Chris Brogan: ‘Never Start a Business Without a Financial Cushion’

Chris Brogan is a famous business consultant, marketer, and bestselling author for entrepreneurs. He worked with such businesses as Disney, Coke, Google, GM, Microsoft, Cisco, Sony USA, and many others. In the ZenBusiness interview, Chris Brogan told us how to set business goals, choose promotion tools, and benefit from failure.

You have nearly 20 years of experience in coaching and consulting entrepreneurs. What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m proud any day that someone feels more confident that they have the capabilities and skills to do what needs doing. 

One day you decided to take a risk, leave the company and start your own business. What advice can you give to those who are now walking this path? What inspired you? How did you plan your strategy?

My biggest advice? Have money in place. Never do it without some cushion of cash to be your pretend revenue until you can make money happen.

To do that, make SURE you know the actual length of your sales cycle and get a few prospects in your sights before you even think about quitting.

Failures are an inevitable part of business. Can you share a time when you failed? How to learn the lesson and move on?

I’ve failed only on days that end in y. I fail often. It’s because I’m not smart enough to learn things the first time, and I’m often not smart enough to remember what I learned unless I’m repeating the process. I use failure as my fastest way to learn and succeed. I don’t even steer out of it. I just take the hit and keep running. 

How to set business goals correctly? How can an entrepreneur know that they are going in the right direction?

One’s goals relate to their intentions. Do you want to sell your company? Then you’d best build your company to sell (buy John Warrilow’s book of that name). Do you want your company to pay your bills until you retire? Then set yourself up for a system that repeats a flow. Revenue is always a good indicator that you’re going in the right direction. 

Social media, blog, newsletter – you use all of these tools to communicate with your audience. Do you think such a scheme is necessary for all entrepreneurs, or is it possible to choose one or the other?

How you market and communicate is up to every entrepreneur. I feel that newsletters are the best marketing and sales tool in the world. I feel that blogs are a great technology inside of a website to be able to share your thoughts and ideas so that people know the kind of company or person they’re buying from. I feel like social networks are the best serendipity engine in the world. I meet people all the time that might change my future if I invest the time to serve their needs and build relationships and partnerships. 

What advice can you give to those who are just starting to use social networks for business? Are there any ways to quickly increase your audience?

Be personable, be responsive, and be useful. If you share other people’s stuff all the time, why should someone follow you? Just go follow the source. If you talk about yourself all the time, what will someone ever learn from you? Show people how you serve them at every turn, and connect with them when they talk about their wins and losses, and you’ll have a much better time using social tools. 

What social networks do you think are the future? Does it make sense for everyone to go to new social networks now, such as Clubhouse?

I think so many social networks fail that it would be a waste of time to try them. Clubhouse doesn’t appeal to me. Other people swear I’m dead wrong. They said that about Snap (never changed my success) and TikTok (also not for me). Following people who love the tools and not the customers is dangerous work. Keep your ears open, but don’t chase every new toy. Stick with systems that serve your buyers. 

Clubhouse is a social network launched in 2020 and based only on voice messages. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and other well-known entrepreneurs sometimes participate in conversations in virtual rooms.

Snapchat is a social network for quickly sharing photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The audience of the service is dominated by young people.

TikTok is a popular platform with short videos (up to 60 seconds), also targeting a young audience.

How do you think the coronavirus pandemic has changed the relationship between businesses and their consumers? What has changed for you?

I think the pandemic changed everyone’s world in one way or another. We changed how often we travel, where we go, how we choose to interact with serendipitous experiences. It used to be that “location” mattered immensely. Now, that’s quite more diffuse. There are so many opportunities to disrupt right now. The world is quite “new” at the moment. 

In conclusion, are there three top tips that you can give to those who are just starting their business?

  1. Be helpful.
  2. Share what you know.
  3. Try new things all the time and share the best of them with others.
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