#BYOB EPISODE 001 - ANDREW FORD'S STORY INTERVIEWED BY BELINDA COOMES

BYOB Andrew Ford, Social Star

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For those who prefer to read, here is the transcript...

[0:01:53] ANDREW:  Today we're going to do something a little bit different.  I've got Belinda Coomes my esteemed podcast engineer and fabulous person who is actually going to interview me, so this is going to be the first episode we want to record and it's just so the listeners out there can be understanding of my background and why I do what I do a Social Star, and how we want to run these interviews in the future to really unpack people's business journey and to see, you know, what tips and tricks we can uncover that can help you in your journey. So Belinda...

 

[0:02:27] BELINDA: Yes...thank you...

 

[0:02:28] ANDREW: Welcome to your show now...

 

[0:02:31] BELINDA: Yeah, no I thought it would be a great idea to get to the core of you and to have somebody interview you so that we can we can really understand your journey and how you've got to where you've got some rather than just you talking yourself. I think it's good to get someone else to get in there and pry open some things.

 

[0:02:49] ANDREW: Absolutely, it’s interesting because I’ve been on lot’s of other people's podcasts and often they’re fairly business-y so we talk about personal branding and I give lots of advice on digital marketing from my background but it's not often that we go into the real experience of entrepreneurship which we’ve touched on it in a couple of my other podcasts but that’s something that I think is really important and before the show we were talking about that, that is how important is the personal journey, because business is relatively mechanical, you know you sell sell stuff you make you keep your customers happy, but it's all the stuff in between your ears that causes all the problems,

 

[0:03:28] BELINDA: That’s right, your the problem...

 

[0:03:29] ANDREW:  You're the problem, and you're also the solution

 

[0:03:32] BELINDA: That’s right...oh good...

 

[0:03:33] ANDREW:  And so I'm looking forward to you asking me some pointed questions and not letting me off the hook, so let’s dive into it.

 

[0:03:39] BELINDA: I’m looking forward to picking your brain.  Well firstly just to get an idea of your current business and what your products are, tell us a little bit about Social Star.

 

[0:03:49] ANDREW: Yeah sure. So Social Star is a personal branding agency I started it part time for a couple of years while I was working in corporate marketing, and then decided to take it full time when I basically told my boss to get stuffed and suddenly was out of a job, and for 4 years now I’ve been running it with my small team and it’s been growing ever since.  We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs but we’ve, it’s been a very rewarding journey.  What we do essentially is help business leaders to increase their digital profile in order to attract new opportunities but also to scoop up all those referrals that they should be getting if they are good at what they do.  So the people we like to work with are people who are already good at what they do, they’ve already got a mountain of knowledge, they’ve been around in business for a while, but they probably just don’t have the digital presence that they should.  So people don’t know what their expertise is or even if the client knows it they haven’t been able to clearly articulate it so that the people who are reading their profile will go oh I get exactly what you do.  And it’s just because they are busy doing their business and they just haven’t, you know, all the time I see that they might have a little bit on LinkedIn but you know facebook’s a mess and twitter’s expired and on the web site the bio doesn’t match and there’s all these issues, and really what it does is is fractures their brand just like if Apple in America decide to come out to Australia and call them self oranges and then, you know, in Canada it’s called bananas and suddenly we don’t know what we’re talking about.  So really it’s about cleaning up your online profile but really what I like to do is to dig a bit deeper into people and to figure out really what do they want to do, what is the things that will resonate most with them, what is the things that they always dreamed about and how do we get more of that juice into their business so that they get the fulfillment because money’s great and I teach people how to make money through sales, you know, we have a great program for that but unless you're getting sales and unless you're doing delivery unless you're really heading your business in the direction that you want it to be in, that’s fulfilling at a deep level, it’s often pointless.  So we go a bit deeper than the average agency.   

 

[0:05:54] BELINDA: So can you tell us a little bit about the journey to get to this point to start your own business, what were you doing before and a bit about your corporate life.

 

[0:06:01] ANDREW: Sure, well I was born in 1970, let’s just call it 1970 something, and ahh...yeah so...look I grew up in Melbourne and, you know, did the normal schooling things, I’ve got this presentation that I give where I talk about the, sort of the, different parts of my life, so before corporate is relevant. So my Mum's a bit of a hippie, you know, if she was on Brunswick street today everyone would think she was the coolest Mum in the world, she’s a Yoga teacher, she was Vegan for a long time, we made our own food at home, growing vegetables and so forth, so you know we grew up in this quite personal development rich, very freedom hippy household.  Which all looks beautiful and wonderful from the outside but it also meant there was...well the balance of that was there wasn’t any structure or you know, people doing homework or you know...

 

[0:06:48] BELINDA: Only do it if you feel like doing homework...

 

[0:06:49] ANDREW: Yeah, you know, there wasn’t necessarily any clothes to wear in the morning or you know, those little things that you know...

 

[0:06:55] BELINDA: Minor details….

 

[0:06:56] ANDREW: The details yeah, she wasn’t detail oriented.  But because I did all of that personal development, you know, I had this quite different outlook that other kids when I was young, and then I kept all that until I was about...in my 20’s and then I just kind of rejected it all...I don’t want to be this little buddha as people used to call me, because when I grew up I had quite chubby cheeks, and women used to grab my cheeks.  And I thought oh Mum I just want to eat white bread and you know go after money and you know go to nightclubs and get drunk and chase womens and so I did that for a bunch of time, ended up getting married and just followed the corporate route, and not that it was a bad thing it was just the opposite balance, it was the counted point, you know, this happens in the world all the time, you know, people go from extremely unhealthy to extremely healthy, or from no education to extremely educated, we have these flips in our lives, so I had a flip from being kind of spiritual and holistic to being materialistic and single minded and that was good, it was very productive I did a bunch of degrees I did a bachelor of Marketing I did a started an MBA and transferred that in a Masters Entrepreneurship, I did a whole bunch of corporate work which was great, travelled the world, made a bunch of money and you know, bought property, did all those sorts of things.  But then I realised that I wasn’t very happy, which is where most people get to at a certain point in your life, you know they’re called the mid life crisis for a reason right, and we all deserve to have one of them, unfortunately I didn’t get a nice porsche or a mustang out of it, I only got a divorce and some bills to pay.  But  I went through that process and it was very cathartic and just realised that materialism it just isn't what satisfies me.  Just doesn’t turn me on, just doesn't light me up, and went back to basics and realised that I didn’t want to be a hippy and I didn't want to be a corporate junky either I wanted something in the middle.  So actually that's what I feel like I bring, I bring an element of spirituality, personal development, you know, Simon Sinek find your why type to my business, but also practical digital marketing, corporate branding methodology in degrees, in order to have that balance. So I can figure out, you know, I can help people figure out what they want to do and I can actually help them build it.  So, you know, I think that balance is, well it’s what’s probably fulfilled me in my life now, but it’s also what helps my clients and why we're different to most.  

 

[0:09:21] BELINDA: So can you describe what life was like in your previous corporate roles before starting your business?

