Okay, can you hear me now? So here I was sitting there and talking and I think you can all hear me now. So I was sitting here talking to myself wondering why none of you were responding and saying, what is going on here and I was talking about how much better it was with this new webinar platform, how I don't have any mistakes and don't take any time at all and then I realized that I didn't have my microphone on. By default they turn your microphone off, which makes no sense. We should talk to YouTube. This is using the YouTube live platform. We should tell them that just turn the stupid microphone on, because you can't really have a webinar without a microphone.
Anyways, with that out of the way thanks everybody for joining me. This is our last call. I'm excited. Hopefully you brought some awesome questions to ask and contributed as well to the survey. And I think we’ll start off by getting into the survey results, like we have been over the last several calls. Hopefully, you don't get too annoyed with answering the survey. Let’s get to understand where you’re coming from--to what you’re saying to what your needs are.
And so if you can see the screen that says, the report for the call, let me know if you can see it. I'm going to refresh it if any answers have slipped in, over the last few minutes since I downloaded everything, looks like nothing has.
First question, have you been tempted to pursue any of the ideas we covered in module 5? Now as you all probably know, module 5 is the one that we affectionately call, don't get your ass kicked. And it's basically dedicated to ways that I've seen agencies screw up. No I'm not going to say that it's only my agency that screwed up, I've seen that happen to a lot of people. I've seen it happen to freelancers, seen it happen a bunch of ways. So it's good that a lot of you are tempted to pursue these areas and hopefully the stories that I share with you are convincing right, they're convincing to you, so you don't go in the wrong direction.
Now it's not a bad idea to pursue these things, you just got to understand what it really means to the business. And when I say these things, whether it's creating a software or if you're looking to expand really fast, or you’re looking to offer a bunch of services. All these things, none of them in their own are necessarily bad. But you do too much of it, if you don't focus, if you don’t understand the repercussions of doing these things, then you are going to find that it leads to problems. Because dilution of focus is the anti niche. So we talked a lot in this course about having a niche and being at the intersection between clients and the services you provide at being very unique and differentiating. And if you do too much, then you're not differentiated.
Actually I've been listening a lot to a podcast, so this is a recommendation for you guys. It is called Marketing In Your Car with Russell Brunson. I'm not sure if anybody listens to that or not. But it's basically about a 10 to 20 minutes podcast this guy puts out there almost every day. And it's on his ride into work, he records a podcast and talks about what he's doing to build funnels.
So he owns the company ClickFunnels I'm not sure if you’ve heard of that or not. But I know a few of you, actually one of you at least, Carlos is a ClickFunnels certified consultant. He definitely knows who he is, but I'm not sure about the other ones, if you’ve heard of him or not. Anyway, so he talks about a lot of cool things and most recent one that I really like and what I've been doing is, I do a bike ride in the middle of the day and I just put a podcast in and I bike for an hour and just get business ideas. That's a really cool way I think to clear your head and get business ideas and maybe something you all can do too. You might listen to Tropical MBA or Marketing In Your Car. There is a bunch of different business podcast you can listen to.
Anyways long story longer, he mentions this book about blue ocean versus red ocean. Now I'm probably going to butcher this because I haven't read the book myself. basically a red ocean is when you going after a competitive market and there is a lot of people, a lot of sharks in the water going after this market. And blue ocean is when there is a lot of opportunities in the blue ocean and there is no preconceived notions and there is nobody has already come up with their plan for how they're going to do things, people haven't already been oversold to, and so they're looking for something unique.
And I think that niching down is basically going after the blue ocean. That really I think is a good way to go. Ryan says he has his MP3 player sitting next to him, that's awesome. That's the offer at the end of each podcast is to get his MP3 player. I haven't done it myself, I don't have a need for a MP3 player right now, but I think it's pretty cool offer that he does have. It's a free MP3 player with all of his podcast plus shipping for $9 in shipping. That's interesting.
Ryan it would be interesting to me to see what funneling he puts you in, once you get the player and once it’s delivered. What does he try to do? Does he try to sell you something? What's going on? You and I are on the same page, you wanting to see his funnel.
It's interesting but, the reason why I tell you this is because, I think it's important to understand that offering too many services can be a problem. So, I know a lot of you are tempted to offer more services. I did want to caveat too many versus too little services, and just go back to something we learned in our videos that we talked about. And that is, it's okay to offer more than one service. It's okay to offer three, five, ten whatever number of services you want to offer you can offer. But here's the thing you shouldn't be doing with your agency.
One is how many services can 1 person be reasonably be good at. And I'm saying good enough that they can charge to their maximum potential. That they can flood the market place with thought leadership and get people to know who they are. Be experienced at something. How many things can you reasonably be really good at, where you can be at the top of your game and bring in a maximum amount of revenue and to do all the different things we're talking about in the business.
I would say for one person or per partner, maybe three. Okay so you can be really good at—and then even three can be very narrow or very broad. So the three things could be AdWords strategy, AdWords implementation and then AdWords monthly retainers. So that could be you three things. Or it could be paid social, paid search and organic search. Those things are pretty far away from each other. They're pretty different.
So what I'm getting at is that, you can have x number of services but you got to be able to be good at all of them. You really need to be able to deliver these things. So the only way you can go beyond offering the ones you have right now, is to bring on a business partner or to have somebody on your team who can get this done. Maybe they're not a business partner but somebody who can execute the work.
If you want your role as the agency owner to be the person who is discovering new services and implementing them, that's cool you can do that fun stuff but make sure that you are still milking your cash cows. That you are still actually going after the things that make you money, because I think a lot of times new business development, the investment in the future is not the same as the things that are making you money today.
You need to make sure you have everything filled in the back or you need to have things back-filled, if you were going to go and do that. And so that's really where the nuance is to doing this whole thing and that is, yes it's okay to offer many services, but how many can you be good at.
Now the other thing to know is that, if you are just experimenting or if you’re just getting started, maybe you can offer 10 and then pair it down eventually down to the three services that you really want to do. So it's okay to start with a bunch of services and then niche down from there. As we said in the lesson videos and I think in one of these calls, you don't really know what your niche is until you’ve done other things.
I like to look at life in general or just my business life, is you try a bunch of different things during the beginning of it, like when you're starting or something, you try a bunch of different things and then in the second half, once you mature in your career, it's more about knowing what things you shouldn't be doing or the things that you shouldn't be focused on.
So at the beginning you say yes to everything and then once you turn the corner and you want to get to the next level then you start to say no to everything with the same amount of passion. So you passionately say yes maybe for your first five or ten years of your career and once you hit that arc, on the way, on the rest of it you start to passionately say no to things. That's something to think about when it comes to. Yes, we can do all these services, but eventually getting better at saying no is the key to profitability.
So, have you established a growth plan? Looks like half of you have not established a growth plan and half of you have said yes. And I think we’ll get into details about that. We'll look at those anonymously in just a little bit when we look at the free form answers.
If anybody wants to share thoughts on this chat window, feel free to share your thoughts. I would say a growth plan to me can be as simple as super round numbers to say, where you want to get to. On my first year I want to hit a $100k. Or I want to hit $100k at some point. A $100,000 in consulting revenue or whatever your currency is. It might be much higher than that or much lower than that depending on it. That's the goal you have. Or you want to do $250,000 in revenue. Do you want to have 20% profit? Do you want to have a million dollars in revenue? Do you want to do 10 million?
I think you can look at these in phases. A lot of people I’ve been listening to, like I said a lot of podcast and a lot of successful people, and what they always talk about is that the first bar they set is usually pretty achievable. So I’ve been listening to Jeff Walker's Product Launch Formula quite a bit lately, because I'm preparing to launch Agency Course to the public in March. And I want to make sure that I have very clear messages to what you can get. Now you guys all bought the course because you believed in me, or in the messages out there and you're still here right. And I think the course is pretty great. I really feel like I put a lot of effort into this course. But for the public you have to start over again with marketing. So I’ve been listening to this launch doctor, Jeff Walker guy.
