Welcome to another super Episode of The Business Generals Podcast where I help you maximize your business dreams as an entrepreneur in your startup business. every single week I feature amazing guests and I ask in depth questions about their entrepreneurial journey. Join the Business Generals family at businessgenerals.com for all the show notes, show highlight reels and amazing training. Whatever your situation today, know that you can get your hopes up that you are good enough to chase your dreams. A whole bunch of our guests have been inspired by people like Pat Flynn, Tim Ferriss, Michael Hyatt, Andrew Warner, John Lee Dumas, Lewis Howes, Robert Kiyosaki, Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, the list goes on and it’s just amazing to see how our contribution gets amplified from one generation to another so I am excited for you to join me as I interview our next guest!
089 – A masterclass in creating a multiple 7 figure information product business with a high conversion rate (w/ Alex Charfen)
Alex Charfen is as seasoned as they come, a diverse experience going all the way back to being trained in his fathers business at as a pre-teen, his challenges with standard education and overcoming that through his extensive reading about what it took to be successful in business and to eventually creating an international consulting brand that would peak at $250m in revenue. Alex had a false start at retirement after exiting his consulting business, he re-invested all his gains into real estate quickly which quickly grew into a $40m portfolio, but hurricane weather and the global financial crisis wiped out their portfolio and took him and his family into bankruptcy.
In this show Alex takes the time to walk us through three main phases of two plus decades of his entrepreneurial journey, drawing out some key distinctions that any aspiring or seasoned entrepreneur can use to kick start a multiple seven figure business.
With literally all odds against them, Alex shares how him and his wife, a real estate professional, designed a course for real estate agents and the financial services companies whose clients were facing foreclosures at the height of the GFC.
Armed with real life experience after being served multiple property foreclosure notices, Alex looked for a way to bring all affected parties to a common negotiating table that would help more families keep their home, and help more lenders preserve their investments.
This training course was developed while Alex was bankrupt and it was launched with zero money down, yet made a profit on day one and would sell over 48,000 courses averaging $500 per course, multiple millions of dollars from a standing start.
Alex breaks down a simple methodology of how anyone can create a valuable information product that has high conversion and a high completion rate.
* Identify your target audience or gap in the market
* Research through direct surveys and find out what their pains are. Alex interviewed over 100 real estate brokers and agents, they shared their pain points and frustrations when it came to foreclosures
* Develop a product that will answer the needs of your audience. No need for perfection here just let the creative juices flow, if using a computer slows your creative process then write it on paper, draw up all your illustrations or image guides and create the blueprint
* Beta testing – Alex called his target audience and walked them through the course details. With their feedback and additional input he further refined the course and got their committee to to buy once it launched
* Launch, don’t over complicate or wait too long, get it launched with a few people, see the response and then move on there.
* Alex went on to be recognised as a key contributor to turning around the home foreclosure industry through the course.
If you have any expertise or thought leadership, this methodology above that Alex uses is your guide to creating that service offering your clients want and desire so much they are willing to buy without you “over selling” it to them.
We covered other ground during the podcast including:
* How you can transition from a corporate consulting role into your own business; and
* A case study of how Alex is helping entrepreneurs grow from $1m to $20m plus in annual revenues: Alex breaks down some of the key strategies that are helping put multiple seven figures in top line revenue for his clients today that you can leverage today
Alex passionately shares about what he would like to leave as a legacy when all is said is done – this was a powerful moment during the show – – – make sure you check it out!
Entrepreneurial books Alex recommends for any entrepreneur – –
088 – Pipe Drive: Started with a simple idea with zero customers – now over 60,000 customers, $30m invested and 300 employees (w Timo Rein)
Timo Rein is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pipe Drive which is a simplified sales management tool that is helping over 60,000 sales teams around the world to get more organised, more focused and helping them sell more. You have probably already heard about Pipe Drive because they have done an amazing job marketing their service, this is a great episode with Timo, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I know we will receive great feedback on this one!
Timo is based in Estonia with his wife and kids, born in the Soviet Union, studied psychology in university, he lived in the US for four years and is now back home living and running his business from north eastern Europe in the wonderful Estonia.
He co-founded Pipe Drive 7 years ago with 4 other founders, prior to that was a partner is a sales training business for 10 years, so Timo is a seasoned entrepreneur with 17 years in the game of running his own business.
Show notes and links at: https://www.businessgenerals.com/timor
Pipe Drive is a SaaS (software as a service) business, that generates a monthly and annual subscription from customers who are from all corners of the world. They have doubles their revenue each year for the last 5-6 years, so Timo describes as a high growth yet high investment SaaS business. They have invested about $30m into the business which includes successful strong capital raisings.
