Can Business Partnerships Work?

“This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed.” Brooks & Dunn

Strong Business Partnership

image credit: striatic

Today I heard the unfortunate news that one of my favorite country music duos is going to breakup and pursue their own interests and careers.

For 20 years Brooks & Dunn were the ultimate country music powerhouse. They sold over 30 million records and toured the US every year with one of the biggest and most entertaining stage shows every produced.

Some of their hit country singles include:

Brand New Man

Boot Scootin’ Boogie

Hard Workin’ Man

She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind

You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone

My Maria

He’s Got You

Red Dirt Road

Believe

Their breakup announcement got me thinking a little about business partnerships.

There have certainly been some successful business ownership relationships, but there are also instances where a business partnerships have led to hard feelings between former friends, husbands & wives, brother, sisters, cousins, parents & kids, etc.

The fact is that when you go into business for yourself, you will encounter business partnerships in some form or another.

I think the recent news about Brooks & Dunn as well as some interesting thoughts on hunting can give us some insight into how to approach all business relationships.

Combining Talents to Form a Powerhouse

It’s kinda like a lost and found in a border town

image credit: Beau B

Brooks & Dunn

Kix and Ronnie were kicking around honky tonks and clubs around Nashville and surrounding areas for quite a few years before producer Tim Dubois put them together in 1990 at Arista Records Nashville.

Each had his own record label at sometime in the ‘80s. Each had their own singles released and Kix even had an album released on Capitol Records Nashville.

There is no doubt that these two guys were talented individuals.

What’s interesting is the fact that once these two talented individuals combined their talents as a duo, a business and creative partnership, they had enormous success right out of the gate with their first album on Arista.

The single Brand New Man was released in the spring of 1991 and the album of the same name followed later that summer.

The single was catchy as hell and sounded like no other songs on radio at the time. Both singers had distinct voices and while Ronnie’s voice is purely unique on country radio (plus he wore awesome aviators on that first album cover), Kix’s expressive nature puts him at the top of the game for showmanship and entertainment.

The two are explosive and eye-catching stage and records.

Today, their debut album has sold more than 6 million copies and the former struggling no-name country singers became overnight successes.

Subsequent albums and singles have been just as successful as the pair has never let up their work for the past twenty years.

It’s interesting to wonder if either of these two guys would have made it big individually or if it was the combining of their two talents that caused their success. It’s hard to know the former scenario and the success as a pair is difficult to deny.

Perhaps now we’ll have the pleasure of seeing each succeed individually and I hope for this to happen.

Hunting

image credit: Lee Coursey

Turkey calling is what I originally thought of when I thought about partnerships and the pastime of hunting.

But after kicking around the thought for a few minutes I also realized that partnerships in hunting could be anything from scouting, putting up tree stands, guiding, outfitting, dragging or packing, and many other forms of partnerships within the world of hunting.

A lot of skilled hunters go it alone when harvesting trophy game, but there are just as many or more instances of hunters helping each other to harvest trophy book animals.

Personally, I know I could never have had any hunting success without the help with scouting, stand skills, shooting skills and other hunting skills I learned from my Dad and others in the hunting camp I originally belonged to for ten years.

Today, I am confident going out to the woods on my own and attempting to harvest trophies, but I still find value in teaming up with another good hunter to increase the odds of success.

The truth with hunting is that a good partnership can lead to an increase in the chance of success come hunting season.

Your Business

When it comes to business there will be nobody as passionate about your own business like you.

If you have started a business on your own there is nobody that will understand the same vision you have for success.

For most people, however, there is a limit to the amount of resources such as time, money, and effort one individual can put into a business venture and it will only go so far without additional commitment business partnerships can provide.

In my observation and experience I’ve realized that the best chance for success with business ownership is to maintain 100% (or as close to 100% as possible) ownership while opening up to certain partnerships through expanding products, services, or workforce.

I’ve seen too many hairy situations where friends, family and other new business partnerships form with 50/50 or similar stake and things turn out bad to be convinced that it’s the best option.

Now there are exceptions to the ownership theory I have and you’re welcome to share your own in the comments below. My opinion is always evolving and I don’t mind being proven wrong.

The type of business partnership I have seen become most successful comes in the form of putting together talents that complement each other in ways that create a business entity that offers something truly unique that individually wouldn’t be possible.

The first example I can think of that hopefully fits this situation would be a successful hunter and businessman such as Bill Jordan and the television channels (or ownerships of the networks – Disney?) ESPN and The Outdoor Channel.

Bill Jordan brought his hunting expertise for harvesting trophy animals and creating camouflage patterns with the producers of television shows to create one of the most interesting hunting shows around.

I’ll leave the details out of that partnership, but it should be easy to see that in every business there are instances where the owners or managers look for expertise outside of their own to expand the venture successfully.

The tricky part is determining how to ensure the partnership’s success.

Differing Expectations, Goals, and Personalities

It’s taken every bit of strength that I have to keep a hurt look off of my face

B&D

One of the things that will often lead to stressful and strained business partnerships is differing expectations, goals, and personalities amongst the parties involved from the outset of the relationship.

I can’t speak for Kix and Ronnie, but I’m sure there were discussions initially between them and those at their label about expectations for the duo as well as the work ethic and personalities of each.

I mean, as talented individuals I’m sure neither wanted to risk what may have been their last chance at superstardom.

It may have also been an instance where they two got together and tried a few things in the studio and everything seemed to turn into magic so they ran with it and the rest fell into place. This would be the lucky outcome, but would not be the norm.

The positive thing to remember about Brooks and Dunn is that both wanted to be country superstars and the fact that both of the men had spent the better part of the previous decade trying to make it on his own was proof enough to each other that each was committed as the other when it came to creating music that would connect with the American audience in a big way.

No matter what the business venture, it’s imperative to find someone as passionate, with common expectations and goals and complementary personalities as you.

Hunting

One of the things I’ve found interesting over the years with hunting is the expectations and personalities of individual hunters.

When I was growing up, I hunted on a farm in Buffalo County, Wisconsin that was home to some big whitetail bucks. On the property we practiced Quality Deer Management meaning we typically only harvested bucks 3 ½ years or older. There always seemed to be exceptions over the years, but this was the general rule.

Throughout those years and now today when I hunt on other property I see other hunters who simply care about harvesting a deer each year for the venison or other reasons.

I’ve come to the personal conclusion that it’s up to the property owner to determine the proper management for his or her particular property.

The fact is that there are various expectations, goals, and personalities in the hunting world as well as the business world.

I always found it interesting that while certain people of the same beliefs typically congregate toward each other in the hunting world (QDM believer and QDM believer) there are always exceptions in certain camps and that always leads to some interesting discussion.

When hunting, it’s important for the property owner to have as full of understanding as possible with the hunters on the property to determine what is best for the management of the land and the game that inhabits it and the results expected.

Your Business

When it comes to your business it can be difficult to find someone or some business that shares the same expectations, goals, and has similar personality qualities as you.

