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Episode in a Tweet: Serial entrepreneur discusses the need to continuously re-define, re-shape, re-imagine, and re-understand the exact niche of the market that you’re going after.
Quick Background: Leslie’s first company, Value Health Sciences, was a big success and ultimately became part of a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company. From there, he realized the way to build successful businesses was to focus on an overlooked niche. Whenever he starts a new company, he finds a small niche that is being overlooked by the big players. As an entrepreneur, he said you’re going to be playing the game with people who have more resources, more capacity to survive, and more capabilities than you’re ever going to have. Following his own advice, he’s now building his fourth company by focusing on delivering private healthcare to people of means who are willing to work outside the traditional medical system.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Key Insights From Leslie Michelson
1. Don’t make the mistake of under-investing in sales and marketing.
The typical batting average for bringing in successful sales people is similar to the batting average of an all-star baseball player. If you hit one in three, you’re doing really well. As a result, Leslie said if you think you need five sales people, then you should actually hire 15 and over the period of 18 months, whittle it down to the five you really need, and you’ll get home a lot faster. In addition, he said he’s learned from fellow entrepreneurs that the interviewing process to hire sales executives needs to be very exhaustive. It’s too easy to be impressed with their great speaking skills, so you have to look beyond that and determine if they can truly sell and manage salespeople.
2. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With strong conviction, Leslie said, “If you have the right culture, you’ll be able to recruit the right people, retain the right people, be able to deal with the adversities that are inevitable in the life of an entrepreneur, and you will figure out how to provide quality service and products in your niche in a cost effective way.” As you build your culture, share stories of employees living that culture to reinforce what you are trying to cultivate.
3.You can transform your company by giving honest, sincere, direct and rampant feedback to every team member, all the time.
With decades of running companies under his belt, “I now reject the notion that there’s a dichotomy between positive and negative feedback. I think that that is a false dichotomy. The only negative feedback is no feedback. The key to being successful, if there’s any one thing that if everybody were to do all day every day that would be transformational, it would be to give honest, sincere, direct and rapid feedback to everybody, all the time,” said Leslie.
This radical transparency works because, “When people drive home at night, they don’t have to worry about are they on the ins or are they on the outs, they know exactly what’s going on,” said Leslie. It has other benefits, too. “It’s accelerated our cycle time so that we can change more rapidly, and it’s accelerated our growth rates, so that our individuals are growing individually and professional much more rapidly,” he said.
4. We can all get to the “no mistake zone.”
Leslie believes that in every realm of business, there are people who are good, and then there are the very few who are the absolute best. In his new book, The Patient’s Playbook, he talks about the concept of the no-mistake zone. It’s the idea that experience matters and practice matters. So, whether you’re looking for a physician, a lawyer, a sales executive, or any other key person in your business, you have to consider their experience and their day-to-day practice. And how do you find these leading people? Search online. Typically, the industry leaders in any particular area will be easy to find online. They’re the ones sitting on boards, keynoting at conferences, and being written up in respected periodicals. As we’ve said many times on our podcasts, when it comes to hiring, you must find the very best.
1. Many companies make the mistake of under-investing in sales and marketing. You may have a great product but it’s not going to sell itself. You still have to invest in sales and marketing to get your message out.
2. Give your team members honest, direct, feedback–both good and bad–all the time. Don’t wait to deliver a quarterly or annual performance review. Scrap those. Instead, give feedback all the time whenever your team member does something that deserves praise or constructive feedback.
3. Strive to live in the no-mistake zone by hiring the best people. A company is simply the sum of its people. Don’t scrimp here. Take the time to find the best people, pay them well, and you won’t regret it.