#BYOB Episode 014 - Darren Bourke: Create the lifestyle you most want

BYOB Darren Bourke.jpg

Today on the podcast we chat with Darren Bourke, a business coach, mentor and consultant to small and medium business owners for 15 years and author of The Fourth Moon.

Darren shares his story from his humble beginnings as a regular employee to building and owning his successful business. He specialises in coaching business owners to replicate his lifestyle design using his tried and tested methodology in achieving sustainable business success.


What is covered in this episode:

  • Who is Darren Bourke?

  • Darren’s methodology in making money, time and lifestyle work together

  • The lifestyle Darren lives, how he lives it and why it’s something people should emulate

  • Book: The Fourth Moon by Darren Bourke

  • The idea of the busy fool and how to change and overcome it to open yourself up to more time and opportunities

  • Darren’s work and family history and the story of following his dream of building and running his own business

  • How a sabbatical helped him re-calibrate and discover what he really wanted to do

  • Helping businesses by changing their format without changing their goals

  • Darren’s rituals and activities to keep him going and retain his focus

  • The story of launching his own brand and business

  • His new venture, Coachtopia, and how he wants to help start-up coaches to build their businesses

  • Business models and how it helps

  • One piece of advice from Darren to improve your business


Links mentioned in the show:

Website - Darren K. Bourke

Book: The Fourth Moon by Darren Bourke

Ebook: The Success Algorithm

LinkedIn - Darren K. Bourke

#BYOB Episode 013 - Andrew Ford - Understanding what resources you need to start your own business


Today on the podcast I talk about the fourth stage in the Attract process – Resources.  

There are three areas we focus on in the resources section - time, money and connections.

In this episode I cover:

  • The importance of focusing on those activities that you enjoy doing and get you into a state of flow

  • The daily routine of writing out your intentions each day

  • How to map out your time allocation

  • Writing down the ten things you love and hate doing in your business to understand where you need to focus your time on and where you need to delegate.

  • Knowing the value of your time to understand the amount you can spend to outsource

  • Understanding that you don't know what you don't know and why it is important to get the right help when starting out

  • Knowing how much to invest when starting out

  • How to use your connections and network at the beginning of your service based business

  • What is your ultimate destination - what do you want to do and when

Links mentioned in the show:

Tim Dwyer podcast

Run Well marathon training


#BYOB Episode 012 - Morry Morgan: How to transition between different businesses at different stages of life


Today on the podcast we have a laugh with Morry Morgan as we explore his entrepreneurial story and what led him to cofound a comedy school having never been a comedian himself.

He shares his learnings from living and owning a business in China and how his teaching background and an on-stage technical failure lead him to create The School of Hard Knock Knocks.



What is covered in this episode:

  • How his entrepreneurial journey has led him to create a business around teaching comedy and being a 'bucket list ticker'.

  • The impact going to China and leaving Australia had on his business journey.

  • The challenges of running and owning a business in China.

  • How you recover from storms can define you as an entrepreneur.

  • Testing your product in a market where you are unknown.

  • How an 'onstage fail' inspired him to learn the act of comedy.

  • How experiencing a poor customer journey led him to start the School of Hard Knock Knocks.

  • Understanding the impact that Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) can have on the growth of your business.

  • How podcasting helped Morry to reach KOLs in the comedy industry.

  • The future focus of scaling up his business to different locations.

  • How he is re-purposing his content across SHKKs social media.

  • The importance of looking after his past students and how that helps with new referrals and word of mouth.

Links mentioned in the show:

The School of Hard Knock Knocks

#BYOB Episode 011 - Understanding how your lifestage impacts your start-up business


Over the last few weeks we have looked at values and personality as important aspects of creating a business that attracts people to you.  Today we look at the third component - Life Stages.

If you don't know where you are and where you want to go, how can you plan for the future?

You need to know what you want in order to set your business intentions. 

What age are you is the first thing to look at in Life Stages.  Age can often determine your current values and life priorities and these need to be understood when building and designing a business on your terms.  

Life stages is all about timing and what capacity you currently have in your life. Entrepreneurship is about understanding where we are and planning for what is coming up.

When do you want to retire? What do you want to do when you retire? Retirement is about being able to choose what you want to do. 

Once you know what you want retirement to look like, map out how long it is going to take you and what you need to do to get there.  Intention, time and lifestyle are all key factors.

It can take 5 to 10 years to make a remarkable business.  Five years to get a business that can create a lifestyle income and another 5 years to make an asset to sell.

What are your intentions for the next 5 to 10 years, map out what it is going to take to get there and then consider what you will need to get there. 

We will dig deeper next time into Resources, what you will need to have to get you to where you want to go.

Take action this week by visiting the Life Stage module at Social Star University.

Free Your Time With e-ttraction

Andrew Ford, Social Star, e-ttraction blog

Had 'Mondayitis', 'Humpday' or said 'ThankGodIt'sFriday' then read on...

Working for someone else has it's benefits, stable pay, regular holidays and you can leave the stress at the office. But...you don't have one thing that matters most. Control of your time.

Are you able to...

- Leave the office when you feel like it?

- Work with people who lift you up and inspire you?

- Do the type of work that fulfils you and makes you jump out of bed each day?

If the answer is no, perhaps it's time to consider a change.

Change is scary, but let's face the facts. The days of secure and long-term employment are behind us.

Over 50% of the workforce in the USA is contingent, (contracted not employed), and the trend is escalating in Australia. You are only one restructure away from being retrenched or 'downsized'. Artificial Intelligence, robotics and outsoucing job overseas is increasing dramatically.

So what's the alternative?

Be Your Own Boss 

What does freedom look like? It looks like being your own boss. You can still be employed but the difference is you are in control of your career, not your company.

What does freedom look like?

...freedom to see your kids when you want too

...freedom to work with people who share your values

...freedom to do the work you enjoy the most

In reality, we are all independent consultants selling our services for a price; it doesn't really matter if it's for one company (job) or many (business owner). The result is the same, you get paid for the level of value you add to the businesses you serve. However, one big difference is the control of your time.

Building your personal brand is the best investment you can make in your career.

How do you answer the question - "What do you do?" 

If you answer with your job title, how will you progress? How will someone see your full value?

Understanding your core value proposition and developing quality online branding assets around your value is the path to Being Your Own Boss, controlling your career and having freedom of time. 

But how?

After working with hundreds of corporate workers seeking more from their career, we developed a unique 12 step system to create your time freedom.

We call this system...e-ttraction = digital attraction.

The first step in the process is to understand what your compelling value proposition is and how to articulate it clearly. Your personal pitch.

On Monday, May 28th 6:30pm in Melbourne, I will be running a Pitch workshop to help you start the e-ttraction journey. Click here to see the details.

My mission is to empower everyone to follow their passion and work in a career they love. Each week I will be sharing parts of this method and examples of how it can benefit you so follow the journey with me to get ownership of your time.

Andrew Ford

The e-ttractionist

#BYOB Episode 010 - Elphie Coyle: Creating a team around your personality is essential to start up success


Elphie Coyle is master at knowing his strengths and how to build a team around his weaknesses. Hear his journey to entrepreneurship and how his particular background and style is reflected in all his businesses.

We discuss how he uses 5 freedom areas as his guiding principles in life and business and the impact owning a computer at the age of 7 kicked off of his entrepreneurial journey. 

Listen as we dive deep into the mind game that is entrepreneurship and how choosing to work allowed him to escape a self-imposed freedom trap.  He shares how his relationship with money has changed, mentors that have shaped his thinking, the importance of knowing your numbers and what it took for him personally and professionally to come back from the brink of losing everything.  

"Dance in divine love with the moment, whilst building keystone performance habits towards our best vision, integrating our past & preparing for the worst through total self sustainability."
- Elphie Coyle

#BYOB Episode 009 - Andrew Ford - Knowing your personality and how it influences your role in a start-up


Last week we looked at values -  the core foundation drivers of your business that you have to match to your business in order to persist.  Persistence is the thing that gets your 1%.

This week we look at personality and how to design a business based on your personality. Knowing your personality allows you to know the best way you should be in your business, your best role within the business, what team do you need to fill in the gaps and how best to go to market. 

It is important to understand your personality so you know what strengths you have so you can focus on them. Just as important is knowing what you are not good at so you can hire people that are naturally good at those skills ot balance it up.

There are many personality tests on the market but the one we found most valuable was Roger Hamilton's Wealth Dynamics which gives you a detailed and easy to understand entrepreneur profile.   Understanding what kind of Wealth Dynamic profile you are, makes it a lot easier to accept and understand why you are not good at particular things and what work you are most likely to enjoy and thus succeed at.

The challenge with building a personal brand is knowing how to represent your personality online through words and pictures.  

To determine this, we ask our clients two key questions:

  1. What is the level of formality of your industry – the way that people would perceive you.

  2. Your level of openness – how much of your personal life do you want to share online. Keep in mind that often you need to sketch outside your comfort zone in sharing you values and stories to attract people customers that share the same values and want to do business with you.

Answering those questions based on a 1 to 10 scale allows us to map out exactly how to position your brand online and in social media.  Remember there are three brands in every business – people, business and products and when starting out your personal brand is often the only one visible and thus the most important.

I encourage you to take action from today's episode by first visiting Social Star University and check out Understanding your Personality course and then reviewing  Roger Hamilton's Wealth Dynamics

Next week we will look at life stages and where you are before we look at the final stage of resources.  

#BYOB Episode 008 - Rohan Kopfler - Following your values isn't always easy


Rohan Kopfler is a man following his own path. From high school teacher to entrepreneur, hear how he made his mark in his industry doing it his way. 

As the owner of East Coast Kayaking, Rohan got started by purchasing an existing business rather than starting from scratch. We discuss how he has expanded his business by creating additional revenue streams through an online store, and how he has harnessed the power of video to make personal connections with his customers.

Learn how Rohan cleverly accessed mentors around him to help him successfully face the inevitable challenges that arise when building a small business and why it is so crucial to be yourself, work hard and do what you love for a life and business on your terms.

#BYOB Episode 007 - Andrew Ford - Core Values: the foundation of your brand and business


The concept of values is as old as Greek philosophy but we are not talking about right and wrong. More the core areas of life that determine how we spend our time, money and energy.

There are seven that we explore and how they influence the choice of customers we engage and business we operate to be truly fulfilled.

Values can help you to identify the difference being wanting and putting in the effort to get that success.  Perhaps you want a million dollar business but are you willing to work 80 hours a week for a long time to get it? 

By ranking your values it can help to structure a business that will work for you.   Business owners fail because often they are working towards other people's values and not their own.  If you values aren't aligned to your business, it will fail. 

You have to 'find the juice to get the squeeze' – what gives you the joy in your business. 

Once you understand your values it also help you to identify how you work and the target market to focus on, and focus is everything when it comes to a successful business.  

#BYOB Episode 006 - Yana Martens: Learn to pose in front of a camera from a Russian model and entrepreneur

Yana Martens has combined her psychology studies and modelling experience to create a business on her terms. She understands both sides of the camera and now helps photographers and those in front of the camera to get the images they want in her Posing People Workshops and mentoring.