And he basically says that at first his goal was to make a hundred thousand dollars with his launches. And then he was at a conference and he bumped into a guy at lunch, and the guy said, $100,000 I do that per month. And this might have been his video this week. Sorry I’ve watched about 2000 hours of Jeff Walker videos on one and a half speed over the last few days. So I'm getting them blended together, whether they were in his course or on his blog.
Anyway, he said that he bumped into a guy at the buffet line at a conference and he says I do $100,000 per month. I might have said week but it's per month. And Jeff Walker is like what? You can do $100,000 per month, that's impossible I only $100,000 in a year and it took all my effort. And then he's like okay my bar just got a raised to a million dollars a year. That's what he wanted to do then at that point. And once he hit that number, he raised his bar again and I think it was a couple of million dollars and then it was a 10 million. I think each time the guy launched his course, he's getting to be more and more further along.
So basically the lesson that I got there is, that he just keeps on raising his bar. He just keeps on raising that bar over and over again in order to achieve something new. I guess what I would saying to you is that If you are looking at my agency and how we did six, seven million dollars range. We got that far, that might seem so far off. But the reality is that getting to that 1 million dollar range took a lot longer than it did to get to seven million.
There are those little milestones that you need to have on the way that are going to get you to the areas that you are going to be at. So it might actually take you longer to get to six figures or $100,000, then it does to get you to a million or whatever your numbers are. Or you might decide that number Just doesn't really appeal to you from a lifestyle perspective and you'd rather just focus on profits or focus on these areas.
So anyways this is a long way of saying that having a growth plan, yes you absolutely should have a growth plan but no, you don't need to over think it. You don't need to overdo it with your growth plan. You just need to have some ideas to where you want to go. Because if you don't have an idea you’re not going to challenge yourself, you might get comfortable or you might need to be too easy or might be too hard.
Now I find that it is really hard to achieve goals, if you don't even say what they are. And not only that it's, obviously you can’t achieve a goal if you don't know what your goal is. But on the other hand what I really found is difficult is that sometimes I get upset that things aren't going the way that I want them to go with my business or with whatever I'm going after. And yet I have never even put down what I want to achieve. So how can you be upset with something if you never even said that you wanted to do it or you wanted to get to that point? How can you really say that, like how can you say I didn't grow?
It's hard being in business for myself. I know how difficult it is to define these things, when there are so many other distractions everyday when you open up your email account, you probably have a hundred emails. Things that people want you to do and people expect of you. You have clients and everything.
But the key is to be as much mindful as much as you can, as to where you want to go and it’s not going to magically make these things happen. But it does make it, so you can articulate, why you are either frustrated or why you are excited about your business. That's how I would look at this, is to understand where you are coming from and where you want to get to.
Which agency planning areas have you completed? So, many of you have your vision in place and are starting financial and an on-boarding process. Some of you have business development, accountability and then you are getting into scaling and partnership agreements that type of stuff. And I know that some of you probably, if you don't even have a partner yet, then do you really need that? And so some of these bottom ones are really things that maybe your agency doesn't even need to think about right now.
So for those of you who have completed your company vision, it will be interesting to hear your thoughts on what that vision is. You want to share that in the window feel free. Or if you have an on-boarding process, I think I do ask you to describe your processes in the free form, we will get to that in just a little bit here.
Looks like many of you are saying the course material has already influenced your decision making process, that's great to hear and then the coaching call. So I'm not going to put anybody in the seat for this call in this one, because actually yes somebody from my team who fill this out themselves.
That's the answers to the survey that we have. And now I'm going to pop open the free-form answers and we are going to take a look at your free-form answers. I'm just going to make sure that this shows up well on your window.
Russell Brunson is the guy. I have been listening to his podcast for a while now, and I come up with an idea almost every single podcast. And it is something that I learn that’s new. He’s really an inspiring guy. I don't know how he has the energy to do this stuff that he does. Actually he talks about that in his podcast too. Just one of those entrepreneurs that makes you excited about being entrepreneur yourself.
So what concerns do you have about your service offerings? Right now still in the freelancing stage. It's more about figuring out processes. Doing something differently every time is not a great way to scale. Also tempting, is to offer every service under the sun, when it comes to digital marketing.
Those are definitely good concerns to have. It's hard as a freelancer to not do things differently every time, and it's hard to do process, because the only person that is accountable to the process is yourself. For example, if you know what steps you need to do in a process or even if you don't know steps but you know how to get something done, with the process that you have, then why would you put it into Asana and mark out every single task, when you know what you need to do.
Here is why. Here is why you do it, because if you want to add somebody to your team, then you have the steps that they can use to get things done. You can actually just have them know the steps. The other thing is, you can do things consistently. So this is what you are saying in this answer here is doing something differently every time is not a great way to scale. I would agree. It's not a great way to go about business.
And then offering too many services, that is actually a good example here, a good way to frame that up. And that is, think about when we talked about niching down and just being very selective with your services. Imagine how many project plans you’ll need to create to document these services, if you offer every single service. If it is already a pain do the process for the things that you already are good at, and that you know how to do. It’s much harder when you don't know the process.
Because guess what, you are going to do something and if you are not good at it, then you are not going to get very good results. And so you either documenting something that’s not delivering good results, or you’re changing your process all the time until you perfect it. So these things go hand-in-hand. Doing too many services and then getting better at scaling them and documenting them. Those things are almost impossible.
This one is saying niching down something it becomes obsolete in the future. I think about that a lot, about becoming obsolete and how do you avoid that. I think the answer is, you can’t become obsolete if you are always learning. Now I don't know about you, but I am always learning and I know a lot of this stuff and I’ve been pretty successful. But I think the reason why I continue to be successful in this area, is because I am learning. Like I just mentioned, I just told you several things that are influencing and inspiring me right now.
I am paying money for people’s online courses. I think I am going to spend $2,000 on another online course from Derek Halpern. Just so I can get better at structuring my thoughts and knowledge and the way that I do things. So, you never can stop learning in this area and actually there is not just one source that you can learn from.
I just drafted an article idea on this exact topic the other day. And it's basically saying that case studies are somebody else's abstraction of what worked for them in the past. A case study will never work for you. It will absolutely never work for you to use somebody else's case study. But what you can do is, you can read several of them and then come up with your own way to do things that makes sense.
Another thing is that case studies are always conflicting with each other, because you can't recreate the situation that somebody was in. They are all right to look at case studies but really you need to get a variety of sources and then come up with your own master plan for how you are going to do things. And that plan isn't going to be very valuable, it is going to be something that is going to change a lot as you go forward.
So you don't have to know everything right now. And obsolete is not going to happen, if you are always learning. You are doing a step right here, taking this class and learning. There are lots of different ways to learn online. There is almost infinite number of ways to learn online.
Alvaro says, can it become obsolete through AI and other technologies? Let's think about that. I don't think you have ever heard about the concept of singularity. But it's basically when computers, AI can think at the same level as a human, essentially. I might be butchering that a little bit. That’s a Ray Kurzweil, that’s his book, I haven't read it. It has actually been sitting on my shelf for 6 years. The premise is that by about the year 2043, and that's a very specific number but that's when he thinks it’s going to happen, the AI is going to be able to make the same level of decisions as humans.
It is 2017 right now. Approximately in 26 years there's a chance that the skills you have could be replaced by AI. But here is the deal. Marketing is not going to be replaced by AI, because marketing is very, very hard. It’s so nuance and it is non-formulaic in the way that you influence people and get people to do things based on emotion. That is not going to be easily achieved by computers. It’s going to take longer than that.
