Time-Management: Bandwidth | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Time-Management: Bandwidth | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice 

Over ten years ago, I spent a month south of America; Mexico. With no smart phone, tablet, or laptop. So I frequented an internet café. Paid a fee. And then listened to the familiar sound of dial-up. It was fun, a throw back, minus the frustratingly slow page loads. In hindsight, whatever I attempted to do in that café would be limited by bandwidth. So is true in life. 

Too often, we lose interest in daily routines, processes, and patterns, which are extremely helpful. The trick is to maintain perspective. We want new, difficult, and larger responsibilities. We often think like the early settlers of the 1900’s in the great land grab, instead of land, we are grab up responsibility. Too often in pursuit of our American dream we dig wider and not deeper; this can lead to a bandwidth issue. If we were computers, it would be like having dial-up and 40 applications open at once.

Ways to know if you are exceeding your personal bandwidth?

If you are accomplishing everything and people wonder what you do, you are safe. But if you look stressed out, are forgetful, moody, and have no time for friends, family, and other, there is a good chance you need to adjust your obligations. You are exceeding your bandwidth. Remember the people you work with are not your loved ones, and an over investment can lead to stress. Spending time with loved ones (Friends & Family) is an example of a healthy counter balance and can produce eustress, good stress. Too much of anything follows the Law of Diminishing Returns, even healthy counter balances. Work hard, work smart, and work long hours, but do not become a workaholic. The days are long, but the years are short; A workaholic loses sight of family, friend, future, and the big picture. There is nothing wrong with working 60-100 hours a week if relationships with family, friend, and other are also healthy. Each of us has 24 hours a day, eight to sleep if you want, and 8-14 to work. That can be 6-7 days a week. Just as long as you have counter balances.

If you are exceeding your bandwidth because of P.R.?

Remember you must network; networking builds trust. Trust leads to contacts, contracts, investors, partnerships, supply chains, everything. Just remember to keep a healthy perspective. If investing time in these relationships is negatively effecting your family, friends, and other, think “calendar synchronization.” Ever left a job and thought I will keep in touch with those friends, but never do? This is an example of “calendar synchronization,” relationships that exist because of schedule, goals, or professional network alignment. Investing time in these relationships is a must, but like many things, guided by a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). When these mutually beneficial relationships AKA “calendar synchronizations” are taking too much time from friends, family, and other adjust your time investments. Friendships and family must be invested in, especially if you are working 60-100 hours a week, 49+ weeks a year. They are your Rock of Gibraltar. When you keep important things at the top of your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to-do’s/goals, you will always be working on the right problems. Scaling up/back work is the right kind of problem to have; saving your family/marriage is not.

Life is full of chaos and disorder as is, do not bring additional chaos into your life by exceeding your bandwidth. If there is too much wind, build windmills, if there is too much rain, build a rain catcher, and if there is too much information and not enough bandwidth, close some applications. How do you scale back once you are deeply rooted in things that rely heavily upon your human energy, knowledge, position, and authority? Pivot.

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Marketing: Share Of Mind, Share Of Market | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Marketing: Share Of Mind, Share Of Market | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Forget boom, recession, recovery. Checks pay for payroll, product, and marketing; rinse and repeat. Right? I mean throw in the bills and other costs of doing business but this seems to be the business cycle. If you had to choose, what was paid it would be payroll, product, and of course marketing. So how do you know which marketing pieces are the best investment when you are as flat as possible? Business is seasonal, streaky, and under increased pressure, requiring financial acumen and marketing genius. Not many things are worst then wasting money on a marketing piece that needed to have a Return on Investment (ROI) but did not procure one client. The first key, understand the difference between Share of Market and Share of Mind.