 

[0:09:26] ANDREW: Yeah sure, so I was quite fortunate in that, you know, I’ve had a very I would say, successful corporate career in that I went from my family business, tiny business, 14 people, selling office products, and then my first job out of that I saw a, I remember it clearly, I decided that I needed a break, career break, so I went of skiing for year, or a season in Canada, came back and decided that that was it I needed to leave the family business, that they were never going to hand it over to me and I needed to spread my wings, and just saw a tiny ad in the newspaper, I was sitting in Carlton gardens, I remember it well, and there was this tiny little add saying, you know, sales person required, and I thought...didn’t even know the company, went along to the agency, ended up being at Hewlett Packard, got the job within 2 weeks and I was sitting in a 2,000 person office, you know, my boss was in Sydney and my life was about to change, I’d never used email before then.  I didn’t tell them that and just found my self, the practicalness of my upbringing in small business really aided in my getting stuff done.  So you know I was known in the corporate world for producing results, working hard, not afraid to do the hard yards and the dirty work in order to achieve the result.  And I was quite determined and disciplined.  And so I went, 8 years at Hewlett Packard, I went from selling office products into being an Asia Pacific manager running, training, marketing training for all of Asia.  And then decided to stop travelling so much, had a young family, went to work at Sensis, a part of Telstra, again applied for the add, they already had people shortlisted.  I went right in with in a week I had the job so I was quite fortunate, and it’s interesting to me and this is what I tell my clients is that it’s not just random facts, you know, I was ready for my next step in my career, when I saw this little add it jumped out of this newspaper, the old Age, the big spread, out of the other adds, it's’ kind of meant to be, I felt like it was meant to be when I went through the interviews, it was easy, I just felt like I was going to get the job.  It just all happened smoothly.  And the jobs were great, I  had some jobs I didn't like but I quickly moved, but most of the time it was great.  And the same thing when I moved to Sensis it just seemed like the right time, it felt like the right role, I went in there, you know, it was a great working environment, I really enjoyed the team, had a really successful career for 5 years, we did every digital, new digital thing under the sun coz it was the, we were flipping Sensis from Yellow pages to digital, and so we just got all this money to experiment with cool digital stuff.  We had our own agency internal, to represent NRL, AFL and Telstra websites, we were selling page take overs and things, we were doing mobile phone marketing before anybody else.  We did cool stuff, we ran parties to try and get to GenX, we just had an awesome time, and it was at that time that LinkedIn and Facebook just started.  So we were doing campaigns in MySpace days, that's how early adopters we were, and so I got on LinkedIn 10 years ago, Twitter 10 years ago and build up a big following, 100,000 followers on Twitter and built my expertise in digital.  Now you’ve got to remember that back then there was only Marketing managers, there was no digital marketing managers, there was no digital.  Web sites were fairly new, they were commonplace but people were still doubting it and they were like what is this social media thing it’s a fad, it will go away, and we really gravitated and jumped on it and because of that I kind of got known as being this digital guy, I was the digital guy, in fact before I left to go to IBM they were going to make me the first digital marketing manager that I’d ever heard of at Telstra, that was part of the opportunity there but I’d sort of done my time and I wanted to have a change, but the thing is because I’d built my brand and around a niche that was in demand at the time, people sort me out so IBM kept...was chasing me for years and I finally decided that, you know, I;d done my time at Sensis, wanted to move, and interestingly enough that’s because my boss moved and it’s funny when your team changes it really impacts how things change, we had a reorg and I was like oh it’s not quite as fun anymore and I’m ready to go, so anyway I went over to IBM and that was interesting, I’ll tell this story, it’s a bit personal but it’s kind of one of these things that happen and I don’t tell it often.  So the reason I went to IBM is one of my friends from Hewlett Packard days was there, a manager doing really well, on the escalation path to high management, and she’d just taken over a whole division, she was only young, but she was awesome, Charlette her name was, anyway so she kept trying to poach me and one day I’m having a wine on her couch and she’s like come on, it’s time to come over to join the dark side, and I’m like alright, what’s your offer and so we...I said she had to pay me lots of money so I got this nice offer, I’m like ok, so I left and I went over to IBM, now when we had that wine she had a cold, so she had the flu and so then when we were doing all the paperwork she was in bed and so someone else helped me to do the forms, by the time I got there she was actually in hospital and she was sick and by the time I was in my first week she actually passed away.  She had cancer, and so she wasn’t there, no one knew what I was supposed to be doing there and I had 16 bosses in the first 6 months, I kid you not, 16 bosses and...but I still managed to run my area and be quite productive but it was this amazing funk of wow, you know, you’ve gone to this place, my friend is not there anymore, she’s passed away, you know all the people around her were impacted and it’s just amazing how those sort of experiences just change everything for you...

 

[0:15:18] BELINDA: So was that really the catalyst of you questioning your meaning in the corporate world?

 

[0:15:25] ANDREW: It was, it was one of the things that made me think it could happen any time, she was younger than me, she was 5 years younger than me, and vivacious wonderful woman and gone.  I drive past her house all the time and still can’t believe it, in fact I see people in the street and think it’s her and then I remember that she’s not there it’s really quite scary, and so I spent another 6 months at IBM after all those bosses and I just was like, you know, it just felt tainted to me and another company came and approached me and again I was like, no I just got to IBM I’ve only been here a year it’s going to look bad on the resume you know, I was doing well.  I was doing well enough for people to want to promote me to an Asia Pacific manager and again, fly around Asia teaching about digital marketing, and then I had another half of the company want to fire me because I didn’t have that person who hired me to back me up because I was changing things, because I was brought in to make change, that’s what I do.  So I lasted a year and then I went over to a company called Interactive, which was an Australian IT company, and it was really interesting because I was like the flavour of the month for 6 months, they were struggling to move forward in their digital like IBM, and that’s why they poached me because they saw all the cool stuff I was doing over there, so I just started doing stuff, I was building things and you know, they didn't have a facebook page so I put it up in 2 days, I just did it, and that was great until the CEO kind of decided he wanted to have a bit more control over what I was doing. The company was amazingly successful, it had 20 years of solid growth and then the 2nd quarter I was there they made their first loss ever, then the next quarter was a loss again and it was like, they had some challenges. Consequently they couldn’t afford to keep me so I had to leave there after an argument with the boss but during this time, for 18 months I was running Social Star.  I mean I did 15 years of business school while I was working and then I was teaching at University while I was working so running a consulting practice was just par for course.

 

[0:17:20] BELINDA: So it sounds like there’s a few things going on, it sounds like you started learning the skills that you needed Social Star in the roles that you had in the corporate world and so you had the confidence to then go on with Social Star.

 

[0:17:35] ANDREW: I’ve always been quite a confident guy, in terms of I back myself and I think it’s because we I was a kid I didn’t have a Dad and my Mum wasn’t around so I basically raised myself and became resilient and independent, which is obviously a good thing but it can also be a bad thing because you don’t rely on people and you don’t trust, so I always knew that if I threw myself into something I’d be ok.  I’d be able to do it so I would throw myself into studying, doing sports, doing business or whatever, new jobs, and I knew that I was good with people, I could form a team around me and people would like me and I would be able to, you know, I thought I was smart enough at that time to figure it out, and sometimes it didn’t work and I had to, but I was always able to transition out of that coz it was the wrong spot, the wrong time or what ever, but I’d already run my business for 18 months which gave me the confidence that there was demand, we generated $80 thousand in revenue in the 18 months, part-time, so I knew that I could sell this stuff.  I’d already had someone offer to buy the company before I even went full-time, so I;m like this stuffs hot and it was at the time, I mean, at the time personal branding was new, no one was doing it, so it was kind of the flavour of the month.  So I had confidence jumping out but the thing is going from a very high 200 income, dropping down to zero is quite a change...

 

[0:18:58] BELINDA: So how did you prepare for that financially?

 

[0:19:01] ANDREW: I didn’t prepare for that, that was the problem.  I had a fight with my boss and I was out and the next day I said I’m starting my business.

 

[0:19:02] BELINDA: Did you have savings aside or where did the confidence come from or, I suppose the question I’m eluding to is how did you know that everything was going to be ok?

