Keynote speaker Kristopher B. Jones isn’t just a businessperson and company founder. Jones described himself as a serial entrepreneur during his keynote at the 2017 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas. An accomplished public speaker, angel investor and best-selling author, he has generated more than $36 million in 5 exits over the span of just 24 months. An exit, for those unfamiliar, is the point in time at which an investor sells his stake to realize his gains (or losses). Jones is a business writer whose articles can be found in more than 260 publications, including Forbes, Inc., and Fast Company, and he has sold more than 100,000 books. He has made it onto the Inc. 500 CEOs list three times, and has 20 years’ experience as a professional SEO and growth marketer. In other words, Jones understands business and growing profits.
So, is it just dollars that drive Jones? Is money motivation enough for him to perform in the business world as well as he does?
Money is certainly a motivator for any business owner. Who, after all, takes on the challenges and stress that accompany entrepreneurship with the goal of barely making it or the expectation of failure? Entrepreneurs make the decision to beat the odds. Nine out of 10 businesses will fail within 10 years, meaning entrepreneurs who are in it for the long haul – like bar, nightclub and restaurant owners and operators – plan to be among the minority of businesses that will reach the decade mark, and pass it.
But can an entrepreneur truly be successful if she or he is motivated solely by money?
Jones would answer with an emphatic, “No.” His keynote was not meant to be a “crash course” in how to succeed in business. As he said during his presentation, there’s no shortage of tips, tricks and advice for “winning” as an entrepreneur or businessperson. Instead, Jones sought to challenge all those in attendance in Las Vegas to find their passion. Yes, a growing bank account and financial security are solid measures of success in business. However, personal fulfillment is a measure that’s just as important, and that will never be realized without finding embracing your passion for your business.
For those who were unable to attend Jones’ keynote, and for those who did attend and want to share what they learned from this inspiring serial entrepreneur, here are his 6 tips:
1. Realize that growing your business is all about execution.
Congratulations – you’re a businessperson! We really hope you love numbers, because you’re going to be working with them a lot. You need to fall in love with tracking and analyzing costs, doing inventory, and checking P&Ls obsessively. Looking for places to wring out a few more cents, shave a percentage point, and hunting for items that aren’t working (as much as you may like them personally) will consume you. Setting goals and milestones needs to become commonplace; you can’t measure success without a measuring stick. Of course, hiring smart people who complement your skills is invaluable, particularly if one or two of those smart people can help you with your numbers.
It’s important for owners and operators to understand that execution isn’t about flawless performance. You’re going to make mistakes. Employees will make mistakes. You will experience failure. Jones encourages you to embrace failure, fail quickly, and move on. In other words, learn to recognize failure and develop the skill and thick skin required to not be crippled by it.
2. Think like a growth marketer.
What’s growth marketing? Simple: it’s attracting more engaged customers. You need to learn digital marketing. That doesn’t mean just outsourcing it to an employee or a third party, it means actually learning digital marketing. If you aren’t doing the marketing yourself, how can you demand transparency, hold the person or people who are marketing your business digitally accountable, and actually know if you’re getting results? Become a growth marketing specialist and don’t guessing that things just happen to be working somehow. Become laser focused on engaging with your customers.
3. Create raving fans.
“Happy customers,” explains Jones, “come back and tell their friends to come along.” This statement could not be truer for bar, nightlife and restaurant operators. We all know about the power of word-of-mouth marketing, and look at what Yelp, Google, Facebook and other online reviews can do to a bar, nightclub or restaurant. Want to make it to (and beyond) the 10-year mark in this business? Create brand evangelists. Unhappy customers are loud, but ecstatic, loyal guests can be louder and drown them out. Be consistent in your service, products and branding. Pay special attention to your most loyal guests and create perks for them (all the better if these guests are active on social media). And realize that it’s not a bad thing to lose money on an unhappy guest, particularly if you can turn things around and they leave happy.
4. Think big.
We know you’ve heard this countless times. The reason you’ve heard this over and over is that it’s great business advice. Don’t think about failure, be relentlessly positive and think about success. Combine that positivity with optimism. Be confident that you’re better at business than you think you are. After all, you know your brand and your business better than anyone; embrace that! Don’t make excuses – that’s just a precursor to failure. Instead, set uncomfortable goals and take action to achieve them. Negativity is contagious and can infect your entire staff, but unrelenting positivity spreads like wildfire and boosts morale.
5. Become an amazing storyteller.
Which of these two sentences is more appealing?
- “I serve drinks and entertain.”
- “I tickle the senses and dazzle the mind with amazing drinks and unforgettable entertainment experiences.”
I think you know where this is headed: the second sentence is much more engaging. Both of those sentences are elevator pitches, a story that can be told in 60 seconds or less to sell yourself, your concept and your brand. The first sentence probably doesn’t stand a chance of pulling in an investor, guests, influencers or social media followers. The second sentence, in this exercise, is vastly superior. You need to come up with an amazing story for your business, learn how to tell it in 60 seconds or less, and be able to analyze whether or not it’s generating the results you desire. If it’s not getting positive results, change it. Write that story as an elevator pitch, because you never know where an opportunity will come from next, and dial that story in so that it’s second nature.
6. Discover your why.
Remember all that talk about passion I mentioned earlier? What about when I spoke to loving numbers, delivering experiences that make guests happy and create evangelists, and becoming infectiously positive and confident? None of that will come naturally or be realized fully without Jones’ marching order to find your why. Jones shared two quotes from author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant Simon Sinek that explain the importance of your why perfectly:
- “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
- “You’ve got to define why you do what you do, not just what you do and how you do it.”
With the rise of the Millennial, it’s fair to say that Sinek’s views of your why are more relevant than ever. Millennials are the largest generation in America, and you need to learn how to engage with them. They don’t respond well to the hard sell; they need to know why you do what you do so they can feel like they’re involved with your brand.
So, ask yourself these questions and find your why:
- What’s your purpose?
- What’s your cause?
- What’s your belief?
- Why does your organization exist?
- Why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anyone care?
Then, find your gift:
- What do you love?
- What do you hate?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you really want?
- What really drives you in life?
You need to find the answers to questions, and you need to share those answers with your staff and communicate them with your guests. Find your passion, realize your success.