The other thing is that marketing is ultimately the act, the art and science of creating a market. Getting a market to want what you have. And so that skill of being able to find a market for somebody is an invaluable skill into the future. Now, a lot of you are in this area of market. So that’s going to be important there. I know some of you are in the world of editing, high-end editing. I don't think computers can really take that over because it’s human judgment calls.
Analytics, a lot of you are into analytics. How are computers going to take it over? I think they can create a narrative, but they don't understand the context and the nuance of running a business. So I think if you are basing things you do on nuance, people skills, and opportunity there, then actually what is going to happen is that AI is going to make your job easier. It is not going to replace your job, it is actually a margin creator. That is how I look at it.
Stephen says that his clients have access to Google’s AI right now in the mobile app and they don't know how to leverage it. Especially Google Analytics, there AI is just terrible and the reason why it’s terrible is because they are very much in its infant stages. I mean it’s very immature and how it’s doing it. So it’s going to get better and it is actually going to get better right under your nose. But it has a long way to go.
Actually I don't know if Google Analytics is going to be AI provider, because the biggest problem with Google Analytics is that they only have Google data. So until it becomes a repository of all of your data and it’s not biased towards Google’s agenda, then it’s not going to be the tool that delivers it for you. Now what it would probably do is, it will probably automate the ways that you are going to have to spend more money with Google.
So that's actually an angle you can take with clients. That Google has these things, but we make sure that you don't overpay with Google. I've used that many times in the past actually.
So the premise there is always up grade your skills.
So there are some additional services that align and could improve my SEM offerings, especially landing page development. However, it’s so different from PPC optimization, I have avoided it.
Yeah that's a tough one, particularly with paid search and paid social. You can’t give the best results if you're sending people to a really bad website or a landing page. And so do you want to create a landing page? I think that's probably a partnership opportunity. An area, that I would look for a partner or trusted partner who can do that or if you want to bring that competency in house, then you can bring somebody in. But I agree with you, that it’s so different that it’s something that you probably want to avoid.
The business model is completely different between these things. One is creating a page, the other one is managing ad spend and taking a percentage of that ad spend usually or some kind of retainer. And so the models do work differently. So I would be careful there. But I mean it can work. I've seen companies where it does work.
Making sure you know your areas of expertise in-depth. Absolutely.
Concerns that you don't have the direct expertise, so have to rely on staff. Yeah that's a big concern and I see this one too. And that is, if you don't have expertise in something but you want to offer a services or you want it to be important to your business, then you have to hire somebody to do that and you have to rely on them.
I think there are some positions that you can easily rely on staff and they are going to do a better job than you. And then I think there are some positions where, they probably would not do as good of a job as you can. Things like project management, you can hire somebody and they will do as good of a job as you.
Probably account management too, because of the people skills and the management things. Even tactical stuff like, creating web pages, almost anybody you hire, who is a professional is going to be better than you are at it. Even optimization of PPC accounts and stuff like that, somebody is going to be better than you. Even HR, somebody's going to be better than you. Accounting, somebody's going to be better than you.
The only areas that I think you need to have somebody who has an ownership in the company involved with it, are basically direction of the company and sales and marketing. If you rely on somebody else to do your sales and marketing and you're not an established brand, you probably aren’t going to get the results you’re looking for. And so, almost everything you can bring in somebody and even if you don't have direct expertise yourself, they can do a better job than you could.
But usually that's a little later in your company trajectory. Bringing somebody in when it’s just you right now, bringing somebody in relying on them, that may or may not help your business. It actually might set you back if they're not doing a good job with things. So something to consider.
This one is saying still not sure if the right path is to focus on one of three services, or package an offer for example, inbound marketing services.
To me, packaging your services as several services that you link together versus a productized service. At first, it's just how you position it. So you might be doing the exact same thing, between the two things that I'm seeing on the screen, that you might be doing the exact same thing. The one to three services might be the exact same result as the package.
And so, I found that it's easier to market something if you sell it as the result, then it is, of the services. Especially on your website, especially if somebody is looking for a provider. Now, if you are in person and you're selling, you can actually sell them on your services and go down that path.
I have been very successful in that area, saying hey here's all the services I can provide, what do you want? And let's assume that somebody is going to take the time to have you come out for an hour and present to them or do a presentation, whatever it ends up being. Now, I think your brand ultimately earns you that right to go do this first one. And then this, the package piece ultimately comes down to your positioning. So, it’s do you want to rely on your brand and your inbound efforts or do you want to rely on positioning to get sales. And actually, I think you can do both if you want to as well.
Concerned about not scaling well, because there are too many offerings, we find ourselves doing so many different things. Yeah I think we summarized that in one of the previous ones, is that if you're doing so many different things, how can you, really scale. How can you come with the process for it? Because one either you might not have the expertise, the same level of expertise with everything you do. And the other thing is that, it’s just physically impossible to create that many different project plans.
Okay, so Ryan has a question and that is, what are your thoughts on white labeling services versus not offering them at all? Let me think about that for a second. I'm guessing your saying is, white labeling somebody else's services and then saying that they are part of your agency as a way to upsell to your client. Should you do that? Say that you do inbound marketing and you want to have a paid media arm. Do you white label somebody else's work and say that it's all us under one roof, or you just not do it?
We went over this in some of the lessons about how challenging this is, because you want to protect your turf with your clients and upsell them, and not have them look for other people. You want to have them not go out there and try to find other vendors, because then you are on notice or you’re on trial with them essentially. So you don't want that but you also don't want to take on something that tarnishes your reputation because you're not good at it. So it’s like threading the needle.
You have to make the decision, which one you want? How strategic is the client? What's their likelihood of being a flight risk? How good is your relationship with them? How good are your results? Do they have any reason to question you?
I think in my opinion if you don't give them a reason to question you, then they shouldn't be questioning you. But there are so many things that are out of your control at the agency level that once they start looking for other agencies, then there is no way around it. It gets more difficult to maintain it, if they're looking at other people.
I think you just have to use your judgment. It's hard for me to say without knowing the relationship, but it's a judgment call. I personally right now, I would never sell something and then take a commission, because I just don't want to deal with that relationship, I don't have to deal with the BS of working with somebody else, when I don't control it. And I don't want to have to vet them or herd cats to try to get somebody to get things done. I don't want to have that burden. I'm treating my consulting as a lifestyle business. And I think managing other people is the opposite of a lifestyle business. So that's something I'm looking at.
So Ryan is saying don't offer too many services but white labeling is easy, you can offer them. But you can still make money off of it, is essentially what you’re saying. White labeling means, I can make money off of something but I don't have to deal with it. Okay so weigh the pluses and minuses. Say that you upsell somebody's work and you can get $5k. Are you suffering through $5,000 worth of reputation loss potentially through pain in the butt, is that worth $5,000?
A lot of times it just comes down to money thing and so if you can make extra money on it, then why wouldn't you do it. Especially if you don't mind managing people and you have a trusted partner, who you know does a good job. Then do it, yeah why not. But I think the problem is that we think listing a bunch of services on our website, are going to generate all this extra revenue for us. And guess what, it doesn't. It's total and completely false to list too many things. That’s features versus benefits right. We can do all these different things, but you’re not talking about the benefits to the person.
I don't know, if I mentioned it in a video or where I mentioned it, but I remember my first web site, I listed that I did like 45 different things, like comparative analysis, search results, online reputation management, search result manipulation, social bookmarking submission. I listed forty-five things that we did. And people kept on filling out our contact form asking for the same two things. And it was PPC management and email, maybe little bit of web analytics. Why did they fill out the form? Because that's where we were thought leaders, that's what we did for other people the most, that's where we had the most revenue, that's how we positioned ourselves. So all the rest of it was just noise.