It is said you only have 4-8 seconds to make a first impression, especially with your photos.  We discuss techniques to get images that help to reflect your personal brand and capture the essence of your why. Plus, we learn how to take the perfect selfie!

We chat about her journey as a start-up entrepreneur and the current challenges she is facing in scaling her workshop business.   Knowing the balance between doing things yourself in start up mode and when is the right time to outsource. We also cover why systems and processes are critical when wanting to grow your business and the security of having other forms of income when starting out.

You can contact Yana on FacebookWebsite or Email:  yanamartens@gmail.com

#BYOB Episode 005 - Taruni Falconer: Life traveler discovers her passion

Taruni Falconer created her own business from a young age and has traveled the world doing what she loves. During our conversation we explore the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and business ownership.

We discussed the importance of self awareness and learning leadership through the living and working with discomfort until you are comfortable. What frustrations you can expect to during transition points in your life and the need to practice listening to your intuition so you can access it through times of distress on your entrepreneurial journey.

We also talk about the impact accountability groups have had on Taruni's career and how creating an annual theme allows for greater clarity for her business development activities.  Remember to take time to celebrate the small wins and reflect on the transformations you make as a business owner.

#BYOB Episode 004 - Hank Vander Zee: From Brick laying to being an entrepreneur

On episode 004 of #BYOB I talk with Hank Vander Zee who has been a bricklayer for 20 years but is now transforming his life with a new business, Exclusive Entrepreneurs. He is helping people to grow a business through their thoughts and ideas, rather than their hands and labour.

Hank talks about the pitfalls of having a business in the construction industry and what drove him at do business differently at the age of 60. We talk about how he has successfully built a business within 90 days through mutli-level network marketing and why that business model often gets a bad rap.  Hank is passionate about his products and it shows in his work with a 90% conversion rate!

e-ttraction podcasts - Business Essentials: The power of audio in your brand

Personal Branding which made me think about the leverage audio can have in your personal brand.

I get contacted to do podcasts quite often and enjoy doing them so was happy to share some knowledge and made a time to head out to their Hawthorn studios here in Melbourne.

On arrival, with my son in tow, as it was during school holidays, I was impressed with their full sound booth and gigantic mixing desk. I realised it wasn't like my podcast which is a Skype interview or in my meeting room in the office recorded on my laptop. This was professional!

Build Your Own Business Part 1 - 'Focus on one thing'

This is the first of 12 blogs on how to Build Your Own Business. Too busy to read? I have a solution, listen to my matching podcast on the same topic click here - #BYOB podcast.

After working with hundreds of Corporate Escapees who want to leave their day jobs and build their own businesses, two things separate those who succeed and those who give up: focus & persistence.

Andrew Ford, Social Star, focus blog.png

But how do you choose what to focus on when you have soooo many great ideas!? I get it. I'm a super creative entrepreneur too. I have new ideas every time I shower or go for a run (or a few beers...). But without a focus on a single idea, none of them will develop into a sustainable business because you will not persist.

For those new to my work, the definition of a 'business' is that you are selling something and delivering it for cash. If you are not making money, sorry buddy, it's a hobby.


The way we help clients focus on one idea in their business is to align this idea (product, target market, campaign) with their highest core values. Then you will naturally focus as it's what you really want to do.

When we talk about values we are not discussing right and wrong, like The Ten Commandments style. It's how we prioritise our limited resources of time, money and energy. (Thanks for Dr John Demartini for the inspiration for my values work.)

The seven areas we review (in no particular order) are:

  1. Business, 2. Money, 3. Family, 4. Friends, 5. Health, 6. Education, 7. Spirituality

Of course, all of these values are important, but only the top 3 will drive our behaviour and choices. If your business isn't a top value it will be tough to develop a work rate sufficient to build a strong business as your other values will get in the way.

For example; let's say Family, Friends and Health are your top values and Business number 4. It's time to do those proactive sales calls or write your blog for the week. But you have to pick up the kids from school, then you are invited by a friend for a drink and you wanted to squeeze in a run too.

What do you do? Do you put your kids in after-school care, say no to your friend and do your run, or do you get your work done? When it's your own business you can choose how you spend your time as you are your own boss, but that is a double edge sword as you lack accountability.

If your highest value was Business you would choose to do the work, perhaps not all the time, but enough to make your business thrive. If you prioritise other areas of your life most of the time, you will not have sufficient time to run a sustainable business.

Once you know your highest values, ask yourself how this particular idea supports all of your values. Try to come up with 20 ways this particular business model, product, target market or campaign support your health, family, friends etc. Once you start matching your core values to your work, it's far easier to say yes to work and no to distractions.


It takes 10-12 hours a day 5 days a week to run a strong business generating an income to match a corporate job.

That level of effort requires persistence. Persistence comes from matching your 'Why' to your business. When you truly believe that your business will meet your long-term goals and values, you will have the inspiration to continue in the face of setbacks and challenges.

If you know that your business serves others, believe that it can make money to support you and confidence that you can do it, you will persist.

Dr John Demartini and Andrew Ford.jpg

Unfortunately, many people lack the strategy of how to build their own business, the process to build a successful marketing and sales campaign to get clients and motivation to do the work required to scale a business that is sustainable. Thus, they give up and chase another business model, create a new product or choose a different target market. But the underlying issue is they really haven't spent the time to figure out their 'Why' and understand their values to choose what to focus on and the reason to be persistent.

Most of the time the problem isn't in the business. All businesses have problems. The goal is to find the problems you enjoy solving. That takes internal work to discover your 'Why' and your values.


After going through it many times and coaching many clients through the same process, my advice on how to resolve this issue is to do a Values workshop. We do them at Social Star or you can find a good Demartini Facilitator to help you through the process.

By getting clear on these two areas you will significantly increase your chances of success in your business, because the only real way to fail in your business is to give up.

My advice on how to resolve this issue, after going through it myself many times and coaching many clients through the same process, is to do a Values workshop. We do them at Social Star or find a good Demartini Facilitator to help you through the process.

By getting clear on these two areas will significantly increase your chances of success in your business, because the only real way to fail in your business is to give up.

Check out this video here for more details - Demartini talks Values

Talk to Andrew regarding a Values workshop - Chat to Andrew


BYOB podcast #3 with Jacqui Pretty

If you had an opportunity to return to corporate life would you? What if you were able to combine the training and mentoring opportunities that come with a corporate role, with the satisfaction of running your own successful business?

In this episode, Jacquie Pretty from Grammar Factory joins me to talk all about what led her to set up her business helping entrepreneurs. How she helps people write awesome books and assists them to craft and hone their words so that they really resonate with their audience. Jacquie grew her business from being a sole trader to employing a team of editors, she talks about how she made that happen and what drove her to succeed. We also discuss how she has found work/life balance by returning to a corporate role, alongside running her own business and the advantages and opportunities that this presented her with.

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

[0:02:39] ANDREW:  I’m Andrew Ford your host and I’m lucky today to be talking to Jacquie Pretty from the Grammar Factory books and she helps people publish books and she’s been a bit of a contact of mine for a while being part of the Dent program, so we’ll talk a little bit about her story and starting with her background so took a live without her story and starting with her background so welcome Jacquie.


[0:02:58] JACQUIE: Thank you for having me.


[0:02:59] ANDREW: So tell me what Grammer Factory does, give me a bit of a background.


[0:03:03] JACQUIE: So Grammer Factory is a publishing company and we turn entrepreneurs into authers, so we've been in business for about 4 years now and have worked with over 130 entrepreneurs and their business’s very dramatically.  One week we will be doing a book on financial planning, the next it'll be on how to travel with your pet or how to have a better orgasm, so it’s never boring…


[0:03:24] ANDREW: You get to read all these books obviously, so...


[0:03:25] JACQUIE: Well I used to read all of them back when it was just me being a little old freelance editor but now my team takes care of most of the books and I'm more the educator and the face of the company and the salesperson.  


[0:03:35] ANDREW: Yeah great, and so just for the listeners just give me a quick walkthrough from your career history and then we'll go back in detail and unpack it, so where did you start from, how did you get into that?


[0:03:46] JACQUIE: So I've always wanted to be a writer and I did a degree in professional writing and editing back at Monash over 10 years ago now and I wasn't quite sure where that would take me so what ended up happening was I move to the UK and got a job in media monitoring which basically involves reading all of the next day's newspapers the night before so it was night shift which meant how is a bit of a zombie after about 18 months but what was really good was I would work 7 days and have 7 days off so I got to do a little traveling.  Then I came back to Melbourne where I did a number of website copywriting jobs but I kept finding that…


[0:04:24] ANDREW: For agencies or for individuals....


[0:04:26] JACQUIE: No, for corporates and I kept finding that I was very unfulfilled and I would get to about 3 month mark in a job and then would have learnt everything I need to learn and was ready for the next challenge and this kept happening, and after this happened a number of times I started to think maybe the jobs not problem maybe, I’m the common factor here maybe it has something to do with me,  and that's what get me starting to think about running my own business.


[0:04:52] ANDREW: So let me just go back a step so you were doing websites for individual companies so you would get a job as the website person for that company, not at an agency doing various websites?


[0:05:03] JACQUIE: Yes so one of my jobs was at a financial trading company called IG Markets and there I was an SEO copywriter so I was writing a lot of articles for them under various pseudonyms trying to establish them as the authority in that space. Another company I worked for was Open Universities where I was doing a lot of content for their website as well as social media and PR and so on, so a pen for hire but within the corporate environment rather than agency one.


[0:05:30] ANDREW: Interesting and so, I mean, really you were an independent contractor almost back then but, you know, you wanted to be an independent contractor but you were basically just getting job after job after job because, you know, you do the project and then get bored and kind of move on right.  Interesting,  and when you said you write under different pseudonyms, is that a regular thing in corporations?


[0:05:54] JACQUIE: I'm not sure about now but back then it was a little bit of black hat SEO where one of the parts of SEO is trying to create backlinks that point to your website because  that helps Google see that you are an authority in that space but you don't want all of the backlinks to have been created by the same person otherwise it looks a bit contrived so I had about 5 different pen names I’d use to write articles that would all link back to their website.


[0:05:30] ANDREW: And you would have like, would these have profiles behind them all?


[0:06:18] JACQUIE: Year they all had profiles...


[0:06:23] ANDREW: Oh wow so these are all fake people?


[0:06:24] JACQUIE: Yes. I should try Googling them to see if they still exist.


[0:06:28] ANDREW: That’s amazing, in fact, I mean, I have created a few fake profiles just out of fun for giggles overtime, in fact if you look at Ellen DeGeneres on LinkedIn, that's me…


[0:06:39] JACQUIE: Really!


[0:06:41] ANDREW: And the amount of people from like America, we get movie stars and so forth who come in and you know, oh Ellen can you help me with my movie script or whatever is like amazing.  We actually sent the details to their people and said we've created this profile, because she doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile,  you know, can I give it to you and there is no reply so it’s been sitting there gathering momentum for the last year or so, so any way, we’re a little bit off track, so you kept bouncing around different roles so how many roles did you have, how long was that for?


