The Ma, the Myth, the Legend. Billionaire Jack Ma recently attended a business summit at the UN, to which I had the pleasure of obtaining an invaluable answer to a question that has caused me much strife over the past few months.
As many have come to know, I am in my second year of operation with BUZZ COCOA, and I’m building the brand into a strong company. Recently, we’ve attained the #1 spot on Google for “caffeinated cocoa”, “caffeine cocoa”, and “caffeinated hot chocolate”. Our next goal is to be on the 1st page for “cocoa” and/or “hot cocoa”. My goal with BUZZ COCOA is pure domination – nothing less.
So over the past few months, I’ve been toiling with a question – a plague of the mind, really. And I had been waiting for the right time, the right person, to ask the following:
When heading into uncharted waters, creating a new market or industry of products, how does the young entrepreneur thrive?
Luckily enough, Mr. Ma had an entirely enlightening answer.
“Keep costs low and your business small. But also understand your supply chain. It must be tight and efficient, regardless if it is a durable good manufactured, or an intellectually skilled trade.”
His answer hit the nail right on the head. I found such comfort in his guidance, namely because his method has been my plan from the start: tight and efficient. Hell, I bootstrapped BUZZ COCOA for $300 (that’s a good story for another time). I’m all about making the best product for the lowest (most affordable) cost. Capitalism, baby!
Yet, that was not all the billionaire eCommerce mogul had to say. Instead, the part of his answer which caught me by total surprise was the simplest answer of them all.
“But remember, when you are first, you can create the rules. I created the rules for Chinese market and e-trade.”
When you are first, you create the rules. When your company – your idea – is the first successful pivot of its kind, you own the rights to distribution. You have the market by your fingertips. All that’s left is to devise the rules for how you want the game to be run, then implement strategic marketing methods to attract a larger consumer base. Rinse and repeat. Sounds simple, right?
Of course, none of this advice is outright simple. Otherwise, everyone would take this and be millionaires by next year. In fact, the hardest part about all of this is actually integrating Jack Ma’s billion dollar advice into the actual mission of the company. If your current corporate philosophy is “we’re creating something cool that might get downloads” or “we hope to continue our funding for the next several years until the ‘trends’ take off” – then STOP. You need to reevaluate your approach to the market and what you are trying to accomplish.
As I mentioned with BUZZ, my goal is pure domination. I want to own black & white, I want to own the chocolate emoji & the coffee emoji, I want to be the #1 lifestyle x energy company in the world. At least for cocoa, there exists no such company. Yet. The path I walk, I build, and I continue to write the story as it unfolds. Success is a mystery, and opportunity is your machine. Hard work & patience will oil the cogs of Opportunity, and reveal true Success.
What is BUZZ COCOA? It’s an ingenious blend of caffeine and cocoa – making for one energizing cup of hot chocolate! Why do I mention this on an article entitled “Competitive Edge” you might ask?
Because I have edge on the competition.
Not strict advantage – I haven’t been around long enough to muster a name as bold as Carnegie or Rockefeller. But nonetheless, I have established a strong personal brand and several months ago set out to establish the #1 Caffeinated Hot Chocolate Brand in the world.
We’ve had orders from everywhere – US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Latvia, and throughout Europe. The BUZZ COCOA brand went from nothing to being on the 1st page of Google for “caffeinated hot chocolate” in just 3 months, and we’re on our way to surpass any other listings in the near future.
What other crazy things are we doing??
Negotiating large wholesale agreements with both mid-tier & big box retailers
Getting some sweet PR deals (currently can’t be disclosed)
Rocking your Snapchat filters (more to come!)
Aside from going GLOBAL in just 6 short months, we’re working with investors, brokers, and retailers in the hopes of stocking your local shopping centers with the BUZZ. It’s an incredibly time consuming and scrupulous venture, but completely worth it in the end. Why? Because of competitive edge.
Business boils down to timing and execution. I believe that I have done both flawlessly.
And I’ll surely toot my own horn at that. Five, six years ago, you would have seen Swiss Miss trying to establish a caffeinated hot chocolate mix. Great idea! But you only put 98mg of caffeine in there… pathetic. That wouldn’t even wake up my grandmother.
And then a few years after you saw some pre-adopters – companies trying to make moves in an uncharted industry. There were two companies that did well, but their appeal died out and people vaguely knew about their brand identity. Not with BUZZ. You see, even reading this right now, and sharing this post across whatever social network you’re on only brings more power to the BUZZ COCOA brand name.
And in an effort to promote the BUZZ COCOA brand, I’ve been taking gigantic steps in the right direction for our PR presence – which includes, but is not limited to, our Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Business Collaborations, Press Articles, and so much more. We’re not even talking about some of the awesome stuff that’s about the debut before and during the summer.
So really, what is this Competitive Edge? Well, as many of us learn about Industrialization in America, the term Competitive Advantage came from what a business had over its competitors – betters workers, better facilities, better location. Or in my case, a better brand. I can assure you, in ten years, BUZZ COCOA will become commonplace in the United States, and the better part of the developed world.
I want to bring BUZZ COCOA everywhere.
My competitors simply want to test the market, profit, and sustain. Business projects should have a life cycle, regular products should have a life cycle – but when your product is a LIFESTYLE, it doesn’t come to a close, and it doesn’t stop. It keeps me on edge, wanting more. It keeps going.
That’s what my Competitive Edge is. And it’s that exact edge which keeps me alert and focused on building this brand and the product offerings it includes. Seriously, check out some of the stuff BUZZ has been doing.
