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MDH 71 | Passive Income Stream

MDH 71 | Passive Income Stream

 

How do you create a passive income stream with little money? God-made millionaire and investor, Edwin Carrion is here to tell you. He joins host Victoria Wieck to define passive income streams and offer tips on the many ways you can start. You don’t need to have a million dollars to start investing. Tune in to get expert advice that will help boost your financial situation.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


 

How To Grow Your Money Through A Passive Income Stream With Edwin Carrion

I’m so excited to be here every week to bring you some amazing conversations with guests that are fabulous and address our needs, concerns and more than anything, hope for the future. Talking about hope for the future, one topic I hear from you from my workshops and speeches over and over again more than ever now after COVID is the idea of creating a sustainable passive income stream. Even if it’s not huge, it’s something that you can work toward.

I finally found a guest who knows how to do that and who has done that many times over. He also helped other people achieve their financial freedom by starting a small passive income strategy. Without further ado, I’m going to introduce you to our guest. His name is Edwin Carrion. Welcome to the show, Edwin.

Victoria, thank you for having me on the show and everybody, thank you. It’s a great show and you’re going to get a lot of golden nuggets.

First of all, if you haven’t subscribed to the show already, please do so. Also, please share my show with at least one other human being, so that we can amplify and elevate the expertise of every one of our guests who have put their heart and soul into what they do. Especially with Edwin, he’s an immigrant to this country. I am an immigrant myself and immigrant life isn’t easy, especially if you come here with no money.

Having done what he has done, he started his first company at age fourteen and served in the Marine Corps. Anything about Marine Corps, they’re very disciplined, honorable and honest. All those things come into play. These are the tools that I’ve used to build my business and these principles go a long way. Edwin, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you’re passionate about.

I am a loyal husband, a God-made millionaire, a United States Marine, a loving father of two beautiful girls, and that was my God-given dream as well, an investor and a mentor. I love teaching people and sharing my story of life to success in order to help other people become successful and live life to the fullest. That’s what Edwin Carrion is.

You’re preaching to the choir. My American dream was very small and simple. I wanted to be able to pay for my own apartment that I could rent, and be able to find money to pay for insurance on a car that I already owned. At that time, the whole car was $2,000. For those of us who do it and have found a systematic way to achieve our next measurable goal, we can’t wait to share the joy, knowledge and journey with somebody else who’s struggling. Am I saying that accurately?

Yes, extremely correct. The thing is, it’s good to share it, but it’s amazing when people take action on the things they hear on how you get to success. There have been many times when I share my stories or people ask me, “How do you do this? How do you become successful?” I teach them the step by step but then they don’t do anything about it.

Once you’re happy, you make everybody else happy.

We’re going to talk about that part about the action because that’s why this particular show exists. I had been interviewed on other podcasts and had been on numerous TV shows and everything. People tell you, “Your story is so inspiring and encouraging.” They walk away with these incredible aspirations and inspirations with them. If you don’t take any action, it dies. It is just inspiration. That’s it. It doesn’t transform your life or my life. The whole reason why I’m giving free speeches is so that it can transform their lives, so I can get some joy back. It doesn’t.

I talk about action all the time. It doesn’t have to be huge action. I’m not asking anybody to go to the bank, withdraw money, and invest in something new. We’re talking about small steps. Think about the one tiny little thing you can do today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, not when you find some time.

It’s important and you got to take that action today. It could be small little things. It could be setting aside an hour a day to research what you want to do. In my case, learning to speak English when I first came to America was a goal. I broke it down to I don’t have money. We didn’t have ESL classes or English as second language classes when I came.

My father had a dictionary because he didn’t speak English either. I looked at every word that was under five letters. My dad would circle it. I learned English to English translation. That was the only thing a thirteen-year-old could do, so you do it. Every day there’s something you could do to impact your life for the future.

Let’s get down to the meat of this whole interview. You’re very passionate about creating passive income and I love that. If you don’t understand the importance of passive income, it’s income that comes to you whether you’re sleeping or on the beach. Whether you’re having a good day or a bad hair day, it doesn’t matter. That income comes in whether you’re working or not.

It could be small but the problem is there was this perception that in order for you to create a passive income strategy or passive income of any kind, you have to start with a ton of money. You can take an example of you could put millions of dollars in the bank, the interest that comes is passive income. Now, interest is very low and most people don’t have enough money saved to make that interest a real income. If you don’t have a whole lot of money, what are some of the things that you know how to do? I know that you didn’t start with $10 million. How did you do it?

The first thing is taking that action. It goes back to what you were saying, you don’t have to have $1 million in the bank account. You don’t have to have $1 million to start creating passive income. You could start with $100. Passive income is free money or money that you don’t have to work for. The money works for you. As we work very hard for our money, it comes to a time that we have to let the money work for us. It starts at any age. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 years old or 50 years old, it’s never too late to start.

The first thing to do is open an investment account, then start putting $10 a week or $10 a month, whatever you could afford to lose that’s not going to hurt you that you’re putting aside. Eventually, you’re going to see those small little returns. When you start seeing those small returns, then you get hooked to it because you’re training your mind to start putting money away and to start having your money work for you. Eventually, you’ll see that money grow. You’re like, “I’m making $100 a month without having to do anything. This is good.”

MDH 71 | Passive Income Stream

Passive Income Stream: When you train your mind and your mindset changes to passive income, then you start looking for the opportunities.

 

When you train your mind and your mindset changes to passive income then you start looking for the opportunities. “I have $20,000 in the bank. Where can I put this money that somebody else is going to work for me and is going to give me passive income?” You then start investing. There are a lot of different forms of investment. There are syndication deals in real estate.

There are new ventures. Maybe a good friend of yours could be opening a brand-new business and tells you, “Why don’t you let me borrow some money? I’ll pay you high interest, more than what you’re going to get having that money sitting in the bank.” If you know he’s reliable, it has collateral and that money is secure, and you’re going to get a good return of interest, that’s called passive income. That’s how you start. Start very little.

My mother-in-law passed away. She was 100 years old. She lived a good quality life until the very last month or so. She lost her husband at age 53. She never remarried or anything like that. When she lost her husband, the family was pretty much bankrupt because, in those days, insurance didn’t cover a lot of things. It sucked up everything and she was a housewife. She never even learned how to drive. It was a very traditional marriage. She had to learn how to catch the bus. She educated herself and went through a school after several years became a school teacher at age 58 or so.

She passed away and I had no clue. She was a good saver. She put her money away, as you said, $100, $50. She never wasted money on a Starbucks or things like that. She saved all this money. When she passed away, her accountant informed us of her estate. It’s mind-boggling. It was over $1 million that the woman saved on a teacher’s income. It’s the power of how much the compound interest was paid in her case. We still have CDs that are coming due now long after she has been gone.

You start saving, that’s the first step. The second step is you’re going to start to invest little bits of money in places where you know who they are. You’re going to check out the investment opportunities. The mistake that a lot of people make is once they have a little money, they want to make that money quickly. They don’t vet the investment. They’re going to invest money in things that you don’t know much about.

They gamble. That’s what happens. It becomes a gambling game. You could gamble too because there are some times that I gamble. What I mean by gambling is when the big companies are on it or when everybody is on it, that was a time that I gambled because I know that I’m going to make a quick return on my investment. I’m either going to lose it all or I’m going to make it all. That’s when I jumped into it, but it was with money that I could afford to lose. I then have other money which is long-term. I’m always thinking long-term. When I talk about long-term, as you said with your grandmother, there are 10 to 20-year plans. The compound interest is amazing because it started growing so much little by little.

In our case, it was like $10 a week or something. That is crazy. Let’s go to another topic that you’re very passionate about. You and I share this a lot. I don’t know about your story specifically, but for mine, the idea that I wasn’t willing to give up my family life. I wasn’t willing to give up the quality of life that I’m giving to my children and parents.

When you are an entrepreneur, working by yourself with no outside money and you’re juggling 40 different things, somehow success comes at the price of family life. I tell people every week that that’s not true. It doesn’t have to be true unless you make it true. Tell me a little bit about how you’ve done that. People have heard until they’re blue in the face how I did it. What were some of the strategies you employed to make sure that your family didn’t suffer because you were chasing the dream?

Ninety percent of young entrepreneurs that get into business fail because they don’t have a business plan.

I was fortunate enough that I went bankrupt at 27 years old. I realized that I worked so much that I put everything away, everything that mattered to me, my religion, faith, family, friends and health, which are the most important things. To top it all off, I put aside my time. I went from 22 years old to 27 years old working all the time. That time that I lost, I was never able to get back because that’s the only commodity in life we can never get back. I learned that I need to have a balance in life. I need to live life to the fullest and enjoy every single day because we only have one day. When the day is gone, it’s gone. We cannot get that time back.

How do I balance my life and running multiple different companies? What I do is set priorities. My priorities are very simple. 9:00 to 5:00 is my free time. I get to work, have fun, and do the things that I want to do. That’s my set time. That’s my priority. After 5:00 PM, family time. Every Friday on the calendar is date night. Sundays, we go to church as a family. Saturday and Sunday, I spend time with the family.

We have to start setting those priorities straight. As business owners, we think that we have to work 12 to 13 hours a day and we don’t. Sometimes they come to the office and in two hours, I’m super productive and effective that I could take the rest of the day off and do the things that I love to do. There are times that I sit down in my office the whole eight hours and I don’t do anything. I sit here and I’m twiddling my thumbs trying to be productive. Those are the days that I don’t want to do anything.

If you set your priorities straight, that’s when you start having the balance in life. Make sure that you put the same priority on the same standards for your family, work and yourself because you have to be happy. When I’m happy, I make everybody else happy. I make my family, wife, kids, employees and everybody happy. I always tell people, “Be selfish. Make yourself happy first. Once you’re happy, you make everybody else happy.”

I’m glad you said that. Setting priorities is important. When I say set priorities, what are the most important things to you? That also includes some boundaries of things that you’re not willing to do. When I started my company, I didn’t have to make a whole lot of money. I just wanted to make $2,000 a month. What I wasn’t willing to do is work more than twenty hours a week because I was a full-time mom. I drove the kids to school. I organize and track all accounts, the soccer games and everything else. I was the mom who did all that.

I wanted to have a meaningful decent income, but I also had hours that I couldn’t work. It turns out that when you set those priorities straight, you become much more productive because you don’t have a whole lot of time. If you say, “I’m not working on weekends, evenings or at the crack of dawn. You find ways to be very efficient. You cut out the trips and the chit-chats. In my mind, you end up with better quality friends because you’re going to connect with only those friends that matter to you. At that point, you’re either giving up time at work or time with the family.

You end up with better quality customers because a lot of borderline customers, I wouldn’t take them. I wouldn’t call them. If they don’t pay me on time and if they are very needy and call me in all hours day or night, I’m like, “This customer isn’t worth it.” I look at my margin and I’m thinking to myself, “I’m not making any money and they happened to be the most needy and demanding. They don’t respect my employees or my time. You don’t get rid of them right away, but you try to get a better-quality customer to replace the one that is causing 90% of your agony for 10% of the volume.

You learned that quality over quantity.

MDH 71 | Passive Income Stream

Passive Income Stream: Make sure that you put the same priority on the same standards for your family, for your work, for yourself, because you have to be happy.

 

What Edwin and I are saying is there are some entrepreneurs who will go and chase after every deal and customer at all hours of the day. If you do that, what happens is you are going to pay a price. That price could be your own health or the quality of the relationship you have with the people that are closest to you. You’re unhappy even though you’re making money, and then you start resenting yourself, “I’m doing everything for everybody else, my customers, employees, community and family, and I don’t have any time.” You end up justifying not going to church and not doing things because there’s a lot of stuff that happens.

A lot of people set priorities and they understand them. If you’re reading this and you’re like, “These people are making complete sense.” When it comes to doing it and implementing your priorities, there are seem to be a disconnect between what you know is right for you and what you are willing to do. I love that. There are four million people quitting their jobs every month. A lot of them have started their own businesses. How do I know that? It’s because of the census bureau. There are 700,000 patent applications by the American people at the USPTO. You can look at this.

There have been more applications for business licenses from 2020 to 2021 ever in our history. Those are the people that we know about. There are people that started a side hustle without even asking for a business license. What are some of the most common mistakes that you see that people are making at the startup phase of their business?

The biggest mistake that they make is they do not follow the business process. You mentioned that when you started your business, you knew what you wanted. You have clarity. You said, “I wanted to make $2,000 a month and that’s what I want.” You have your business. You have your address for your business. A lot of people go, “I want to get into business and I want to do this.” They jump right in without having a solid plan or an idea of what is it that they want. Ninety percent of young entrepreneurs or people that get into business fail because they don’t create a business plan.

To me, having a vision board in life is my business plan. In business, every time that I started something from scratch, “Here’s our business plan. This is who we are. That’s what our values are.” It goes back to what you’re saying. Your values were, “I’m not going to work more than twenty hours a week.” That’s a value. “I don’t want needy clients.” You knew what you want. You had clarity. Creating a business plan is important. Besides the business plan, the second thing that I always teach people is you need to have a business plan, and then you need to have a cashflow sheet.

You’re going to work backwards. You’re going to go from a macro to a micro-environment. Meaning if you want to make $120,000 a year, it’s going to tell you how much money you need to make per month or per day. It’s going to tell you how many clients you need per day. Ninety percent of people don’t do that and it’s so simple. That’s where they tend to fail or they stay being an employee for their business for the rest of their life.

That’s exactly true. If you have a vague goal like, “I’m going to start my business, spend more time with my family, and make a lot of money.” These are all vague words. What’s a lot of money? Is it $100 or $100 million? If you say, “I’m going to spend a lot of time with my family,” what’s a lot of time? For me, I was making more money as an employee. My rent was $1,000 at the time. I had a two-bedroom apartment. If I can make my rent and I can pay whatever I needed, I could have survived on $1,500 a month, but my whole month scenario is $2,000 a month.

How am I going to make the $2,000 a month? If I wanted to make $2,000 a month, what do I have to do to make the $2,000? I designed jewelry. I thought to myself, “If I sent 50 letters out every day to all the major department stores and I got 10% of those people back, and the average sale was $10,000, is it possible? What if my term is only 2%, can I make that number?” The answer was yes. It wasn’t a huge goal.

Everybody changes in life but not everyone improves. We have to continue improving in life. That’s what makes us better every time.

The other thing too is if I’m writing 50 letters a day because they are mostly form letters, I thought to myself, “That’s more than plenty.” If you look at right now and start a business with twenty hours a week and you were spending three hours on social media. Three hours a week is a lot of time for social media. Trust me. I could do it in 30 minutes to create a post and post it, three times a week.

Even with that, you should have a plan. I do Motivation Mondays and some quotes. On Wednesdays, I show people how to use the product. Fridays are fun Friday. You can do that. You could have it all done in three hours at eternity. If you’re writing emails to solicit, you want to do five hours, that’s eternity. If you’re sitting there doing that all day, it’s a lot of time.

If you’re doing an hour to two hours a day in follow up and that includes phone calls or follow-up emails, again, that’s plenty of time. Nobody is going to talk to you for an hour. It’s going to be a five-minute conversation with anybody. If you think about how you can run a business in twenty hours, that’s plenty of time.

If you got 25 hours, it’s more than enough because when you’re in a corporate world, you’re going to sessions and useless meetings. You’re being called to by your boss or some department that you probably didn’t even know existed and somehow, they needed your opinion. You’re going through all this crazy stuff that you’re not even doing. It’s breaking it down to bite-size information that you can act on. We’re not asking you to go out or hire an MBA to come up with one. This is a common-sense type thing.

When you and I started doing this years ago, we didn’t have all the resources that all these people have nowadays. They have so many resources. Life is so much simpler now. You go to YouTube, join a group, go to Facebook and Instagram, and you can find all these resources. We didn’t have that when we were starting. It was so much harder for us.

When I started back in ’89, we didn’t even have internet. I had to type it on an electric typewriter. People are telling me, “It was a different time back then.” Now, a small company could have the same resources for focus groups, testing your stuff, or getting opinions as any other big company. In the old days, people naturally gravitated to the known quantity and going to the biggest names. Now, Americans love the underdogs who are not perfect and try hard to help you. I feel like you do have everything in your hands now.

With all this connection that we have worldwide, the audience just got bigger. Our customer base got bigger. Before, we were restricted to that area. Growing up, I was restricted to only working in my area. Nowadays, it’s so amazing. You can be worldwide with no problem.

You can work at any hour of the day too. If you were to give young Edwin or somebody who’s 22 years old and starting out, what would that one advice be?

MDH 71 | Passive Income Stream

Passive Income Stream: The biggest mistake that they make is they do not follow the business process.

 

I will say keep doing everything that you have done. I will not change one thing in my life because if I would change one thing in my life, I don’t know how my life will be now. I love this life. I love what I have, where I am, and what I have been through. Everybody should be the same. We should not keep living with a victim mentality. We should become the victor. Those struggles made me who I am now. Everybody changes in life, but not everyone improves. We have to continue improving in life and that’s what makes us better every time.

Look for more information about Edwin and the amazing life that he has lived and is living because of some of the mistakes, misfortunes, and incredible struggles that he has gone through. He’s gone broke at age 27, which was a blessing. You don’t want to go broke at age 60, trust me. That’s pretty hard. You don’t get to have a do-over at age 60. You do and you don’t. At 27, your whole life is still ahead of you.

The moral of this story is to believe in yourself. Live the life you want to live from day one, not when you make it someday. The journey is important. Set your priorities straight and stick to them no matter what. You’re either going to succeed right there and then, or you’re going to have a detour of some sort like bankruptcy or setback. You’re going to be richer because you chose to use that experience to enrich your life for the future.

When you enrich your life, as Edwin said, you’re not only enriching your life. Even if you’re not doing it consciously, you are reaching everybody else’s life. Every business has suppliers, vendors, manufacturers, and somebody who’s going to benefit from the one business that succeeds. Keep that in mind. Check out his website, EdwinCarrion.com, and his social media, Facebook and Instagram are @EdwinCarrion78. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is your choice. I hope you make great choices. Thank you so much for coming by, Edwin. I enjoyed this interview.

Thank you, everybody. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there, so have a plan.

 

Important Links

 

About Edwin Carrion

MDH 71 | Passive Income StreamEdwin Carrion is a God-made millionaire, family-oriented, investor, and mentor. Throughout his run, he has founded several multimillion-dollar companies that specialize in real estate development, transportation and logistics, investment, and business education and consulting.

Backed by 20 years of extensive experience in various industries, Edwin Carrion now shares his passion for entrepreneurship by mentoring others, since he realized most people don’t live a fulfilled life. Simply because people believe success comes at the cost of poor family life, unbalanced life, or compromising their values to achieve success.

Edwin guides people in the path to living life to the fullest, by having balance in all areas. Edwin says, “I am here to share knowledge with aspiring entrepreneurs and to address the problems by sharing what I know and learned from experiences.”

MDH 67 | Exponential Growth

MDH 67 | Exponential Growth

 

Exponential growth is something all entrepreneurs want for their business. So how can you achieve it? Victoria Wieck and her guest Bimal Shah, the CEO of Rajparth Achievers, LLC, dive into scaling your business and achieving growth. Bimal is passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and he shares his insights and resources on how to hurry the scaling of your business. Tune in for more great lessons in growing your business.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


 

Grab Your Business Goals: Achieving Exponential Growth With Bimal Shah

I love sharing with you some amazing stories of great entrepreneurs who are now in a position to help other people collapse time and get funding, and all those things that small business people want. The top two reasons why people go out of business are lack of money and lack of customers. There are a bunch of other reasons too, which we are not going to get into. We have someone who can help us with both of those fronts. His name is Bimal Shah. He is an expert in helping you scale your business. He scaled his own business, which is in the financial sector. Now, he helps entrepreneurs achieve their three-year goal and collapse it into one year. I want to welcome Bimal and have him introduce himself and tell a little bit about his journey and what drives his passion. Welcome to the show.

Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity. My passion has been to make a million entrepreneurs and convert and transform them into pioneers. My goal is to make a million pioneers in the world before I die by helping them scale to the next level. I’m taking their 25-year vision, converting it into a five-year moonshot, and then taking their 3 to 5-year goal in one year. I built a lot of resources. I have written a full thirteen-book series, Becoming A Pioneer. The first one was launched on Amazon. It was the number one new release.

Thank you for sharing that. I have written two books. I have to tell you that unless you’re crazy or you don’t understand how money works, writing a book is a low ROI proposition. You and I can all go out and make a lot more money doing other things if you have skills than writing a book and getting $9 or whatever a copy. If you’re publishing it through a publisher, you get $1 a copy. Those of you who are writing books or authors like Bimal, you do it because you love it. You do it because you want to help other people. You got to give your heart and soul. Every word has to mean something. Thank you for sharing that.

The first book is Becoming A Pioneer and that’s on Amazon. You’ve got thirteen other books. Before we get to scaling, I want to talk about small business people. Do you think they don’t have the expertise or don’t know about setting goals? If you ask a lot of people, “What are your goals?” They will tell you, “My goal is to make $1 million.” Some of them might say, “My goal is to get 300 new customers this year,” but they don’t have a clear picture of their 25-year goal versus what you can achieve in the next five years versus how you can achieve the next measurable goal. Let’s talk about goal setting in the first place. How should they start? A lot of people I meet don’t even have goals because they don’t think their goals will come true.

One of the biggest things that I see in entrepreneurs is setting goals. That’s one of the reasons. 99.7% of the businesses are small businesses. It’s sad to hear that even 80% of them fail after fifteen years in the business. Goal setting is so important. The very first thing in setting a 25-year goal. I always say, “Don’t set a goal of I want to make $1 million or $1 billion.” Think about the impact and transformation that you want to bring. Think about the problem that you want to solve. When I said that my passion is about making pioneers, I want to do this. I’m committed to making a million pioneers however long it takes. That is my passion.

Similarly, in your business, think about the passion that you have and what transformation you want to bring to the table and make that your vision. I’ll tell you a quick story about a $1 billion company that was built on that. That is from Naveen Jain. His passion was making chronic illness a choice. He founded the Viome, the testing that we do. That is where we start. We start with a 25-year goal on what is your character vision and bring it down to moonshot. I have a very specific question, and the first book on Amazon is about that.

MDH 67 | Exponential Growth

Exponential Growth: Goal-setting is one of the reasons why 99.7% of businesses are small businesses. It’s sad to hear that 80% of them fail after 15 years.

 

Let me go back to the word scaling. I don’t want to offend and be insulting to anybody, but I’m going to define the word scaling. There was so much confusion in the business coaching or business world about what the word scaling means. Scaling doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re growing exponentially. You can grow exponentially if you’re willing to put in $5 million a year into your business, but properly scaling in a small business environment means that you are not having to spend an exorbitant amount of resources to grow.

If you’re putting in everything you’ve got, you’re banking every single penny you make back into the business, and you’re facing a diminished rate of return but you’re still growing, that is not scaling. Scaling means you’re putting in fewer resources and less amount of time because you’ve got all the right systems in place. You’re taking something that’s working and scaling this up.

I want to make sure that we understand that when you follow Bimal’s system, you can see a lot of things that he’s got. He’s got a whole platform, dashboard, monthly workshops, and all these things are going on. It’s Bit.Ly/ThePioneersClub. You can go and follow more about this. In terms of scaling, I say this because a lot of people who are coaching scaling, you go into a mastermind program, workshops or whatever, and their whole goal is to sell you more services so that you can get more business. What that means is you’re spending more money in all the wrong places to grow a little bit more than what you had before. That is not what we’re talking about here.

You specifically said that you’re going to take their three-year goal. If you said, “This year, I’m going to hit the $1 million mark. Next year, I want to do $1.2 million. In the following year, I’m going to do $1.5 million.” You were saying that you can take that three-year goal and have it accomplished in one year. Tell me how you help people do that.

I will tell you a quick story so you can get the idea. One company wanted to scale ten times. They are a $5 million company and says, “We want to grow it into $50 million company, but we don’t want to grow ten times the number of our staff. We don’t want to grow ten times our expenses as we grow. How do we build a lean company and grow that big?”

What we did is we started with a dream come true profit and loss statement. We build their financial for the future. That’s where I start. Even with the company that says, “I want to take this $1 million to $3 million,” we’ll build that $3 million P&L statement. I can tell you another company that’s a home healthcare company. All we needed to do was add 2 more people to grow 3 more times. That is structuring their responsibilities, building the organization chart for the future, building clear responsibilities and outcomes, and building the right target.

 

Think about your passion and what transformation you want to bring to the table and make that your vision.

