The Snowball Will Save You… If You Have One
Much to my dismay, I haven’t yet had a big cash windfall. I mean a real one, like a 7 or 8 figure exit of a company, building, stock or anything else. I want to. It sounds great. I can even see it happening someday.
But I haven’t counted on that windfall and I won’t in the future. And that’s ok.
Because I know the “Snowball” will save me.
(Picture a Snowball rolling downhill and gaining size and momentum as it goes, like the image above.)
The Snowball, in business terms, we define as “a semi-automated, self-growing machine that, once built, requires a small amount of maintenance and will produce massive results over time.”
The most common Snowball for people in any line of business is their database of contacts.
Here is how it works:
You put people into a database and market to them— consistently and forever.
It sounds simple but executing on this plan, although not difficult, eludes way too many business people.
Why is that?
At first, the Snowball starts so small, slow and inconsequential that continuing to grow this puny thing seems pointless.
I know, I’ve been there.
Do you know how depressing it is to send an email broadcast to 37 contacts? I could open my office window and shout to more people.
But guess what? You have to do it anyway.
I know, it’s a dagger. But there is a light at the end of this not-so-long tunnel:
Over time, it gets real. Really real. And awesome, profitable, fun, etc. You’ll be so glad you stuck with it.
The reality is this: years fly by more quickly than you plan. And the older you get, the more quickly they pass.
Your choice during this fast-forward version of life we call adulthood is to 1) have important things snowballing or 2) not.
The best analogy I can think of that applies to anyone, not just those building a business, is retirement investing.
As small, slow and painful as it is to start, you know you have to contribute to that account regularly and for a long period of time. It’s as simple as that. There is a clear right and wrong here that we all have been taught. Yes, I know there is nothing sexy about having $11,000 in an IRA. But you have to keep at it.
The Snowball in business is no different.
A lot of people are thinking right now, “Yeah my database’ is growing. I definitely have had more contact with people than ever in my career.”
Here is the catch: if you can’t pull your database up on a computer and show it to someone, you don’t have one. Make-believe Snowballs don’t count.
And here is some some clear proof of lack of snowball syndrome: go to the annual holiday party and take a look around. The folks who have had the same level of production each year for the past 5 (or 10!), definitely no snowball. Meanwhile the top producers keep growing. And you can guess why.
The Snowball will save you…if you have one.
Those years are going to pass. That’s for sure. Put the systems in place today to secure your financial future, even if it’s small and painful now.
Here is another test: picture your son or daughter, around the time you’re getting ready to retire, asking to see your life’s work. What are you going to show them? Will it be impressive?
If there is one thing I think about day in and day out it’s this: “What am I building? Every day I walk into the office, what is really being built?”
If you feel a bit lost, don’t. I’m going to show you how to get started.
And if you already have an impressive Snowball, let me know! I still have lots to learn.
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” — Chinese Proverb
This is an image detailing the Snowball for one of our businesses, REI 360.
Please don’t feel intimidated like you have to do all this. This is a “black belt” Snowball that took us years to develop.
A Snowball doesn’t need to be nearly this involved to be effective.
Here is an example of a simple, yet effective, Snowball that works for any small business owner, salesperson, financial advisor, insurance agent, Realtor, etc.
You take the contact info for everyone you know and put them into a web-based CRM database that has the ability to email and snail mail such as SalesForce. It’s inexpensive and user friendly.
Then, anyone you meet either online or offline, you put their info in this database too (there are many ways to automate this but we’ll address that at another time).
You email them once a month and you snail mail them once a month.
From now until forever.
It doesn’t require a lot of work, just consistency.
Fast forward some years and you’ll be really, really, really glad you did. The results will be amazing. And the others at the holiday party will be wondering how you did it.
Remember to look at your database frequently and really appreciate it. Because it IS your business. You built it and, from here on out, it’s yours to grow and enjoy.
PS: Another great example of a Snowball is income-producing real estate such as a residential rental property. The value appreciates and the rent goes up. Automatic Snowball. A couple examples of ok but not great Snowballs are search rankings and social media followers, because you don’t really have control of them and they might not be there in the future.