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Business Planning: R&D (Ripoff and Duplicate)

Let me help you avoid the single, dumbest mistake I made in the first 5 years of my career.

I’ve always loved the process of creative business planning. I love to solve problem and come up with new ways to do things…. Repeating a task I’ve done before is boring! I’d much rather try something new, come up with a better solution or move onto something else…

I became a master of complex experiments in the first 5 years of my career, and, while I found some success, it was clear that it wasn’t working. My business was a total rollercoaster. I was constantly pouring money and time into things which didn’t work. To make matters worse, my constant shifting in direction probably negated whatever I did start, that would have worked, because I didn’t keep up with it long enough.

It took a full 5 years for me to realize that maybe… just MAYBE… I wasn’t smarter than everyone else. That was a tough pill to swallow.

At a certain point, I hit a wall. I’d spent years chasing “what’s next!? What’s next!?” and I really hadn’t built anything worth mentioning. It hurt to admit it but, when I looked at my business, I hadn’t perfected anything. We had a graveyard of experiments and ideas which had drained me, and I wasn’t making good money.

I decided it was time to learn from others who had been there before me and I started looking for help.

“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and model what they do and you'll achieve the same results.” - Tony Robbins

A lady teaching a child to play the piano

Could it really be that simple? So… wait, all I have to do is copy people and I can have whatever I want?

The answer is Yes… and no.

The problem I had was that I was building my foundation on creativity. If you start with creativity you don’t have a solid foundation, so there is no baseline to build off. Even if you are improving, you don’t know if what you are doing is better than what you would have achieved by simply following a proven formula. Plus, like I learned, you risk wasting a lot of time and energy while you experiment.

So where does creativity fit in? Creativity comes AFTER modelling.

I learned I wasn’t WRONG for loving the creative process… I was just doing it at the wrong TIME.

Ripoff and Duplicate: the simple, proven way to get what you want in life

The title is a little playful and, for the record, people who are great at modeling are not plagiarizing other people’s work. What they ARE doing is watching what has worked for others and using it to make assumptions about what might work for us.

Imagine you needed to write a speech and you were listening to other people deliver great speeches:

Option 1: Copy and paste sections of their speech.

This is stealing or plagiarism. Don’t do this

Option 2: Review their speech and figure out how they structured it. Take note of where they used stories to draw the crowds interest and draw from your own stories to create a similar experience.

This is modelling. Do this!

The cool thing is that if you model others properly you are actually building upon their concept without TAKING anything they created. You are merely observing and using it as a foundation to build YOUR model upon.

I love to cook, and I hate measuring things when I cook because I like to relax and enjoy the process. So, when I try something new, my favourite thing to do is read 4-5 recipes and then use the lessons I learned from the recipes to give myself an idea of how to approach it. I know the ingredients, the process and the approximate quantities. Then I start cooking and I use my eyes, ears, nose and mouth to check in as I go!

A person reviewing charts and graphs

Measurement and Iteration:

The next thing you need to do is figure out how you will know if your new models are working. This serves two purposes:

  1. If the results aren’t what you expected, you know you need to further review the model you are trying to use. Chances are you are missing something

  2. Once you get the results you expected, you have a benchmark you can start to build off of and improve

THIS is where creativity comes in.

Now that you have a solid foundation you can get back to creativity. This part of the creative experience is actually a LOT of fun.

First step is to develop a rhythm which you will evaluate yourself upon. For example, you might like to set weekly targets and see what your results are each week. The following week you might plan to change the way you manage the model you’ve created and see if you get better results. Typically you start with very short time periods and once you’ve been through the first few phases of iteration you stretch things out a little.

As you make changes, note which ones work best and make those your new model. Each time you reset your measurement period you run a new experiment and swap out the winner for the previous iteration. It’s Darwinism for business… Soon you’ll be the fittest in the pack!

Play from ahead rather than playing from behind:

When you’re driving down the highway, the ride will be smoothest if you look the furthest down the road. If you only look 10 feet ahead of yourself you will constantly be swerving to avoid running into the sides of your lane.

Two people in a car driving down the road

It’s the same thing in your business. The further ahead you aim the better established you will be in your route.

This year you might be thrilled to write ten deals, but is that your ultimate aspiration? Would you be happy with that still being the level you’ve grown to a decade from now?

Chances are you want to grow a little each year, it’s part of the fun!

Part of the beauty of using models is that you can plan for the business you WANT to have one day, as opposed to planning on how to fix the problems you have right now.

As you research and learn, plan to create models for a business 10X larger than the business you think you want. One of two things will happen:

  1. You will grow bigger than you expected and it will save the trouble of rebuilding

  2. You won’t grow that big but the day to day process of running your business will be easy because your systems are robust

It’s a win-win. But there is another great reason to do this as well:

Even if your vision for your business is humble, you never know what the PEOPLE who help you get there will have envisioned for themselves!

It’s selfish to create something amazing that only ever grows big enough to serve YOUR needs. Open your mind to your humble beginnings being something that could springboard the careers and lives of the people who helped you get there.

Even with only a few years left before you retire, this is an exciting goal to work towards. Besides, don’t they say that the only people who believe money can’t given you happiness are the ones who haven’t given enough away?

Think big and aim higher than you NEED to. It will make the journey both more interesting and exciting and the worst thing that can happen is you come up a little short and end up where you hoped to be in the first place.

As always, I’m grateful you took the time to read this,


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