 

As you said in the beginning, it’s the lack of customers and lack of money. If you’re after the right customers, it will take less time and fewer resources on your part. You make 3 to 5 times for the same effort or even 10 times more. That’s chasing and going after the right people. That’s what we did. We built the right relationship and strategic alliances. We did that even with the law firm and built them a whole list of public adjusters that they would make more than $500,000. That’s one of the things you start with.

When you said you could grow three times as much by hiring two people, I want to qualify that as two right people, not just anybody. That takes skill. The other thing is small business people can use a lot of help in finding the right people. A lot of small business people think that since they were doing everything and they’re wearing all these hats. They’re the CEO, CPA, lawyer. They’re meeting customers or vendors. They’re shipping and doing everything. They’re going to need to hire somebody who is more like themselves. No, you don’t want that because no one is going to work that hard for you for little money. You’re probably better off hiring some people to do things you are not good at.

Let’s say I don’t like to sell. I’m not a pushy person. If I send them a nice polite email, I think people should send a nice polite email back to you rather than me having to keep nudging them. I’m not good at that. What do you do? If you have somebody like you, the two of you are waiting for the email to show up. It’s not going to happen.

You need to hire somebody whose expertise is that. You may not like people that are pushy, but you need a pushy person for your business. I’m using that as an example. A lot of people don’t know how to hire people, and when they hire them, they don’t know how to manage them because they haven’t set out a clear vision. They haven’t set up clearly what their responsibilities, boundaries and expectations are. Do you have help on your site on all of those?

I will share three steps structure on how to hire right. One of the things we do is we divide your hiring into three different units, before unit, during unit, and after unit. Before unit is how you attract your dream come true employee to come to you. My company website is TheOneYearBreakthrough.com. On that, there is how to build talents and how to attract talent. There is a link there. That’s Bit.Ly/MyDreamEmployee.

One of the things I always tell every company is to ditch the title. Whenever you want to hire someone, get rid of the title because the title boxes or limits the employee’s capability that you want to hire. I have a whole system that I’ve built that many entrepreneurs can utilize for free. They can go on Bit.Ly/MyDreamEmployee. There’s a six-stage questionnaire that allows you to build your dream come true employee profile. Even if you don’t work with me or utilize me, going through that profile and getting the information back to you, you know exactly who you want.

MDH 67 | Exponential Growth

Exponential Growth: Whenever you want to hire someone, get rid of the title because the title boxes limit the employee’s capability that you want to hire.

 

It’s interesting because what you’re saying is to hire the person and not the tasks. When people ask me about my own journey, I have the same issue. When it comes to hiring people and growing employees, it’s a whole art by itself. A lot of people tell me, “When you started it back in 1989, things were so much simpler. It’s so much harder these days.” I’m like, “No, things were a lot harder back those days because, in 1989, we didn’t have internet.” When I started my business, I didn’t have internet. I didn’t have free access to information as we have now in Google or YouTube.

You can learn how to build a rocket ship now on YouTube by yourself if you have the time. We don’t have podcasts and people like you sharing information. I always say, “Only a stupid person will only learn from their own experience. Smart people learn from other people’s experiences, other people’s failure, as well as their successes.”

Now, things are so much simpler. You have everything you want. Running a business is free. Your Google calendar is either free or $10 a month. A lot of information you have, you might have to run through or sift through information. A lot of crazy information is out there on the internet. If you’re listening to a podcast like mine, I bring amazing guests every single week. Believe it or not, I only have 26 guests a year because it’s a weekly show, and then every other episode is me to them.

You can imagine I don’t put on everybody. I only put on people relevant to my audience who focused on transformation. I believe that information is free. Why should I have another podcast talking to them about information? People are willing to pay for transformation. They’re not willing to pay for free information. That’s why I’m focused on transformation.

When you go and check out Bimal’s site, it is full of the tools you need. They involve simple tools and big tools. You can utilize all the freebies as you do on my site on how to scale your business, and how to work fewer hours with fewer resources and make more. You’re going to be more efficient and more effective to your target audience. If you want to work with them, I’m sure you have a bunch of different programs you can plug into. You have a community of people, do you or do you not?

We have the pioneers community, and you can connect with other pioneers. My whole mission of making a million pioneers is that I want to build a community of people that connect with each other and help them scale. When you ask about managing people, I have a whole system of building culture structure, building an optimal day for everyone, and accountability, which is big in many companies because they don’t have these systems. I have already had these all set up. It’s all plug-and-play for many companies because I built all of these things. As I work with companies, one of the things I do is if it’s a problem for one, it’s a problem for many.

 

Always dream big. Don’t cut yourself short. Think about your dreams and have them clearly spelled out.

 

The other thing too is a lot of the things that a bigger company with a bunch of employees, office politics and all of that stuff happens to you. When you’re a small business and got four people, you can have management problems unless you know how to manage. That’s a huge thing. In terms of community, I’m a huge believer in collaboration.

Even if you’re in the same business and you see your competitor as somebody evil or somebody you need to get rid of, try to find ways to collaborate with anybody you can. When you have a community of people, you can find somebody you can collaborate with, learn from, lift, impact, and help you transform your business. I’m glad that you started the interview with the fact that instead of looking for money or anything, look for what impact you have on other people’s lives.

The only way an entrepreneur makes money is if you add value to somebody else’s life. In the long term, that’s the only way you’re going to make money. That word impact is huge. I happen to be Asian. In Asian countries, we look at more than money or anything when you die. The thing you want to look at is what legacy you leave behind. While you’re building your career or dream business, if you have a chance to leave that impact, even if it’s in front of the 50 people that you know, that’s huge. Learn everything you can.

We’ve talked about scaling and growing your business, and this is something that we all dream of. Bimal came to us with a lot of experience on how to do it himself. He shared it with thousands of other people as well. As we close this interview, if you can give one piece of advice that you have not shared so far here to a young entrepreneur starting now, what would it be?

I have a saying, “A journey of a billion miles begins with three steps.” You’ve heard that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one, so I’ll give three. Number one, always dream big. Don’t cut yourself short. Think about your dreams and have them clearly spelled out. It’s a vivid vision where you’re detailing everything. That’s what the first book is all about. Building a very detailed vivid vision, including what visual you see of your building, office, people, the team, everything is very thoroughly detailed.

Number two, you need to hire right. You cannot do everything yourself. You don’t need to necessarily mean that you have to put employees on the payroll. We live in a world where we can collaborate and work with people. All kinds of stuff are possible. You don’t have to necessarily take the word hire means, “I have to have employees.” It means that you look for resources that you can get done elsewhere.

MDH 67 | Exponential Growth

Exponential Growth: You’re probably better off hiring some people to do the things you are not good at.

 

Number three is you need to have proper messaging and marketing. People need to know who you are and what you do. You need to hire right and market right. You need to be in the right market with the right message. You need to have at least seven touchpoints with any ideal customer that you’re chasing at a minimum. Ideally, it would be 25.

How can they get ahold of you, find your books, and everything?

On Amazon, they can search Becoming A Pioneer. If they buy the book and join can join the club, it’s Bit.Ly/ThePioneersClub, or they can go to my website, TheOneYearBreakthrough.com. I also have a website called BimalShahAuthor.com. In any of these places, you’ll be able to access many of the resources.

I have built a whole system. These thirteen books were there for a reason. It’s not to write many books, but my mission is to leave behind the system that people can use 10, 20, 50 years from now to keep using that over and over again to scale themselves. These thirteen books are a whole system, step-by-step, week-by-week to help them achieve the three-year goal in one year.

Thank you so much for coming to this show. Thank you so much for those of you in the audience. Please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I wish you a great week where you’re making great choices. Until next time.

 

Important Links:

 

About Bimal Shah

MDH 67 | Exponential GrowthBimal is the Founder of Rajparth Group of Companies that provide unique and customized consulting to executives and teams of companies to positively impact their bottom line. Bimal is on a mission to make pioneers out of entrepreneurs by helping them achieve their three-year goal in one-year and have the government pay for it through Grants. Bimal Shah is well-known in South Florida and in business community for the last 21 years. He is a recognized speaker with presentations at several professional business associations, conferences, and meetings like Goldman Sachs Cohorts, Miami Beach Chamber, FCPA chamber, Boca Raton Chamber, ABWA, BNI, NPI, BRIC, Vistage, SFHHA, SFHNG, Lab Miami, AANGFL, SFTA, and Religious organizations like JAINA and SFHT.
MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

 

Learning the fundamentals of something is important if you want to get good at it. The same thing applies to the key fundamentals of marketing. Having these in your pocket helps make marketing your business easier. Victoria Wieck and Tim Fitzpatrick of Rialto Marketing get into the basics. They discuss the concepts and how each is an important part of the whole. Tune in and see the breakdown of marketing your business.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

The Key Marketing Fundamentals For Success With Tim Fitzpatrick

Many of you, readers, are already entrepreneurs, and quite a few of you are successful. Some of you are struggling. I always like to start my show with a proposition, also to solve problems that you are facing every single day. One of the first things that a small business entrepreneur has to navigate, if he or she will be successful, is the whole idea of marketing yourself, getting yourself out there, getting visibility, letting people know what you do, how you serve them, and why you are the unique and the best in that field.

Why will they give you a try? This is all part of the world of marketing but we are living in a world of so-called experts who tell you what marketing is. It could be digital marketing, advance, use slick ads, all those things come into play. I’ve got somebody here who has grinded it out over several businesses that he has founded and worked through. This isn’t marketing solutions for people who’ve got millions of dollars to spend. This is for those of you who have to watch your money, actions, and time as well. Without further ado, I want to welcome Tim Fitzpatrick, who is a marketing expert. Welcome to the show.

Victoria, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

First of all, give our audience a two-minute overview of how you became a marketing expert and why you are uniquely a different kind of marketing expert.

My entrepreneurial journey has not been a straight path. I don’t think any of them are but when I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was a Math major. My dad had been an entrepreneur for a long time. He had started a wholesale distribution company a couple of years before I graduated. I knew he needed some help. He had no full-time employees at that point.

I said, “Let me work for you for three months. Give me time to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. You need the help.” He said, “Yes.” I jumped in. We were selling consumer electronics and home theater equipment to contractors. After three months, I was hooked. I loved it. I became the first full-time employee. I was wearing every hat. I was, “Let me pick up this phone.” I’m doing AR, “Let me do this.” I’m doing sales. It was an awesome experience. My dad and I grew that company about 60% a year for nine years, and then we sold it.

I learned more doing that in 6 months than I did in 4 years of college. It was an amazing experience, one that I would never want to change. When I’ve got out of that, I needed to do something different. I shifted gears. I’ve got involved in residential real estate for a while, which I did not like. The one thing I learned from that was how to put myself outside of my comfort zone. There’s not much I’m not worried about jumping into.

When I decided to get out of real estate, I was waking up each day going, “I hate this.” Why own a business if you are going to be in that position? I shifted gears again. That’s when I’ve got into what I’m doing, which is marketing. We focus on the fundamentals, keeping marketing simple. It is so easy to overcomplicate these days. I love marketing. It’s dynamic. It’s always changing but the fundamentals of any discipline do not change.

I agree with that 100%. I forgot to tell you this but I have a Master’s degree in Marketing. I was told that I was not going to be good at Marketing because I didn’t understand the nuances. My professors were looking out for me. They didn’t think there was any future in me with Marketing. They convinced me to change my major from Marketing to Finance.

Marketing is dynamic. It’s always changing, but the fundamentals do not change.

I had taken too many courses at that point to give up on the majors. I went ahead and finished that out and I still got a degree in Finance, neither of which I use. I wouldn’t say I don’t use that Marketing degree per se but a lot of the things that they teach you in school are not applicable for a small business. They are made for plugging into a large company and learning how to spend their money. In your case, in your father’s company, that’s where you probably have learned a lot about marketing principles.

In this day and age of all the slick, the buzzwords, and the new trends in marketing that comes and goes, the basic principles of marketing don’t change over time. How human beings react to something, a word or a message, how they feel about how somebody touches you in terms of the wordings, whether you do it digitally, TV or in person, they don’t change. All of a sudden, it becomes some sort of an animal. In your opinion, what is marketing if you have to describe it simply? What are some of the principles, and why are they important?

To answer your first question, what is marketing? Marketing to me is getting someone who has a need or a problem you can solve to know, like, and trust you. That’s it. We all buy from people we know, like, and trust. The job of our marketing is to get in front of those people, get them to know, like, and trust us so that when that need or problem they have that you can address becomes great enough and they raise their hand, they think of you, and then it’s transitioning to sales.

When it transitions to sales, it’s not a cold conversation. It’s a warm conversation. They already know, like, and trust you. That conversation then becomes so much easier. To me, that’s what marketing is. Why the fundamentals are so important? The easiest way for me to describe this is from a quote from Michael Jordan, “Get the fundamentals down, and the level of everything you do will rise.”

I don’t care what the discipline is. The fundamentals do not change. The fundamentals of shooting a free throw are the same as they were years ago, and they are going to be the same 50 years from now. The fundamentals are immutable. The fundamentals lay the foundation for you to build the rest of your house from.

If you skip them, you are building a house without a foundation. You can have success skipping the fundamentals but it’s going to take a lot longer. You are going to waste time and money. At some point, it is going to come crashing down. You are going to hit a ceiling that you absolutely cannot push through. A house without a foundation will stand up for a certain time but when stuff goes bad, it’s going to fall down and crumble.

There are plenty of people who skip the fundamentals. The biggest mistake I see is most people skip the fundamentals and get tactical immediately. You mentioned this, Victoria. There are all kinds of shiny objects in marketing. We see people battling information overload. You need to be on Clubhouse. You need to do TikTok. You need to have a blog. You need to have a podcast. It’s like, “What do I do? There’s so much information coming at me. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what the next step is.”

That’s why we need to get back to the fundamentals. When you get the fundamentals in place, it helps you eliminate all that information. It helps you cut through the noise and outline what your priorities are so that you are not overwhelmed. You know exactly what you need to do when you have clarity but you can’t do that until you have the fundamentals in place.

There’s quite a bit of information that you unloaded there. It’s interesting because my husband is in real estate, and he used to do commercial property. He retired. It’s interesting that we still build our houses and any structure in the same way. We don’t build a roof first. You always start with the foundation because if you build a great foundation, later on, you want to add a second story, you can do that.

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

Key Marketing Fundamentals: One thing we learned from real estate was how to put yourself outside of your comfort zone.

 

You don’t ever start building homes or anything else with the roof because it’s more convenient, or it looks shinier or prettier. You are going to end up having to go back. When you said you can achieve success, skipping some of those foundations but eventually, the way you succeed is you stumble onto some of those basic principles, whether you like it or not, because some of the key principles have to be there.

We are going to get into the key principles. Tim said earlier his definition of marketing is getting in front of your target audience and get them to like and trust you. Let’s go back to that very basic principle in the first place. One of the first mistakes I see a lot of beginner entrepreneurs and those who succeed in the first five years after you figure this out is identifying your target market in a way that’s too broad or narrow sometimes. You can have the right product for the wrong people. You could have the wrong stuff to the right people. When do you know when you have your target audience nailed down?

You have your target audience nailed down when you are working with people day in and day out that you love working with, that are profitable, that you get great results for. There are too many people that their target is too broad. Unless we have an unlimited budget, we cannot target broadly. When we say narrowing down that target market, that doesn’t mean those are the only people you are doing business with. That means those are the only people you are targeting your marketing towards.

When you can hone in, and you know who those people are that you enjoy working with, why do you want to be in business and bang your head against a wall every day? If you are going to stay in business, you need to work with people that are profitable. There’s nothing wrong with making money. If you are going to work with people and stay in business, you have to get great results for them. You have to understand who those people are.

Initially, when you first start, it can be hard to know that. Unless you have prior experience in the specific market that you are going into, it’s hard to target it narrow. What you need to do in that case is do a little bit of research and get an idea based on what you know, who you believe is going to be best. You need to take those assumptions, go out there and test them.

Based on what we know, we believe these types of people are going to be best for us. Let’s get out there and start to market to those people. Once we start to have some success and do business, then we can dig deeper and hone in on it. A lot of the people that we work with have been in business for a while. They have current and past customers. That’s when you hone in on your ideal clients, you look at the people you have worked with and ask yourself three questions. “Who do I love working with? Who do I get great results for? Who are our profitable clients?”

When you ask yourself those questions of the people you have already worked with, you end up with a subgroup of customers. It’s that subgroup that you can start to dig deeper in, to look at the demographics like, “What are the numbers around these people?” More importantly, though are the psychographics. What are their thoughts, their feelings, the results they are looking for? What are their behaviors? As you start to identify those elements, inevitably, what happens is some smaller groups with commonalities come to the surface. Those are your ideal client types.

Why is it that once entrepreneurs, even experienced ones, have a little bit of money, their first thing is to go out and try to broaden their target market? I do a lot of mentorship work, free speeches, and workshops. I’m doing quite a bit of volunteer work. When I work with new entrepreneurs, they are so insecure about identifying their target market in a narrow way.

For example, I sell jewelry. If I say every woman loves jewelry, that’s great. I always tell people, “Try to think about placing a Facebook ad. If somebody gave you free money and you had to place a Facebook ad, and your target market is all women, what would your ad say?” You might say something like, “All of you love this stuff. It’s 25% off or whatever.” You can’t identify certain types of women.

If you’re going to stay in business, you need to work with people that are profitable. There’s nothing wrong with making money.

In my case, when I first started my company, I targeted working women because I was the first generation of women who went outside the home and had titles like Director of Marketing. We weren’t in an administrative capacity. A lot of us left our kids at home, making good money. We had to stand out in a workplace that was very rigid.

My ad would have said, “This is great for a workplace where you can look polished. You can add a little femininity with a lot of affordability. When you are done with that, ten years from now, you can pass it on to your children for peace.” That was very targeted. By the way, working women had money.

When you are staying at home as a stay-at-home mom, and you are working on one income, the husband’s income, and you are young, your husband is not making a whole lot of money yet because they are not at the peak, you don’t have money for one. Number two, you don’t have a need to go anywhere to look for jewelry. You are not buying anything.

Identifying that working women in a corporate environment was the smartest thing you could do at that time. A lot of times, by identifying a target market that’s narrow will narrow your marketing message. The other thing too is you also know where they hang out so that you can connect to them quickly with less expenditure. I love the fact that these are basic marketing principles that a lot of people like so-called experts, don’t talk about because there’s no money in it.

Like a lot of drug companies won’t tell you if we find out that spinach is a cure to cancer. They are not going to ever talk about that because there’s no money in it for them. A lot of your experts out there doing these masterminds and everything else will charge you all this money to come up with the new sleek campaign about the unique selling proposition.

You have to get down to the basics first. Understand who you are dealing with, who you want to do business with, and how you can make money before you play with all these other variables that come into play that can amplify more once you have those basics. In terms of your principles, are there any other nuggets you want to share?

You touched on this a little bit. Once you understand who the target market is, then you can determine where they hang out and congregate. You have a list of where you can be to get in front of the people that you want to attract. Rather than casting a line out into the ocean, seeing what fish you catch, you are casting a line out, knowing exactly where you need to fish to catch those exact people you intend to work with.

It’s super important. Many people go out there and throw up over everybody, and it doesn’t work. The first fundamental is the target market. The second is your message. How do you communicate your value in what you do? How do you gain their attention and grab their interest? You honed in on working women. The message to working women is a completely different message than to a stay-at-home mom. It’s not to say that one is better than the other.

The message is different. If you try to put that message for working women to stay-at-home moms, it’s going to fall flat. It’s not going to go anywhere. When you are targeted, and you know who you are going to attract, and you understand them as well, if not better than they understand themselves, then and only then, can you create a message that is going to get in front of them and grab their interest. It’s super important.

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

Key Marketing Fundamentals: It helps you cut through the noise and outline your priorities so that you’re not overwhelmed and know exactly what you need to do.

 

The third thing is we’ve got to have a plan. What’s our plan going to be to get that message in front of those people? Too many people don’t have a plan. When you don’t have a plan, everything looks like an opportunity. When I get an email that says, “You’ve got to check out this newest marketing tactic.” If you have no plan, you are like a squirrel chasing a nut. You follow everything, spin your wheels, and don’t get consistent, repeatable results. You get overwhelmed because you can’t sort through all the information overload. You’ve got to have a plan to get started.

Tim Ferriss talked about the 1,000 raving fans. You don’t need 10,000 people to like you on Instagram, especially if your customers are not on Instagram. TikTok could be the new, big thing. If you are selling anything serious like marketing or even expensive jewelry, TikTok is not your ideal customer. You can get a lot of followers there but it’s completely useless.

You have to figure out where your ideal customers hang out and engage with you. You have to get your people. When you are first starting out, if you are launching a new product, you are better off getting those 1,000 raving fans who are fanatical about you and your services so that if they tell 10 people, each person, there’s your 10,000.

With that, you can do a lot. You can do quite a bit of business. You can do a lot of research. There’s a lot to build from. Understand your market. I’m out there. I work with the Global Society for Female Entrepreneurs. Whenever I’m talking like how you and I are talking, a lot of women will say, “This is so much information. I’m overwhelmed. I’m overloaded.”

If you are reading, and feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, don’t worry because you can go to Tim’s website. It’s RialtoMarketing.com. If you do that, you are going to get a lot of free information there that’s downloadable. You can learn a lot about this. I love free information. Even if I go through the whole website, I find one thing that I didn’t know before, it’s worth it.

If you want to connect with him further, you can go to RialtoMarketing.com/million-dollar-passion. Don’t be overwhelmed. We are having a conversation here. You go through all of Tim’s materials and narrow it down to actionable tips. Strategies are great but without logistics, a real action you take in a certain order is going to help you more than just talking about strategy forever. Go to those actionable tips. The easiest way for you to be un-overwhelmed or feel like you can tackle this is doing your homework.

Find out who you think your target market is and where they shop. What TV programs do they watch? You can do a lot of research on the internet. You can put a call. If you get 20 to 50 random people, not your friends, mom, and dad but random people to give you feedback, you have a lot of information there that you can chew through. Do your homework, ask them questions, and be vulnerable. Let them know that you are not perfect.

Let them know that as a small business owner, this is your distinctive advantage, being able to be nimble, personable, likable, and somebody you can trust. A lot of Corporate America doesn’t look like they are cuddly, nice people that are going to care about you. They can’t because their personas are already out there.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed as business owners. There are so many different things that we’re working on that it’s very easy to fall into that place.

Do your homework and educate yourself. That’s the other thing. I built my business. Many of you know my background. I built an over $500 million company without any money. I have spent less than $10,000 in 35 years of advertising. Think about that. I was grinding it out, understanding who my target market is, and keep on evolving, whether you like it or not, your customers are constantly evolving. They move away. They do all these things. You have to keep on evolving and elevating. If you don’t have the foundation, to begin with, you are going to have a hard time elevating or innovating. Is there any other information you might want to share more on this path?

I will add to one of the things you said, Victoria, which was about being overwhelmed. It is so easy to get overwhelmed as business owners. It’s very easy to fall into that place. One of the things that have always helped me there is focusing on the next measurable step. When you look at the high level, there are all the details and all these things you have to do. Do the first thing you need to do next that you can measure to get that much closer. When you get that done, then you go to the next one and the next one. It makes it so much easier and less overwhelming.

The reason why many small business owners, anybody who’s doing that $5 million and under, feel uncomfortable that this is a territory you don’t know is that you are bombarded with experts telling you all the marketing tactics, the trends, and what’s working. Most small business owners are good tacticians and technicians in what they do. They are passionate about their product, the marketing, the legal, the admin.

These are all the stuff that they’ve got to do but they don’t know it. They think, “Can I do this?” The answer is, yes, you can. You are better off doing it yourself than hiring somebody else because those other people don’t know your business, your heart, and your product. You have to pay them to educate them. They’ve got 200 clients.

Learn how to do it yourself. When you do that, when you understand your business, when you understand your target, then you can hire an expert who’s fit for you that you can work with that is going to be surgical about your business in your effort to market and do whatever you have to do. Talking about short attainable goals and being able to measure them and keep yourself accountable, whether that’s weekly or monthly, the next measurable step.

Every year, 75% of Americans have a weight loss goal in their New Year’s resolution. By February 15th, 80% of those people had given up on their goal already because their goal was something like, “I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to get into this. I’m going to get healthier. I put it off for 5, 10 years. I’m 20, 40 pounds heavier. I’m going to lose weight.” This is their goal.

