rant Archives

Why I Hate Entrepreneurs

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I’m about to ruffle some feathers including my own because I’m guilty as charged … there I admitted it before the rant even begins. 😉

I hate entrepreneurs!

Why, you ask? Because WE are a pigheaded & illogical bunch of thinkers and business owners.  We have this deep seated belief that we can do things better, cheaper, or faster. A lot of the times, that’s what led us to starting our own business(es). We see things through a unique lens that centers around our own beliefs in our own abilities.  That’s not bad from a big picture perspective, but it’s idiotic when it comes to running a business.

We don’t see things like most people … most people tend to be a lot more logical in their decision making processes especially when it comes to business. Most people would say “I need a solution to this problem, and I need it as quickly as possible. My budget won’t exceed X.” Not the entrepreneur … we think, “I need a solution to this problem, but I don’t want to pay someone fair value to solve it for me because I know I can do it better if I put my mind to it.” It’s what drives us … we know we can do just about anything we put our minds to.  Why else would we sign up to run our own “show?” It’s not easy, but we cannot be deterred when the seed is planted in our minds, right?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you can relate totally to what I’m saying because you’ve been there … likely within the past week or two.

Here’s what I’m getting at … let’s say you’re looking to grow your business through better utilization of savvy advertising and marketing (no, there’s no pitch coming at the end of this). You evaluate several providers or partners and begin to reach out to the ones that seem like potentially good fits.

So far, so good, right?

You Can Do It Better, Right?

What typically happens after you talk with a few providers? You get that twinkle in your eyes and start to rationalize internally about how you can probably do this stuff yourself better, cheaper and faster! If you could just be shown the basics, you can take off from there. It happens more times than you’d like to admit.

How can I say this with such confidence? I’m an entrepreneur, too so I go through this every single time I’m evaluating potential solutions to any problem or obstacle. This is as much a “look in the mirror” exercise as anything. Luckily, I’ve realized that mowing my own grass, changing the oil on my car, or fixing a leaky pipe isn’t a good use of my time and others actually can do it more effectively and timely even though I could do the job. 😉

Where’s My “Friends & Family Discount?”

So after you’ve convinced yourself that you can do something better, cheaper or faster, what happens next? You back-track to beat down the providers you’ve already talked to on price.

You immediately discount their knowledge, experience and abilities to the point you now believe they should concede a hefty discount or better yet, show you how to do it for free because you’re a “good guy” or “swell gal.”

You want the best deal humanly possible even if it means your new found “friend” loses money in the deal because you have convinced yourself that you know enough about the subject to do a reasonable job so you’re “not going to pay what everybody else pays.” You want the “friends and family discount” even though you just met your new “best friend forever (BFF).”

To hell with them if they dare ask you “are you the low cost provider in your market?” You typically scoff at such a question and reply with something along the lines of “look, we’d be out of business if we tried to be the low cost provider in THIS industry.” Hello!!!

What’s the Solution?

The solution to this dilemma is simple, but we entrepreneurs don’t want to face reality often times. Simply calculate the value of each hour of your time or the value of your team’s time if you’re planning to off-load tasks to your people.

Don’t skimp on how much time it’ll take to learn AND implement the stuff yourself or for your staff to research and test everything they’ll need to know to become successful. It’s often 50% more time than you initially estimate, and you typically discount your time somewhat when you’re on the front end of this little exercise so add at least 25% to whatever number you came up with to start.

When others ask us what our time is worth, we’ll go high with the estimate.  When we ask ourselves, we’ll go lower because we’re trying to “save money.” You know I’m “preaching to the choir” because you’ve been there, right?

Bottom Line

The next time you call in a third party to help you overcome an obstacle with your business, be realistic about your expectations before you make that first contact. Be HONEST with yourself!!!

Remember to evaluate what your time is truly worth and whether it makes sense to even call someone or if you’re going to try to be he-man and attempt it yourself.

Stop trying to low-ball everyone to “save a nickel” here and there because you’re so smart and gifted. It’s great that you’re smart and gifted, but you can’t do everything yourself because there simply aren’t enough hours.

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PS–For the record, I don’t really “hate” entrepreneurs … I just have a supreme disliking for the trait we all share of believing we’re the best possible solution to our own problems. We wouldn’t have problems if we were already fully capable of providing the solutions, right?

SPAM Rant for 12-12-09

I vowed yesterday to talk a little more about the SPAM issues of late including what all happened with Infusionsoft. I just got done creating a podcast that talks about everything in a lot more detail and shares, what is likely, a little different perspective on what is spam versus those crying wolf at every turn.

