I’m a firm believer the best mentor is someone who is a few years in front of you.
And it has nothing to do with age. It’s got to do with mission.
What do you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years?
If you’re looking for advice, you should look for people who have been through a similar journey in a similar timeframe.
Any longer than a few years in front and the advice gets hazy.
How well do you remember the details of your day-to-day 6-years ago? Or longer?
Over the past 6-7 years, Sam Ovens has built a $30 million per year business. At the time of writing he’s 29. I’m 25.
In his latest video, he shares some of the things he has been thinking about. To make sure they sink in, I’ve summarised them in my own words here.
1. The market has flipped
Before the internet, the balance used to be, spend 80% of your time shouting about how good your product is (sales and marketing) and 20% actually building a good product.
Now, your product is discoverable. If it’s good, people will search for it. People will talk about it.
Spend 80% of your time making your product or service better and 20% telling people about it.
Don’t be confused by page views or likes or any other metric which doesn’t relate to improving your business.
2. Value remains King
Business school be summed up in one sentence.
“Bring someone else enough value for them to pay you.”
That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
Don’t over complicate it.
If your product or service brings more value to someone than your competition, you will win.
3. The most value comes from the best team
At the start, your business can be all you.
You can be 100% of the talent. You can do 100% of the tasks.
But as you go, if you want to expand, you’ll have to recruit help.
If it’s only you, you’ll be beaten as soon as someone hires a couple of talented people to work on the same thing.
If you want your business to grow beyond solopreneur status, don’t be the only talented person on your team.
Team will always be the most valuable asset you can build.
4. Hire intelligent, unorthodox athletes
“I want to hire intelligent, unorthodox, athletes.”
Intelligence is like horsepower. Useless on its own but powerful when applied. Looking for someone with a specific set of skills may be more difficult than finding someone who already has a great foundation of intelligence and then enabling them to apply it.
The world is changing. Always. This is the only guarantee in business. What got you to where you are last year, might not even move the needle next year. Unorthodox people question the status quo. They ask why. They’re not afraid to have strong opinions and back them up. They’re the ones who are willing to try something different.
Business is competition. Even if you tell yourself it isn’t, you’ll be competing against someone. Another business, a changing world or most importantly, yourself. Athletes understand competition. They thrive in it.
Combine these three and you have yourself a recipe for a potential great hire.
5. Recruitment is a David vs. Goliath problem
Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, all the rest. These companies are all looking for the best talent.
If you’re a small business, it can be hard to convince someone to come and work for you to begin with.
Add in the billions of dollars and brand power of the companies above and you’ve got a David vs. Goliath problem.
If your number 1 focus is recruiting a great team, what do you think theirs is?
So how do you win?
6. Play “Moneyball” to win the recruitment game
In the movie Moneyball, there’s a baseball team who doesn’t have the budget of some of the other teams in the league.
Instead of trying to go for all the best players, the ones with high batting averages and great pitching, they look at the other stats.
Their analyst looks through the league, combing for players who don’t necessarily cut it for the big contracts but are on the fringe.
The team ends up winning a record number of games straight with only a portion the budget of the bigger teams.
Find the people whose talents haven’t yet been fully discovered. Then when they come on board, get out of their way and empower them to use them.
Note: This is hard. Really hard. Hence why if you’re looking to expand your business, you should be dedicating a lot of time to recruitment (80-90% in Sam’s case).
7. No one ever built a pyramid alone
“One of my worst fears is being old and not being able to work and not being able to let the business I’ve built run without me.”
The quote above isn’t word for word. But it’s what I remember.
Thousands of people collaborated to build the pyramids. An effort which spanned decades.
When you’re starting out, your focus should be on short-term cashflow. Earning enough money to keep your business going and growing.
But as you reach a stage where the business can sustain itself without too high of a focus on short-term cash flow, if you want to build something of pyramid status, your focus should shift to the long term.
This all comes back to having a strong team and continually bringing value to the most important people. Your customers.
I find it invaluable to have these kind of lessons being shared so accessibly.
You can watch the full video on Sam Ovens’s YouTube channel.