- April 2020



the Newsletter

APRIL 2020

How I Built a Company That Grosses $1 Million-Plus ... Twice

the real estate, mortgage, and title space, and with no outside investment, we were able to grow it to over $1 million in sales. We grew from having only two employees to 35 within just 18 months. I felt like I had arrived, and I was only 33 years old. That business taught me two things: I loved software and the efficiency it could provide, but I didn’t love managing people. As it turned out, though, I didn’t have to manage the employees at that company for long. I won’t get into the details here, but technologies change fast, and there was an innovation in the marketplace that altered the value proposition of the company I was running. I had to close the business down and go back to working as a mortgage broker. Within two years of my reentering the world of real estate, though, the housing crisis of 2008 hit. The whole industry took a dump, and my business was no exception. When you’re used to grossing $35,000 a month, and then suddenly you’re back to grossing just $4,000 a month and there’s no hope for anything to change, you just get killed. That was a big transition for me. I really had to step back and ask myself what am I going to do next? When the mortgage crisis hit, I was crushed, financially and emotionally. I had done everything that the best financial minds were saying I should do to build wealth, and I still got hit with a crap sandwich when 2008 hit. I started I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Before I started MySMARTblog, I was in the mortgage industry for 15 years. The mortgage business is all about relationships. It’s about delivering great service so that regardless of the peaks and valleys in the market, your phone keeps ringing and you have a business that never stops producing. I took the leap and got licensed as a broker for 10 years in Oregon and Washington. I was making a mid-six- figure income for years, and I had the experience of making a lot of money and having a lot of time freedom. While I was running my mortgage company, one of my clients came to me with the idea to start a real estate advertising firm. I kept working as a mortgage broker, but we started building that technology company up on the side, and it wasn’t long until its growth started to skyrocket. For the first time, I saw the true power of software. I saw that software can make people’s lives easier and streamline processes. Our company was adding tons of value to people in I worked my way up through the ranks to managing a branch office. And then

to wonder if I had just gotten lucky. I had experienced two failures in a row — first, the technology company closing and then the mortgage business crashing.

Needless to say, it was a hard time. Thankfully, I grew up in an

entrepreneurial environment. My dad is a third-generation farmer, and we spent our summers commercial fishing for salmon. I spent my childhood knee-deep in the back of a feedlot or picking dried fish scales off my skin. I knew that real success wasn’t just about good ideas. Real success is about being willing to face failure after failure and still coming back to chase your dreams. I decided that for the second phase of my career, I wanted to do something I was passionate about. My whole life, I’ve been passionate about helping people, and I knew I could help people in the mortgage industry. I decided I would move down to Arizona, develop a training program, and teach people how to grow repeatable, profitable businesses. I was reinventing myself. Just like I’d had to do before. That’s when I read Tim Ferriss’ book “The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.” That book changed my life. Next month, I’ll tell you why … –Mikel Erdman

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And Better Business Will Follow ‘START WITH WHY’

DO YOU NEED SPACE TO START YOUR BUSINESS? Make Your Dream a Reality by Visiting Your Local Makerspace

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: You can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.” –Simon Sinek

It can often be hard to clearly articulate what you do for a living. That means it can be difficult to explain your vision to potential clients and customers, which then makes it harder to convince them to purchase your product or services. In “Start With Why,” author Simon Sinek illustrates the importance of explaining to others why you do the business you do rather than explaining what you do or how you do it. Sinek argues that when people start figuring out the “why” in what they do, it inspires action from others in a way that discussing the “what” can’t. Talking about the “why” engages emotions; analyzing the “what” is purely logical. When you try to sell something to people based on “what,” you rely on specific manipulations like price and product details. But if you help people understand why you do what you do by revealing the real purpose and intention behind your reasons, you build a sense of trust. This trust leads to loyalty, and loyalty means that person comes back to do business with you and also refers your business to others. This is how businesses grow! Figuring out your “why” is a process of discovery, not invention. In order to discover it, you can turn to three key strategies. • Look backward at the original motivation for starting your business. What specific problem were you trying to solve, and why was it important to you to solve it? • Look outward by asking those around you why they spend time with you or why a customer buys from you. You can learn why people are drawn to you and your business this way.

