Jeff Hoffman is one of the founders of Priceline.com and was also involved in UBid, as well as a host of other successful startups. He was the most popular and appreciated speaker at Freedom Fast Lane Live and shared his ‘all in’ servient attitude on inspiring entrepreneurs to make a difference and solve inefficiencies.
Jeff has done 8 startups, of those 2 were acquired, 2 were IPOs, 2 failed, and 2 are still going. He now spends his time mentoring other entrepreneurs, as he perceives entrepreneurs as the solution to a lot of the world’s greatest problems.
Get A Gold Medal in One Thing
Rising above the noise is difficult for everyone in today’s world. The goal is for people to know you and you to be the immediate solution. To achieve this, you don’t have to be the only one providing the service or product, but you do have to be the best one. There is no path to excellence that does not require immense dedication and focus. If you are going to achieve excellence in anything, achieving it in 6 things is impossible. Pick one thing in the world you can be the best at, and do it so well someone says, “Wait, you’re the girl that built that?” As soon as you do that, people will come to you, as they trust you.
When you, as a business owner or entrepreneur, win a gold medal at anything, people turn and look at your differently. This includes investors, customers, and media.
Taking Priceline Out of Idea Land
The intellectual property of Priceline came from Jay Walker, who had an idea for a buyer-driven, consumer-demand harvesting system. However, it was a team that got together to build it into a business. There is a huge gap between great idea and functioning business, which takes a team to bring together. On any team, there is an entire compliment of different skills you need to succeed. The smart thing for entrepreneurs to do is make a list of all the things that have to happen right for your business to succeed. From that list of ‘things that have to happen right,’ make a list of the skills that it takes for each of those individual things to get done. Then take that list of skills and build the team. The team is built around a set of tasks that are needed to get a specific set of tasks done.
Growth & Uncertainty
The money is in the difficult problems, because everyone else thinks it’s too scary to take on and finds something else to do. Growth requires a much bigger risk profile, which merits the question, “Why am I even doing this?” If you do have a big goal, there is no way around taking on the additional risk and responsibilities.
The Fallacy of Entrepreneurship
There is a perception that there is an entrepreneurial badge of honor about working 24/7. The expectation is that entrepreneurs work around the clock. This is misleading because when it is ‘go time,’ entrepreneurs do whatever it takes and put in a level of effort that 9 to 5 people never would. The fallacy is that this is the entrepreneur life, but really that is the life of an inefficient person. The goal should be when it is ‘go time,’ you should be in the mindset of, “I will do anything it takes to succeed,” but in between those times, all you should be trying to do is design a business that doesn’t need you.
The Real Goal
This should be to design a company so efficient that you don’t get more people but suddenly start getting less. Outsource non-critical functions and automate everything that can be automated. There should come a day where, if you walk out of the building, no one calls you because no one needs you for anything. The ultimate goal is to design a business that needs you less and not more.
Jeff’s Legacy Challenge
Write down the answers to the following questions:
- If your funeral was today, how would people summarize you and your life?
- What do you wish people would say about you the day you finally die?
If the above is your legacy, then what are you doing to achieve that? This will give you a lot of focus. The fulfillment doesn’t come from making a billion; it comes from looking at how many other people’s lives were made better because of the success and hard work.
Global Trend of Entrepreneurship
The White House released a study that showed 80% of all new job growth in the United States in the last 5 years were created by companies less than 5 years old. The net job growth was 100% created by startups.
Three Key Areas
- People don’t always fail because they have the wrong product or market. They fail because they are unable to tell the story in a convincing and motivating way.
- You have to convince investors, media, potential employees, and customers.
- If someone has amazing storytelling skills, you can get people to buy into even a mediocre idea and fix it.
- If you aren’t good at storytelling, let the person who is best at it speak, even if you are the founder.
- You are never as smart as you think you are.
- You can’t play every position at an All Star gold medal level.
- Customer Intimacy
- The most successful entrepreneurs schedule time out of their office to immerse themselves in a non-sales mode in their market.