You try to lose weight. You don’t know where to go. You do know. You have to cut down on eating and probably have to exercise but you don’t have time. It’s the last thing you do. The next thing you know is, “I’m going to get to it later.” The next year comes, it’s the same thing. If you said to yourself, “I am going to lose 10 pounds in the next 10 weeks. I have to lose 1 pound a week.”

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

Key Marketing Fundamentals: Don’t skip the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the fuel behind the tactics. Any tactic can work; it’s what you put behind it that will determine whether it works or not.

If that was your goal and you say, “What do I have to do to lose one single pound a week?” You have to cut out 300 calories a day. You are like, “I can cut out my wine in the afternoon or my toast in the morning. I’ve got to walk my dog anyway. I will do that.” Ten weeks later, you might lose 7 pounds, not 10. You might lose 15 pounds but either way, you’ve got momentum. You are better off then.

If you didn’t get to the goal, if you’ve got the 7 pounds off, the next 10 weeks you do that, you might get another 7 pounds. That’s 14 pounds off, and that’s 20 weeks. Think about that. It’s the power of setting those very short, attainable goals that you can achieve. That’s true with marketing, whatever you do, think that, “I love that.” That’s how I built my business. I started my company, trying to make $2,000 a month so that I can feed my kids.

I was driving a car with 150,000 miles on it. It was a Ford Pinto that blew up. It was known for fires and stuff. This one didn’t make it. I bought the whole car for $1,500. I drove that thing for five years. I was trying to make $2,000 a month. The next month, I was trying to make $3,000 a month. Once I’ve got to $5,000 a month, I was making $20,000, $30,000. I did more than $1 million in the first 18 months by doing that. When you do those short attainable goals, it makes you good at the things that you focus on. You don’t relearn that skill.

On the first day, you might walk your dog down the block and have cut out one piece of toast. After ten weeks, you might go, “That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I will cut out the toast and the wine. Maybe I can go down two blocks because when I went down that block, I saw a little lake there.” The next week you might go three blocks. It builds momentum. You already know the two blocks along the way. It becomes easier, and your dog is conditioned to doing this. There’s power in everything you have said. Tim, as we close this episode, do you have any last-minute tips?

I’m going to sound like a broken record here, Victoria, but don’t skip the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the fuel behind the tactics. Any tactic can work. It’s what you put behind it that’s going to determine, whether it works or not, whether you choose to have me help you with those fundamentals or not, don’t skip them. You will be so much better off. You will get to where you want to go faster by taking the time to get these in place.

How do people find you, Tim? What’s the best place for people to connect with you and find you?

Our website at RialtoMarketing.com is the best place. If you want to connect with me personally, LinkedIn is the best place for me, it’s www.LinkedIn.com/in/timpfitzpatrick/.

Thank you so much for reading. I sign off every week with wishing you health and happiness. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices this coming way. Thank you.

Important Links:

About Tim Fitzpatrick

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

I am an entrepreneur/business owner with expertise in marketing and business growth. I have 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience with a passion for developing and growing businesses. That passion served me well in operating and managing a wholesale distribution company I co-owned for nine years. Our company grew an average of 60% a year before being acquired in 2005.
Since then, I’ve had failures and successes that have helped me continually grow. I started Rialto Marketing in 2013 and have been helping service businesses simplify marketing so they can grow with less stress. We do this by creating and implementing a plan to communicate the right message to the right people. Most people overcomplicate marketing. It doesn’t have to be that way.
MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

 

Everyone needs the protection of their legal rights, especially entrepreneurs. The law can be scary and misunderstood, but luckily, we have people who can help us understand the law. Victoria Wieck and Jeremy Streten, CEO of Business Legal Lifecycle, sit down for a chat about the law and entrepreneurs. We examine why legal help is a must for many entrepreneurs and why it is an investment, not an expense. Learn more about why entrepreneurs need to invest in legal aid in this episode.

Watch episode here:

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Explaining The Law For Entrepreneurs: Learning Your Legal Rights With Jeremy Streten

Welcome to another episode. Many of you who are in small businesses or some of you who might want to start one, if you are living in the United States or any country, one of the biggest things that are in your mind but you do not action it until you need it has to do with the law. It is a scary thing to deal with a lawyer. Not all lawyers are bad. I have got a couple of lawyers myself and my family and they are not evil.

I always wondered why we all wait until something happens to us and then we frantically will find a lawyer. You usually find somebody at the last minute and try to understand the situation you are in. I have someone from the law profession who has been practiced business law. He foresaw the need to be proactive as a business people.

You are going to be able to operate more freely because you know that you are within the boundaries of the law that is going to protect you. You are going to have that layer of protection because you have that knowledge and also ultimately to save time and money. Without further ado, I am going to introduce Jeremy Streten, Esq. to my show.

Welcome to the show, Jeremy.

Thanks so much for having me, Victoria.

Tell me about the idea that you have, which is to help people understand their rights as well as their customer’s rights and all the boundaries. If you are in business, you have to understand the legal ramifications of every action, everything you write on your website and your employee manual. Tell me about how you came up with this idea of helping people proactively, not once they got in trouble. How did you come about?

I do not practice law anymore. I’m over here in Australia. I do this and help to expand the business out. There were two matters where I acted for clients. One was where a client almost lost $2 million of his own money and another one where two gentlemen lost $1 million of theirs and other people’s money. It was all because they did not take proactive legal advice. Victoria, it was one of those moments where I was sitting at my desk and both these things happened around the same time.

People don’t like talking to lawyers because we use terminology in the legal profession that is unnecessarily complicated and makes it seem fancier.

I was thinking, “Why won’t people get legal advice?” I spoke to both of them and asked them, “Why do you think you get legal advice? It would have solved the problem earlier if you had gotten legal advice.” Both of them said the same thing, which was they didn’t know what they didn’t know. They didn’t know the unknowns. They did not like talking to lawyers because they were scary and mean.

We use terminology in the legal profession which is unnecessarily complicated and makes it seem fancier. They saw it as a cost rather than an investment. I sat down and, by that stage, I would act for around 5,000 different business owners. I mapped out the ones in the order of things that people did well when they were successful mapped that out then I overlaid that with people who did things poorly. I mapped out this journey of the business legal lifecycle and thirteen phases of when you should take certain steps in the legal profession.

A few years before that, I had engaged a business coach and he told me one day I would write a book. I laughed at him and said, “What lawyer writes a book that people will actually read?” When I had my thirteen phases, I rang him and said, “I’m sorry. You are right.” I had thirteen phases of how we can help business owners to understand the law from a legal perspective and how they understand what they need to do in that business. That’s how I generated the concept of the lifecycle. Since then, I have taken it to the UK and the US and adapted it for the laws in the different countries. It has been a good journey so far.

The book you wrote that you thought no one would read is titled what?

The Business Legal Lifecycle.

That is the genesis of the service that you provide now. I have many years of entrepreneurship journey myself. Many people reading know that not all those years were rosy and not everything I have done was successful. I have had some pretty fantastic failures and I use the word fantastic in a very sarcastic way that those failures were pretty painful.

Let me ask you a question about this. A lot of times, the first question most people have when they are first starting their business is, “I got this brand new idea. I invented this. I have a new way of doing something.” Because I’m on TV and my name is quite well known out there, people would ask me, “Can you put this on TV? This does XYZ.” I always tell people, “Do me a favor. Do not tell me anything that you want to protect because I do not want to get sued later on for taking your stuff and giving it to somebody else or talking about anything like that.”

To protect your intellectual property before you tell me anything that you believe truly is prepared proprietary to you. A lot of entrepreneurs do not even think about NDAs or protecting their intellectual property, their rights or their trademarks. They do not even think about that. They keep talking to anybody who will listen. I can’t say this on this show but there are so many household products that we know of now that were not invented by those people that made all the money.

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

Legal Rights: Entrepreneurs saw legal aid as a cost rather than an investment.

 

It was invented by somebody else who then got copied by somebody else and then got copied by somebody else then somebody out there, marketing genius, came in and made that amazing company. That is the first thing. The second thing I want to know is small business people are negotiating all the time, whether you are negotiating with the customer, business to consumer or business to business. When you are negotiating, I find that a lot of small business people, because they do not know, give up a lot more rights and a lot more than they have to because they do not understand the boundaries.

Most small business people are real small tacticians and technicians on what they do well and they do not understand this whole world of legal side of the business. How important is having some understanding of the legal ramifications of the decisions they make early on and ongoing? How important do you think that is in the journey of a small business person?

It is crucial. Education is the key here because there are so many different nuances to the law. There are so many different parts of the law. You talked before about nondisclosure agreements. You need to work out whether that’s right for you or whether that’s the right thing. That’s what I said before, the unknown unknowns. There is a business side of when you start that business.

You do not know what those problems are going to be. You do not know what they could be. This is where you would need to talk to a lawyer and research yourself about what it is that you might need in your business from a legal perspective because there are certain steps that you need to take in a business to protect yourself.

Spending all that money getting a nondisclosure agreement might sound all good right at the beginning but unless you have got a new, innovative idea, it is not worth the cost. You need to go out and get some clients, get some customers, see whether or not people are going buy from you, potentially bring on a team and employees and start to do that and then protect your intellectual property.

You need to do it at the right time where you have proven that you have a business before you go spend that money. I’ve seen far too often people go, “I have got a great idea.” Everyone thinks that they have a perfect idea, the next Facebook or the next whatever. You need to prove it out first and then protect it. For the first part of your question, that’s important. Make sure you have got something and then go and protect it.

Unless you do have something that’s innovative then you can look at what we call patients, where you protect the actual process of development and understanding all of the legal aspects is super important. That is one of the reasons I wrote the book. It was to have people understand what it is that they might need to do so that when they go to see the lawyer, they know what they are supposed to do and what they are talking about.

I’m going to give you an example. It is interesting because I have been an entrepreneur for many years and I have never been sued and I have never sued anybody. I’m thinking, “I’m well-protected. I have had great lawyers. Give me some advice. All my forms are up-to-date and it is current. It meets all the regulations and standards of every state in the country.”

What education does is it empowers you to then go and have an intelligent conversation with a lawyer.

When I started coaching five people because this was a special course that was probably never going to be repeated again, it was very high-powered women who were running seven-figure businesses already and they wanted to go to the eight-figures so I did a four-month workshop. The first thing my husband said to me was, “Are you not going to need some confidentiality agreement for this particular course?” I said, “Why would I need to do that?” He said if those five people were in the same group and they talked to each other and then one of them told somebody else, you might be liable for that because you were the center of gravity.

I had to go get a confidentiality agreement specific for that one thing and also a nondisclosure. There were all these things because the stakes were so high in this particular course. A lot of people are glad to make money and they do not realize how open you are. In that case, it was not even somebody suing me. It was somebody suing each other and then me being the deep pocket person at the end where I’m going to be named as a part of a party. A lot of small business owners won’t realize like, “I could be exposed to that.” You offer a tool to help business owners to see what the risk factor is in any given situation.

We have a tool that we developed. I live in a state called Queensland in Australia. We won the Queensland Law Society’s Innovation and Law Award a couple of years ago for this tool. What it does is you answer 30 questions and it takes about 10 minutes. It identifies what your legal risks are and it gives you a report that is in plain English. Everything I do is in plain English. We are not using legal speak and if I do use legal terms, I explain them.

It tells you where you are in the lifecycle out of the thirteen phases, what you need to do there, what you might have missed from the phases that you might need to go and do and then what you need to do for the future. We are very proud to win that award. It is very useful for business owners to see what those legal risks are that they can then take to their lawyer or their attorney, get them to fill the gaps and reduce those legal risks in their business.

Congratulations on winning the Innovation Award. I do think that what you are saying is you are not trying to be their lawyer. You are trying to help them come up with the risk factor and when they need it, at what point because you do not need to spend the money until you feel like there is something to protect. It could be intellectual property. It could be a right not to be sued. I always wondered why we wait until we get sick to go see a doctor. By that point, by the time you feel the symptoms a lot of times, it is a pretty tough thing to fix.

It is the same thing with legal. I find that if you can talk it out and have an understanding, make the compromise you can make upfront, you do not get sued or you do not spend not only the money but all the years of pain and the stress level that you have to deal once you are involved in a legal matter. That is not fun at all. I love what you are doing and also how you help. When I say talk about small business owners whether it is selling vitamins, cosmetics, coaching services, massage services or anything you do especially ingestibles, you are going to need some layer of protection.

When I’m on TV, both on HSN and Shop HQ now, many of you who are female and have watched cosmetics shows and cosmetics advertisements always say that you are going to get a cosmetic lift and results may vary, best case scenario is shown. They will say something like, “This is a temporary lift.” There are always some disclaimers in there so that it helps them.

It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It does not reduce wrinkles and fine lines. A lot of people overlook that. With ingestible, it is the same thing. There is the equivalent of that in everything. You have to cover yourself because there could be somebody who sits there and say, “I use this $30 cream. I’m not looking 40 years younger. I do not know what happened.”

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

Legal Rights: Education is the key here, because there are so many different nuances with the law. There are so many different parts of the law.

 

That’s the point. A lot of people do not realize that they can protect themselves. They do not think, first of all, that they might need to. You can’t protect yourself from everything but there are a lot of things that you can protect yourself on. If people do not look and do not understand the law, we have a tagline, “You can understand the law without a Law degree.”

That is simply by explaining it in plain English for people. People can understand all that stuff they need if they go looking for it. If they look at it, it is not an area, especially with what you are talking about, where you want to do it and ask for forgiveness later. That does not work and that can get a lot of people in trouble.

Jeremy, if you had to give entrepreneurs three tips on how to protect themselves aside from using your tool, what else would you say? What are the top three things entrepreneurs can do?

The first thing is education. You do not have to go under a Law degree but research. There is lots of great material online. There is a lot of stuff on our website but there is also lots of stuff on lots of other websites and great tools to educate yourself. The second thing is do not think that by being educated you can go and do it yourself. You still need a lawyer or attorney to do that.

Now, there are lots of great tools out there. I was on a call with a gentleman from Connecticut. We are talking about the legal shield. That’s a great tool and that serves a point but you still need to go and get legal advice. It is educating yourself but know that you still need to get legal advice. What education does is it empowers you to then go and have an intelligent conversation with a lawyer.

A lot of people say to me, “I want you to do that. I want my lawyer to handle that.” This is a partnership. It is like medicine. You go to a doctor. The doctor is not going to fix you. You have to do something. You might have to change your lifestyle. You might have to take some drugs and have to do something. It is still something you need to do. It is the same with the lawyer. You still need to do that.

The third thing is to be curious as to what might happen and do not think that you will fix everything later on. Those two gentlemen are just two examples. They lost $1 million of other people’s money and nearly lost $2 million of his own money. I talk about that around the world. I have been to the UK, US south Africa and lots of places around the world. I talk to lawyers about this and they all come up to me afterward and say, “I had someone who had a very similar situation.” It might sound extreme, maybe they are not losing that much money but this happens all the time. People need to be curious about what is going on so that they do not fall into those traps that are so easily avoided.

All three pieces of advice you gave are very relevant. Number one, educate yourself. I say, educate yourself because let me tell you something. This happened to a lot of my friends and the fact that I didn’t have any money. I had to educate myself because I thought I could do it by myself helped me. It helped me figure out what kind of lawyers I needed. Number two, I told you I have two lawyers in my family and yet none of my family members were able to help me. I didn’t use them for my business because they did not relate to what they were doing.

A lot of people think the law is black and white, but that’s not the case. If that was the case, there wouldn’t be a need for professional lawyers. We wouldn’t even need a Supreme Court.

My sister does Family Law and my brother does logistics. Educating yourself and understanding what you need so you can surgically find a lawyer who specializes in that particular category. That is the first thing so you are hiring the right people. Two, do not do it yourself. When you say do not try to do it yourself, what I did was when I negotiated these mega contracts, my contracts were north of $1 million to $10 million at a time, I did most of the business deals myself. Meaning that, “Do you want to take returns? We want to pay you 30 days, not 45 days.” All things were already negotiated between me and the other party then I hired a lawyer to put that in writing.

If my lawyer did not understand my business, how are they going to negotiate on my behalf? I didn’t want to pay my lawyer to try to explain to him what I do and what is special about me. I was paying $1,000 an hour and that was going to be a north twenty hours just to educate them. I would have a meeting with my lawyer and say, “Here is what I’m negotiating with. They already told me they are going to do XYZ and they are not negotiating these things. I compromised on this. I want to put this in writing so that there is no more room to move around what we have already said.”

Every word can mean twenty different things. I want to make sure that what I thought agreed on is what was agreed on. Later on, if there was a problem, if whoever I was negotiating with left the company and I’m dealing with a new guy or girl who didn’t want to honor the contract, what are my options at that point? How do I exit the agreement? I wasn’t going to do it by myself and because I was educated, I was able to do it at a pretty affordable cost with top-notch lawyers that surgically came in and fixed that.

Lastly, being curious. When you look at the US Constitution or the State Constitution of California or any of these things that people say are so crystal clear, there are lawyers on both sides arguing this for generations already. It is the same document. It is not a huge document. It is just a few pages. Every word can mean different things. Jeremy, you might find this interesting. Great lawyers are some of the most creative people because they will look at the same word and they will find ways to shape their narrative where you come out on top or they will shape the narrative where you can get more money or add layers of protection without sounding like it is a disclaimer.

The lawyers that I had hired when I was first starting out are now all in their 80s because I have had the same lawyers forever know my business. I do not have to explain to them again and again the new thing. They are now my family members. They come to our birthday parties and everything. It could be a great relationship. They were starting out back then or I was starting out and it is great.

That creativity is right and great lawyers are creative. A lot of people think the law is black and white. If that were the case, there would not be a need for professional lawyers. You would not even need a Supreme Court. We have a high court over here. There are lots of shades of gray. You are right. You need to be able to look at different words, work out what does that mean, how that can be interpreted and how that should be interpreted.

I do not know a lot about law. I’m a real creative person. I design jewelry for a living. I draw and paint. The one thing I do know for sure about law is that there is always an exception to every law. “What do you mean there is an exception to this? This is such a simple little sentence.” I enjoyed our conversation, Jeremy. I have told every lawyer I ever met to come up with a course or informational webinars so that entrepreneurs are walking into their entrepreneurship journey with some kind of legal shield around them.

Not because they are trying to screw somebody over but because a lot of us give our heart and soul and we work to provide value to our product. We are not aware that we might get ourselves in trouble because we are so eager or we want to protect the product too well. Thank you so much for coming in. How can people find you and connect with you more?

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

Legal Rights: There are lots of shades of gray. You need to look at different words and work out what they mean and how they can be interpreted and how that should be interpreted.

 

If people want to find out more, we have created a webpage as a thank you for having us on the show. People go to BusinessLegalLifeCycle.com/milliondollarpassion as one word. They will get a page with lots of free resources. If they are interested in taking our legal risk assessment tool as a thank you, we have a 50% discount tag on there.

There is a code that you can use, it is usually $97 and it will be $48.50. It identifies well over $1,000 worth of legal value for people. If they are interested, I do provide a lot of content on LinkedIn. If they search for my name, I’m the only one with the spelling of that name on LinkedIn. People will be able to find me there and I would love to connect with the readers of the show.

Thank you so much for coming in. Thank you for reading, ladies and gentlemen. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice and I hope you make lots of great choices.

Important Links:

About Jeremy Streten

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal RightsJeremy Streten is a founder and chief executive officer at Business Legal Lifecycle. He is the author of the amazon number one best selling book “The Business Legal Lifecycle”. Jeremy has appeared on various television shows, podcasts and radio interviews.
He also provides regular content for websites across Australia.
MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

 

If you want to increase revenue in your business, incentives are the recommended approach rather than providing discounts. What is the reason behind this? Join Victoria Wieck as she sits down with Marco Torres to talk about the difference between incentives and discounts. Marco is the Co-founder of MarketingBoost. He has helped thousands of business owners worldwide boost sales and scale their businesses by as much as five-fold through incentive-based marketing. In this episode, he talks about the most effective way of increasing your business’ sales and profit. Have a deeper understanding on what you are losing with discounts and what you are gaining with incentives. Tune in!

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Incentive-Based Marketing: How To Use Value-Add Incentives To Grow Your Business With Marco Torres

Welcome to the new year. Hopefully, the year 2022 will be a great year for all of you, personally and professionally. When we talk about serial entrepreneurs, I’m convinced that when you google it, it’s going to have the name of Marco Torres. His face shows up because this man has been a serial entrepreneur for almost all of his life. A lot of serial entrepreneurs have failed and failed until they find the right mix but Marco found the secret sauce to success when he was nine years old.

I’m going to ask Marco to tell his story. Marco, welcome to the show. I’m so delighted to have your vision. My audience would benefit from the entrepreneurship successes you have had across many different types of categories. Tell us a little bit about yourself and some of the things that you have done in the past since you were nine years old.

Thank you, Victoria, for having me and reaching your audience. Since I was a kid at nine, I built the biggest paper route in San Juan, Puerto Rico by focusing on condominiums. I’m not a Puerto Rican. I’m a Latino but I grew up in Mexico and Puerto Rico. That makes me the only Chicano Rican you will probably ever meet. I had hundreds of clients. They featured me on the front page of the newspaper. From there later on, by the time I was 23, I owned five restaurants and a nightclub with my brother and mom. It’s throughout the Caribbean in Saint Thomas and US Virgin Islands.

I came over back to the US and worked in the corporate world for a while. That’s when I’ve got involved in internet marketing and retail stuff online. Between the corporate world and the companies that I worked with, we generated over $1 billion in sales on the internet between the years 2000 and 2008 when it all came to a dead end. I had to start all over again in reinventing myself, which I have done over and over throughout my career. I’m not a spring chicken. While we have been in sales and marketing of one sort or the restaurant business, we are always essentially selling products, services, or more importantly, my own brand.

If you have to start all over again, then do it. Reinvent yourself.

In 2008 was my best sales year ever. I sold my house, cars, boats and furniture. I was wiped out. I had to start all over. It was a bad couple of years there when I told them I had got back on my feet. What we did was we’ve got involved with some partners of mine. We’ve got into the travel business. We were blowing that up with a number of travel websites. Here’s how we rolled into this incentive business that I do now. That’s a quick overview of being in business for one thing or another for the last couple of years.

Even though that was a very quick introduction, you can probably sense a little bit about who Marco is and his undying search for excellence. If you think about 2008 and 2009, there was a little thing called a financial market disaster crash. There were many businesses that were at the top of the game. They bottomed out, such as real estate. A lot of digital marketing companies were all hurting pretty badly. At that point, Marco pivoted and started over. From those ashes of financial disaster, with his career dreams come crashing, he created what he is doing now, which is astonishing.

Lesson number one is to never give up. When life hands you a bunch of lemons, learn how to make lemonade quickly. If you think about it, history tells us that those financially tough years were incredible disaster years, such as the Great Depression. When we talk about the Great Depression, we talk about 1929 but there have been several before that. It’s the financial disasters that happened in 1989. For example, it’s Black Monday, if you recall that. The 9/11 was another one to 2008 and 2009.

All these times, some of our biggest companies that we know of that are household names started during those times. Many of you may not know this. Microsoft and Apple both started in 1989 that Black Monday. You are looking at companies like IBM, Burger King, Procter & Gamble, and Trader Joe’s. They all started in these horrible times. When you give your authenticity and meet the real needs of real people in those shifting times, they tend to hang around longer because they are running leaner, meaner, and also with the heart.

I love what you have accomplished so far. Marco was very humble going over his background. I’m going to give you a little bit about where he is coming from, how this now all ties into what he offers, and how he helps other people. He grew up in San Antonio. Eventually, from that paper route at age 9 to 12, he created a bunch of restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico to all over the Caribbean at Saint Thomas, Saint Croix and the US Virgin Islands. In all these places and wherever he went, he learned how to make lemonade and profited from that.

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

Value Add Incentives: People respond much better to a buy-one-get-one offer, to an additional added value, than they do with 10% or 15% off.

 

He is the Founder of a company called Marketing Boost. I want to tell you a little bit about Marco so that it gives you a little bit of context about what you are about to learn. I know Marco is a firm believer. In COVID years, some of you have been hurting badly. You had to pivot five different times to hang on to what you had. Some of you have benefited from this like my personal business in jewelry design. I’m on TV. The business is on fire. I can’t get in a product for some reason.

When things are tough, especially for small business owners who don’t have the vast experience like you have from the corporate world and being able to see the bird’s-eye view from the top, the instinct is to sell it for less to see if there are more volume. Whereas you are saying to go the other way, offer more value, and offer why they came to you in the first place. Tell me a little bit about your philosophy on that.

