Welcome back listener to your favorite internet marketing podcast show, Freedom Ocean. In this episode, Tim and James talk about James’ guesting at the Dynamite Circle conference in Bangkok, powerful mindset tips to generate more income, a look back at their early podcasting days, the need for change and constant learning, plus a little bit of wisdom from your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.
– James speaks at The Dynamite Circle conference in Bangkok (Run by the Tropical MBA podcast guys)
– What’s holding you back from your first seven-figure business?
– Smart investments and the right mindset
– Your self-image contributes to success
– How your environment may affect you and your business
– The success of podcasting
– Business wisdom according to Spiderman
– Asking the right questions, making the best choices and building a successful business
Reluctance to invest causes the inability to generate income. [Click To Tweet].
Do more of what works and let go of what doesn’t. [Click To Tweet].
Being more profitable goes back to confidence and mindset. [Click To Tweet].
Give yourself more value. [Click To Tweet].
Care more about your staff and your customers. [Click To Tweet].
Every business owner should be podcasting. [Click To Tweet].
With great responsibility comes great power. [Click To Tweet].
You should never stop learning. [Click To Tweet].
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Here you’ll find Tim and James have some things to help your business become more powerful.
Tim: Jimmy James Schramko, welcome back to the very, very warm waters of the Freedom Ocean.
James: Sure is warm, Timbo, it’s warm here in Bangkok. I don’t recommend swimming in the river but the hotel pool is lovely.
Tim: Mate, what are you doing over there?
James: Came over here to speak at a conference. There was a group called Dynamite Circle. You might be familiar with Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen. They have a podcast which they’ve now moved to Tropical MBA. Interesting, they’ve had a brand change. It’s a great show, I recommend people have a listen. And they run a conference for their forum. And this forum is full of people who are quite entrepreneurial and a lot of them live around Asia. They’ve decided to opt out of Western costs and mortgages and car payments and bootstrap it a bit, build up teams and run little businesses over here. So they brought me over here to talk about what happens after you get through that first phase. And my topic was what’s holding you back from your first seven-figure a year.
Tim: Just seven figures? Did you start just kind of creating that… sort of what’s holding you back from your first eight figure, or you just kind of thought, aw, we’ll keep it to seven?
James: Well, seven is my sweet spot. I’ve helped a lot of people go from six to seven figures. That’s kind of the Silver Circle zone. There’s plenty of people in the market talking about making a hundred thousand dollars a year, you know? And it’s actually really hard to make your first thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars online. That four or five-figure benchmark is quite hard. It’s a little bit easier to go from five figures to six figures but it requires a completely different mindset to go from six to seven. Generally a lot of things change. You go from being a solo preneur to having a team. You have more investments in infrastructure, a lot more costs, but you’re also bringing in a hell of a lot more sales. So the mindshift that’s involved in outlaying a lot of money… Let’s say for example if you’re doing a million dollars a year and you have a fifty percent profit margin, that means you’re spending five hundred thousand dollars. Now that’s five times more than a hundred grand a year just in expenses, and that’s what I think defeats a lot of people. This reluctance to invest will cause the inability to generate the sort of income that’s going to have to come from that investment.
Tim: Why do you think it’s easy to go from five to six? Or relatively easy?
James: Because generally whatever you’re doing to get ten thousand dollars, you’ve already gone through that mental mindset part that gets you some success. You’ve got something happening, like someone’s giving you money, and generally you can scale that. It’s not as hard to scale that from ten grand to a hundred grand. That is doing more of what works, it’s letting go of things that aren’t working, and it’s quite easy to make a hundred thousand dollars as a solo preneur. That’s kind of like a good salary for someone, even if you have a job-like business. Now you might say that that sounds silly. It’s either a job or a business. But let’s say you’re a graphic artist or a web developer or a, you know, some kind of online expert. It’s not that hard to make a hundred thousand dollars once you’ve got a validated model. And so if you’ve made your ten thousand dollars doing something, you can probably scrape together to get to that hundred thousand. To ten-x that is quite a different skillset.
Tim: Right. And a large part of that is scaling up?
