Tony in the United States asks:
A membership committee member has asked me for something in writing that describes how a member’s credibility is reduced when that member mentions a separate business during their weekly presentation.
If you mention additional businesses, other BNI members may think you can’t be successful at one business and need a second one to make ends meet. For more about this, listen to episode 137, “Don’t Be All Things to All People.” Focus is the key to success.
Episode 7, “Simplify Your Story,” explains why you need to be specific about your products, services, and target market during your weekly presentation.
What if you have multiple businesses? Focus on one business when you are in the context of that business. Until you have built a billion-dollar brand, don’t try to leverage the brand name for multiple businesses.
If you’d like to hear the story of Dr. Misner’s property management business, leave a comment below.
Send your questions for Dr. Misner to ask[email protected].
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 456 –
This is part of our Ask Ivan series. If you have a question for Ivan, email him at this address: [email protected]
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
Shhh, Priscilla. I am on a writing retreat. Don’t tell anybody. The publishers of a number of our books has asked us to do a second edition of one of our books that has done really well, Networking Like a Pro. So my co-authors for that book, David Alexander and Brian Hilliard, and I are together this week holed up, trying to outline the many changes that we are going to make for the new and improved second edition of Networking Like a Pro. IT should be out sometime next year.
That is a great book. I use it all the time.
It has done really well. It has held up very well. Thanks.
So talk a little bit about this topic of a second business and mentioning it in a BNI meeting.
So this is part of the the Ask Ivan series, where people will ask questions. I wish I could answer every single question that people ask but unfortunately, there is not enough time in the day to hit all the the questions, so I try to over as many of them as I can, especially when I get the same question from a number of different people and different aspects of the same question. This is one that has been asked a few times by some people.
This comes specifically from Tony. Tony is is in the United States, and he says that a membership committee was asking for something in writing that describes how a member’s credibility is reduced when that member mentions a second business during their weekly presention. Tony says besides knowing that you are not supposed to do it because you are representing one business, one classification, in that business, he said, “I have searched SuccessNet, podcasts, and blogs and cannot find anything. Can you point me in the right direction?”
So, Tony, great question and yes, I can point you in the right direction right here right now with this podcast. I am going to try to answer that question for Tony and everyone else.
I strongly believe that it diffuses our focus and generally makes people think that the member can’t be successful at one endeavor so they are doing others to make ends meet. That is a big mistake.
Now, first and foremost, you are in BNI. We are answering this, really, from the BNI perspective. You are in BNI. You can only represent one classification. That is the way the rules are. Otherwise, you get some people in some businesses who are going to represent ten businesses. There are one or two companies that have so many products or services that they are basically going to be in a room all by themselves with no other members.
So the way BNI operates is one business or profession and one classification in that business. The more narrow, the better, because you can focus on your area of expertise. This topi isn’t about classification cowboys, which I have talked about in other podcasts. This is just mentioning a second business that you might be in and why not do it?
First, I really believe that diffuses our focus and makes people think that you are are just not very successful at your one endeavor so you are trying to do others. I talk about a related subject in two podcasts.
One is podcast 137 “Don’t Be All Things to All People”. I think that is really important, where you talk about what is your mission in business and sticking to that mission. A lot of businesses try to be all things to all people. I have seen this for many years. When I was a business consultant before I started BNI, I saw businesses doing this regularly.
You know, they don’t really handle this area, but you know what? “I’ll do it for you” because it’s another source of income so they do it. And then they do something else. And then they do something else. And they try to be all things to all people. When you try to be all things to all people, you end up not really being anything significant to anyone.
I am here to tell you, focus is the key to success. So focus on things that you do well, document those things, your vision, in a way that you can communicate with others. The way you communicate that is important in BNI, so I am going to recommend another podcast. It is episode 7. I am going to go way, way, way back. I think that is 2007, so nine years ago from this podcast. It is called “Simplify Your Story” and how important it is to be very direct and specific about the business that you are in.
So I have answered this question to people verbally over the years, and let me tell you what people say, Priscilla. Some people know that I have had a chance to meet Richard Branson a few times. And they say, “Yeah, but Branson has a lot of different businesses under the Virgin brand.” So how would you answer that? What do you think of that question, PRiscilla? That puts me on the spot, doesn’t it?
Yeah, I know. And you have a few businesses too, right?