[0:07:10] JACQUIE: That was for a period of probably 6 or 7 years…


[0:07:14] ANDREW: Oh, like a long time...


[0:07:15] JACQUIE: Yeah, that’s why I started thinking maybe the role wasn’t the problem and the rolls would be anywhere from about 9 months to I think Open Universities I was there for almost 2 years so jumping fairly regularly in that time.


[0:07:28] ANDREW: Yeah, and it was always content production so it was always writing…


[0:07:31] JACQUIE: Yes, it was always writing...


[0:07:31] ANDREW:  How did you know you want to do writing, like was it ...I was little girl...sort of thing?


[0:07:35] JACQUIE: I grew up loving to read, yeah, I grow up, you know, with the torch underneath the doona cover reading books after I was told to go to bed. I was always telling stories, I was always writing myself and it just seems like the logical progression.


[0:07:50] ANDREW: Wow, thats awsome. It’s rare that people, you know, I loved, you know, when I was a little kid playing little computer games but I don't, you know, I guess I work with computers but I don't make games but it’s good that you go to follow your passion from an early age. So then you had this realisation that it wasn't for you, you looked at your history things have I guess transpired that you kept moving all the time, which may be was a barrier to getting roles in the future cuz they might think, you know, not going to stay, so what made you, like, what did you do next, did you go well I’ve got this realisation what are you gonna do about it?


[0:08:20] JACQUIE: I actually, it's funny, I met up with a family friend for a coffee to ask for his advice because he ran a recruitment company at the time and my theory was just get me into a really high paying contract for a few months and I'll save up a bunch of money and then I'll go travelling again and then when I come back you can do the same thing and that'll be my life and he was the one who actually said you should start a business and it had never occurred to me before that conversation because, I don't know if it's different now, but back when I was at school it was, you go to school, you get your degree, you get a job, and that's your life. Starting a business was never raised so as soon as he said that I started to go ooh, that sounds interesting and that’s when I began doing research online and trying to figure out all the different things I can do and investigating coaching programs like Dent and KPI.


[0:09:10] ANDREW: Wow, so just go back on the school thing, so when did you graduate school, just to get some context?


[0:09:16] JACQUIE: High school….2004.


[0:09:18] ANDREW: 2004, right so I’m slightly a bit older than that, so I'm a generation before you and we were told go to school, get a good marks, go to University, get a job, stay in the job,  buy a house, retire, die.  It’s kind of the process, and so entrepreneurship was not a thing, you know, in fact entrepreneurs when I was around was like a dirty word.  It was the Alan Bond, Christopher Skase, you know, they're the sort of people who get rich quick schemes and send people broke, basically, it wasn't until the Richard Branson's and the, you know, Elon Musk was not around then but you know, the Steve Jobs type of model where it was an aspirational thing, so even when you went to school they weren’t talking about starting your own business, like, it wasn't that thing?


[0:10:02] JACQUIE: No, not at all, it was go to school, get a job, and the only exception was if you happen to be a really gifted athlete or an artist or something and you were seriously pursuing that as a career.


[0:10:11] ANDREW: Wow, because that's interesting to me, you know, I went to a private school and they pushed professional industries so, you know, if you're a lawyer, account, a doctor then they’re the aspirational things, or an engineer or something, I always wanted to do business so I didn't do maths science I did the humanities, did accounting and legal and economics, they’re the sorts of things I’m interested in, and they were second class subjects, you were considered not that smart, you're not smart enough to do maths science, but I’m like all I want to do is start a business so, you know, but now entrepreneur is obviously all the rage and very handy but even as a professional I deal with lots of those professions and all of them own their own business, I mean, so it's amazing that even going through the school systems where the outcome might be a professional career they’re still not talking about starting a business.  It's crazy right, so you started doing some investigation, how did you do that did you talk to people, did you go online, what was your process?


[0:11:08] JACQUIE: It was mostly Googling to see what would come up and I don't even know how but I started stumbling across a lot of life coaches in the US who were teaching you how to start your business and doing a lot of online programs and webinars and teleseminars and so on and I remember that the big piece of advice was basically combine all of your gifts and talents and interests into a career that doesn't exist yet and then you’ll magically be successful…


[0:11:33] ANDREW: Magic nice...


[0:11:34] JACQUIE:  I know it didn't quite work that way,  it didn't quite work that way for me and that’s why when I came across ...


[0:11:41] ANDREW: So you started something from that advice you were like oh...


[0:11:44] JACQUIE: I tried to start something I created a website and business cards but never went anywhere...


[0:11:48] ANDREW: Yeah, because you could create websites that’s what you do right...


[0:11:33] JACQUIE: Well, this is little bit funny in hindsight but what I was going to do is going to be a copywriter but I was going to combine meditation with it and I had this whole thing where I was going to do a workshop and I’d meditate with them and get them to connect to who they really were and then I would write copy around that, and of course no one wanted that they just wanted their words so...


[0:12:09] ANDREW: It’s kind of interesting...


[0:12:11] JACQUIE: It is….


[0:12:12] ANDREW: I get where you're coming from...


[0:12:12] JACQUIE: I mean I’m sure there’s someone who manages to make that work, but I never did.


[0:12:16] ANDREW: Yeah interesting, it all depends on how you market it right, coz you got a web site but you gotta go out there and talk to people and connect and, you know, I find in entrepreneurship sales is the hardest bit, is getting the regular numbers through the door, so ok you did some trial and error which is the normal way people start a business and that’s good learning right, how long did you do that for before you invested in a program?


[0:12:38] JACQUIE: Well I invested in a lot of little programs in that time between maybe $100 and $500 and that went on for maybe a year to 18 months.


[0:12:49] ANDREW: So quite a while...


[0:12:49] JACQUIE: Yeah, it was quite a while...


[0:12:51] ANDREW: And trying different things?


[0:12:54] JACQUIE: I was trying different things coz I started with the mediation/copywriting and then went into more straight laced copywriting. But it wasn’t until the beginning of 2013 when I made the big investment which for me was the Key Person of Influence program and back then it was about 10 grand which was huge for me because I...


[0:13:13] ANDREW: Didn’t have any money...


[0:13:14] JACQUIE: Well I had just got my first copywriting client who was paying me $300 to write a page on her website so wasn’t proportionate with my businesses income at that stage


[0:13:22] ANDREW: And you hadn’t been working for 18 months so...


[0:13:24] JACQUIE: I was trying to do it on the side of the corporate jobs so I did still have an income coming in so...


[0:13:28] ANDREW: Oh so you were still working….great...great


[0:13:30] JACQUIE: So I came across the KPI program, went to their big one day event and what I really liked about that was that was a step-by-step process and I went oh if I just follow these steps it will work and it was very practical as well, I mean I love the woo woo stuff and the spiritual stuff, but a lot of what I had been working with before hand was all spiritual and all woo woo and there was nothing in there about you know you actually need to make phone calls and go to networking events and you have to talk to people so they know about your business, you can’t just meditate and they will magically appear. So that’s what I liked about KPI it was just so concrete.  So that was 2013 and it was about halfway through that program when I came up with the idea to start offering editing services because as you know one of the steps in the program is to write and publish a book and I was a writer in a room of 50 people who wern’t writers, but who all had to write a book, so I got in front of the room and said look I can help you with this and that lead to my first couple of clients which gradually snowballed to gradually become Grammar Factory.


[0:14:34] ANDREW:  Which is...I mean it’s just so logical that you would go into the program and...I was thinking at the brand accelerator day you would go there and go hey they all write books, I can get in their community and start selling my services but that didn’t actually happen in your brain until you were in the program…


[0:14:49] JACQUIE: No it didn’t, in fact it didn’t….So when I start the program I was still trying to push the website copywriting services so it didn't happen until about halfway through the program after I'd already written a book, and the book came back from my editor and I read through it and went I have no interest in working on this or marketing it, actually I have no interest in this business that I'm trying to build, and that’s what forced me to look for something else...


[0:15:13] ANDREW: So it wasn’t hitting your passion points...


[0:15:15] JACQUIE: No.


[0:15:15] ANDREW: So what was the book called?


[0:15:17] JACQUIE: Well, that one I didn’t end up publishing….


[0:15:18] ANDREW: So that one never came out, so what book did you eventually publish?


[0:15:21] JACQUIE: I eventually published ‘Book Blueprint: How Any Entrepreneur Can Write an Awesome Book’.


[0:15:25] ANDREW: Nice, we’ll have a link in the show notes for that just so people want to check that out. So you go to the process and you’ve gone through the program which is a 40 week excelerator, you graduated from that and then, you know, what are you doing, had you quit your job at that stage, did you go full time, how did it all work for you?


[0:15:41] JACQUIE: So that year almost when I was doing KPI I had gone down to 3 days a week in my corporate job so I could start building the business on the side but in a way that was safe and stable rather than just taking the leap and potentially not getting caught, so when, in fact it was the last week of the program when we had our pitchfest event that was when I quit my corporate job and went and went full time with the business...


[0:16:07] ANDREW: You had customers already?


[0:16:09] JACQUIE: I did have customers, yes, by the time I left I had about 6 weeks of work lined up and then that gradually grew until, less than a year later I actually ended up hiring another couple of editors because I couldn't manage all the work on my own...


[0:16:23] ANDREW: Yeah great...and so just for an indication when you quit your job how much revenue was your business doing compared to your salary as a percentage, so was it half your salary or a quarter or...because that tipping point is...when I work with clients it’s such a careful thing to manage and it depends on, you know, I look at people's life stage as well as their resources to try and manage it because, you know, you’ve got a mortgage to feed and partner to satisfy and...want a holiday once and awhile, it’s very hard to make that transition.  The transition is the hardest bit, so how was it for you did you go ok when I hit 40% or 50% of my income I’ll quit, or is it other parameters for you?


[0:17:10] JACQUIE: Yeah I was nowhere near that organised in hindsight it was probably, it probably would have been about a third of my salary but I hadn’t earnt that much yet if that makes sense, I was just projecting that based on what I was currently charging and the work load and the number of enquiries I was getting...


[0:17:27] ANDREW: ...6 weeks of ...so it was showing enough promise for you to do that...


[0:17:31] JACQUIE: It was showing enough promise I wasn’t, like I knew there would be more clients, whether or not it would be full time was the big question for me so what I ended up doing is rather than going straight into full time I went well, I set up a business to I can travel so why don’t I spend the next 3 and a half months travelling and doing the business part time...


[0:17:50] ANDREW: Oh really...


[0:17:51] JACQUIE: Yes, probably not the more financially stable way to enter into a new business but, yeah, I spent ….it was... I finished KPI at the end of 2013 and then in February 2014 I did a 3 and a half month trip through the middle east and india


[0:18:05] ANDREW: Wow, with amazing wi-fi I’m sure so it was easy to connect...


[0:18:09] JACQUIE: Yeah...


[0:18:09] ANDREW: So how did that go managing that with the backlog of work when you're travelling, did you manage to do it or was it...


