Making a mess of asking

“You might as well just ask” / “Just go for it?” / “What’s the worst they could say? ‘No’? That’s not so bad!”

Worm's personal purposeI have read and given this advice a hundred times. It’s good advice. Mostly.

We don’t even think to ask for what we want, because a lot of times, we feel like if we ask, we’ll get turned down. There’s something else we need to do first: There’s some credential we need to get; we need to shoot some photos first; we have to put together the pitch or the catalog first.

There’s a window of opportunity and we aren’t prepared to go through it just yet.

So the advice is to just go through it anyways — barge in there with who you are, let them tell you “no,” and maybe let them tell you “yes.”

Is this advice any good? Should you prepare? Or should you just wing it?

When we first started the business, I would reach out to press and retail shops hoping to get coverage or make sales. I look back on these awkward messages now and I cringe: Did I really send those crappy photos? Did I really spend so much time talking about the our business, and so little time talking about the products? Couldn’t I have spent a little more time crafting our offering so we didn’t seem like such amateurs?

These bridges are probably behind me. I can’t reach out to them again even though our pitch is much more refined and optimal.

I went for it anyways, and because of that, I have a whole bunch of cringe-worthy pitches to companies who were, frankly, out of our league at that time in our business.

Having done that – the thing most of us are not willing to do – I lived, and I’m here to share the results with you.

90% of those pitches went unanswered.
Of the 10% who got back to us, probably 8% said something nice like “No, thanks. We’re focusing on [xyz other thing] right now.”
Of the 2% who didn’t politely decline, we’ve had mixed results:

  1. One was our first wholesale account, Marion & Rose’s Workshop, in Oakland, California
  2. One was Cowboys & Indians Magazine, who featured us and opened a whole new channel for us (the cowboy crowd)
  3. One was UNFI, the largest natural food distributor in the US, who started carrying us

Not one said “Get your fucking act together, you amateurs!”

That’s our worst fear, right? Well, that or the silent dismissal of people who think we aren’t even worth responding to… which arguably, that 90% could be interpreted as (it sure feels that way) — though it’s important to remember that it actually isn’t that way, we just imagine it is.

And of those 90% of people who didn’t respond, we are free to follow up again once we’ve got ourselves differently positioned. In fact, that different positioning gives us a great excuse to follow up: “Howdy! I thought I’d reach out since we have this new product line / set of photos / because I saw you recently posted about [subject that is related] and found your post very insightful.” Be nice, but be persistent.

I can tell you from experience, it is non-fatal to act before you’re ready, and you might even get some great contacts and results out of it!

The Logical and Practical Reason to Write Down Your Goals

I wrote about the Woo Woo Spiritual Reason to Write Down Your Goals a couple days ago. But if you’re not into the woo-woo spirituality thing, you may want to know the Spock-like logical reason to write down your goals.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

Writing down your goals helps you take a serious look at who you have to become and what connections you must make in order to achieve them. When we write down goals, we start to create a mental list of the skills we need and the attitudes we have to adopt.

For example, one of my chief aims is to get Outlaw Soaps to $1.6M in annual revenue by 2021. When I wrote down that goal, and worked back what I had to do in order to get there, I realized I needed a good advisor or mentor, and maybe an investor… but before I could get an advisor or an investor, I needed a better idea of our current financial situation. So I reached out to an accountant I met at the Quickbooks Connect conference last week.

Why was I at the Quickbooks Connect conference? Because earlier this year, I decided that in order to move our business to the next level, I needed to make some new connections. Shortly after I made that decision, a discount code for the conference showed up in my inbox.

Blah blah blah the Universe blah blah woo woo spiritual stuff aside, it’s likely that dozens of promotional messages for conferences (and probably even for that particular conference) had landed in my inbox before that message, but I hadn’t paid any attention to them because they weren’t relevant to me. But as soon as I realized I needed to make different connections — BAM — here was the Quickbooks Connect conference (with a discount code!).

In addition to meeting a great accountant (happily coincidentally in my local area), I also met one of the authors I most admire, and picked up a lot of knowledge about selling on Amazon. I made some great advances in my quest to be the type of person who is a CEO of a $1.6M company, that’s for sure!

Written goals, revisited regularly, keep you focused on what you want in your life and give you a much better chance of getting them

Hey, nothing is certain, but wouldn’t you rather have the absolute best chance of getting what you want, rather than living your life as a cork on the water?

If you want some videos and worksheets on goal setting, sign up for my goal workshop.