Discounting is the road to ruin. We find ourselves competing. More than likely, you’ve got competition. If you don’t, you are probably too small of a niche and it’s hard to go by anyway. We have all got competitors. We’ve got to stand out from the crowd. That becomes one of the challenges. We look at our competitors and see what they are doing. We see they are outspending you in ad buys and their pricing is maybe lower than yours. The temptation is to make sure you beat and underprice them. They see you and then they underprice. We are all racing to the bottom with no profits.

To make it clear how terrible it is to discount, if you don’t do the math in your head, you’ve got to know your numbers. Let’s say that for every $1,000 in sales, you have a 20% net profit. For $1,000 in sales, you are making $200 and now you discount 10%. In the next round of $1,000 in sales, let’s say instead of getting $1,000, you are getting $900 and yet you still have the same cost of marketing, labor and product. You are making $100 on the $900 in sales instead of $200.

To end up in the same place, you’ve got nearly double sales at $1,800 to end up with the same $200 you had before. You can see that it can continue to multiply. Your clients expect bigger discounts the next time around. They expect you to be always discounting. You mentioned a term you have coined called Growing Broke, which is exactly what you can do here. You can start having the volume but before you know it, your costs are the same and you don’t have the volume.

We teach in my organization. We’ve got a Facebook group with almost 28,000 active members and another group with 54,000 members. We are always constantly bringing valuable content as you do, Victoria, to our readers in our audience. We provide incentives with a company called MarketingBoost.com, where you can enhance your value by providing bonuses or incentives that you don’t have to come out of pocket to fulfill. At Marketing Boost, you can include bonuses like three nights in Las Vegas if you take this action.

Depending upon what business you’re in, if you’re not having a Facebook group, you’re doing it wrong. It is very recommended that you create one.

When you are a Marketing Boost member, you have unlimited access to these incentives. You’ve got to create urgency and scarcity. You can’t just hand them out. You’ve got to use these incentives when appropriate like when you sell a big-ticket item, build a loyalty program or sign up for a contest. Have it be like, “When you make the fifth purchase this month, we will bonus you with this incentive.” There are a million different ways to do that.

You’ve got to include your own product and double up with more products. Sometimes more products could be costly as well but you might be able to throw, “If you buy $100 with our products, we will throw in something that’s relevant. We will throw in a bonus token bag with our branded name on it.” It’s something that you are giving them of additional value rather than discounting the price. A lot of studies have shown that people respond much better to a buy one, get one free offer to an additional added value than they do 10% or 15% off.

That was a lot of information. Let me give it some clarity on here. A small entrepreneur wants to offer a value-add. Let’s say they come up with the right package of things where the value-add is justified. You are saying that if they purchase a $39 subscription from you that they can give it to their customers, how does that work?

We revolutionized the travel incentive business. We are not the first to do it. There have been travel certificates out there for decades. Many of you probably heard or seen them. You get a cruise certificate for 2 to take a 3-day cruise. All of our competitors designed those to nearly make them impossible to use. You’ve got the certificate and you are saying, “I’ve got this sweet cruise but now you’ve got to give them 90 days advance notice before you can travel and get all kinds of hoops to jump through.”

We decided, “We are going to get into this business. We had to make it better than anybody and stand out from the crowd.” We have a subscription model. You only pay $37 a month. You have the ability to give away unlimited travel incentives. Our competitors sell each individual certificate from a few dollars each to several hundred dollars. In our case, for a $37 monthly subscription plan, you have access to all of our incentives in unlimited quantity.

The reason we do that is that we are in the travel business and we have a lot of years of relationships. We went and reached out to hundreds of resorts around the world. We helped them realize that we can solve a problem that the hotels have, which is 70% of the hotels are typically unoccupied every night of the week except for peak seasons, weekends and holidays. For the majority of them, 30% of the rooms are going empty most of the time.

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

Value Add Incentives: Facebook groups are huge to build your own audience and community where you are the authority and the expert in your field or product line.

 

We figured, “If we could help them fill those rooms, then they would win.” Even if the rooms were given away for free, then the client is still going to spend money booking additional nights. They are going to spend money in the restaurant, spa, bar, room service, casino, and all of the other revenue-generating operations that a hotel or resort might have. The client gets a free trip.

Everybody wins. The hotel wins by getting somebody as long as these certificates are not being sold to the public and they are only given in a private scenario where they bought something. It was a bonus or an add-on. They realize that not every day it’s going to be available. They are not going to be able to go on the 4th of July, Christmas week or New Year’s Eve.

For example, in a typical destination of ours, we provide 30 out of 52 weeks a year our available inventory. If the client can be flexible, there’s going to be inventory. There are no hoops to jump through. There are no timeshare presentations. There is none of that stuff. They log in after they activate the certificate. They do that by paying the taxes and fees. The government is going to get its share no matter what. The room might be free but someone is still paying the room taxes and tourist taxes. They average about $30 a night.

If they get a three-night stay, they activate the certificate by paying the taxes. They will get a login to a website. They can check the dates they want to go. They will get all the hotel options that are available. They can book it right there and get an instant confirmation. They don’t have to call anybody or listen to any sales previews. They are on their way. We have the hotel savings cards that they can give away. Those went with $100, $200, $300, and $500 increments of cash credits.

The reason we have the different levels is that, depending upon the call to action, you might give them a $100 hotel savings card for a $100 purchase on your website. You have added value without having to discount. They don’t have any expense to it at all if and when they are ready to travel. It works like a gift card, except it doesn’t cover the full room rate. The hotel savings card will cover between 10% and 50% of the room rate, depending upon when and where they are traveling. The restaurant vouchers and BOGO offers are 10%, 15% or 25% off.

I love the fact that you explained all of this. When you talk about incentives, it scares me sometimes, to be honest with you. The car rental companies are by far the worst. I have traveled over 4 million or 5 million air miles. I have always rented a car. Every single month, I get this thing like, “You have earned a free day here and there.” It’s Avis, Hertz and all these companies. I have yet to be able to cash in once. They will have something like, “You can participate in the locations only. If you rent it for seven days, you get the one.” It’s impossible to use it. I like to throw it out. I don’t even bother with that anymore.

You’ve got to stay relevant with technology and automation.

Going back to your value-add, I like the business model that you have. Number one, I agree with you that if pricing is your primary way of competing with your competitors and hopefully, you have a lot of competitors, you will go out of business. It’s a matter of when. It’s not if unless you use that as a tie-over to come up with new products or services. Value-add is the way to go, in my opinion. Also, it’s every research. I was on HSN for many years. In those companies, they do a lot of research.

They try everything from free shipping to buy one, get one free to price-off. They are on 24 hours a day with all of the different products. I do know that incentives and value-adds work even for a higher price. As long as the perceived value is lower, they will still buy. If you are a small entrepreneur, the best way you can compete with even bigger companies is to build an incredible personal brand that people learn to trust, love and respect you. They amplify your voice by talking to other people about it.

After COVID, everybody wants to travel. I’m here in California. We are stuck here probably forever, especially for someone like myself who used to travel quite a bit. I love all the different cultures. It’s one of my favorite places. It’s such a beautiful place with beautiful people. Adding that is great. The trick is learning how to use it carefully so that you tie every incentive that goes out of your door with the maximum amount of actions. You would have to play with it a little bit.

If you are running a photography studio, every time you refer somebody, you can get a stamp or maybe it could be every referral over so many dollars. Not having to come up with your own incentive is a huge thing. Also, not having an incentive that competes with your future revenue is the other thing. I love what you are doing, your message, and everything you have done since you were nine years old. I hope you continue doing these amazing things. If you had to give advice to my readers that we haven’t covered so far, what would that be?

It’s how you stand out from the crowd. I could give you a couple of case studies as an example. One of my clients gave me an example. He has a subscription service. He has a team of guys in Asia who are studying the stock market and the Bitcoin market. They give you advanced tips on when you should buy and sell. He sells this service on Telegram. He has got everybody signed up through Telegram. It’s the new social network. They pay him $97 a month for access to his tips on when to buy, sell and everything else.

He built that up. He only started the business in January of 2021. He ended up with hundreds of clients paying him this. He went and offered a Marketing Boost incentive. He went to say, “If you pay for the annual plan without discounting and pay for twelve months in advance, I will give you a complimentary trip to your choice of five nights in Cancún or Hawaii. If you pay for six months in advance, we will give you 4 days and 3 nights in your choice of Las Vegas or Orlando.”

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

Value Add Incentives: You can’t just hand them out. You got to use these incentives when appropriate.

 

With Marketing Boost, there are 125 destinations. It’s everywhere from 7 nights in Phuket, 4 nights in Bali, 3 nights in Orlando, 30 destinations in the US, and a bunch in Australia. We have clients with Marketing Boost all over the world. He did this promo. In four days, he had hundreds of them step up and pay the annual amount and another couple of hundred that paid the six-month deal.

He generated almost $500,000 in revenue in four days without discounting his own product and generating fresh new revenue. Clients committed to a year-loyalty program. It was a beautiful win-win for everybody. Now, he does that consistently. Every so often, he is running a promo cycle and offers another, “Pay for 12 or 6 months and get the following.”

A bunch of my clients used Marketing Boost to grow their Facebook groups, for example. Depending upon what business you are in, if you don’t have a Facebook group, I recommend you do. You asked me what do I recommend. Facebook group is huge to build your own audience and community where you are the authority and expert in your field, product line or whatever it might be. Build a Facebook group, and then you can be delivering content, messages, promo cycles and incentives.

What have they done to build the Facebook groups? They would invite their people who join and say, “If you invite 25 of your friends to join this group, you will be entered in to win a trip to Cancún.” They use the incentives, keep the perceived high value of the incentives and offer them special promotions here and there. They are getting everybody in a contest, “Invite people to the group and we will give you a win.”

I have one client who built it from 0 to 10,000 members in 90 days using the Marketing Boost incentives to build his Facebook group to over 10,000. I have other members who have over 100,000 members in their groups in the travel business. They use these incentives to grow their Facebook group. I would recommend to clients to stay relevant with technology and automate. You’ve got to have a good CRM platform of some kind. There are so many tools that are out there.

Don’t try to do it all by yourself.

You do have to invest in software, tools, and technologies that are available to small entrepreneurs that are affordable and make such a big difference. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Some of us small solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, what do we do? We try to be control freaks. We want to do everything that we think we do better than everybody else. You can’t grow if you are the only one on your team. You’ve got to find some virtual assistance, automate stuff and put your business on autopilot.

Thank you so much for everything that you have said. If you read Marco’s business model and some of the examples that he gave, not only are you going to get new customers but you are going to increase having your existing customers buy more. Ultimately, there are only two ways you can make money. It’s getting new customers or getting existing customers to buy more or do both. You are getting more of a premium type of customer. That customer you talked about in Singapore was helping people do Bitcoin.

Having the incentive tied to that is having them pay 1 year or 6 months in advance. These are people who are not looking to cut up their payments into six payments because they can’t afford it. They are a million-miler. That’s who you are getting by having that incentive. It’s up to you how you can almost control the layers. By understanding who those people are, you can then offer them upsells and product lines as well. Thank you so much, Marco, for sharing your time and expertise. I’m excited for all of you to go to his site.

I do have a special offer for your readers. If they go to MarketingBoost.com/podcast, they can get 30 days of Marketing Boost for $1. After that, it’s $37 a month. If you go to MarketingBoost.com, you will get a seven-day free trial but here it’s a special offer. It’s a no-brainer to log in and check it out. The only reason we do that is not to discount. We call it tripwire to get you in the door, sign up for the dollar, and get a chance to review the site. You can give yourself one of the complimentary trips and check it out. We know that you are going to love it. You will probably keep it for years to go.

Thank you so much for your time. Everybody, go check out Marco’s site. Stay healthy and happy. I wish all of your professional and personal dreams come true in the year 2022.

Important Links:

About Marco Torres

MDH 56 | Value Add IncentivesMarco Torres is the Founder of MarketingBoost.com, he has helped thousands of business owners worldwide boost sales and scale their businesses by as much as 5-fold through the use of incentive-based marketing. He teaches entrepreneurs how to soar sales & marketing through the use of “Value-Add-Incentives” instead of discounts. His Facebook Group is home to more than 27,000 active business owners who are raking in sales with his advice and amazingly affordable subscription program.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Your brand is the epitome of your business. It is what makes you unique and what attracts people to your product. So, what can you do to attract people? How do you amplify your brand? Victoria Wieck discusses this and more with the founder of PodMatch, Alex Sanfilippo. Alex discusses his early forays into entrepreneurship, keeping a day one mentality, and creating solutions for customer problems. Learn more about amplifying your brand and how the popular platform is connecting podcast host and guests.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Amplify Your Brand With PodMatch With Alex Sanfilippo

I have Alex Sanfilippo, who started the PodMatch. It’s the service that I often use to find you these amazing guests. Once I started PodMatch, I’ve got addicted to it. I’m so excited to be interviewing Alex because, as crazy as it sounds, he’s built a whole platform. His backstory, how he came about creating PodMatch, and all that you are going to find that interesting, informative and encouraging. Without further ado, I would like to welcome Alex.

Alex, welcome to the show.

Victoria, thank you so much for having me here. I appreciate it.

In your bio, there’s something I didn’t think about before. You started your business at age ten. The entrepreneurship desire or blood runs through your veins. Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What did you do in your childhood? A lot of times, your early years shaped what you do later on in life. Do you want to share a little bit about yourself?

I completely agree with that statement. At one point in my life, I did some reflecting back to my childhood to rediscover who I was but that’s an important practice for anybody to do. For me, at ten years old and most people hear this, they were like, “What on Earth was this guy doing at ten?” I was selling used golf balls.

Across the street from the house that I grew up in, there was a golf course. What I did was I started collecting golf balls and selling them. It was interesting, though, because at ten years old, I was a very self-aware child, which may be strange for a ten-year-old. I had three younger brothers, and we had a bunch of neighborhood friends. A lot of them are good at sports and others are good at school. They are very smart. Most of them were good at video games at that point.

All these different kids were good at these different things. I realized that I wasn’t good at those things. It didn’t necessarily depress me. It made me wonder where I fit in. That’s super weird for a ten-year-old kid to be that self-aware but that’s how I felt. The first time I picked up a golf ball and a golfer offered to buy it from me for $3, it was Titleist Pro V1, which is an expensive ball. I’m not a golfer myself. I knew how to sell used golf balls as a kid. As soon as I did that, I realized, “Maybe I should find more of these.” What I realized I enjoyed wasn’t even making the money. It was the art of building some system that drives a profit.

I started recruiting my brothers and some of the friends in the neighborhood, saying, “Let’s go through the lakes, get some guys to clean the golf balls, get some to organize them into different bins, and then set up a time and day that we can sell these things back to the golfers.” That’s what I did for a couple of years, from 10 to 12. For the first time in my life, I know it was very young, I discovered something that I was good at. It was the art of business.

Blogging doesn’t capture the same essence as a podcast.

In that ten-year-old mind, you were doing what a modern entrepreneur has to do, which is find a product that has that in demand, figure out the price and find a bunch of people that’s going to help you. You were like a little boss of that thing that was going on. You were the CEO of the ten-year-old crowds. That’s astonishing.

In our schools, unfortunately, we teach Math, Science and all these things that have numbers. We don’t teach Entrepreneurship or relationship to money, Finances, and how much you have to work to buy something. I wish somebody would go and teach that in school. Fast forward a little bit. You are a ten-year-old child selling Titleist Pro V1 for $3. $3 to a 10-year-old kid is a lot of money. Once you get a little taste of that, you want to multiply that. You then found different systems in your life. Tell us what happened after that. What was your second venture?

You can only sell golf balls that are used back to the golfers that hit them in the lakes for so long until you are not cute anymore that they want to punch you for taking their golf ball to the lake. From about 10 to 12, I was doing that. The truth is some guy came through on his golf cart. He liked the collection of golf balls we had so much. He said he would buy them all if we would go ahead and close down. At that point, we had 600 or 700 golf balls. At the end of the day, he finished his round of golf. He came, picked them all up, paid me and the neighborhood guys for them. At that point, we were like, “It’s a good time to stop. We were done.” That was my first and only successful exit.

I was getting into high school or late middle school. As I’ve got into my late teens, I had an opportunity to do some work in real estate. I wasn’t good at video games but I was good at computers. There was a friend of my dad who was starting a company where they were trying to create these virtual tours of homes, which we all see them. You look home on Zillow or something like that. You can drag the mouse around, see the roof and the whole room.

We were building those tours. He brought me on as a contractor, saying, “Let’s work together.” I had my company, he had his. I started hiring photographers and editors. We started building these virtual tours for the MLS directly. We were posting on the MLS every single day because we became in high demand fast. That was a fun thing for me. I was seventeen when I started that.

It was cool because when I looked at it, I also had a remote team. None of us worked in an office like everyone worked in their places. We were using AIM back then to instant message back and forth. That’s how we were communicating throughout the day. That was another fun experience for me to learn the business and see how something could run, operate and grow. At this point, I was also paying taxes.

At ten years old, you started your company, then you had a successful exit. What I find astonishing about the whole story that you have told is the MLS having the virtual tours and all of that, we take it for granted. I sold my home in Las Vegas at a very substantial price, and the person never saw it. They felt comfortable enough. They were able to go up to the roof, do all that, and be able to see the whole house without being there.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: We identified the problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.

 

With COVID, they couldn’t travel, so they bought the house unseen. When you did that technology, the idea of touring a home at any price, $200,000, $300,000, $1 million, that would be unthinkable. You did it because you believed in it, and you felt that the world was going to have to go that way at some point. You had a pulse on what was going on, and you were a few steps ahead of the rest of the world.

That’s important. I’m going to fast forward a little bit more because you have done other things in between compared to what you are doing, which I’m excited about. I’m an avid user of PodMatch. You created a platform for podcasters. I have to tell you that the podcasting industry is exploding. Back in 1998, when HSN first called me and they said, “We are the home shopping network,” I was like, “You are what? Is that some kind of a club?” I had no clue what was going on.” Remember, in ’98, they had a 1-800 number at the catalogs. I thought that would be the next revolution.

With you, podcasting is exploding. It makes complete sense that there are more people at home listening. We all want to educate ourselves. It’s only a twenty-minute investment. Everything is free out there like most podcasts are free to listen to. If you are going to be a successful podcaster, it takes an enormous amount of time to find the right guest for your show. I know a lot of famous people but they are not necessarily right for my show.

My show is about transformation stories. A lot of times, it’s the lesser-known people that have done some extraordinary things. You created a platform, so people like us can go find somebody easily at my fingertips at night. After everybody has gone to bed, I can do this in twenty minutes at a time. Tell me a little bit about how and why you created all of this. How long did it take for you to do this?

Thank you for being a member of PodMatch. You are a great supporter. My day has been made talking to you. I appreciate that. I’ve got into podcasting years before I started PodMatch, me as an individual, with my show. I saw that was an industry that was taking off. I didn’t do it, so I could become famous or anything like that. I wanted to have conversations with people and record them somehow. Before that, I did a bit of blogging. As much as I love blogging, it didn’t capture the same essence. When you do a written interview back and forth, it’s not the same.

I was like, “This audio platform has been great for me. I have been listening for years. While I’m in the gym or running, I listen to podcasts.” I decided, “I want to start my show.” Right when I started, I noticed something interesting. People that are in podcasting are very kind. A lot of other show hosts that I meet are so nice. That made me want to get even more into the industry. When I was starting to take off, that’s when I decided, “I’m going to do anything I can to support this industry.” It’s going to grow. If there was a business starting in here, it’s not going to crash in a year or two. Someday, podcasting might be a thing of the past but it’s still on the up and up.

I made it a devotion at that point to find something that could do to help the industry. The way I did it is a simple framework. I’m passionate about podcasting. I found the people that made up the ecosystem of it. I asked the hosts, “What are you struggling with?” It can be tough going in looking for guests when you are not sure if people even want to be on shows.

It can be tough going in looking for guests when you’re not sure if people even want to be on shows.

We’ve all got a cousin or a friend that started a business that could jump on our shows, maybe but finding those people who are saying, “I’m looking for shows. I have a message that will resonate well with your listeners.” That’s not easy to find. I identified that problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.

Like your golf ball story, you found a need that could be in high demand and a friction point. I love PodMatch because it is so simple, the diversity of the people that are there, and the shows as well. I agree with you on the caliber of people within the podcast industry. The TV industry is completely different. It is so catty and the most cutthroat business. People always ask me, “How do you ever survive twenty years of TV?” It’s either you do not have a pulse, have to be so numb or don’t see anything.

When I’ve got into podcasting, people were so nice. They were offering me everything. My microphone was all set up by people that didn’t charge me a penny. They gave me their heart and soul. “You understand video but in audio, you’ve got to do this and that.” Everything was free. I love that community of people that give their all.

The other thing about the podcasting platform is that it’s true that video has a lot more impact. If I was watching a YouTube video, I can’t be driving. If I’m driving to San Diego, that’s 2 hours that I can listen to 4 different podcasts but I can’t watch a single video because you are going to get into a car accident if you were watching that.

The platform is great. As far as creating this platform, without giving away your preparatory sequence, was it hard to come up with a technology piece? You’ve got the technology piece in terms of how the software works behind the scenes. You’ve got to go find all these podcasters, and then you have to find all the potential guests. All these other pieces have to come in. How difficult was that to coordinate all that? How much time did it take? Is it 2 years, 2 months, 20 years?

The timing in business is so important. It’s the number one factor if you ask Bill Gross. He’s the unicorn billionaire. He started seven multibillion-dollar companies or something like that. He says that timing is the most important factor. We happened to be at the right time. I’m not saying we couldn’t do it again. I say we because I have a Cofounder.

For me, I am more on the sales side of things. I’m customer service. I can build systems. I understand how the industry works. I have a friend that is someone that I knew for years. He and I had always planned on working together at some point. As matter of fact, we did one other project together years prior, and it was cool. We had good synergy.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year.

 

When I had this idea, it was right after PodFest 2020. It was the last in-person conference ever. I spoke at that conference, and that’s where I’ve got the idea for it. Identified the problem. I said, “I’m going to build a solution for us.” I came home that next week. On March 10th, 2020, I wrote it all out on three whiteboards. I immediately picked up my phone and called that friend. I said, “Jesse, I don’t know if you can work part-time on a project but I would love to do something with you.” It was crazy. That was a Tuesday. That Sunday night, he finished a multi-year project that he had been working on. He was like, “I’ve got capacity.”

What we did is we drafted up documentation saying we are 50/50 partners and decided to run with it. March 10th, 2020, is when we started working on it and launched an early beta on June 10th, 2020. It’s a few short months from start to finish. He is brilliant. He was able to save us a lot of money by doing that. We bootstrapped with $5,000 each of us, put $2,500 into account, and we went for it.

I wish you and your friend, Jesse, all the luck in the world. Let me give you some encouragement, not that you need it but I was at a Harvard Business School Reunion. Harvard Business School makes you go back to class once you have been there all that time. They had a panel of graduates that have been out of school for years. They talked about what are your challenges and so forth.

They had Harvard alumni from Google, Apple, Facebook, and all these different companies that are running our world seemingly. They asked them, “What keeps you up at night?” The answer was that we all work for a founder that started their company with under $5,000 in their garage. I didn’t think about it that way but it’s true. Apple started with less than $5,000 as well. You fit that bill exactly.

That’s good to know. That encouragement goes a long way. Thank you.

I thought that you might find that comparison very timely. When it comes to how you and Jesse and how you feel like you were at the right place at the right time, I also feel that way a lot of times about my little successes. Every time I hit a milestone, I would think, “I lucked out.” I like to also believe that it’s a preparation meeting opportunity because we are all here at the same time at the same place but you had the ideas, which not all of us had. You took action on that. It could be a divine alignment of some sort of a preparation meeting opportunity.

Kudos to you and Jesse. You have created a brand called Creating a Brand. You want it to make it simple. I love that you are a customer-centric company. That’s how Amazon made this very simple for their customers. You are rebranding into PodPros. It’s PodPros.com. What’s next for PodMatch and PodPros?

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

You are the first person to ever announce that company name. I have never said it to anyone other than you, so thank you for being that person. There’s something that I want to mention real quick. It goes back to something that Leonardo da Vinci said. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It’s something that many of us need to remember because PodMatch is a complex system.