 

[0:19:16] ANDREW: It’s an interesting question, I didn’t to be honest, I kind of felt like this is my chance to give it a go and let me give you some more context I guess, so when I was at Interactive I’d been separated, divorced for about a year, so we had the GFC we had to have which impacted me a lot because I had a lot of investments and then I got divorced, and during that process I was working on this high income and I’m quite a generous person so I said to the mother of my children here have all the money, I don’t need it I’ve got this job with all this income, and then I didn’t have my job and my income and I’m like, that was probably not the right decision at the time so I actually didn’t have anything.  I was as broke and broke could be, I was living hand to mouth like you wouldn’t believe and I don’t...it’s only probably now that my business is now a bit more successful that I can talk about it but it was tough, I mean every second day I wanted to quit and get a second job but I just had this absolute certainty, just like all those jobs I transitioned I just knew, I was in the middle of arguing with my boss when, you know, he was firing my and I was quitting at the same time and in my mind is oh here’s an opportunity to start my business and by the time I got to the car park the first person I ran was my ex-wife and said, this has happened, I’m going to start my business, she was actually amazingly supporting and it’s amazing your friends, you know I went out and told people what I was doing and friend Andrew McKinnon let me his office and had a couple interns that were working for me, Sasha and John,, and they came and helped and then I reached out to Dent because I was helping them with their business, getting people into their courses and I believe in what they did and I reached out to them and I did a promotion and that kickstarted….so you know, I kind of had been giving for years and now it was time for people to reward me by giving back.  

 

[0:21:06] BELINDA: So it sounded like you had a lot of support around you, family and friends and other co-workers were really supportive of this idea and encouraging you to do it, because I think that's a big part of making sure that you have support around you, for when times get tough yourself that other people help you keep going.

 

[0:21:25] ANDREW: It’s 100% true, because I felt certain that it was the right thing, it didn’t mean that I didn’t have hard times, but I just felt certain that I could get through those hard times, and the cycle of wanting to quit just gets less, doesn’t mean it’s still not there, it means that it’s just less often and that we’re more stable and more reliable and all for the last sort of 4 years, we’ve just sort of built systems and processes and products and digital stuff and built our business so that it’s more robust, and that’s what the process of entrepreneurship is, we’re not a build an App in 6 weeks and suddenly we’re making a billion dollars like Instagram but virtually no one is, most businesses are built over 5 to 10 years to realise any significant value and it’s a long game.  So I plan to be running this business for years to generate the full value because I’ve got big ambitious goals for it, and so the team around me, I guess the people around me, gave me the support where required, in the times I felt like giving up they were there, but it’s a dangerous thing to rely too much on those people and I say that like a boxer, so I’ve done martial arts and I’ve fought in the ring and those sorts of things, and when you’re fighting, you’ve had your support group and they’ve helped you train and they’ve helped you prepare but you're the only one getting the punches, you’re the one who’s going to make it happen or not, and I think entrepreneurs need to realise that even if you're in a support group and you’ve got great team and staff, it’s ultimately up to you, and you have to find a way.  The only way it’s going to be successful is if you dig deep, and the challenge builds the resolve and the challenge is not bad it's good.  You need the challenge of self doubt, of customers losing deals, people stealing your money, whatever happens in your business, because that is the pivot point to make your business stronger, and a lot of people fail or quit at those times, but that’s the signal that will get to the next level and I’ll give you an example because it’s very relevant, it’s something I’ve been talking to a few friends about recently.  Swisse vitamins.  So interesting story, Helen who married Radek who’s the CEO of Swisse who just recently sold the business for 1.4 billion dollars, and Devina who worked in my...Helen and Devina both worked in my team at Sensis and so they went across and worked at Swisse.  So Swisse sold for 1.4 billion and everyone's is like oh that’s amazing, that’s a fairy tale but what people don’t know if they don’t follow business is that that company grew steadily for years and years and years and Radek was a great boss, really looked after his people, really looked after the people who sponsored him so the sporting people and celebrities who were on his ads, but they went and had a venture into America and it failed miserably, the company was struggling financially in a mountain of debt that had done this big growth thing and it just fell through the floor.  He could have given up then, he could have gone oh it’s not working, I’ll close the business down, I’ll sell it for what it’s worth and get out, I’ll still be quite wealthy.  But he didn’t do that he looked for the signals and looked for the signs and a sales person at a meeting, analysing figures, and they realised that they were selling 4 times as much vitamins through these certain stores.  Why? And it was in the asian parts of Melbourne, and they investigated and figures out they are all shipping back to China.  So they figured out there is all this demand and they started forming connections and consequently a year later they’re selling their company to a Chinese company, even though they’d just had this massive failure, they then bounced back and had a massive success and that the story of entrepreneurship.  Steve Jobs got kicked out of his own company, he probably cried for a while but he bounced back, came back in, humbled himself, learnt, because he was a shit manager before, improved himself and went back to form success.  But that’s the story, you’ve got to take those knocks, those punches and not just sit down and go oh well that was  a bit too hard but get back, learn from it, oh ok he’s got a good left hook I’ll avoid that, and then get back in the game, and that’s what I think the personal journey for entrepreneurship is because where you want to have your personal development in your business or in your relationship, you’re going to have it somewhere.  You’re going to have some where in your life challenging you to grow coz that’s the point of existence is growth and so if you run your own business it’s like a personal development course because it’s going to push every button you’ve got.  Your money button, your people button, your trust button, your I’m not good enough button, all of those things are going to be exposed and it’s an opportunity to grow and make yourself a better person.  

 

[0:25:53] BELINDA: So how do you work on mindset, cos it sounds like there’s a few things you're talking about which is mindset and having grit and sticking it out, so how do you work on those things, which is personal development but how do you work on that it you are someone that can be a big negative and see where things can go wrong rather than the positive or maybe it does look hard but you really want to make this business work but yes it look like it's a big hill to climb, how do you work on that?

 

[0:26:21] ANDREW: You need strategies and it’s not just mindset, you need practical application, so whenever someone’s feeling disheartened my strategy is take some action, ring a customer, do some work, not for you, for a customer.  I always feel that if I'm like oh it’s all too hard and I have a client meeting and generally I;m solving their problems, so I ;m helping someone other than myself, and they get a great result I’m lifted up again.  Because the business isn’t about me, the business it about helping others, that’s why more people are in business.  I love transforming people’s little businesses or getting them out of jobs they hate, into careers they love, or helping them break through their sales barriers because it’s their life, this is their dream, this is not just business to make money, no one comes to me just to make money, everybody comes to me because they want to have a more fulfilling business and life through their business and that’s probably my small business background, my family business, my grandparents started it, my uncle run it, the whole family...everyone worked in it, everybody, it was just the fabric of our family was ingrained in the fabric of the business, we talked about it, it sustained us, it put me through private school when my Mum was dirt poor, we had a beach house you know, we’ve lost that, we think we just go to work and we hate 8 hours a day and then we come back and have our life and I go it’s not like that, business is just life, it’s like eating it’s just...it’s not separate it’s the same.  I’m at pains to bring my kids to see me present, so that they see what Dad does. They know my company, they know what we do, I’ve got a 7 and a 12 year old, they come to meetings with customers, they hear me on the phone and coz I’m trying to teach them that business is not something that Dad goes to that they don’t understand and then comes back and then he’s Dad.  That’s why I’ve got the tagline of my book is it’s not business it’s personal, coz it is, it is personal to me, my customers are my friends, my business is my life and my sustenance and I want my children to be involved in it, I want my friends to be involved in it and it’s my community, it’s where I spend my time so it has to be with people I like otherwise it’s not going to be fulfilling.

