May 3

5 Tips To Failproof Your Business [11th Year Anniversary Post]

As I celebrate another year of Converse Digital not failing, not going belly up or flaming out, I sat back and thought about all of the lessons I learned over the last 12 months and well, here are the five most important ones for your consideration. 

And if any or all of them inspire a thought or two in your own head, do me a favor and share it with me please via a comment or hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn

You Are What You Repeat

It’s an old saying… one told to me many moons ago. And as I celebrate the 11th year of Converse Digital — yep, May 1, 2021 marked out 11th year in business — it might be the single most important lesson I learned (or maybe finally accepted) in the last 12 months.

This one is really huge for agencies and consultants I think. So often during the wooing process, during pitches and worst, during everyday interactions with clients, agencies and consultants will tell you they are “X.” But their actions reveal the falsity of their words.

Talk is cheap and over the last 12 months I’ve watched so many agencies and consultants talk a great game but then when you start working with them or your client does you realize they’re pretty much full of shit. The only thing they really care about is profit (theirs) and profile (theirs again).

And guess what… they’re not fooling anyone. If you’re not walking the walk… people and clients notice. So figure out who you are, what you stand for, what makes you different from your competition and then live your words each and every day.

Oh, one more thing… if you’re an agency or consultant or even a brand or person that is looking to evolve who you are or how people perceive you — don’t bother telling anyone about it — just start living it, each and every day.

You don’t have to change overnight… just find those things that you really want to be known for and do them — each and every day without fail — It works… trust me. Before long, that agency or consultant or brand you “want to be” won’t be a future you desire anymore because you’ll find you’ve successfully transformed into that agency or consultant by action and deed.

Pick A Great Partner

No, not a business partner – a life partner.

This one was drilled home to me in spades this last year. I’m fortunate to have “married up” as they say. Not only is she amazingly beautiful and smart… but also super generous and supportive. And one hell of a successful entrepreneur in her own right as one of New Orleans’ most successful real estate agents. But I digress….

As an entrepreneur, you’re gonna need that – unconditional support. You need that one person in your world that you can be totally vulnerable with… who will calmly listen to your periodic “I’m freaking out here” rants… and after they’ve let you vent off all the anxiety, they’ll shift from support to guide. They’ll help you think through whatever issue you’re dealing with or problem you’re trying to solve. And that my friend is worth its weight in gold.

The point here is that you need someone that believes in you unconditionally (even when frankly you probably don’t deserve it) who will lift you up on their shoulders when necessary and remind you of how truly strong you are, how much adversity you can withstand and how “this too shall pass.”

I’m sure there are those entrepreneurs for whom everything goes right… there are no stumbles… there is no 5-day bouts of anxiety driven insomnia… but I don’t know any. So give yourself a leg up and pick a great partner.

Find Your Happy Place

I’m actually practicing this one right now as I write this post. This year I was accepted into a private club here in New Orleans that has this incredible old house on St. Charles Avenue uptown with a beautiful wrap around porch, comfortable rocking chairs, an honor bar stocked with my favorite bourbon and great wifi.

I don’t know what it is about the place, but every time I come here, fix a nice glass of bourbon and join my fellow members on the porch, I feel myself instantly decompress regardless of what else is going on in my life — personally or professionally.

Find a place like this. Find a place where you can just go and “be” when you need to escape the stress that is entrepreneurship.

And if you happen to actually work at that place occasionally too — that’s ok. But don’t do that too often, lest you tarnish your happy place’s good mojo.

Focus On Relationships vs Transactions

This isn’t just something we teach in our Sell Greatly training… like everything we teach here, we practice what we preach because, well, it kind of works.

This past year, Converse Digital was fortunate enough to pick up a handful of new brands without participating in an RFP, pitch or doing anything “today” to win the business. BUT – I’ve been working with one of the clients off and on for the past 25 years.

And during that time, I have repeatedly demonstrated that I’ll put her and her brands’ best interests above my own.

I’ve never tried to maximize my profit — instead always trying to provide big ideas without big price tags. I’ve allowed contracts changes that benefitted her brands even when it cost me money. I’ve pinch hit when her brands where in a sticky spot – knowing all the time that an agency other than Converse Digital would ultimately step into the AOR role.

And that was fine.

Because for me, it was about the relationship vs the transaction. I never wanted to maximize the value of any one transaction because in my mind, the Lifetime Value of that client relationship far outweighed the margin of any one transaction, project or contract.

So this fall, when she needed help across a number of brands — some with significant budgets — guess whose phone rang? Guess who was given a single source provider opportunity to craft proposals to handle those brands?

Yep, the guy (the agency) that she knew she could trust.

Think about that the next time you’re trying to figure out how to handle a particular client or customer or contract.

Hire People That Are Better Than You

Then let them do what they do!

The other great thing that came from those new contracts — new colleagues. Thanks to all that new work we added a Creative Director, Project Manager and a CRM Specialist. Woot!

And every day they teach me a thing or two. They are each strong in areas where I’m weak. And because they know they can push back and tell the boss he’s possibly wrong — they do. And sometimes, they’re actually right 😉

Seriously, hire great people and then listen to them. They may not always be right because they don’t have the experience you do or the vision you have, but often they’ll have great points that you’d do well to listen to.

And if nothing else, it’s just more fun to work with a super smart, creative and innovative team vs having to carry all of that smart, creative, innovative weight on your shoulders alone.

And there you have it fine reader… the five most important lessons this entrepreneur has learned over the last year. Adopt them. Forget them. Totally up to you.

But as I settle in to celebrate this momentous occasion in my life, just know that I’m enormously thankful that you took a few minutes to read them.

And I’d be even more grateful if you’d share them with your friends and followers.

Till next year’s post… Godspeed to you and may success find us both.

This post was originally published by Tom Martin on Converse Digital‘s blog.

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entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, keynote speaker, Marketing Strategy, Tom Martin

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  1. Great post, Tom. I particularly like the “relationship vs. transaction” lesson for all of us.

    And does that St. Charles Avenue club with the great bourbon allow a member to bring a guest?


    1. LOL – yes Rick, they actually do allow me to bring a guest from time to time… and thanks for the kind words – I too really believe in the power of relationship over transaction to drive long-term success.

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