James: A good part of it is actually around confidence and mindset. Like it always comes back to mindset. But yes, you’re going to have to do things differently and generally, unless you’re doing software as a service, or something like that, most of the business models require some kind of team-building. If you’ve got ecommerce, you’ll probably want telesales. You’re going to have people entering items. If you have information products, you’re at least going to need to have designers and conversion experts. You might need an affiliate manager. If you do the affiliate thing, to make seven figures from doing that, still you probably will want someone creating content, driving traffic, and you’re probably going to have to travel a bit, make good contacts, find out best practices. You’re going to have to move around a bit more. So I think a lot of it comes from the confidence to start investing in the things you need. You’re going to have proper CRM systems, a support desk, a team. You’ll be buying content, you’ll be buying traffic. You’ll be paying for conversions, you’ll be getting better equipment, you’ll be travelling more. These are the sort of things that I see happening in Silver Circle, for example.
Tim: There goes the five hundred grand pretty quickly.
James: Five hundred grand is….Look, if you could spend five hundred to bring in a million, you’ll make five hundred thousand. And five hundred thousand is five times more than a hundred grand, as a solo preneur. And there is this crazy thing that you probably won’t have to do the same shitty work that you were doing to make a hundred grand. And so if I look at my business, where it’s doing quite well now, I do different things than what I used to do. Now most of my focus is on creating content, which is the part that I enjoy. So I’m looking at how can I make an audio, how can I make a video, where should I travel to to meet new people, which contacts are going to benefit in the long haul, where is a good supply market for me? So I’ll go to the UK, I’ll go to the USA. Also I’ve got a good team and they’re doing a lot of the stuff that I used to do. They’re creating content, transcribing things, making pictures, setting up websites, doing the nuts and bolts of the shopping cart. I don’t touch the website, for example, the coding or whatever, these days. My main focus is on the strategy, working out pricing and packaging, making contacts. And I do still take the odd sales call off the telephone number on my website, there’s no one else in the company who does that. But it is something I could replace if I want to grow it. In fact if I wanted an eight-figure business, I would probably have to develop a sales team and have phone support and deal with some retail customers, which is something I don’t really want to do right now. And this is all so far without having to have a central office, or an office in Western society.
Tim: So you’ve given this talk, titled “What’s Holding You Back From Your First Seven-Figure Business”. Is there a kind of top three, top five, that you covered off?
James: Yeah. Well it was only a short presentation. It was about half an hour. The main thing is your self-image. And I talked about how, when you look in the mirror, do you see someone who’s got a lot of chinks in the armor or a bit of a weakling, or are you underconfident? Or do you see like a superhero in a caped costume, who can take on…
Tim: Undies on the outside.
James: Yeah, who can take on challenges, and can have a confrontation if required, and can put some effort into something without a certain guarantee of success, but can drive through and persist past all the difficult stuff. So some of the critical ones were, especially for this audience, I suggested that if they live in a cheap environment, if you’re paying a dollar or two for a taxi, food, and everything. Accommodation is very very low priced. It can be tempting to reset your price framing around those low prices. And it’s very hard to charge for stuff. Like in Asia, more than seventy percent of software is pirated, for example. So people aren’t paying for stuff. And when in an environment where people aren’t paying for stuff, then people find it hard to charge for stuff. So I wanted to remind them. If you’re going to pay cheap prices for living, remember that people in the target market, in America, or Australia or London, they’re paying top dollar, so don’t undervalue yourself. That was one of the big things. If you’re going to use this arbitrage advantage, remember to keep the prices up.
Tim: Yeah. To me, that would seem obvious. Are some of them actually falling back to local pricing?
James: I think a lot of them have a low price framing. Even things like the membership is quite a low price for the forum that they’re in. A lot of them have very little capital. They’ve opted out of society. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s ironic, because the whole point, I think the tribe movement, is to not take a mortgage, not to have a car payment, to have a better lifestyle now and do it on a budget, and use the resources to build your own business instead of take a job or go to study. But the irony I see is that they’ve probably had to make the biggest compromise of all, and that’s not even participate in their own country. They can’t afford to now. So I made a commitment to myself decades ago not to ever have to move out of the country for money reasons. And so the short story is, living in Sydney with a family with mortgages and expensive food, expensive cars, expensive housing, forced me to stretch more in business to be a better salesperson, to rise up the corporate ladder, to start a business that was already generating three hundred thousand dollars a year before I quit my job, and quickly went to seven figures a year because I was pretty much forced to because of my environment. So my main warning is, if you go to a soft environment, an easy environment…I mean a Western guy in Asia, with a bit of money, can live like a king. But just don’t get seduced by that. If you ever want to go back, you’ll really need to step up the game. That was really such a big point.
