5 concepts for success in 2020.

How can you make 2020 your best year ever?

Recently I was interviewed by one of Australia’s top company board experts, Kylie Hammond.

She asked me, “What are 5 things people can do to have an amazing business year in 2020?”

Attached below is my answer.

If you are committed to excellence in your business life, I think you’ll find the interview very valuable.

The interview is below.
Kylie Hammond interview

The importance of keeping your belief strong.

Growing a business is very tough mentally.

You sometimes doubt whether you’ll succeed.

You often blame yourself for mistakes.

You regularly get frustrated by slow progress.

And then there’s the boredom – running a business week in and week out can get really tedious at times.

No wonder entrepreneurs feel down on many occasions.

And that’s why it’s so crucial to keep your self belief strong – to do the mental work each day that keeps you motivated, inspired, persistent and effective.

(Please remember, that self belief doesn’t just happen – you have to work at it to maintain it).

When I coach entrepreneurs, I teach them a whole arsenal of cutting edge mental techniques to keep their confidence and belief uplifted, but today I want to talk about just one:

Daily reading of your Supporting Reasons.

Here’s how this mental technique works.

  1. You write down every valid reason that you can achieve your business goals. (For example: ‘I have ten years experience in this industry. I am excellent at selling. I really understand my field’, etc.).
  2. Then every morning before you start work, you read this list and remember why you are so good at what you do.

It’s such a simple technique, but it’s incredibly powerful at keeping your self belief strong.

If we only just remind ourselves of all the genuine reasons we can achieve something, we are far less likely to lose confidence, get unmotivated or give up.

But we have to do this regularly or we’ll forget – and self doubt can creep in.

I challenge you to do this technique every morning for the next 7 days.

You will be amazed at how much more confident you will become.

This 3 minute exercise will absolutely improve your business

Here’s a 3 minute exercise that will absolutely improve your business.

Step 1.
In the next 2 minutes, re-arrange the following 5 business growth areas in order of importance, for you:

  1. Getting new leads.
  2. Improving what you offer.
  3. Working out how to make more money from current clients.
  4. Leading your team better.
  5. Re-contacting old leads/customers.

Step 2.
Pick your top 2 most important areas, then block 5 hours in your calendar to do each of them, every week for the next 3 weeks.

Growing your business is often simpler than you may think.

But you must spend meaningful amounts of time on the few things that really matter.

Great advice from the 2 founders of Google.

This week I came across a very interesting document.

It’s a summary the two founders of Google ( Larry Page and Sergey Brin) made a few years after starting Google.

It’s got a lot of excellent advice on how to grow a great business.

What’s particularly interesting about their summary of thoughts, is that every few years they review and update them.

So a lot of thinking has gone into this short document.

As you’ll see below, not every point they make is relevant for your industry, some are directly related to online search business.

But most of what they say applies to any company that aspires to achieve excellence.

In my view, points 1,2, 3 and 10 are particularly powerful for all of us leading companies.


Ten things we know to be true.
We first wrote these “10 things” when Google was just a few years old. From time to time we revisit this list to see if it still holds true. We hope it does—and you can hold us to that.

1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line. Our homepage interface is clear and simple, and pages load instantly. Placement in search results is never sold to anyone, and advertising is not only clearly marked as such, it offers relevant content and is not distracting. And when we build new tools and applications, we believe they should work so well you don’t have to consider how they might have been designed differently.

2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
We do search. With one of the world’s largest research groups focused exclusively on solving search problems, we know what we do well, and how we could do it better. Through continued iteration on difficult problems, we’ve been able to solve complex issues and provide continuous improvements to a service that already makes finding information a fast and seamless experience for millions of people. Our dedication to improving search helps us apply what we’ve learned to new products, like Gmail and Google Maps. Our hope is to bring the power of search to previously unexplored areas, and to help people access and use even more of the ever-expanding information in their lives.

3. Fast is better than slow.
We know your time is valuable, so when you’re seeking an answer on the web you want it right away–and we aim to please. We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our website as quickly as possible. By shaving excess bits and bytes from our pages and increasing the efficiency of our serving environment, we’ve broken our own speed records many times over, so that the average response time on a search result is a fraction of a second. We keep speed in mind with each new product we release, whether it’s a mobile application or Google Chrome, a browser designed to be fast enough for the modern web. And we continue to work on making it all go even faster.

4. Democracy on the web works.
Google search works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, which analyzes which sites have been “voted” to be the best sources of information by other pages across the web. As the web gets bigger, this approach actually improves, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted. In the same vein, we are active in open source software development, where innovation takes place through the collective effort of many programmers.

