“The business owners who over-index for those three things. They actually also seem to be over performing for traditional business success, things like revenue and growth and stuff. So it seems to be statistically that it helps to cause your business to be successful if you also ensure that you're a happy ascendant entrepreneur.”
For over twenty years, AJ Rollsy has been a prominent marketing professional for multinational corporations. He has successfully launched and managed several well-known brands that generated billions of dollars in sales across more than 50 countries and five continents. Being an entrepreneur has been a part of AJ Rollsy's DNA, which became apparent at the age of 12 when he started his first business and hired a few employees while still attending school. Throughout his career, he has ventured into various industries, including entertainment, retail, and technology startups, through his own businesses.
Learn as AJ shares his knowledge and wisdom about the CORE marketing method that helped him a lot grow his company and be successful in the endeavors he faced throughout his business journey.
A part of AJ’s journey to the United States from his Australian background was circumstantial. He had been called upon by a company to work in the US for a couple of years. While working across the country, he discovered the perfect opportunity to launch a business that primarily caters to the healthcare industry.
His business involves providing technical market research services to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startup founders to help them market their businesses more effectively and grow systematically while reducing risk. He achieved this using the CORE marketing method, which he developed from the principles of behavioral economics. Behavioral economics has always been an interesting academic study for him, as it explores how psychology influences our daily actions.
About a decade ago, he began incorporating these principles to give entrepreneurs an edge in their businesses. He has since refined his approach and turned it into an easy-to-follow training course and materials that can help guide business owners to succeed..
I feel like I'm drowning day to day. AJ has heard these words from people who feel overwhelmed and constantly swamped with work. They spend most of their time putting out fires or attending to low productivity tasks themselves, which can be frustrating. They feel stretched thin in every direction, often working six days a week with little time for their family or personal pursuits. These complaints were heard quite frequently.
When AJ was in Europe in 2010, he started studying business. We might find it interesting to know that he did some market research on over a thousand small business owners and startup entrepreneurs because he has a background in market research for his corporate work. He wanted to understand their psychology of risk-taking. He was curious about why entrepreneurs would take unusual risks with their time and money and have an unconventional approach to risk assessment and estimating success. Through his research, he discovered a small collection of reasons why almost every business owner or entrepreneur gets into business.
He wrote a book entitled "The Drowning Entrepreneur" because a significant number of business owners, more than three-quarters, regularly feel overwhelmed and like they are drowning in their business. At best, they feel like they are treading water and not making much progress. Only a minority of business owners reported feeling like they were thriving in their work.
The book focuses on a specific type of business owner, referred to as the "ascendant entrepreneur," who is thriving instead of drowning in their business. Despite having similar backgrounds and skill sets as those who are struggling, the ascendant entrepreneurs have adopted certain habits and strategies that set them apart. The book aims to identify these differences and provide guidance for struggling business owners to incorporate these successful practices and stop feeling overwhelmed.
I wanna stop drowning. I wanna become an ascendant entrepreneur. AJ wanted to transform drowning entrepreneurs to become an ascendant entrepreneur. The book talks about the differences between these two types of entrepreneurs and how the ascendant entrepreneur is more fulfilled and happier. Additionally, they leave a positive impact on the world.
Both the drowning entrepreneur and the ascendant entrepreneur have common reasons for starting their business, which are shared by more than 90% of them. These include motivations such as creating wealth, being their own boss, and doing something they're proud of. While revenue is a concern for both, the drowning entrepreneur also worries about chasing accounts and experiencing fluctuations in revenue.
One common concern among business owners is revenue and time management. Many of them start their business to have more control and flexibility over their time, but often end up feeling busier than ever before and unable to manage their time effectively. This can lead to worries about retirement savings, particularly for those who are approaching their sixties and may be considering how much longer they want to work.
Another common concern among business owners is what AJ refers to as the "buck stops of anxiety" or imposter syndrome. This is when business owners feel the weight of responsibility for everything that happens in their business, and they worry about the consequences of failure on themselves and their employees. They also have concerns about compliance with laws and regulations, which would normally be the responsibility of an employer if they were an employee.
The last common worry among business owners is feeling dissatisfied due to a lack of direction. They are naturally ambitious and want to achieve something great, but in their daily routine, they feel like they're not making progress towards their goals. They feel stuck and disconnected between their current actions and their desired future.
To begin with, the ascendant entrepreneurs reported feeling fulfilled and happy in their day-to-day life. A comparison between entrepreneurs and employees revealed that employees in big companies are moderately happy, followed by employees in smaller companies. However, people who run their own business reported feeling happier than employees overall. The group of ascendant entrepreneurs, in particular, reported being the happiest, even happier than other business owners. There are three common factors contributing to their happiness, and an intriguing twist will be revealed at the end.