Share of Market

Typical share of market pieces include shared mail (RSVP, Money Mailer, Valpak, Groupon, Living Social, Amazon), direct mailers, Magazines, newspaper ads, email campaigns, and sales teams. Marketing is rarely either/or but a continuum, most often functioning as both share of market and share of mind. One certain way to decipher where on this continuum the piece sits is to include a marketing code. Always use a marketing code on your marketing pieces. For instance,I purchase a marketing piece in April of 2015 with RSVP I put on the bottom corner of the coupon 0415RSVP. Then in a program or spreadsheet I enter the price and then track how many dollars the marketing piece generates, typically ballooning over the next three months. I then run a return on investment. Say I spent $1 dollar and made four, then my ROI is 4 to 1. This is a great return for marketing pieces, but some can get as high as 20-30-40 and others can still be profitable as low as 1.2. If you do not track the cost of the marketing piece and the dollars generated from that piece, all though in reality it may be share of market, we can only consider it share of mind. Which is much harder to track and less measurable.

Share of Mind

Typical share of mind marketing pieces are billboards, radio, television, P.R., and social media. These pieces might not get the phone to instantly ring. The reason is they are not targeted marketing. In reality, the whole population is not your potential client base, but those that are might watch or hear and be compelled to purchase. These pieces put you in front of clients and non-clients, capturing mind share versus a share of the market. Catching customers closer to when they are purchasing can increase the return on share of mind marketing. Both are very important. The key is to use them wisely.

If you do not play darts, you never hit the bulls’ eye. Marketing is testing, iterating, testing, and iterating. A Go-To-Market Strategy is clear in rear-view or when following an innovator. It takes years to develop a market strategy, a marketing tailwind, analytics, trends and pattern recognition. Marketing is the tree that needs to be pruned, just make sure you know the difference between the trees.

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Customer Retention: Pain Points | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Customer Retention: Pain Points | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

How easy is it to find a niche? Easy. Especially if you can diagnose pain points. You know, get downstream from a product or service and find the gaps between what is thought to be delivered and what is delivered; between reality and expectation. The easy targets are bad customer experiences, high fees, and little to no innovation.

I love when I walk into an establishment and the employees are trained to make my experience memorable, to deal with me no matter how difficult I become, and have the ability to sidestep processes in order to get me to solutions. More memorable are untrained employees, with little to no people skills or ability to solve my problem. The outcome: bad customer experience. Identify the logjam where customers are having a high incidence of bad customer experiences and you have a pain point. A competitive advantage. Ceteris Paribus this is a prime reason to start a business.

You have gas stations, grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, and health clubs that you frequent. What happens when the service provided is disproportionate to the cost? Maybe droves of potential buyers find the fees too high. Price is a pain point and depending upon the product, lower fees can be a competitive advantage. Beware; as the incumbent realizes there is a competitively priced product in the market, he may start a price war leading to “the race to the bottom,” a price war leading to lower and lower prices. To avoid a price war, be strategic, methodical, and wise with your pricing. Use analytics when possible. Do not put yourself out of business.

Products with little to no innovation (assuming they are not a dead invention like a Walkman) can be modified to produce a competitive advantage. Augment the product or presentation. Once again, being downstream as a consumer has its advantages. Identify where the current product or service is lacking and create innovative solutions that match customer profiles and needs.

A quick brainstorming session with friends, over cheese & wine can produce the pain points for your next business venture. Start by identifying the gaps between expectation and reality. If the current solution is marred by bad customer service, high fees, and little to no innovation you may have found your next business concept. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Startups: Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Startups: Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

In 2014, I had been sensing it was time to jump into business full time. My wife and I had been enjoying a cush DOE job that paid well and had some great perks. At work at 8:30, home by 4:30. Weekends off. For a season, this job helped us to stabilize and pay down debt and to enjoy time together. In December of 2014, I started feeling as if it was time to become a full time entrepreneur. It was going to be a big risk. Deep down, I knew staying there would be an even greater risk. No longer was I going to be able to do the one-foot-in type of entrepreneurship. I knew I would need to give up the teaching job, and say “no for now, but not for ever” to my music pursuits and dive in to business. I sensed it was time, but had a child on the way and felt it would be irresponsible to leave a secure job with no backup plan to find my entrepreneurial niche. In March of 2015, we lost the pregnancy. This awkward pause in life gave us a moment to reevaluate what to do next. Thankfully, we had begun the process of reducing our burn rate over the last year and my wife’s income was just enough to give us room for a “takeoff.” Through much thought and discussion within the month, I turned in my 1-month notice and launched myself into business. Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.