If you look through the backend code like me, it made my head explode seeing all that. In a day, we had one problem to solve, which is can we get the right guests in front of the right host and vice versa? At the end of the day, could we simply do that and continuously improve that process to make it faster and more streamlined? I look at the different things that I’m doing. I had to have a real “come to Jesus moment,” as I call it. For me, it was a time in prayer. “God, I’m doing too much. I’ve got my podcast. I have podcasts, PodMatch, and these other companies that we are reaching out and starting.”

I did that deep self-reflection and realized, “This is going to get complicated and cumbersome for other people to try to understand what I even do.” That’s why we decided to rebrand under PodPros. The idea was to bring it back to a simplistic form. What’s adding the most value to the people that we care about the most? Let’s focus on that one thing. PodcastSOP is a new company that we are launching. It’s project management software specifically for podcasters.

A lot of new ones are using sticky notes and word documents. They are trying to keep it organized. We want to help people do that easily because I feel the same way about this. We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year. It’s only 10% that make it. I wanted to help and see more people through that first year, so they can continue adding that value to people’s lives. Our big focus is we continue helping more podcasters get their message out there to the world.

I’m 1 of the 50 beta testing people. Before PodMatch, I was using 4 or 5 different software. You are using scheduling software, organization software, and all of the bios. It’s a whole amount of work. A lot of podcasts start as a side hustle. They don’t start as monetizing it. Most podcasters start because they are passionate about something and want to help people. Ninety percent of them don’t make it. I’m with you on that. I like to see that percentage go higher. If you think about it, 90% is almost the same as any other small business. It takes a lot of discipline and understanding the basics, who are your target audience, and all that stuff as well.

You have been in the industry for a while, and you are also seeing some of the mistakes that podcasters make. Going back to what you, Leonardo da Vinci said about simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I agree with that but I also want to tell you one thing. One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill. He said something to the effect that, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal.” A lot of people think that failure is not fatal is what they focus on. I like to think about success is not final because you had a very successful platform. There was nothing like PodMatch a year ago.

You continue to evolve because success is not final. A lot of times, when people are successful, they are so busy protecting that success or using that success to live their life however they want to live that they forget to evolve. One thing I noticed about PodMatch almost every time I’m on vacation or something, I come back and shut my brain off for a little bit, you have improved the site, again and again, everything from visual to how it operates, how we upload our bios and link our calendar. Since I became a PodMatch member in maybe April or May 2021, you have gone through many different upgrades already. Kudos to there as well.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: If you continuously have that mindset of “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to really focus in, you’re going to do really well in podcasting.

 

That has been something that we wanted to always do. We asked the members that use it, “What works? What doesn’t?” We let them help us with the roadmap but the idea is to focus on continuous improvement. Jeff Bezos made this famous. We didn’t come up with it but his whole concept is, “Always day one.” We can’t ever let people decide. We can’t ever decide internally like, “We have made it. We have arrived. It’s day two.” It’s always day one, which means we are always on the ground floor getting started, and that’s always the mentality that we are going to keep.

What is your advice to a brand-new podcaster starting out facing that 90% failure rate?

The very first thing you have to do is develop a strong why for yourself. “Why are you podcasting?” If it’s something like, “I want to make money. I want 1,000 or 10 million downloads,” or whatever it might be, those reasons might be a little bit too shallow. They are not bad. They can be part of it but you need to begin with, “Who are you serving? Who’s going to be that person listening?” That comes in form of identifying what I call an avatar, which is your most ideal listener. Come up with one person. This is someone who would listen and anybody like them. Develop a strong why around that.

What I would recommend doing is if you have unspecific goals, you are going to have specific results. That has always been true. If it’s day one you are starting, determine that why. Decide what you want the avatar to have learned twelve months from now. Think 365 days in advance. Let’s say they are with you from day one until then. Where do you want them to have gone on their journey as a direct result of listening to you? If you continuously have that mindset of, “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to focus in, you are going to do well in podcasting.

If people want to find you, other than PodPros.com, is there any other place that they can connect you with?

Thankfully, that’s it. I commend you for how organized you are. Another thing that helps podcasters is the organization. You are the most organized host I have ever had the opportunity to be a guest with. Also, you do a great job with the show. I’m a reader myself. You had an episode with Nathan Bynum about how to build a website to test your products. It’s a brilliant conversation. I recommend the readers go check that one out if they haven’t read it. I appreciate you having me here and what you are doing with the show.

Thank you so much. Good luck to you. If you ever need feedback from some of the podcasters, make sure to reach out to me. I’ve got a lot to say.

It’s always day one, which means we’re always on the ground floor getting started. That’s the mentality that we’re going to keep.

You’ve got very valid feedback. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Thank you for reading this episode. If you haven’t rated and reviewed my show, please go ahead and do so. Please stay happy, healthy. Remember, happiness is your choice. I hope you make optimistic choices.

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About Alex Sanfilippo

Alex Sanfilippo is the host of the top-rated entrepreneurship podcast, Creating a Brand, and the founder of two podcasting software’s, PodMatch.com, a service that matches podcast guests and hosts together for interviews and PodcastSOP, a project management software that is specifically for podcasters to help them keep episode releases on track!

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

 

Entrepreneurship is a great equalizer and can be a great tool to uplift people from generational poverty. So how does one build a thriving business in this current economy?  We’ll tell you how as Victoria Wieck talks to CEO, entrepreneur, and author John Meese about how to launch a successful business. John and Victoria discuss products and growth models and why it’s easier than ever to start your business. Learn more tips and strategies for entrepreneurs by tuning in to Victoria and her special guests.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Survive And Thrive: Leveraging Entrepreneurship To Beat Generational Poverty With John Meese

How To Start A Business And Thrive In Any Economy

I have an amazing guest and you know what we do in every single episode. We bring you incredible tips from people who have done it, felt the pain, and somehow learned to persevere and thrive. My next guest is no exception to that role. He wrote a book called Survive and Thrive. His name is John Meese and he also has a podcast called the Thrive School and he’s on a mission to eradicate generational poverty. Now, instead of reading his whole bio, I prefer to let him tell his story because it’s probably a lot more interesting coming from him. Without further ado, I would like to welcome John Meese. Welcome to the show, John.

Thank you so much, Victoria. I’m glad to be here.

It’s great to have you. First off, there’s so much to unpack from your bio and all the things you have accomplished at such a young age but you are on a mission to eradicate Generational Poverty. One of the ways you do that is to share your knowledge and help entrepreneurs reach their dreams by working more efficiently, effectively, and having some tips that everybody should have. Tell me a little bit about your background because I think that a person’s background or events shaped you, what you are doing now and why you do what you do. Do you want to take a couple of minutes and tell us why you were on this mission?

It’s very personal in the sense that I come from a long line of a family with poor financial decisions. I was supposed to be the golden boy to change the family trajectory by becoming a first-generation college student. I became a first-generation college student. I’ve got a couple of pieces of paper that say I know some things. I graduated and started looking around for this magical wealth that’s supposed to appear once you have a college degree.

Didn’t you sign them?

No, I was seriously disappointed. It wasn’t like a massive surprise. As I was in academia, I began realizing, “This isn’t quite maybe what it’s cracked up to be, at least anymore.” I’ve got a degree in Economics and I’ve got another degree in Spanish but I worked for an economics research lab coming out of that and studying things that were going on, learning how to understand what was going on in the world and the global economy.

I latched on to this fascination with entrepreneurship. At that time, I was focused on building online businesses. I built my own online business and I was able to make that my full-time living. I was able to retire my new life from being a teacher with my online business and we were able to start a family. Along the way, I started getting more fascinated with the fact that entrepreneurship is the great equalizer.

The fact that your business doesn’t care about your race, gender, age, background, and even if your customers don’t care, your customers want to know if you have a solution to a real problem that they want to solve. I’ve got excited about that with my businesses but then that became my personal mission to say that there are so many people all over the world who are caught in these cycles of poverty. It’s tough for them to break out of that. I believe that if we can eradicate Generational Poverty, we make entrepreneurship more accessible.

That’s very profound. You suffered from the results of poor financial decisions by the people who are supposed to guide and teach you. It’s special that you are sharing your knowledge now because a lot of people that I know are entrepreneurs. I came from the corporate world then started my business. Even now, I counsel a lot of people who are in corporate. They can sit here and make a lot of money for their companies, and for everyone else but they don’t have the confidence that they can succeed partly because, either what they have been told or they have witnessed other people in their families start their businesses fail over and over again. It’s engraved in their brain. The smarter thing to do is to stay in a job that you may not even like.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One)

I like the fact that you have now dedicated your life to this cause. I know that you have also started your own business. You have had started three different businesses with no money basically, from scratch. Do you want to tell me a little bit about your first business and if there’s a common theme between all three that you started and scaled?

In my first business, I stumbled into, I was trying to figure out how to run an online business. Funny enough, I was creating software tutorials. I created a whole course on how to use a very specific niche type of software that only 3,000 people on the planet were using. I launched that online course. I built a hyper-target audience and launched that. I made it from scratch, no ad money or anything like that. I made a little over $10,000 in a week, which at that time, was an amazing life-changing amount of money.

What was fascinating about that was then I went and wrote up a whole blog post on every detail of how I did the launch and how it went well. That content, every time I would go over here and build the software tutorial part of my business, it would do well, and then I would do a write-up of, “Here’s everything I did. Here’s how it worked.” That content would blow up. At one point, there were several different businesses. ConvertKit was the software we used to run my email list. Brian Harris was the friend who taught me how to launch an online course. Platform University from Michael Hyatt was also another place I learned. Ray Edwards is where I learned copywriting.

At one point, all four of them were teaching webinars to their customers, saying, “John needs to do this $10,000 launch. Here are all the details he shared.” Everyone was far more interested in my content on how to build an online business. I paid attention to that. I shifted my business to focus more on teaching people that have to build their online business in 30 minutes a day. That was the core focus. Originally, it was to say, “You’ve got full-time family responsibilities. You’ve got a full-time job and you are trying to build an online business on the side.” That business did well. I was able to grow that essentially a course and coaching business.

Michael Hyatt was one of the people I learned from along the way. He reached out and asked if I would come work with him to take over Platform University, which was a huge multimillion-dollar membership site that he owned that was all focused on helping people do what I was teaching on my blog. I took over that essentially, a division we spun off as its own company for several years. A little over a few years later, behind the scenes, I was also preparing Platform University for acquisition. We did sell that to Pete Vargas.

That was when I began to focus more on my other businesses but that was incredible. Talk about skipping the line in terms of professional growth and education with business. Along the way, I also launched a software company called Notable. Our flagship product is called NotablePress. Essentially, it’s a super-powered WordPress theme for content creators like you. We’ve got podcasters, YouTubers, and bloggers.

What I hear from you, and I think my audience would probably going to agree with this, is I’m a huge believer in providing something to your customers like not agitated information, copying, pasting from this side or that side, whatever’s trending because that’s going to get you a little bit of lift for the day but consistently. What you were offering in your first online business was original content, original thoughts, how to do something different enough if people clicked on it, and it caught the eye of professionals in the business. The lesson here is if you have expertise that you want to share, it doesn’t have to cost you a huge fortune to start a business.

Look at the way John started his business. It was almost like a side hustle. As he said, he stumbled on to that, which led to the next thing. I always say to people to make sure that you have something that you can share that is original. We will get into this a little bit about your business philosophy in your book Survive and Thrive, which I love, by the way.

Your customers really want to know if you have a real solution to a real problem that they want to solve.

If you haven’t heard about this book, it’s titled Survive and Thrive. To go with that, John has a podcast along that same theme, Thrive School, where he shares a lot more information. One of the first things and you mentioned in your original introduction, is you have to figure out what you are providing to your target audience and how you are uniquely qualified to provide that.

It’s a matter of finding out what your customers want, what their problems are, what their pain points are, and alleviating that quickly at an affordable price. It’s like a Business Model 101, I would say you. I like to think about this. Your first three businesses were online and you’ve got a software company. I know that you have a coworking space. I would say that your podcast is also a business because you could easily monetize that as well. I know that you are a firm believer that there are three types of products that every entrepreneur should offer. What are those three?

First of all, I would say you can have 100 products or 1 product. There are many different ways to build your business but what I found is that there’s this framework that seems to work incredibly well for both balancing the needs of the business to generate revenue and profit. Also, the needs of a customer in an over-saturated world of information for the customer to be able to quickly understand how your products fit together in what I refer to as the selling story, where someone is not looking at your business. They are not seeing a bunch of things they can shove in a bag but they are seeing a story of how you can make their life better.

The first product is the Gateway Product. Think of this as a painless purchase. There are a lot of different terms for this. Some would call it a loss leader or a tripwire. I think of this as a gateway product because the goal here with your gateway product is not to generate a lot of profit in your business. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust with a gateway product. The gateway product is a painless purchase. Whatever price point your customer is comfortable with, you want to price it in such a way that it’s painless so they can go, “I can spend $5 or $50 on that item depending upon your demographic to test it.”

They are taking a gamble on you. Your job with the gateway product is to make sure that you go above and beyond their expectations and wow them with the gateway product. There’s no magic formula for this but I usually try to use about 10X as how to think about this. If someone is paying you $50 for a gateway product, try to give them at least $500 in value. Something that surprises them in a way that you earn their trust.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Flagship Product. The flagship product is the epitome of the full transformation of your business. Whatever transformation you are selling, the idea is the flagship product is probably the most expensive thing you offer but it’s the all-in package. If a customer is ready to go all-in, the question I will ask clients occasionally when we are trying to think through their business and say, “Now, what’s the most amount of transformation that you will let a customer go through?”

Relate to that, “What is the most amount of money that you allow a customer to pay you now?” People are like, “All of it.” I’m like, “No, you can’t pick up the phone.” If someone is looking through your business, whatever that is, online or in person, what is the most amount of money you will have to accept? The flagship product.

Victoria, you may have seen something similar. What I found is that in all the businesses that I have been involved in is less than 10% of your customer who is going to buy the flagship product. The goal for the rest of the customers, it gives them something to aspire to because you are communicating to them. This is the vision of where you are going. For those customers that do go all in, that can be a huge source of revenue.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: There are so many people all over the world who are caught in these cycles of poverty. It’s really tough for them to break out of that. We can eradicate generational poverty if we make entrepreneurship more accessible.

 

The third category is the Continuity or the Subscription Product. This is the glue that holds everything together. Between purchases, you want an automatic transaction with a customer where you are finding some recurring problem or need in their life that you can solve through a recurring subscription. This could be a delivery service like Dollar Shave Club. This could be an information product like a Thrive School Pro, my membership site.

There are so many ways you could do this but the goal here is you are creating an ongoing relationship with your customer. You can have other products but if you have those three at the core, that gateway product, a continuity product, and a flagship product, that’s enough to build a highly profitable business and serve your customers.

That’s funny you say that because I come from brick and mortar. In retail, we call that the good, better, best. Your gateway product would be a good product. We don’t call them cheap. It is the least expensive, I would call them. The second is going to be the better and the third one is the best. It’s like the window dressing.

If you go to a regular department store, go to Neiman’s, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, any of the fancy stores or whatever is at the window is there to give you the striking beauty factor. You want to go into the store to see what’s there. You go in there and I don’t think I have ever seen anybody buy anything on the window like it does its job. You are like, “It’s beautiful.”

Out of curiosity, if you ask how much is that dress, the price is going to be somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000. You probably went in there hoping to buy a $500 dress on sale for $300. They are like, “It’s $3,000 to $5,000. It’s such a good deal because the store down the streets sells them for $10,000 to $15,000.” What it does do, though, is if you do see a dress inside for $195, $300 or something that looks similar and you are like, “Why is it so cheap?” It sets the psychology that what you are buying is a pretty good deal. As opposed to, if you went to Target and you saw that same dress for $59 and you are like, “I’m at Target. Why is that so expensive? It should be $19.99 or $39.99 at the most.” It sets that thing.

In nowadays business, especially if you are selling online or coaching to have your gateway product, as you said, you need to earn the trust of the customer and you have the flagship product, which is the most expensive and it’s all in. I also think that having the gateway product and a transitional product because you are giving them irresistible offers at each point.

It makes sense because after they have experienced it the first time, they were like, “That was good for $50,” or whatever it is. You go in and you go, “It’s probably worth a few hundred dollars and I’ve got a good deal. I’ve got a lot more than I ever paid for. I’m ready to go to the next level.” The next level, again, adds more value. It’s a friction-free way to generate income, I would say.

You mentioned the good, better, best. Dollar Shave Club did this remarkably well when they first launched. The name of their whole company is Dollar Shave Club. The whole promise is that you can get a razor for $1 and that’s a painless purchase. That’s a crazy price for a razor and that’s one of the examples I go into my book because I have always dreaded walking down the line to try to pretend like I know what razor to buy.

The goal with your gateway product is actually not to generate a lot of profit in your business. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust.

The first time Dollar Shave Club said, “For $1, we will send you a simple razor every month that does what it needs to do.” I said, “Yes,” but as soon as I said yes to that gateway product, they said, “Great. Before we send it, by the way, did you know we have a good, better, best?” I’ve never got the $1 razor. I’ve got the $5 razor because, like most people, I consider myself a middle-of-the-road customer, so I bought the $5 a month razor.

Even the $5 is pretty cheap.

I checked, though. I spent over $1,000 with Dollar Shave Club because I checked my account added everything out because, over the years, it’s the $5 a month razor. They were like, “By the way, there’s a great travel bath bag with the razor has this perfect slot in it,” but then you get it. There were all these empty pockets. I accidentally spent over $1,000 with Dollar Shave Club because I signed up for their $1 video gateway product.

Here’s the thing. All the things you talk about in retail. The retailers know what they are doing. I don’t know if you realize this but when you go to a store, the way the displays are done and everything, it’s like when you go to casinos in Vegas. When you try to check into a room, you have to walk a mile of the tables before reaching the elevator. We tell very similar stories.

The fact that you buy the $5 razor because they gave you an opportunity to upgrade right there and then. When you get it and you have tried it a couple of times, the things like travel bags and all this stuff, that’s what we call the upsell. Normally speaking, if we are getting, let’s say, a 30% margin on the gateway product and you upgrade them, you are getting a 50% margin but in the upsell, you are getting a 200% margin because the upsell is a convenience product. We don’t expect everybody to buy it.

There’s no cost involved in selling this person because they are buying it themselves. You are only telling them, “You can make your life simpler.” That item is where they make real money. The other stuff you’ve got to keep is turning inventory to meet your dollar volume. It’s all free money for them. The other one is if you sell 1 out of 10 people, they have this upsell.

If they are going to order 100,000 pieces of the $5 razor, they only order 10,000. They sell that out before anything else because it’s an unlimited amount of it but they will charge you quite a bit of money. Usually, the travel bag was probably more money than all the razors put together. This is how you spent all those thousands of dollars.

The three core products we talked about are crucial and fundamental. The gateway product, continuity, and flagship, and you hit on 1 of the 2 other categories that I teach about in the book in terms of products. There are two types of upsells. There are supplementary products and complementary products. The backpack is a complementary product because it’s an add-on but the good, better, best versions of the razors are all supplementary products.

There’s a reason why I would want all three but they are different alternatives. Especially when entrepreneurs try to think, “How do I generate more revenue for my business?” Often, it’s tempting to create one more product. I ask, “Let’s back up for a second and make sure we are not confusing the customer by making it clear. Do you know what your gateway product is? What your continuity product and what is your flagship product is?” In every other product in your business, is it a compliment or a supplement to 1 of those 3? If it’s not, if you can’t tie back to 1 of those 3 things, it might not belong in your business. It might be a whole separate business.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: Less than 10% of your customers actually go through to buy the flagship product.

 

The other thing I’m a huge proponent of is I’m interviewing you, you are coaching a bunch of people, and you are writing a book. Again, the book is Survive and Thrive by John Meese, one of the Top Sellers on Amazon. Podcasts, to me, are like a mastermind class every week, so go and listen to his podcast, the Thrive School. Even if you can’t do it every week, at least catch it. Here’s the thing. None of us know who your customers are but I will tell you who your customer is not. A confused customer will never buy. They won’t buy anything.

You want to make sure that you give complete clarity to yourself also but to the customer, they have to know why, even if it’s an upsell. I talked about how the upsells. Usually, the upsells to me, the margins are very high but even then, you have to be crystal clear as to why that’s there, what it goes with, and the type of service that product does on its own and also in combination with other things. That’s interesting, John.

Even then, the basic principles of running a fantastic business don’t change because it’s finding a problem and a solution to this. When you talk about Generational Poverty so that you cycle and go on this again, could you explain the risk factor now? How much risk is acceptable, in your opinion? In other words, if somebody who was 30 now and wants to start a business, are you a proponent of them taking no financial risks? What’s your position on that? What is acceptable? Is that a yearly salary or do you borrow money from a bank or your parents?

If I’m assuming Generational Poverty is involved, that’s not an option for the students when I’m teaching. It’s a great question. The first thing I would say is that it is cheaper to become a highly successful entrepreneur now than at any other time in history like with the internet and with digital marketing. In 2019, we were at a 40-year low of entrepreneurship in America.

In America, being the leading country full of entrepreneurs in the world and being at a 40-year low or in entrepreneurship, that’s very concerning because that’s where our economy’s wealth and progress comes from. Now, 2020 was challenging for lots of reasons. In 2021, we have broken the record twice now in terms of businesses started each quarter. We are making a good term. This is a good trend. I want this trend to continue.

I would say the first thing to know is that it’s cheaper than it ever has been to start a business. Most of what I teach is in the bootstrapping category. I started with $500. I set aside $500 and opened a business checking account. I put $500 in it and that was it. I never put any other money in it. I took plenty of money out as the business grew but that was my budget. I think constraints are incredibly helpful.

I have a friend who was planning to start a business. He wanted to be as safe as possible. He worked very hard. He worked at his full-time job and saved enough money. He had an entire year’s worth of expenses set aside in a reserve account. He said, “I have a one-year runway to launch my business. I’m going to do it.”

He quit his job and spent eleven months playing around with being an entrepreneur. He spent 30 days growing his business. It wasn’t until he was running out of money that he started to feel the pressure. That’s when he started pushing through and seeing results. It’s healthy to have some real pressure and stakes, even if it’s only, “There’s $500 or $100 in my checking account. That’s it. Let’s go.” You can start with more than that, especially if you are new to the business. I’m not a fan of giving a new entrepreneur, whether it’s a bank, a parent or a venture capital investor. I’m not a huge fan of giving a brand-new entrepreneur $100,000 or $1 million and saying, “Go build something,” because there are so many mistakes that you are going to have to make.

I completely agree with you on that. My view on that is a risk no money. I started my company with $30. At that time, starting an online business was not possible. When I started, online businesses didn’t exist. We didn’t have internet, laptop, computers or anything like your generation takes completely for granted.

We didn’t have social media, so we didn’t even have a chance to try out our skills and get our word out. It’s very challenging. When I started my business, several people wanted to start their own. Many of them started as a side hustle. There’s a great book called Good to Great. I don’t know if you have ever read her or not.

It is cheaper to become a highly successful entrepreneur today than at any other time in history.

Basically, the whole premise of the book is that because things are good, you don’t become the best. For example, it’s a known fact that in many of the cities and states in America, our schools are failing. It has been a subject in those places where the schools are failing. It has been a point of contention for 50 years and they never fix it.

Even the most failing schools here in America are still better than schools all around the world in other countries, so we never fix it. In 2019, things were good like most people that the economy was good. They are getting a great salary. Even though they hated their jobs, their coworkers or probably could rarely stomach their customers, things were good.

It goes with that theme that we didn’t have a lot of entrepreneurs because they thought things were good. When things are good is when you have to buckle down and say, “This is a great opportunity for me.” I also found that to be not a coincidence at all that in 2021, the Census Bureau said that they had the most number of business licenses applied than any other time in our history. That makes sense. I haven’t gone through this myself. When you have no money, you are forced to do things with no money.

For example, I didn’t have any money to make any samples. I couldn’t make a physical sample of anything. I didn’t have any money to pay for it. People could say, “How can you sell jewelry without ever making a sample?” A sample cost anywhere from $300 to $1,200 per piece. It’s labor. Not gold. It’s only to make an original mold.

If you did 100 molds, you were looking at $10,000 to $50,000, an average of $500 before you ever tested, whether or not your designs were going to ever sell. What I did was I simply do them on a lookbook and painted them nicely. I have been to all the stores and asked them, “If you had something like this, would you be able to sell it?” I think that when you don’t have money, you could maybe be a little bit more creative in that.

