A Year Of Silence & 7-Figures Later, Here Is What I’ve Learned
Hey everyone! Bobby here. This is actually a post that Mike created in an entrepreneur group called “Espresso with Dan.” We didn’t plan on using this as a blog post on the site, but after reading through it, I felt that Mike shared some incredible information for any online entrepreneur that is either starting out, wondering how to scale, or just needing some inspiration to get to the next level.
I think you’ll really like this one – enjoy!
Facebook groups have had a huge impact on the growth of my business over the years. I’ve been part of some incredible communities that have helped me grow a large network of successful entrepreneurs and led to some close friendships. I’ve used Facebook groups to find clients and grow my agency and received a lot of my business education from webinars and other content in these communities.
But for the last year, I’ve been totally silent in the communities I’ve been a part of for so many years. During that time I've had my head down, quietly putting in the work to take my businesses to the next level.
This time last year I had finished building my team and had just recorded my best month at my Facebook ads agency. I had also just teamed up with Bobby (millennialmoneyman.com) and was working on the course that would eventually lead to the creation of Laptop Empires.
The end result is that my two businesses have combined to break 7-figures this year, with Laptop Empires doing $750k in year one.
Not too bad for a stay-home-dad of two boys under the age of three eh?
So what have a learned over the course of this life-changing year? Glad you asked, let me tell you…
1. Stop Consuming Content & Get To Work
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve spent a lot of time in communities for entrepreneurs and learned quite a bit. For the longest time, I studied webinars, courses, and other content as intensely as anything I did at law school. I learned a lot about a lot of things, which have helped me become a successful entrepreneur.
But at some point, you have to stop consuming and start creating. That's where most people screw up. They don't get started, or they screw around and take too long to implement.
One of the best things I did this year was decide that I know enough, and go create. Courses, funnels, content, the works. I just started doing things and whenever I hit a snag, I researched a solution or called in a friend to help me.
The best way to learn something is to do it and overcome obstacles as they come.
2. Speed Of Implementation Trumps All
This is something I learned from Dan Meredith of Coffee with Dan – when you have an idea, just go do it. Put it out into the world and see what happens. It's not always going to work, but you'll find out more quickly, and save a lot of time.
If something doesn't work, you won't have wasted time trying to perfect it. If it does work, now you know and you can go into to optimize it and take it to the next level.
Here's an example. Earlier this year Bobby and I created a mini-course about Facebook ads that was about 6 videos long, and a combination of videos we already had and new content packaged together for $97. It was a hit! So much so, that we spent time expanding it into a full-blown course that now sells for $397 with a $47/month membership, a $37 order bump that 50% of our customers buy, and a $147 upsell that 20% of our customers buy.
We turned around and held an affiliate sale this weekend on a whim and made $5k. There was little work involved on our part, because we already had the sales pages and everything created. We just emailed our students an affiliate link and an exclusive discount code and let them promote it to their audiences.
They made money, and we made money, but that's money we never would have made if we hadn't created just created a mini-course on a whim.
3. Having A Business Partner Makes Life 1000x Better IF You Choose The Right One**
(**Major asterisks on this one, because I think a business partner is a horrible idea in most situations. Read on to see what I mean.)
November last year I reconnected with a blogger that I went to high school with and we joined forces to create our signature course. After working together for 5 weeks to create the product and then doing over $100k in sales the weekend we launched the course, we decided to become partners.
That's been one of the best decisions I've made in my life for a couple of reasons.
First off, we have made a lot of money together in year one and have laid the foundation to really blow up next year.
More importantly, having a partner has helped me overcome a lot of issues that I didn't realize I was struggling with as a solopreneur.
The biggest one being….not depression, because I was never clinically diagnosed or anything…but let's just say that I was in a dark place the end of last year even though I had a multiple 6-figure marketing agency, a solid team, and a wonderful family life.
The fact is that working by yourself at home, without the daily human interaction that comes with a regular job, can be really freaking difficult. I had started to get really down regularly, I developed a temper I never had previously, and just wasn't a fun person to be around.
Having someone to talk to every day, bounce ideas off of, and just laugh and have a good time with was major for me. The interesting thing is that Bobby was dealing with the same issues before we connected. I think it’s pretty common with online business owners, and it’s one of the reasons having a business partner has been such a quality of life improvement.
Then of course, you can get so much more done when it's more than just you. You can be more successful by leveraging each other's strengths and even covering each other's weaknesses.
But there are some things you need to think long and hard about before taking on a partner. The fact is, I got really damn lucky. Here are some things I've learned about having a partner:
– It helps if you both have similar life situations. We are the same age and are both married. Similar lifestyles, even if I have kids and Bobby doesn't.
– It helps if you are both independently successful and are on the same level. Both of us have our own businesses that continued to operate and make money all year. We both earn more than enough from those businesses and also earn about the same.
– You have complimentary personalities and strengths. It helps that Bobby and I have become close friends. (Although if we had been close friends prior to our partnership I'm not convinced this would have worked as well) Also, the things I like doing and he likes doing are usually different, which makes the division of labor easy. Finally, we have different strengths which not only strengthens our business but also means we don't ever fight over who is doing what. If something is in his realm, I defer to his expertise and vice versa.
