PPC, SOLUTIONS 8
17 Secrets to Building a Profitable and Successful Business
This year, Solutions 8 celebrates 17 years in business—and boy, what a ride it’s been.
Side note: Did you know we didn’t even start out as a Google Ads agency?
Nope. Way back then in 2006, Solutions 8 was but a humble web development firm. Later on, because we thought we had to do everything to be successful, we added full-spectrum digital marketing services to boot. (Turns out we were wrong about doing everything, btw; stay tuned for Lesson #10 about this very subject.)
The point is, in those 17 years we learned a thing or two about what really makes a business successful. And, because we’re super into sharing everything we learn with 5 billion of our closest friends on the internet, Kasim recently took to the ‘Tube to point out one key lesson for every year Solutions 8 has been in business.
You can watch the full video here, but the following is a recap of the 17 lessons in 17 years that made us what we are today.
Lesson #1: Entrepreneurship is NOT fulfillment.
In other words, if you’re going to open a bakery, you shouldn’t be the baker. If you’re going to open a mechanic shop, you shouldn’t be the mechanic. If you’re going to open a gym… well, you get the idea.
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is thinking they need to do the things they’re selling. This type of thinking puts business owners at a disadvantage and actually limits their ability to scale. Why? Because you start to think like a tactician, and then suddenly it becomes your job to manage expectations and talk about all the reasons an idea isn’t going to work, or how long it’s going to take, or how much it’s going to cost.
Kasim’s advice? If you’re currently performing fulfillment, go replace yourself in that role first before you do anything else. And if you’re not exactly sure how to do that, try white labeling (reselling) someone else’s stuff, because the entrepreneurial piece is actually everything after the fulfillment.
Lesson #2: Get really good at systems.
Without systems, you don’t have a business—because the systems are what make the business an actual functional entity. And systems are what scale.
People say all the time that they want their business to run like a “well-oiled machine.” Well, that machine is nothing more than a collection of components tethered together by… you guessed it: systems.
And while it’s true the entrepreneur shouldn’t be doing most of what’s happening inside a business, you should be really good at the systems piece and know enough to lead and direct the systems you want. This allows you to see the bigger picture and not be burdened by the smaller components.
Lesson #3: Recruiter and a banker.
This lesson comes from Kasim’s long-time friend and mentor, Ryan Deiss, founder of Idea Incubator LP and DigitalMarketer.com.
The basic idea is that given enough time, everybody in business just becomes a recruiter and a banker—meaning you end up spending most of your time either trying to find qualified people or managing the money. [Insert disgruntled sigh.]
The lesson? Either get really good at those roles or find a partner who is really good at those roles (and someone to whom you can delegate some of the responsibility).
Which brings us to the next lesson…
Lesson #4: Delegate everything.
If you can’t delegate every task that takes place in your company, you don’t own a business, you own a job.
Too many so-called entrepreneurs play the “But I’m the only one who knows how to do these things” card, and we’ve got news for you: If you don’t feel 100% confident that you could walk away from your business for 30 days and come back to a more efficient, money-making venture, you’re not delegating enough.
Start by learning to time block and bringing all of your tasks under your calendar. Then, everything on your calendar should be delegatable.
Ask yourself these three questions about every task:
- Can I eliminate this? As you get more sophisticated as an entrepreneur, you start to realize how often the answer is yes.
- Can I automate this? Going back to the systems lesson, rely on automation as much as possible to free up your time and energy.
- Can I delegate this? Remember, your job as an entrepreneur is to have margin—to have the ability to dream, grow, network, and learn.
So go forth and delegate, delegate, delegate.
Lesson #5: People are the most important part of business.
At the end of the day, every agency has only the same three things to offer: processes, programs, and people. You can probably guess which one is the most important—and the one that will set your business apart every single time.
Build your business around talented, motivated, hardworking people that truly care about the work they do and that live inside of a culture they trust. Because when you do, success is the inevitable outcome.
We have been so conditioned to believe the old ‘the customer is always right’ adage. And while yes, it’s still critically important to treat your customers with kindness and respect, your team members should come first. Always.
Lesson #6: You should be the dumbest person who works for you.
Speaking of building a strong team…
You should always be the dumbest person who works for you.
It may sound like lip service, but if you’ve done the work of hiring a kickass team of people who are amazing at what they do, trust them to do it. Equip them with the tools to be the best they can possibly be, and then get out of their way. It’s really that simple.
“Everybody who works for me is better at their job than I would be,” says Kasim. “Everyone who works for me is smarter than I am at the thing they’re doing.”
And if they’re not, and if you’ve surrounded yourself on purpose with people who aren’t as capable as they should be? That’s on you.
Don’t be threatened by excellence; cultivate it.
Lesson #7: ONLY do business with people you'd trust on a handshake.
Most of us have been burned a time or two in our lives, especially in business.
That said, if you don’t feel right about somebody—a vendor, a client, an employee, a partner—jump ship. Life is too short, and the people you surround yourself with are going to influence you (and your business) more than anything else, so make sure they’re the good kind.
Of course, don’t be a fool… and always pay attention to Lesson #8.
Lesson #8: Paper up anyway.