Dilution of your ownership v Investors
In Timo’s mind their business is run by a team of professionals right across their leadership and executive level, including the investors who he feels are well invested to give the founders every necessary introduction and connection in the market place as well challenge the leadership and ask more of them so as to get the best that the company can deliver.
The big idea and the story of how pipe drive started
* The big idea with Timo’s first co-founder, who also had a sales background like Timo
* Coming up with the specification document of the product
* Looking for developers who would build the code
* Meeting up with 3 other start up founders who had coding back ground
The tipping point for Timo
* He was running his sales business and going well
* An old friend quizzed Timo about his consultancy role at the time and in Timo’s mind this made his wake up to his dream of being a doer, a builder and this sent him back to his drawing board so he went back to looking at building a business.
Building Pipe Drive
With the new 3 co-founders the idea was ready to be dusted off and given another chance.
* Timo and his first co-founder described the whole software idea again to the new team.
* A brand new specification document was created and it was much better than their original spec, as it was much more visual with screen shots and clear work flows.
* The original founders had the idea, they knew how to market and scale a business while the 3 new founders brought in the engineering experience and proven experience in coding a product that can be scaled, so together they created a strong foundation on which to build the business from.
* For a period of 3 months the team would get together on weekend retreats at a local farm house, from Friday nights and code through out the weekend and would only head back to their homes on Sundays. Three of the co-founders had day jobs during the week so this project was only worked on during the weekends at this time. The other two founders plus one other engineer (who would later become a founding employee) worked full time on the project during this 3 month period.
* Although away from family, this helped the team focus well on the project and also helped them build a strong team dynamic and start to understand each other better.
087 – Becoming an Inc Magazine Top 100 speaker – employee to business owner (w/ Bobby Umar)
Bobby Umar has been named by Inc Magazine as a top 100 leadership speaker alongside people like John Maxwell and Richard Branson, he has taken to the famous and prestigious Tedx stage four times and has over half a million followers on social media. Bobby is also an international author and a Huffington post contributor. A father of two and loves improv comedy.
Bobby started his business full time in January 2017, he rolled out of his corporate role and went straight into launching his business. His number one revenue stream today is professional speaking – inspirational motivational speaker, travelling mostly around Canada and from time to time internationally. Bobby speaks on leadership as a general theme with specialised expertise in three key areas:
* Networking – leadership building and connection
* Personal branding
* Social media and digital marketing
Bobby other revenue streams are coaching (executive coaching, career coaching and business coaching) and events.
Why and how speaking
During his corporate days Bobby conducted workshops and training and received very strong positive feedback about his speaking and motivational skills. By the time Bobby was ready to leave corporate he leaned on this feedback and took all the positives and embarked on building out his personal brand. After a deep dive into his personal values, traits, personality assessments and some soul searching – Bobby says he found out that his brand was all about connection, people, persuasion, influence, performing, presenting and diversity, speaking seemed like a logical thing to do.
Bobby kept track of all his connections throughout his career even before the advent of LinkedIn, he maintained an excel spreadsheet with 3,000 contacts, so the first thing he did was to send out 500 brochures to people on this list and then also sent an email to all 3,000 contacts sharing that he had launched a business, his services and clearly specifying the opportunities he was looking for. After sending that out a few people wrote back to Bobby (not as many as initially hoped for but it was a start…), some called and with a bit of follow up Bobby landed his first gig.
Business growth after the first few paying customers
* Bobby made it a priority to do an amazing job so that it was easy to get referrals from each engagement
* He leveraged his network some more, set up calls and met up with his contacts – he estimates having met over 1,000 people for catch up chats, coffees and meals in his first 3-5 years of launching his business. He let them know what he was up to and this fueled more engagements and referral opportunities.
* Maintained a strong social media presence through Facebook and LinkedIn
* Saying yes to most gigs that were offered to him, a lot of which Bobby says he wouldn’t do today
Paid v Free events
* Starting out, Bobby was doing a lot of events for free as he built out his brand but was always looking for paid opportunities.
* His paid opportunities were attracting a $500 fee, and after a while this changed to $1,000 with a lower end engagement being $500, and then $2,500 an engagement and continued to grow that way.
* Bobby shares how you have to know when to say NO to certain opportunities if they are not within your core niche as saying NO indirectly helps you say YES to what you are really called to do.
