Shan Naqvi and Andrew Ford engage in an informative dialogue, shedding light on a myriad of topics.
Are you looking to become an entrepreneur? It can be difficult and overwhelming, especially with all the different ideas, trends in the market, and false advice from so-called “gurus”.
That’s why today we are joined by a renowned digital marketing expert who not only knows the ins and outs of this industry but also has been able to use his professional growth journey as a personal one.
He is here to help aspiring entrepreneurs make their dreams into realities!
Recalling the start of my business journey, it was only a simple thought – to “connect with people in America” which eventually led me down the path towards digital marketing.
The money is not what motivates entrepreneurship… Andrew Ford from this episode believes there are better alternatives for acquiring wealth.
So let’s dive into it! After our discussion I’m confident you’ll be well on your way to joining the ranks of entrepreneurs everywhere.
Exploring the Uncharted Path of Entrepreneurship
So, I guess I first got into it when I started my family company, which was a small office products business. We sold commercial stationery–pens, paper, toner cartridges, and sticky tape–to companies; it was a very undifferentiated business.
I worked there for many years when I was young. What I learned was the small business hustle in order to keep customers satisfied.
During my time working for my grandfather, I was assigned to cold call various companies in an effort to expand our business network. However, due to being quite shy and embarrassed by the whole experience, I never wanted to face that task again. After coming out of it unscathed yet humbled; I realized that if I wanted success as a salesperson then facing this challenge head-on would be inevitable – regardless of how uncomfortable it may make me feel.
So, what I did was that I realized that if I took good care of my customers and was attentive to their needs, and served them at a high level, they would keep their business with me. Additionally, if someone left, I would get more new business. They also told their friends about me. As a result, my business grew twice as fast as anyone else’s without me having to make any cold calls. This is entrepreneurship at its finest – you recognize a need and fill it with your skills.
Then, many years later, when I had dual master’s degrees in entrepreneurship, I started several different businesses – digital and otherwise – some of which failed and some of which were successful. I sold them, and my latest startup is a company called Campus Life that helps university students get placed in jobs. We are building an application based on facial recognition and artificial intelligence to make this happen; it’s a long-term project, something I’m really passionate about helping students with.
Uncovering the Story of Andrew’s Journey Into Digital Marketing
I think I have always liked people. So, I mean, I started working in marketing before there was digital. And I just enjoy spending time with people. Through my experience as a sales rep, back in the day, I realized that once I overcame my shyness, I was actually quite good with people; in fact, people seemed to like me.
I could get along with almost anybody – from a 50-year-old woman receptionist when I was 20 to people my own age and all different nationalities, etc.
And because I really respect and like all people, I think that has helped me understand people better since digital marketing is just another form of marketing. Marketing is about helping people with their problems rather than pushing information to those who don’t want it; it’s about finding people with problems and presenting them with solutions to help solve those problems.
And that they want to hear about it, and if that’s the case, then you’re really in the business of helping people. I think that, on the contrary, for most marketing is that companies who cannot sell their products employ people to do digital marketing.
What they should rather do is either look for where their product is needed or improve their products so that it can be easily understood by the customers.
The customers are the best when either they are talking to the wrong customer or they are not communicating the value proposition clearly, so people can understand why their product is valuable. Then, you can do your best work, and when the customer is grateful to hear your message, that’s when you know marketing is good.
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Yeah, look, and that goes back to my point I just raised before: you’ll never go broke if you adapt to the market. So, all the big companies like Kodak, who produced film for cameras, and invented the digital camera but tried to suppress the technology–you can’t stop progress. The Yellow Pages got overtaken by Google and there are plenty of Tesla’s overtaking car companies now because they resisted the changes that were happening in their environment; you can’t stop change.
So, the best companies adapt to change and take advantage of it, even though it can be painful at times because you have set up these big companies as cash cows, and you want them to continue forever. But that doesn’t happen; you have to adapt and change with the market. The best way to get clients is to find out what their problems are and genuinely help them solve them.