As an entrepreneur, starting your own business and chasing your dreams is an exciting prospect. But as you begin your small-business journey, questions involving costs, sales, and distribution will fill your head, and their answers often require time-consuming research that might feel discouraging. It may seem like you have to build everything on your own, but luckily, there are communities all over the country for aspiring entrepreneurs to come together and help each other achieve success. They’re called makerspaces, and there is probably one located near you! Makerspaces are community workshops where creative minds and entrepreneurs can build products that may never see the light of day otherwise. They exist in a variety of environments, including stand-alone offices and shared spaces inside libraries and schools. They provide access to a wide range of resources, including power tools, sewing machines, 3D printers, and so much more. In addition to equipment, most makerspaces host classes, like the basics of welding or bookkeeping, for tradespeople and entrepreneurs alike. Makerspaces also act as hubs for collaboration. Do you need an engineer to guide the design of your product? How about a graphic designer to brainstorm with about your logo? You'll likely find them in makerspaces because these communities support passionate people from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to resources and know-how, members can use the space to build prototypes at a fraction of what their development would typically cost. In an interview with NPR, Mark Hatch, author of “The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers,” said, "When you move the cost of entrepreneurship from $100,000 to $2,000–$4,000, you completely change the operating terrain for entrepreneurs and inventors." While membership costs to makerspaces generally range from $40–$175 per month, the price is well worth the investment. And if you find one in your local public library, membership may even be included with your library membership. If you’re struggling to start your business, know that you’re not alone. With the support and collaboration you can find in a makerspace, you can make your dreams a reality. To find a space near you, visit

• Look inward by

identifying a bigger vision that you wish to contribute to. What do you believe

in? What really matters to you?

“Start With Why” teaches readers how to go about discovering their “why,” then instructs them on how to effectively use that information to help their business. It also helps them unleash their business’s vast potential that has remained untapped until now.


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Business Trips Don’t Have to Be Terrible 4 Travel Mistakes You Might Be Making

calories than if you were cooking at home. Don’t be afraid to order half- portions or stick to the appetizer menu. You can also ask about ordering meals à la carte — no one needs all those fries with their burger, anyway. These strategies will help you save money and stick to a healthy calorie count.

Most people love to travel, but few people enjoy business trips. There are major differences in traveling for business versus traveling for pleasure. While some of that can be chalked up to the extra rest and relaxation you might have on a nonwork-related trip, unhealthy habits can make business trips even more draining, and if they leave you feeling like you need a vacation, you might be making the following mistakes. breakfast and just grab some coffee. But if you usually eat breakfast at home, skipping your morning meal can cause you to be a lot hungrier later, which can lead to excess snacking or overeating at lunch. You should always try and stick to your regular eating habits, even when you’re traveling. Eating Restaurant Serving Sizes If you’re eating three restaurant-sized meals a day, you’re going to get more Skipping Breakfast On hectic mornings with early meetings, it’s tempting to skip

Not Packing Workout Gear Research from the travel risk management company On Call

Lack of sleep puts your body on the fast-track to poor health, so you need to make good sleep a priority. Do your best to maintain your sleep schedule and bedtime routine while traveling. Better yet, check the guest reviews before booking your hotel. Heed complaints about thin walls or uncomfortable beds and find accommodations that support a good sleep environment. You shouldn’t have to dread business trips. By building better travel habits, you can enjoy every kind of trip you take this year. PUZZLE

International found that 54% of people say they’re less likely to exercise while on a work trip, but you shouldn’t let fitness take a back seat. Packing workout clothes can serve as a reminder to get some exercise, and you can get in a good workout by taking advantage of the hotel gym, walking to nearby destinations, or doing some yoga in the hotel room before bed. Not Taking Sleep Seriously Early morning meetings, late-night networking events, and unfamiliar hotel rooms are a recipe for lost sleep.

Be I N spired


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Inside This Edition


How I Built a Company That Grosses $1 Million-Plus ... Twice


The Most Important Question You Can Ask

Why Makerspaces Are Great for Entrepreneurs


Are Business Trips Bad for Your Health?

Have a Laugh


5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Footprint

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Footprint

in your office with LEDs or compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Also, consider installing smart lighting or timers to reduce the time lights stay on. 2. Start an office composting program. If you already recycle, then go a step further and create a composting program to capture your food waste. Add compost collection bins to your office and check with your city about composting options. If your area lacks commercial compost, then an employee with a home compost pile might love to have extra scraps! 3. Swap out your plastics. Take inventory of everything your office uses and start making green swaps. Ditch plastic silverware in the kitchen and instead opt for a reusable set to save money and emissions. 4. Consider ways to cut travel. Transportation accounted for more than 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions

Usually, we hear about carbon footprints in the context of reducing our own impact on the planet. But did you know that businesses, not individuals, are actually the biggest polluters out there? Even when you add everyone on Earth together, their environmental impact hardly stacks up against big business. In a 2017 report, the CDP, an organization that discloses environmental data of major businesses worldwide, states that only 100 companies have produced more than 70% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. So if you’re a business owner, then the future is largely in your hands! Luckily, you can take dozens of easy steps to reduce your business’s carbon footprint, no matter its size. Here are a few ways to get started. 1. Rethink your lighting. The less energy your company uses, the greener you’ll be! For an easy first step, swap out any incandescent bulbs

in 2016. If you can limit the time you and your employees spend traveling, then you can decimate that total! Consider letting your staff work from home and start joining more meetings virtually.

5. Get your employees on board. When it comes to reducing emissions,

nothing is more important than collective action. Don’t stop at

making green changes in the office. Go the extra mile and explain the logic behind them to your employees. They might take similar eco-friendly steps in their own lives, creating a positive ripple effect. Together, you really can make a difference.


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