As I mentioned earlier, you are the only one who cares fully about your business. You are the only one who truly shares your vision for the ultimate success of your venture.

The best advice I can share with you about business partnerships of any kind is to get out each other’s expectations, goals, and personality qualities as soon as possible.

You’re going to want to observe the personality of the person you’re working with.

It’s hard to question and judge someone you see as qualified and reputable, but it’s important to judge their personality as early as possible before getting too involved in a business relationship. The more you avoid judging personality the higher the chance of disappointment down the road.

Communicate early with anyone you’re thinking about forming a business partnership with and make sure you share the same or similar expectations and goals for the partnership.

Also make sure to judge the personality of the person you’re becoming involved with professionally.

It’s best for all parties involved if the understanding is reached early on concerning expected results and communication throughout the partnership.

Pride and Money

Getting nowhere, I’m tired of thinking/Guess I’ll do a little wishful dreaming

B&D

A wise man once asked me as it related to business, “How will this offer make me money?”

It was one of the most honest and simply questions I’ve ever heard anyone ever say.

There is no use in denying the fact that successful businesses make money.

If you don’t make a profit as a business you won’t find success.

Along with money there is the pride factor that goes along with success.

Most entrepreneurs I know want to be seen as successful by others. They want to feel the pride of knowing that they have overseen the growth and success of a business. If there is a partnership there is no doubt that it can, at times, be difficult to share pride and money.

I can only pass a guess at the fact that pride and money play a role in the breakup of Brooks & Dunn.

They’re two of my most favorite people in the music industry and I have nothing but respect, but I simply can’t shake the feeling that pride and money play a role.

If I try to put myself in their position (and I can really only attempt, but probably never really imagine) I’d want to see if I could prove to myself that I could become a success on “my own”.

It’s how both started – with the dream of becoming solo stars in the country world.

And I don’t doubt that each dreams of touring and selling records as solo artists in the future the same way they sell them today – only with 100% of the profit rather than 50%.

Pride and money don’t make anyone a bad person. It’s simply how we operate and it’s what fuels our dreams as entrepreneurs.

Hunting

With hunting there is not necessarily the money aspect, but there is certainly the pride aspect involving the harvesting of trophy game.

Hunters are always prideful when they are the ones to fire the shot that puts a trophy in the record book or puts a story in the memories of those involved.

The hunters I’ve come across always seem to be more apt to tell the stories of how they did individual scouting, sitting, standing, stalking, and ultimate harvesting of a nice animal versus telling the story of how they worked with other hunters to outsmart a trophy buck.

It’s the nature of humans I think to want to feel prideful of their own successes.

It’s part of what makes us have the drive to succeed while at the same time it can be a hindrance to our own growth.

Your Business

With business, the same want to grow individually rather than with a partner exists I believe.

I think pride and money play a big part in our drive to succeed as entrepreneurs.

Ultimately I think we all want to succeed on our own whether to prove to ourselves or to someone else.

When you’re entering into business ownership partnerships in particular that you understand that at some point pride and money will come into play and strain the relationship.

It’s common for business partners to buy out shares from others or for businesses (or bands) to breakup to pursue individual dreams.

It’s not wrong – it simply seems to be the way entrepreneurs operate.

Summary

Business partnerships come in all forms and they’re all tricky to deal with.

In the case of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, they turned struggling solo careers into a twenty year partnership that led each into successful careers beyond what either probably imagined at the outset of their business and creative relationship.

But twenty years later, they are going their separate ways for reasons only they know for sure and we can only guess.

There is also the interesting parallel with hunting involving expectations, goals, personality, pride and money. Hunters are individuals just like Brooks & Dunn and business owners so there will always be similar outcomes. It’s interesting to look at how the characteristics of hunters can relate to business owners. It may help us both understand how to improve as business owners when we can relate our experiences to our other passions such as hunting.

Don’t be afraid to enter relationships with your business, but be aware of the tendencies of partnerships and use them to the advantage of all parties involved.

Partnerships can lead to lots of success and if you’re struggling with your business maybe there is a partner you could team up with to take your business to the next level.

So after all this the question still stands – can business partnerships work?

Answer: Yes.

Just look at Brooks & Dunn.

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The George Strait Guide to a Lifelong, Fulfilling, and Successful Career

Do you love what you do every day?

King George Strait

image credit: PinkMoose

If you’ve read one or two posts on this blog before you have probably figured out that I am a big country music fan.

I often compare the careers of country music singers and songs to the marketing of hunting businesses. This may seem odd, but if you look past the obvious there can be some real intriguing things to learn from country music as it relates to the marketing of your hunting business.

Here are a few of the posts I’ve written before that draw from the influence of country music:

The George Jones Successful Career Guide

The Merle Haggard Guide to Everlasting Success

10 Country Song Lyrics to Inspire Your Hunting Business

The Best Country Songs You’ve Never Heard – A Lesson in Marketing

Remarkable Country Songs That Stand Out In My Hunting Memory

Now, let’s discuss the career of King George…the one and only George Strait.

Why I like George Strait

I’m sure the first George Strait song I heard was not Amarillo By Morning, but it is definitely the first George Strait song that I remember as being impactful on my life.

I’m not even sure why this song stands out in my memory.

Maybe it’s the smooth singing. Maybe it’s the wailing fiddle. Maybe it’s the melancholy tone.

I’m not, nor have I ever been a rodeo cowboy (I went to a rodeo once in Cody, Wyoming and it was awesome). I’ve never lived life on the road. I’ve never been to Amarillo.

After all of these years of turning up the radio every time I hear this song play in my truck, office, or jukebox, I think I’ve finally realized why it’s been one of my favorites – Truth.

Truth

When George Strait sings I believe in what he’s doing.

George Strait is a rodeo cowboy (team roping), he lives life on a ranch (probably a pretty big ranch), and he still puts on his Wranglers and a classic shirt whether he’s in the public eye or living his normal life (I’m only assuming this of course. Who knows…maybe he likes wearing gray pinstripe suits.).

When George Strait sings about making the next stop in Cheyenne, living in the heartland, or about one of the smoothest pick-up lines ever, I believe him.

George Strait sings about things he knows. He sings about what he is passionate about. He molds the simple things in life that he loves doing (or wishes he did) with his passion for singing.

The only way to truly find happiness in life is to find the things you love doing the most and find a way to earn a living doing them or find a way to make time to enjoy them with the people you love most.

Passion

I often discuss the importance of making connections on the Web.

Connections are what make live worth living. We connect with people throughout our day – online and offline. We’re always meeting new people and reconnecting with people we haven’t seen for years.

Have you ever thought about the best connections you’ve made throughout your life?

I’m thinking about it right now and I’ve always been drawn to passionate people.

It doesn’t matter what the passion is…I’m drawn simply to people who are passionate about what they enjoy doing and how they live their life.

George Strait is passionate about his music. He’s passionate about living a cowboy lifestyle. He connects with people who recognize his passion through his music. The songs he sings exude passion. His voice and the words he sings are powerful enough to create lasting memories for his listeners.

This is a powerful gift and one that we can all achieve.