Because if you’re genuine about it, people can actually feel it; it’s really quite interesting. I’ve done a lot of work on this over the years.
And I know that marketing communications that come from a genuine place of helping go better than when you’re trying to convince somebody of something. You can still convince people, but in the back of their minds they have these feelings or intuitions that this person is not being genuine.
People can kind of smell it, even over the internet, through ads, and even with the best crafted messages; they just know, we have these things called “bullshit meters.” And they, as well as we, are good at reading it. The more people see marketing messages, the better; they are just blocking out the stuff that isn’t relevant.
When something is really authentic and genuine, people feel it, gravitate towards it, want to support it, share it with their friends, buy your product, and support you even if there are little problems with the product or the quality of service – because they want to believe in your brand.
Simon Sinek wrote a book called “Start with Why”, which is a great place to start. Therefore, rather than starting from a place of wanting to make a billion dollars by launching an app or doing a project, you should focus on that first why.
I’d start with asking myself, “Who do I really care about in the world?” and “What are their problems?” followed by “How can I solve those problems?” I believe that this is the best place to start.
Why is it important to have a website?
If you’re trying to be a brand, and you want to be a person of note, I believe you have to have a website, because you can use LinkedIn, you can use Instagram, you could use Tok-tok, depending on your type of business, you could use Twitter, even however, those things you do not own.
And those companies can always take down your profile.
Donald Trump, Ex-President of the United States, most powerful man in the world, and what they do that took down his profile, so you don’t control that.
Whereas on your personal website, you do control it.
So, you can store information on there, you can store commentary, you can have email databases, you can do commerce, you can present whatever information you want without other people altering it.
That’s why I think it’s really important. Plus, when you google someone’s name, it’s generally the first thing that will show up.
The Significance of Your Mentality in the Pursuit to Becoming an Entrepreneur
No, no, I think mindset is extremely important because entrepreneurship is very difficult. Starting new businesses and doing marketing can be very challenging.
We all go through ups and downs, every single person; even if you’re the most successful person in the world, you still have highs and lows.
What keeps people going is purpose, and I believe that each human needs purpose to live.
Without purpose, you are lost and do not have a direction. That purpose keeps you going through the tough times. For me, I cannot run businesses that I do not believe in and do not believe help people. When you have tough times, you run out of money and clients; people challenge you and make you feel like you are not good enough–this happens to everyone who believes in their business. Pushing through those difficult times is because you believe in the business, rather than just trying to make money–you can go make money the easy way.
I could have gotten a job and earned really good money; I was doing very well in the corporate world. But it wasn’t fulfilling. It didn’t give me purpose.
And so, even though I got up and went to work every day, I struggled with trying to maintain my motivation over time because I just didn’t believe in what I was doing.
That’s why I started my own business; I could choose what I would do every day. So, mindset is very important, but not trying to be positive all the time.
You can’t be positive all the time; 50% of the time be positive and 50% of the time you’ll be negative or challenged.
But the benefit of being challenged is that that’s actually where the goal is; when you’re most challenged is when you find the grit, the determination, and the focus. And when you come out of that into a more positive mindset, that’s when you can apply it. But you can’t be positive all the time; people who try to be happy all the time are just engaging in a fallacy — it’s impossible. The world isn’t made like that; it’s like saying I want daytime all the time because I like day — that’s not going to happen.
The Role of Personal Development in an Entrepreneur’s Journey
I think personal development is everything. And because going back to be a quality entrepreneur is about your journey, your focus, and your ability to attract people, the answers are not outside you; the answers are inside you. The more developed you are, the more congruent you are with your purpose, and the more resilient you are in overcoming obstacles – it’s all personal development. It’s all personal development.
One of the best people I like is Dr. John DeMartini. He is more than a personal development guru; he’s really in a league of his own in terms of his methodologies.
He has a science to prove things. In terms of the balance, there is no right or wrong, only positive and negative; it’s all just perspective. He has an amazing amount of technology in this area that deserves to be looked at, as it could help people break through their beliefs and emotions. People are emotional creatures and they’re driven by their subconscious far more than we would like to admit – we think we’re logical and rational when making decisions, but people don’t actually do that at all.
