… where to start….
This week I read “An Enterprising Life” by Jay Van Andel and re-watched Jerry McGuire for the umpteenth time. Both worthy of the time invested. Both have great stories. Both have been bouncing around in my mind.
If you’re not familiar with Jay Van Andel, he co-founded the Amway Corporation along with his lifelong friend Rich DeVos. Doesn’t matter your opinion on the Amway business model, you’ve gotta admit that they built a very successful business enterprise doing sales of $8.2 Billion worldwide. I’ve never built a company that size and I’m guessing you haven’t either. So obviously there is a lesson or two that can be learned.
One of the things that really struck me was his lifelong relationship with his friend and business partner Rich DeVos. They had some great and entertaining stories of businesses they built along the way. A couple quick ones:
- They built an airplane charter company when neither one of them knew how to fly. One time, one of their planes ran out of fuel and was forced to land on a lake too small for them to take off on. So they filled the tank, tied a rope around the plane and the other end around a tree, revved the engine and then cut the rope loose with a knife. The plane had just enough speed to barely clear the top of the trees.
- They sold their plane business, restaurant business, and took a year off to sail to Cuba. They bought a sailboat and set voyage even though neither one of them knew how to sail. (what were they thinking!!). One night Rich took a wrong turn off the coast of New Jersey and ended so far inland on one of the rivers that it left the Coast Guard perplexed as they were towing them back out to sea. They had never seen a ship get so far inland. Crazy. Their voyage to Cuba continued smoothly until they sank 10 miles off the mainland in a shipping channel and had to be rescued by a passing freighter. They did eventually reach their destination.
Made me laugh and shake my head in wonder.
I also admired the camaraderie they had. Sure they were a couple of young entrepreneurs off on a daring adventure. But that’s how their whole life was.
Jay said that one of the keys to success was the relationship he had with Rich. It was so deep that they had a long standing agreement that when one partner was away, the other had full ability to make any and all decisions, even if it was different from what the other had in mind. Jay stated one example of how this played out during a new construction of a building. He said their trust in each other was so deep that they both felt so secure the other partner would make a decision in the best interest of the company. Not out of pride or ego, but out of the best interest of the company.
Man, I admire and respect that.
They also had the same relationship with their key vendors. They didn’t make decisions off of whoever was the cheapest bid. They did’t go after whoever had the latest bright shiny object. They did not go after whoever talked the best talk. That would have been building a house of cards. Instead, they developed key business partnerships with people that shared the same philosophies.
People they could trust.
One vendor, Dan Vos Construction, was with them from the beginning. He did a couple of jobs for Rich & Jay that were way below what they would normally do – installing simple shelves in a building the size of a gas station – that turned into a relationship that awarded them millions and millions of dollars in new building projects.
The list goes on and on from here. I think you get the point.
… switching gears, the movie Jerry McGuire…
Unless you’ve been under a rock you’ve seen this movie. The 2 lines…. say it with me now…. “Show me the money!!!” and “You had me at hello”….
The whole point of the movie was that the industry was in disarray. Jerry was disgusted with it. He saw how corrupt and shallow it became. He wrote his “memo” about less customers, more attention.
I think you see where I’m going with this. Everything seems so shallow on the surface with business today. Especially in the world of marketing and internet marketing. There is so much stuff out there. I don’t know about you but among the many solicitations I get are the ones from companies in India to do SEO for me. They promise to get me top ranked positions. (By the way, never confuse rankings with success, but I won’t get into that today, that’s a topic for another day…).
Business is faster. Speed is everything. So many people pitching so much stuff. It’s so mind boggling.
And that my friend, is the problem with success in the new economy.
As a business owner, you were successful in the past from doing things mostly on your own. It was easier. You just put your mind to a problem, would concentrate your efforts on it and it would go away wouldn’t it? You could accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Worked in the old economy.
In the new economy, not so much. It’s not like that anymore. There is too much to do. And with the digital age everyone is a friggin expert. We are all surrounded with so many things to do, and so many options – SEM, SEO, PPC, Adwords, Social Media, Facebook, Text Messaging, Link Building, Direct Mail, Sales Letters, Website Design, WordPress, Email Marketing, Email Marketing 2.0, Autoresponders, Opt-ins, Lists, Segmenting Lists – does it ever stop?!!
And the list goes on.
So the problem is that you are fully competent of being successful in any of these ventures on your own, you are so busy being successful in the running of your business, where do you find the time to implement ANY of these? How do you find the resources?????
Wouldn’t it be nice to have trusted business partnerships like Rich and Jay had?
Like what they had with their vendors? … having sources that could help you achieve more success more rapidly through relationships built on trust?
And like Jerry McGuire, having vendors that paired down their client list to make a bigger impact with less people.
By the way, if that’s what you’re looking for in a vendor, in a business partner, then know my friend, that is what I have dedicated the rest of my life to do. Helping you achieve your goals at such a rate that everyone will think you’re cheating. Where, at last, you can have a true business partnership built on old-school trust that will deliver the BEST solution possible for your specific situation.
Would love to get your thoughts on this, please post your comments below.