You just have to recognize your passion and live your life with just as much enthusiasm – you’ll find people wanting to connect with you as they’re drawn to you through your passion.

George’s Career Path

The Early Days

I was a young troubadour/When I rode in on a song

George

George joined the Ace in the Hole band while working as a rancher in Texas. The band played the bars and honky tonks for a few years. They made connections in the Texas music network and eventually met the right person who put them in front of some people with pull from Nashville.

George and his band were eventually signed to a major label deal.

The band continued playing their shows and recording tunes until they stumbled on one or two the label thought they could put out as singles.

I’m not sure if this is how it works in the music industry (T. Michael, maybe you can help?), but I remember hearing about the rise of Randy Travis (Shoot, now I’ll have to write that post…) and how he was signed to a 3-single deal with a major label. Basically, the label would let Randy cut three songs and promote them as singles and if one or more hit then he would be able to make an entire album. Thankfully for all country music lovers, 1982 made the top ten and the re-release of On the Other Hand made it to number one and the resulting album was the classic Storms of Life.

Randy Travis Storms of Life

I’m not sure if George’s deal was similar, but the real lesson here is that George had to work hard in the early days just to have the opportunity to make his dream come true.

You

I’m a firm believer that we make our own opportunities, luck and circumstance in this life. Nobody is going to do the work for you and the world doesn’t stop turning if you take the easy way out through complacency.

The great thing about following your passion in life is you will have the drive to succeed no matter what it takes.

Just as George had to work during the early days of his career, you will have to maintain your ultimate vision while having doors continuously slammed in your face.

Nobody said it was easy. If success were easy then everybody would win.

But it’s not impossible and the trick is to find what you’re passionate about and the negativity won’t matter because if you truly love what you’re doing you won’t have a problem doing everything you can just for the opportunity to have a shot at achieving your dream.

And who knows…maybe you’ll become a huge success doing what you love just like George Strait.

I think you will.

Breakthrough Success (How to sustain)

I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona/And if you’ll buy that I’ll throw the golden gate in free

George

With George’s first single Unwound he and his Ace in the Hole band found success with a top ten country hit. Two more singles form his first album followed and with the first single from his second album Strait From the Heart, George and his band had their first number one song Fool Hearted Memory.

Strait CountryStrait From the Heart

The breakthrough may have come with that first single, but that was only one of the small breakthroughs George had during his career.

There was his first number one as I mentioned earlier. Then came his first album Ocean Front Property which sold millions of copies and took George from a singer with a few numbers ones to headliner.

Later there was the movie Pure Country and the Pure Country Soundtrack.

Pure Country kicked off the nineties for George, which saw more number one hits and The George Strait Music Festival.

By this time George’s level of success was unmatched.

You

The lesson you can take from George Strait’s success is his ability to continually work for breakthrough moments.

As you work to achieve success with your hunting business you will have many failures followed by a few successes.

It’s easy to think that once you reach a successful breakthrough moment that you have made it or you’ve gone as far as you can.

This is the point of complacency that kills most businesses.

There are two ways to go when you reach your first breakthrough – you can sit back and be satisfied with your breakthrough and tell your grandkids about how you made it with your business one day or you can take the breakthrough as encouragement and use that to drive you for even more success.

Your business is a continuous work in progress.

You have to continually work to build your customer base while continuing to make changes seem familiar to your existing customers.

A career doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes a lifetime to build a sustained career and I’m not sure if it every truly stops.

Each time you achieve success or reach a goal, set new goals and new dreams.

Slowly build your business and never lose your passion for growth and success.

Summary – Lessons to Use for Your Hunting Business

Ask any new or emerging country music artists whose career they would most like to mimic and you’re likely to hear one name over and over – George Strait.

George Strait Troubadour

Why do so many new artists envy George’s career? It’s because he’s been successful for such a long time.

And we’re not talking about a good run for 5 or even 10 years…we’re talking about 3 decades plus of solid, chart-topping singles and albums.

George Strait is as relevant today as he ever was. He’s maintained his faithful audience over the years and he’s grown his following as new listeners (like me) have found his music (new and old).

George has worked hard his entire career to continually find his breakthrough moments. He’s still having them today and I don’t think he’ll ever stop finding them.

If you can learn one thing from George’s lifelong, fulfilling, and successful career, it should be his ability to never get complacent while continuously working for the next breakthrough.

If you have any breakthrough moments you’d like to share please feel free to leave a comment.

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Form Connections with Hunters Before You Need Them

This morning, a friend of mine, Stu McMullin, was talking about a blog he was reading. The blog is IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com and the editor is #1 Bestselling author, Ramit Sethi. I read through Ramit’s post Ramit’s Inbox: An email from a very confused guy who can’t find a job. At the end, Ramit gave some key takeaways that struck me as very simple, yet very relevant and important for hunting businesses:

  • Build skills before you need them
  • Networking is not a dirty word – make personal relationships before you need them

Forming a Connection

image credit: mpeterke

Now, Ramit was referring to personal growth and development, but the same advice is crucial for your hunting business:

Form connections with hunters

Forming connections is the essence of the Web. It should go without saying and I’m sure you know that connections are the lifeblood of any hunting business. Who you know – vendors, partners, employees, or most importantly customers and the connections you have with them are what will make your business strong.

If you build strong connections with vendors you will be in a great position to get access to new services and products that will improve your business and your own products and services. If something goes wrong and your vendors know they can count on you to continue paying they’ll come to you (their strong connection) with available inventories.

Your business partners, other businesses you work with, and friends in the same industry are invaluable resources when you have questions about trying something new, gaining perspective and advice, or any number of things that require the knowledge and experience of others.

Your employees are the energy that makes your business function. One person can only do so much as far as taking a business to its fullest potential. By strongly connection with people who have the ability to expand your business (with benefits for them and for you), you’re setting up your business to reach its fullest potential.

Your customers – this is your gold. A strong connection with your customers is the ultimate connection you can make. If you can show that you’re willing to put your customers first, to put the improvement of their lives, the improvement of value added for them, you will form connections that will be strong through good and bad. And as we see during these times, there is nothing worth more than a loyal customer.

Form connections with hunters before you need them

The true brilliance of Ramit’s key lessons was that you need to plan for the future and establish relationships before you foresee a specific need for connections.

Sure, you may be close with your employees now while times are relatively good with your hunting business. But what happens if you have to put in extra time to get a job done for a client? What happens if you need to ask an employee to change their job – maybe move from one department to another because their work over the years seems to be better suited elsewhere? If you have a strong connection with your employees you will be able to transition (at least as smooth as possible) when your business requires extra work or a change. People, for some reason, are naturally afraid of change in their lives. I think it’s because it threatens their perceived security. But when there is trust, people are more open to change. If your employees trust in you (from past experiences or successes), they believe in you and your business and are willing to give their time and capital to grow the business and themselves.

Now, when it comes to forming connections with hunters before you need them, there is no better place to look than your own customers or potential customers.