There’s a few other really interesting points, and maybe not so obvious ones. One of them is to really care about your staff and your customers. That’s a sort of a cliché out there in business. However, I think that still a lot of people are trying their very best not to speak to a customer. We’ve talked about this before with the reply@ email versus noreply. About really understanding the culture of your team. Especially if you have a team overseas. Learn a few words in their language. Find out where they live. Discover more about their culture. Once you unlock that, you really get into the next zone. Because again, a lot of people in the US market, they’re completely out in terms of timing. On the Eastern side, they’re literally twelve hours out, so they have such a limited window to participate with their team who are in another country, that they lose that connection. And I think if you care about your team a lot, then they’re going to care about the customers, the customers care about the business, the business makes you the profit in the end.
Right, so moving on from that topic, I had talked about Juan Manuel Fangio who was a five times world Grand Prix champion, and he was amazing. And his record stood for forty-five years. He was an amazing driver, and the point with him was he didn’t start until he was in his late thirties, as a Grand Prix driver. Before that, and from the age of ten, he was kind of a mechanic. And he was doing cross-country rallies. So by the time he got to Grand Prix, which was just a piddly little three-hour race, he was easily able to handle that car for such a short race compared to an over-the-country rally. And he had mechanical empathy and understanding beyond what the current drivers of his era had. And he was the guy that pioneered that drifting around corners and stuff. You know, the power slides. So he was a dynamic and strong driver, with a lot of experience, and I guess my point there is that when I started my own business, I already had a lot of experience. I’d been through some pretty difficult business scenarios. And some people have come into the game a bit light on, that’s all. I think they underestimate what’s involved in being successful online is that they’re approaching it from a very amateur and underprepared way. Any sort of life skills, experience outside of business would be good to participate in, whether it’s a sport, whether it’s recognizing your strengths in a corporate role and bringing those to the table and finding your position in the market where you can compete with real strength versus everyone else. And you’ve done this in your background. You’ve got real strength in your marketing background, your advertising days, and that’s what I think caused that success of the Small Business Big Marketing podcast. You understand the mindset of the small business owner, especially when they approach marketing, and that’s what your whole ethos was.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and there are a lot of people who come in thinking this is going to be easier than it is. And so, eyes wide open…
James: A couple of hammocks, a bit of a palm tree…they dive into the ocean and thrash, get eaten by a big shark…
So I think it was good, and by the way, you got a great hat tip. There was a podcasting panel, and it was suggested that every business owner should have a podcast. I know you would have been high-fiving the air. They asked me how I got started and if I had challenges and I said that I was on your show, and then you asked me to come and make this show, and then we actually had a pretty good run straight out of the gate, because you already knew the format, and you educated me how it works, which I’ve subsequently been able to replicate for me and for others, so a big hat tip to Timbo and his podcast expertise.
Tim: Got to love that.
James: And for our listeners, they should definitely go over and listen to your original podcast, Small Business Big Marketing, to find out how that happened. In fact, maybe for a bit of a laugh they could go and listen to our old interview.
Tim: That’s right. Gosh, mate, that was almost, I reckon, three years ago. And in fact, I was just talking to a podcast producer last week, and talking about the fact that you know, someone’s listening to this and thinking, podcast, you know, they’ve missed the podcasting boat, or in fact any of these kinds of marketing boats. They haven’t. Podcast is still so young. It’s actually interesting. I was reading an interview with what’s his name from Amazon? Jeff Bezos. Bezos. And even like in that whole Amazon world, he still talks about its year one.
James: Yeah, and this guy’s like a long term thinker. He didn’t make any profit for several years. And he used to make his tables out of wooden crates or something, planks. I mean maybe the first time around with little ebooks, which sort of flopped years and years ago, and the next time around with Kindles, and then they’ve taken off now, I think they’ve replaced physical books.