Instantly I closed doors. I had fallen sickly prey to the belief that having many doors open was a safety net and responsible. Closing doors brought clarity and confidence. Stuck at the juncture between hope and fear I chose to hope that I was sensing a divine beckoning into business. My spouse and both sets of family were on board and supported this transition. I knew I could navigate through the unmanageable obstacles, because of my past business experiences. Start where you are. Quickly I identified an idea that had proven successful in parts of the city. Shaved ice. It was low barrier, low cost, and low competition. The market was fragmented, there was one dominant player and there were huge geographical areas with no providers. Not having much money, we chose shaved ice as our fountainhead. Most of the legwork I completed from my car and house; I had a make shift office in the corner of the living room. I found a helpful resource online about the products, competition, and industry; I read it and began.

It is funny, before we made this transition, we sold my high maintenance RX8, which averaged 10-12 miles a gallon and required high-octane gasoline to purchase a Honda Insight Hybrid. Little did we know this change was a foreshadowing of the amount of driving I would be doing. Use what you have. We created a business plan and started seeking out investors. We started raising money with a business plan; eventually we switched to a pitch deck. We learned quickly from those willing to advise us and read many books. I used my business background, my dad’s ability to build, my family & network for investors and co-founders and we went to work. I started blindly, but quickly realized I needed help, so I started asking questions and making phone calls and through a meeting with Larry Wofford at TU I was introduced to The Founder’s Dilemma by Noam Wasserman, which was an incredible resource.

I built and executed the plan, my dad built the huts, my wife brought home the bacon and helped me with tasks in this business and our other business, our business partners did their part and we were off the ground in less than a month with our first location. Do what you can. We used our own skills and added talent around us with little strengths’ overlap. Through this, we were able to create a more complete team.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. When you “see the writing on the wall”, focus on the gaps. Inside these gaps are “pain points.” Start your own entrepreneurship based on these “pain points” or customer needs. Find your competitive advantages in these gaps. Do not bet the farm. Squeeze as much of the risk out of the venture as possible, in essence de-risk risk. In new ventures have the ability to fall forward and be ready to acclimate your life to turbulence. Mange your team, time, and money with all due diligence, find your bearings, and keep your eyes on the new horizon. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Sales: Transactional Versus Relational | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Sales: Transactional Versus Relational

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Ever bought a home? At closing alone, you sign what seems like hundreds of foreign documents. One after another, with everything briefly summarized. Remember now? Sure, you can read it and if you are an engineer, scientist, lawyer, or some other jargon junky, you do. The rest of us sign document after document with that icky feeling inside of should I be negotiating or price checking. Wondering is this in my best interest, my lenders best interest, the sellers, the seller’s agent. Right? For me, it was more of a blur than marriage was. You search, your agent recommends lenders, your agent talks to the seller’s agent, you search more, identifying prospective homes that fit your needs, wants, and budget. You find the home, make the offer, get inspections done, sign documents, get quotes for this and that, sign more documents, and listen to reflexive jargon-laden speeches, all while wondering did we pay too much? Even in a flattening world, maybe this process never changes. Here is the backup plan. You will never have the time to study and learn the language and how it relates to buyers, sellers, agents, lenders, and regulatory bodies, so stick with relationship.