And best case scenario, that noise doesn't hurt you. But realistically that noise is going to actually hurt you versus help you. So putting it on your website is not the same as making money. And even if you have a friend or a partner who you think would do a good job putting their thing on your site, is not the same as making money. So you’d have to put it on your site, you have to sell the job, you have to sell the job for higher than your friend or new partner’s market rate. So if they charge $5000 and you want to make $5000 off of it. You have to sell it for $10000. So you have to do a good sales job there. And you probably earn your commission alone just from the sales job. And then you need to make sure that they implement it and they do it on time, on budget and everything else.
So what you’re really doing by white labeling essentially is, in theory, what you're writing, what you're saying is that why don't you just offer it, there's nothing to lose, because if somebody can buy it, then you can make money off of it. And my thought is you don’t always understand how much you’re losing by just putting it on there. Because you're losing trust from people, you’re losing opportunity, you’re basically losing other opportunities by doing that. So hopefully that answers the question. I know that's a really long way of going through it.
Stephen says, I'm just going to go through the comment. Strategic partnerships, I don't think it’s strategic partnership and white labeling is the same thing. Because white labeling essentially means that you’re saying that you’ll do it. Strategic partnership is that if something comes in then you bring in a strategic partner. So that is sort of a difference I think.
Stephen doesn't like white labeling, because ties his services to the tool. I think Stephen, we're talking about white labeling as in providing your services to somebody using another service provider. So it's actually not a white label of a tool. There are ways you can white label tools and stuff like that as well. But I think there is a difference between what we’re talking about there.
So hopefully that helps. None of these things are bad ideas. I just want to emphasize that. But you need to understand the opportunity cost. That's another economic principle of microeconomics that I learned back in the day. Basically, if you focus on one thing it is going to come at the expense of something else. If you are putting all this effort into selling somebody else's services, you better make a lot of money off of it, because you're taking a bunch of money off the table.
Okay. So what makes you nervous about proceeding forward with your agency? Leeds and steady cash flow. Need to set up some recurring revenue and monthly plans, so I can have some consistent cash flow coming in every month.
Yeah absolutely, I've been thinking about this a lot lately and that's just the recurring revenue, things like that. You want to strive to it. It doesn't mean that you have to switch everything on and switch it on at that moment that you want to get to that point.
But I think that developing these areas and then feeling it out, for what your existing clients would pay for a recurring plan on and what’s a no-brainer for them. Like a monthly plan to me if you're already doing project work, a monthly plan should just be a no-brainer. So if you developed a website for them, then the monthly plan should be, we’ll do unlimited updates for you to the website and we’ll host it for you. That's a no-brainer if you can keep it at a reasonable rate. And actually, the amount of money you make can be more than you would make doing a website every year. So that's one of the thoughts that I have on that.
Yeah recurring revenue is the thing that we all want to strive to, but you don't need to cut it off your way of doing business. Actually use your existing clients, people you work with and use them the ones who trust you as an idea generator for whether it’s going to work or not. And put a proposal in front of them, and see what they do, why not, nothing to lose.
There are things to lose, but the reality is if you're only working on projects and that's all that you do as a project, you’re going to lose that client next year anyway aren’t you? If they only do one project for you, it’s over. And so talking to that person who you’ve already done a good work for, and say hey and you don't do it as bluntly as saying you pay me every month to do. But you can say, I've been thinking about offering a service because I've been talking to my clients and they're really concerned about this, would you be interested in that? That's how I would look at it.
This one person is nervous about thought leadership and content creation. I think the easiest thing to do for thought leadership and content creation is, just talk about what you know, talk about what you’re doing, whether it's a podcast in your car like we talked about, with Russell Brunson and what he's doing. Or if it's a blog post or if it’s a case study, whatever it is. Talk about what you know and what you're doing. That's the starting point. Don't try to be something that you're not. Show what you’re doing every single day.
Moving out of day to day and full time management and I enjoy doing the work and I worry about losing the edge. However, hiring somebody qualified and passionate about SEM would help solve that. That's just a twelve months goal. Yeah, there is no way around it. It is difficult to make a transition from being a subject matter expert, which I think everybody on these calls is a subject matter expert, to being the manager or the person that does this stuff. There are ways you can do a little bit of both, at least stay interested in a few things. But the reality is that you are going to lose some of an edge if you're going to be the best business owner, you can’t always be the best practitioner.
Just know that if you want to be the best practitioner and that weighs on you more than hitting a certain revenue growth or being a certain size, then, you just have to make a choice, you just made the choice. I don't want to go too big. Or you can make the choice. I'm not saying that you personally made that choice.
I'm most worried about issues on our software development side, CMS competition. It’s a competitive area. It’s a red ocean area.
What I would say again going back to what we’ve talked about is, what’s blue ocean opportunity? And I don't know what the answer is on that necessarily, I actually just saw that Rainmaker StudioPress they just re-launched and now they're basically an all-in-one blogging platform. What does that mean? I don't know.
Meeting financial goals. Impact of the new Administration on the economy and the need for my services. I’ll focus on selling to the right customers and turning down those that aren't a good fit.
Meeting financial goals make me anxious too, especially when you have employees and people. You need to keep people going, you need cash flow. I think that's when you think of creative ways to get around that. You think, what is you get biggest problem is and then what is a creative way to solve it. Now how do you handle cash flow, if your product doesn't launch on time, or if your client doesn't sign the contract? How do you do that? You’ve got to think of creative ways to do it. And sometimes necessity is the mother of invention.
Politically, what is the impact of the new Administration on the economy? And don't put anything in the chat, because that’s a rhetorical question. But one thing I can say to everybody is that entrepreneurship is not always--how do I say this without getting anybody upset or play in any hands at all. I don't know if I can do that.
But basically when you an entrepreneur, no entrepreneur ever says, I wasn't successful because of the people who were in politics. It’s almost like an a-political thing to do. It's just grow and focus on your business. The hardest part is to separate those things when you care very passionately on either side about what people are doing in politics. The easiest thing for me to say is to eliminate distractions, but that's harder to do in practice if you feel passionately about it. That's all I’m going to say about it, I don't want to get further into it. Because I don't get political.
Alvaro says, didn't my business grow like crazy during the recession? Yeah, we grew 100% basically between 80% and 120% a year during the worst recession of my lifetime and the worst one since the Great Depression. It’s because we didn't focus at all on anything around us, because all we wanted to do was for people to buy our stuff. To buy our services and to grow, and so we just put our heads down and just only focused on what was around us.
Like honestly, politics don't have any place in my way of doing business. And like I said, some of you if you feel really strongly about things, that make me sound insensitive or I don't know what's going on in the world, but that's just the place that I choose to play.
Like Rosemary says, many marketing firms closed their doors, the same time that my company was growing. Now what did I do differently? I don't know if we did anything differently, I think we actually were in a different position. We didn't have anything to lose. When you are in a growing situation, there's nothing to lose. And every client you bring on, as long as you clients don’t fire you, every client you bring on you position yourself as the lower cost marketer, or you position yourself in a certain way, then you actually can grow during a recession because you’re positioned to the new economy. Whereas the agencies that are getting fired they’re positioned for the old economy. So it’s a tremendous advantage to be positioned for the new economy versus being positioned for the old economy.
Now how do you do that? How do you position yourself, if you've been around for a while? It gets more difficult when you talk about the innovators dilemma, or the moving around the gigantic ship, it’s really hard to ride the ship and to ride the course in a very large business. Now looking at the survey results none of you are very large businesses. So, we're not faced with that problem. We actually can meet the new economy--those in the United States which is quite a few of you and I know UK, any place that has a little bit of, I don't even know what word to describe what's going on in these countries, but that's let's call that the new economy, you're in the position where you can be valuable and you can start to change the way you look at things based on what's happening in that new economy.