5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
The world is increasingly mobile: people want access to information wherever they are, whenever they need it. We’re pioneering new technologies and offering new solutions for mobile services that help people all over the globe to do any number of tasks on their phone, from checking email and calendar events to watching videos, not to mention the several different ways to access Google search on a phone. In addition, we’re hoping to fuel greater innovation for mobile users everywhere with Android, a free, open source mobile platform. Android brings the openness that shaped the Internet to the mobile world. Not only does Android benefit consumers, who have more choice and innovative new mobile experiences, but it opens up revenue opportunities for carriers, manufacturers and developers.

6. You can make money without doing evil.
Google is a business. The revenue we generate is derived from offering search technology to companies and from the sale of advertising displayed on our site and on other sites across the web. Hundreds of thousands of advertisers worldwide use AdWords to promote their products; hundreds of thousands of publishers take advantage of our AdSense program to deliver ads relevant to their site content. To ensure that we’re ultimately serving all our users (whether they are advertisers or not), we have a set of guiding principles for our advertising programs and practices:

We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant where they are shown. And we firmly believe that ads can provide useful information if, and only if, they are relevant to what you wish to find–so it’s possible that certain searches won’t lead to any ads at all.

We believe that advertising can be effective without being flashy. We don’t accept pop–up advertising, which interferes with your ability to see the content you’ve requested. We’ve found that text ads that are relevant to the person reading them draw much higher clickthrough rates than ads appearing randomly. Any advertiser, whether small or large, can take advantage of this highly targeted medium.

Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a “Sponsored Link,” so it does not compromise the integrity of our search results. We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank. Our users trust our objectivity and no short-term gain could ever justify breaching that trust.

7. There’s always more information out there.
Once we’d indexed more of the HTML pages on the Internet than any other search service, our engineers turned their attention to information that was not as readily accessible. Sometimes it was just a matter of integrating new databases into search, such as adding a phone number and address lookup and a business directory. Other efforts required a bit more creativity, like adding the ability to search news archives, patents, academic journals, billions of images and millions of books. And our researchers continue looking into ways to bring all the world’s information to people seeking answers.

8. The need for information crosses all borders.
Our company was founded in California, but our mission is to facilitate access to information for the entire world, and in every language. To that end, we have offices in more than 60 countries, maintain more than 180 Internet domains, and serve more than half of our results to people living outside the United States. We offer Google’s search interface in more than 130 languages, offer people the ability to restrict results to content written in their own language, and aim to provide the rest of our applications and products in as many languages and accessible formats as possible. Using our translation tools, people can discover content written on the other side of the world in languages they don’t speak. With these tools and the help of volunteer translators, we have been able to greatly improve both the variety and quality of services we can offer in even the most far–flung corners of the globe.

9. You can be serious without a suit.
Our founders built Google around the idea that work should be challenging, and the challenge should be fun. We believe that great, creative things are more likely to happen with the right company culture–and that doesn’t just mean lava lamps and rubber balls. There is an emphasis on team achievements and pride in individual accomplishments that contribute to our overall success. We put great stock in our employees–energetic, passionate people from diverse backgrounds with creative approaches to work, play and life. Our atmosphere may be casual, but as new ideas emerge in a café line, at a team meeting or at the gym, they are traded, tested and put into practice with dizzying speed–and they may be the launch pad for a new project destined for worldwide use.

10. Great just isn’t good enough.
We see being great at something as a starting point, not an endpoint. We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. Through innovation and iteration, we aim to take things that work well and improve upon them in unexpected ways. For example, when one of our engineers saw that search worked well for properly spelled words, he wondered about how it handled typos. That led him to create an intuitive and more helpful spell checker.

Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, finding an answer on the web is our problem, not yours. We try to anticipate needs not yet articulated by our global audience, and meet them with products and services that set new standards. When we launched Gmail, it had more storage space than any email service available. In retrospect offering that seems obvious–but that’s because now we have new standards for email storage. Those are the kinds of changes we seek to make, and we’re always looking for new places where we can make a difference. Ultimately, our constant dissatisfaction with the way things are becomes the driving force behind everything we do.

The two biggest mistakes people make building a business.

People think building a highly successful business is hard.

Actually, it’s really simple.

As long as you have a good product or service to offer, you only need to avoid making two mistakes.

Mistake 1: Not reaching out to enough potential buyers.

I have coached hundreds of entrepreneurs, and it’s truly amazing how many of them spend most of their day handling their current business, and spend hardly any time introducing themselves to new potential clients. 

How can you expect to grow your company if hardly any potential customers even know you exist?