I agree with you that you don’t need to make a whole lot of money and put your family or go to your parents as your bankers or anything like that. The most important thing is to figure out your business. What does your product do? Does it help save money and time? Does it help you do something faster? Does it help you create security around? Whatever it is, you need to figure out what it is that you are offering. If you are adding value to somebody else’s life, I think that’s the most critical thing. What John is preaching is understanding how you offer them with a lot of clarity and value to your customers.

I liked all of the things that you shared. As we come to near the end of our interview, are there real actionable tips? What are two major tips that you could share that maybe had guided you when you were going through it? I’m sure when you are running three different businesses, you have had times when you wonder like, “What the heck am I doing here? Why would I start this?” How did you survive those?

I will give one. This one is a bigger picture to start then we can talk about it a little more tactical. You and I have talked around this but it’s important to emphasize the fact that your business success is built on creating a real solution to a real problem, to real people. If you want to help how to figure out who your real people are or what their real problems are, that’s all in my book. It’s important to say that. I say real every time, a real solution and real problem with people because many businesses start and they struggle because they are focusing on the money. They are not taking into account the people on the other side.

You will pick up on this. You will be in a meeting with someone and they will be talking about all their numbers and might list 1,000 sales, 10,000 customers or 100,000 followers on social media. Anytime that I’m meeting with someone and work with a client or a partner and we are working on that stuff, I always like to pause for a minute to say, “Remember, those are real human beings. Every single one of those real human beings with aspirations, dreams, fears, problems, children, sickness, parents, death and all these things.”

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: So many businesses really struggle because they’re focusing on the money and not really taking into account the people on the other side.

 

I think it’s a powerful human skill to tap into our ability to empathize with other human beings. That honestly is one of the most underutilized skills in business, where many businesses are focused on more sales, growth hacks, products, and forget the fact that their business is designed to help people either become happier, healthier and wealthier. Those are like the broad categories of products.

You have to remember that the key to your success is serving people. The businesses that do the best when economies change and shifts are the businesses that stay in tune with how their customer’s needs have changed. It’s not how we can shove our product down their throat. It’s, “Had their needs changed? Does our product need to change to meet that?” Those are the businesses that have done the best time again.

I agree with you on that for sure. Do you have a second point?

The other one is the flip side. The good thing is that it’s easier to build a business than ever before because there are so many ways to build a business. The problem is there are so many ways to grow your business. It can be incredibly overwhelming. A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do one more thing. They were like, “Maybe we should get on TikTok. Maybe we should run a Facebook Ad campaign. I hear billboards are coming back. Maybe we should do SMS marketing.” The reality is any one of those things can grow your business. The key is you have to become the master of one growth model.

That’s to scale your business. If you are at the point where you could hire a marketing team to start taking over different growth models, then you can start getting into having different growth models going on in your business. Many entrepreneurs get lost because they are trying to do a little bit of a podcast, Facebook Ad campaign or something else. They are the master of none of those. From a tactical perspective, I would say, focus on one primary growth model. Double down on that and you will see way more success than if you are to do 5 or 10 different growth models at a surface.

I’m going to play a devil’s advocate. They might say, “If I did a one growth model but it doesn’t work, how do I know that I’m in the right growth model?” I think your 1st and 2nd point are tied together. Your first point was that we are selling real products or services to real people. We need to have empathy. Even more than that, it comes down to understanding who your customer is. What does she need? What does she suffer with? How can I help her? You need to have that question every single day. If you do that, then your business growth model becomes easier. Like my customers, they are all in a 35 to 55-ish, highly educated customer base.

I’ve got a lot of Millennial entrepreneurs. They are risking their money and creating wealth every single day because that’s how entrepreneurs make money and pay their people. They are going to realize that if you are selling, for example, anti-aging products or life insurance for the elderly, they are probably not going to hang out on TikTok. You can sit there and say, “I can get all cutesy and everything. I’ve got 30,000 followers on TikTok.” They are not your customer because that’s not where they hang out.

If you take time to understand where they are, they are not hanging out there by understanding who your customers are, where they hang out in big numbers, how they shop, what are their main gripes, and what do they value the most. I’m not a Millennial but I have to tell you I’m trying to attract Millennials to my business because they are the future.

In the jewelry business, for example, the people my age are big, bold, and things that are thicker because there’s more gold in there or whatever. Millennials like things that are very minimalistic. They like things that express without all the fuss. If I’m trying to get a lot of Millennials coming into my world, they might be hanging out at Instagram or Pinterest for visual stuff but they are not hanging out on Facebook. Basically, understanding what your customers want, where they hang out in large numbers because then if you have an Instagram post or whatever a post that you come up with, the messaging will be clearer because you understand who they are, why they hang there, and what they are looking for.

Your point number 1 and 2 is you have to know exactly who you are serving. You can’t be sitting there pretending that you are serving everybody because you are not. Try not to do that because you are not a superwoman. You are going to serve no one because your product is water down and everything else. I think those were very sound advice for any entrepreneur. I do quite a bit of coaching myself. The number one mistake that a lot of young entrepreneurs make is trying to be everything to everybody. Number two is, it’s true that you could sit there and talk about your customer numbers and your ROI.

It’s really important to emphasize the fact that your business success is built on creating a real solution to a real problem.

I’m going to go back to one more point you made earlier, which is the power of storytelling. Everybody’s story is very interesting. Yours is very interesting. I wish I was as smart as you when I was 30 because then I would be a billionaire by now. Unfortunately, I have had to learn lessons along the way. I had to learn the hard way but I would say that the power of storytelling, the authenticity, being vulnerable, being who you are, offering what you can, being honest that you don’t know everything, you own your mistakes and weaknesses.

Those are the key traits that entrepreneurs without a lot of money can hang on to because that’s whom we root for as Americans. We root for underdogs, for people who are not perfect, and who try hard. We hate perfect people. Who wants them? Who wants to take lessons from them? I would say everything you have shared so far is amazing. How can my audience get ahold of you, connect with you and get ahold of your book?

I wish we had the time to go too much deeper into it. I will be happy to share resources that will help. As we talked about growth models, for example, one of the things that I teach in the book Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One) is specifically the fact that there are only five growth models and other things that fit underneath them. I would say go to SurviveAndThriveBook.com to get a copy of the book. That will have links where you can get it on Amazon, Audible, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble, wherever you prefer to get your books.

It also has a form where you can download a free one-page Playbook. Think of this like a one-page business plan that takes the principles we talked about of who are the real people you are serving, what is the real problem, what is your real solution, connects that to your growth model, and your core products. That’s a free resource that’s there as well at SurviveAndThriveBook.com.

As you mentioned, I hosted the Thrive School Podcast. If you want to listen in and love to share, I have some incredible interviews on there with incredibly successful entrepreneurs. The whole commitment there is building a thriving business. Not only profitable but enjoyable, too. A business that fuels your life. That’s something that I’m passionate about.

I preach this all the time. A lot of entrepreneurs start their businesses. If you ask people like, “Why do you want to be your own boss?” Money ranks about number four out of that. Most people want freedom of time, freedom of emotion and fulfillment. They want to be their own boss, so they can call their own shots. They want to work fewer hours for more money. Oftentimes, we find entrepreneurs working three times more hours and making less money.

A lot of you who are in the corporate world now, I have about 30% of them that are on the verge of starting something but they don’t have the courage to do that but if you look at someone like John, who wrote the Survive and Thrive, what he’s giving is almost like a plug-and-play framework for you to follow so that you are not having to make all the mistakes and learn. You will still make some, trust me.

A lot of the stuff that has been worked out by somebody who didn’t come from a lot of money, I think there are a lot of value in that. With that, I always end my show with this message, which is to stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices until we see each other next time. Thank you so much.

 

Important Links:

 

About John Meese

MDH 47 | EntrepreneurshipHi friend 👋 I’m John Meese, the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur myself, I am on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch.

I’m the CEO of Cowork Inc, co-founder of Notable, and I regularly publish interviews and insight on my Thrive School podcast and right here at JohnMeese.com. I’ve worked closely with multiple clients who have repeatedly hit the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately-owned businesses in America. I currently offer strategic advisor services to a limited selection of companies, as well.

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

 

Part of the life cycle of a business is the founder’s inevitable exit from the company. To make sure that you are able to make the most of your business, you need to have an exit strategy. In this episode, Victoria Wieck talks about selling a company with the president of Provenance Hill Consulting, Martha Sullivan. Martha and Victoria discuss building systems and adding value to a company and how these make your business more attractive to buyers. Hear the best practices for crafting the right exit strategy from Martha. Tune in and learn more of the ins and outs of selling your company in this conversation.

Listen to the podcast here:

Watch the episode here:

Always Have An Exit Strategy: Building A Salable Business With Martha Sullivan

We have an amazing guest and her name is Martha Sullivan. I want to ask you if you have started your business and things are clicking, you’re finally getting some traction on your business. It’s growing and you wish you could grow more but it’s growing. You hope that maybe your children, some family members or whoever is going to go ahead and take your business. That’s what I dreamed of when I started my business or at least envisioned that.

If you’re in that category where you have started a business and want to grow it and scale, you’ve probably done all that, you want to look at an exit strategy, you haven’t thought about it or maybe you’re beginning to think about it, I’ve got the perfect person for you. Martha, what she does is helps you do just that. Basically, she will work with family-owned businesses. If you have a family-owned business, that’s great because you can enjoy the fruits of all these together or maybe you have a business that’s even bigger than that.

Either way, it’s important to have your business structured in such a way that you have the option to exit any time. Life is strange. Things could happen to you, voluntarily or involuntarily. Having those options is everything these days. Martha is the Founder and the President of Provenance Hill Consulting where she helps you accomplish all those. She’s written articles for Forbes, Authority Magazine, Forbes Financial Advisor Magazine, Milwaukee Business Journal and so much more. Without further ado, welcome Martha to the show.

Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here. I’ve been looking forward to our conversation.

It’s important that we have an exit strategy. Many people think, “I have an exit strategy,” but do you really have an exit strategy? Your strategy might be, “I’m going to grow this for twenty years or I’m going to grow this to $20 million and I’m going to sell it.” If you even think about that, you can never start your exit strategy. Meaning that you need to have a strategy and have your structure in place before anything could happen. Is that not correct?

That is so correct. It’s 100% spot on. A story brought that home, where our two-door down neighbor, a 34-year veteran of owning his business, decided not to wake up on Monday and he had no plans in place. You go from that perspective all the way to you have a great business, the market is going well that it’s like, “Maybe this is the peak and we should get out now.” You want to have a business where it will be attractive for somebody else to want to buy it or if it is a family business, you want your next generation to be able to look at it and say, “I want to be a part of this.”

You want to have a business that is attractive for somebody else to want to buy it.

As opposed to, “Mom and dad handed me a rock and I feel pressured into taking it.” Getting a company ready to sell, for example, as a transition strategy is not “I wake up now and do it tomorrow.” It takes time and thoughtful preparation from day one. Having a vision of where you want it to go and making sure that it’s always ready for sale. Even though it’s not on the market, it’s always ready for sale.

Martha, maybe about 35% of our readers are on the verge of starting their businesses or have started a side hustle. I would say that even your day one if you have a mindset of starting a business that you could sell someday, you’re going to be thinking about things like brand names that other people might want, all the different things that go with a sale of a business. Number one, we have to differentiate between a business that’s a profit and loss business versus building a brand, for example. What does your business stand? That makes it easier to sell it someday.

Even if, let’s say hypothetically, a family has three children. The mother and the father started the business. They now have to transition it to their kids. I know somebody who went through this. They had four kids. Two of them didn’t have anything to do with the business. One was a dentist and one was a professor. The other two wanted to have the business but one didn’t want to do any sales, all that but the four of them inherited it. How do you then value the two that don’t want to have to do with that? They’re entitled to something. The company that I was telling you about is a $25 million company. That’s a good size company.

Eventually, they did sell out to 51% ownership to an investment firm twenty years down the road but it came after huge family fights and several divorces. It went through all that stuff. It was ugly. This uptick is very important. I know you’ve been doing this for most of your adult life. You were in a consulting business, worked for a consulting company and then went out on your own and did this. What are some of the tips from the very beginning stages? If you are now thinking about selling, it might be almost late. You need to hustle at this point. What are the tips?

In terms of the tips at the outset, when you’re starting your business, you need to think about it from the perspective of setting up good systems that are helping your teammates learn and carry on the business, as well as setting up a management team. The number one thing that kills deals when you go to market and sell your companies is if the company is overly dependent on the owner. Meaning all the relationships are with the owner, all the institutional knowledge, all of that stuff.

You want to ideally get it to the point where the company can operate without you. I like to simplify it. Can you go on vacation? As a new business owner or entrepreneur, you probably don’t feel comfortable going on vacation. Your goal should be to get to the point where you could comfortably and confidently go on vacation, not just for a week. Any of us can shoehorn that in. Would you be comfortable going on a vacation for a month and know that the company is going to be able to function without you?

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy: It takes time and thoughtful preparation, having a vision of where you want it to go, and making sure that it’s always ready for sale. Even though it’s not on the market, it’s always ready for sale.

 

My advice to people that are further down the development path in their business and thinking about potentially selling, maybe that’s in 2, 5 or 10 years down the road, it’s important to start putting on the lens of a buyer and looking at it from the perspective of, “How it’s somebody independent look at your company, how would they look at your baby?” They may not say your baby’s ugly but they may look at it and say, “That is one ugly baby,” because there are no systems because it is dependent on the owner. There’s too much concentration on all the businesses with 1 or 2 customers and they’ll walk away.

They’re putting on the lens and saying, “Would I buy my company now? What risks would I see if I were walking in fresh?” That’s challenging to do but it’s vitally important. Think about it in terms of if you were going to go buy a house or if somebody was coming into your house and saying, “Would I buy this house?” The paint’s peeling and the roof is leaking or does it have fantastic curb appeal? It’s in tip-top shape. It’s not all that different when people are looking to buy your business or your kids are considering, “Do I want to take this on?”

Honestly, everything you said is something that you should do for your business whether you’re going to sell it or not every single day. Number one, for example, having your business so heavily dependent on 1 or 2 customers basically, they pretty much own you at that point. I would say that in my own consulting world, I tell small business owners not to take on a huge customer until you can be sure that no single customer is more than 15% of your business.

At that point, that single customer dictates your product development, services, hours of operations, what employees you hire. It’s changing the character of the company. That’s a no-no in the first place. In terms of making sure that you can go on vacation, I would argue that in order for you to scale your business, you have to depend on other people. There are going to be limitations on how many hours you can work.

I’m sure that you find this to be true. When you consult with a lot of entrepreneurs who are very passionate about what they do, they want to do everything. I don’t know about you but I find that to be true. They’re passionate. They love their customers and employees. They look forward to going to work every day.

Many people don’t realize that when you first went about owning a business and starting a business whether it was your mother or you did it, most people will say that the ability to work fewer hours is at least at the top or the second to the top reason why you start your business. It’s emotional, financial and freedom of time, yet they spend more time working in their business and oftentimes for less money.

You want to ideally get your business to the point where the company can operate without you.

What you’re advising to do now is even if you don’t ever think you’re going to sell it, this is something that’s good for you every day for your own sanity. If you’re doing everything, how are you ever going to nurture any employees to do more than you do? You’re going to need many employees who can do more than you do, who you can trust?

It’s who you can trust, help you scale up and grow that vision that you have into something that has traction, value and whatnot. It’s interesting you bring up the whole concept of freedom and what drives us entrepreneurs to become entrepreneurs. It backfires on you because it was like, “I have all this stuff I have to do. There are so many plates spinning.” If you can accept the concepts that as you build your team and a company that is always ready for sale, it does give you that freedom and flexibility.

If I have the confidence to go on vacation for a month, I also have the confidence to lean on my team and say, “I started this business because I love doing this but now I have to do this and this.” Now, I have a team and I can get rid of that, this and this. “I’m going to focus on what I love. I do my best. You focus on what you love and do best. We’ll all be much better.” Having the right focus on building that transferable company helps you get back to achieving that daydream that every entrepreneur shares of that freedom and fun to build a business.

I’m sure that many readers will agree with you on the concept of working less, building a team, building trust in your employees and to some degree to some customers as well. You know as entrepreneurs we are a very stubborn group of people. We don’t know how to do it. That’s what drives entrepreneurs. I come from a family of five kids. I’m the oldest of the five. A couple of my siblings will never, ever be an entrepreneur. They don’t want to be one. If you tangle them $1 million an hour, they wouldn’t do it because it’s not their life. I’ve got a brother who’s a lawyer. He refuses to go start his own little practice.

He wants to work as a General Counsel for a very large company. We’ve got a couple of other kids who will never be able to clock in a day at work because she can’t handle being told what to do, the routine every day, the grunt work. How would you advise an entrepreneur who understands it conceptually but can’t do it? They don’t have the basic trust in their employee. I’m not saying that they’re going to steal from you or anything like that.

“What happens if they screw up and my customer gets mad while I’m on vacation? What do I do?” They have this anxiety. What advice do you have for that entrepreneur who wants to follow your advice? Other than, Martha has a workshop series. If you go to ProvenanceHill.com/millions, she’s got the little workshop series. You can get a little coupon or other free things. Give us a couple of hints.

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy: When you’re starting your business, you need to think about it from the perspective of setting up good systems that are helping your teammates learn and carry on the business, as well as setting up a management team.

 

To piggyback on the Finding True Value Workshop Series, what I teach entrepreneurs and business owners is to understand and appreciate that to grow a valuable company, you need to be balancing the rewards like the revenues and the cashflow that you get from the business with the risks in the business. Take that buyer’s mindset again. Where are the risks? What you’re talking about with that anxiety is a risk. “Do I risk empowering my employee to do this stuff for me?” Appetite for risk, entrepreneurs tend to be more risk accepting because you don’t go into business for yourself without taking some risks.

We also have the tendency to do what I call in terms of white-knuckling the golden goose. We hold on to our control so tight that we choke it off. You start small with your employees in terms of the risks that you take with them. Are you going to hand over the management of your best customer to your employee? It’s probably not right away. We all hate to lose a customer but there are some customers frankly if my employees step their toes on, I either have a good enough relationship with the customer to prepare them and say, “I want you to have continuity in our relationships. I can’t always be here. I’m bringing Junior along. Will you work with me on it?”

You take smaller risks where the stakes aren’t as high. It gives you practice taking those risks and helps you build trust that your employee isn’t going to drop the ball. At the same time, it helps to build confidence and competence on the part of your employees. They can step into that larger customer relationship, for example.

What you’re saying is that trust your employees. You are saying, “You’re minimizing risks by minimizing managing the risk.” I’ve had employees for a very long time. I want to say my first employee ever hired in 1989 is still with me and a couple of them retired. Employees are not mistake-free. You’re not mistake-free. Customers are not mistake-free. Things will happen. When they happen on a very small scale like that where stakes are not so high, which is not life-threatening, where a customer didn’t blow up at something. You didn’t get your package at 4:00. Maybe you got it the next morning at 8:00. It’s not a life-threatening thing.

Letting your employees make those small mistakes and learn from them. You should hire them well but my employees have made some pretty big mistakes. I’ve had one that made like $150,000 mistake. I didn’t fire him. What I did was I looked and figured out how the mistakes happen. We changed the system. This was a case where I got a huge order from a TV network and they wanted an Emerald suite. They were an Emerald necklace, earrings and pendant.

When we placed our order with our manufacturer, 2 of them were in yellow gold and 1 of them didn’t have a designation for metal so it came in white gold. This was a matching suite. I ended up having Emerald earrings in white gold, a matching pendant in yellow gold, the ring in yellow gold and then the bracelet in white gold. The whole order was $300,000.

We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.

I would imagine replace it out so it was all consistent.

This was bought for May, which was Mother’s Day and May’s gemstone was Emerald. She said she didn’t want to buy it because nobody wanted to have not matching suite, all that stuff. Basically, what we ended up doing was I contacted the buyer and I offered her to do this at Christmas time because by the time we had to redo the whole thing, it was several months. I gave her a discount. I also agreed to take back merchandise that she couldn’t sell because that was the best I could do.

What we ended up doing is that now our purchase order system, every single item has a WG for White Gold, YG for Yellow Gold or RG for Rose Gold. You cannot put anything into a system unless you put in that metal color. You learn these things. Since that incident, nobody has ever made that same mistake again because it’s impossible. What you and I are both saying is that employees can make mistakes. Unless it’s catastrophic and the decisions they’re making isn’t that the firm. It is things that aren’t going to make a huge difference other than maybe your ego, whatever. It is almost better to train those employees with those small mistakes.

We learn more from our failures sometimes than we do from our successes. What I like about the story that you shared there, Victoria, was that we’re developing your coworker through that mistake but you also built your system stronger. The hallmark of a great transferable company is that you have systems that allow you to grow faster, as well as they’re replicable. If there’s turnover, maybe there were other reasons and you had to let that individual go. You have systems where somebody else can helpfully come up to speed faster and do the work as well, if not better.

There are a lot of drivers in what makes a company valuable to a buyer, probably more than we have time to talk about now but we do talk about that in the workshops quite often. It changes or can change a business owner’s focus from the bottom line to understanding what it takes to have a healthy bottom line but also an asset that you’re growing over time so that it can pay dividends later. I like to say and it’s a quote from a dear friend of mine through the Exit Planning Institute, “If you’re focused only on income, you may not have value but if you’re focused on value, you can have both.”

Let’s get back to how do we now structure a business that’s saleable from day one. A lot of times in the jewelry business, it’s a very archaic business. I’m in the jewelry business and I’ll go to a trade show and there’s one coming up. We can go to these trade shows where millions of dollars are being traded and they’re still using those three-part carbon copy things. They’re not using any technology. They’re still writing scratch notes. I’m saying reporting systems, reporting your numbers, your sales, doing analysis, having great inventory if you’re selling physical inventory and recording your changes in inventory accounts receivable.

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy: It really is a matter of executing a good business strategy and having the systems in place to make that happen. Systems determine performance period.

 

These things are all things that need to be in place because that’s how they judge a business. This is the other thing. It’s like a chain reaction. If you don’t trust your employee’s ability to keep the house running, for example, and then you don’t have a system to record your sales or whatever. “How many did you sell?” “I can’t remember if I sold 15 or 16 of those pendants but let me check.” They’re going through the three-part thing. If you have a system of reporting that’s already computerized, your inventories are computerized, it keeps track of what you receive and what you take out.

Having these systems in place where any employee can come in and perform that day’s job, that’s absolutely critical. When you’re starting your business or maybe you just started your business, whenever you start your business, I know in my case I started my business in ‘89 and I’ve had to upgrade change systems over time because the whole world changes. When you do that, listen to someone like Martha who has gone through this.

I started my business as a small hobby. I wanted to only make $3,000 a month. I wanted to work twenty hours a week, $3,000 a month but $500 million later, I can tell you that each time I’ve upgraded my systems and I’ve done anything was because my systems crashed. It wouldn’t work anymore. I had computers crash on me. I had systems crash on me where we were down for a week at a time. Don’t wait for something like that to happen because as a company gets bigger, the stakes are higher.

What happens is when you hire somebody upfront, someone specialist like Martha, she’s not going to cost you millions of dollars. I’ve had times where it didn’t cost me several hundred thousand dollars to upgrade. Don’t wait until your systems crashed and you don’t have a choice. Not only do you not have a choice to buy companies but you also don’t have a choice on systems.

I’ve had times where I’ve had to take the one that I could hook up with as fast as we can. It’s important. A lot of the things that you’re preaching and advising are things that you really need in your own business anyway. Having employees that are competent and you have confidence in is one thing. It’s the same thing with having vendors that are competent and confident. All customers are not the same. Some customers are going to work and grow with you. They’re going to matter when you sell your company. Some other customers are a lot of trouble. I’ve had customers that I got because nobody else wanted them. You don’t want that either.

You don’t want the whole portfolio to be that. When we talked about companies that are salable, you want to look at all the pillars, your vendor system, your employee system, your customer system and then the marketplace overall. Everything that you’ve shared with me and our audience is very sound advice. I know that if you are smart and adventurous enough to start a business, grow it and scale it, you’re capable of doing anything,

If you’re focused only on income, you may not have value, but if you’re focused on value, you can have both.

Starting a company is akin to giving birth, you think about it, nurture it, you feed it, do everything 24/7. This is what entrepreneurs do. If you want to detox from the entrepreneurship, the pitfalls of entrepreneurship, find someone. If it’s not Martha, it’s somebody like her who will teach you. It’s a shame that we have to talk about this being an exit strategy because it’s also a growth strategy.