So that's how I would look at it. Don't ever worry about past, think about what these changes mean for the future you serve. And when it comes down to it, everybody having a mobile phone -- that's the new economy too. So it's not just the political economy that is going on. It’s just the world around us. It's like a hockey phrase would be to skate to the puck. The people who are the most successful hockey players, they skate to where the puck is going to be, not where the puck was. So hopefully that analogy helps a little bit. Skate towards where the puck is going to be. The person transcribing this he's going to be like what is hockey, but that's alright. Hopefully that makes sense to all of you guys.
Moving on it looks like, Rosemary you've been around awhile, you know what it's like to start in a recession and I agree with you what you're saying is that in a recession, business-to-consumer businesses often are the ones that get cut. Whereas business-to-business can sometimes either thrive or at least be more insulated. And that's because recessions are a lot of time consumer spending related. Now I think both of them suffered in many ways during the 2007-9 timeframe.
But I don't know, I never was once concerned about the recession, because all I knew was that everytime I looked at, Google AdWords spend was going to go up. And it wasn't just going to go up by a little bit, it was going to go up like a hockey stick. And so what was my focus? Was it on, what might happen or was it on, going after this market that's growing like crazy. It was an easy decision for me. I never even blinked at it. I was also in my early twenties and so it’s a lot easier when you’re 24, 25 years old, unmarried and don't have any obligations. It's a lot easier to say these things, but that was just always how I went about these things, because that's where every sign was pointing. This is where things were going.
And so why wouldn't you do the same thing right now? Why wouldn't you do the same thing with every decision you make, is always retrain your brain to see where things are going. Not what happened in the past. This ties back to how we started off this call. That was me basically saying exactly how I am retraining my brain and I have been in this for a while, I’ve been successful in this world, in this business. But I want to keep on learning more, because I don't want to be the dinosaur, I don't want to be the one that’s challenged to even come up with a good idea. Ideas are not exclusive and people are willing to share them, so just latch on to them and go from there.
Okay moving on, specified services and niches. Yeah we talked about that.
People ask us to do new and different things and we want to say yes. It's hard isn't it? It’s flattering that people want to work with you and it helps with self-esteem, when people say hey what else can you do, what's new, what can you bring to the table. And you want to say yes, it's tempting to say yes. I would just say, you can say yes, I don't want to make it sound like you can’t do these things but you got to think about it, is this strategic what I'm doing? What am I doing this for and how is it going to impact my profit?
I think you should, in your financial statements you should account for this and say this is a project we gave away as an investment in our business. And like any investment you should try to figure out what that return on that investment was? Because what you will find is, they’re either going to be super profitable or they're going to be super unprofitable. It's never usually in between, because otherwise, if it was in between then it would be your normal service. It's either super profitable or super unprofitable I guess it's what I'm saying, the only way to put it.
Are you comfortable with your growth rate? What is a comfortable growth rate?
Hit $250,000 in revenue by the end of 2017. I think that's a good revenue number goal to put it in there.
It's hard for me to know exactly where you’re at right now. But do it. That's a number that you can hit.
60K. Great, you can hit that.
75% to 80% revenue growth would be great to provide for another optimizer. I like this one because it’s essentially based on knowing that this much revenue growth isn't enough to afford a full-time employee, and so that’s always good. We want to look at these things based on amount of money, and so this percentage I'm guessing is a percentage of overall revenue, which means that you can hit revenue for a headcount number to feel safe to bring somebody on to the team. And then you can actually take a vacation on that. More power to you.
I want to take a vacation too. Especially after these eight weeks of coaching calls. Just kidding everybody, just making sure you're awake and listening to me.
For the agency side I want 25% growth. Okay so this is a multi-faceted business and they want to get 25% growth, excellent.
I should have phrased this question a little bit differently and said be specific with numbers, because percentages without a base line number are hard for me to tell, if they are achievable or not. And then baseline numbers without knowing where you were before doesn’t tell me if you can hit that or not. You live and you learn. This is not my best phrased question.
They want to go from one million to two and a half million, not sure if it's comfortable but that's the plan. That's a huge growth rate that’s a 150% growth, which would be tremendous to get to that point. I would assume that, to get to that point it involves quite a bit of planning, quite a bit of business development efforts and hopefully landing some big contracts, new contracts.
So I think that, if somebody wants to go and grow that big, then they have to have a lead on some big revenue. So usually this is a deal has been working in the background or something in the pipeline for quite some time to get to that point. The other thing is to go from one million two and a half million, like I said even though it's only February 1st, you should have a pretty good idea if you are going to hit that or not by now.
And this is my experience talking. This is sad to admit but I'm going to admit it to all of you, because this is our last call. But there were times where we said, we were going to grow our agency by two million dollars. We are going to go from six million to eight million dollars this year. And we had absolutely no plan as to how we were going to get to that point. So unless people are lined up with their checkbooks open and said they needed us to do something, there was really no plan for that, and yet we thought it was still going to happen and it wasn't until halfway through the year, that we were like, oh it's not going to happen. We're not going to hit this number. And it ultimately comes down to, you can't just wish that something is going to happen you either need to have some kind of insider information, you need to have a sales process, business development process that is going to get you there.
Maybe I just shared with you too much, because it's more recent than I'd like to admit. Then ultimately the lesson there is, just saying something versus being able to do it. You are going to be able to hit your target a lot more--we're talking millions now, not just going to hundred thousand. You can say I'm going to hit a hundred thousand dollars and you can get there with a couple of contracts. But going from one million to two and a half million or six to eight, it requires a lot. It requires 20, 30, 40 new clients.
When you look at your sales funnel, you have 30% close rate and you need to get 20 new clients that means you need to have 60 pitches that are going on. That means you are doing 5 pitches a month, that means that you are doing basically 1 per week. You’re pitching somebody and winning. You winning one pitch per week and so if you get into that point. Are you doing one pitch per week right now? Is that the trajectory? Actually you need to win one pitch, you need to make three. That takes a sales team, that takes sales force, that takes quite a bit.
So that's the reason why, yes you can dream it, but it's not always easy to get to that point. I'm not picking apart this answer by any means. What I'm saying is, that I have been in this position and actually we didn't achieve it. And the reason why we didn't is because we were relying on inbound marketing which is very unpredictable and we didn't have a process in place for outbound sales generation.
10%. Okay, I can’t really weigh in on percentages but I do think that 10% is an achievable number at almost any level it is.
What makes you agency great? Not sure yet. Yeah okay. Still working on it. I think it's okay to not know what it is yet especially if it’s just you. But strive towards that and just come up with success stories, and ways to differentiate.
Agency is great, because you’re analytics-driven revenue-focused marketing that starts with the best performing channels and expands from success.
I missed adaptability.
This one right here, analytics-driven revenue-focused marketing that starts with the best-performing channels and expands from success. So the way I'm reading this, we are data-driven essentially, we want to make money for you. And we are going to start with the best-performing channels and we are going to expand once we are successful.
The part that I'm having trouble with is, how do you know what the best performing channels are? How do you start with that? And then, why would you want to expand when you are successful, if you already started with the best-performing channels? Why would you want to do that? So that's the confusion I have, when I read this statement.
I know we’re workshoping, so I'm not trying to pick these apart too much but I just want you to hear my exact, unfiltered reaction as I read that. Still working on it.
Highly experienced team, we’re relentless in our pursuit of insights, and we are control freaks, when it comes to building brands. I like that. Okay, so if you work with us you are going to get a really experienced team, we're never going to give up, because we are control freaks when it comes to building brands.