Surely Mission One is to get your company known. All else is useless unless you can get that job done.

Only when you have a large enough pool of potential customers that know what you offer, can you ever hope to convert some of them into actual customers.

Mistake 2: Not staying in touch with those people.

When I started my first company I made this classic mistake. I reached out to plenty of potential clients, but then I didn’t stay in contact.

Oh sure, I’d ring them one or twice a year to see how they going, but that’s not nearly enough to stay in their minds. And get them to buy your services.

You have to be communicating with them many times a year to keep your company at the forefront of their thoughts. ( The art of course, is to do it in a way that makes you valued, rather than reviled).

These two simple mistakes are made by at least 80% of business owners, to varying degrees.

Get these two things right and most of your business growth dreams will be realized.

Get them wrong and even if you have a great product, your growth will be slow, a fraction of what it could have been.

The surprising difference between winners and losers.

I have spent three decades studying successful people.

I’ve been fascinated by what makes one person more successful than another.

I have well over one thousand books on the subject.

And I’ve read a mountain of research studies on top performers – and how they became that way.

Now, as you can imagine, the answer is not simple. There are numerous elements that you need to succeed in any field:

You have to work hard. But interestingly, hard work is not enough.

There are literally billions of people working very hard without becoming particularly successful.

You have to have some intelligence. But I have met countless multi millionaires who aren’t particularly smarter than the people around them.

You have to provide a product or service that is seen as useful to your target market.

But walk into any shop and you’ll see plenty of quite mediocre products selling very well indeed. So by no means do you have to offer anything spectacular to succeed in business.

No, in all my years of study of what makes somebody successful, I believe it comes down to three elements.

  1. You must aim high. Successful people seek to achieve at a level far higher than most people choose to. Because they go for it, they are much more likely to get it.
  2. You must maintain belief that you will succeed at your goal for a long period of time.
    Almost all business success comes slowly- no matter what the business magazines and guru’s on social media say. Successful people stay the course longer than average performers.
  3. You must be endlessly flexible in overcoming obstacles. There’s a massive myth about highly successful people; that they has it easier, or were luckier than others.

Actually, usually, the opposite is the case. Most successful people have had far more failures than unsuccessful people.

But they persist. And more than that, they persist intelligently. Calmly evaluating their results and then changing their approach, until they unlock the combination lock to victory in their field.

It is my belief that in the long run, you can very accurately predict your own success. By evaluating how strongly you have these three behavioral traits.

So, how would you rank yourself out of Ten, for each of them?

Don’t be despondent if your score is low. Just start focusing on improving your score in each of the three crucial areas.

Merely by focusing on improving how you perform with these traits each and every day will hugely increase your results in business. And life.

In the long run, success is quite predictable. Do the three things in this blog and it is well nigh impossible not to succeed at a higher level than most people.

Don’t do them and it could be a tough road.

My thoughts on parents being entrepreneurs- the stress for males.

People don’t talk about this enough.

As a parent, it can be terribly stressful to run a company.

You not only have to grow the company (which, let’s face it, is pretty difficult).

You have to do it working much less hours per week than entrepreneurs without families. (Because you’ve got to get home to the kids).

You also have to deal with the guilt that comes with doing neither job well- there’s never enough time to work on your business and never enough time to be a  parent.

To say it’s tough for parent entrepreneurs is an understatement.

In today’s blog I write about the challenges men, in particular, have with this.

I call it ‘The Man Crunch’.

For many years the stress women in the workplace have felt has been greatly discussed, and rightly so. But comparatively little has been written from the man’s side.

If you are a parent entrepreneur (or might soon be one) I think you’ll find this blog very useful.

There are some great tips in there.

You can read it here:

How to believe in yourself

Running a business is hard. Super hard.

Even when things are going well- which for most company founders is not that often.

There are two overarching reasons why entrepreneurship is so tough.

As company leaders, there is a very wide variety of things we have to do well, versus someone who just works as an employee.

As a result of Point 1, there are many more things that can and do go wrong.

These two points together cause huge amounts of stress for most business owners.

That’s why Self Belief is so important.

Unless you maintain a powerful self belief that you will prevail over the endless obstacles and win, you will be crushed by the ever challenging stresses of life in business.

As an entrepreneur, your confidence must be protected at all times.

It’s a vital component of long term business success, and it absolutely appalls me that none of the leading business schools in the world emphasize it’s importance.

But it’s one thing to accept the need to maintain self belief, it’s another to be able to do it.

Like everything else in life worth having, self belief usually doesn’t occur naturally and of its own volition.

It must be worked on, cultivated and enhanced.