Listen in on the podcast and let me know what you think in the comments afterward.

CAN-SPAM Compliance = SPAM Anyway? WTF Infusionsoft?

Today, I’ve been doing battle with Infusionsoft over an email campaign to a small sample list of 3,150 dentists in nearby areas (from Louisville, KY).

To make a long story short, Infusionsoft has terminated my account even though I have been a Certified Marketing Automation Coach for nearly 2 years with them. In fact, I was in the original certification class that paid quite a bit of money (like $2,500 out of my own pocket) to get certified so I’m none too pleased that Infusionsoft and the nerds in their compliance department have taken such a stance with me, but life goes on as they say.

I have never committed any previous “violations.” I’d argue that I haven’t violated the CAN SPAM laws in this instance either, and I’ll present my side of the argument below.

In the spirit of learning and sharing experiences, I thought I’d share the details of the email in question that was sent and how it IS compliant with the CAN SPAM regulations set forth on the GOVERNMENT’S website (for a complete rundown, go here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm)

The Primary FTC CAN-SPAM Provisions

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

So there you have it in a nutshell.  Let’s look at the email I sent and determine (together) whether I’m “compliant” or not.

Initial email sent to dental pros

Initial email sent to dental pros on 12/10/09

Ok, let’s pick this thing apart as objectively as possible.

FTC Requirement #1: Don’t use false or misleading header information

The header information used my primary email address and did not hide behind any IP spoofing or multi-IP addressing schemes. Check.

FTC Requirement #2: Don’t use deceptive subject lines.

The subject line for this email was: “Couldn’t your business benefit from more qualified leads?” The email is about a free eBook on lead generation and list building for small and medium businesses. Deceptive? You tell me.  Wouldn’t a small business owner benefit from more leads coming into his/her business?

Additionally, that subject line is relevant to just about every business owner and executive out there because lead generation is the key to sustained business growth. Most people realize that, but many uninformed people still want to cry “SPAM!” at every turn no matter how relevant the offer or email happens to be.

FTC Requirement #3: Identify the message as an ad.

What is that I see just above the header image and body of the e-mail? Sure looks like “This is an advertisement.” Check.

Good old Roger isn’t trying to deceive anyone with the email . . . he knows it’s an ad, and he’s not afraid to say so.  🙂

FTC Requirement #4: Tell recipients where you’re located

My full mailing address is clearly stated in the footer section along with a phone number to reach me should someone have questions, concerns, or any other problems.  I took it one step further than required by providing the phone number.  I simply wanted people to know there was a real person behind the email that they could actually talk to.

My objective was/is to be as transparent as possible.

FTC Requirement #5: Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.

In the footer section, there is a clear and easy way to opt-out immediately by simply clicking the link.  No more emails or messages from me once you click that. Check.

FTC Requirement #6: Honor opt-out requests promptly

As mentioned in point #5, once you click the link, that’s the end of the messages from me.  Request honored immediately. Checkmate.

FTC Requirement #7: Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

Doesn’t really apply to this situation because I wasn’t hiding behind anything.  Everything was above board and in compliance with the FTC requirements as set forth.

Now, I cannot control someone else mining my email address and sending out emails through a third party as if they were me that I do not control . . . none of us really can to be blunt.

If someone wants to scrounge up a bunch of email addresses and blast away, they can do that although it’s illegal. I can only control what originates from my own accounts and the third parties I employ to carry out those actions. You’re in the same boat so I’m preaching to the choir here.

What constitutes true “SPAM?”

Now, this all brings me to the next and primary point.  I understand that people are fed up with email marketing to a large extent, and I’m no different, but that doesn’t mean every piece of email that comes from someone unknown is SPAM.  I’m sorry . . . look at the FTC regulations again and how they have built in requirements for sending unsolicited emails. Read them and then re-read them.

Where in there does it say “you cannot email someone you don’t know or send them an unsolicited email under any circumstances?” It more or less says that if you’re going to do that, here are the requirements you must follow . . .

Just because you didn’t explicitly ask someone to email you doesn’t constitute SPAM when they do . . . very similar to the telephone.  How many calls do you get per day from people you don’t know? If you run a business, chances are the majority of incoming calls are from unknown people until they become regular customers.

Do you not agree?

The regulations don’t say you can’t ever email someone you don’t know or email them a relevant offer! The entire act was designed to dissuade repeated pharmaceutical and porn related emails that were bogging down people’s inboxes at an alarming rate.