Hunters are the people you look to for capital in exchange for products and services that required your own capital to create. This exchange and trust doesn’t occur overnight. You have to constantly work to improve the lives and well-being of your customers in advance of their needs and expectations.

In other words, you have to stay ahead of what your customer needs, wants, or expects from your hunting business (and your competition).

You can’t simply wait for other hunting businesses to create something remarkable and then tag-a-long.

You have to form connections with your customers in advance of their expectations. The focus of your hunting business should be to continually find ways to better the lives of your customers. A thought process with this type of thinking will allow for a deeper relationship and more value for your customers and more value (profit and non-monetary) for you and your hunting business.

Summary

When it comes to the connections you make on the Web and through your hunting business, form strong and valuable connections with hunters before you need them. There is no way anyone can predict exactly when a connection will show its true worth. The only thing we all can do is to be genuine, honest and trustworthy now and trust the connection will be prove valuable in the future.

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Remarkable Country Songs That Stand Out In My Hunting Memory

What makes some country songs remarkable?

Woman by the Beach

image credit: allyaubry

Each year when I’d go to my Uncle’s farm to hunting (sadly, it has since been sold), there would be a country song that would stick out in my memory.

Why did one or even a couple songs stick out more than others?

When you’re doing work for your hunting business, inspiration can come from anywhere. I think it’s good to look where you might not expect for inspiration. A remarkable country song might be just the thing to spark that next great idea.

I’d like to review the 10 songs that I remember most from my 10 years of hunting at Rocky Ridge Ranch (my Uncle’s farm in Buffalo County Wisconsin – yes, that Buffalo County).

1997 – Imagine That by Diamond Rio (Co-written by Bryan White)

1997 marked my first year of hunting at Rocky Ridge Ranch. The state of Wisconsin, arbitrarily, requires humans to be 12-years old before they are allowed to hunt.

My Dad had taken me bow hunting the year before this and from that point on I was absolutely, 100% hooked!

I remember everything about this hunting season – everything was a new experience for me. I remember sitting at the kitchen table while the guys drank beer and told stories. I remember doing the dishes (because obviously the youngest of the group does the grunt work). I remember some friend’s of my uncle’s stopping by…hammered drunk.

And more than anything I remember the first time I listened to the replica radio that sat on top of the refrigerator.

It wasn’t the real thing, but it looked like it was right out of 1940. It was always turned to WAXX 104.5 out of Eau Claire, WI and it always played the best country music.

This particular year it always seemed to play the song Imagine That by Diamond Rio. I’m not sure why this song sticks out in my memory, It wasn’t Diamond Rio’s biggest hit by any means.

However, I’ve always been drawn to songs that are different from everything else that’s being played on the radio. And this song definitely fit that description.

I also liked the “So what, that’s supposed to impress me?” message. It was tongue-and-cheek and had some slight “So what” attitude. Plus it was also written by another one of my favorite artists – Bryan White.

Oh, and I shot an 8-point buck with my Dad on opening morning of gun season. Luck? Absolutely. A life-long memory of me and my Dad? Absolutely.

Rocky Ridge Ranch

In the picture, I shot it right where it says “Farm House” down behind the barn. I also shot an 11 point buck down there in 2005.

There was no place quite like Rocky Ridge Ranch.

1998 – Wide Open Spaces by The Dixie Chicks (Remember them?)

Oh do I remember this song…

My second year hunting at Rocky Ridge included a deer tracking excursion I will never forget.

In Buffalo County there are bluffs and valleys. My Uncle’s farm consisted of three or four huge valleys. The farm house sat on top of the bluff and the farmland was on top as well. The valleys consisted of the woods where whitetail ran around like mice in a corn crib.

Anyway, in 1998 The Dixie Chicks were the biggest thing to hit country music since Garth Brooks and Alabama. They were selling more records than anybody except maybe Shania Twain and Garth himself. Their song Wide Open Spaces was striking a cord with Americans – and I was one of them.

The story begins during the second week of deer camp at Rocky Ridge Ranch.

We had hunting shacks (3 man ice shack-type structures on the top of ridges) overlooking a valley with my cousin. We heard a few shots ring out from across the valley where two other guys from our party were.

“Did they shoot something?” we wondered.

If only we had known.

Those shots soon turned into a 6 hour trek up and down this huge Buffalo County bluff and valley. We finally quit for the night at midnight (we started looking at 6pm).

We brought about six guys with us on that track and one of them kept humming Wide Open Spaces. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed, but you know you have a memorable song on your hands when hunters are humming it while tracking deer in the middle of the night in November in the cold of Wisconsin.

1999 – Something Like That by Tim McGraw

1999 was the first year that my little kid brother was able to hunt.

I remember it because it was abnormally warm all bow and gun season in Wisconsin. Us hunters actually looked forward to the cold this time of year (as much as we all grew sick of it by January).

It was about 50 to 60 degrees on opening day of gun season and my brother was the only one to shoot a buck on opening weekend. It was a decent seven point (we practiced QDM, but 1st time hunters were allowed to shoot any buck for their first one – to get them excited about hunting).

I’ve always liked country songs that reminisced about the past and this is when Tim was really starting to come into his own as a country superstar. He didn’t sound like anybody else. He didn’t look like anybody else and he really led the charge for country music into the 2000’s.

This song was played on the radio in the kitchen of Rocky Ridge Ranch many times in 1999.

2000 – My Next Thirty Years by Tim McGraw (Yep, he was that big – two years in a row!)

You might be wondering why I chose Tim McGraw two years in a row for remarkable songs. Well, Tim was HUGE in the late ’90s, early ’00s.

I was in middle/high school at the time and it seemed like the only country music on the radio was Tim and Faith.

And you know what – it wasn’t a bad thing.

The reason this song sticks out for me is that in 2000, there was road construction on the main two-way highway that took my Dad and I from our home to the farm. We had to take a different route all season. And My Next Thirty Years was always on the radio as we waited for the Stop/Slow worker.

Why are roads not privatized again?

2001 – Right Where I Need to Be by Gary Allan

In 2001, I started to appreciate the different and non-popular side of country music. I liked Gary Allan because he wasn’t the typical country star. He seemed so laid back and cool.

Every promotional picture and video of him had him looking cool and badass.

In some strange way I related to this song because I know that the farm was “right where I need to be”. I put off hanging out with my friends back in high school on the weekends during the fall because I had better things to do 3 hours away at the farm.

I was learning things about life that are priceless now as I look back.

I was right where I needed to be.

2002 – Ol’ Red by Blake Shelton

Did this song stick out in 2002 or what?

I know it did for me.

Ol’ Red was one of those songs that comes along and slaps you across the face with its originality.

What Nashville Executive could have predicted that a song about a criminal escaping from prison by using a dog would be a huge hit?

From what I understand, Blake had to push hard to get this song played on radio and made into a video (which was great).

I don’t have any hunting stories for 2002, but I do remember that it seemed this song was playing every time I left the farm house en route to my tree stand.