Tim: Yeah, well I think the point is, it is early days, and the whole podcasting thing, don’t get me started, mate, I love it.
James: So if there is any Holy Grail, and I told the audience there is no Holy Grail, the closest you’d get would be to have a podcast broadcasting out on smart phones and that just gets airplay. The proof in the pudding is the validation that comes from when a podcast that’s successful puts on an event. This event had a couple of hundred people. They paid hundreds per ticket and it was jam-packed. And that came off a podcast. I’ve done the same with Ezra, with our Hawaii retreat, which was last month. Again, people paying to come to a show or an event that was sold from a podcast. And to a large extent, FastWebFormula 5 in March will be sold mostly from my weekly content updates. I’ll be reminding people to come along to the event in Manly, in March, and they’ll come and there’ll be more than a hundred people and mostly the podcasting channels are where they’ll come from. And the same for my highest level mastermind – most people found me from a podcast, so if that’s the biggest takeaway from this, the whole event itself was podcast fueled, and that’s a big one.
So one of my next sort of connecting points was I ran people through that scenario of the train, about setting the station in the future, and walking back down the track to where you are now, and then just rolling the train along, without distractions, without being taken off track. You know where you’re going, you’re clear on it, it helps you set filters, all you need to do is just keep stoking that fire, and taking logs off the track, which are inevitably going to fall on the track here and there. If podcasting was that, then it’s a very simple process.
Tim: I like that one.
James: Yeah. I also did a cool one, one of probably the most popular ones, was the Spiderman one.
James: We know the saying, “With great power comes great responsibility”, right? So if you wanted to have a powerful business, what would you have to add to it?
Tim: Good people?
James: Responsibility. Right, with great responsibility comes great power. So the more you are responsible for, the more likely it is that you’ll generate some power from it. If you’re responsible for customers, if you’re responsible for your team, if you’re responsible for nurturing a business itself, then the chances are it’s going to power up. So if you really want to power up your business, you could actually say, well what could I take more responsibility for. Could I take more personal responsibility for my success?
James: Could I be responsible for a team of half a dozen people? Could I be responsible for an office lease and really go balls to the wall and grow this thing big? There’ll be certain choices along the way that involve taking on more responsibility and my suggestion is, this one is very simple – well, it’s according to Spiderman, so it has to be, right?
Tim: Has to be.
James: That if you choose the responsible thing, then you’re probably likely to power up quicker than if you take the less responsible path.
Tim: Yeah, right. So it’s kind of like, based on that, is this for everyone? Like that idea of a seven-figure business? Is it for everyone? It sounds like you’ve got to be a leader.
James: The first point I made is that you have to be really clear that this is your choice. Like if you decide that’s what you want, it’s going to involve change. It’s going to involve some kind of compromise. It might be that you now, rather than just you, your backpack and a laptop, and the world at your feet, maybe you now have some commitments and responsibilities. You know, that’s the contract you enter into. You want to make something great, if you want to make Grange, you’re going to have to commit to a process, you’re going to have to dedicate yourself to the cause, you’re going to have to put in the time. So there’s absolutely that. Some of the rewards, though, are: you can get yourself off the tools, if you are a solo practitioner and doing all of the work and if you happen to have a job-like business where if you stop working, your business stops, then having a seven-figure business gives you a lot more momentum. It allows you to have days off and to actually have a life or travel or whatever, because you have a team now, doing the core mechanics of it.
Probably the highlight for me of the whole event was after I spoke, and they were packing down the room, and there was this little audience gathered. First one guy sat next to me, and then another guy sat across, and then another person and a lady and next thing you know, there’s about thirty people and we sat there for an hour and a half. They were asking question after question after question after question. And most of them revolved around how do you find the team? How do you pay the team? How do you get them to do the standard operating procedures, without you having to do it all? How do you get good people who don’t flake on you or disappear? There were so many questions, I think I just uncorked a bottle on the steps that are involved in going up a notch. And a lot of it revolves around team building and growing your infrastructure.