 

[0:28:36] BELINDA: Has it had a cost on your personal relationships, running a business? A lot of people...you have to work hard and a lot of people are prepared to work hard and so the work isn’t the problem but what they find is they maybe don’t put as much time and effort into other aspects of their life, like their personal relationships.  What cost has it had on your personal relationships?

 

[0:29:00] ANDREW: Well it's...I don’t think it’s a cost, I think it’s a choice.  It’s a focus, so think about this, so let’s imagine that you're going to the Olympics, I don’t mean the next Olympics say in the next 2 years, and you're going into a cycling event.  Now, right now you would be training pretty hard but you’d have time for your relationships and time for other things but as you inch closer to that date everything else is going to fall away and you're going to focus solely on that goal because there’s an end point and at that point having those extra dinners out with friends or whatever is going to tell, and if you stand up and you’ve won the gold medal, then it’s it’s all seemed worth while.  Now, business is kind of like that you know we don’t feel like we have this end point but I do I’ve got there goals that I want to make, and they’re omnipresent for me they’re what I wake up thinking about and what I go to bed thinking about and the reason is...and I shared something personal with you just recently and I’ll share it for the audience which was my son was just in hospital, he’s only 7, and it made me think if I had to spend a month taking care of him the business can’t sustain without me, and that’s just not acceptable.  I can’t then choose to not look after my son and come to work and I can’t have no money, so my business needs to be a robust fully functioning without any critical parts that if you miss then things don’t happen.  So I’ve got full determination to get my business to that stage, which takes time to build, more than anything else, because it supports my family and my children and that’s the number one. So you ask about personal relationships yes so my personal relationships has taken backseat to my business and my kids and I'm very upfront and transparent with people about that and I don’t feel bad about it at all, it’s just a choice and I know that once my business is at a larger and greater scale and it more independant, I;ll refocus my priorities again back to a bit of balance, but I'm going for the gold medal and so there is no prize for second best, if my business doesn’t make it, it’s binary.  If it fails then it’s all for naught, so I can’t let that happen.  You see the entrepreneurs, not to compare myself to them I’m a small business owner but you look at the Elon Musks and so forth and they’ve still got families and so forth but yeah they have to sacrifice and they have to prioritise their business at times in order to make it happen and I think that, to be honest, a lot of small business owners out there that are not doing particularly well, it's because they haven’t prioritized and haven't put in the hours or the choices because it doesn’t happen by itself, and I'm not talking about a, you know, if I was just running a standard small business like an accounting practice and so forth, that is a routine business where you go and you have your clients and you can have a nice lifestyle, I'm aiming for something biggest, and it’s just choice, because I feel like that’s my inner need, to grow a business that makes a global impact that has lasting change that is unique and revolutionary, and that’s what I want to do, I’m only doing it for a small number of people now but I’d like that to be big, and that would be my legacy if you like, so it’s a bigger than me thing, so do that you need to put in the effort.

 

[0:32:14] BELINDA: So you were talking about that businesses take quite a long time to build systems and to get to the point that you want them to, but how did Social Star look when you first had the idea, and when you first started Social Star, compared to what it is today, the changes that have occurred over that time...

 

[0:32:31] ANDREW: So many changes, Lyn who is my business partner and long term...put up with me….employee….

 

[0:32:38] BELINDA: Still puts up with you!

 

[0:32:39] ANDREW: Still puts up with me.  You know I’m a create a profile, whenever I get into stress or struggle I create new stuff, coz that’s my personality right, so I’ve always got a new angle on the business, I’ve always got a new product, I’ve always got a new system or marketing something that I want to try, which is hard if you're not in the same ….personality, in fact I used to work with another creator and it was great because we just came up with ideas all day but no one executed them right.  So, the business at the very start, we sold ideas, so we were selling knowledge and information, we would just write plans for people, I would assess your brand based on no particular methodology, just my experience, and I would write you new recommendations of what you should do, and that worked quite well, my original business partner, awesome guy, he was more of a technical detail guy and so we would work together, I would work with the client and he’d write the reports and we’d sell those, and we did really well, couple of grand we’d make from each one, we did a whole bunch of celebrities and high profile people and it was awesome, but as the social media market matured we needed more, and I noticed that people would get their reports and not do anything, they wouldn’t execute anything, I’m like bloody hell I still got paid but I didn’t feel good because I want them to get the result, so I started to implement the ideas for them so we started building web sites, we started building social media, taking photo’s for LinkedIn, doing writing of copy , and that was great, and then we could give the advice, and then we could implement the service, and that worked really well for a while, and all along the way we just improving our processors, coming up with formulas, changing our branding, increasing our online presence, we were just continually improving basically everything.  Every year the business is pretty much unrecognisable from the year before, a lot of the time.  But then we realised that customers that had this great digital profile but weren’t using it, they’re not connecting with people on LinkedIn they’re not sharing content, I’m like, oh man they’re not getting the results still.  So then we added this leverage part of the process where we teach them sales, we teach them how to connect, write content, we come up with formulas and methodologies cos I’m a creator and that’s what I do, and we did that and we actually now help people fully outsource it, so we help them understand themselves, their brand, their business, we help them build the online assets, we teach them how to do the sales and we unpack their sales methodology, but then we actually do it for them, we actually sell it for them, so we take them through the whole process and at this stage I’m happy with that formula because I can take someone from not getting where they want to go to achieving where they want to go, through the full journey, and I really love that because I get to see the happy smile and result when someone has a full workshop or they’ve got clients.

 

[0:35:18] BELINDA: So it sounds as those your products and services have grown as you’ve had a lot of contact with your clients and you’ve needed clients to be able to understand what their needs are...

 

[0:35:29] ANDREW: Yes

 

[0:35:30] BELINDA: And then that’s grown from there.

 

[0:35:31] ANDREW: Every good break through we’ve had has been a client idea, pretty much everyone.  The reason I started the business is coz a guy came up to me, Nick Bracks, I was at a party, we were running it when we ran cool parties, and he’s like, when you google my name all this negative stuff came up, he was going through some issues at the time and is there anything you can do about it, I’m like, well yer there is, I know SEO and google and so the production of assets is what you need to do, websites, social media, adding positive content to flush out all the negative stuff onto page 2 where no one cares, so that process took some time but I’m like, oh there might be something in this, did some research, found some articles of people doing it in the US, my secord person was the social media manager for Telstra, started to do some branding work with her, and then I just sort of took off from there, so it was the fact that there was a need and I could fulfill that need and solve the problem.  Business, entrepreneurship is only about solving problems, that is the core of it, if you're not solving a problem, you haven’t got a business, and if people aren't prepared to pay it means their problem is not severe enough.  So your job is to figure out the best way to do that and our evolution is really just been finding better and better and better ways to solve the problem, because it used to be just me and now it's a process and a team who solves those problems, and eventually it will be other teams in other countries solving those problems with our methodology and we’ll just work on the method.  Any good business like say a franchise, let's say Starbucks.  It’s a brand, so you put the sign out the front people rock up because they know what they are going to get, and it’s a method, it’s a process.  That is all, that is it, when a new starbucks opens up in Collins Street, they’ve got no clients, they put a sign out the front, people know what it is so they’ll go and give it a go and the process means that they’ll get a reliable result, and that is all it is.  So the business is not necessarily about me, or I want it to be less about me, it’s about your process and your method.

 

[0:37:30] BELINDA: So you learnt a lot of what your customers needed by having customers, so how did you get your first customers, and also how did you get your customers when you first started compared to how you find customers now?

