In episode three of four in Jeff’s new project, which will culminate in a narrative episode of the podcast based on Paul Jarvis’ notions in his book Company of One, Jeff and Howard Mann discuss business as craft, in the same way chefs and artists think about what they do as craft.
Howard Mann is a player coach for entrepreneur businesses at The Business Brickyard. He describes his craft as combining deep business coaching strategies with “rolling up his sleeves” to transform those strategies into his clients’ reality.
Business as Craft
The great chefs and artists of the world think of what they do in terms of their craft – they love creating an incredible dish, focusing on the notes of every flavor and perfecting each experience.
Precisely because they focus on their craft, people show up. But, most people don’t think about their business as craft, but they should, according to Mann.
“If you think about your business as craft, then you’re constantly looking for ways to improve it.”
When your clients experience the amount of passion, dedication and devotion you put towards your craft, they won’t be able to stop talking about it. They will value it, no matter the price because it’s that good, he says.
Craft moves you, as a business owner, back to why you do what you do in the first place, and what you’re passionate about.
Instead, everything he produces feels like a movie, even the short videos. The lighting, editing and shots are captivating. And that’s the difference.
As a by-product of focusing on his craft, he has one of the fastest growing YouTube channels with 3.7 million subscribers. And that translates into millions of dollars a year in income from ad revenue.
But that’s the by-product. What he decided was that telling a story, his craft, mattered.
What others don’t do – lighting, editing, music, creative shots, entertainment – all the elements of storytelling, mattered. That’s thinking about his craft, not just pumping out a YouTube video twice a week and thinking an audience is going to show up.
That wouldn’t be true to who he is, as someone who is creative. Whatever it is you’re doing, even if you don’t think you’re a creative, it’s still your craft.
Growth is Not Always Success
“What does success look like to you?”
Mann uses that analogy that if you put a frog in a pot and very, very slowly bring it to a boil, it won’t realize what’s happening and jump out. It will slowly let itself be boiled. Yet, if you dropped it into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately.
Most businesses are slowly boiling the business owner, like that frog.
And it’s very hard to undo that boiling process versus taking the time up front to say, “What does growth mean to me?”
“What does growth mean to you and what is it going to do for you?”
You need to define what comfort means to you:
- Do you want to have a certain lifestyle?
- How much money do you want to make?
- How hard do you want to work?
- How many hours do you want to work?
- How much do you want to travel?
- How many employees do you want to have?
Without answering these hard questions, you can grow yourself out of your comfort zone, and (more importantly) you can grow yourself out of ability to enjoy the company.
And if it’s not fun anymore – what was the point of the growth?
“Businesses grow just because they think they always need to grow, but they don’t have a direction or a purpose behind the growth.”
Business owners need to have some idea of what success looks like for you before growing.
Beyond the Sale
“It’s hard to say no to business. But without some sort of a true north, without knowing the kind of company you want to have, the size of the company you want to have, and the type of work that you want to do, every client’s going to look good.”
Saying no (or wait-listing) new business is painful for every business entrepreneur. But, Mann argues, lots of good things can happen if you have a waiting list.
Most businesses are scratching and clawing because they have this giant overhead that they have to feed (usually because of unfettered growth).
He uses the example of financial planners, who sit down with folks and discuss “your number.”
Your number is typically the amount of money you want to have in the bank when you retire so that you can have the kind of retirement and life you want to have.
But businesses should have a number, too. And they often don’t take the time to figure out what that is.
What amount of revenue and what amount of profitability is enough?
The funny part is that if you’re actually able to do remarkable work for the clients that you have…you’ll have as many clients as you need, he says.
Most people are spending most of their energy getting people to become a client, and not nearly the same energy on the clients they already have.
“It’s all about getting the sale. And very little about how incredible the experience is after the sale…There’s a quick hit on getting a new client.”
The longer play is do incredible work; the best work that they’re ever going to find, the most incredible experience that they’re ever going to have – for people who you want to work with – and do it in such a way that they can’t stop from talking about it.
Learn more about Howard Mann