[0:18:15] JACQUIE: Oh yeah for most of the time it was fine actually because I would, I’m an early riser so I get up and do a couple of works in the morning, a couple of hours of work in the morning, and then I’d explore the city where I was during the day and then do a little bit of catching up in the evening and the balance works really well for me the only time when I was little difficult because when I went India because I was staying at a meditation resort where I was doing a program called workers meditation which is sold as a way of basically learning to view your work as a form of meditation and so you work basically full time at the resort while you're there. I think it's actually just a way for them to get people to pay them to work...


[0:18:54] ANDREW: Oh you're working on their stuff and not your stuff...hmmm...I don’t know about that...


[0:18:56] JACQUIE: Yeah, I was in their welcome centre and registering people and everything and that was when it got a bit hard cuz suddenly these big chunks of my day were gone and I couldn't actually do the editing, so that probably wasn’t the wisest decision, but when I was just travelling it worked really well.


[0:19:10] ANDREW: Your a bit like me, when I, through my process I look at people’s values a lot and if you have a high value on work then you don’t mind doing work on the weekends or around the times so for me whenever I go away on a holiday I always try and do something productive, because I just can’t sit by the pool all day reading a book and I don’t like to drink all day and I don’t want to ride elephants everytime I go to Bali and so forth so, when I wrote my book I went to Bali for a week and I did the same thing I would write in the morning for about 2-3 hours, have a break, go do some fun stuff and then I would come back in the afternoon and do another 2 hours, 4 hours writing a day is quite a lot if it’s intensive, like you need the break and I still felt like I have a holiday, so it was great, so I’m going on a holiday in October and I’m like, you know, am I going to write a book too, what’s the thing that I’m going to do, and I just feel, you know, people go oh you should just relax, and I go but it is kind of relaxing coz I enjoy doing it and I feel like I have achieved something not just sat around so...but people are different right so...


[0:20:11] JACQUIE: Absolutely...


[0:20:12] ANDREW: So you do the holiday and you come back and your full time so the pressure is on right?


[0:20:17] JACQUIE: Yep, well it was interesting because I came back and then suddenly I had this huge influx of work, I think I got into that the tipping point where I had enough clients at that point that they all started referring people to me at once, so I'd been back for maybe 2 months and that was when I went OK I’ve got to hire some other people for support because we’ve just got so much work coming in...


[0:20:36] ANDREW: And how much of it was through the course and how much outside the course?


[0:20:40] JACQUIE: At that time probably about 95% of my clients were from the KPI community, which makes sense because if you’ve worked with KPI’s and then they’re referring other people who are doing the program, and even today about 75% comes from that community.  So one of the things were looking at in the next year or two is how we can diversify coz obviously that is a bit of a risk.


[0:21:00] ANDREW: Yeah that's right, any large chunk of business from one client base is a risk and there’s competitors coming into the space as well because people have the same idea so, ok that sounds cool, so just a couple more detail things because we want to be super practical so when you did the KPI program and you leave, what other things did you have to invest in in order to get your business running, so you said a couple of staff members but did you build your own website, did you spend money on marketing did you have an office, like what are the, you know, the other things that you had to, expense if you like, to get going, was there legal and trademarks and, you know, what did you do to get going and what did you think isn’t necessary?


[0:21:37] JACQUIE:  For the first 18 months I didn't invest in much at all actually because I wanted the business to prove itself first and I think that was a lesson I learnt from my earlier business ideas where the first thing I did was build the website and do the business cards and then nothing happened, whereas with this one I actually waited until I'd had my first...I’d gotten my first 4 or 5 clients before I built a website and all of the collateral around the business came after it had proven itself, so it wasn't really until I’d hired my first staff that the big investment started to come in because obviously you hire people, then you need to change the business structures, so I can no longer be a sole trader so suddenly I was working with an accountant and had to pay WorkCover and Superannuation and all of these things...


[0:22:19] ANDREW: Insurance...


[0:22:19] JACQUIE: Insurance yeah, so there were...


[0:22:23] ANDREW: Which is very distracting from you like the core job of helping people write books right?


[0:22:27] JACQUIE: It is...so there was a lot...and it all hit at once as well and I wasn’t expecting it so one of the...if anyone else is at their stage in their business I'd say make sure you got some money set aside so you can take some time out of the main job and your business because I had a really difficult 6 months where I was probably working 80 hours a week every week and I also wasn't charging enough, I didn’t realise at the time but it meant that  I had to work that much to bring in the money to pay them and all these new expenses so...


[0:22:58] ANDREW: And not even make a profit right?


[0:22:59] JACQUIE: No..


[0:23:01] ANDREW: And this is the thing I kind of want people to think about before they jump ship, I mean I ran Social Star for almost 2 years part time before the opportunity presented itself to go out right, and it only presented itself because I had a fight with my boss and I left, like, I walked out, it wasn’t really well planned, but at least I had a business structure, I had a web site, I had a client bases, I had referrals, we didn’t have much cash flow, but we could easily ramp it up because we already had other things.  So I encourage other people to think more broadly than, you know, watch an inspiring video on YouTube and go oh I’m going to leave my job tomorrow, stuff my boss, I can do it, you know go meditate for an hour and think it's all going to happen, because it takes time right it takes money and you are going to make mistakes.  So you’ve invested in working big hours, did you ever want to give up?


[0:23:49] JACQUIE: No, which is really strange because it was a really difficult period. I never wanted to give up, what I thought about was potentially scaling back and making the business just me again because I was just at this stage were I couldn't see how I could make it work and in fact what's interesting is what got me through that was the discussion with another mentor who knew someone in New York who was running a similar business to me and he said, oh this girl her business turns over 55 grand a month, and she charges up to this much for her packages, and sort of went, oh people can charge that much and...


[0:24:26] ANDREW: It’s allowed...


[0:24:27] JACQUIE: I know where as before that I already felt like I was charging a lot and I just thought that the business model didn't work and no it absolutely works, it works now that we are charging sensibly...


[0:24:37] ANDREW: And was that more your confidence in charging of the value you were offering actually changed, like what changed in that mix?


[0:24:47] JACQUIE: It was, it would have been the confidence because...so when I...we offer an end to end publishing service now but when I started it was just editing and I would give people a quote and when I started I was charging $1,500 and I had people going oh actually I have spoken to this other person and they’re going to charge $500 and what I didn't realise at the time was what I was doing was very different to what they were doing and what happened was I had people seeing other editors and then coming to see me afterwards because all the other editor did was correct their spelling and grammar and didn’t actually give them any feedback on the book where as what I was doing and what I’ve taught my team to do is pull these books apart and put them back together. Sometimes we will rewrite them if we have to to make them good book and that takes a lot more time and it...requires a much higher level of skill and that's what we charge for.  So part of it was realising that you know what we did did offer a lot more value than what the sort of $300 $400 $500 editors were doing, and then it was also figuring out a way to demonstrate that which now we actually have a secret page on our website which is our sample edit vault, and it had before and after examples of different different chapters we have worked on so people…


[0:26:03] ANDREW: And you can show that to people yeah…


[0:26:04] JACQUIE: Yeah even before they get on the phone with me for a sales call they can see the difference it makes and means the discussion stops being about the money because they understand why we charge what we do.


[0:26:14] ANDREW: People pay for value that they can see and you're showing them the value and also you're able to describe the value and wheat I find with most people I coach on sales is when they believe themselves that it’s worth it, they can sell it.  Because certainly selles, because my certainty needs to exceed your doubt because if you're doubtful like, oh it's kind of 2 and a half grand for this, then people aren't going to buy, you know, you need to know that it's...think it’s cheap, you know, I mean my service is 5 grand for personal branding and I know all the work we do and I go I think it’s cheap, and if I can sell it like that then other people will think that too, because there’s the value there and I can explain it.  So great, so you're running it, you're working hard, and then did you scale back your stuff or did you continue with them or how did you...you put up the price and did things all because magically good?


[0:27:01] JACQUIE: Well it was funny, I told them I was going to scale back and we just decided to keep being friends and have our monthly breakfasts and about a month later I this conversation and said actually I think I can make it work after all will you come back.


[0:27:12] ANDREW: That's nice, so you gave them a rest...


[0:27:14] JACQUIE: Yes I get some rest and then came back, so there were a couple of things, one was charging more which made...and it took about 6 months to get our rates up to where they need to be just cause they were so far off, so it about 6 months and raising our rates fairly steadily. We also rejigged the employment contract so rather than them being employees we switched them to being independent contractors so…


[0:27:40] ANDREW: I was going to say why did you employ them at the start?


[0:27:42] JACQUIE: I got some bad advice...so that meant there weren't, because with employee there are a lot of extra expenses on top of what you're actually paying them whereas independent contractors you just pay them the agreed amount, do that made things alot easier as well, because one I cut out a lot of the extra expenses and two I charged my clients a flat rate assuming their book fits our standard criteria so it meant I could pay them a flat rate rather than working off an hourly rate...


[0:28:11] ANDREW: 100% it's a variable cost, it’s costs of goods sold not an overhead, and this is what I say to all my people is when your looking to scale up going from one person to two person is 100% increase in labour and generally costs because generally entrepreneurs don’t pay them self effectively, so their paying the person as much as them and that's just too much threat to the business because the business isn't going to double overnight, even if it does double, it is going to take time.  So, I always say bring them on as a contractor, give them a trial, you know, put them on and say if we do this then I;ll make it more full time-ish in terms of hours but I mean, and this is where the world is changing, it’s all going to independent contractors because all companies, corporates as well, want to have independent contractors, they want the variables costs, not the overhead, because it’s actually a liability, holiday and sick leave and stuff is a liability in your business, technically as an accounting standard, so we always say that you need to build your brand because whether you work for somebody or you work for yourself, you still need to have control of that, you still need to be an independent contractor in your eyes and be able to present your value, so those people that you...might sound harsh being put from an employee to a contractor, you're actually making them better off, because they can go and get other work right?


[0:29:28] JACQUIE: Yeah, absolutely...


[0:29:29] ANDREW: And they’ve been forced to articulate their value to you which means they can sell it to somebody else.  So if they want to work twice as much, they can, so...and they are free to do that right?


[0:29:40] JACQUIE: Absolutely and in fact it works really well now because, we’re up to 5 editors now, so the company has grown quite a bit, and all of them are generally working on something else at the same time, we are really flexible if they...so one of them does nano rhymo every year which is national novel writing month in November.  So in November she just blocks out her calendar and I know not to put anything…


[0:29:59] ANDREW: Says I’m not available, yeah...


[0:30:00] JACQUIE: So we’re very very flexible about that and they’re free to have their other projects...


[0:30:05] ANDREW: And they can have holidays when they want...


[0:30:06] JACQUIE: Yep, so it works really well and everyone is really happy with the arrangement which is good...


[0:30:10] ANDREW: Yeah great so it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing if you do it the right way.  So how long have you been running the business since then, so it’s been a few years, it's been about 4 years did you say?


[0:30:19] JACQUIE: Yes I started in mid 2013 and it was August 2014 when I first hired my staff so it’s been about 3 years since we had that big...


[0:30:28] ANDREW: So it’s been growing steadily, and what sort of challenges have you had in that process, has it been smooth sailing, continued growth, or have you had big things that went wrong, how’s it been for you?