Tim: And it’s amazing how many of those questions are quite specific. It’s like when you’re talk about podcasting and people want to know what microphone you use and what edit software you use. But there are bigger questions to ask, aren’t there? More strategic questions?
James: That is totally the case. Like you want the best answers, you’ve got to ask the best questions. And a lot of people are asking the wrong question.
James: They might be like “How do I get rich?” That’s a pretty general, vague question. You need to be more specific than that. Like what compromises do you want to make? Because you know, you could actually live quite well on a low income in a third world country. You could live quite well on a high income in a first world country.
James: Take your pick. Do you want the high income, nice country? D you want the high income third world country? You can choose, that’s probably the biggest thing of all. You can choose what you want. And when you step up and take that responsibility for your choices, then you can back-fuel the rest. You can build your train tracks. You can decide what station you want to go to.
The ultimate point that I made in the presentation, I showed them a scrambled Rubik’s cube and I proposed this: that right now, you probably have access to everything you need to have access to to solve this. You just need to locate the algorithm. You need to either have someone show you how to solve it, or pay someone to solve it for you, but you can solve it. It is solvable, you just need to put some focus on deciding that you want to solve it and then getting the best, most appropriate path for you. And as you sit there thinking about this, you’re either sitting there by yourself and you are your business, or maybe you’re just a part of the business and there’s a whole team somewhere else, thinking about your business with you every day. But that is your choice. You can grow it out, or you can keep it small. You can enter new markets, or you can stay in the ones you’ve got. You know, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve had in the last week is dealing with a customer who just resists every possible change. Every positive change that would grow their business exponentially, they resist, because it represents change. It represents something different than what they’re used to and they would rather sabotage themselves by sticking to what they know than to make the changes that are necessary to get an infinitely better result; and that is a choice as well. So, that’s probably one of the most fascinating things to me lately is why people would choose that versus something that could get them what they actually want but there’s so much fear involved and that’s why it all comes back to confidence and the willingness to take risks, to be embarrassed. To admit that you don’t know all the answers is what’s going to get you forward faster.
Tim: Yeah, interesting. Hey, we’re talking all this discussion about getting to a seven figure business, Jimmy, it’s about starting an online business. Did you get a sense of what types of businesses people were focusing on? Was it ebooks? Was it forums? Was it private membership communities, video training? Was there a trend?
James: Yes, in this community, seems to me there’s quite a lot of ecommerce people because Dan and Ian have ecommerce stores in markets like cat furniture and valet parking.
Tim: Valet parking?
James: Yeah, like they sell the poles and the tapes and the podiums and stuff.
Tim: Love it.
James: And the key cabinets. So it’s ecommerce but they also do software. There’s some software guys. In fact, one of the members is the co-founder of LeadPages. The developer dude – Simon is his name. There’s software people, there are also experts. One guy actually was the founder of HARO, Help A Reporter Out, and there are authors, there are stacks of bootstrappers who are trying to string together a little bit of local business marketing. But again, the overwhelming majority of them charge way too little and they have no business plan whatsoever other than selling cheap stuff to local businesses, and so cheap that there’s almost no margin for profit and they wonder how they can grow their business faster; but they’re playing a way too small a game. Then, there’s probably some info-marketers, designers, consultants, so it’s a pretty mixed bag.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
James: Yeah, but definitely a lot of ecommerce and seems to be quite a few people in software and there’s definitely membership people, there’s a guy in the weight lifting niche doing membership. He made seven figures. No, he made six figures in seven months – a hundred grand in seven months. He’s got a huge user base. He talked about the things he did well, the things that he didn’t do well. And the funniest thing for me was watching this thinking: “Gosh, that was me four years ago”. He is now making the same mistakes I made four years ago and I should talk to this guy, I should help him out because the things that he’s about to do will be critical to his success and I already know what they are and what they should be to a large extent. So that’s why you go to an event like this. You will find the person who can help you quickly move to the next stage.
Tim: Yeah, well, we’ve talked about that before. You should never stop learning. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone, you’ve to go to new places, meet new people. You’re good at that. You’re a master of it. You’re doing it now.
James: Well, yeah and I went to quite a few places in the last month and I learned so much just from observing and mixing with new crowds. I even got lessons I didn’t expect to get that were real gifts and you can’t earn them any other way I think than to get out and about to find out what they are face-to-face.
