More Important Than Revenue

One of the most valuable lessons from “Undercover Billionaire” I learned was there is something more important to business than revenue…

The journey to where I am today has not been easy. I’ve had to overcome a lot of failures, fight through bad times, and dominate my competition. None of that is easy. But by far the hardest thing I ever had to do was the 90-day challenge with Undercover Billionaire on the Discovery Channel.

The goal was to create a million-dollar business from scratch in under 90 days. But I had to do it undercover. I couldn’t use my name, money, or connections. I had to become someone else. They gave me a fake name, “Louis Curtis”. They dropped me in a town where nobody knew me, Pueblo, Colorado. 

They gave me $100, a used truck, and a phone with zero contacts. Using only my business knowledge, I had to create a million-dollar business.

Of course, in the spirit of 10X, I refused to commit to creating a million-dollar business. I set out to make a 10 million dollar business… in 90 days.

I knew it would be difficult, but it was much harder than I ever thought it would be.

I’d never do it again and I’d never recommend it to anyone else. The hardship it placed on me, my kids and my wife was just too much. But it was the best learning experience of my life. It reminded me of the invaluable lessons you lose track of when you’re accustomed to high levels of success.

To go from managing multi-million dollar businesses and billions of dollars in real estate to not having food, water, or shelter was a shocking reality check. It brought me down to earth and reminded me of what was most important in my life and business.

There were moments when I was consumed with fear, doubt, and despair. There were times when I worried about where I’d sleep. Whenever I sat down to talk about a deal, my heart was pounding out of my chest. I’d done deals 100s or 1000s of times bigger than the deals I did in Pueblo, but the desperation of knowing how badly I needed to close the current deal… It was killer. It was a constant battle to maintain my confidence and momentum. 

But in the end, I succeeded.

I not only built a $1M business from scratch… I created a $5.5M business. Yes, I fell short of my $10M goal. But I also blew the lid off the initial challenge set for Undercover Billionaire too. Want to know the #1 business principle that fueled my success?

If you watched the show, you probably picked up on it. And it’s a principle you can use every day in your business to dominate your industry and increase your bottom line. Even before Undercover Billionaire, I knew it was important. After all, it’s helped me gain the success I enjoy today. But until I was dropped into Pueblo as a helpless nobody named “Louis Curtis,” I never realized just how vital this principle is to success. It took me from zero to $5.5M in 90 days.

So what was this all-important principle I leaned on during this 90-day challenge? 

It’s simple:

Contacts = contracts

For everything you want in life, there’s somebody else who has it. The more contact you make with people who have what you want, the more contracts you’ll get. Which means… more money. Like Louis Curtis, I had none of the “tools” to build a business. No capital, no credit, no job history, no reputation, no nothing. But I did have the skills and knowledge necessary to get all of those things from other people and put them to use. 

Here’s how I made it all happen:

I knew going into the challenge that cash in my pocket would not be my friend. Money was not going to save me. Because there’s no way I could stockpile enough of my cash to hit my $10M target. So I might as well be completely broke. At least then I’ll have the motivation and hunger to do whatever it takes. So on Day 1 of the challenge, I got rid of the $100 Discovery gave me.

Whether I’ve got $0 or $100 in my pocket, it didn’t make a difference. The only way to create a $10M business in 90 days was to get other people with money to go all-in on my ideas. That means I needed to start getting connections. Big connections…and fast. And that’s exactly what happened.

My first stop after getting off the plane in Pueblo was at a little RV store run by a guy named Ryan.

My goal was to find a free place to sleep for the night in exchange for pulling security duty or cleaning the store after hours. (Side note: If you’re ever in a position where you need help, never ask for a handout. Always offer to give something back even if it can’t be money.) Not only did Ryan let me stay in one of his RVs, but he also put $100 on a tab at a local restaurant. But most importantly, Ryan gave me the names of some of the biggest players in the Pueblo area.

It was like striking gold.

Ryan didn’t make me a penny richer, but that’s okay.

I didn’t have to win the cash game, but I NEEDED to win the people game.

So the following day I got to work calling on the people that Ryan recommended to me. One of them was a successful serial entrepreneur named Matt Smith. He ran two businesses in Pueblo, a mattress store and a gym. In the course of a single meeting, I was able to convince Matt to let me work for him for free. If he’d pay for a promotional campaign for his mattress store, I’d plan everything and run it just to gain his trust. At this point in the challenge, opportunity was more important to me than money. The results would pay me later.

And the results paid me later. Because throughout Undercover Billionaire, I built my entire business on Matt’s back. Sure I brought the ideas, vision, plans, business know-how, energy, and gameplan for the whole operation… 

But Matt brought everything I lacked: connections, credibility, and capital.

Had I not made contact with Ryan who put me in contact with Matt, I might have failed to create even a $1M business in Pueblo.

For our first deal, Matt fronted $5,000 for an aggressive promotional campaign. My goal was to get him a $15,000 return to demonstrate my value and worth in hopes he’d want to continue working with me. When it was all said and done, we pulled in $12,000 with the promotion. It was under my target, but it was still enough for Matt. He wanted to extend our business relationship and signed a $10,000 check to market his businesses.