And not to mention that our Snapchat has been BLOWING UP! Friends, I thank you so much for your follows and Snapbacks – they mean the world! But just in case you missed one of our Snapchat stunts in NYC this past week, below is a video summing up one of our experiences with Snapchat geofilters…
Still, while our PR stunts and awesome products may be getting us through now, there is much more going on behind the scenes in development for what will be coming. The BUZZ COCOA brand is going to revolutionize the way you energize your life and excite your world.
If there’s one thing you should walk away with from this article, it’s to build your own Competitive Edge. Find your passion within your current business or area of employment and beat it to a pulp – own that passion. Am I allowed to wake up and say to myself, “Eh, I don’t want to be the cocoa guy anymore,” really am I? To achieve a Competitive Edge, I won’t even mutter those words to myself, let alone think them.
Consistency is something that you rarely find reflected in every aspect of our lives. The term “work-life balance” has come out of the woodwork as more millennials aspire to avoid the long hours and the stress which comes with a lucrative career. Funnily enough, many people have turned to entrepreneurship as some sort of “safe haven” of limitless time, excitement, partying and playing bad-boy in the boardroom. It’s actually hilarious.
You see, over the past few months, I have hyper-focused myself on business (in addition to my scholarly pursuits), and haven’t even found the energy to make a well, thought-out post until now. Truly, there’s been a lack of consistency on my part in regards to this blog, and so I will use that deficiency as an example for this piece.
(Psst…if you want to try some of my delicious cocoa, use “BARDEN20” for 20% off your order)
Alright, got my shameless plug in there, now back to the meat and potatoes. The work I began seven odd months ago led to a tremendous pile of deadlines and stress in a field I was definitely not well-versed in. I had never launched a consumer product, and being consistently concerned with the product appeal, its progress, and next steps, I almost lost my mind. Not to mention the logistics department, which consisted of only myself, and was pretty much a stand-up comedy show for the first week. Literally, I would stand for hours as I put together packages and readied them for shipment. Let me correct something I said: I actually did lose my mind.
The progress was great, the business was booming, and the feedback was always positive, but my head was spinning.
Amongst all the other obligations I had in my life, finding the balance between my work and life became much harder. I would sometimes slip into what I called “cocoa-comas,” where I would be working for hours upon end with my phone on silent, completely out of touch with the world and what else I had to get done. After several weeks of this, I realized that I wasn’t doing myself any good by obsessing over everything BUZZ, and ignoring all other to-do’s. That’s when I came up with a plan and set out to achieve that balance.
The above video shows Admiral William H. McRaven giving the 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin. To save yourself some time, you can skip to the 4:45 minute mark where the golden truth reveals itself. The Admiral says that in basic Navy SEAL training, he was instructed to make his bed each and every morning. Sounds silly, right? Why would young men training to become hardened warriors need to make their beds? He continues on to explain that the reasoning behind making your bed each morning (as the first task) stimulates your brain in such a way that it recognizes the little accomplish of making your bed, and encourages you to keep making more accomplishments throughout the day.
So I did just that. I went ahead and made sure I perfected the art of making my bed, each and every morning. By the end of the first week, I saw noticeable changes in my morning routine. I would wake up each morning groggy, wanting to hit snooze one last time. But when I saw that reminder saying, “Make bed,” I would drag myself out of bed into a standing position, begin making my bed, and once I forced myself to smooth out the creases and round the edges – I snapped out of my grogginess and felt good about what I had just accomplished. It actually worked.
Now that I had found the way to start my mornings out right, I began undertaking more accomplishments. I would set a list each day of what I needed to get done (in addition to any meetings or prior commitments), and before bed each night I would review those to-do’s and see how much I accomplished. Since I began making my bed to perfection each morning – consistently – I saw my productivity dramatically increase. That tiny accomplishment at the beginning of my day has now given me the extra push I’ve needed to get things done.
That brings me to our topic at hand: consistency, and the work-life balance enigma. In order to master this higher power of work-life balance, one must achieve consistency in all that they do. But in order to achieve consistency, one must be consistent in the little things. For those little things pivot our thinking at a delicate pace, so-much-so as to not overwhelm you with the overbearing feeling of “too much”. Start small and work your way up.
Finally, the application – how do we blend the theory of consistency and the application of success? Well, correlating consistency and success is a start. But to fully bridge the gap, we need to address one final facet of the struggling millennial mind…entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur is really a great endeavor – you work in your own world of creativity and development, immune to the red tape of regular corporate conglomerates. Plus, if you’re good enough, you might end up becoming the 6th richest person in the world.
All fantasies aside, the path to entrepreneurial success is not as simple as setting up a website, buying business cards, incorporating your LLC, and putting together a pitch deck. It’s not all about strategy and vision. A majority of entrepreneurs these days miss out on the most key component to success: determined perseverance, also known as hard work. I use that fancy terminology because it has a place in what we’ve just discussed.
Mastering your work and your life requires achieving consistency in both. In order to achieve consistency, one must be consistent in the little things. In all areas, the little things are what annoy us most, and so they require determined perseverance.
Push yourself. Identify what you want out of your life and your work and push yourself. That’s the only way you will see the results you want. And you cannot simply pass over the little things. As my good friend Shia LaBeouf once said, “Just do it.”
Actually, what might help you get focused is a little jolt of energy. I may be biased, but each serving size of BUZZ COCOA has the same effects as a strong cup of coffee. Let’s not forget that I’ll give you 20% off if you use “BARDEN20” at checkout…
Speaking of shameless product placement, I can check that off my to-do list now! #Accomplished