Tim: Love it mate. Well listen, that’s a good discussion. If anyone listens to this and does hit their seven figure income as a result, can you leave just at least a comment in the shownotes? At least.
James: Yeah, leave us a comment if it’s helped you. It was fun for me to prepare and to deliver a presentation that was requested that specific topic that was different to my normal one. That was also the case when I was in my last few visits in the United States so I delivered several presentations – one on SEO, one on becoming your own authority and building an asset and I did another session or two on starting up (startup businesses) which is not my passion topic but it’s something I can do. So it’s really good to stretch and to move around the spectrum of the topics that I can cover and to push myself to deliver it. My goal when I’m speaking to someone is to move the audience. So, if this podcast moves the audience, and by the way, a lot of people in this community love FreedomOcean, so a big shoutout to all the Dynamite circlers, we love you too.
Tim: Good on them.
James: Yeah, DCers and this really is like a cult. I’ve got the T-shirt too to prove it and they have stickers.
Tim: Oh man, I got sent the coolest T-shirt today from a listener of Small Business Big Marketing. I’ve got to say, I’m looking at it now. It is like a seriously, seriously cool design.
James: That’s from Greg Meireles right?
Tim: How did you know that?
James: Because he’s a SilverCircle guy. I told him to send you a T-shirt. We’re building his business out.
Tim: You’re freaking me out now. You’re freaking me out.
James: He’s got a site that he’s building where people will be able to buy your T-shirt and my T-shirt and he’s also sent them to John Lee Dumas.
James: To Ezra and I. He designed the ThinkActGet logo and T-shirts.
Tim: Well, that’s interesting because there is a resemblance.
James: Right. Well it’s the same design bureau. He’s in Melbourne there, he’s a genius designer.
Tim: Very good designer.
James: He’s a huge fan of my other podcast, ThinkActGet. He’s sent T-shirts to Pat Flynn and he’s basically going to put these shirts up on a site and let the podcast audience buy them and he’s in a revenue share model with the podcast producers.
Tim: Good on him.
James: So if you sent people to his site to buy your T-shirt, you’ll be able to make a profit from it and I’ll be able to do the same for mine.
Tim: Well, he’s just got a good…and it’s such a nice design style too.
James: Yeah. He’s designing me shirts for FastWebFormula that are just going to knock your socks off.
Tim: Yeah, right. Ah, well it only arrived today and literally three or four hours out of the envelope.
James: Well, that’s the reaction he was hoping for is joy and appreciation. But you know what, he’s a good designer so he deserves it.
Tim: Correct. What’s his website?
James: It’s called Studio-1 but he’s got a new site coming up don’t quote me on that.
Tim: No, we’re going to get it right. We’ll talk about it. I was going to mention it in Small Business Big Marketing next week anyway so great strategy and nice little marketing strategy we call “seeding”.
Tim: Dropping it in. Dropping a little seed somewhere and watching it grow. Jimmy James, that’s a wrap mate. Lovely to hear your voice. It’s been a few weeks since the last episode. I think going forward it would be nice to do an episode. I’d love to hear more about, I know our listeners would, about the weight lifting guy who’s built out a forum in six or seven months and how he’s done that.
James: It’s called SuccessShirt.com.
Tim: SuccessShirt.com, righto.
James: SuccessShirt and if you go and check it out, you’ll see Ezra actually hired him to make a T-shirt for me called “caffeine addict” and it’s got my funny little head on it. You’ll see there’s all sorts of cool shirts there. I’m really looking forward to this but have a look at the FTH one, that’s my personal favorite.
James: Yeah, that’s right.
Tim: Righto, I’ll do that. Well, he’s just got a nice little promo there so it pays off. You know, like great marketing. Low cost to him and great value back to Greg so hats off to him. Alright buddy, we’ll call it a day and I don’t know where we’ll be next time we record. Somewhere in the world and I’ll see you then.
James: Alright. Well I’ll either be home or I’ll be in the Dominican Republic depending on this week.
Tim: Of course you’ll be.
James: Okay, take care mate.
Tim: See you Jimmy.