I would tweak this a little bit. What I would say is, we’re relentless in pursuit of insights. The insights word, because it's a weak word because it's impossible to define what an insight is, because it's like--how do I phrase what an insight is? It's like an opinion, what is coming through there.
So I would say, we relentlessly build up your brand or something like that. Or we are control freaks with your brand. I like relentless, I like control freaks and I like building brands, but I would actually put in your brand. Like building your brand or something like that. So they know that it’s meant around them, that it’s for them, the person you are building it to. I don't know if that is helpful or not. Probably isn't, because I am not the branding one. Rosemary, you are.
But if any of you wants to bounce these things off of me. And just know this is our last call, we have the forum as a guinea pig beta member of this process, you are going to have forum access as long as this course is up and running. Which I anticipate is going to be for several years. If you ask me anything in the forum, I would respond to you as quickly as I can. You have the ability to join the coaching calls in the future. Like future coaching calls I mean. Like the ones for the next cohorts. I'm selling the next course between March 20th and March 24th. So people, if you have any friends who want to take this course, or if you know anybody who would benefit from it, that’s when we are going to open up the cart. It is going to be a very short window, but it is going to be a very similar to what we are doing here.
We are actually going to have fewer coaching calls, and we are going to spread out the lessons a little more. So, instead of being 8 weeks it is going to be more like 12 weeks. It is going to be similar content. So if you want to jump in at any point during the next round of the course or you want to take it over again with everything you know, just let me know you can jump on the coaching calls and hear my voice again. And you can also, if you want to get back on the email program or start it over. It is just a reminder it's not that you want more email from me by any means. I can do that for you as well.
So if you want to reset the clock and redo this thing now that you are older and wiser, you are more than welcome to. I just appreciate that you took a chance on this thing, with very little marketing materials in place and very little understanding as to what we were going to do. But I hope you all found it to be super helpful.
Almost done, and then we will get into whatever questions you have. What are you most excited about implementing?
Planning, processes and budgeting. Core areas that can take company from good to great regardless of Industry size.
Yeah absolutely. All those things are really important that’s what really make them real business when you think about it. It's funny, I always say you make this a real business. Because for a long time, I thought that just freelancing is this really a business or it's just the way to make money doing stuff and then filter it into my bank account.
So the difference between an agency and a freelancer to me, was turning it into a real business, was having planning, processing, budgeting all these things that real businesses do versus freelancer for myself, I'm not saying that this is the same for everybody. Is more like oh, people are going to pay me to do that, okay, cool I'll do that. That's really the difference for me.
What are you most excited about? Confidence based sales. Excellent.
Revenue planning and business development along specific niches. I'm also excited to formalize partner relationships and be more targeted in the types of partners I'm looking for. Excellent. I like that a lot.
More recurring revenue, more profits. Amen to that.
A renewed focus on true profitability, capturing team member’s time, even on fix bit assignments. Update our website and marketing in the “Jeff” way to develop thought leadership, more speaking engagements, more sharing. Excellent.
So, basically create profitability by knowing where people are spending their time and then getting more business, so you can utilize people more often, which ultimately creates profitability. I think that's a good idea.
Finally, having in hand a step-by-step plan to start and grow agency. Absolutely. I think that really how we tried to design this course is a step-by-step plan to start and grow an agency.
So some of you I know, haven't even started your agency yet or aren't even close and then some of you I know are much further along and so there is nuggets of information, there are things worth revisiting in this course, because whatever phase you are in, you are going to go through several of them. These things start to set in overtime.
Remember I'm giving you this course, and we did it in eight weeks right, we had 44 videos, and 8 calls, and eight weeks, and basically I'm trying to replicate everything I learned in the last 11 years of working in this business. Think about it, I arrived at everything over the course of 11 years, all those realizations and assumptions. Some of those things happened like one week on the job and some of these things happened last week, those are the things that I'm sad to admit to of course. But I'll be admitting because we're friends here.
So know that this isn't over, some parts are over but some parts are just beginning. That's why when I think about pricing models we couldn’t make this thing pay every month for the rest of your life. But I look at it as invest in this thing and then keep on going back to that investment, because you can't utilize these things all the time. And yes it's probably a better business model for me to sell this course monthly. And then have people needed forever, But I want people to have something that they can keep on going back to like a playbook for their own life. No, not their own life but for the way they do things because we are in so many different phases of our businesses.
That’s never been more clear to me then, when I look at our results. I look at these survey results and I thought that at first we had a lot more established agencies, but a lot of you are I know are in the beginning phase or just planning things out. So, I've tried to make adjustments to help everybody out in that case, but little bit of something for everybody throughout this.
Okay, so last part. What have you learned to use, based on our class?
Taking a step back and started thinking about core offering and how it can lead to growth and profitability. Excellent.
Ball park price for vetting prospects. I think that's great.
I started to share project with an SEO agency with solar panel installer client to see how we can work together and what results are possible. So partnership essentially.
We're looking a lot more at our rate structure and also working hard to get more recurring revenue gigs, that's our mantra this year. Awesome. I would like to hope that that came from this course but either way recurring revenue should be a mantra for all of us.
Used the RACI matrix with a client to bring order to approval process. That’s excellent.
See these visualizations I think can really help with communication with clients. I think pictures are often worth a thousand words. So that matrix can really be helpful. Used the FAIRE go-no go with the team to decide if we took on some new business. I really like using the revenue goals to decide on new hires. I’ve typically done this in the opposite way. Get new hire and then sell like crazy. I’m switching this up. Awesome.
I think that’s been a revelation for me too. Is like you can hire somebody once you hit the revenue, not the opposite. Because there is nothing worse than paying for people who are idle, because you can’t find enough work for them to do. So you want to have the work first and then the person second. And yes that is uncomfortable sometimes for your business because what ends up happening is that you’re short staffed, actually you are very often short staffed. It takes a while to get people into your team, but I also think that it’s the only way to go.
Saying no, more than you used. Decided not to take on solely researched projects if they don’t lead to brand development, which is our sweet spot. Excellent. Don’t sell those difficult projects that don’t make a lot of profit in the name of something else. If it is never going to lead to something else. If it’s never going to lead to your sweet spot, then don’t do it. Now, that is a hard judgment call to make, as like, will this lead to something. That’s again, I think we talked about this early in the call, is try to account for it. If you do take on one and it doesn’t work out. Try to figure out why it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to.
Bottom line, although I’ve been in business for several years, I’m still learning some new things and validated some things I taught myself through trial and error. That’s exactly what we are looking for here. I think I just said that myself. Like I’ve been in this business for a long time, 11 years probably 12 years now, since I started freelancing. And, always learning, every single day. Always upgrading your brain. Your brain is an amazing thing, so always upgrade your brain.
Charge a fee based more on value versus time allocation. Awesome. I think that’s definitely the way to go. Charging based on value free up your time, essentially. So free your time to do other things. And also the value itself creates margins. And margins are the key to profits as we’ve learned throughout this course.
Okay, so we are through the answers portion here. I’m going to get back on screen. Bad posture in my chair. Alright, so we are back. This is the last time you’re going to see this box. The box will be forever gone soon. And so, I just wanted to thank you for doing this. I know a lot of you have been saying thank you to me and that it has been helpful but this has been super helpful for me as well.
In the beta program, you never quite know where things are going to go. So you take people who trust you and know you and want to work with you. And then you work on something together. You come up with something that’s the combination of things.
So this started out as my course for how I wanted to tell you how to do things. But it eventually became our course, because I listened to what you were saying and the feedback and did as much as I could to make adjustments to what everybody was looking for and what businesses you had in place and how you were doing things. This is really your course. Now everything we do moving forward, you will have a little bit of a piece of it. Little bit of a mark that you’ve left on it.
