Introduction and bio:
Brian Young started painting houses in the summer of 1987 to pay his way through college. From 1991 to 1997, pre-internet boom, things were going great as he was an expert door-to-door cold caller. However in 1997 the internet started to take over his business, which sent Home Painters Toronto into a 15 year tailspin of declining and struggling sales right up until 2011. In September 2011 Brian was cold calling a client who was upset that he had interrupted his dinner. What began with insults ended with Brian being punched in the face! This was the wakeup call that he needed to change the way he marketed his business.
Three months later, in January 2012, Brian hired a business coach, got a website, joined Infusionsoft, and went to work bringing Home Painters Toronto into the 21st century. The rest is history!
Since then, in just 3 short years, Brian has grown Home Painters Toronto from near extinction into one of the most successful residential and commercial full-service painting companies in the Great Toronto Area. Since 2012 revenue has increased over 350%, and he has expanded his team from a one man army to a staff that included 8 full-time employees and 25 subcontractors, all while reducing his workweek from 80 hours to 65 hours. Brian is relentless in his pursuit of growth and passionate about embracing the power of technology and automation to achieve success.
Just recently, Home Painters Toronto received the 2015 Small Business ICON from Infusionsoft. This prestigious award recognizes excellence, perseverance, and the implementation of digital marketing in small businesses.
Here are some tips and tricks Brian has learned over the past 2 decades that can and will also help you with your business:
1) Be flexible and open to change
- It’s good to be focused, independent, driven, and even a bit stubborn and bullheaded, but don’t be so narrow-minded that you can’t realize what’s working and what isn’t.
- The best entrepreneurs are open to change, students of knowledge, and always willing to adapt accordingly. Be curious and flexible enough to change your approach when you find a better method or more more efficient way of doing things.
- I was foolish to refuse to embrace the internet and technology for over 15 years, which led to over a decade of struggling and declining sales. Had I been flexible enough to adapt my marketing methods earlier it would have made for a much easier transition, higher sales, and of course a much more lucrative business.
2) View every major failure as a huge opportunity
- My biggest failures in life have turned out to be my biggest opportunities. Being punched in the face back in 2011 was rock bottom for me. But I turned it into the biggest and most fundamental change in my business. This led to a 350% growth in revenue over three years as well as a new way of living. Live by the rule that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
- The bottom line is: whenever you are ready to quit and throw in the towel, don’t. You are on the eve of a profound change that will soon change your life.
3) Get a good website and online strategy
- Given its technology and power the internet is the biggest opportunity in business. If you aren’t using this in your own business, no matter the industry, you are making a big mistake. It can without a doubt grow your business exponentially and 100 times faster than using any other marketing method.
- I could write an entire e-book on how to best use this resource. But just to start you should obtain: a good website that converts traffic and leads into customers, a Google AdWords campaign, an SEO strategy, stellar online reviews, documentation of your work via pictures and testimonials, and good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) which can help you to follow-up with leads and automate your processes.
4) Get ready to go back to “online university” OR build a strong online team
- Being successful online is not easy and requires A LOT of knowledge. Be prepared to go back to school through an institute of education or courses you can find on the internet. This can be a HUGE game changer. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, just know enough about each topic to know who to hire and outsource this part of your business to. Know enough to ask the right questions and use it to your advantage.
- If at first you don’t have the revenue or resources you may find yourself doing everything. But as you gain revenue and more resources, outsource as much as you can to free yourself up to expand your business or do what you love doing.
5) Online Reputation is everything
- With the internet here as it currently is there’s no longer any way to hide from bad business practices. Clean up any weaknesses in your business in order to give your client the best experience possible. Your online reputation is EVERYTHING and clients are all savvy enough to find out what they can about you online.
- Join as many review sites as you can pertaining to your business. We found that HomeStars, Google Places, and Yelp were the top review sites for our industry. TripAdvisor and a number of other review sites exist as well. Use them, monitor them, and encourage your customers to leave good reviews when they are happy.
- Do everything in your power as a business owner to avoid bad reviews. This includes swallowing your pride, admitting you’re wrong even when you aren’t, and refunding money in order to appease some customers. Even though this may seem like a step back it will pay dividends when it results in a better online reputation than your competitors!
6) The power of good systems and automation
- Even if you are a one man show, better systems and automation can save you countless hours of repetition, allow for better follow-up and conversions, and keep you more organized. Good CRM and systems are a must if you want to grow your business exponentially at lightning fast speeds.
- If you have several staff and employees this is even more important. Good systems are fundamental for an efficiently run business for them to work off of. This will save you time and money, and allow you to grow infinitely faster than with absent or bad systems.
7) 80% is good enough
- Live by the rule that some things are “good enough” or “better than nothing”. Whatever you are doing, believe that 80% is good enough and worth putting out there. Once that’s done and you have time later, make it 80% better again. Being a perfectionist will kill you in your business and just leads to procrastination and nothing getting done. Just get it out there and test it. See how it does and constantly improve on whatever you have.
- I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t believe in this. I applied for Small Business ICON15 on a whim. It took me less than 2 hours and I did it on Christmas Day. None of this wouldn’t have happened if I had to make everything perfect.
8) Get a mentor or find a group!
- Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Find a business group, mastermind group, meet-up group, or even good friends who are in similar businesses to hang out and trade ideas with.
- No matter how bad things got in my business I would always have a friend or two to help me through the really tough times. They were people working in similar businesses who could relate to my issues, not just morally supportive friends.
9) Don’t do it all alone. Hire the right consultants and get help when you need to.
- For over 10 years I refused to hire anyone to help me with my business. Then finally, in 2011, a client who was upset at me cold calling his house who punched me in the face. This was the punch that made me hit rock bottom. But it was the punch I needed to knock some sense into me that I needed help, and I needed to change.
- This opened my mind into conceding that whatever I was doing over the past decade was NOT working, and in order to survive I needed to change the way I was doing business and my marketing methods, or die as a business.
- In 2012, I finally hired myself a business consultant to do an overhaul on my marketing strategy, and the rest is history. This ended a 15 year drought of struggling sales, and paved the way to success of 350% increase in sales over the next 3 years.
- I have also since hired an Infusionsoft expert in Kelsey Bratcher of HiredGunSolutions.com who helps me weekly at automating my business and improving my online systems. This is an area that always seems to be evolving the bigger and more successful we get.
- Whenever you have an issue that you can’t solve quickly on your own, hire a specialist, consultant, or coach to streamline the process. This allows you to focus your energies on what you do best in your business, and allows the experts to fix the things that are holding you up.
10) Persistence will always beat resistance
- No matter how bad things get, no matter what, believe that persistence beats resistance. NEVER give up. If someone else has done it then definitely you can to, if you are willing to pay the price. Sometimes this requires working harder, then work harder. Sometimes it requires you adopting a new marketing method, then learn a new method. Sometimes this requires you hire an expert to help you get through this dilemma, then you hire a specialist.
- But never give up. Do whatever it takes to fix the problem. There is ALWAYS a way. You may have just not found the answer yet.
- Pig headed discipline and determination will trump all – even if you are doing the wrong thing over and over again. I spent 15 years marketing using outdated and archaic business methods, and I still managed to survive and make money. Without determination and hard work this would have never of been possible.
- Now by marketing the right way, combined with persistence and hard work, then nothing will stop you!