Here is an example I like about emotive decision making in entrepreneurship.
So, the CEO of SoftBank, Softbank is a Japanese huge investor in startups. (PUT NAME) I can’t remember the CEOs name but he’s like, pretty much the guru of investing, he’s invested in all the big companies and made billions of dollars from he went in, so he works and we work was a startup offering office space in New York, very charismatic leader , listen to the podcast on the whole series called, we crashed.
And he, this guy came late; he walked into the office to view the layout, because that’s what they do. He was there for 10 minutes; he went back in the car with the CEO of WeWork and wrote down something like a $6 billion investment — a huge investment, I can’t remember the exact amount — on the back of a piece of paper and gave him this huge sum of money.
And the thing is, this business was built on belief without reality; it was losing money every time it did something and it was not a good investment.
But this person, who is a guru, just was taken over by the emotion and the subconscious belief that this person in this business was amazing.
When it wasn’t, he was the smartest investor in the world. It’s not logical, but we do make things. And so when we are marketing, we really do have to market to belief and not just the features; we need both because we also need to rationalize our decision making—our decisions made by subconscious and our feelings—and rationalize them in a conscious mind to justify what we want. That’s how most of us make decisions. Therefore, you might want to buy Tesla to save the environment.
But I could just as easily buy a Prius, I could just as easily buy any car, or I could even buy a bicycle and not even have to drive a car or take public transportation. Like, there are many ways to do it. But the thing is, I really want a Tesla; that’s a nice way to justify it.
Discover the Secrets of Time Management for Successful Entrepreneurs
I work in the office and I work remotely, both managing my time with my calendar. So, I’m a big fan of Google and using their professional business suite; everything goes into my diary: my kids’ tasks, my personal things, my business stuff. I keep my to-do list and look at it all the time, even on holidays. Today is actually Easter Sunday, a public holiday, but I still have lots of things to do.
And I’m looking through all my emails, I’m going to go through my tasks of the day before I go off and have some family time. And you have to work hard; there’s just no way around it. But you also need to work smart. So, if you’re lucky enough to have staff members, you can reallocate tasks to them. That’s why I’m starting this internship program where people can hire interns who can do the tasks that you don’t necessarily want to do for a lower cost.
Now, the other thing about time is that it is very relative. So, it is not fixed. People think that our time is the most important asset because it is the only thing that’s finite, and I believe that to be true. If you think about when you are in flow and at peak performance, when you are operating at your highest capacity, a day of that kind of energy can get so much done – the important things done – and in a smooth manner.
That day’s worth of 10 days of just doing email in the office, we were struggling and you were pushing and so forth, because that inspired moment will attract people; when you’re in that flow state is when you’re at your most productive and most attractive. That’s when people want to be around you, invest in you, and buy from you.
And so, the question isn’t about time management; the question is about flow management: how often can you get into that flow state?
And we have a whole process around how we do that, because it has to be congruent with your values and personality, and relate to personal development and life stage and the resources.
So, we go through this process of mapping you to your business to make sure that you have the maximum amount of time in flow state, which means that you can get the main things done most productively, and then those other things can wait as you have achieved the main goals.
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Yes, I do. I help people with all sorts of things; writing books, podcasts, blogs, videos, social media – really, whatever they need. We have a whole team of people to do this.
And really, because I believe that a brand is the easiest way to start marketing or start a business, I call it “inside-out marketing.”
So, outside marketing is when you try to convince complete strangers through Facebook ads, webinars, or email marketing to be interested in you, your brand, your business, and your products. On the other hand, I find it far better to start with inside-out marketing: you start with the people that know you, then their friends and their friends’ friends, and then it spreads out from your core group of believers.
And if you can do that, then it is far more efficient, far cheaper, and it feels better because you are helping your friends first. But remember, it is helping, not selling; if you are trying to sell to your friends, you will turn them away.