 

[0:37:43] ANDREW: Good point, so when you first start, I tell all clients this, there’s 3 brands, there’s your personal brand, your business brand, and your product brand, and what that means is you’ve got a Steve Jobs, you’ve got a Apple and then you’ve got an iPhone.  Now, Steve Jobs didn’t start out selling computers branded in any particular way.  He went into a computer store and he negotiated himself with a store owner to say would you like to buy some computers.  So it was a personal negotiation and he then went back to his garage and built them himself, with his team so at the very start it’s all about you and so the only thing that really matters is your personal credibility and your online brand is the way that you demonstrate personal credibility so people can check you out.  So you need a really great LinkedIn profile and a personal website to start with.  Once you start to have clients, and I’ll talk about how I get my clients, start to have clients then you can have a business brand because the business is a process and a system and it’s the credibility that that company has by dealing with multiple people.  So I say when you’ve had between 50 and 100 clients you business is now worth something and it means something because then those clients have had good or bad service, you’ve got terms and conditions, you’ve got an environment there's all those different things, it’s got a culture, and it’s not until you have  a great business that you can have products that can mean anything individually, separately, so that the process of entrepreneurship.  Build your personal brand then your business, then your product.  Call it year 1, year 2, year 3.  So in year 1 essentially the only thing that matters is you, you can pitch and sell something, you don’t have to have anything, I’d my first client and I didn't have anything, no brand, didn’t even have a name, had nothing, but what I did is, I had a curiousity to find out what people’s problems were and then I looked at my skillset and said can I solve those problems, and generally help them, because if you can’t generally help them you will have 1 client and you won’t ever get another one, so you’ve gotta want to know what their problems is, not just what you want to sell.  So don’t come up with a product and try and sell it, go and ask the people you like to work with what their problems are and start to develop it from there.  You will know your skill set, you will know what you can do, but it doesn’t mean anything until you can sell it.  You can talk to people and they might say that’s a great idea, that’s amazing idea, but if they’re not putting down any money to get you do to it, and if they don’t get the result once you do it, your not a business, it’s just an idea.  So go out and sell it first.  That’s what I say.

 

[0:40:08] BELINDA: Originally, when you first started your business, how you found clients compared to how find clients now because I’d imagine that process is different.

 

[0:40:16] ANDREW: It is, so, I forgot to mention that bit, so at the start really it’s your network, so what I first started they had challenges in digital, they knew I was a digital person, I would go and solve those problems and I thought geez, instead of doing it for free I might as well charge, so I started charging for it, and then reputation got around and I got referrals from my friends and colleagues and people in my inner circle.  Most people's inner circles is about 200 people, so that the limit of your target market, so it runs out pretty quick and they you have to go and get people you don’t know, and as your business grows it moves from personal relationships to marketing and selling.  So what we did was we built my brand first, as I said, through LinkedIn, I have a personal website, and I started blogging, and that then attracted a whole bunch of new people so friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, and the market starts to expand.  What we do now is we do a whole variety of different things so we’ve partnered with Dent to leverage their database with our database and help their clients with our material, so partnerships are really key, wrote a book, we distribute the book to different people, I do interviews, I do a lot of public speaking, all of those things just gets me in front of more people, and get’s us more clients.  We have a really robust digital setup with HubSpot so that we know what’s happening with out clients, so these are all assets that you will assemble over time as you move away from you being the centre of the universe to your business being able to operate without you.  Which is, we’re in that transition phase now.

 

[0:41:39] BELINDA: When you were starting your business what was some of the pain points that you had, what were some problems when you were building your business early?

 

[0:41:47] ANDREW: So one thing about problems or business challenges is they never ever ever go away, ever, they are just a different set of problems.  So Dan Priestley told me that, I was talking to him the other day and he’s like Elon Musk has problems, he’s not yet got his rocket to Mars, that’s his problem and you know he’s building Gigafactories and he’s negotiating with Government, they’re just different problems, he’s still got problems, he’s probably got financial problems...

 

[0:42:10] BELINDA: Do you find a lot of businesses that are starting, or people that are trying to build their business come across the same types of problems?

 

[0:42:17] ANDREW: 100% the problems in entrepreneurship are exactly the same and can be predicted and solved.  It’s a formula and it’s a method, and it’s not a secret, it’s just that a lot of people who try and sell you the answer don’t know really the answer, they haven’t really put the work in to know what it is.  They just think they know the answer.  I know about personal branding and I understand business quite well, I’ve got the academic credentials, I’ve got the experiences to solve those problems for a particular set of people, but I can’t solve it for everybody because I haven't been down that path.  So for professionals, so for mature professionals wanting to start a business or have  a business they want to grow, I’m the guy, I’m very good at that and I’m very confident.  But I can’t solve problems for bigger clients, so what I do is I get them into the Key Person of Influence program with Dent who has the mentors and who has done the research with the people who work in bigger companies to know exactly what the formula is and how to solve those problems.  And the funny thing is it's the same problems, it’s just a different scale.  So for instance, cash flow is always a problem, sometime you have lots of cash and sometime you don't’ but as soon as you get lots of cash you want to re-invest it into something like growth, oh let’s expand to Sydney because we’re doing really well, fantastic.  Now I just have a different problem, now Sydney isn’t making any money, it’s drawing on the Melbourne cash flow and suddenly I’m back to where I started.  But as soon as I get Sydney rocking I’m going to go to Brisbane, you know what I mean.  So we always have the same problems, just different scale.  But I’d rather have a multi million dollar cash flow challenge than a 5 thousand dollar cash flow challenge you know what I mean, because there’s so much more enjoyment at the high levels, there’s so much more freedom at the high levels.  There’s always time pressure but you have choice, a lack of resources is probably the biggest challenge at the start, and that’s why you have to have resourcefulness.  The resource is you.  Probably the biggest failure point I see in start ups or very very small businesses, they spend too much time on marketing and not enough time on sales.  Sales produce customers, customers are people who pay you money.  So they spend all this time building websites and writing blogs and doing podcasts and doing great stuff but then they don’t spend the time to convert those leads into sales, and the only thing that makes money is the sale part.  So I say to people spend more of your time on the sales element and less on the lead generation and you’ll make money.

 

[0:44:32] BELINDA: Coz the sales sales to me seems quite broad, can you define that a little bit more, is it...does it really describe the point of contact through and all the touchpoints if you like, through to them buying a product?

 

[0:44:44] ANDREW: Ah no, it doesn’t.  So the way I teach sales and I always teach simple formulas that people can remember and they might seem simplistic but they’re quite powerful when you unpack them.  There’s 4 average touch points in a client, so they go from cold where they don’t know who you are at all to warm where they know who you are.  So that might be for me someone’s given my book away, they’ve seen me present, they’ve heard me on a podcast, they’ve come across my LinkedIn profile or whatever it is, they’ve touched me in some way, digitally or physically.  So then they’re in warm and then their like in the evaluation phase, do I trust this person, do I like this person, do I want to be involved with them, do I have a need that they can solve.  As they go through that point they might get to trust, and as soon as they hit the trust point which means that if I did have that problem I would probably look at that person to solve it, and that’s in the hot zone.  Now this is where sales comes in.  So once they’re in the hot zone and they have a problem, that’s when they have a potential to buy but not before, because no one buys anything that they don't’ need, I mean we do we go buy clothes that we don’t need and what ever, but in terms of business professionals, no one goes to see a lawyer unless you got a legal issue, you know you don’t, you don’t go see an accountant unless you got a financial issue, compliance issue, and people don’t come see me unless they’ve got a business issue, and so if they’ve got a business issue and they think it’s relating to branding then that’s when they come to see me.  Now they might voluntarily come to see me because we've got a good marketing funnel but they always go through those 4 steps.  Where it comes into sales is as soon as I talk to them.  As soon as I talk to them that's when the sales process begins, and even though we use the word sales because we know what it means, I don’t think of it as sales, coz selling to me pertains to I’m trying to get someone to buy something they don’t like or they don't want.  That’s not what we do at all.  What I’m doing is helping.  You’ve got a problem, I’ve got a solution, let’s figure out whether I’m the right round peg to go in your round hole, or can you afford my solution, can I help you in the specific way that you know, is that the best thing for you or is there something else.  I’ve turned away clients because I don’t do what they do, I did one yesterday, I said I don’t do that type of work anymore I suggest this person, and refer them on.  Because it’s not the sort of work I want to do and I wouldn’t get the result, because when you go through the process it’s great to get them to buy, get the money, but you’ve got to deliver the result, you can’t just have a one off client, so I want to meet people who go, I’ve got a problem, I respect the fact that you're good at what you do, let’s negotiate on a price, well we don’t really negotiate I have my products and they decided if they like those and then we go ahead and do the work.  But I want to enjoy the process with my clients, I just had a finalisation meeting with a client yesterday and he was like that was the best meeting ever, you know fantastic process, he looks fantastic his business is going really well he feels great, I feel great, awesome.  He’s probably going to give me a referrals, he’s probably going to do additional work, I feel good because I’ve done a good service, there’s nothing better than that. So you’ve got to find the right clients, you’ve got to help them.