– You both need to have the same work ethic. I will outwork anyone. It's compulsive, I can't stop. I'm addicted to this business thing and never turn off. My mind is always going even when I'm unplugged. Bobby is the same way and that's important. I've seen a lot of partnerships crash and burn this year because one person worked harder than the other.
– But….you can't keep score. We both work hard, but sometimes I do more and sometimes he does more. It doesn't matter and trying to perfectly balance that is a recipe for disaster.
Last note I want to make is this…
Being an entrepreneur is hard. Like really hard.
If you're in a dark place, please talk to someone. Talk to me if you don’t have someone. Find a small group of people that are about where you are with your business and stay in regular contact. Hop on live calls together and talk via voice messages on messenger. It will help you stay motivated and be a happier person.
4. Hire People That Kick Ass At What They Do
I'm going to shout out two people right now because they have both had a major impact on my business this year.
The first one is Tega Diegbe who has helped me with more projects than I can count this year from helping me find VAs to getting my podcast off the ground (50 episodes running!) to holding the fort at my agency so I could go on vacation stress-free. He’s also just been there to help me talk through things this year, which is invaluable.
The other is Chris Orzechowski who Bobby and I have hired for every single copywriting project we've done this year. The dude is one of the best out there right now. I don't want to call him an up-and-comer because the dude has already made it and is going to be a NAME in the industry before too long.
Chris has done all of our sales pages, email sequences, launch emails, the works and is one of the biggest reasons that Laptop Empires has done $750k in year one. Here's the funny part. I met Chris when I claimed a free 30-minute copywriting consultation he was offering years ago when we were both getting started, and now he's one of my closest friends in this crazy online world.
If you really want to take your business to the next level, then start hiring people that are really good at what they do to do that thing for your business.
Not only will you see a huge ROI on your investment, but you will free up so much time to double down on the things you kick ass at.
Which leads me to…
5. If You Want Your Business To Grow, Then You Need Systems
Do you want to grow? Do you want that paper? Then you need to create some systems and get things off your plate.
There is almost nothing in your business that can't be systemized and delegated.
Read that again.
Want to challenge me on it? I'll fight you.
Outside of those few things that you are truly special at, everything can be delegated.
You just have to realize that being perfect or doing it yourself isn't necessary. Someone doing what you do at 80% is better in most cases than you doing it at 100%.
So document everything you do and train someone else.
And before you think you can't do it, just remember that I used to be in your shoes. I'm a Type A, lawyer, perfectionist that thinks I can do everything better than anyone else.
But I learned to get over it and now I have a team of 15 killers that crush it every day in my businesses and I can actually take time off whenever I want without the business suffering.
Here is a simple system for systemizing and delegating things:
– Next time you do a task, record yourself doing it using useloom.com and explain each step as you go.
– Give that video to your VA or whoever and have them watch the video and turn it into a written checklist.
– Review the checklist and answer that person's questions. Make any edits necessary and finalize the checklist.
– Next time that task happens, have your VA do it with the video and checklist.
That's the system. Don't waste your time trying to create a pristine and laminated operating manual before you get a VA. Hire the help and have them do it.
Not doing this earlier set my business growth back by 6 months easy. Don't make that mistake.
6. Start Building An Audience Like Yesterday
I'll keep this one short because it's pretty self-explanatory.
The bigger your audience, the more sales you will make. So start building one now. I personally waited too long and wish I had started sooner.
Bobby’s audience has been a HUGE factor in our growth this year, and that can’t be understated. It’s easier to sell when you have an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you, and it gets easier the bigger your audience is.
Start now. But make it easy on yourself. Choose one content platform and one social media platform and crush it on them.
For example, a Blog and Twitter. Or Youtube Channel and Instagram.
You need one content platform that can generate traffic for you starting out. Don't mess around trying to be everywhere until you are seeing traction in one place.
Being everywhere is powerful, but you will see results faster if you master one thing first and then go be everywhere.
7. Facebook Ads Aren't Dead & Retargeting Is A Cheat Code
When we launched the Facebook Side Hustle course in January, it didn't even occur to me to run Facebook ads to promote the sale until the last day. I don't know how this oversight happened, maybe it was the exhaustion of going from idea to launch in under 5 weeks.
Anyway, all we did in that first launch was run a few simple ads retargeting sales page visitors.
The result? $18 spent and nearly $20k in sales
We literally could not spend enough money in the few hours the ads were running. Believe me, we tried.
We've repeated these crazy ROIs for every launch we've done since, including the launches we have managed for other business owners.
Don't sleep on Facebook ads, especially the power of retargeting when selling your products.
I could go on and on all day, and make this a 5,000-word article without too much effort. There were just so many things that happened this year. So many lessons that I learned. But the seven lessons above are the big ones, and I would rather you focus on a few things that give you a dozen more to think about.
Hopefully, this scattershot look at some of the big lessons I learned this year will help y'all out. I'll be sure to spend more time in here and give back to this community in 2019, so don't hesitate to tag me if you need anything.
Take some time to relax this holiday. Later.