Sense of predictability. The first thing that contributes to the happiness of business owners is having a sense of predictability. This means that they understand the rhythm of their business and can anticipate what will happen in the coming months and years, perhaps due to their experience in the industry. Implementing strategies to achieve predictability in the business can be helpful, although it may also come naturally over time.
Social factor. The second factor that contributes to happiness is social in nature and is actually the primary cause. It involves liking the people one works with, including employees, partners, suppliers, and customers, on a personal level. When business owners enjoy spending time with these individuals both in and outside of work, it significantly enhances their day-to-day happiness.
Social good. Business owners who actively work towards benefiting society tend to experience more day-to-day happiness. This involves including in their business plans something that benefits a group or cause that they believe in, without expecting anything in return for themselves. It could be as simple as donating to charities or something more substantial. One example of this is a business owner who takes great pride in a modest effort towards social good. Having a permanent and positive impact on something outside of themselves can be a source of sustenance and fulfillment, particularly during challenging times in business.
One of the interesting findings was that having a lot of revenue into the business did not seem to be the most important factor for achieving happiness among business owners. Instead, we found that business owners who focus on predictability, social factors, and social good tend to be happier on a day-to-day basis. These factors do not necessarily relate to having millions of dollars in the bank. However, it is worth noting that business owners who excel in these areas also tend to perform well in terms of traditional business success measures such as revenue and growth. Therefore, ensuring happiness as an ascendant entrepreneur is important for overall business success. The three key factors for happiness are predictability, social factors, and social good.
The core marketing strategy for small to medium-sized businesses is unique and unlike anything AJ has seen in the startup and global corporate worlds. He initially designed it to be used by global corporate marketing teams and spent several years modifying it to make it more applicable to small businesses. The model emphasizes the deliberate and wise investment of resources to achieve business growth through excellent marketing.
In business, it's important to have a deliberate approach with plans, objectives, and processes in order to minimize risks and increase the likelihood of success. Rather than relying on assumptions or guesses, it's better to focus on facts and use insights to make informed decisions about growing the business. By understanding the facts about the market and their own business, entrepreneurs can make strategic bets that are more likely to pay off.
AJ guides them through the CORE Marketing Method, which stands for C O R E, and it revolves around understanding the ideal customer — similar to avatars or personas used in other marketing training. However, the ideal customer in this method is based on insights and is formed by two concepts in the customer's mind. Below are points to ponder on.
The core marketing method takes into account the different resources that a business has at different times, which can vary from limitless to scarce. While time is often a precious resource for most business owners, it's important to be judicious in how you invest it. Therefore, it's crucial to prioritize high ROI activities when making bets in your business.
AJ admits that they have been taking on too many tasks and doing work that was not a good use of their time, including janitorial work in the past. Although they are willing to work hard, they now realize that this approach was not productive and left them feeling unhappy and less healthy.
As an entrepreneur, he has come to realize that his time is a valuable resource that he invest every day. To make the most of it, he needs to focus on high-level tasks and delegate lower-level ones to others. He aims to minimize and systematize certain things to become more efficient and avoid feeling overwhelmed. The goal is to act as a flight captain, rather than act as a janitor, and delegate when possible.
For AJ to correct these mistakes from the past, he makes sure he reviews his calendar regularly to identify tasks that are not productive or do not have a high return on investment for his company. Then, he considers whether he can delegate, eliminate, reduce, or find an alternative solution for them. Delegation is a big part of this process, and he highly recommends it. Once your business is based on solid insights and you have a plan, one of the first things you should do is determine which tasks can be done by someone else. It may be a bold move, but it can have a positive impact on your productivity and ROI.
Entrepreneurs should focus on making good bets with their time and energy, which involves investing in valuable activities that would yield more profits for their business. While it's easy to get caught up in low ROI work, it's essential to prioritize tasks and delegate or eliminate those that don't contribute significantly to the bottom line. As an entrepreneur, one needs to be mindful of their limited energy and time and channel it into high-ROI activities.
The initial step for entrepreneurs, even though it may be challenging, is to dedicate an entire day, even if it's a weekend day, to evaluate what they're currently doing in their business. They should reflect on whether they have a clear plan and know their desired outcome, and then determine if everything they're doing is contributing towards that goal. If someone is feeling overwhelmed by a multitude of tasks every day, it's the opposite of feeling freedom.
A business owner should review their priorities and assess whether their current tasks align with their objectives. They should have a clear plan with three big objectives for the year and prioritize their time and energy accordingly. This will enable them to focus on the critical tasks and block out time to pursue them.
So, if you’re a business owner, you should prioritize your tasks and identify three big goals for the year. This practice is not limited to big companies, but also applicable to small business owners. Learn to remove distractions and delegate tasks that are not high ROI. The focus should be on pursuing tasks that align with your most important goals. This way, you can free yourself from unnecessary work and achieve more freedom in your business.