[0:30:39] JACQUIE: Well the hardest point was that 6 months after I employee the employees for the reasons we’ve discussed.  After that, the next big change would have been at the beginning of last year, so 2016, which is when we started doing the end to end service rather than just the editing and that’s...


[0:30:53] ANDREW: Oh ok, so you changed the business model a little bit?


[0:30:58] JACQUIE: So that’s been interesting for a couple of reasons, one is that as an editor and as an editing company, we had a very clear unique value proposition, and as an end to end publisher we’re still trying to land on that, so that makes the pitching a little bit harder.  The other thing is suddenly there are all these parts of the business that you don’t actually have personal experience in, so I’m not a designer, I’m not a printer, so I need to find people who already know how to do those things and trust their judgement and then trust them to take care of my clients the way I would, whereas with my editors there is a very stringent training process they all go through, I review all of their work, it’s not really appropriate for me to do that with a designer or printer because that’s not my field, so that’s a bit of a risk as well, growing beyond yourself.  


[0:31:44] ANDREW: So why did you do it?


[0:31:47] JACQUIE: Because it made sense, because I felt like we weren't’...so there’s a phrase in KPI which is the complete and remarkable solution and I didn’t feel like we were providing a complete and remarkable solution, our editing was fantastic but then clients would have to find someone else with the rest of it and often, and you probably know this, whenever you give something back to the client to take care of it often stops happening because life gets in the way or business gets in the way and sometimes they choose the wrong person and then they lose money or end up with a book they weren't happy with and I knew we could prevent that from happening.  So it made sense to offer the entire solution, and by that stage I also had contact I knew could help me because I had been working in publishing for a few years by that stage, so I knew the designers and I knew the printers.


[0:32:36] ANDREW: And so when did you start...did you pay yourself a wage from the start or did you only start doing that more recently?


[0:32:44] JACQUIE: No...I probably...so like most entrepreneurs I imagine, for the first couple of years it was just whatever was left over I get.  I didn’t start paying myself a regular wage until probably the beginning of last year which is when I went, ok on the 15th of every month money is going into my account...regardless.


[0:33:04] ANDREW: There’s a lot of business people who say you’ve got to pay yourself first, you know, you’ve got to implement a wage because it’s not a  real business model until you get there, however, I mean you’ve got to have revenue to do that from, I mean you’ve got to have a profit actually to do that from, not just revenue so I get that most people scrape by for the first couple of years, you know, work part time or do whatever to get it established, because it takes that long, it takes years...


[0:33:27] JACQUIE: Absolutely...


[0:33:28] ANDREW: People think it takes...oh in the first year I’ll make money, I’m like, no you won't…


[0:33:31] JACQUIE: It’s the overnight success that was 10 years in the making...


[0:33:31] ANDREW: 100%.  So you started paying yourself a wage, but I noticed that you were actually working as well so tell...why did you go back to that?


[0:33:41] JACQUIE: So it was the...last year we started doing the end to end publishing process and after that I wasn’t actually sure what was next for the business, because once we got through the teething pains of that we started providing a really good service in that area and as you know someone who’s entrepreneurial and is always learning and always wanting to grow, I didn’t like just being stagnant but I didn’t know what to do next, so at the end of last year I thought well why not go back into the corporate environment and get a traditional job again and that way I can be part of a larger organisation, hopefully get some coaching and mentoring from people with different skillsets to me, because that’s a little bit harder to come by when you're working for yourself, especially when you the one who’s running everything so you're sort of just trying whatever you can think of and hoping it works, whereas if you are part of a larger organisation, hopefully they have already tried it and they have systems that work and you can work from those, so that was the motivation behind it, it was I wasn’t sure what to do with my business next and I still wanted to keep learning and growing in some way so why not do it through a corporate job and then in February I actually found a position managing content marketing for censis in the yellow pages.


[0:34:57] ANDREW: And are you enjoying that?


[0:34:59] JACQUIE: It depends on when you ask me...


[0:35:02] ANDREW: Today, are you enjoying it?


[0:35:03] JACQUIE: Today I’m enjoying it, we recently had a restructure in my area which means that for about 6 weeks there everything was quite up in the air and everyone was in limbo and of that dust is just settling now so I think there is a lot of potential going forward, it’s just whether we get through this little part...


[0:35:22] ANDREW: And welcome to corporate life, re-structures all the time, that a regular part of the business, and they are kind of necessary because they are breaking it and putting it together in a more efficient way, so I get that.  So, because there are lots of challenges that, you know, your your own boss, you have your own hours, you don’t have to do any...you know it’s, you choose to do all the work so going back where you’ve got a boss, and you have to be in at certain hours and you know they are probably fairly flexible but what was that like, was it tough...because I’d imagine that a lot of people would say well why would you ever go back to work again, but I get it, like I think that there is being your own boss is more about having control or your time and choosing what you do rather than being forced to do these things so I kind of get that...kinda be interesting to get back and play a bigger game where there’s, you know, the company turns over hundreds of millions or billions and you’ve got bigger resources, you’ve got teams and your doing different types of work, like I find that quite stimulating, but you're running your business as well right?


[0:36:22] JACQUIE: Yes


[0:36:24] ANDREW: Did you have to negotiate that?


[0:36:26] JACQUIE: No actually, so I...and I'm so glad I did then, when I had my interview back in February I actually said look for the last few years I’ve been running my business full time, I am going to continue running that and want to make sure that’s not a problem and they were very open to is and I think one of the reasons is because they’re targeting small business owners so I can speak to their customers because...well I’m been one of them but through Grammar Factory we solely work with small business owners and entrepreneurs so I feel like I know this market really well so in some ways it was a plus.


[0:36:56] ANDREW: So it was a selling point really, because a lot of people, I’ve been out for about 4 years I think now from corporate and I worked at Sensis, you know, as digital marketing manager and so I know that business well and my employment contract said no side businesses and I left...part of the reason I left Sensis to go to IBM, apart from big pay rise, was I could then renegotiate my employment contract to say, because they wanted me, so I said I have a side business and I’m going to keep running it, and they were fine with it, and you know, in fact it became a plus so I got in there and they started, we spoke to Carol Benton from IBM last week and I met Carol at IBM when I presented personal branding to all their managers because they flew me around to teach it because they went oh you’ve got this extra skill, like it’s an extra thing on top of your job that you're doing and we can take advantage of that.  And I’m sure that you’d probably get people that go oh actually I really want to write a book, do you get that?


[0:37:54] JACQUIE: It has happened yep.


[0:37:55] ANDREW: So you get clients through work as well on top of which I think is a beautiful thing.  So it’s interesting because people say to me oh I could never go back, once you're out you can never go back, and I’m like I don’t know, I think I could, I was 15 years in corporate I think I could easily go back and fit into the right role as long as I didn’t have to give up the business.


[0:38:10] JACQUIE: I think that’s the big thing, it does need to be the right role.  But there was a big adjustment that I wasn’t actually expecting, for the first probably 6-8 weeks it was just really hard…it sounds really strange to say this because I am a morning person and I get up early anyway but having to get up early for someone else was really difficult and the commute is really difficult as well because I was used to going from one room to another...


[0:38:36] ANDREW: Ah so you worked from home?


[0:38:37] JACQUIE: Yeah...


[0:38:38] ANDREW: Yeah that’s a big change...


[0:38:38] JACQUIE: Whereas suddenly I had a hour plus commute from the suburbs to the city everyday and the other thing was, because I tend to be an all or nothing person I was also going to sign up for a gym and get healthy and all of this stuff at the same time and it was just too much especially because I was still running the business and it wasn’t until I was speaking with a friend who was in a similar situation so he’d been working home full time for 4 years and just started a job as well, he said look I’m giving myself 2 months just to adjust to being back in here before I start trying to do anything with the business or anything with my health and I went oh, that makes a lot of sense because you do actually need, like it’s a major change it’s a major change to your lifestyle so you need the time to adjust to it.


[0:39:23] ANDREW: Yeah, it’s a routine thing, and people forget how important routine it to people, I’ve just been training my kids, my son’s 12 and he does footballing and wants to get fitter and stronger and I’m like, my morning routine is I get up and I do a bit of exercise in the morning, it’s only a tiny little bit but you do it every single day, it makes a massive difference, even just the mental awakening of your brain to start the day, but if you save it up and go every two weeks I’ll do 3 hours, it’s really not the same thing right.  So a commute, an hour every day is like its 2 hours a day it’s a lot of time out of your diary, and what about practical things like you get up and you walk next door and you're probably not dressed the same as corporate work, so even just that type of change, was that a big thing, oh I’ve got to put my makeup on and get dressed, take my lunch or whatever?


[0:40:13] JACQUIE: It wasn’t so much that getting dressed and putting makeup on was a  chore it was more the time involved, coz oh it does actually take me longer to get ready now...


[0:40:23] ANDREW: That’s what I mean, it's extra stuff to do...


[0:40:25] JACQUIE: So it’s not just the commute but it's the waking up then the getting ready, then the commute, then the 8 hours of work, and then commute back, so...


[0:40:33] ANDREW: And then starting your business, or then working on the business...


[0:40:37] JACQUIE: So it was a challenge, I’m used to it now, in fact it feels funny coz it’s been 5 months now and it feels funny to reflect on that time going, oh it feel like so long ago but I remember how difficult it was back but it’s so different to my experience now coz you do adapt.  


[0:40:53] ANDREW: Yeah, you just relate.  So when do you do the work for the Grammar Factory, do you do it at night or the weekends or, how do you get it done?


[0:41:00] JACQUIE: A few things so I always have my laptop out on my commute so I'm usually using the trip, that 2 hours commuting, that’s Grammar Factory time


[0:41:07] ANDREW: Effectively, yeah that’s good...


[0:41:09] JACQUIE: If I need to do a sales call of something like this or I’m doing one of my coaching calls with one of my editors I usually organise it at lunch time and book a meeting room at work...


[0:41:21] ANDREW: Very efficient...


[0:41:22] JACQUIE: ...and it all actually fits in that time it’s much easier than I expected and if it's something on business development say, I’m doing some writing or working on a campaign I’ll usually do that on a Sunday morning because my husband likes to sleep in late on the week in so I’ve got a good 6 hours before he gets up...


[0:41:40] ANDREW: 6 hours wow...


[0:41:41] JACQUIE: Well I’m usually up at 5 or 6 AM anyway...


[0:41:43] ANDREW: Oh wow, on the weekends too?


[0:41:44] JACQUIE: Yeah I’m an early riser and he usually likes to sleep til midday so that‘s my working day on  the weekend


[0:41:50] ANDREW: Yeah nice and you’ve got the rest of the weekend free so, awsome, awsome, so if someone wanted to explore the Grammar Factory where would you recommend they go, how would they contact you?


[0:42:01] JACQUIE: The easiest place is to go to GrammarFactory.com and if they're interested in writing  a book we actually have an ultimate guide to writing an awesome book which is a selection of webinars and interviews and online guides that I've put together over the last few years, which basically cover everything you need to get started.