I’ve enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve done. I don’t know if that’s in my entire career but my favorite course that I’ve done, my favorite way of structuring things. It’s just been really cool to get this down on paper, because these are real struggles that I had with my business. And real concerns that I had and real inflection points that made my career go in the way it went and all positive things end up happening, I’m sharing with you. Both positive things that have happened as well as some of the negative things as well. I’m just happy that you all joined in and took a chance on this thing and learned.
At some point I’m going to reach out to all of you and offer the opportunity to do a one on one. So what I’m thinking since this is a beta, I’ll just put it out there. What I’m looking to do is, what I’m calling is 30 for you, 30 for me. And that is I like to do a call on one on one, where we spend about 30 minutes, where I’m going to ask you some questions about your course experience and record that and hopefully turn it into a testimonial. So I can help others, so I can use it as a way to sell the next round of the course.
And then 30 minutes where you can ask me anything you want. We can talk about anything you want to whether it’s spread sheets from the course, we can fill those out together, whether it’s questions you have, whether it’s just stuff that you were afraid or just didn’t feel comfortable asking on the coaching calls or if it’s something that you just really want to know the answer to. Or something that you didn’t know that you needed to know the answer, but now it’s coming up in your business.
If you want to take advantage of that, I’m going to send out an email formally, but if you just send me an email and say Jeff, 30 for you 30 for me, let’s get it on the calendar, that will be great. And it would be awesome to talk to each of you, one on one and really get to learn what’s going on. Yes, so many spread sheets.
The other thing is we are going to continue to produce things that go along with the course. So we are going to create a spread sheet of spread sheets and put it up there. So you can get all the different spread sheets. I have some process maps that I’ve developed in the past and redeveloped for the purpose of this course. So we’re going to come up with a sample project plan and processes and all kinds of different interesting things we are going to go through as we upgrade the course.
Even though, the lesson videos are completed and you have the core modules. We’re still working on what I call bonus material as we go forward. And so hopefully you continue to come back to the course every so often and say hi, and contribute and everything. So, I’m excited about everything.
So, Jason says, how do we get added to next course and emails? Your login would work on the course when the next cohort goes live. Essentially they are going to think their freshman orientation if you will, is March 27the and they are going to be limited to seeing the videos. They are time based so they’ll get the first week all at once and then they’ll get the second week, and so on. So it’s going to be number of days. Whereas, you’ll be able to see everything. I think that’s how it’s going to go, that’s the plan.
And then coaching calls, we might archive all the calls from the beta, and put them on a little sub-link that you can get into or I’m still trying to figure that out, how we’re going to do that part. But essentially you can just go into the site starting that time. And then if you want to get emails just send me an email saying can you add me back to the email list, so I can get these emails again when you go live with the new cohort. Basically we are doing weekly emails, instead of daily. I made that decision because I think you’re getting too many emails. But basically March 27th you’ll start getting weekly emails from me. Just letting you know when next module goes live. So that’s how it’s going to work in that case, Jason.
Cool, I am glad you guys all enjoyed the course. Like I said, I really enjoyed it as well. It has made me a better business person, believe it or not. But they say that, to teach is to learn twice. That was quote from one of my podcast guests. I can’t remember who it was, right now. I think it might have been Sam Noble. But somebody said that to me. May be it was Yehoshua Coren, I’m not sure.
Anyway, to teach is to learn twice, and that’s exactly what I ended up doing here too. If you have business partners other people you’re working with maybe you share with them, some of the ideas you’ve learned here. I think that’s a good idea.
And then if you want to—if you know anybody else who is in this position or if you want to help me promote this course when it goes live to the public, I would love any help you can give me. Anything from leaving a comment on videos when I do the launch sequence or sharing it on Facebook with your friends. I don’t know whatever you can do to help me out, because that’s the next step here is to really take this thing and bring it out to the next group of people.
Awesome, Darren. I really appreciate you recommending it. I appreciate all of you, everything you’ve done, everybody in this course for filling out and participating. And hopefully we both gave each other quite a bit of value as well. I will be in touch on a few of these things. But don’t be a stranger. I’m working on a lot of the projects, so if something doesn’t come along in the time frame that I’m saying here, just drop a line and keep me honest, keep me going at this thing. Because we have a lot of prep to do before we get live again, in about a month and a half. That’s important to me, to get the launch rocking and going.
What else can I help you all with? What other questions do you have? We’re getting to about an hour and a half in this call, but I’m still energetic and ready to rock. I’m still riding this wave. So what can I do for you?
Okay everybody, so I’m going to take that silence as being golden. It was Elizabeth Marsten who says that. To teach is to learn twice. Thanks Uros.
Another thing I want to give credit to the team, that I have in place that’s been working on this course with me. And that is Uros, who you see in the chat here, he is the guy who edited all the videos, gave me a lot of tips how to slow down my voice, so it is more clear. He has been working on the podcast for a while now as well. So many things that he does to really keep this team and production rocking. Even joining the calls and everything, he’s been awesome, and really a help here.
Gaorii is another one you probably seen her in some of the chats as well. Both of these two did so much for me, to help me with this course. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. They did a lot of the research, came up with a lot of the resources that we’re looking at. Help formulate things, create our presentation decks and resources, all of the guides that we download are coming from Gaorii. Just so many things that happened—every webinar she has been rocking those things getting them set up. The landing page designs that we have, making sure that those things are working well. She’s been involved with that as well.
Another team member is Camille. Camille did an awesome job with helping us with our marketing messages. Making sure that we’re taking--all the knowledge is in my head and putting it into a format, that could really work with everybody who is involved in the—basically all of you. So a lot of the messages that you saw around the Agency Course came from her. So she helped me clearly define the messages and just really get super focused on who this course was for. And in the landing pages and all those different things, that was all her touches.
So, really I’m the one who gets the glory of being on camera and recording my voice. But the reality is that it takes a team, it takes an effort, really a lot of effort to get this thing going. We worked our butts off, literally three straight months, may be four straight months on this product, on this course. I know it’s a lot for you to go through but it was a lot more to create that and so hopefully you enjoyed it and hopefully you learned a lot.
Okay, so I saw some questions coming in. Alvaro’s feed froze. That sounds like it came back for everybody else maybe. Jason, what are your favorite ways in which to build the culture at the agency? So culture is an interesting thing. I don’t know if I actively built a culture or if we have actively built a culture. There is a saying that I read and that’s like, you’re the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. I don’t know if anybody has ever heard that before, and if I have butchered that quote please put the proper quote in the chat box. But basically you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.
Okay so when we think about it from that perspective, we had four basically five people in our agency when I was first starting there. Four partners and actually my friend who brought us in, his name is Brandon. And ultimately, the culture is just like the meshing of those five personalities. That’s pretty much exactly what our culture was. So it was like, what we valued, what we talked about, how we went about things. Ultimately, that was the culture. And as we added more people, that became the culture. The culture became extensions of their personalities as well.
So, I think a lot of times a culture is, ultimately just people who gather there. And so, one way you can cultivate it is to hire the right people. Hire people who agree with you—not agree with you but people who share the same values. So, that’s really an important piece of it. So a culture can get ruined really quickly if people don’t share those values or if they don’t fit in to the personality. So you want your culture to grow in the same way as you’re growing as a business, as an agency.
So, we never really said this is our culture until much later in the process. Eventually when you get so big, when you get bigger and you can’t sit in the same room and you don’t get to talk everybody every day, then you might need to find what your culture actually is. Like what you value and how you go about things that people can see what your culture is. But I think at first, it’s just you, there is no other way around it. If you’re small or a one-person agency, you are the culture. And your flaws, your great qualities everything about you gets amplified as you scale up.
