My trip to NYC to visit JJ Ramberg, the host of MSNBC’s new small business show “Your Business,” started early Wednesday morning with a quick workout at fellow entrepreneur Amanda Coe’s Exercise Coach (the founders at Exercise Coach created the twice per week program for busy professionals). After getting my heart rate up a bit, I rushed home to catch my 7:15 a.m. cab to the airport.

As a startup, I am constantly balancing the cost of parking at PHX airport versus a taking a cab - Yellow Cab’s $16 flat rate plus tip, to PHX airport’s $8 remote parking per day. On this particular morning, my cab decided to arrive at 7 a.m. instead of 7:15 a.m. and by 7:10 a.m. drove off without me! Not a great start to the trip.  

So with no other option, I jumped into my car and drove to the airport. At the airline counter, I stuffed my purse into my small suitcase, grateful I had tightly packed my clothes. With my carry-on and computer bag, I did not have to fork over $25 to check my baggage. As a recovering accountant, I still remember the motto, “Cash is King,” and being that I’m just about monetarily even at this point in my morning, I walk to the security line with a small smile on my face and victory in my pocket.

Share the Wealth

JJRamberg and Mary

Since winning the SUCCESS Start Small Win Big contest in May, Traklight has grown to 13 Trakers and launched some new products plus signed a large contract with Phoenix-based Infusionsoft for innovation management automation and outsourcing. This growth made the time spent with JJ that much more beneficial, as our meeting was jammed packed with business advice. As a believer in collaboration and sharing, here are a few of my top takeaways:

  • She told two friends and they told two friends = Word of Mouth. A tip picked up while watching a “Your Business” taping. Word of mouth is still very powerful; JJ built her business on it!  Sometimes getting your product out there free in order to create buzz is more important than the early revenue.

  • Speaking and content.  Blogging and content creation drives speaking engagements and becoming thought leaders or industry experts are great ways to grow a business. JJ emphasized the follow-up and making sure there is a connection with the contacts.

  • Put off that non-core project. I asked JJ about her successful book because we have plans for a collaborative Traker book.  JJ encouraged me to leave that project aside for now because it would divert us at this stage. Later, a book can be a great marketing tool.

  • Follow the money.  We went through our products and where we are seeing traction and discussed our customer lab approach as a means to fund the business (see “Focus” section below). I loved JJ’s questions. They led us to many useful tangents, but each time it came back to a plan to check what is working and ensuring me replicate that, whether it is with partners or customers.

  • Focus. We have two divisions to Traklight now:  the do-it-yourself software for entrepreneurs, and a new Enterprise software side that has private beta projects in a Customer Lab marketed to larger companies. It seems like new product ideas pop up daily. JJ questioned the need for the additional tools, which led us back to the follow-the-money discussion.  

  • Integrate.  A fabulous insight was to integrate with our customers beyond just links or even co-promotion. It took me a bit to understand (it was early AZ time!). However, providing products and services that help your partner’s company achieve their goals, likely increasing customers and customer satisfaction for their success, is the way to go.  As a side note, I was able to successfully implement that approach the very next day.

  • Get creative.  Adapting our products for a magazine or blog to provide value for their customers while leaving room for an upsell was a very cool idea that I will bring back to the Traker team.

  • Quantity over quality. Avoid the machine gun approach to signing up partners or even leads.  We need to make sure we are routinely checking our relationships to avoid stale, passive links.

  • Know what you got. Regularly take stock of what is working and what is not and be upfront about it with customers, partners, and Trakers.

  • Collaborate. Spending 90 minutes with JJ was inspiring and provided many insights but her willingness to brainstorm and think about people to connect me to and continue to help us reinforced the importance of relationships and collaboration to growth.

Having someone so knowledgeable take a peek into our business plans was, in a word (that I use a lot), AWESOME!  Thank you JJ from all the Trakers.

A special thanks to Jessica from SUCCESS for arranging my trip that went flawlessly!

And now, I am eagerly anticipating the visit with Darren Hardy!

Join for Free Business Risk Assessment