You may trust someone on a handshake, but always get it in writing anyway.
It doesn’t have to involve a lengthy tome of legalese, but definitely get something down on paper or in an email that says this is my understanding, this is your understanding, and yadda yadda. And anyone who doesn’t want to do that? Run.
Because things happen, as Kasim explains in the video, and papering up can save you time, money, and a lot of hassle if and when the ship hits the iceberg.
Lesson #9: Life's too short to work with people who drain you.
And it could be anyone: your biggest client, your best employee, your business partner.
The truth of the matter is that no amount of profitability is worth doing business with someone who drains you; they are always costing you more than they’re giving you.
If you get a knot in your stomach when they call, text, email, or when you see them on your calendar, that’s a clear sign you need to cut them loose.
Otherwise, they will continue to impact your ability to perform and ultimately hurt the growth of your business.
Lesson #10: Niche down into excellence.
No Solutions 8 list would be complete without the mention of niching. Hey, what can we say? It’s literally why we’re the best Google Ads agency on the planet.
Once we made Google Ads our sole focus, it was easy to be the best at it, because it was all we were doing. In other words, if you try to excel at everything, you’ll end up excelling at nothing. But, when you find your niche—and no niche is too small—that is where you find success.
“It’s been the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my entrepreneurial life,” shares Kasim.
Lesson #11: The Corridor Principle.
The Corridor Principle states that the mere act of starting a venture enables entrepreneurs to see other venture opportunities they could neither see nor take advantage of until they had started their initial venture.¹
Makes sense, right? Until you’re in the thick of it, so to speak, you’re not going to see where the real business opportunities are.
“This has been so true my whole life,” Kasim explains in the video. “I didn’t know that a Google Ads agency would be the most successful facet until I was already running a full-funnel agency.”
¹Robert Ronstadt. The Corridor Principle. Journal of Business Venturing. Volume 3, Issue 1. 1988. Pages 31-40. ISSN 0883-9026.
Not sure where to start? Go be an Uber driver, says Kasim. “Uber drivers have more conversations with more interesting people every day.”
And what better way to find the next great idea?
Lesson #12: Get excited about problems.
Wait, what? Yep, you heard us right.
Like most things, it’s all about perspective. When you encounter a problem or a challenge, instead of groaning, throwing up your hands, or running away and hiding, train your body to get excited about it.
Think of it this way: Problems are the entrepreneur’s fuel. Because what do you have left after you’ve tackled that problem and obsessed over every possible way to remedy it and offer a solution?
You have a business.
Every problem you solve is a business.
(We just blew your mind, didn’t we?)
Lesson #13: Don't be the expert; be the guide.
“I don’t run Google Ads campaigns,” says Kasim. “I haven’t run an end-to-end campaign since before we niched down into Google Ads. Instead, I position myself as the perpetual student and then I present what it is that we’re learning.”
This goes back to Lesson #6 and being the dumbest person who works for you. You don’t have to be an expert at something to be really good at showing people how it’s done. Lean on your experts, and then do your best to share that information with your audience.
When you show up with authenticity and say, “Hey, we figured this thing out and it’s pretty cool, let me know if you have any questions, I think people really resonate with that,” says Kasim.
Lesson #14: Focus on recurring revenue.
Whatever you do, make sure there’s a recurring revenue component to your business.
If you’re building a business, it’s as hard to sell $1,000 one time as it is to sell $1,000 a month. So, regardless of the product or service you’re selling, you should have a built-in recurring revenue stream that allows you to generate consistent revenue over time.
The result is a more predictable cash flow and a tenable profit margin for your business, both of which will support growth and enable you to scale.
Lesson #15: Get good at the game of money.
According to Kasim, there are two types of money: money that your time buys you, and money that your money buys you—and the money-for-time trade is the most miserable trade you’ll ever make.
That said, don’t be stupid or frivolous with your money, because there’s no guarantee it will be there tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next.
Money is the fuel for your entrepreneurial endeavors, so be very careful of how and when you use it.
Lesson #16: Don't get romantic about the way you make your money.
Why? Because regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s going to evolve.
Your customers’ needs are going to change. What they want and need today may not be what they want and need a week from now, a year from now, or five years from now.
So, if you hold fast to a single product or service idea and refuse to evolve alongside your industry and your customers, you’re going to crash and burn.
Be adaptable, and understand that the way you make your money today may not be the way you’re making money in the future—and that’s okay.
Lesson #17: Instill LOVE in everything you do.
Of course we’re going to end on love. It’s right there in our core values: Heart.
The poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Work is love made visible,” and one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned over the years is to find a way to instill love in everything you do.
Find a way to love what you do.
Find a way to love the people you do it for.
Find a way to love the people you do it with.
And if you want to start a business and don’t know where to begin, think about who you love, and find a way to serve them, says Kasim.
“It wasn’t until I started integrating love into my daily themes that the success I experienced—it wasn’t just sweeter, it was actually more scalable.”
Because at the end of the day, who cares how much money you’re making if you don’t love the work that you do?
Founder || ProFit Marketing Solutions
Two-time “Two Comma Club Award” Recipient
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