If you try to genuinely help them, then they will turn to fans and tell their other people, and then they will start communicating with their friends or friends of friends. They will share it for you. That is the best way, so don’t podcast who will like it; your mom, your friends, people from the football club, and people from university will all like it.
They’re the people who are the best first clients; that is, they call them “weak ties” in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. We tie these weak ties to the best first buyers; they’re not your closest friends, not even your closest 100 friends. These people only kind of know you, but not so close; however, they still expect it for free. But they do know us to some degree and have some trust–these are the best first clients.
What are Limiting Beliefs, and how do they differ between Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and those in Odero Lal?
Yeah, look, it is true that it’s easier to gain funding and have access to resources in California, America. That is true, but there’s also a lot more competition. But it’s not impossible to do it from anywhere. I mean, you look at Nokia that was in a tiny Slavic town in Europe; they came to be the biggest mobile phone company in the world.
I mean, how does that happen? So now, Apple has taken over, of course, but back in the day, they were at the center of the universe for phones. I can’t remember which country they were from, but it’s one of those tiny ones—Norway or Sweden around there somewhere. And so, there are lots of these examples of brands that have exploded; it just takes a bit of confidence.
And the reason they go to America is that they start somewhere else, but they go to America to become big. There are a lot of unicorn entrepreneur stories in Australia that are just starting up, such as Canva which produces software where you can do design instead of using Photoshop; it’s much cheaper and easier and is a really good product that solves a problem.
Using Illustrator can be very difficult, and you need a suite of tools across thousands. To create social media posts, it’s not something you’d want to bother learning how to use or pay the cost for. Therefore, they created a really simple way to do it for free, or there are small costs for templates, and so forth. It’s a very good tool that solves a meaningful problem and has exploded in Australia–Zero accounting software started in New Zealand–it’s another great success story.
And there are plenty of others in Australia who are starting to come up. So, you can do it, you know – even if you may need access to those resources at some stage, that doesn’t mean you can’t start where you are now.
All the answers you need are already within yourself – don’t search outside for them.
Yes, I do have advice. I would look for the answers inside of you rather than looking for answers in the market. Often when entrepreneurs talk to them, they’re like, “Oh, I’m going to go into Bitcoin or NFTs or the metaverse or whatever it is, because there’s an opportunity.”
But I don’t think you can take advantage of that opportunity unless it is 100% congruent with who you are; the people you want to help and what you want to do.
Otherwise, you’ll go and start it and then, as soon as things get tough – which they always do – you’ll give up because it’s not really what you want; you don’t care about it that much.
If you care about it enough to risk everything doing it, then that’s the right idea. Take Elon Musk for example: he almost went broke doing his two projects and would have spent every single dollar he had on them.
And if he had gone broke, he wouldn’t have had any regrets. Because he was so passionate about the outcome. And he wanted to advance technology; he didn’t actually think that he would get Tesla off the ground to be a profitable company, he just thought he could push forward the technology and the industry of electric cars.
He didn’t care if he was successful; it was about creating change in the world, rather than helping people or making money. If you focus on the outcome and the money, I don’t think you’ll ever really be successful; you have to focus on the process, and you must enjoy the process. I love helping people with entrepreneurship, which is why I’m doing this on a public holiday in the morning–because I enjoy it.
And I go to every barbecuing party with my friends. And if someone has a business, I’ll coach them for free. For the next ten minutes, I’m having a drink with them for half an hour, because I love it and if you love it, you will keep doing it no matter what. All you have to do is then wrap a business around it, and some processes and methodologies and marketing. And there is a lot to do and learn. But if it were easy, everyone would do it.
And once you do that, but if you maintain that core passion, you keep doing well, you put in the effort, you think about it, you refine it, you’ll be on a quest, not just have a job.
I think that purpose is what really sets entrepreneurs apart from everyone else.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to focus on the process of your business and to make sure that it is something you are passionate about.
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get distracted by market opportunities, but if you care about what you’re doing and maintain a core passion for your business idea, success will follow.
Don’t be discouraged by failure or lack of resources, because the answers you need to succeed are already within yourself. With hard work and dedication, anything is possible!