It is. An exit strategy ultimately comes down to its simply good business strategy. It’s doing the right thing for your business so that it is sustainable. The Exit Planning Institute shares a statistic that 1 in every 2 business owners will be forced from their ownership because of death, divorce, disability, disagreement and distress. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about having good systems in place.

Having your management team, financial statements that are current, accurate and a valuable management tool, all these different factors because from day one, we’re giving birth to that baby. We want it to be beautiful, attractive and go on to live a wonderful life. After they hit eighteen, checkout time has come and gone and it’s time for it to go someplace else for us to do something different. It’s not always retirement. It could be growing a business to flip it and then move on to your next adventure. All of these principles come into play. It is a matter of executing a good business strategy and having the systems in place to make that happen. Systems determine performance. I agree with you, Victoria.

An exit strategy ultimately comes down to good business strategy. It’s doing the right thing for your business so that it is sustainable.

Martha, how do people find you if they want to have a deeper conversation. This conversation is deep.

The easiest way to get in touch with me is to visit our website, www.ProvenanceHill.com. I also have a blog there and that will also link to In Business Magazine, IBMadison.com, where I have a blog, Exit Stage Right, is the name of it as well. Those would be ways to connect with me. If you’re interested in the Finding True Value workshops, check out www.provenancehill.com/millions. If you use the coupon, thank you code of VICTORIA, that will give you a 20% discount. It’s my way of saying thank you to you, Victoria and your audience. This has been a delightful conversation.

Remember, I always sign off by saying until next time, please stay healthy and happy. Happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices. Until the next episode, thank you so much.

Thank you.

Important links:

About Martha Sullivan

This one-time information systems analyst turned her most brilliant act of rebellion into a career as a CPA, CFO, COO, business owner, and profit & value growth strategist, consulting to hundreds of clients and colleagues over the past (gulp) three-plus decades.

Martha Sullivan, President of Provenance Hill Consulting, LLC. founded her firm with one purpose: Help companies build strong, profitable businesses that are attractive enough for someone to want to buy it when the owner decides to chase their next adventure.

She recognizes that exit planning is a topic, like death, that most business owners avoid. Yet life’s realities have a tendency to catch up to even the best of us, so building and maintaining a kick-tail business that someone would be thrilled to buy or take over is the best “business life insurance” possible.

Martha’s work supports owners, and their next-generation leaders, as they take the company to the next stage of its life – be it continuing growth or navigating all exit options available to the owner and his or her family.

Together, through roll-up-your-sleeves workshops, business analysis, a good sense of humor, and tough love, business transformations begin.

MDH 40 | Innovation

MDH 40 | Innovation

There’s no limit to how much you can scale your business if you know how to innovate. In this episode, special guest West Stringfellow discusses the innovation process he found works for almost any business. West is the Founder and CEO of HowDo, a self-guided innovation training program. West has worked for and helped grow some of the biggest companies today, including Amazon, PayPal, Visa, and Target. With years of experience, he has unlocked the key to innovation which he now uses to help others find their way to business success. Want to know how? Tune into this episode and be motivated to unlock your own potential! Join him and host Victoria Wieck as they talk all about innovation and give helpful advice to keep you motivated.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

How To Innovate To Scale Up Your Business With West Stringfellow

If you’ve always wanted to know how to improve your business, upscale it, all of that, it starts with you and you know that I’m a very big proponent of that. I’m a huge proponent of the one single thing you could do to change your life. Our guest is West Stringfellow. He is somebody who epitomizes everything that I’ve been saying on my show about all the things, little things and big things. The single thing you could do to start your journey to success. West comes to the show with years of impressive experience.

He has worked with companies like PayPal, Visa, Target, Amazon, Rosetta Stone and so many more. He’s made his impact with those kinds of companies but what impressed me the most about West and this is why he was invited to this show, is his ability to help every employee and person, no matter what you think your abilities are to help every person innovate and elevate. I’m so excited to have him here. I’m so thankful that he was able to make this time so that we can all share this amazing knowledge that he has acquired over many years.  Without further ado, I would like to welcome West Stringfellow. Welcome to the show.

MDH 40 | Innovation

Innovation: The purpose of business is simply to grow revenue, decrease operating costs, mitigate risks, empower employees, and delight customers. If you do those five things well, you’ll have a successful business.

 

I appreciate it.

I don’t want many of you to email me because I’m not trying to make a political statement of any kind. I do think that when we were growing up in the ‘70s, ‘80s, even the ‘90s, I felt like they were at the height of innovation. The ‘80s is when we got the internet, laptop, computers, cell phones and all of that.

When I hear the word innovation, the last person who innovated anything to me was Jeff Bezos with Amazon. Have you noticed that even music is being regurgitated? A lot of this stuff and movies are doing their 3rd, 4th and 5th rendition of whatever it is that came out in the ‘80s. When I saw what you do with your program called HowDo, I was impressed with that. Tell me a little bit about how you got to what you’re doing now and what it is that you do now to impact the world.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an inventor more than anything. I entered all the Science competitions and Science fairs and they had one that was based on an invention. I came into second place making a better lunchbox but ever since then, I have always liked the idea of building things. Real early in my career, when I was an intern, I learned that if I solved problems that people didn’t know were problems. I could make more money than if they did the job they asked me to do. I kept scaling at that problem-solving in my job until, ultimately, I was recruited by Amazon. At Amazon, it was ten years intern after Amazon launched. It was still a very young company. There are a million things to get done and it was a great place to get stuff done.

Being an entrepreneur is about figuring out how something you’re passionate about connects with a customer’s problem. 

They gave me a lot of lessons about how to appropriately characterize problems and deeply understand what the problem is, put it in the language of the customer and then look at critically what competitors would do, could do or were doing in this space. Look at critically the commercial opportunity, how much money we could make from it and then make a solid pitch. That was what my job was at Amazon. I hopped around different teams and led the development of new products and fixed problems. When I left Amazon, I did that for Visa, Target, Rosetta Stone, PayPal and a bunch of startups.

What I learned along the way is that there’s a fairly generic process that can work for almost anyone in almost any context. If you’re a big company or you’re a small company, start with learning about the customer, the competition in the marketplace and then doing a pretty thoughtful analysis about what the real opportunities are that are present now and how you can take advantage of those opportunities using available technology and available tools. Business, in my opinion, is fairly simple.

There are only three tools, build, buy or partner. If you’re going to build something, it’s product management, service management or some sort of platform design. If you’re going to buy something, it’s mergers and acquisitions and corporate venture capital. If you’re going to partner with something, you use incubators, accelerators or other forms of partnership agreements but that’s business. When you understand the problem, the commercial opportunity and the tools that are associated with that opportunity, you need to find the team that can do that.

I think so many people get wrapped around the axle of their emotions, what they wanted for their business or their dreams for their business and they lose sight of the purpose of business. The purpose of business is simply to grow revenue, decrease operating costs, mitigate risks, empower employees and delight customers. If you do those five things, you’ll have a successful business but so many people get focused on what they want or what they hear their customers say they want and they lose sight of the overall holistic objective. I’ve designed a course that tries to help anyone and everyone learn first principles around business and teach themselves how to move from an idea to something that’s in a customer’s hands and making money.

That was a lot of information that was shared now. I want to share with the readers that one of the consistent feedback I get is that I don’t share enough of what I’ve gone through. The building my business from $0 to $500 million. When I listened to West described the five pillars of running a successful business, I have to say a lot of what he said resonates with me on I didn’t know then. I was too naive and simple and my business grew for many years. It’s not like I had a plan but looking back, a lot of the things that he said resonated with me.

Here is the one key thing that you all need to take away from his entire presentation, which is it all starts and ends with the customer. When you have a business, it could be that you are an artist or a musician where you’re expressing your feelings or desires, even then your customer, the end-user who absorbs your information, is who you have to cater your life around. Every product you build and every pitch you make, you almost have to think about how am I going to present this to my customer? How is she going to use it? I think that when you do that, you can work it backward. Sometimes, customers don’t even realize that they have a real problem or they need a product until they see it.

It’s not really about you but it’s more about the customer. I would even go simpler than that. Business comes down to solving problems for your customer. That’s number one. It may be a perceived or real problem, but it all comes down to that and how effectively you can solve their problem. I love the conversation we had. I’m with you on that. I share information freely with everybody. When I first launched my online course, everybody said like, “Do you have any testimonials?”

MDH 40 | Innovation

Innovation: The definition of innovation is really simple. It’s introducing a new good or service to the market.

 

I said, “I’ve got tons of testimonials. I just never got paid for it because I’ve always given free speeches, free webinars and free workshops to people because I’m so delighted at being able to share what works.” A lot of times, when you share that freely, you learn in the process of sharing because they will give you feedback. The other thing too is there’s such joy in sharing. I don’t have to get paid for every speech or every workshop that I do. I don’t think about how I am going to make the most money out of this thing. When you freely share, people come to you whether you are selling artistic cabinetry or coffee. Think about what Starbucks did with simple things like coffee.

They’ve almost made such a call that it’s cool to park your car, go to Starbucks, stand in line. There’s nothing else in life that I would want to stand in line for 30 minutes to overpay 500%. It’s crazy. This is what happens when you delight customers and have them love you and you attract legions of fanatic fans. To me, Starbucks coffee didn’t even taste that great. If you think about it, their coffee is so bitter that they have to add the whipped cream and all this other stuff. I was a pure coffee drinker before. I was a black coffee drinker before and now, they’ve converted me into drinking soy latte. I’m allergic to dairy so the next closest thing is soy dairy.

We digress but I think that what you’ve said about all the different pillars is not about you. I don’t want to sound harsh but when I say it’s not about you, of course, you do still have to honor your desires and your dreams. Your desires and dreams could be that you want to make it ultimately. If you have a product or service that serves your target market well, they’re going to either save time, money or hassles and they will then be able to contribute. When I look at your accomplishments, it’s all these big companies like Amazon and PayPal. These are all corporations that we have heard of.

Are there lessons that you’ve learned that you could maybe share with a small business person, a person that might have maybe one employee herself or under ten employees that are trying to innovate? When you hear the word innovate, it sounds like it costs money. Don’t you think that’s true? When you hear the word innovate, immediately, you think, “I can’t do that because I’m not an engineer. I’m not a scientist. I don’t have the megabucks so I can’t innovate.” What do you say to that?

The process of innovation is one of aggressive learning.

I think it’s a fair question and I totally understand why when people hear the word innovation, it’s a scary word. Candidly, that word has been so used and abused. It’s almost meaningless at this point. The reality and the definition of innovation really simple. It’s introducing a new good or service to the market. Do you know that the definition of an entrepreneur is a business person who takes on greater financial risk? It’s not like you have to be Elon Musk to be an entrepreneur. You could do something that’s moderately riskier than being an employee.

Elon didn’t take any risks with his own money.

A personal example would be I built and sold my own business. I was the sole employee and I’m not a great engineer. I’m a terrible engineer but I sold the business when it was on paper. I sold the patent in the concept. I think innovation takes many forms. Being an entrepreneur is about trying to figure out how something you’re passionate about connects with a customer’s problem. It may not be a direct connection or when you wake up out of bed, you have the right specific idea to solve that problem. The process of innovation, in my opinion, is aggressively learning. I don’t care if you’re a big company or a single individual sitting in your bedroom dreaming about what to do with the rest of your life.

Everyone has to learn from the customer. What I advocate for is a structured process of learning so that you don’t waste time and you maximize your potential for real knowledge gaining. The process that I’ve created for HowDo is based on best practices at big companies. I also founded and led a Techstars Accelerator, which I built and sold my own company as the only employee. I’ve done a lot of work with startups out of the years of my career, about seven years with startups. The process that I’ve created works for everyone. It starts with doing secondary research, which means Google. Ask Google a million questions. If you have an idea for a business, open up your laptop or your tablet and start typing phrases into Google.

You’ll see that there’s probably some information out there. If you want to build a bakery, open up Google maps and look at all the bakeries that are in your neighborhood. Get in your car and drive to all of them. Walk into the store and ask them how business is going. Look at what they’re selling and the price point. If you want to do any industry, look immediately around you and the folks who are in that industry. What I didn’t tend to do is specifically zero in on the people who are leading the businesses that are currently existing. I follow their social media accounts. I read their posts. I look at any of their blog posts or any podcasts they’re on that I listen to. Any YouTube videos they’ve made, I watch. I try to get as much information as I can about the marketplace so I understand what I’m talking about.

Let’s stay at the bakery example. I might know about all the bakeries in my neighborhood and then I try to meet some of the customers in the neighborhood. I’ll post a Craigslist ad and I’ll say, “I’ll give you a $25 Amazon gift certificate if you’ll sit down and have a cup of coffee with me. In these pandemic times, if it’s safer, you feel more comfortable with Zoom or on the phone.” Talk to customers. Now, some Google product managers wrote a great book called Sprint. Google is one of the best companies in the world in terms of using data to make product decisions. One of the things that blew me away about this book Sprint is they recommend that if you talk to five customers of an existing product, you’re going to get 80% of the feedback that you would get if you talk to 20, 30, 40 or 50.

Let’s say you want to make a bakery, find five customers of the existing bakeries and have some conversations with them like, “What do you think about the existing bakery? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? What would you like to see? How’s the price point?” Make sure you have these conversations. You have open conversations. Don’t go in there with your product and say, “I want you to buy my product. Tell me what you think.” Try to keep your mind open as much as possible. Try to listen to the words the customer says. The customer is going to speak in a different way than you think. Every time I talk to a customer, I’m constantly impressed with how they describe my product to me and words I would never use.

MDH 40 | Innovation

Innovation: Some of the world’s best innovations are taking something that worked in one end and doing it in an industry that hasn’t done it yet.

 

I’m also impressed that if I listen to the words they use, I can start learning more about what my product is. I can use those words to talk to my customer more effectively. I’ve been in the industry for many years. When I talk about stuff, it’s like, “Nerd.” It’s all about this technical crap. When I go talk to the customer, they don’t know all the technical stuff. They say to me in a much more colloquial, human and accessible way. If I learned that from my customer, I could ask them more specific questions, I get more insight, I know how to market and sell to them. It helps me long-term. Once I have a deep qualitative understanding and again, that can come five conversations. Not always but generally five conversations then I try to test it qualitatively.

I use something like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. I try to get a statistically significant number of responses. Now, if you’re in a small market, 100 or 200 people, it might be enough. If you’re trying to do something nationally, you should try to get 1,000 people from the demographic that you’re targeting. Hopefully, through your initial research and conversations, you’ll start getting an idea of your demographic. All you want to do in that quantitative survey is take the information you learned from the conversation, the qualitative and validate that they’re true at scale. Once you’ve done that, you have a much better idea of your customer than most of your competitors will because no one does that work.

I think that’s interesting because I love what you shared. As I said, I am so customer-centric that I rarely talk about myself ever and that’s one of the biggest complaints I get from my show because not many people would turn to my show. I’ve sold over 10 million pieces of jewelry and they basically want to know how I did it and I never shared that. What you’re saying is exactly what I did before the digital age. I started my business in 1989 and I didn’t have any money. I had no idea what I was doing. I literally had no clue. I was so naive but I went to different department stores and asked the buyer or the jewelry department managers, “If you had this type of design, would you be able to sell it?” It was all sketches.

The amount of information they gave me, in fact, they were so excited about it. Many of them sold from me off of the sketches. That’s how my business started. I started my business with no money. I had $30. This is before computers and anything then I thought, “How real could that be?” The two stores that sold for me were Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire and Rodale. It’s a different store. In my mind, I was thinking to myself, “That can’t be the rest of America. I’m going to need more than those two stores.” As you said, you needed a bigger sample. The two people that I talked to, the stuff that they ordered for thousands of dollars, I personally didn’t know anybody that would buy it from me.

Everyone has to learn from the customer.

My personal circle of people couldn’t afford the stuff that they thought they were buying. When I went out to other stores all around Southern California, I got a pretty good view. Even then, I didn’t think that that was all of America. I thought that was Southern California. My first trip was to Dallas, which I thought was much more Middle America. Basically, in order for you to find out what your customers want, go find customers, even if it’s just five. I completely agree with those five. In my personal experience, when you’ve talked to people, they’re overjoyed that a real person is talking to you. You’re not a part of anything. You’re not hiking and showing off on social media telling everybody how great you are doing.

You’re asking their opinion, they will be brutally honest with you and then you’re getting some feedback from them. I also loved what you said about how you think about your product a certain way that the customer then sees it in a different way. I think that that’s a key important issue because a lot of times when you think customers see it one way and you think you’re giving it another way, there will be a disconnect in how you message them in the end. If you come up with a marketing ad and let’s say you’re advertising on Facebook, “I have this wonderful, beautiful jewelry for you to wear to work,” then the customer says, “That’s like a milestone jewelry heirloom. I will never wear it to work.”

There’s a huge disconnect between those two because you think they’re going to want to wear it to work into everything then the person says, “No. For me, that would be such an incredible thing that I would want to keep it in my jewelry box. I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to ruin it.” You have to figure out how the customer uses it. Let’s go back to the word innovation one more time.

I think that a lot of people, when you say the word innovation especially coming from someone like yourself who has worked with Amazon, the innovation capital of the world, they think of inventions. They don’t think about improving things that are already out there. Innovating could mean the same product is delivered in different ways and products used in a different way.

It’s a similar product that elevates personal. Coffee is a great example. I wouldn’t say that Starbucks innovated coffee but the way we use it, the way we now view coffee, there are countries that used to only drink tea until Starbucks got there and now nobody drinks tea in those countries anymore. UK is one of them. I wish the bigger companies that you worked for did what you say. They don’t do it.

They don’t listen to us. It’s insane. I hate PayPal. I don’t like PayPal. They make it so convoluted and it’s not simple for me. I don’t understand why I have to put in my information and then you have to put in all your credit cards to go to their platform. It’s so stupid. I got my gripes with Target and even Amazon. Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’re a small company, you are in a better position to be nimble and surgically effective in the market that you’re in. You can make a lot of profits. You don’t need to make billions of dollars to make money if you got one employee and that employee is you.

I agree when you’re talking about PayPal being difficult. Having worked there for three years and I was the head of the platform there, it had to do a lot with a KYC, AML CTF, Know Your Customer, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing. If anything is difficult on PayPal, it’s not PayPal’s fault. It’s generally regulations that come in and make it hard. PayPal rides this weird line between banks, etc. The challenge when you get big is the government starts to pay attention to you. When the government starts to pay attention to you, they want their piece of the pie. They want to make sure that you’re doing things the way they want the things to be done. The government has its agenda. Companies have their agendas. A lot of times, those agendas aren’t the same.

MDH 40 | Innovation

Innovation: People become the most successful when they have the endurance to just consistently learn about the customer and never get complacent.

 

When you’re small, most governments don’t care about you. Most competitors will ignore you. It gives you a lot of latitudes to take risks and experiment with your customers. I wanted to touch on one of the things that you said earlier, which is innovation doesn’t necessarily mean invention. In fact, I think some of the world’s best innovations are taking something that worked in one end and doing it in an industry that hasn’t done it yet. There are so many examples of technology specifically that were helpful for the military and is now used by everyone on Earth like using a cell phone, Velcro or zippers. All of those things were designed for specific activities. A lot of them had to do with the space and how we use them in our kitchen like the microwave.

There’s a lot of utility in technology out there that hasn’t been brought to the customer in a way that makes it accessible to the customer. I also think part of the work that I’m trying to do with HowDo is to help people with their inner monologue. I think the biggest barrier to innovation starts with the stories we tell ourselves. If we tell ourselves that we can’t innovate, it’s hard, I’m not this or I’m not that, we’re literally ending the story with that thought rather than giving ourselves permission to try and maybe fail. Failure is literally a failure and learning. If you failed but you learned, that’s not failure. That’s an iteration. That means you took a step, it didn’t work, you’re going to take the step again but you’re going to do it smarter.

If you keep taking the same step with the same process, that’s crazy. Doing the same thing twice and expecting different results, it’s sanity. If you learn every time and you use that learning to scale, that’s not failure. That’s iterating. Everyone iterates on the path to success. Amazon, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos all iterate. If you give yourself a more positive story like, “I can do this. I might have messed it up the first time but here’s why I messed it up. Here’s what I learned about it,” then go look at people who were successful, your role models and your aspirational innovators. Watched how they got there. There’s a ton of failure in that process. No one got up out of bed at eighteen and he’s like, “I’m going to be a billionaire,” and then the next day was a billionaire. There’s a huge 20 to 50-year journey for most of these people.

I believe that there’s a lot of power and capability in everyone but we often are held down by the narratives that we tell ourselves and potentially stories other people tell us but innovation is not scary. Invention is not scary. Invention is harder than innovation. That’s for sure because you have to do something not new but innovation is everywhere in so many things. There are many problems in the world and people will say, “How are we ever going to fix this?” I swear to God, it’s going to be innovation and it’s going to be someone who’s alive now that fixes it. It could be you. It could be anyone.

We started with customer-centric mindset and we’re going to end it with a customer-centric mindset. I think that whether you’re innovating or inventing, it becomes easier the clearer you have in your mind of who your customer is and what they want from you. For example, your customer now wants to save time and they want safe food and they want a new way to microwave something that whatever it is, it becomes a lot easier to innovate and invent once you figure out what your end goal is. You’re going to go back to the customer, see what they want, how they are going to use it and what problems you’re solving for them.

In terms of the obstacles along the way, I weigh with you on that too. When I first immigrated to America, my father told me, “America is the promised land where all dreams come true,” which was a lie. You didn’t know it at the time but you have to work for your dreams. When I came to America, the prevailing thought was that America is still the promised land. It’s the land of opportunity. All you need is the opportunity. As long as you are willing to work for it, you’re persistent and tenacious and you believe in yourself, you’re going to get there. Nowadays, that is not the prevailing thought. A lot of people who are almost nearing retirement age will tell you, “Unless you have something so unique, chic and something different, you’re better off in Corporate America. You’re not going to succeed because the world is complicated.”

What happens as a society is we condition our children. Our graduate schools are teaching business schools how to plug into a system, how to lead a team and how to report to your boss, organizational skills and all this stuff. I can see why you might be sitting there, reading this and wondering if any of this stuff applies to you. I would argue that if you look at all the companies that we’ve mentioned, we’re talking PayPal, including Jeff Bezos at Amazon, all of these people started their companies with very little money like $5,000 or below. Google, Apple or Facebook were all started by some little dreamer with a little idea of something. I would say stop doubting yourself because sometimes, you might be the only thing that’s in your way between you and your dream out there.

What have you got to lose? I believe there was no failure because when you fail but you get up, you learn something and how to do something better the next day. I would consider that our learning lesson. Now, if you choose to do something and you succeed on day one, let’s say you want to learn how to ride a bike. One of my kids learned how to ride a bike pretty quickly and the other one fell for about a year. The one that learned how to ride a bike pretty quickly was a success story but then the one that didn’t eventually learn. You learn a lot of things along the way. Everything that you want to have is worth trying, even if you fear that failure because that failure isn’t a failure. It’s a stepping stone.

West was saying to believe in yourself. Innovation isn’t scary. Even invention is not scary. It’s something that you’re going to have to get used to. Don’t you agree with all the companies you worked for in the past, West, like Target, Amazon and to some extent Visa? These companies have evolved every year. Do you remember when Target first opened? It was an undesirable store.

It was a grade above Walmart. Now, that’s the choice that the Millennials go to. Go figure. Target is shaking. It’s hip now. When I say we’re going to end this segment with customer­centric thing, again whether you innovate or not whether you evolve or not, your customers are evolving every day. You better stay in touch with the evolution, the innovation and all that stuff that’s happening around you. Do you want to add anything else to that as we end our segment?

I would say never get comfortable. A principle is always day one. I think that’s true for every business. Many businesses that I’ve worked for missed hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue because they were like, “Whatever that thing is, it’s not going to be popular.” In 2007, I was at one of the largest banks in Europe. I was talking to their head of innovation and they were like, “We think this Facebook thing is going to be done in two years.” They were very wrong.

The biggest barrier to innovation is the stories we tell ourselves.

I see that so often. I see that in startup founders and in big companies. It’s a basic human behavior. We like patterns and familiar. Talking about stuff that’s unknown or unfamiliar is very hard. For a lot of people, that’s deeply uncomfortable. The more that we can make ourselves comfortable, specifically for me, I’m surrounded by musical instruments, I am constantly learning new things. I constantly challenge myself to learn new things so that I never get tired of the sensation of being unaware and feeling like a newbie. That is where people become the most successful. It’s when they have the endurance to consistently learn about the customer. Never get complacent.