[0:42:17] ANDREW: Cool coz I mean I know from my client base I know that a lot of people want to write a book, it’s an aspirational thing, inside the Dent community obviously but outside as well or they feel like they’ve got, you know, significant content to add.  Is it just books, like do you help people do other types of content or is it exclusively books at the moment?


[0:42:37] JACQUIE: We do help people with other types of content so blog posts and so on and social media, we usually prefer for them to have written the book first though because that then gives us a lot to work with.  It also means that by the time we’ve done a book with someone we know them really well and know how they think and what they believe, whereas if you're just doing little pieces at a time it’s...we can do it but it’s harder to get the holistic understanding.


[0:43:03] ANDREW: Yeah yeah, sure, sure.  Awsome, well lovely to talk to you Jacquie...


[0:43:05] JACQUIE: You too...


[0:43:05] ANDREW: So last question, if you had to go back to that person who was thinking about leaving their job and you know, going out on their own, what advice would you give to them?


[0:43:14] JACQUIE: That’s a really good question, I think the first one is don’t put it all on black, you know, gamble responsibly, so if you are starting a business and taking this chance do go part time first if you can or make sure you have some money sitting there like 3 or 6 months of living expenses so that you aren't desperately trying to break even because desperation makes it really hard to succeed.


[0:43:41] ANDREW: Makes it hard to sell...


[0:43:43] JACQUIE: Yes...


[0:43:43] ANDREW: People smell that…


[0:43:46] JACQUIE: So that’s one thing, the next thing is definately continue to invest in education and guidance because there is just so much out there and there are so many people who have been where you are and they can help you get through those difficult patches and take those shortcuts and imagine if I’d spoken to that mentor 6 months earlier and he told me you need to raise your rates and I hadn’t been through that 6 months of absolute hell, I mean our business, probably wouldn’t be in that different a place today, we would have gotten here eventually but we would have gotten here faster.  


[0:44:16] ANDREW: I mean that’s a good point when I first started my book which was pre Dent, you know when I first met the guys, they hadn’t even run a program yet, I got inspired to write a book, started writing a book and I just tried to figure it out which is not the best way to do it and it took my 2 years of back and forth and cutting out 20 thousand words here and there I’m like ahhh, it could have been so much better, I mean, you know, just from the conversation I’m like, you know, I'm working on the second book now and I know I’m going to work with probably yourself to get that done because it’s just so worth getting the expertise because I know my time is better invested in other areas.  You know I;d rather be off playing with my kids and writing efficiently than just figuring it out, the trial and error days are gone and we shouldn’t do that any more.  


[0:45:03] JACQUIE: Absolutely...


[0:45:05] ANDREW: So thanks for coming in today I really appreciate the time to be on our podcast...


[0:45:09] JACQUIE: Thank you for having me...


[0:45:11] ANDREW: And we look forward to seeing you soon...


[0:45:12] JACQUIE: Wonderful thankyou.



#BYOB Episode 002 - Carol Benton: From Big Blue to Family time; how to make the jump and start your own business

BYOB podcast Carol Benton

Have you considered leaving the corporate world and starting your own business? Waving goodbye to a secure corporate role to follow your passion can, initially, seem daunting but the potential rewards can be life changing.

In this episode I’m joined by Carol Benton of Words2Win to talk about what motivated her to leave her own corporate job to become a successful business writer and communications consultant. Carol and I talk about Carol’s own catalyst for changing her career and why her network was, and remains, such a key contributor to her success. We also discuss how, by focusing on what she loved about her old role, Carol identified a new career that would both challenge and fulfil her.

Download in iTunes or get the links here - BYOB Podcast

If you prefer to read, here is the transcription...

[0:02:51] ANDREW:  So welcome to the podcast I’m Andrew Ford your host and today I’m very happy to have a good friend of mine and client Carol Benton from Words2Win who is going to tell us a little about her story and her journey going from a corporate employee to running her very own business.  So welcome Carol.


[0:03:08] CAROL: Thank you Andrew.


[0:03:09] ANDREW: So what I’d like to do in these episodes is to track your journey but just for the listeners out there could you just give us a quick synopsis of what you do today, what is Words2Win and where you came from before we dive deep in the background.


[0:03:24] CAROL: Sure, I’m a communication coach and a business writer so Words2Win is a business that helps clients win more business through effective communication.


[0:03:35] ANDREW: Nice pitch.


[0:03:36] CAROL: Wonder where I learnt that, thank you, so I help people to articulate their value and then to put that into a consistent message across a number of different formats, where that’s brochure, whether that's their web sites, whether that’s a great pitch, I help them articulate their value and then communicate it.


[0:03:57] ANDREW: But you didn’t always do that so give us a quick background.


[0:04:00] CAROL: No, I spent 30 years in corporate life in IBM, IBM UK and IBM Australia, in a number of roles, mainly client facing so sales, marketing, leadership roles, a little stint in operations as well so back office, so yeah, 30 years in corporate IT sales.


[0:04:25] ANDREW: And how long have you been doing Words2Win?


[0:04:27] CAROL: Just under 2 years.


[0:04:28] ANDREW: Great, So what we’re going to do now, I’d just like to delve into that background in a little more detail, so tell me about your time at IBM, so the things you loved to do, the different roles you had, just give us a synopsis of what life is like working for a big corporate, for those that have never done so.


[0:04:44] CAROL:  Sure, I joined as a graduate and the training was outstanding. I was in a marketing and sales role and IBM worked on the bases that they didn’t need people who already knew a lot of technical stuff, they wanted people who had the basics of communication skills and they would teach us the technical stuff that we needed to know, so we had excellent training.  I really enjoyed working with clients, the primary role was to understand the client's business, understand their issues and then put together solutions to help solve those issues, when I look back at it, people used to say to me you’ve got a degree in French and Spanish, how come you're working in an IT company in sales, and I’d say but you know what it’s not that different because what I’m doing is I’m taking something that the customer has, an issue, or some knowledge about their business and I’m translating that, and also taking what IBM has, and pulling the two together, I’m translating from what the customer needs into what IBM could offer and that was all about communication, that was the primary skill, it was all about communication and I really really enjoyed that.


[0:06:16] ANDREW: And this is the, I think, some people think that working for somebody else is not the right solution, most people should be out there doing their own thing, some entrepreneurs are very like that, you know I came from a corporate background, we met at IBM and I had great times in my corporate life, not always but at times, and I think for me it was, when I went off to do my own thing it was for a reason, there’s a catalyst for change, and I think the workplace has changed as well, when I started at IBM I got zero training you know the training was dried up by then, I was only there for a short period of time, but for you, you were there for a long period of time, you probably settled in you didn’t know anything else, so what was the catalyst for changing for you?


[0:06:59] CAROL:  It was interesting because I was enjoying what I was doing, by this stage, by the end, when I say 30 years in IBM in fact the last 3 years IBM sold the division that I was running and we were part of Toshiba, but very much still the same people and the same culture, and I was leading a business that manufactured and sold point of sale hardware products and I did enjoy that….


[0:07:25] ANDREW:  Give me some examples of what that is?


[0:07:27] CAROL:  So that's essentially electronic cash registers, to put it in very simple terms it's the machines that you go through at the checkout in Woolworths or Coles and all the stuff around them, the software and the maintenance to support them, and the services, so a large and interesting business and I ran that for Australia and New Zealand and I enjoyed many many aspects of it.  I’d say there were several catalysts to me moving.  The first was the sale of the business to another company and whilst we were initially given a lot of autonomy, we were set up pretty much an autonomous business under that umbrella, we the leadership of the new owners became more and more and more involved so I felt that I still had all the responsibility but I had less and less authority and control to run things that I felt I knew the Australian and New Zealand territory well and I felt that I knew how I wanted to run that.  So that was the first thing.  The second thing was that my family was getting older, I have two children and I had to travel a lot with the job as you can imagine covering the whole of Australia and New Zealand plus international travel, I was away an awful lot, and the thing they never tell you when you become a parent is that actually your children need you more as teenagers…


[0:09:04] ANDREW: Yeah, I’ve heard this from a lot of people…


[0:09:04] CAROL: So how old are yours now?


[0:09:06] ANDREW: They’re 12 and 7…


[0:09:06] CAROL: Yeah, you’re nearly there…


[0:09:09] ANDREW: I think I’m in the easy period now…


[0:09:13] CAROL:  ...we had had help at home when the kids were younger and I was away a lot and I just suddenly realised they need you more, and the problems aren't ones you can just put a bandaid on, they are problems that need to be talked about and also as they get older you think I haven’t got long left with them living at home and actually wanting to be with me, so that was the second catalyst, and the third was much more practical it was financial, there was a restructure, there was an opportunity to leave with a payout.  The new company we had a three year transition where we were still on IBM terms and conditions and as you know IBM conditions were quite generous in terms of payouts, and I left two months before the IBM terms and conditions reverted to those of the new ownership which were going to be less generous and I just thought after thirty years this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to ...there were the other catalysts and then that one made it a decision I couldn’t refuse.


[0:10:24] ANDREW: Makes it a simple decision really…


[0:10:24] CAROL: It actually made it a fairly simple decision….


[0:10:27] ANDREW: I get that a lot from our clients is that, when the values start to be eroded, so family values or other things in your life, your personal life, that makes work more challenging and then you’ve got business challenges on top, people who have the propensity to leave, but they don’t leave because it's hard to make that transition unless someone calls them for a new job or they have an opportunity to exit with some money which makes the landing softer when you get out…


[0:10:57] CAROL: So yeah, those were the three catalysts I guess for me…


[0:11:01] ANDREW: You must have been fearful I mean thirty years in the same company it must have been a big decision?


[0:11:04] CAROL: Yes, it's interesting, thirty years in the same company however part of the interest in working for a very large corporate like that is that you do do lots of different things so I didn’t feel like...I hadn’t been thirty years in the same job I had been in IBM UK, IBM Australia, back to IBM UK , back to IBM Australia, probably changed jobs every three or four years...two to four years, but even so yes I remember having a discussion with my husband saying I don’t know if I’ll know who I am if I leave…


[0:11:38] ANDREW: Yeah that identity….


[0:11:39] CAROL: It was so much a part of my identity and as you know picking up the phone to a potential new client or someone and  having that name behind you of a major blue chip corporate is very empowering, people generally take your call and is was that if I’m not that person who am I business wise who am I so yes there was a lot of fear…


[0:12:03] ANDREW: But not even just business wise, you go to a BBQ the next morning and they go oh what do you do and you're like, nothing, I used to work for IBM...


[0:12:13] CAROL: I used to work for IBM exactly right, so yes it was scary…


[0:12:15] ANDREW: And so you jumped out, you get the money, you had the nice exit and you probably took some time off I’d imaging to think about what you wanted to do so how did you start on the path to figure it out, because I think a lot of people who leave a corporate situation particularly after a while or even if they have been in many corporate but the same kind of role if they are going to go and do something different, even if it’s working for someone else but a different type of position or a different industry, it's a transition so how do you figure out, or how did you figure out what to do next?