2003 – Choices by George Jones

Now for those of you who actually checked the Wikipedia page, I know this song wasn’t released in 2003. But one of my fondest memories from my Uncle’s hunting farm was sitting out on the deck one night by a campfire.

There were about 5 or 6 of us just sitting out by a store-bought upright fire burner (it looked like a grill but was on wheels).

Fire Pit on the Deck

image credit: andrewk100

Anyway, we were all standing around kicking dirt and chatting about life, women, hunting, work and stories from years past. One of the guys pulled his rig around to the back of the house and put in a mix cd of George Jones.

Then he, my uncle and I started chatting about George when the song Choices came on. I mentioned the Alan Jackson tribute (I still get chills) at the 1999 CMA Awards and they talked about how the song reflected life when you get to reach middle age.

Side note: The CMA’s had asked George to sing his hit song, but they wanted him to cut it to a minute or so. He was insulted and refused. Alan – like the respectful man he is – took his set and turned it into Choices. He took no extra time from his own set – he simply paid respect to his hero. He did what was right.

That night at the farm was a great night. I’ll never forget it. And the background music was a 4-year-old George Jones song – although George will never go out of style.

2004 – In a Real Love by Phil Vassar

I had to include Phil Vassar in this post because I am a big fan of his. He had some huge hits as a songwriter for stars such as Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw (My Next Thirty Years). He also had some big hits himself.

I particularly remember this song because it was a big hit on one of his lesser known albums.

I feel bad when great songs get lost on less popular albums. I’ve seen it happen all too often.

In a Real Love is a song that makes me feel good to this day when I hear it on the radio or online. It has a positive message. It’s about young love. It’s about real life.

And that’s what I love about Phil Vassar – he sings about real life.

I don’t have any real hunting related stories for this song except that it stuck out while I was at hunting camp and I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to it.

2005 – Mama Tried by Merle Haggard

Again, I know you’re thinking that this song did not come out in 2005. This doesn’t matter to me. I’m talking about the effect remarkable country songs had on my hunting experiences.

In 2005, I was in college (I went to Eau Claire because it was the closest business college to the farm) and I still loved going to the farm every hunting season.

By this time, my uncle had brought his portable XM radio to the farm so we could listen to classic country music, which I was very much in favor of.

I had always (and still do) listen to the classics on my own, but I was happy to know I wasn’t the only one.

I remember when Mama Tried came on the XM one night after bow hunting – my uncle’s face lit up and you could tell that he immediately related to the song (my uncle fits the definition of a “hell raiser”).

He began talking about the song as if it where (his anthem) and I began to relate to the song (I have been a little bit of a hell raiser myself) and to the other guys at the ranch for the same reason.

2006 – Give It Away by George Strait (Co-written by Jamey Johnson)

This song was just fun. The subject is, of course, not fun, but hey, 50% of marriages end in divorce. And what better place to discuss divorce than a country song?

This was another song that really stuck out simply for its uniqueness from the other songs that were out at the time.

It sounded different. It took on a tough subject and its melody connected with young and old.

Nothing from this hunting season except that I still remember grabbing my hang-on stand for the last time from the valley down behind the barn.

I scooped up the stand during another unusually muddy/warm gun season and heading back to the farm house. I had a weird feeling as I left “my” hunting spot. I took a good look around because something inside of me knew that it would be the final time I ever laid eyes on the piece of property that had been such a huge part of my life.

Bonus (1996) – Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter

This season occurred before I was old enough to hunt, but I remember it both for the music and because the Packers lost to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving when their third string QB (now their O-Coordinator kicked our butt).

I had to mention this song because I vividly remember my Mom mentioned to my aunt if she had heard this song before. We were sitting in the kitchen at the farm for Thanksgiving and this song came on the radio.

It was like nothing I had ever heard. It was a slow waltz. It sounded like older country music yet it seemed more relevant than anything on the radio at the time.

It told the classic tale of a young girl (or boy) coming of age – something we can all relate to.

It’s a powerful song and it still has staying power today.

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Inspirational Hunting Blogger Insights, Quotes, and Musings Part 1

Insight often comes in the form of a single phrase or thought.

Field of Hay Bales

image credit: Julianne.hide

Each day I like to read blog posts from some of my favorite bloggers. I read blogs about hunting, fishing, camping, blogging, SEO, PR, Austrian Economics, liberty, and more. I come across some great insight each day.

Often this insight comes in the form of a single phrase or thought. Usually these simple phrases leave readers the chance to interpret the content in their own way. It’s inspirational when bloggers are able to write content powerful enough to inspire their readers.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember all of the great content each blogger writes. I bookmark my favorites posts I want to remember, but too often I move from one blog to the next telling myself I’ll come back again to pick up and expand on the insight posted.

Today I wanted to take the time to go back and look at some of the inspirational hunting blogger insights, quotes and musings I have recently read on some of my favorite outdoor blogs.

Here are a few of my favorite bits from a few outdoor bloggers with my comments.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

“Hunting is what you make of it. If we, the hunting population, start to define what hunting is, where will it stop?”

From the post: Game Reserves, Preserve Hunting, High Fence Hunting, What are the Facts?

Blogger: Albert A. Rasch (@AlbertRasch)

Blog: trochronicles.blogspot.com

Albert was referring to the topic of game preserve hunting with critical analysis. I’m going to take his quote slightly out of context and use it as inspiration for blogging, hunting business, and life in general.

“Hunting is what you make it.”

Insert “blogging”, “life”, “my business”, “my job”, “golf”, etc. in place of “hunting” and you can start to understand that what you do in life is completely within your control. The decisions you make to further your experiences and connection during your life.

Make your hunting business great. Make your family & friend connections great. Make your life great.

Outdoor Media Resources

“What’s the worst thing that could happen to a gun writer?  Near the top of the list would be somehow losing use of his trigger finger, but that’s just what happened to Hal several years later. A freak tire-changing accident cost him his trigger finger, but not once did I hear him complain.  ‘I have nine others,’ he [Hal Swiggett] told me.”

From the post: Hal Swiggett

Blogger: Sherry A. Kerr (@SherryinAL)

Blog: outdoormediaresources.com/blog

This quote within a quote from Sherry is a great example of being able to tell the character of a person with only a simple phrase.

“I have nine others”.

This notion is an inspirational mantra for life and business.

No matter what life throws at you, even if it appears the world as you know it is over, continue to think positive and know better days are ahead.

Side note: this was a very touching tribute by Sherry. The business relationship she formed with Hal seems like it was beneficial for both parties and should be used as an example of what making real connections should be in our own business.

Next Generation Hunting

“As we set and waited for the deer to get close enough our daylight just wouldn’t stay around long enough. The deer came within 10 yards of our blind. Raley was ecstatic with excitement wanting to shoot the deer, but with little to no light left we decided it was too late to take the shot. This was the last day of the deer season for 2006.”

From the post: Daughter’s First Deer – A proud moment for Dad and Daughter

Blogger: Greg Slone (@GregSlone)

Blog: nextgenerationhunting.com

This is a great story of patience. One of the greatest things my own parents taught me was the value of having patience. My Dad taught me the patience of hunting, fishing, team sports, golf, and more. My Mom taught me about patience with school work, day-to-day working for a living, and much more.