 

[0:47:44] BELINDA:  Coz I suppose from my perspective sales can seem like a dirty word or it has a negative connotation because a lot of people are trying to sell hard to you and really trying to push their product on you which is off putting, but I suppose what your saying is it’s more about expose of who you are and what you do...

 

[0:48:01] ANDREW: Correct.

 

[0:48:02] BELINDA: ...so that people know who you are, and your front of mind when they need a problem solved that you can solve.  

 

[0:48:09] ANDREW: Yes, the process of branding is long and painstaking, it takes time to build your personal brand, your company brand, your reputation, but that’s the only way to have a successful business.  Doing sales knee jerks, sales is only required when you haven’t warmed people up propally, they haven’t got used to you, they don’t know what you do, they don’t understand your services, and your trying to convince them to buy something too early.  If you run your business effectively enough and you do enough marketing and branding then you’ll have enough leads and it’s just a process of talking to those people to see who is ready right now.  That’s the better way to do it, and it’s a little bit of an artform in terms of knowing, well how much effort do I spend on the marketing, like I said before it’s more important to do sales, but that’s the balance and that's why you need an effective system and a process in order to do that.  So we have completely written down design sales process, or a marketing to sales process so everybody knows what it is, we do it all the time, customers get used to it and it works well, we know if we follow the process it works.  But what people then do is get lazy and then don’t follow the process, even I do it sometimes, I rush, like ah the customer wants to buy I’m just going to skip phase 2 and go for the close, and the close is just really a question, do you want to do this, do you want to start now, do you want to start tomorrow, and they can say yes or no, no I’m not ready, ok so when do you think you want to be ready.  I’m not trying to convince them, I’m just trying to get them to make a decision, because the worse thing is that they just never make a decision, yes we’d like to work with you or no I don’t want to work with you .  Great, either way, no problems, coz it’s always  a process of evaluation, it’s like dating.  Not everyone you meet your going to marry, you probably want one partner, or two or three whatever are people’s preferences...

 

[0:49:55] BELINDA: We’re recording...

 

[0:49:57] ANDREW: So people think that every single date that they’re going to go on is going to be the one and I go but it’s not, it’s a process of evaluations to find someone you actually want to go on the second date, and then you might go on the second date with a few people and then get to the third date with a couple less and that's sales, that’s exactly the same.  It’s a process of elimination and it’s voluntary on both sides and we just present what our value is, but in a compelling and effective way, the reason people don’t buy is they don’t see value.  It’s not your price, it's the perception of value and the perception of value is either, it’s not valuable enough or you haven’t communicated how valuable it is, and I believe that it's the latter.  People don’t communicate their value effectively enough and that’s branding, you can read about my thoughts in my book, you can read my blogs, you can look at my connections, you can see my work history, you can see m education history, it’s all out there for you to make your decision upon.  I’ve got clients who don’t put half of the cool stuff they do online, no one can see it.  So I can’t judge the value because I’m not getting the information.  And they just think it’s not important, I go, it’s very important, it’s extremely important because those things could be the reason why they come with you, or not, so it’s the communication.

 

[0:51:11] BELINDA: So you now know what all your processors are, and you’ve got processes and structures in place, but when you were starting how did you know what the structure was and how did you put it together or was it more of a feel, you kind of winged it a little bit, working out what the processes were they you needed to build your business?

 

[0:51:30] ANDREW: I’m a bit of a trial and error guy which is not the best way to be honest, I read books and I listen to podcasts and I have friends like the Dent guys who help me out a lot and so I learn from other people a  lot however I like to test and measure, so I implement something and I use it and it either works or it doesn’t, we keep it or not.  For instance we created an online course, now I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and I sort of knew what the process was that I followed but I hadn’t documented it and I’m like I need an online course because it’s just going to make our life more efficient and so I just made myself sit down and write this course.  Now, this is another thing I just jumped into it, I go oh I’m going to start an online course.  45 thousand words later, 18 videos, endless hours building websites, I spent 3 years building a website that I just turned off because it wasn't working and went to another one, you know we spent money on this stuff.  But now I have a documented process, we thought oh we’ll put it out and everyone will buy it as everyone does but that doesn’t happen.  What we do is it's actually more effective to use in our business process so when a client comes on board they now can go through our online modules which saves us time.  It’s a value add to them, it shows the value because they see that we’ve got an actual process, it’s documented, and I use it all the time, it exceedingly useful in our business, it’s an asset. And so you’ve just got to pick them off one at a time, you know, writing a book, took me almost 2 bloody years, it was hard because I didn’t go and do a book writing course I just figured it out.  That’s my personal challenge, I need to ….well I’ve learnt it because I went to you for podcasting, because I wanted to do a podcast and it wasn’t until I met you that I actually did anything about it and I said, I don’t know how to do it, I don’t want to know how to do it, I want you to do it for me.  I’ve got to that point so I think that;s success in some way, I’m willing to invest where it counts.  But I have less time now, back then I had more time to experiment, now we don't we’re just growing and moving too fast.  But you’ve got to build these assets and you've just got to test it because a great process that doesn;t work is not a great process, as much as you want to think it is, it’s not.  

 

[0:53:43] BELINDA: So it sounds like when you initially started you do things quite differently now compared to when you started.

 

[0:53:49] ANDREW: Absolutely, the essence is still the same, we still do personal branding I still have a very personal approach, I like to understand people through psychology, the personal development in order to help them build their brands, it’s just the techniques have improved, we created a word called e-traction, that’s our 12 step process to building someone's brand, that goes in 3 modules, understanding your brand there’s 4 modules in there, there’s 4 modules in the build process and there;s 4 modules in the leverage or how to sell.  I’ve grown this to such a point now where I’m working with Monash University to make it a university course.  My dream is that this is the standard of personal branding, because it works I’ve done it so many times, people get value, it just works and I’ve combined the best of all the different things that I’ve found to make this really good, so I think I’ve got a winning formula it’s just about what's that best format for that to go out into the world.  

 

[0:54:41] BELINDA: And so probably your customer is quite different now, compared to when you started.  

 

[0:54:44] ANDREW: Oh very much, as you evolve your customers evolve, so we’re starting to do corporate now, back then we were doing celebrities coz I thought that was cool, then we decided to do more entrepreneurs and then we moved into what we do now which is more professionals and business owners, and corporates are calling me now so we’re just growing and elevating, and I love them all, but your business can only setup and match to certain businesses, and I think that that’s kind of the normal career….probably not the celebrity bit... but the normal career path is that we get bigger and better and we charge more then we get clients who have more.