[0:12:50] CAROL: Yeah look I had no idea when I left and the first thing I did was take two months, two months off.


[0:12:55] ANDREW: You’ve earned that after thirty 30 years.


[0:12:56] CAROL: I’ve earned that after thirty 30 years that's right so I went overseas for four weeks to see my family and then I came back and had a bit of a think about it and I assumed I’d get another ...I’d just go..I’d get another job and I had sort of thought well maybe it would be nice to be in a smaller company this time I didn’t want to work for another big IT company because I thought I’ve worked for one of the biggest and the best, I don’t want to try and replicate that, and do you know...after thirty years you know your way around a company, it’s bit like being married to someone after a long time you know their quirks good and bad, you know the way things work, you know you way around and I just thought, to start again with a new company I just thought….


[0:13:41] ANDREW: I don’t want to get re-married...


[0:13:41] CAROL: That's right, you don’t want to get re-married you know so I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and that’s why I came and spoke to you initially, it wasn’t about what I wanted to do it was about just about what do I do with my LinkedIn profile because I hadn’t updated it because I didn’t want to say looking for work, and I didn’t know what to do so I came along to one of your talks about LinkedIn and I thought oh I must re-connect with Andrew because as you say we’d worked together at IBM and I thought I must re-connect with Andrew now that he’s become a personal branding specialist and ….so my initial thought was I’ll talk to Andrew about my LinkedIn profile while I’m still looking and how do I structure my LinkedIn profile so I can use it to help me find my next job in a company...


[0:14:32] ANDREW: Whatever it is...


[0:14:32] CAROL: And then you said let's go through the process of just thinking a little bit about what it is you want to do and what sort of job you want to be able to find because that will then affect how we structure your profile and we went through that process and it was like a light bulb moment when you said to me looking at all the answers you have given me to these questions you said do you actually want to work for a company or ...I’m getting the feeling you might like to work for yourself and it was a light bulb moment and I have found that I’ve had that before in the past where you actually it's only when someone else verbalises it that you suddenly realise that oh my god that's what I want.  And I remember when I went into sales in IBM I was in marketing and I was with the whole sales team and they needed a new sales rep and my boss said to me I think you should be the new sales rep and I said sales, oh no, you know, sales is a bit scary you know, with commission ...and then I thought oh my god yeah that's what I want to do and it was just like that I thought, yes I want to work for myself.


[0:15:44] ANDREW: I think thats when people, thats why people have coaches and that's why people see other people you know consultants or psychologists or whoever to get an outside opinion because you’re often too close to it and you can’t see how the dots connect logically but other people can so...


[0:16:00] CAROL: Absolutely and the irony is that's one of things I help clients do now, they know their business really really well but they have difficulty communicating that, in the way that the market needs to hear it so yeah absolutely, I’m a firm believer that other people can sometimes see things that you can't see so then of course it was what are you going to do if you have your own business and when I left my job my team to work were absolutely fantastic and when I left one of them said to me, and I’m still in touch with all of them,  one of them said to me he said oh he said Carol when you're gone, he said, how are we going to manage with proposals, he said, because we actually worked really well together the sales reps and my technical guru, they would write the sort of the answers to the questions in the proposal and then I would executive summary that sort of pulled all the arguments together and articulated our value proposition and he said to me what are we going to do, he said you’re so good at writing those executive summary and the value proposition, I thought oh year I am actually, yeah I think I am, I wonder if anyone would pay me to help them do that and it started off as, my idea was to do proposals but then of course I realised that people don't have proposals to do every day, they only have a proposal when they have a proposal to write, so I expanded it into other forms of articulating a value proposition.  But the really interesting thing is, yes I knew that I was good at that, and I had been to a talk, I think it was one with you actually, where somebody had said, if you are finding it difficult to find what you are really passionate about, think about what you enjoyed when you were twelve.  It’s a quote from a business coach who’s name I forget at the moment, an American lady, anyway, and I thought, when I was twelve I studied languages and I loved the idea that person A couldn't talk to person B unless they had somebody who spoke both their languages. A is French, B is English, oh I speak French, I can help that person speak to that person, or I can talk to both of them and that idea of translation and communication and that's what I do. That's what I do I translate from internal language to customer language and I help people do that.


[0:18:40] ANDREW: Do you articulate that to your clients like that?


[0:18:43] CAROL: Sometimes yes...


[0:18:45] ANDREW: And do they really get it?


[0:18:46] CAROL: Yes they do, and in fact I do my own presentation and it starts with me...the very first words out of my mouth are French, I stand up and I say to them do your clients understand what you do, do they hear you, do they understand you, do they take action, and I say that to them in French, and then I say, I bet you didn't understand a word I said, that’s because I was speaking one language, and of course you always have a few people in the audience who speak French and ...oh oui, oui, you know but yes I do use that analogy with clients...


[0:19:19] ANDREW: I love that, I love that...I love the fact that you went back to the childhood to find the passion, because I know when you go into corporates you do what they tell you to do, and hopefully it hits on some points of your passion but the benefit I say with people with starting your own business is that you get to design your business around you what you really like to do and make a love list and a hate list and outsource the hate list and do more of the love list right, so now that you’ve been doing it for a while, what are the learnings and the things that you would like to say to the Caral of two years ago when you first started, what are the things that moved the needle for you, was it doing a web site or getting a coach or getting your first sell or getting your first customer, what were the things that really made the difference to get your business successful?


[0:20:08] CAROL: I think one of the big things was actually doing your course Andrew, the launch in 12 weeks and you said to us that the aim was after 12 weeks we would sign our first customer and I signed my first customer 3 days after finishing the course.  The thing about that was it gave me a structure because it’s not so much teaching you about things you don’t know, although there was quite a bit I didn’t know,  but it was giving you a structure and an a accountability that said right this week we are going to do this and next week we are going to do that so you need to prepare x y and z, and the people I met on the course and understanding different approaches to a business but I think that really really helped.


[0:20:51] ANDREW: So structure and accountability, because you know I work with Dent and obviously Social Star, and it’s not an add for those things but I think that those two elements are really important, so the structure in terms of why am I doing something, what am I doing, and how do I do it, if you know those things you can do it.


[0:21:08] CAROL: That’s right, and the hardest part of the course and I remember discussing this with you at the time I think it was about week 2 of the 12 and I think we spent the first 4 weeks on why am I doing what I'm doing, and what exactly am I doing and who am I doing it for and I wasn’t clear about that in my head and by the second week I thought I’m going to have to give this course up and come back to it later and I’m so glad I didn't because the structure and accountability forced me to think about those things and to get them, they might not have been 100 percent at the time of course it evolves but it got me 80 or 90 percent of the way there, enough to be able to then move onto the next stage which was about building your web site articulating my value proposition and then building contacts and finding clients so yes, the structure and accountability especially around the why, was super super important.


[0:22:07] ANDREW: And I think that’s the thing if you get that, like in the course we talk about setting intentions, so not necessarily goals, you know, I want to make 100 grand in the first year, by this date but it's a very specific goal but more intention of this is kind of what I want to do, this is how I want my business to be and what it represents and it vague but its more ...it's something more long term because it's not a oh I haven’t hit it by the date I feel disappointed it's more of a overarching theme of where I want to get to in my business and kind of my life in a way so I like that approach because once you get that you’ve got something to aim for, you know I want to be a successful singer not I want to win The Voice this year, because if you don’t get in it’s all over right, you want to have something that is more longer term because you’ve got to persist and the thing is...you know when you tell that story I remember that time and I think that a lot of people who don’t persist, never break through, because they are probably looking for perfection or they are looking for the ultimate outcome not progressing on the journey because the first time you sell something, that’s not going to be the product that you sell 2 years later but you have to go through that and you have to get to the first customer to get to the fifth, to the tenth, and at one hundred you would probably have a better idea but businesses are always evolving but you just have to start ...


[0:23:30] CAROL: That;s exactly right and look some of my offerings are productised now they certainly weren’t on day one and other things are sort of still evolving but that’s half the fun of it the products are whatever I want them to be and whatever I need them to be and whatever my clients...


[0:23:50] ANDREW: Want you to do...I saw a client previous to this podcast and I was saying to him that the product you start with is not the product you end with and if a customer asks you to do something in the realm of your skill set the answer is always yes at the start.


[0:24:05] CAROL: Absolutely, yes, yes...


[0:24:06] ANDREW: Because you go , yeah you got money? Because if you start working on stuff you go, you might get to the end of the project and say actually that actually isn’t what I want to do but then you know.


[0:24:16] CAROL: Exactly right...


[0:24:16] ANDREW: And then you can figure out more what you really want to do because it's a process to get there.


[0:24:21] CAROL: I’ve got one of those at the moment, somebody has approached me about a piece of work that's not necessarily what I saw myself doing but it fits in with the skill set and it fits in with what I do, there’s an overlap, so I’ve said let’s explore it further...


[0:24:36] ANDREW: Let’s explore it exactly...


[0:24:38] CAROL: Nothing to lose...


[0:24:38] ANDREW: Nothing to lose correct and because I mostly work with service professionals and so it's a bit more flexible but even products, if you go to a big product manufacturer and say I want 100,000 units of that, it's a special run, if it's big enough they’ll do it...because its business right, we are here to service a client need and if we can make a profit doing it, great, so i guess start with the end in mind but realise we are not at the end, we are at the start.


[0:25:03] CAROL: Yes, exactly right...


[0:25:04] ANDREW: And you’ve just got to take action and the action is the part that will break through those barriers not the thinking about it.


[0:25:14] CAROL: So yeah look doing that course was a big help for me, the other thing I think was, or another thing, was, I would say once of the most valuable things I left my corporate life with was my network and even now, 2 years later most of my clients, a majority of my clients, are people I already knew. So I left my corporate job with a good reputation some good relationships and although I am doing something that is quite different to what I was doing, I think that your professionalism and your integrity hold, nobody has ever said well are you any good at this, they’ve sort of said Carol tell me about what you do now or I’ve actually called them and said can I tell you about what I do now? And they have never sort of said what gives you the qualifications to do that, they trust me, and that network has been invaluable because they them of course recommend you to others that was absolutely invaluable as well...


[0:26:26] ANDREW: It’s actually a really interesting point that I think about a lot, I think about branding a lot obviously that's my trade but people think that their brand and credibility is based on the proof of what they do and case studies and those things are important and qualifications can be useful and so forth, but you hit upon the real brand essence which is do you persist, are you relatable, can I work with you, that's the reputational things are you capable, if you’ve been capable at one thing likely you're going to be capable at another thing. It’s just a new set of skills, it's a new output, so it people resonate with you as a brand what ever product you're selling they are likely to be interested in talking about right?


[0:27:08] CAROL: Yes.


[0:27:08] ANDREW: So that’s really the essence of brand, it's not...you know I do the digital part, how you look and fell on line so people can find you and examine what you do, but that's all based on what you are in real life.


[0:27:21] CAROL: Yes of course...


[0:27:21] ANDREW: It’s a reflection...you can’t pretend to be credible on line if you're not credible off line, so people forget that part of it.  So, you’ve done that for a couple of years and let’s get to the business where it is today, so we don’t want to go into details of your finance but you're making money, things are going well tell me a bit more about how the business is today...