Greg’s story of teaching his daughter, Raley, that patience pays off is touching. It is not easy for an excited first-time deer hunter to wait an entire year after passing up a close chance.

But it was a great lesson of respect for wildlife and her patience paid off the following season.

Patience is not only a great lesson for hunters. And it’s not only a great lesson for young people.

Bloggers, especially adult bloggers and website owners often forget to be patient. Success comes to those who are most persistent. Overnight success is a myth.

Stick with your passion and be patient.

You’ll find success.

Schnee's Powder Horn Outfitters

“There’s really no good way to count 21,000+ flies.”

From the post: Power Horn Inventory

Blogger: Jon Edwards (@Schnees_Jon)

Blog: powderhorn.wordpress.com

I’ve only had to do inventory a few times in my life. I worked in the Wausau Country Club pro shop. It was a great experience. The store was relatively small and the inventory was minimal, but it was still boring work.

I’m sure the staff at Schnee’s Powder Horn isn’t fond of inventory either.

But taking inventory is necessary for understanding your business. You don’t have to be in retail to realize that you need to take inventory of your business from time to time.

If you have a blog, take some time to look back on your archives. This will give you a chance to remember what it is you started blogged for. You’ll see how far you’ve come since your first days of the blog. You’ll come across posts that got lots of traffic others that didn’t do so well.

Bloggers and business owners can get stuck in ruts doing the same thing over and over. Taking inventory gives us a chance to understand what inspired us to begin blogging. Taking inventory gives us a chance to remember what posts were successful and what posts weren’t. We can build on our successes and continue our efforts to grow our blog and Website.

Take inventory of your Web business. Remember the passion that allowed you to start. Focus on your successes and build on them. Grow your hunting business on the Web.

Deer Camp Blog

“The first Annual Christmas Place Hog Hunt was a major success!”

From the post: The Great Hog Hunt of 2009

Blogger: Rex Howell (@rexhowell)

Blog: bodocktimes.blogspot.com

I’ll end this first installment of my favorite insight from some of my favorite bloggers with Rex’s quote about the value of spending time with friends and family.

Passion brings people together.

When people share a passion such as hunting, they have a reason to get together and connect with each other. These connections add more meaningful value to everyone willing to put in some effort.

Great things happen when you take the time to connect with friends and family. Sharing passions give you an excuse to get together and have fun.

Blogging and running a hunting Website can be a shared passion for you.

Find the people in the hunting industry who are willing to meet others who share their same passion for hunting, business and the Web.

Open up your life to sharing your knowledge and experiences and you’ll get more reward from your experience on the Web than you could ever hope for.

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The Merle Haggard Guide to Everlasting Success

“I’ve got an expensive lifestyle,” Merle Haggard.

Merle Haggard The Fightin' Side of Me

Merle likes to joke in interviews that he thinks he’ll continue performing until he dies because he was an expensive lifestyle to maintain.

I’m sure it’s true to a certain extent, but Merle wouldn’t be out there performing his classic hits as well as writing and recording new songs in his seventies if he didn’t love what he was doing.

For most of us, hunting has been a part of our lives since a very young age. Hunting is an enjoyment and is now part of our financial well-being.

Over the course of our lifetimes there will be moments when we feel like giving up on the hunting industry. There will be times when we’re sick of hunting and ready to move on.

We can learn a few lessons from Merle Haggard’s lifetime of enjoyment and financial success so we ourselves can enjoy a lifetime of fulfilling happiness in the hunting industry.

Continue Creating Content Consistently

The Hag has continued to consistently make music since the sixties. He continues to release albums of new recordings. His true fans have always been able to count on their hero releasing new music for them every few years.

Fans and customers like consistency. They like knowing they can expect new products, services, slight changes, etc. every so often on a consistent basis.

Continue making small tweaks to your service and products. Your customers appreciate the fact that you continue to work to improve your business for their benefit.

An example of this is the Mathews Archery. Mathews releases an update of its line of bows every season. Their loyal customers expect it and continue purchasing each season when the upgrade is released.

Stay Connected with Positive People

The music industry seems to change frequently and the industry is not kind to you as you get older. Radio begins to shun the stars of the past. Even though Haggard had a few big hits into his forties and fifties, his career eventually took a new route as radio continued looking for the next big thing.

This can be tough on a person. This is when it’s important to connect with those people you’ve met in the industry who have had positive impact on your career.

In 2006, The Hag got together with one of positive people in his life, George Jones, to create a great album Kickin’ out the Footlights…Again-Haggard sings Jones, Jones sings Haggard.

If you find your business slowing down, it might be because you’re losing some creativity and energy for your craft. Reconnect with those people who have had positive impact on you previously in your career.

Find the people who helped you with a successful product/service upgrade. Sit down and have some brainstorming sessions and think about what made you successful previously and you’re probably going to spark new ideas for your business.

Keeping in contact with positive people throughout your career will give you rejuvenated energy to improve your craft even more.

Keep a Catalog of Your Process

For artists in the music industry, I’m sure it’s fairly easy to keep track of their past successes. Although I’ve often heard that artists don’t really listen to their old albums too much.

I remember reading an interview with Merle a few years back where he talked about sticking to his successful formula while still working to extend his creativity with his music.

So I’m sure The Hag has looked back on his past successes and been rejuvenated to continue creating music and giving his fans more valuable content.

Sometimes we forget just how far our business has come. While we’re working all the time, we don’t realize just how much success we’ve had over the years.

So it’s important to keep a catalog of your successes so you can look back from time to time and remember that you have been successful.

This process can really get those creative juices flowing again. If you see proof of your success it will get you fired up to repeat the success again.

Connect with Newcomers

Merle has done a few collaborations over the years. In 2005 he collaborated with newcomer Gretchen Wilson. The partnership made sense because they’re both seen as outlaws of sort in the country music scene.

I think it’s important to continue to collaborate with newcomers in the industry. The newcomers in any industry will bring new energy and excitement along with them. If you can align yourself with these people you will have new energy yourself and this may allow you to take your business to new heights.

Summary

Because we spend our lives in the hunting industry there will be times when we get fed up with what we’re doing.

If we look to people who have had continuing success for their entire lifetimes, we can pick up on a few things they do that we can use in our careers to continue having success.

Merle Haggard has had success well into his seventies and not even a recent battle with cancer has slowed him down. He continues to create new content, he connects with positive people, he reflects on his past successes, and he works with newcomers in the country music industry.

Those of us in the hunting industry can do the exact same things to have continued success for our entire lifetimes in the hunting industry.

Bonus

You know I can’t leave a post with one of my heroes without posting some of his music.

Here is a promotional video of The Hag and George Jones for their 2006 collaboration.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRDMJb74g2w&fmt=18]

And here is a video of my favorite Haggard song Mama Tried. (I know my mom tried and she did a great job, but I often found myself in the occasional spat of trouble. So this song has always ringed true to me.)