As a mentor and coach to many entrepreneurs and business leaders, I often have to help people increase their self belief that they can achieve their business dreams. 

I use many techniques to do that, but in this blog, I’m going to give you two that work particularly well.

Create a clear, positive, future vision of yourself.

The truth is, but most people operate almost entirely in the present and the past.

All day long they handle immediate issues ( the present), while in between their minds keep dwelling on past events, experiences, results and feelings. They are present and past based.

Precious little time is spent by most people thinking about, clarifying and imagining their future. They have very weak future based selves.

But it’s only when you have a clear and exciting vision of your future that you can develop the self belief to handle the often treacherous storms of today. You need a very strong future based vision of yourself to not be affected by present day adversity.

Think about that future vision constantly.

At work, at home, and consistently during the day and night.

Only when the clear, positive, future vision of You is constantly focused on does it begin to change your self belief, and your everyday actions. Which soon improves your results.

Successful business leaders have a strong vision of their future themselves, and think about it endlessly.

Poor business performers have a very cloudy future self vision, and think about it rarely. 

In fact most of the time their vision of themselves in the future is full of worry and consternation.

Please do not underestimate the importance of self belief in business success.

And do not underestimate the power of those two techniques to achieve it.

Why you should reduce your work hours by 20 percent

I know, I know, you’ve never been busier. So how could you justify working 20 percent less? Well I believe there’s a good chance you’d be much more successful if you did.

So how could you justify working 20 percent less? Well I believe there’s a good chance you’d be much more successful if you did.

Put your disbelief aside for a moment and consider the benefits of dramatically reducing your time spent on the job.

Firstly, you would be forced to be more efficient.

Look, I’ve been mentoring entrepreneurs and CEO’s for over 11 years, and I can count on the fingers of a donkey’s hoof how many are using their time to it’s maximum potential.

The reality is everyone could do their work faster and more effectively.

Reducing your work hours forces that efficiency. Conversely, knowing you can work long hours usually makes you work slower- after all, you’ve got the time up your sleeve, there’s little pressure to complete your tasks.

Secondly it would make you re-think how you did things.

We all get into ruts. And what’s not broken rarely gets improved. If you had to radically eliminate a fifth of your working time you would need to quickly re-evaluate how your and your team members operated.

That mental reset could easily lead to some major breakthroughs in how you and your company operates.

Thirdly it would increase the most valuable asset you have- thinking time.

The business world today seems almost designed to eliminate time to sit quietly and contemplate your business operations. That lack of contemplation time is very costly.

The fact is that many of the greatest breakthroughs in corporate history may never have happened if the leader of the company did not take time away form the hustle and grind of office life to just think.

You can’t create that quality thinking time if you’re working all the time. But if you were forced to leave work earlier and spend more time walking in the park, or meeting friends, or just relaxing in whatever way you choose, I bet you would come up with a lot more great ideas. Some could even transform your business.

So before you pull another late night shift, ask yourself whether it is really the most intelligent strategy.

Yes, working long hours is more likely to alleviate your show term problems, but great companies are not built by solving the temporary. 

They are built by having a handful of clever ideas, and executing them superbly.

So to give yourself the best chance of having those crucial game changing ideas, try working less. And thinking more.

This is one of those rare cases where the most pleasant strategy is also the best.

Lessons From This Week’s INC 500 List of Fastest Growing Companies

The new INC 500 list of America’s fastest growing companies just came out.

It’s full of fascinating statistics about these top performing young companies.

Here’s some stats that I thought you might find interesting:

39% said running their business has had negative effects on their health.

30% had already had children before starting their companies.

59% worked at a corporation before they started their business. (10% started it direct from college and 9% came from start ups).

Interestingly 46% of the founders have made investments in other start ups.

54% have policies in place to support remote workers.

68% give their employees different jobs to help their development. (23% reimburse money their staff spend on training)

59% said finding good staff was one of their biggest issues. (We can all relate to that one).

And when it came to getting the funds to start their businesses, 74% got it from their personal savings, 20% from loans from family and friends, and surprisingly 22% got it from credit cards.

45% used less than $5000 to start their company. 19% used between $10,000 to $50,000.

Only 4% of the Inc 500 its got their start up funds from venture capital. And even now 47% have never sought out VC money.

Finally, when it comes to their exit plan, 42% aim to sell to another company, 13% to investors and 20% haven’t even thought about it.

For me, the stats that stand out are the ones about their original capital raising. Clearly most of them did not use a lot of money to start their company. And they still did pretty well.

A great idea, good people and hard work is usually much more important than funds.

We should strive to get most of our growth from our company’s cashflow.