Tony Robbins: He started with less than ideal circumstances and created his own success on his own terms. He continues to be an inspiration to others and generously gives back.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Remain calm under any condition. There will be times when things won’t happen the way you want. During those situations, there is likely a hidden opportunity for you to turn things around. However, you’ll only be able to recognize that opportunity if you remain calm and stay under control of your own thinking. Act, don’t react.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The biggest (and non-obvious) mistake I made was accommodating too much for a customer. I liked their product and team and agreed to a long-term discounted rate to help them leverage their cash for multiple initiatives. The deal seemed reasonable at first, but over a nine-month period it turned into a zero profit margin for my company as our team put in a lot of hours delivering a high-quality product. The customer continued asking for discounts on future work and the relationship ended. There was no one to blame but myself for the opportunity cost of passing on other customers who would have placed more value on our service.
The lesson learned is always structure win-win deals and be fair to your company first. Know your bottom line and stick to it. If a prospect isn’t willing to pay your price, then thank them for their time and give them suggestions of others who may be a better fit.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
The first hour I’m awake is the most important to help set my energy and focus for the day. Ideally, I get up at least an hour before my family and drink a glass of water. Then, I spend 10-20 minutes in silence on my front porch (or in my office depending on the weather). Silence helps me get into a creative zone. Next, I spend time writing out a few things I’m grateful for, and begin reflecting and reading to myself a major goal and affirmation I’m currently focused on. Depending on my mood, I’ll go for a walk or jog in the woods and visualize how my day is going to go. My goal for that first hour is to get very clear on what the most important thing is that I need to do that day.
Sometimes, things come up and I’ll make a choice to compromise my morning time for someone else’s time. In those moments, I’ve learned to be okay skipping a day or week here and there on occasion. Life can throw curveballs and routines change over time.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
If you’ve never run a business, then put yourself into a mindset to make a profit right away. Write out your baseline monthly cash needed to pay your bills. Get creative and generate that revenue in your first month to break even.
Starting out like this will teach you the discipline of focusing and executing on essentials. Chances are you will need to pre-sell your concept or offer a consulting service to a customer willing to pay for the value you offer.
Once you’ve achieved that baseline experience, then I think you’ll be better prepared to evolve your business to go after a bigger vision that may require outside funding. I wouldn’t recommend raising money and operating a high-burn startup without first having the history of running a profitable company.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Write down your current major goal and a clear statement describing why you want it and how you’ll feel achieving it. Every day, look at that statement and ensure you’re doing something that brings you closer to that goal, or abandon it if no longer relevant and write down a new one.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.