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Under Promising and Over Delivering

This seems like a simple concept, but too often in business this concept is disregarded and replaced with excuses.

Bridge and Pond

image credit: chadh

I have definitely been on the receiving end of too much promise with no delivery and I’m sure I’ve been on the other end as well (my apologies to those I’ve shorted).

In today’s world, the Web provides customers with an unlimited number of replacement products and services.

As much as we like to think we’re the only one in a certain industry, it’s simply not reality. Even if you’re the first company to do something in a field there will soon be companies that copy your exact formula and improve on your formula.

So it’s important to remember who your customer is and to under promise and over deliver on those promises by surprising them with remarkable content, products and services.

A few quick tips for hunting businesses on how to stay ahead of the competition

Never stop thinking and sharing ideas (of how you can help your customer)

I work for a footwear catalog company and it has really been a great learning experience for me. When I applied and interviewed for the job of a catalog manager I had no idea what I was doing. My boss gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and I’ll be forever thankful.

As a result of my job, I’ve learned that thinking of new ideas, strategies, and tactics is one of the best ways to improve a catalog, email, and Website images.

Basically all I try to do at my job is to encourage the designers (the true artists) to experiment and try a lot of new things. I do my best to give some direction, but really I know very little about how to design remarkable creative so I’d probably be fired without them.

They continually come up with new and edgy images and ideas. It’s great for me and I hope that they get benefit out of the process as well.

For hunting businesses, I’d suggest to continually go to your customers with new ideas, new experiments, and new procedures.

Don’t wait for your customer to come to you with a problem.

By the time they come to you it’s probably too late.

Listen to what they’re saying and answer their problems before they even know they have a problem.

It sounds simple, but I can attest that A LOT of businesses do not attempt to do more than their contract requires.

The people and the businesses that do the simple extra steps are the ones I see as valuable and the ones customers really value for their needs.

Keep consistent communication on the progress of a project

One of my pet peeves is businesses that don’t keep me in the loop when it comes to a project I’ve hired them to do.

Sure I probably come across as an annoying customer, but don’t customers have the right?

Shouldn’t businesses expect customers to be annoying?

Or…

Should businesses beat their customers to the punch and contact them at every step of the way before the customer starts wondering what’s going on?

Even if you think it might not mean much, you’re at least giving your customer some play-by-play information to keep them in the loop.

The work you’re doing may seem unimportant to you, but to your customer it is very relevant.

Summary

I’m seeing in today’s world that the businesses on the Web that actually listen to the customers are the ones who are succeeding. The businesses that put themselves first are the ones who do not succeed in their transition to the Web (newspapers anyone?).

Focus on your customers and put them first.

Focus on keeping consistent contact with your customers. It may seem silly to you, but to your customer it will be very valuable.

Don’t give your customer any reason to leave you and go to the next competitor.

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The Myth of Overnight Success and Why You’re Going to Fail – Part I

It seems like every business, rock star, and movie star is an overnight success.

Looking Up at the Stars - Big Dipper

image credit: Jeff Milner

This, however, is simply not true.

Often times, the success people have in business is due to much time spent working and building a foundation. This early process of success is when most people give up and fail. During the early process there are many people who will tell you to stop trying and go back to a secure and mediocre job.

Those who work through the foundation building process are the ones who come out success and become ‘overnight’ successes.

The foundation work is quite often overlooked or reflected on as being insignificant.

Those who don’t go through it simply can’t comprehend the amount of sacrifice and work that goes into building an ‘overnight’ success.

It’s important to remember that building a strong foundation for you business on the Web will result in your seemingly overnight success story.

New people you meet on the Web will wonder how you came to prominence so quickly.

More distant friends and family will know a little bit about your early struggles, but won’t see the entire picture.

Your immediate family will likely be the only people who truly know the work that goes into building a solid foundation for a successful business.

So if you’re ready to begin building your foundation on the Web here are some reasons why…

Overnight success is a myth and why you’ll fail

Research

Country Music Artists

I like using the comparison of country music artists and business owners. I like country music so it seems like a natural comparison for me to make.

If I asked your right now it the Zac Brown Band (Chicken Fried [Video]) were an overnight success how many of you would say ‘yes’?

The band did seem to come out of nowhere overnight, but they’ve been around awhile. Their song “Chicken Fried” has been around for quite a few years and even appeared on a 2003 album. (Their new album coincidentally is called ‘The Foundation‘).

Even if a country artist comes out right away with a smash hit number one single their first time on the radio, it’s not true that the person was an overnight success.

While the country star is new to the public and their target audience, there was a lot of foundation work that went into creating the moment when things begin to snowball.

Country artists spend their entire lives preparing for their first record.

This is their Research stage.

They’re researching and absorbing as much as they can about their passion.

They spend their childhood singing and often playing guitar. They’ll play guitar until their fingers bleed. They’ll have their parents then bandage up their fingers so they can continue playing.

Country music is their passion. They want to do nothing else. Being secure in a job in an office somewhere is not an option for the truly successful artists.

These artists go through countless rejection from leaders in the industry, family members, close friends, and possibly even from the people for whom they perform.

It has to be near devastation each time they come up against rejection.

But this is all motivation to work harder and continue building a foundation for success.

And when the time is right, these artists seemingly come out of nowhere to reach the heights of country music stardom. And if the foundation is built correctly, the success can be sustained for a long period.

The same is true for business owners.

Business Owners

The Research stage for business owners parallels that of country artists.

For you entire life you’ve probably had an interest in how businesses operate and succeed. You’ve probably spent time asking questions about manufacturing, marketing, accounting, strategic planning, etc.

Successful business owners seem to constantly come up with ideas growing up. They may even have started a few businesses as kids growing up; lemonade stands, candy stores at school, etc.

All of this research allows future business owners to learn about value and what potential customers see as valuable.

All of the small businesses, all of the questions, all of the observing of successful businesses in the local community lead up to the day when business owners launch their first real business.

When beginning your Web presence building, the Research stage is critical for building a solid foundation for you and your business.

Read blogs, read articles, discover hunting Websites and non-hunting Websites. Determine what you like and what you don’t like on the Web.

Learn which features provide true value to visitors and which ones are simply wasting energy.

The Research stage, while never over, is crucial for building a solid foundation for you Web presence (it was worth repeating).

Initial Connections

Country Music Artists

It seems our entire lives are just a series of connections. Some are stronger than others. Some last and some are over in moments.

For country artists, when they decide that the only thing they want to do is sing, write songs, and perform, they decide to make some important connections.

The difficulty with these connections (while you’re building your business) is that you have to determine the ones that are valuable and the ones that are wasteful.

It’s difficult to know at times.

At first, most initial connections seem valuable.

Artists can meet people that promise them the world and fail to deliver even a fraction of what was promised.

There are a lot of takers in the world. It’s important to find the connections that will add value to all parties in the relationship.

This process of failure and success with initial connections is good, however.

Like the Research stage, the initial connection stage provides a chance for the country artist to learn about the industry (both creative and business).