As a new homeowner, I cannot be more thrilled with the decisions we made choosing Bill and Denise Wright with Homes the Wright Way. My spouse’s parents recommended these family friends to us whom many years ago assisted them with their home purchase. So, these agents are family friends, came with high recommendation, have high integrity, and to boot lived up to every ounce of expectation. We had a month to find, purchase, offer, settle, fix, and close on the home for an end of the month move in and we did it. That is 100% because of our lender and agent. We felt connected, like friends; never like a transaction. At closing, I mentioned to the group, which was like a surgical team that frequently work together, that I found it unfair that buyers had to sign hundreds of documents without truly comprehending what each document entailed. David from Supreme Lending said if you wanted, we would give you 24 or 48 hours to read the documents and I chuckled thinking even if I read it would I truly understand the loaded language, acronyms, policies, procedures, potential hazards, and how it applied today and 30 years from today. Probably not. He then said, but truthfully, that is why you work with trusted people, because of the overwhelming amount of documentation needed. Trust. A word used by many, but practiced by few. I could trust our group. Sitting at the closing table, I chitchatted with the sellers, who were beautiful people, when I mentioned that Bill had helped Lindsay’s mom and dad buy their homes and we trusted them with the process. The seller’s agent chuckled and said, “I bet that is music to Bill’s ears.” I did not chuckle. In fact, I find statements that make me feel like a dollar bill in another’s wallet extremely offensive. It reminded me that businesses still miss the mark by creating Key performance Indicators (KPI) that focus on frequency or transaction number. Chet Holmes an amazing sales machine and author of The Ultimate Sales Machine writes extensively on both aspects of sales, the transaction and the relationship. Easily misunderstand, is the fine line between transaction and relationship. What is certain is the buy, cry, or die mentality, rarely magnifies relationship. In a flattening world, with player’s half a world away competing for the same clients in a B2C transaction, the transactional mindset is dead. Relationship is alive and thriving. I hope, as the population becomes increasingly informed, transactional salespersons become extinct. The world will be a better place for it.

My wife was set to have our first child in 2014 and we knew something was wrong. Several times, we called her OB/GYN and were told there was nothing to worry about that she was experiencing common pregnancy symptoms. Really, you got all that over the phone? So you do not want me to bring her in? Several times my wife nearly blacked out, had excruciating pain, spotting, and other symptoms not typical to the pregnancies in her family. We got in our car several weeks into the pregnancy and drove to the clinic, when I called them on the phone and said we are on our way, something seems wrong, they shooed us off and said everything is normal. I turned around and headed back home against our judgment. A few days earlier we had seen HCGs of 40,000, and our next trip to the emergency room showed HCG levels at 100k+ and still no image of the implanted zygote in the uterus! We knew her HCGs because everywhere we went, during the ectopic pregnancy, they took blood samples, but no one was scheduling an ultrasound. The third trip -thanks to a TV ultrasound- by our repeated request, revealed severe abdominal bleeding and required an emergency surgery, salpingectomy. Her Ex-OB/GYN was clearly operating from a transactional mindset. The OB/GYN had an outdated ultrasound machine, a staff that treated my wife like an overly concerned first-time mom, and frankly never dug into the relationship to find out our real needs. Never once did this OB/GYN offer an Ultrasound. I could go on and on, why, we know what the problem is. A transactional mindset.

Caveat Emptor. At any moment as a prospect or buyer, you feel like a transaction, listen to your internal red-flag alarm system. I bet it will be chirping like a smoke alarm. End that relationship and find a new teammate. When possible, use the recommendation of friends and family. When a business or representative interacts as an “agent of transaction”, run, run, run. Profitability in business and in life is not a competitive advantage. When individuals focus on profits, they are not worried about the relationship. Through relationship come profits. Cathy Truett founder of Chick Fil A reminded us “it is more important to focus on principles than on profit.” If we focus on our principles, our competitive advantages, our product, and our customers profit will follow. Profits are downstream. Professionals operating under a transactional mindset have moved profit upstream. Do not focus on the profit; focus on relationship. Yes, operate with financial intelligence, use software, run ratios, have a CPA, create benchmarks, but keep profitability downstream. Focus on relationship and profits will follow. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Time Management: Never Eat An Elephant In One Bite | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Time Management: Never Eat An Elephant In One Bite

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

The Law of Conservation, energy can be changed but always conserved, right? At constant temperature for a fixed mass, the absolute pressure and the volume of a gas are inversely proportional, Boyle’s Law, right? I guess I learned these things in college Physics, but the true take away was that you cannot eat an elephant in one bite.

Larger than life are most adventures, ventures, projects, dreams, and plans. If I am 5 inches away from an elephant, I say I am looking at a gray mass, but 20 feet away I can say, ah, that is an elephant with specific parts and motions. When I back away from the “elephant” I can categorize, classify, organize, and orchestrate bites.

When I step back from my own business ventures, I see a leap, the runway, the landing. If I truly want to gain traction with these movements, I might categorize or label the corresponding events and sequences. I might tag events according to priority, content, status, or category. Anything to clear my mind for a focus fire, soon I will have traction and craziest thing is, traction begets traction. I do not advise eating several elephants at once, until you have an idea of how many meals one provides.