Tedx Talk & Social Media
* While previously unaware of what it was, on 5 October 2011, Bobby did the first of his four Tedx talks and decided to launch his social media strategy as it clear in his mind that social media was here to stay.
* On this day Bobby launched his social media arsenal on all channels – Twitter, Facebook business page,
086 – Leveraging a PhD in Psychology into a lucrative speaking career and helping people create wealth through behavioural finance (w/ Dr Daniel Crosby)
Dr Daniel Crosby is a Psychologist, he has a PhD in psychology and behavioural finance specialising in helping people and organisations understand the cross over between the mind and the financial markets. He is a co-author of a New York Times best seller “Personal Benchmark” and also authored the “Laws of Wealth“. Daniel is the founder and CEO of Nocturne Capital – an investment management firm whose approach is rooted in the science of behavioral finance.
Daniel has a growing family, based in Atlanta Georgia from where he runs his business which he has been running full time for the last 10 years.
Check out the full show with detailed show notes and episode links: businessgenerals.com/danielc
Lets talk core revenue streams
Daniel shares how he started off doing speaking engagement to market his other services in his company but it has since taken off and become a major part of his revenue stream. An early take away from Daniel is not to underestimate the power of speaking as an extra revenue stream in your business!
Daniel also manages money on behalf of clients, teaches online courses in behavioural finance and provides consulting services and content development.
While speaking is Daniel’s number one income stream it’s not completely scalable due to the time commitment and extensive travel requirements so Daniel has a focus to grow the other income streams. Daniel has been on the speaking circuit for the last 10 years, and cautions that it is taxing for someone with a young family.
Growing up Daniel was inspired by his dad who is an investment manager, after getting into college Daniel loved the study of psychology, helping and teaching people – but part way through his PhD he felt emotionally burned out as a clinical psychologist. A conversation with his dad about his next options turned him down the road of understanding the intersection between psychology and stock market investing.
Why a PhD and not just a Degree
Daniel says in his experience a psychology degree in the US, does not get you very far in your career as a psychologist. The PhD paid off for Daniel as clients more readily hired his consulting services as a PhD graduate even though he was only 28. While the PhD opened doors for Daniel he says he doesn’t actually use it in its direct form because he is trained to conduct therapy sessions as a clinical psychologist but he now picks stocks for a living.
The skills learned however, of being non defensive, hard work, accepting feedback, critiquing and taking action – are life skills he has taken from his PhD that have helped him in his business.
First paying client and a speaking career
Daniel managed to secure his first client before he resigned from his job, he recommends that you find a way to get at least one good client account before stepping out on your own.
He quickly moved into the world of speaking and in the beginning all his presentations were at no charge, he would look for places to speak at in his city as a way of marketing his consultancy services.
After quiet a number of free events Daniel recalls an attendee asking if they could book him for a paid speaking engagement and he began a new journey where he would eventually be charging between $1,000 and $2,000 to speak. A mistake he shares is saying yes to all speaking requests and having to create a special bespoke keynote each time he got an invitation,
085 – The innovative treadmill desk: Getting your innovation from idea stage into a profitable business and scaling up (w/ Rob Jacobs)
Rob Jacobs is the guy who gets people up-and-out of their chairs and moving again! A personal fitness expert and the co-founder of UnSit, an innovative company working to get people UP out of their chairs and moving again with the world’s first Treadmill Desk optimized for use in an office environment. His background is firmly in the fitness industry having been in treadmill retail and commercial equipment including a repairs and servicing business model. Being a fitness enthusiast sitting at a chair all day made Rob research into how to help people with desk jobs get fitter by moving more.
First business startup – the walking centre.
This was a fitness centre targeted at middle aged stay at home mums who would go into the store, rent a movie, and walk on a treadmill while watching their movie! This proved to be a great model for Rob. The results were very good and people started buying these high ticket treadmills in the Beverly Hills area, and opened more stores which also included the sale of commercial fitness equipment. Rob eventually sold out of the retail model after a number of years as the market changed with increased competition and margin pressure.
Before selling out of retail Rob had developed a service model that repaired and serviced fitness equipment for health clubs and fitness centres, so with a new business partner Rob developed and grew this business to include retailing of spare parts. Rob has maintained and continued to grow this business over the last 25 years plus and it still continues to be his core revenue generator.
The business model is ecommerce based enhanced with telephone technology support, targeted at out of warranty fitness equipment servicing clients in different countries.
The problem that turned into a new business idea
Rob found himself constantly sitting at a desk, servicing clients and growing his spare parts business, and found himself having less and less exercise, feeling lethargic, lower back problems all from sitting behind a desk far too long.