Artists create a filter for themselves. They learn the types of people who are valuable to connect with while also realizing the people with which connections are wasted.

Again, this stage brings more letdown and some artists give up and go back to a normal life at this point.

But the ones who are motivated and inspired continue on and prepare themselves for their future success.

These people are the ones who end up having ‘chance’ connections with people who can take their careers to the next level and on the path to success.

Business Owners

Connections are equally as important for business owners.

On the Web (a medium of connections), there is great opportunity for valuable connections. There are also connections that are not as worthwhile.

Through trial and error, you’ll begin got realize the connections that lead to win-win situations for everyone involved in the relationship.

This is an important stage for new businesses on the Web.

Again, there are a lot of takers on the Web just as there are in the music industry.

Lots of people will ask you for assistance and help. You’ll probably feel the urge to ask for help yourself. It’s important to learn when (and how) it’s appropriate to ask for help. This will be beneficial for you to understand which connections are worthwhile and which ones are wasteful.

I suggest as a guide, look to connect with characters on the Web.

Learn to work through this stage and allow it to motivate you where others drop off and quit.

Take advantage of the experience of making connections and utilize your knowledge to build your success foundation.

Stay tuned for Part II

Keep Your Hunting Website Simple

Far too many people think entrepreneurship is like an attendance award, where you can win just by showing up.”

Markus Frind in the post “entrepreneurship” on his blog “The Paradigm Shift” (plentyoffish.wordpress.com)

Coffee and Bread

image credit: Sarah Jane

There is a great article in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Inc. Magazine:

And the Money Comes Rolling In

Markus Frind works one hour a day and brings in $10 million a year. How does he do it? He keeps things simple.

By: Max Chafkin

The message I get from the article is “keep things simple“.

Frind has kept things simple on his site plentyoffish.com:

No one has used this ecosystem as effectively as Markus Frind, who has stayed simple, cheap, and lean even as his revenue and profits have grown well beyond those of a typical one-person company. Plenty of Fish is a designer’s nightmare; at once minimalist and inelegant, it looks like something your nephew could have made in an afternoon. There’s the color scheme that seems cribbed from a high school yearbook and the curious fondness for bold text and CAPITAL LETTERS. When searching for a prospective mate, one is inundated with pictures that are not cropped or properly resized. Instead, headshots are either comically squished or creepily elongated, a carnivalesque effect that makes it difficult to quickly size up potential mates.

Frind is aware of his site’s flaws but isn’t eager to fix them. “There’s no point in making trivial adjustments,” he says. Frind’s approach — and the reason he spends so little time actually working — is to do no harm. This has two virtues: First, you can’t waste money if you are not doing anything. And second, on a site this big and this complex, it is impossible to predict how even the smallest changes might affect the bottom line. Fixing the wonky images, for instance, might actually hurt Plenty of Fish. Right now, users are compelled to click on people’s profiles in order to get to the next screen and view proper headshots. That causes people to view more profiles and allows Frind, who gets paid by the page view, to serve more ads. “The site works,” he says. “Why should I change what works?”

Here’s the rest of the story…

Frind goes it alone for the most part (he has 3 employees handling customer service).

His situation is similar to many hunting entrepreneurs.

Many businesses start out and continue as one-person operations.

Frind is able to continue his one-person operation because he keeps it simple and remains focused.

Whether you’re just starting to think about launching your hunting business Website or if you’re looking to make improvements to your hunting Website, the idea of keeping it simple should be your main focus.

Here are a few things you can do to have a simple hunting Website

Focus on the one important aspect of your hunting business

The biggest difficulty of starting a business and a Website is keeping focused on what’s important. Entrepreneurs (myself included) often overwhelm themselves by focusing on prettying up their product by adding features.

Most times, these features are not necessary for the customer.

Markus Frind knew his site and his customers wouldn’t benefit from a ton of new features. Plenty of Fish focuses on each person’s habits and movements on the site works to create connections and relationships based on these habits.

No bells. No whistles.

If you’re an outfitter for trophy deer in Buffalo County Wisconsin, your new customers are looking for proof that you can produce trophy bucks for a competitive price.

Post some photos with short testimonials. People will listen to their peers more than they will listen to you.

Do you want people to be enticed by your site and to give you a call for more information?

You’ll probably want to leave out your price in this situation. You’ll want to give your customer just enough information to get them interested, but not enough so they have to call and discuss.

Read, research, participate, and implement

Frind did his research before launching his successful venture.

So many entrepreneurs skip the prep work.

Read

Every moment you have available, study and research your hunting business. If you’re starting a hunting Website, study how to create a cost efficient and functional site that fits your specific needs.

Read success stories on how to promote the site and how to properly use the Web.

Research

Visit many different Websites.

Which ones do you like?

Which ones don’t you like?

Think about your favorites and write down why they appeal to you.

Think about if they’re functional and if you tend to visit these sites often during the day.

Then think about what the purposes of the sites are. What is the site trying to accomplish? What is the site trying to get you to do?

Figure out what makes sites successful at their specific goals.

Then think about what will make your hunting site successful for your own specific goal.

Participate

Participate in blogs and forums. Learn how to make valuable connections on the Web. Participating is a great way to learn and make connections. These connections may prove valuable for you in the future.

Implement

Implement your hunting Website. Hopefully you’ll be lucky like Markus Frind and your hunting Website will be able to “run itself”.

Successful entrepreneurs make running their businesses seem easy. This is why most people are envious of entrepreneurs. It seems easy.

The truth is most people don’t understand the difficult work that comes before the success.

The prep work for you hunting Website is difficult, time consuming and often comes without reward for a long time.

This is why people don’t become successful entrepreneurs.

They can’t handle the early letdowns.

Stay Competitive and be willing to recognize when to change (before it’s necessary)

Markus Frind is a competitive person. He enjoys playing board games and plays to win. He runs his business the same way. He chose his enemies early on and was determined to take them down before he even started his business.

It’s imperative stay hungry and stay informed on what your competitors are doing.

Stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry. Stay ahead of your competitors. Keep track of what they’re doing.

Be ready to change if necessary and make necessary changes before your competition.

Necessary changes are the changes that improve your business’ focus.

You’re an outfitter. The focus of your Website is to get customers to call you so you can create a deeper relationship and connection on the phone.

What if there are potential customers who are shy of the phone, but still might want to use your outfitting service? Maybe a potential customer is at work on their computer and can’t call you right away. They might forget about you if they leave your site.

A valuable and necessary change for you site might be to add a live chat feature where you make yourself available for an hour each day to chat with potential customers. You could hold multiple conversations at once if necessary.

Conclusion

Markus Frind makes running his business seem easy.

The truth is he put in a lot of hard work and preparation in order to make it seem easy.

His site and business are efficient and serve his customer effectively.

He doesn’t make unnecessary changes, but he stays ahead of his competition.

Your hunting Website should function the same way.

Focus on the one important aspect of your business. Do your prep work for you hunting business and Website. And stay competitive so you’re always ahead of your competition.

Make changes only when necessary.

And most important: keep it simple.

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