And so that’s what it comes down to. You can tuck things away, if it’s just you. But once you add a second person they might pick up your bad habits. I picked up a ton of bad habits from the founders of my agency. I contributed a whole bunch of bad habits I’m sure as well. So I don’t know, I didn’t do anything actively but I know how it got formed in retrospect. So basically I think no matter what you do, that’s how your culture is going to get formed. And then eventually you can get better at it.
Ryan, what are your thoughts of creating a Facebook group? Well, let’s hear it. What do you all think about a Facebook group. I have definitely thought about it. There is a Jeff Walker course that I’m doing, has a Facebook group, like his product launch alumni. And basically everybody just talks about all the cool things they are doing. So just a wealth of information people launching products. Why don’t we do that for this? Why don’t we do that for the agency course? I’m open to it.
So, put it in the chat. Would you join a Facebook group called Agency Course Alumni or something like that or agency, I’m not going to use the word rock stars because it’s the most over used term in the history of marketing. Seriously, don’t use the word rock star ever in marketing, because you’re implying that somebody either has a drug habit or I don’t know, what’s good about being a rock star? Several of you said you’ll take a look at it.
Jason mentions having a beer fridge in our office. Did you have to address that in your insurance policy to cover any additional liability? Good question. Yes. At first, no. We did not do that at first, because that was all nepotism. There is no way around it. So the two founders of the company knew each other from working together and then employee number three was a stepson, my friend Brandon and then employee number four was Scott, who was a brother in law of one of the founders. And then I was the first non family member in that business. But I was also a friend of a friend.
Anyway, so we didn’t have to write it down because we knew each other and there was no real risk because—I guess there was risk because the business could go out of business, but there wasn’t really much to lose. As we got bigger then you start needing to—then you should talk to lawyers and see what your liability is. The way we addressed it, to be honest Jason, is that we made employees—this is probably around employee 12--we made them sign and agree to employee hand book, a code of conduct. In that, it said that they could only have two beers. That was it, there limit was to have two beers and if they had more than that, then they were waiving their right to sue, whatever it was.
So, of course you want to talk to a lawyer about any of that stuff, but basically the way we looked at the beer fridge specifically was, it wasn’t a problem until it became a problem. So at what point does it become a problem? It’s when people abuse it. So we were just very clear with people, don’t abuse it. And then it wouldn’t be a problem.
Yes Ryan, the most they could have was two beers a day or two drinks from our office. If they had more than that—well they couldn’t. There was grounds for firing, there was grounds for everything else. Now the enforcement of that is another thing. We didn’t say how many have you had? I think a lot of people had a lot more than that. But that was the official policy and that was the way we got around it.
Ryan just broke my heart, he says that he’s on the Facebook more than the Agency Course forums and he asked me not to take offence. I don’t know Ryan. We were doing so well together and now we’re going on a down note. I thought that you spent all day on the Agency Course forums and I never heard of Facebook until you pose that question. Now my whole world is upside down, man.
Stephen says, his office looks like trashed hotel room. So it’s like a rock star room. Yes, Ryan you could drink beer for breakfast if you wanted to. Having a beer in the fridge to me is—some people, their minds are blown that we did that as an agency. It was just what we did. Culture, right. Going back to that Jason, because it was actually a good point.
The two guys who started my agency—who started 3 Deep, they came from IBM and they came from Oracle and they came from another enterprise software company. And you had to be so formal and you had to go through all this corporate BS, just to work there. And they were so sick of it that they were like, we want to be the anti-corporate. And they are like, we want to have beer in our fridge. I think I already went through this, I already talked about this. But anyway, they just wanted to do everything that they didn’t like—they didn’t want to do any of the stuff that they didn’t like about their corporate job. And that became part of the culture as well.
So it was like the decisions that they made, personalities and also policies, whatever was that, that becomes what we wanted to be. So that does become a part of it as well. It’s not just personality, it’s policies, it’s ways that you go about things and the decisions you make.
Okay, Jason to recap. Employee compensation, you suggest salary and benefits, quarterly bonus, annual raise, profit sharing. Yes. What I would say is, let me think about this for a second. For your base point, and let’s just use round numbers to make this easy. So somebody comes to your company and they say I want to make $60,000 because this is what I’m used to making. Or this is what’s worth. There are a lot of different things you can do when somebody comes in your company. You can give them the exact amount of money that they want, you can give them more, you can offer them less. Now if you offer them less, you need to make up that money somehow or be so good that they take the job, even though you’re offering them less than the market. What we would do is, we would offer them may be $50,000 then say, you can get a 20% bonus paid out quarterly based on you performing. And so they’ll be okay, it’s still $60,000, we’ll do this.
That’s one way you can get the salary going. And then, the other thing is, we had a bonus program for nearly everybody. Sometimes it was a negotiating tool, sometimes it was just part of the process. That wasn’t perfect at first. It got changed and formalized and modified quite a bit over the years. It took us several years to get that part right, and every year we still tweak it a little bit, because it’s ultimate product of your employees. You can’t have a blanket policy for everybody and expect it to be perfect. But anyway, you have the salary piece, yes absolutely.
And then every year we would give people cost of living increases, which is essentially the inflation rate of the United States or usually it’s by default somewhere between 3% and 5%. Just to keep up with the cost of living. And then if somebody really excel and did above and beyond the call of duty or they were doing more work and they were more valuable, we could either give them a nice bonus of some sort, like additional bonus or we could give them a job change, basically a promotion and then that promotion would give them more salary opportunity, based on them doing more work and adding more value to the business.
Actually profit sharing is not something we offered. Our quarterly bonus was based on profit. So you’d only get paid out of your quarterly bonus if we hit revenue or profit or certain goals for the business. Now that’s the part that changed all the time, as like whether it was based on our profitability, or on top of the revenue, that’s really ultimately what ended up being the deciding factor there. And so hopefully that helps a little bit.
Usually in this industry people are getting paid salaries, if they are contractor, they get paid hourly. But as you’re growing employees specifically, then you get salary, you can choose to pay them a bonus, you can choose whether that’s annual or quarterly. We liked to paying it out quarterly, but a lot of companies would do it annually. And you have to hit an annual goal to hit that bonus. And then raises are ultimately the policy that you set forward.
Okay, Darren has got to run. Ryan says he doesn’t think beer fridge is weird at all. There are many ways that employees will abuse having a beer fridge. There are people who have substance abuse problems. So that’s probably the easiest thing to think about is that if somebody has a substance abuse problem, then having a source of substance next to them could be a big problem. I’ll just leave it at that. That’s a big problem. And so yes, you open yourself to liability to provide somebody with that.
So great, excellent. I’m looking forward to talking to a few of you on the 30/30. We’ll get that going within the next few weeks. I think we’re out of questions as well. This has gone for a while. So hopefully, everybody found this useful and I really enjoyed this, everybody. This has been a great call.
I think I’m going to close this out. I know Ryan is still chatting. Thanks everybody so much for your time. This has been awesome, right? This has been really a lot of fun and hopefully you have some breakthroughs and now an operating framework, how you’re going to make a great living in the agency world. Thanks everybody.
Group Coaching Call: February 1, 2017
Okay, can you hear me now? So here I was sitting there and talking and I think you can all hear me now. So I was sitting here talking to myself wondering why none of you were responding and saying, what is going on here and I was talking about how much better it was with this new webinar platform, how I don't have any mistakes and don't take any time at all and then I realized that I didn't have my microphone on. By default they turn your microphone off, which makes no sense. We should talk to YouTube. This is using the YouTube live platform. We should tell them that just turn the stupid microphone on, because you can't really have a webinar without a microphone.