Thank you so much for spending all this time with us. If you want to know more about West, he can be reached at HowDo.com. He will be launching a video series of a lot of free information. I highly recommend that you check it out because he has found ways to apply a lot of the principles that the bigger companies use. Those bigger companies do research at a much different scale and West is giving you them in smaller bites where you can apply it to your small business. I appreciate you coming in and wish you all the luck in the world for your upcoming podcast, which is also called HowDo Podcast. Thank you.

Thank you so much for having me. This is awesome. I appreciate it.

Thank you.

Important Links:

About West Stringfellow

West Stringfellow leads product management and innovation at scale. Throughout his 20 year career, West honed his ability to quickly create a better strategic vision of a company’s future, motivate large groups of people to pursue that vision, and then lead teams through the operational, financial, organizational, and technical processes that bring strategic visions to life.

Currently, West is the Founder and CEO of HowDo where he is providing free universal innovation training. Prior to HowDo, West was Target’s first Entrepreneur in Residence, Target’s VP of Innovation, and the Founder of the Techstars Retail Accelerator, in partnership with Target. He was also Chief Product Officer for Bigcommerce and Rosetta Stone, led product innovation at PayPal and Visa, and was a senior product manager at Amazon. As a result, West led teams that built and rebuilt products and services used globally and daily by tens of millions of satisfied customers

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MDH 35 | Financial Literacy

 

No matter what happened to us in the past, we could always start all over again. If we want to be financially stable and start up a business, it’s still possible despite the tough circumstances we have gone through. Daniel Blue proves to us that it’s possible for anybody to follow his dreams regardless of the past he has dealt with. Victoria Wieck sits down for a conversation with him, and they delve into how businesses could create wealth and get creative with self-directed retirement accounts. Daniel is the owner of Quest Education, a company that provides financial solutions for individuals and business owners through education. Growing up with no entrepreneurs to guide him, he directed himself to be a successful business owner. Join Daniel in this episode, where he shares more powerful insights on financial literacy and wealth management to grow our businesses and attain success.

Watch the episode here:

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From Drug Addict To CEO: Financial Literacy And Retirement With Daniel Blue

Welcome to another episode. You’ve done all the right things, save money, put maximum contribution to your 401(k), IRA, all of that stuff and you wanted to know if you have any access to that money until you retire. Many of you have postponed retirement or you have retired but you didn’t need the money. Maybe you’re getting close to it you want to buy a house. Having a house is hard. If you wanted to know if anybody could have access to it, I’ve got an expert. His name is Daniel Blue. He’s not only an expert. He founded this company called Quest Education, which is a company that’s dedicated to helping you access your money sooner than the law says so. Completely legally, of course. It’s also tax-free. He’s found all the different ways you can get this done if you want it to.

He’s got a company called Quest Education. You can find that on YourQuest.com. He’s the author of the upcoming book Blueprint to Your Best Retirement as well. I want to tell you one thing that’s interesting about Daniel. He learned how to do all this because probably out of necessity. He has become a parent at age nineteen. He’s gone through some financial ups and downs. He is a very interesting, amazing human being on top of being an amazing expert and an amazing teacher. I wanted to help him tell you his story rather than me going through his bio. Welcome, Daniel, to the show.

Thank you so much for having me. What an introduction. I’m honored to be here.

I know there are more important things here but I got to tell you, I have to tell my audience here, you became a father at age nineteen to a beautiful daughter named Bella.

I did and I still remember that day like it was yesterday when I got the news.

I assume that has changed your life a lot in all the good ways. The first way that a child will educate you is you got to learn how to exist on no sleep. Other than that, they cost a lot of money and you, as a parent, want to provide for your child. Not just what they need like food, diapers, school education and all that but also for their future. The birth of your child, did that have anything to do with being financially super responsible or were you like that before?

You have to look at personal preferences and your goals.

I grew up middle class and lived in a cul-de-sac in California. I had a great life when I was 5 to 12. I stopped at twelve for a reason as my parents got divorced. My dad ended up moving to Mexico out of the blue. I was a teenager and now it’s just my mom. She’s working all day. I don’t get a lot of supervision. My dad moved to a different country and didn’t come back. I don’t know why he left. I’m going through all these different thoughts. When you’re 12, 13, 14 years old, you start getting hormones changing and all the fun stuff there. I didn’t have supervision. I’m ditching school. I’m experimenting with drugs and hanging with the wrong people.

I saw my mom struggle. She was a social worker. She worked her tail off. I got to a point where I wasn’t going to pass high school. I was going to flunk. My mom ended up shipping me from California to a small town called St. George, Utah. We knew one family there. My mom one day came to me and says, “I want you to finish school. If you stay here, you’re going to end up in jail or you’re going to flunk school. I need you to finish school.” She shipped me off to this family. I lived with them. I finished my senior year of high school in this new city, a new school in St. George, Utah. The readers are entrepreneurs or side hustle.

There are two types of entrepreneurs. You’ve got people like Gary Vee that were an entrepreneur since they came out the womb. They were trading sports cards and selling Pokémon cards. They were hustling at a young age. They knew they were going to be an entrepreneur. You got people that stumble into being an entrepreneur. That’s me. I didn’t grow up wanting to become an entrepreneur. I grew up not wanting to be in the same position I saw me and my mom in. Where we were struggling financially and money wasn’t in abundance. I wanted to be in a better position financially and ended up getting into sales at a young age but I wasn’t able to define who I was.

That’s a lot easier in life when you can have standards and core values and know who you stand for. I didn’t have that when I was 18, 19 years old, which led me to make some bad decisions included getting on the drugs. I was addicted to OxyContin. All of this time, I’m making good money selling but then I ended up getting a woman pregnant at eighteen years old and then I had my daughter at nineteen. That was a monumental moment in my life as far as I needed to change and wake up.

I found your story fascinating on multiple fronts. I am a mother of somebody who’s probably your age. I’ve got a couple of kids and they have a bunch of friends. I’ve seen a lot of my daughter’s friends get into similar problems that you were in. They felt abandoned and lost. They felt they don’t matter when parents go through a divorce and all that. I want to break this interview into two parts. The transformation story that you’ve gone through, I would say that’s a huge transformation story. You went from being a high school dropout, a drug addict, being irresponsible and borderline going to jail, according to your mother, to being a responsible father. You’re financially literate, founding a company and you’re helping a lot of other people find their footing.

Also, having gone through with this entrepreneurship in a way that’s you stumbled forward, I would say then you founded this. When other people wouldn’t have access to money or into their retirement funds, they know that they’ve got the money and they want to start a side hustle. You’re helping those people. I think that your transformation story is very inspirational. I have quite a few Millennials reading. You’ll find this interesting, Daniel. I wrote a book. It’s going through its second phase of edits. Editors are tough on me.

MDH 35 | Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy: There’s a risk everywhere. We make and lose money every day. You can’t create wealth without investing money. Be clear on your financial goals and what you’re looking to accomplish.

 

Basically, I wrote a good enough book to attract all these agents. They’ve told me that anything I say, I had to back it up. If I say, “According to the latest news XYZ,” they’re saying, “You have to cite the newspaper itself, what issue, which day.” I did all this research and you’ll find this interesting that you might want to go with this. UPS did a survey two years in a row. UPS Stores have those mailboxes at their stores. They say, “The majority of Americans who are now facing retirement would prefer to own a small business over retiring because they have more financial resources than when they were twenty years old.” They are at the height of their knowledge base where they know a lot more about their expertise or the area. Even if they work for somebody else for all their lives, they have the expertise that they had built.

They’re living longer and healthier. Something like a majority a 55% of Americans would prefer having a small business over retirement. I did all this research. I think this was a survey done by Vistaprint. They were saying that, “Three out of five Millennials, 63% of Millennials either already has a side hustle business or they dream of owning a business someday.” I started my business with $30. If you wanted to have $3,000 access to your 401(k) account and you don’t have that or the psychological, you think, “If I fail for the next six months and I need to have access to some of that. I don’t want to pay huge penalties. How do I go by getting that?”

I’ve heard that you can have access to your 401(k) but I’ve always heard that you have to pay some nasty penalties, which nobody wants to do. From what you were telling me, there’s always the workaround with this as well. Tell me, how does anyone have access to their retirement money without penalties? Secondly, would you ever advise somebody to take the money out before they need it?

This concept was first introduced to me when I was selling. When I was eighteen years old, I got into the sales industry. I was selling real estate coaching for a number of years. As I was talking to these real estate investors, they started talking about how they use their retirement account to buy a house and flip it. They used a retirement account to purchase a rental. That thought process, that concept was foreign to me because I always thought that retirement accounts were for stocks and mutual funds. I didn’t know that you could use your retirement account to make alternative investments like that. This is something that not a lot of people know about. It’s not some brand-new loophole that came out in 2020. This is a strategy that’s been around for decades and it’s IRS approved. If the readers can get one piece of information that they can write down, put in their notes on their iPhone, write down solo 401(k).

If you’re an entrepreneur, you have a side hustle, you want to start a business and you don’t have any W-2 employees other than you or a spouse. You can have 1099 Contractors. You can have VAs. If that fits you then the IRS says you qualify for a solo 401(k). You’re right, someone that has money in a 401(k) from an old job or an IRA and they want to take $10,000 out. They’re younger than 59 and a half years old. How much are they going to have to pay in penalties and taxes? At least 20% to 40%. There’s a 10% early withdrawal penalty. Plus, they have to claim the money as income. It could be 20% tax rate, who knows, 25%. Either way, it’s a lot of money. The way around it is someone can have that 401(k) from an old job or an IRA and convert it into a solo 401(k). From there, they can take money out penalty and tax-free. They could use that money however they want.

I was talking to a friend, a client. She lives in Las Vegas. We helped her access money from her retirement account penalty and tax-free. She took out $10,000, bought a bunch of products for her Amazon store. She’s been able to have a successful Amazon store for a few years now. She was able to quit her job. That’s the goal why younger people want to have more freedom with the business so they can call their own shots. We want to have more time freedom. There are a lot of options that people don’t know about and that’s why we exist.

Be the best you could be, no matter what position you are in the company.

I love that. I read those two, the Vistaprint and the UPS thing. This will be all be in my book Million Dollar Hobbies. To back that up even more, in 2020, the US Census Bureau had more applications for an employer ID number, EIN number, which is what you need to do to start a business than any other time in history. They’ve had something like a 20% increase year over year. The number is incredible. I also think during COVID, a lot of people probably had a shift in priorities. All of us, as human beings, now crave a little bit more about human interaction with people that you want to have interaction with.

I read a lot of other studies about ditching a lot of luxury stuff that is fluff now. From the whole Amazon thing that you were saying, it’s like you have a 401(k) from some other job. If you want to start your own business, you work for yourself. That’s a different job. Is that right? You convert your old 401(k) into the new solo 401(k). They still considered the solo 401(k) but you can invest that money to real estate or something else. That’s brilliant. What are some of the tips that you have? I have a lot of people who are 40 to 65 people year old people that want to start a side hustle. They’re sitting rich and have a 401(k) account. What are the top tips that you would give to someone who is considering doing that? I think that one thing is you’re working for a company now, then the decision one is, “Do I start my own business?” What happens if they go from a one job to another job? If they’ll go from working for UPS to FedEx, can they do similar things?

If that 401(k) from UPS, the original job, if they take that 401(k) from UPS and move it into their new company they’re working for as an employee to FedEx and they move 401(k)s, we can’t help them. The only type of accounts that can get moved over into a solo 401(k) is a 401(k) from an old job. Not a current job. Unless you’re over 59 and a half years of age, then if you have a 401(k) from a current job then we can help or an IRA. I do want to touch on a point you brought up earlier in terms of, should people access money from the retirement account penalty and tax-free? There’s that whole concept of, “That’s money for retirement. That’s money from when I’m 60. I don’t want to rob my future.”

You just have to look at personal preferences and your goals. Some people have the conclusion that they would rather have some of their money. Not all of their 401(k) or IRA money but some of their retirement money in their possession where they can invest where they want. They come to a conclusion, “Instead of having this $10,000 or $20,000 in the stock market where I don’t have control over these stocks, I can make more money. I have more control over this $20,000 if I put it into ABC business.” There’s risk everywhere. We lose money in the stock market every day, every other day, whatever it works out. We make money in the stock market, same with the business. You make money. You lose money. It comes down to your financial goals and what you’re looking to accomplish.

I know when I started my business, I was young. I was in my 20s. When you start your business, everybody tells you you’re going to fail. My rationale at that time was if I’m going to fail, I’d rather fail when I don’t have any kids or any other obligations so where I can start my life over. I went ahead and did it but most people don’t have money when they’re in their 20s. I didn’t have parents or anybody I can rely on. The jobs that I had before, I probably had a total of $10,000 in my 401(k) at that time. I wish I had had access to it because I had to start my company with little. I didn’t have money to even make a single sample, which sucked. I’m glad you answered that because you’re not advocating even when you transfer it over that you risk all that. You’re basically saying if you have a calculated risk situation and you need a little help, that money is there for you.

It’s a good option to have. Also, one thing to talk about is credit card debt. I can’t tell you how many people we’ve talked to over the years have $20,000 in credit card debt and they’re paying 15% interest on their credit card debt. Their retirement account is making them 8%. If they’re making 8% a year on their retirement account money and their credit card debt is costing them 15%, they’re losing money faster than they’re making money. When you take money out of a solo 401(k) penalty and tax-free, the IRS comes to you and says, “We don’t care what you use this money for. You do have to pay back if you’re going to utilize the loan feature.” The loan feature is on the solo 401(k) where you can take out up to 50% of the account value or $50,000, whichever number is less. As long as you pay your retirement account back your solo 401(k) back within five years, there are no penalties and no taxes.

MDH 35 | Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy: When you experience struggling financially, you have to remember to have standards, core values and know what you stand for.

 

The cool part about the loan feature is there’s an interest rate of prime plus two. The interest rate’s about 5.25%. That interest goes back to your solo 401(k). You’re not paying anyone else the interest but yourself. This strategy works out great where if you used the loan feature, let’s say you take out $20,000 and you invest it in your business, you’ve got five years to pay back that $20,000 plus the interest to avoid the penalties and taxes. You can take that $20,000 and pay off credit card debt that’s costing you 15%. Now your credit card payment is gone. You’re not bleeding the 15% and you’re paying yourself back.

You could pay off all your debts. Basically, anything with the interest rate that’s above the 5% and you’d be so much better off and having that one bill. Any interest that’s accrued is going back to your own accounts. I think that’s brilliant as well. In your book, The Blueprint to Your Best Retirement, is this primarily what you teach? Are there other tips on how to live your best retirement?

I think one thing I wish I would have done earlier in life and everyone reading this can extract value from the bullet point I’m willing to hammer home, is the power of a Roth retirement account. When you put money into an IRA or a solo 401(k), when you contribute new money, you have the option to make the contribution as a Roth contribution. To break it down to the simplicity term, the money you put into it, you pay taxes on it. You don’t get any tax breaks when you put the money in the account as a Roth IRA or a Roth solo 401(k).

However, let’s say you put in $10,000. If that $10,000 were to grow to $50,000 over a period of time, that’s 100% tax-free. I don’t care who you voted for the president. I try not to get into politics because, as an entrepreneur, I’m going to make money no matter who’s in office. We will need to have tax-free money because the taxes will eventually go up. We’re operating at a historic low from a tax standpoint. I’d rather pay taxes on my money now. That way, when I’m older, I have tax-free money. As entrepreneurs, we love hearing tax-free. That gets us excited.

The Roth solo 401(k) for you, high-income earners with your side hustle or your existing business, depending on how much money you make as a business. You can contribute up to $58,000 per year into a Roth solo 401(k). You compare that to a Roth IRA. You’re only able to put in $6,000 a year. Not a lot of people are familiar with the Roth solo 401(k). I touch on that subject or the chapter in my book about the power of the Roth solo 401(k) and having tax-free money.

When it comes to retirement, how to live your best retirement, a lot of that which you’re talking about it has to do with the financial part of this. Is that right? You’re not teaching people how to go on wonderful vacations and stuff.

If you want to start a business, remember the most important thing is your personal brand.

Yes, by proxy. Have some nice tax-free money set up and you’re chilling on the beach having peace of mind.

The other thing I want to talk about too is I wouldn’t want to deep dive into this but I think that what you’re teaching is not necessarily retirement money. It’s more or less you’re teaching financial literacy. A lot of Millennials, my whole house is sometimes full of Millennials. My kids are Millennials and all their friends are Millennials. I’ve got 2 or 3 teachers in my family. They’re professors of Millennial kids. They don’t seem to understand the concept or they don’t think that it’s important for them to understand financial literacy now because they’re so young. Would you advise that you basically become financial literate early on because of every penny you save? I don’t think a lot of people understand the concept of compounded interest coming back to you.

There are two ways. Either you educate yourself through YouTube University or you read books. You join masterminds. You surround yourself with people that are more successful and you learn from them and ask questions or you’re a knucklehead like me. When I was younger, you learn from your mistakes. When I was 18, 19, 20 years old, I was making six figures. I was living the dream. I didn’t care about my credit score because I thought, “Why do I need a credit card? I can pay in cash. I don’t need credit.” No one taught me the importance of a credit score, utilization rate and having access to the bank’s money.

Luckily, I was able to learn from some mistakes. As I turned 24, 25, 26, I worked on my credit. I had a great credit score. When I started Quest Education, I was able to get a bunch of 0% credit cards to invest in my business. If I didn’t have that, I don’t know where Quest Education would be now because you need money to make money. Whether it’s at the beginning or the middle, you have to have capital.

I talked about earlier at the beginning of my interview that I was going to get a little deep dive into you as an entrepreneur and what you do as an entrepreneur. You, as an entrepreneur, founded Quest Education, which is educating people about financial literacy, access to money, access to money that you already have. What would you say was the most pivotal thing that caused you to venture into entrepreneurship? Was that by necessity? I know that you said you stumbled onto this. At some point, you do have to make a decision. “I don’t want to work for anybody anymore. I’m going to work for myself and I believe in myself.” You have to have the confidence and the competence to start that entrepreneurship journey. What happened?

I know it’s a mindset. When I was a young kid, I saw my mom work as a social worker. She was one of the only ones in the office that did not have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She didn’t have that degree to have that position but she was in it for a long enough time and outworked everyone. She was able to do what she did and was good at it. She had the mentality of, “I’m going to be the best social worker I can be.” That’s lost in society nowadays. My nephew, he works at McDonald’s. I tell him like, “Be the best fry cooker. Be the best in your position.”

MDH 35 | Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy: Start building your personal brand because people want to do business with people they know and trust.

 

The reason why I asked you that, Daniel, is that based on what you’ve said before about your background, your parents getting a divorce and growing up and everything, you didn’t grow up in a family full of entrepreneurs. That’s why somebody like you would need a pivotal moment or series of events that caused you to do that. Let’s say your father was a serial entrepreneur and he kept on failing at entrepreneurship but he kept doing it. You’d still have that model or something in you being an entrepreneur and failing, this is normal but you didn’t have that. You grew up with a mom who devoted her life to helping other people for very little money. The question is how did you end up there?

Enough period of time of always wanting to be the best at something, then eventually getting to the point because it started off when I bagged groceries at a grocery store. “I’m going to be the best grocery bagger I can be. I’m going to be the best grocery cart corral gatherer I could be.” When I got into sales like, “I’m going to be the best appointments setter I could be. I’ll be the best closer I can be. I’m going to be the best sales manager I can be.” I finally got to a point where I’m just like, “I like winning. I like competition. Why not get in the business?” That’s the next step.

I liked the idea of being able to lead a group of people. I played sports my whole life. I do think there’s a lot of parallels between competition, sports, whether it’s gymnastics, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer and business. There are a lot of parallels between those two. I think that had a lot to do with it as well. In terms of, “I’m 24, 25,26 years old, I want to be an entrepreneur. I’m ready for this.”

Even though you went through drug addiction, all the stuff that you went through. You still had core values, which were to always be in search of excellence. You must have had that discipline because when you play sports, you do have the discipline to show up on time, to be the best you could be, to give it your all. You have to face defeat and victory in a very similar fashion. I think that’s great. Your transformation story is fantastic in the sense that you go from literally in the worst-case scenario.

If somebody looked at just on paper when you were nineteen years old, “This guy’s a deadbeat.” You look at it on paper, they’d go, “He’s got a kid. He’s addicted to this and that. He dropped out of school. We don’t want to hire him. We don’t want to have him consult us or help us.” That’s how society judges you. Here you are. You are now a seven-figure entrepreneur at such a young age. You’ve got a secure business where you’re helping other people achieve their dreams. That’s fantastic. When I say fantastic, meaning it’s such an explosive story. I wanted to help other people. Some of them are on the verge of starting their own businesses. What does it take to start a business? You did it the hard way. You were a single father on top of that.

You created this seven-figure business. That’s not easy to do but it is not impossible to do. I like all of you who are reading to be inspired by someone like Daniel. Also, you could get financial advice from anybody. There are a lot of people who have a certified Financial degree, CPAs, wealth management. The whole world is full of people. When you look at someone like Daniel who’s gone through a lot in his young life, for me, I would trust someone like you who had some real-life experiences. You know what it’s like to be down and out and have no money.

Our goal in life is to have more time, peace of mind, and freedom with our businesses.

I commend you for having made that transformation and you’re paying it forward. Here’s another thing I’m going to tell you. If you were making seven figures, writing a book is the most stupid thing in the world when it comes to money. Isn’t it true? When I go on TV, I get paid in dollars per minute. Every minute you got to make so many thousand dollars of sales and you get a percentage of that. To devote 1 or 2 years of your life to writing a book that’s going to maybe sell for $10 a pop and if you’re lucky, as an author, you get a dollar out of every $10. Usually, authors make about 10% of the whole retail price. That is a poor use of your time if you think about it.

Not a great ROI. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. We are not crazy people. I think that authors who share this type of information do it because we love it. We do it because it is ingrained in us. For me, my success, I would say I’m not Oprah Winfrey or anything like that by going from $30 to $500 million, that is also a transformation story. I feel like so much of what happened to me, even though I worked my rear end off to get every penny that I have, everything that I have, there was a lot of luck involved. I would say that’s my way of paying it forward.

I’m sure, Daniel, you’re very similar in that when you write the book because you can reach people through your website, DanielBlue.me If you can, sign up for his book because us authors, we write books because we want to share. We are dying to share our information. It’s the best investment you’re going to have the $10, all the knowledge that we have put into this.

My editors, my publishers, they make me write. If I say, “I saw it a UPS survey,” what date was the survey was done and who published it? I had to write the guy who wrote the article to the paper like it was Wall Street Journal, whoever wrote the article, where it was published, all this stuff. Literally, it is a lot of work but we do it because we love it. We want you to have a piece of our legacy. Sign up for a Blueprint to Your Best Retirement by Daniel Blue. I have a lot of advisors to handle my money for me. I’ve never heard of the Roth solo 401(k). I never heard that before but I’m going to go check that out right after I get this show. Thank you, Daniel, for coming. How would you like people to get ahold of you to get more information from you?

The best place is DanielBlue.me. That’s my hub. I’ve got a link to my company’s website Quest Education. If you got a 401(k) from an old job or an IRA and you’d like to learn how to tap into that account penalty and tax-free, you can visit the website Quest Education on DanielBlue.me. There’s a link there. My team can assist you. If you’re interested, I do have a podcast. It’s called How Winners Win. I talk about how people can win in their personal, entrepreneurial and financial life. It’s something that I have fun doing. Also, a link to my book. I also have a course called The Quest Way: How to Make Money Tax-Free. I expand on some of the topics that you and I have discussed here on the show.

If you’d like to dive into the course, it does have a link to the course as well as my contact information, my social media handles. To the 30% of people that are thinking about starting a business or want to start a business, the biggest thing is a personal brand. The reason I can assume why you wrote your writing your books is it’s talking about branding. We’re not going to make money off this book but it’s all about our brand. That’s why we start a podcast, we have a book and we’re active on social media. You have to have a personal brand in the year 2021. Even if you don’t have a business concept or a business launched, start building your personal brand. People want to do business with people that they know, like and trust. You can start building your brand now, no matter what service or product you’re selling.

Thank you so much for coming by and sharing all your knowledge and information on yourself. For all of you readers, I always sign off by saying until next time. Please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I wish you lots of great choices. Thank you.

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About Daniel Blue

Daniel is the owner of Quest Education, a company that provides financial solutions for individuals and business owners through education. He educates entrepreneurs on their finances so they can focus more on growing their businesses. Quest Education is a 7-figure company and has helped over a thousand customers throughout the country.