Never recommend an elephant for dinner, until you and those guests are prepared to have elephant for leftovers. School, marriage, buying a house, finding the right career are some of life’s elephants. Give yourself time with the big things in life. Plan, work your plan, and throw your plans away when necessary. Not many things are once and done, and sometimes things are thousands of steps long and years in the making. Life gets complicated so eat your elephants gracefully. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me, or Harper’s Hut Blog.

The Hind Sight Dress Up | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

The Hind Sight Dress up

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

If there is one thing learned from being a recording artist for 10 years it is the hind sight dress up. Anyone that has recorded music, started an organization, or spearheaded a project knows the truth behind the statement. In a studio, track-on-track, take-on-take, session-after-session a beautiful product is whittled into existence. Only after the product is fully produced, mastered, and packaged do we talk about how we walked into the studio laid down a few tracks, laid down on the couch, and wham, out came a masterpiece; the hindsight dress up. Easily forgotten are the pre-studio takes and mistakes, bad takes, wasted tracks, and the other miscellaneous nuts & bolts of innovation. Have you heard others talk about how beautiful things are and how everything rather snapped together nicely? Well good for them and I am calling their bluff. Something that was not beautiful talked about as only ever being beautiful is a hindsight dress up. 

My first job out of college was as a youth & worship pastor. Early on, I took a risk and initiated the Otis Spunkmeyer Gourmet Cookie Dough fundraiser with the youth group. A hundred unchurched kids, not fully connected to the church mind you. Terrible idea. It was very messy and this was an established church. Some members did not get their cookie dough on time; other orders were mixed up. No one finds a lemon cookie funny after imagining a chocolate chip cookie for a couple weeks. Eventually we deciphered the cryptic handwriting and identified the hundreds of buyer’s on the wrinkled, washed forms. It was my fault; first, I should have spent more time observing the leadership and deposited some money in the “mistake bank” instead of stepping off the boat with my Superman cape on. (Growing the youth group from five to 100+ in a few weeks put me in superhero mode.) Secondly, I lacked the foresight to troubleshoot the issues and the intelligence to consult fundraiser alumni to identify troublesome situations. In the end, people got their cookie dough and we were able to purchase two 21-inch IMacs for the youth group; hindsight dress up. And before I was done, the youth group added a ping pong table, foosball table, pool table, the 2 IMacs, and several gaming systems in less than a year. Sadly, I never returned to the good graces of the pastor after that experience.

Making mistakes in an established business does not have to be this painful. In fact, companies that provide no space for mistakes, create cultures of fear and limitation.

When I was a college freshman in Comp 101, I used my Resident Advisor (RA), a senior in college, as one of my term-paper references. What a huge mistake. Mr. Gogan, my English teacher gave me the biggest, reddest “F” I ever received on an assignment. Make sure you record your interviews and pick reputable sources! Comp 102 came, and then 201, then 203, followed by several years of grading science papers as an educator, and then poof I could construct a sentence; the hindsight dress up. (Gogan actually still points out my writing faux pas 10+ years later.)

In 2013, I purchased three territories of a franchise. Let me just say, plenty of things went right. So what went wrong? About that. I initially thought Google would honor my UPS stores as my business addresses. No, they penalize P.O. boxes and suites; several hundred down the drain. In the first month of business, an employee in training, wrecked his car and broke his back. I budgeted the start-up cost to be around $20,000 it ended up closer to $45,000. Several years later, it is easier to laugh about Murphy’s Law and to talk about how great and seamless the business is running; the hindsight dress up.

Much of life is a hindsight dress up. America is a hindsight dress up. Christianity is no different. Most professionals acknowledge the myriad of mistakes they made along the way, personal and professionally, and acknowledge the gains from those missteps. Still, employments, friends, families, bosses, and culture in general, project holograms that portend lives of luck, luxury, and fortunate events. Balderdash. Life, friendship, business, and everything else in between are a bit like the birthing of a child, messy. Oh, the hindsight dress up.