 

[0:55:18] BELINDA: So building a business is a marathon not a sprint, so how do you manage your enthusiasm over such a long period of time?

 

[0:55:26] ANDREW: This is why we do the understand section if you're not clear on your why, for me, and I tell this story in my book and so forth is that one of the reasons why I didn’t go out and get another corporate job, because I could have easily I had people calling me, but I said no, even though I have no money, even though I had an uncertain future, because it wasn’t just about my dream of starting a business, it was about having a business that allowed me the time flexibility to spent time with my kids, coz I was sick of a company telling me where I had to be and when and feeling this tension between oh that’s Hudson’s athletics carnival and I want to go watch him but I can’t because I can’t leave the office or if I leave early again today after picking the kids up yesterday it’s going to look weird and everyone’s going to give me dirty looks, or I have to lie and say I’m sick or you know I just don’t want that so  I’ve been a hard worker all my life, I go and watch Hudson do his sports carnival, and then I go home and do work, and I get up...I was up and 5 o’clock this morning, I get up early and I work late, and I’m also very productive.  So when you're’ running your own business you give up the oh let's just go for a coffee and hang out for 45 minutes and then I’m going to ring my mate and then I'm going to stuff around on facebook, I don’t do any of that, I'm extremely productive, did I don’t know, 7 or 8 meetings yesterday as well as a whole bunch of other stuff, because you have to be, you have to be disciplined with your time, so I work more hours  than I ever have but I enjoy it more because A: I love the work because it matches my personality, which is an important part is when we’re going through that understand phase, we need to build a business around you and around the way you like to work at the start.  It can evolve later on when it goes from your personal brand to your business brand, but that's why we do personality assessments because if you not doing the role that you find the most enjoyable, you won't want to do it, and you’ll find excuses and reasons not to do it, and if it doesn’t match your values, as in having flexibility with my kid time, then I'll start to not like my business and I don't want to be there, and so every time I go and leave work to look after m kids I get this gratitude kick of thank god I can do that, that reinforces my desire to double down in my business even when you get hard times, because there is always hard times, shit happens.

 

[0:57:41] BELINDA: So what does a tough day look like to you now?

 

[0:57:44] ANDREW: Tough day is when something has happened financially, a customer is not happy, we’ve stuffed up or for whatever reason we go and pay a bunch of bills….I’ll give you a tough day last year.  A guy I had been working with for 9 months to build a new app that we were building, it’s kind of my dream, we were going for a technology play, just disappeared, just ran off with my money, that I paid him to do this app, no app, and 9 months of huge amounts of effort on my behalf waisted.  With it he pulled down 2 of my biggest clients going into  Christmas.  I was stuffed.  Basically financially stuffed, emotionally stuffed, and just at the end of my thing.  But I looked at my options and I went well I can go and get a job and I could earn lots of money and I could have it easy to be honest, it’s easy working for somebody, however then the why kicks in, oh but then I wouldn’t be able to see my kids but then I wouldn't be in control of my destiny.  The foundation reasons for starting your business have to be rock solid, and if you don’t get them right, that’s why we do the value analysis as the first module, it’s so essential, some customers don’t even know why we’re doing it but they get it by the end.  If you don’t have that rock solid, then when things get tough you’ll quit, coz it’s easy to quit, and it’s hard to persevere.

 

[0:58:57] BELINDA: So would you say that’s probably one of the hardest things that’s happened in your business or what would you say is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your business?

 

[0:59:06] ANDREW: Yer that was probably the hardest thing and the biggest mistake that I, I wasn’t looking at the signs, remember we talked before about when things feel right, this project never felt right, but my investors gave me money to build this project and every time I tried to do it, it failed.  I had 3 different times when I was getting signals, and each time was progressively worse, and I just didn’t see the road signs.  Its funny because then we pivoted the business away from the tech play into just helping more clients, the actual thing I like to do and ever since then it’s just flourished, because I was just ignoring the signals in myself and in the business and in the market and trying to pursue something that I thought I should do rather than I felt was right, and that’s why your intuition has got to be your biggest guide.  Not logic, you can’t listen to everybody else no one else knows, everyone’s got opinions but no one knows but you and that’s why you’ve gotta have rock solid confidence in yourself that you can do it.

 

[1:00:00] BELINDA: So then what did you learn from that mistake?

 

[1:00:03] ANDREW: Oh huge, listen to myself, follow what feels right for me regardless, build the business that I want to build because it’s my business, you know other people are involved and I respect and listen to them but if you're the leader you're the leader and you’ve got to take the punches when it fails but you also get the rewards when it survives.  So you’ve got to be a leader that's what it is, you’ve got to make decisions.

 

[1:00:25] BELINDA: So what was your view of success going into business and has it changed?

 

[1:00:29] ANDREW: Yer probably has a little bit, I thought it was going to be more financial, that was, as in my signal for success but I find that money is a result but it doesn’t give me the fulfillment so when we make lots of money I don’t feel any different than when we don’t make lots of money.  The fulfillment for me is actually feeling like I progressing to the big goal that I have to make a big difference, you know like this university thing, I’m slopping myself to uni at night and marking assignments till all hours on the weekend and getting paid not as much as what I get paid at work to do it.  But I;m doing it for a reason because that’s the dream, I want my process to be used all over the world and help more people.  Talking to a guy yesterday after  I finished his meeting talking about how we help school kids get access to these methods so that they can figure out what they want to do before they do their uni degree and get into a job and go shit I hate doing this, I wish I chose something else, coz it doesn’t match my values, it doesn’t match my personality and it’s not getting me where I want to go.  But they don’t do that, now I can’t afford to go and just help school kids, but I’d love that to be a way, so when I feel like I’m achieving those dreams, that’s only 10% of the time, we’ve got to spend 90% of the time making a living, that’s fulfillment to me, that’s success.  

 

[1:01:40] BELINDA: So would you say you have a successful business, because I feel that especially with a lot of social media we get a view from the outside and we don’t actually see what’s going in and everybody looks successful and you have no idea what’s going on inside so, would you say you have a successful business? Your definition of success?

[1:01:58] ANDREW: I would say we do, yer, so the number 1...I’ve done lots of economics and business study and the number 1 success point for a business is existence, are you still around.  90% of businesses fail. Of the businesses that don’t ever get to an ABN 99% of businesses fail, they just do, people come up with business ideas and don’t pursue them.  People start it and do a few things and then nothing ever happens and then people who actually get into business, so many of them fail, and some of the sell and are successful but most of them don’t .  The fact that we’ve had a business, I’ve paid myself a salary and my team for 4 years, we’ve never defaulted on debts, we pay the tax that we need to pay, we pay our suppliers, and we’ve helped customers, that’s success.  Yer sure we’ve got money in the bank now and we’ve got more revenue, which is great but it’s not about that, it’s about the fact that we are running an effective business everyday, every week, every month, that is the success.  And you know we have ups and downs and challenges like everyone but we are operational, what is not successful is when your artificially supporting something that isn’t supporting by itself.  So I see people who don’t draw a wage, and that’s not sustainable, or I see people who run a business where it’s propped up by something else, by savings or something like that and I go that’s not sustainable either. A business needs to survive on it’s own and when it does and can support all the people in it, to me that’s successful.  

 

[1:03:23] BELINDA: I was going to ask a question, why do you think a businesses fail but you’ve sort of touched on that , is there anything else you’ve seen typically why businesses fail?