It also was designed to make marketers responsible for the emails they send versus repeatedly sending the same garbage with no recourse for the recipient.  That’s the intent . . . there are plenty of marketers out there that violate the hell out of this even with the regulations in place.  I get that, but I’m not one of them nor are my clients!

The shady marketers setup shop through some offshore email provider and blast away . . . you’ve undoubtedly seen the emails for Viagra, Cialis, and plenty of sketchy offers out there. Let me ask you this: when you get one of those emails, how closely are they following the CAN SPAM requirements? They’re not . . . THAT is SPAM . . . not every single unsolicited email you receive on a daily basis.

Here’s a Challenge for You

Look through the emails that come to you/your business from people inquiring about something business related or looking to do business with you . . . I’d bet 80% of them are from people you don’t know, have never heard of, or have no idea what they’re emailing you for until you open the email.  Right?

If you’re receiving regular business emails from someone, trace the origins of your relationship to the first email exchange (if you can). Who emailed whom first? Were you close business acquaintances prior to that first email? Were you friends? How did the relationship start? My point is someone had to reach out to the other to get things rolling.

Furthermore, how many emails to your business account are from friends that have absolutely zero business purpose? How many of your friends’ emails were explicitly solicited? Remember, this is supposed to be your “business email” so how much junk do you have from people you actually know that aren’t looking to conduct any form of professional business with you?  It’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Email Intent

Consider this blurb from the FTC site:

What matters is the “primary purpose” of the message. To determine the primary purpose, remember that an email can contain three different types of information:

  • Commercial content – which advertises or promotes a commercial product or service, including content on a website operated for a commercial purpose;
  • Transactional or relationship content – which facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction; and
  • Other content – which is neither commercial nor transactional or relationship.

If the message contains only commercial content, its primary purpose is commercial and it must comply with the requirements of CAM-SPAM. If it contains only transactional or relationship content, its primary purpose is transactional or relationship. In that case, it may not contain false or misleading routing information, but is otherwise exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.”

Was I FTC CAN-SPAM Compliant?

SO I ask you, was my email in compliance with the FTC requirements for CAN-SPAM as laid out on their website?

Look, you can flame all you want about unsolicited emails, but they’re part of doing business as long as you comply with the requirements and regulations stipulated.  It’s time the over-sensitive types quit designating every unsolicited email as SPAM especially when the email passes all the tests for compliance.

The Bottom Line

I’m not recommending you ever truly SPAM anyone.  I’m merely stating that relevant commercial email that complies with the regulations set forth by the US FTC is NOT SPAM no matter how many times you want to cry it.

Furthermore, if someone requests to be taken off your list or you repeatedly email them the same stuff over and over, that’s not in compliance with the requirements either so don’t misunderstand the spirit of this post.

If I cried SPAM over every piece of unsolicited email received, I’d never have acquired that first customer, partner or referral because email is a major business communication vehicle today, and it’s one I much prefer over the telephone.

What’s Your Take?

I welcome your comments and feedback. I realize this is a touchy subject for many, but I hope we can engage in some healthy dialogue here.

Southern Social Media 11-13-09

A “salty” version of Southern Social Media is in store for you today . . . I went on quite the rant about some recent happenings in the Internet Marketing world and some of the scam artists out there.

Topics include:

  • The southern definition of “barrier”
  • Two social media connections that have figured this stuff out that aren’t trying to get money from you . . . why they’re successful and how it can benefit your business.
  • Perry Belcher – Forewarning: SERIOUS rant ahead . . . this guy isn’t the “good guy” we all thought
  • StomperNet: buyer beware (why are they struggling financially if they’re getting $800/month and have “2,500 happy subscribers”? Something just doesn’t add up)
  • Brad Fallon’s $100,000 spending spree (as it pertains to StomperNet)
  • 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Social Media
  • Employing someone to help your business utilize social media
  • You might be a redneck . . . 3 full examples

From a personal standpoint, I feel 10 times better for getting this stuff off my chest, and I hope you listen in so that you don’t fall victim to some of the “mind control” marketing going on out there that is merely designed to mislead you and part your money from your wallet. While rants aren’t common, this one is sure to help you avoid some unsavory characters online.

Southern Social Media 10-23-09

Wes is back on the “set” today, and we just completed our daily rendition of Southern Social Media.

Among the topics discussed:

  • Why we truly want to help you with social media
  • 5 Must Read Social Media Marketing Statistics
  • Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Social Media Campaign (yes, it CAN be done)
  • How to use social media to build a list
  • A couple of rants
  • The southern definition of afar and Alaska
  • The inventor of the tooth brush

Yep, it was a wacky Friday, but what did you expect from us southern boys? 🙂

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