Things were off to a great start, but then COVID hit. The whole operation was disrupted and Undercover Billionaire suspended operations for several weeks. In the meantime, I flew back to LA to be with my family until everything calmed down.

By the time I got back to Pueblo, it was like starting over on day one. And Matt, my biggest connection, had replaced me with a marketing team. On the one hand, it felt like a loss. But on the other hand, if I could still convince Matt to work with me, his new marketing team would become an incredible asset: more connections I could leverage for my $10M business. 

So the next time I met with Matt, I didn’t just pitch a marketing campaign for his business, I pitched a business partnership.

Using his capital, his team, and his connections, along with my vision and strategies, we’d create a marketing company to promote local Pueblo businesses charging anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 per month.

Matt went for it… and so did his marketing team. And so, our marketing company “Wake Up Pueblo” was born. And I did it without a single penny of my own making. This is what I mean by, “everything you want, somebody else has it.”

But that’s just the beginning of how powerful connections can be. By the end of the 90-day challenge, I closed over $480,000 in marketing contracts.

Every single one of them was one of Matt’s connections. He facilitated the meetings, made the introductions, and I closed the deals. When we started looking for office space, it was Matt’s commercial real estate agent who found the properties for us. It was Matt’s money and credit that we used to buy the building. When we needed to renovate the building, it was Matt’s friend in construction contracting that helped us out.

Together, Matt and I built “Wake Up Pueblo,” appraised by an independent evaluator at 5.5 million dollars. That’s how I dominated Undercover Billionaire and 5X the target. And I built the whole thing on a single principle: Contacts = contracts.

You need other people to succeed. 

Connections before cash…

Who’s got my money???

At the end of the day, it’s all about people. They are more important than revenue.

People have everything you need. Your job is to identify who those people are and find a way to convince them to give it to you. And the only way you do that is through contact.

Yet many business owners shy away from reaching out to make contact with potential customers or partners. They’re worried about being rude, too forward, selling too hard, or maybe they don’t even know how to pitch their business. This is especially true with cold calls because the uncertainty, doubt, and fear of rejection get to people. 

But here’s the deal: If you never master the art of the cold call, you’ll NEVER enjoy massive success.

Other people have what you need to be successful, and if you don’t ask for it, you’ll never get it. Imagine a different version of Undercover Billionaire where I refused to be aggressive in making contacts. I wouldn’t have lasted a week!

Your business success depends on your ability to make contacts and get contracts

So here’s what I want you to do: make a list of 3 businesses you want to work with and cold call them. It could be in person or over the phone. But here’s the catch, it’s not enough just to call on them, you must make a qualified contact. 

Here’s what a qualified contact means, either:

  1. Talk to a decision-maker (the CEO, the one who writes the checks, etc)
  1. Leave a voice message with a decision-maker
  1. Talk to a gatekeeper (the person with direct access to decision-makers)
  1. Leave a message with a gatekeeper
  1. Talk to an influencer in (people who are important enough to influence decision-makers or gatekeepers)
  1. Leave a message with an influencer

You can’t just talk to the receptionist.

It must be either a decision maker, gatekeeper, or influencer to qualify as a contact. And if you get their voicemail, you must leave a message asking them to call you back. Keep leaving messages until you actually get to speak to someone at the business. Yes, it’s aggressive. But massive success doesn’t favor the timid.

Remember: contacts = contracts

That one principle made me millions on national television using a fake name, no money, and zero credibility. Imagine what it can do for you in your business.

So get out there and get it done.

Be great,

Grant Cardone

Disclaimer: This content is intended to be used for educational and informational purposes only. Individual results may vary. You should perform your own due diligence and seek the advice from a professional to verify any information on our website or materials that you are relying upon if you choose to make an investment or business decision. Investment, real estate, and business involve great risk and there is no guarantee of performance or results.We are not attorneys, investment advisers, accountants, tax professionals or financial advisers and any of the content presented should not be taken as professional advice. We recommend seeking the advice of a financial professional before you invest, and we accept no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage you may incur.

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Star of Discovery Channel’s “Undercover Billionaire,” Grant Cardone owns and operates seven privately held companies and a private equity real estate firm, Cardone Capital, with a multifamily portfolio of assets under management valued at over $4 billion. He is the Top Crowdfunder in the world, raising over $900 million in equity via social media. Known internationally as the leading expert on sales, marketing, and scaling businesses, Cardone is a New York Times bestselling author of 11 business books, including “The 10X Rule,” which led to Cardone establishing the 10X Global Movement and the 10X Growth Conference, now the largest business and entrepreneur conference in the world. The online business and sales educational platform he created, Cardone University, serves over 411,000 individuals and Forbes 100 corporate clients throughout the world. Voted the top Marketing Influencer to watch by Forbes, Cardone uses his massive 15 million plus following to give back via his Grant Cardone Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring underserved, at-risk adolescents in financial literacy, especially those without father figures.