A book by Dr. James Levine, who is credited as the popular inspiration for the treadmill desk, inspired Rob to work on solving his problem. Book reference: Get up – why your chair is killing you, Dr James Levine
Rob had seen the idea before but he discredited it on the basis that he didn’t think a treadmill desk provided real exercise or real practicality in an office setting. [During this interview Rob was walking along at 1 mile per hour on his treadmill desk and by about 15 minutes into the interview he had clocked over 2,000 steps! Pretty impressive].
Dissecting the research and looking at the market opportunity
* Obesity is one third of US population, and this same third is also at the pre-diabetic stage estimated to require medicated treatment in a few years time
* Sitting disease is a term used in the book by Dr Levine which includes diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses which can be prevented or recovered from through exercise
* Mental creativity is a softer science but this is the marketing point Rob has picked, exercise leads to a more productive and creative workforce and this can be achieved through the treadmill desk technology
Designing the product
* After reading Dr James Levine’s book Rob decided to work on designing a product that was fit for purpose
* Most designs at this time simply took a tread mill and stuck it under a desk, but Rob figured there was better way
* Rob shares that while his academic qualifications are minimal and his learning quite empirical and self taught, this did not disadvantage his entrepreneurial journey
* Rob took out an old treadmill,
084: Camplify – the Airbnb of Caravan Hire and the RV Share Economy (w/ Justin Hales)
Justin Hales is the CEO and Founder of Camplify, the Airbnb of caravan hire & RV sharing community. Camplify is Australia’s largest caravan hire and RV peer-to-peer sharing community, connecting owners with holidaymakers across the country sharing all types of caravans, campervans, motorhomes and camper trailers to enjoy a getaway in. Camplify gives RV owners the opportunity to earn extra income – anywhere between $280 and $2100 per week – while they aren’t using it themselves. As for their hiring members, they get to experience the joy of camping without having to purchase their own RV.
During the interview, Justin shared how in 2 years the Camplify platform has grown from just a small fleet of rentals to over 2,500 placing the company at the top of the fleet market in its niche of renting out caravans and RVs, an amazing effort in such a short space of time.
The genesis of the idea
Sounds a bit cliche but it all started with a seemingly small conversation with Justin and his wife talking about how cool it would be to go on a caravan holiday. Their conversation was triggered while the couple was walking their dog over and noticed a parked caravan in their neighborhood. Having spent his childhood in caravans this was an exciting prospect and so Justin looked for a place where they could hire a caravan for a holiday but found it quite difficult to find a single provider that he could go to and hire from. As a result Justin found a gap in the market and created a space that was like an Airbnb that got all the hundreds of caravans that sit around in people’s driveways doing nothing most of the year and create a sharing economy market place for owners and holidaymakers to share.
Working on the idea
* Justin found a startup incubator program that was looking for innovators and applied to be considered for the program, which included some basic idea testing, putting up a ‘crudely built’ website and a power-point deck.
* After a stringent review of 500 applicants, Justin progressed into the final 40 that made it to the “Pitch Day”.
* Following a successful outing at Pitch Day Justin was offered a spot in the 12 week startup accelerator program.
* This was an intensive accelerator program on how to set up and scale a startup which became the backbone of launching the Camplify business following that 12 weeks
Justin’s key take ways from the 12 Weeks accelerator program
* Understood the customer more
* Tested more variables
* Learned about different marketing strategies
* Learned how to build good products that had a great market fit, using lean methodology
* Started building a brand and acquiring customers
* Leaned on the network in the program to raise capital for Camplify which was well received and helped fund the initial Camplify launch
* The initial market most people would lean towards in the caravan and RV space was the grey nomad market (grey nomad (plural grey nomads) (Australia) A retired person who travels independently and for an extended period within their own country, particularly in a caravan or motor home – wiktionary
* But through testing Justin found that while the grey nomads was not going to be their target market to consume their services, they were going to their target partners as RV owners sharing their RVs on the Camplify marketplace
* From detailed testing and building customer personas, the ideal customer that emerged was families who were not prepared to outlay $60,000 for an RV but still wanted to holiday in one from time to time, and this was found to a buoyant and growing market
The No Money Survey – Just Sweets (…Lollies/Candy)
* 2nd week in the accelerator program Justin and...
Just want to thank you for publishing this podcast it was really helpful looking forward to your future ones
Enjoying your Podcasts Davis! Fantastic selection of professionals. The sharing of content and experiences is a valuable resource for all.
Very insightful podcast. Thanks for sharing.