I do but I don’t talk about them on BNI Podcast. So let me come back to my other businesses because my other businesses may surprise people, but I think that when you are in a specific context, you focus on the context of that business. Otherwise, it distracts people.
Right. I am in agreement with that.
So yea, Branson has many other businesses under the Virgin brand. So let me answer that, but I am going to sidetrack just slightly. He told me a great story. I have met him a few times and had a chance to spend some time with him one to one. He told me a story about how he came up with the Virgin brand name. Have you ever heard that story?
So he had a different company name at first that they were working with, and I could be wrong about this, but I think I recall he said that the original name that he was working on- I don’t know that he ever started a business with this- was Slick Disc. Slick Disk. But they came up with Virgin and the reason of his employees while they were brainstorming names said, “How can we come up with a name? We are all virgins in business. We don’t know a lot about business.” Then they thought, that’s it! That’s the name.
Now here is what is really cool. He then tried to register the name, Virgin. I the original Virgin was Virgin Records. So he tried to register that. You know that the British government told him? “No. That’s rude!” They said, “You can’t name it Virgin. That’s rude!” So he fought them for years to try to get it approved.
You know what he finally did? He told me this story personally. You know what he finally did that convinced them? He sent in an appeal and said, “It is actually, sirs, the opposite of rude. If you look it up in a dictionary, it means pure, honest and new.” And the British trademark office approved his brand.
It’s an amazing story and to hear him tell it is an amazing experience. So here is my answer to those who say, “But Branson has many businesses.”
If you have built a multibillion dollar brand, then you too can leverage that brand name into other affiliated or associated businesses. Until, though, you have created a multimillion dollar company at the very least, or a billion dollar brand, until you have leveraged that name so that it is so big and so recognizable, what you are doing, in fact, is just diffusing your marketing efforts losing your focus in a BNI chapter.
Not only is it not okay for BNI process and programs to represent multiples, for so many different reasons, I would argue that it is a bad idea for you to do it individually. It is bad for your business because it diffuses your focus. It diffuses your recognition.
If you are able to build a massive brand like he did, you are able to possibly leverage that into other businesses, but until then, I don’t recommend it.
So you threw me under the bus in the beginning and said I have several other businesses. And I do. You know, one of these days I should do a podcast on one of these businesses, not to talk about the business, because it’s not a business that would really be relevant in BNI. One of my biggest businesses, which actually surprises people that my income from this business is actually great than my income from any other business I am in, which always surprises people, is property management company I own.
I have been investing in property since I was 24 years old. And spinning it off to bigger and bigger pieces of property. I have been doing that since I was 24. For the record, I turn 60 this year. So I have been investing in property for many, many, many years. As of today, knock on wood, I have never lost money on real estate. So I have been flipping into larger pieces of property.
I don’t talk about it in BNI because it’s not relevant. It’s not relevant. I think that if you focus on things like that, it diffuses your credibility. And your focus on what you are trying to achieve within the context of that business.
You know, having rounded up the question, it might be an interesting conversation to talk to people about how to leverage opportunities because I actually did that sort of investing in real estate on a fluke and how I took that fluke and turned it into a pretty sizable multi-million dollar company.
That would make an interesting success story, more than promotion of another business.
So that’s it. I don’t recommend that you do it for- there is just no good reason to talk about other businesses. First of all, it is not what BNI is all about. One classification. But more importantly, it diffuses your expertise. If you can build a multi million dollar or multi billion dollar brand, then you have a brand that you can leverage. Until then, build your business.
If you are listening to this, listen to this: build your business. Make it highly siccessful. Then talk to me about leveraging that businesses into another business. That is my advice with Ask Ivan, everyone. Priscilla, will you tell everyone how they can send me their Ask Ivan question?
Yes. You can email Ivan at this address: [email protected]
Great. If you listen to this podcast, we love to get your feedback. I read all of the posts. Here is a question: would you like me to tell the story of how I started my property management company and turned it into a very, very large business over time? If you think that has any relevance to you, I would love to hear it, yes or no. If it’s no, I won’t do a podcast, but if I get enough yesses, I might just share that because I think there is a lesson to dealing with adversity and dealing with long term commitment in terms of business that might be of value to everyone. That is all I have for today, Priscilla.
Okay, excellent, Ivan. Thank you so much. Well, that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.