Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Hilliard, CEO of Impact Mastery Blueprint, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
A lot of employees and business leaders are so close to the day-to-day activities that they have a really hard time maximizing their results and earning potential. As a result, they get stressed out when they think about how well their career or business is going compared to their own expectations of themselves. At Impact Mastery, we take the pain out of growing a career or business using the principles applied by the Top 1%. We help people clarify their ambitions so they can connect with their work and grow faster without all the hassle.
Tell us about yourself
Only 0.01% of the world's population has run a marathon. I've completed the London Marathon three times. I see the marathon as a really great metaphor for life. A marathon is not easy, and life isn't easy either. My first marathon went (almost) to plan. My goal was to beat 4 hours. I finished at 4:00:45! That is not bad for my first attempt. I missed the time goal by 0.3%. For my second run, I picked up an injury in training but soldiered on any way determined to break the 4-hour mark. At 10 miles in, I was struggling, and I finished at 4:18! Lesson learned - it was the most painful run of my entire life. Finally, I got disciplined, consistent and took care of myself. In my final run, I crossed the line in 3hrs 47mins. Almost 30 seconds per mile, quicker than my best time. Funny thing is... I was disappointed. I knew I could do better.
Whether it's the marathon, or our life, if you make a firm decision to stay true to a few things, your experience can be a heck of a lot easier. This is vital in business and our work. Bring spirit, tenacity, and flair to everything you do. Always strive to be the best you can be, even when faced with headwinds on your own path. Persistence matters. I knew this would be important when starting up a business. Keep going, no matter what. I'm constantly evaluating my own performance to improve and spur me on. Finding the things I did well and studying for the things I got wrong - the mistakes. I see those lessons learned as mini incentives. What if you adjusted here a little, there a little? What might happen? I've learned to embrace change as I grow and advance, modify my approach, and let go of the emotions of the past. The past isn't there to define us; it's there to remind us. It reminds me even with all your (sometimes shameful) mistakes; you're getting better.
It's why I left my employee job and entered into (semi) retirement. I knew in the right environment, like any good tree or flower, I would flourish far beyond the shaded spots I was working in. I was right. My first business raced to $100K in 5 short months. Where you express your creativity also matters - it has done for me. I ran one more marathon in my life. My time: 3hrs 20mins. I decide, persist, and always strive to be the best I can be.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I've touched on this earlier, but most people get stressed out when they think about how well their career is going and whether they have what it takes to get to the top, get promoted, or start a business, so they accept the status quo, play small and stay safe. Impact Mastery takes away the pain out of any person's career or mission so people can grow faster without any worry. It may sound cheesy or corny to say this, but I believe it was getting the first customer. For 96 long days, I toiled, struggled, and worked hard to figure out if anybody would be interested in buying the program.
And after the first client was signed, I knew, "If I can sign one, I can sign two. If I can sign two, I can sign four." And that's exactly what happened. I've created hundreds of personal and professional transformations for people. They get to achieve the extraordinary. Whether it's getting a $600,000 pay raise, moving to a dream home in Mexico, leaving their job to build a passion business doing only what they love, or simply moving to a new exciting career opportunity that allows them to spend more time with their kids. We've done it all.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Businesses grow in distinct phases. Starting up ($0 to $1 million) followed by growth ($1 - $10 million) and scale ($10 - >$100 million). The most important lesson to learn in the beginning (starting up) is SALES. Owners must become great at selling the product or service at the expense of everything else - and I mean everything. This is the precursor to clients and cash flow - the lifeblood of any business. Nothing else matters. And I mean it - don't spend time building websites, writing business plans, bookkeeping, creating logos, incorporating your business name, etc. Become the master marketer and salesperson. It will not come naturally to every new business owner. Success will only come when it is mastered. It can be simple, but like marathons and life -- it certainly isn't easy.
Once there is traction and sales are coming in (growth), the next hardest challenge is letting go of the low-value, important, but non-money-making activities and hiring a team to do them. This is important to keep growing steadily. The business owner needs to set the vision for new product development and long-term growth versus risking withering on the vine and failing in the first few years. New product development (multiple product and services) are required to keep attracting new customers as well as retaining existing customers. The process is a challenge for all businesses.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Give more - Understand what it means to give first. Give value upfront. It's taken me a long time to learn this, and I've wasted a lot of time conducting trial and error. I'm not perfect, either. Leaders give, and followers receive.
- Quit your business early - ALWAYS quit the wrong business ideas early. Never stay in a job, career, or business longer than you need to. Move on. Playing and 'I'll just wait and see what happens' game with your career, business, or life will be maddening for you. It never ends well. Courage is the separator between those who achieve their dreams and those who do not.
- Love your business - Choose something you're prepared to die for. When you find that thing, never ever quit, not until the shirt off your back has gone, your home is gone, food is sparse, and you don't know if you'll survive that week. You must be prepared to go deep into the well of despair to achieve the impossible.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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