 

[1:03:31] ANDREW: Oh look there’s lots of reasons I think a lot of people don’t understand their role in the business.  So I’m the sales person in my business and so that’s my role, but other people people might be the delivery person and get another sales person, you’ve just got to fulfill all the key roles.  You’ve got to look after your finances, you’ve got to look after your sales, and you’ve got to look after operations.  And if you cover those 3 things, you should be fine.  If you're not selling anything, you’ve either got a problem with your marketing and positioning or your branding, or you've got a problem with your product and you’ve just got to put the effort into solving whatever the barriers are and then it will release and your business will go well.

 

[1:04:04] BELINDA: If someone's thinking about starting a business and maybe they’re still in a corporate job and their weighing up pros and cons whether they should do it, maybe they’ve a bit of an idea, what would your advice be to someone who’s thinking about leaving their job and starting their own business?

 

[1:04:18] ANDREW: Great question, my advice is don’t jump out and just do it like I did, because it was exceedingly tough.  Hard, like a lot, there’s nothing hard...ok so a big why are my kids, I remember walking past the cafe once and the kids were like Dad let's go get some breakfast, and I couldn’t afford it, broke my heart, but I persevered and I continued and now that’s not a challenge for me but I don’t want anyone else to have that so I’ve got friends who are looking to do that and I’m like look you need to go through the initial parts of my process, because we look at your life stage and we look at your resources, and we go are you ready, and if you're not ready you plan.  You can plan a business and you can write your book, do the Dent course, build your personal brand, build your LinkedIn profile, get the customers on your database, before you launch, do the work after hours.  If you're not prepared to do it after hours you won’t persist doing it full time, if it’s not important to you, you won't do it.  So we go through that process before you quit, and I;m working with lots of people to do exactly that thing, to prepare them for launch, right, sell your product first, ensure that people will buy it and pay you money before you quit your day job, and then go down to 4 days a week 3 days a week or just quit depending on the circumstances, you might be wealthy and can afford to do that, but you’ve got to look at those resources first because you don’t want to be in a crises situation and I saw the signs, I could have easily quit my job plenty of times.  I got a redundancy once, got paid out, huge money, payed off my house, that was a great time to start my business, but I didn’t I was greedy, I went back and I did more corporate work right.  So again you’ve got to look at those signs, you know, take the  opportunity when you can but don’t stress yourself because if you're financially stressed you don’t make quality decisions, you have to sell, you feel reactionary, you’re not in your most productive zone.  So look after yourself first and then go and build your business.  

 

[1:06:14] BELINDA: So knowing what you know now, any regrets building a business?

 

[1:06:19] ANDREW: No, I would have like to have done it earlier.  I kind of wish I had started it earlier, and the only thing that stopped me was I was scared, I couldn’t give up the trappings of success, and I had to go through that humbling process of for me divorce and giving away my assets, in order to realise that’s not success, and I see, I call them the working rich, that’s not right they’re probably the working poor, but anyway, the people who are earning 2, 3, 4 hundred thousand dollars but are gears to the eyeballs, they’ve got 2 kids in private schools, they’re driving fancy cars, living in a nice suburb, spending all their money on holidays and clothes and food and art work and whatever and don’t have any assets.  Couldn’t survive a crisis is they needed to and they’ve got the money but they just consume it, and the reason they consume it is because they are unfulfilled and so the next car, the next holiday, the next art work, the next fancy dinner, that’s what’s going to fulfill me but it doesn't and it’s a never ending cycle, and so fulfillment comes from living true to your values and doing something more meaningful in the world, and there’s no short cut.  So that’s why you start a business and not to make money.

 

[1:07:35] BELINDA: Well that’s a great way to end this show on isn’t it, nice warm fuzzy feeling.  Thank you so much for spending the time and letting us get to know you a little bit more, it’s been great asking you questions and the knowledge that you’ve had and all the experience that you’ve learned, it’s great value.  If someone wants to connect with you, what’s the best way they can do that?

 

[1:07:53] ANDREW: Im sure in the show notes you’ll put my web site and so forth.  The best place to go is our website to look at what we do, examine it, we’ve got heaps of free information on there, download my book ‘Creating a Powerful Brand’ for free, so go do www.socialstar.com.au, and I’m happy for people to connect with me on LinkedIn and just have a chat.  

 

[1:08:11] BELINDA: Great...

 

[1:08:12] ANDREW: Nice to chat...

 

[1:08:12] BELINDA: Thank you, yes, thanks

 

[1:08:13] ANDREW: Thanks Belinda

 

Andrew Ford

Social Star, Level 4, Suite 402, 517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Australia

Marketing expert Andrew Ford, the founder of Social Star, has discovered the secret of ‘Powerful Branding’. With a fire for unleashing people’s inner brand and developing business models to generate profit from an individual’s passions, Andrew leverages ground-breaking digital and social media marketing techniques to create digital strategies for clients to attract maximum opportunities. Having established a strong name for himself in the field, Andrew blends traditional business techniques with now-necessary tools for entrepreneurs to achieve scale, quality, and influence in their niche. Andrew’s comprehensive business background and qualifications consist of a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (RMIT 2003), a Graduate Certificate in Management (MBA Executive Program, University of Sydney 2005), and a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Swinburne University 2011). Continually on the cutting edge of his own education, Andrew has tested his marketing theories in forums such as the BCG Business Strategy Competition, which he won in 2005 against all Victorian MBA schools, and the Venture Cup Business Plan Competition (Swinburne University 2003), which he won in the Masters category. With experience working at Hewlett-Packard, Sensis (Telstra) and IBM, Andrew also has mentored dozens of junior staffs to help them achieve their professional goals. Meeting and influencing high-profile public figures helped Andrew to realise just how many professionals require more understanding and control of their public brands or appearance, and need help with the skills to use the many amazing free tools at their disposal to generate success. At Social Star, Andrew consults with clients to uncover their personal brand – both where it is today and where it can be tomorrow – and refine and define how that should be displayed in social media in order to attract their perfect target audience. Andrew mentors his clients to rapidly grow their business’ audiences, resulting in larger potential client bases and higher revenue. Applying formulas that integrate over twenty years of Andrew’s business experience and fifteen years of formal business education, Social Star specialises in building clarity and velocity for clients’ brands using the ‘Understand, Build and Leverage’ methodology. ‘Having a Personal Business enables people to have an authentic, congruent connection with their valued clients and partners, using their brand as the bridge,’ says Andrew. ‘I’m highly driven to work with the new breed of entrepreneurs and small business owners – people who have a passion for making the world a better place. Traditional business models are stepping aside as people follow their innermost dreams and my role is to see them operate within their values while creating wealth. Some people think you have to sacrifice what you love to be successful in your business, yet it is actually the opposite. Follow your passion and success will come.’ Lecturing at Swinburne University from 2009 to 2011 on brand dynamics and digital marketing, presenting at numerous conferences, and consulting to hundreds of clients, Andrew has seen his philosophy work that if you follow your unique path, based on your skills, experience, values and goals, you will automatically attract the opportunities you desire and achieve the success you deserve. Living his mantra, Andrew has created a successful business and attracts high-profile clients including musicians, athletes, authors, models, entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners, helping them find their ‘why’ in their business and fulfilment in their lives. Business for Andrew is more than work, it’s personal. Running a personal business means that he is able to fulfil all of his values rather than separating his life from work. It supports his two boys while providing social opportunities, educational development, fitness opportunities, spiritual fulfilment and many valuable friendships. Social Star has now become the vehicle for Andrew to crystallise his mission in the world, to help people love what they do, supporting his ‘why’, that if more people loved what they did, the world would be a better place.