In 2009, Rhett Power and his partner found themselves nearly bankrupt. They had been giving their business their all, but instead of it paying off, they were nearly ready to call it quits. This lead them to rethink their approach and to turn their business around.
In The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful, Rhett, who now travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and related topics, shares how they did this so that others can learn from these lessons as well. A must read for anyone looking to achieve more without burning out.
1. You mention in your introduction how your near bankruptcy lead to the lessons shared in this book but don’t go into details. Can you please share more of that story and how you learned these lessons? Did you have any help?
In 2007, I resigned from my lucrative consulting career to co-start a toy company called Wild Creations. It didn’t take long for me to realize that while I thought I knew what needed to be done to become a successful entrepreneur, I had no idea what being an entrepreneur truly meant. Less than two years later, the economic downturn left me uninspired, exhausted and nearly bankrupt.
My partner and I had put all of our savings, including our 401K’s, into the business. Two years into the business and a year into the financial crisis we were down to our last couple of thousand dollars. We were selling some product but not enough to keep us going any longer. We decided to go to one last trade show, the New York Toy Fair in 2009. This fair changed our lives and our business. We had a key influencer in the toy industry fall in love with our product, and she spread the word about our product. We went from a company about to call it quits to 9 million dollars in sales in a few months. We got overwhelmed at a toy fair.
After the excitement from that week had worn off, we had to figure out how to deliver on all of these orders. We successfully negotiated credit with our vendors. We got FedEx to help us figure out how to ship the product. We had to create new processes. We had to train and hire 30 people to fill all the orders. We had to figure out how to scale the product. What was amazing is that so many individuals who didn’t have to help us did help. Without every single one of our vendors extending credit, we would not have been able to make the business work.
We learned many lessons in that time. The most important were to communicate with your customers and your vendors. We learned not to give up. We learned to ask for help. We learned to delegate and to give others freedom to make decisions. The first two years we learned about perseverance, the third year we started learning about business.
2. What made you decide to write your book in this format? Did you consider adding a workbook component too so that it was an all-in-one type of book?
Lots of people have asked about a workbook so I think now that would have been a fantastic idea. If sales go well, it may be something we work on to include at some point. I will be doing additional books on this theme, so I intend to include a workbook in those.
3. Why 53 weeks? A year seems like a very long commitment, so did you ever consider a different duration?
There was so much content that I had to break it down this way so that readers could digest it all. But I also believe that to make real change in your life and your business you have to create good habits. The only way to do that is discipline, focus, and consistent effort.
When it comes to forming good habits, as well as breaking habits that are not good, we need to constantly work for the change we desire. We learn that being self-motivated is a trait that very few can confidently say they have. This is primarily because we often try to make a massive change only once we realize something isn’t right. When you become aware of a habit or bad behavior that needs to be changed, the mind has a way of overreacting, and the tendency is to make a huge change immediately.
This strategy makes most people feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the sheer magnitude of effort that it takes to make these changes. As a result, we often fail. That’s why I want people to try my approach. When you accomplish smaller goals, and you do that consistently, you begin to have more confidence to tackle the big changes you need to make.
4. How did you come up with the themes per week? And how did you decide on the order from week to week?
A few years ago I started writing a column for Inc. and Success, and those columns helped me think about problems that we all face as entrepreneurs. It was transformative for me to start writing about my business and personal challenges. When I started writing, certain themes emerged which ultimately ended up in the book.
I put them in an order that I thought was logical. I also believe as long as you complete the book you can change the order of the exercises to fit your needs.
5. Is there a theme that you personally had the most trouble with? How about one that really made a difference for you?
I like making people happy, so the toughest thing for me was to learn to say no. I think the most successful entrepreneurs learn to say no early. When you learn to say no, you save time, money and for me, a little sanity. I’ll add that this does not mean I am closed minded to opportunity or to change. It means I should say no to things I know I shouldn’t say yes to just to be nice or to make someone happy.
6. Given that your entire book is “actionable,” besides going through the daily and weekly activities, is there anything else necessary to make this transformation work and stick?
If the reader doesn’t have the desire, discipline, and the patience to do the activities in the book every day, then they will struggle to get the results they want.
We live in a world where we want and expect instant results. I can’t promise that in this book. Self-improvement and improving your business is a process, and it takes time and sustained effort to get results.