once a month on your website.
You’re going to do outreach, getting people of influence to notice your content, see if they’ll review it and talk about it. You’re going to start to write books or podcasts. You’re going to start speaking on stages. You’re going to prove to the world that you know what you’re talking about. That’s second gear. You’re going to start to earn and deserve leads coming in and dripping in from Google page one. “Does that make sense?” “Yes, it does.” Get out of that corner and go to the next corner. You need to establish third gear. What does that mean? Third gear is every Friday or at least every other Friday, you’re going to whale hunt. I’m going to ask the young version of myself, “Who is potentially the biggest, baddest client you could ever have?” What one client could do deal after deal every week. “I don’t know.” Think about it. Get out a piece of paper. Write twenty potential banks. It could be brokers of carpet. It could be brokers of insurance. It could be whatever.
Who has the wherewithal to not just buy one product from you but to buy the product from you all the time? Who has the wherewithal to refer you to countless amounts of people? That’s the first half of third gear. The second half of third gear is as soon as you can humanly do it, you carve out 0.5% or 1% of gross. You’ll never miss it. Nobody misses 0.5% of gross revenue. You find an organization that makes you cry. You make a commitment weekly or monthly to tithe to that organization. It’s because it’s the right thing to do.Take your eyes off yourself, put them on other people and watch how the world comes to your aid. Click To Tweet
It’s not a religious thing. It’s the right thing to do. It’s a human thing. You do it. I happened to be a strong Christian and biblically Malachi 3:8 is the only time God ever says, “Test me on this.” I’ve tested Him hardcore and He’s blown our doors down with further fruit. This is not a sermon. I’m saying read it for yourself. Take religion out. Part of the third gear says, “Give your first fruits to somebody else. Take your eyes off yourself, put them on other people and watch how the world comes to your aid and walk side by side with you in your calling, in your walk.” You’ll never go back. Once you can handle 0.5%, bump it up to 1%. If you could do 1% no problem, go to 1.5% to 2%.
Do you want to put your big boy pants on and go to 3% to 4% to 5%? Get the first gear, master something that puts food on your table and expands each division of your company quickly and at will. Jump into second gear, if you give it one to two years, you may never need first gear again. I haven’t needed first gear in years, but it’s there if I need it. Third gear blows them all away. You’re going to feel like the wind is at your back. It’s in your sales. It’s a matter of working on efficiency. Ken tells Ken to get a three-speed automatic transmission, hit it hard and press the gas pedal down. I hope this helps. Take care.