[0:27:44] CAROL: Yeah, the business is going well, financially I’m no worse off, I’m making about the same as I was as my base salary in corporate, and there was some years where that’s all you get, oh not much more, so financially things are ahead of where...I set myself some goals and they are ahead of those goals ...


[0:28:09] ANDREW: Congratulations to you...


[0:28:10] CAROL: Thank you very much, so that’s going well, I’m getting referrals, I don’t advertise in the sense of paid advertising...


[0:28:19] ANDREW: Paid marketing...


[0:28:19] CAROL: Yep, I’m a big believer in social media and sharing your knowledge and IP and in fact only last week I had somebody call me somebody completely outside of my network, call me purely on the strength of a LinkedIn article that I published and he called me, we met, and I provided a proposal so...


[0:28:43] ANDREW: Content marketing...


[0:28:43] CAROL: Content marketing absolutely, as you would expect from somebody who is all about content, so financially things are going ok, I’m getting referrals, I’ve got business coming to me, now I’m not complacent, I still network...


[0:28:59] ANDREW: It’s not a passive sport...


[0:29:00] CAROL: It’s not a passive sport absolutely, I’ve just joined a new networking group, and I make sure I keep in touch with people but it’s going really well, I mean I’ve got longer term intentions and I can certainly … I haven’t got the detailed steps for all of them, you know for the longer term stuff yet but I can see that they could potentially be achievable yes.  And I’m enjoying it, I’m loving it!


[0:29:26] ANDREW: Isn’t that the point right, because that was the next question is how is it working with your family that you had the challenge with, how much time are you spending, are you spending as much time as you were to produce those same results you had in corporate?


[0:29:40] CAROL: You know, it's probably one of those things I need to do better is track my time, because I’m based at home, I still go out and see clients face to face, I think I’d go stir crazy if I didn't so I see clients but I’m not commuting everyday, I’m not travelling, I was away probably 2 or 3 nights a fortnight, I do make the odd trip to Sydney but it’s on my terms, so I’m at home...even if I’m working I’m at home when the kids get home from school, but I might work on a Saturday or Sunday because I want to or because I enjoy it or because I’ve got something to finish off and I can then bill a client you know, so it’s hard to know how many hours I work a week because they’re spread out differently.  But I think it’s probably fewer...for money that is not that different.


[0:30:33] ANDREW: Yeah, but you seem to be more relaxed about it in terms of...the thing that I tell people is ...you know people say that time is their most precious resource and I don’t kind of believe that because everyone has the same amount of time so you know, Nelson Mandela had lots of time he was just in prison, so to me it’s the ability to use that time in the way you wish, so if you choose to go and spend time with your family because it’s dinner time and you want to be home with them between I don’t know 5 and 7 o’clock, and then work later then you can do that because it’s your own business, you can work Sunday night because you want to get something out and then take Friday off.  It’s the freedom to do...and it's also the freedom to spend time with who you like. So if you’re doing the jobs you like to do with the people you like, when you like to do it, that’s kind of success in my book.


[0:31:20] CAROL: And look, when I travelled a lot I didn't get to exercise as much as I would like to, I go to the gym every morning now, or walk the dog or go for a run you know, because I’m there and I’m based at home so yeah look I’ve got a lot more freedom, I’ve got a lot more flexibility, being based at home gives you flexibility, and I think my husband and children will probably say I’m less stressed, hopefully nicer to be around, you now it’s interesting, I’ve learnt, I’ve had something confirmed to me that I believe I always knew about sales, and that’s that clients will buy when they need what you’ve got, sounds pretty basic doesn’t it, and yet in corporate life as you know Andrew, it's all monthly targets, quarterly targets, committing to a deal and then, you know, have got to bring that deal in this quarter or this month or this week or this day and that caused us in corporate to perform some pretty unnatural acts in terms of reducing prices or asking clients to take something they weren't ready to take all because of those quarterly and monthly targets.  In the end if clients understand what you do, and they want what you offer they will buy it when they are ready and I’ve had a couple of examples where I’ve gone to see somebody and they’ve gone, yep great understand that but we don’t need it at the moment.  In one case a year later that managing director of the client rang me and then, they’re now a client I’m actively working with them and only yesterday I had a call from an opportunity I thought was probably dead, I’d been speaking with this company and then they had sort of put it off and put it off, and then yesterday I get an email saying we’d like to go ahead now, so it just...I love the fact that I’m not having to do things that I know aren't the right way to deal with clients.


[0:33:20] ANDREW: Yeah, think it’s called integrity...


[0:33:21] CAROL: Absolutely it’s called integrity and I love that in the end when my clients choose to work with me it's because they want what I offer and the time is right for them...


[0:33:36] ANDREW: And they’re probably not like crunching you for a discount...


[0:33:39] CAROL: No I’ve never given a discount...


[0:33:40] ANDREW: Because you don’t have to because you are offering fair value and its just when they’ve got the problem they need a solution and if you position yourself well they’ll come to you.  It reminds me actually of children, talk about children because it’s high on my values but I remember reading when I was  a first time parent that kids need to eat a variety of foods and if they’re not eating vegetables and all that sort of stuff when they are young you’ve got to make them, and so when my first son Hudson was, I remember he was only about 2, and he’s in the high chair and I’ve got to feed him these vegetables because it’s important and da-da-da, and so I tried to force feed it to him. Literally, shove it in his mouth, and I felt terrible but that’s what they are telling me to do ...train him well da-da-da and he just spat it out and sat there for an hour and it was….by the end of it he was crying and I was frustrated and it’s like, no good result.  And over time, I’ve got 2 kids now, and over time I’ve realised when they’re hungry they eat, when they’re not hungry they don’t eat, and if I encourage them along the process they’ll eat all those things.  Hudson now is 12 but he will eat those vegetables, he will do those things, because it’s just part of the process right, so I think that’s the analogue of customers is don’t try and force the broccoli in their mouth because the customer is just going to spit it out and not enjoy the experience...


[0:35:02] CAROL: And you and I have both been there and seen that first hand and had to be part of that and I love the fact that I am free of that and I love the fact that if I say to a client that something will be done, by a certain date or done in a certain way, short of me getting knocked over by a bus, it will be done, where again in corporate life one of the frustrations I had was that you could make a statement or a commitment to a client and then the corporation would decommit on me and my integrity and my reputation was undermined and I love the fact now that my reputation is solely in my hands because in the end that’s all you’ve got your reputation and your integrity and your IP, the product is what I want it to be and if I say it’s going to be done then it’s going to be done.


[0:35:56] ANDREW: I love that. So there’s things you probably miss about corporate as well, because corporate has some ...or a job or working for somebody else, so is there any of those things that you think back...


[0:36:07] CAROL: I thought the other day yes, I’ll tell you what I miss, my Qantas frequent flyer has gone down from platinum to silver and probably won’t stay silver very long and when I go up to Sydney later this week I’m flying Tiger because it’s all my own money.


[0:36:20] ANDREW: I hear you….


[0:36:21] CAROL: I miss that...


[0:36:24] ANDREW: I walk past the Qantas club and I’m like hi guys


[0:36:26] CAROL: Yeah so that, I miss ...I don’t miss the travel but I do miss the perks of when you do travel of being able to jump the queues and...not that we got to fly business club but at least you got the points.


[0:36:41] ANDREW: What about being around other people….being part of a big machine...


[0:36:45] CAROL: Do you know one of the things I was most worried about along with how will I know who I am was I had all these relationships with my network that were business and friendship it was a great network and I was really worried about what my husband described as not being part of the tribe, but actually I still see a lot of those people, some of them are my clients or we still network so I think I’ve got the balance about right between seeing people you know being based at home, which is great, and getting out and seeing people so no I don’t miss that, I thought I would but I don’t really miss that because I do go and see...even things I could do on the phone sometimes I actually go and do them face to face because I can just because...


[0:37:32] ANDREW: Choice...


[0:37:33] CAROL: Yeah, choice...is there anything else, not a great deal to be honest.  Isn’t that sad my Qantas points are the thing I suppose, no look I miss my team that I had in my last job that I had in my last job were awesome but do you know most of them are based in Melbourne and we have a coffee and that’s great because I can go and have a coffee with them as a friend, not as a boss so no, not a great deal...


[0:37:56] ANDREW: So after all that you have been through now, become your own boss, if you had to give one piece of advice to someone who is sitting in corporate now, who have been there for 20 years 30 years, and they are thinking it’s grating on my values, I’m thinking about making a change but it’s scary, what would be your parting advice to them before they jump ship, or make the decision to jump ship.


[0:38:21] CAROL: Oh gosh I would probably say, going back to what we were talking about earlier that sometimes somebody else can be a bit more objective so I found it very valuable, I mean, I jumped before I did this, I would say take some guidance from a coach or whoever and use somebody else's insights to learn about yourself because you often can’t see it yourself.  And actually if I may make that two pieces of advice, so one is to use somebody external and the other is really nurture that network and don’t be afraid to then, whatever you do in your next step whether that is another corporate whether that's another small company whether that's working for yourself, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with those people and you still have the relationship it’s just a changed relationship.  I found the network to be very important, not only as a source of business but actually just a source of still feeling connected and ...part of the tribe.


[0:39:31] ANDREW: Carol, congratulations on your success and your advice and we’ll put all your details in the show notes if people want to talk to you about your business proposals and so forth and if anyone wants to connect with you what’s the best way to do that?


[0:39:45] CAROL: Probably the best way is either through LinkedIn, Carol Benton, or through my website words to win, words, number two, win.


[0:39:56] ANDREW: Thank you Carol.


[0:39:57] CAROL: Thank you.


[0:39:57] ANDREW: Ok, bye bye.





Why teach? The three things I learnt from my students this semester

Each Wednesday night this year I rushed off after work to teach a room full of uni students whose main ambition was not to do an exam and finish their degree with as little effort as possible. Little did they know that my mission was to be an intervention to their status quo and shock them into the reality of life outside of the protective University walls!

Andrew Ford, Social Star, Monash University


It's not easy to do this extra gig, but I fully believe it's worthwhile. I sure don't shlep myself to the outer suburbs and back again at night, when I could be finishing work, going to the gym or god forbid having a drink with friends for nothing. I definitely get something out of it (...and it's sure not for the pay...), so what's the juice?

Many people consider doing some part-time lecturing so before you sign up have a read of my insights into the three main benefits of teaching.

1) Great Contacts

Teaching at University has been a passion of mine since I finished my Masters of Entrepreneurship at Swinburne way back in 2010. I was invited to teach in the Masters of Marketing program to add a dose of reality to the student's theory as I was running all sorts of cool marketing programs at Sensis. Check out the Paint Party story!

One of the benefits was that's where I met Lynn, my partner at Social Star, and one of my closest friend which was a great bonus! We kept in touch for many years after uni as friends and 2014 she joined the company and has been our greatest asset for the last four years.

I have also picked up many clients from mature age students and their referrals.

2) It helps your Career

I believe teaching, like most careers, is a calling. You either love it or hate it. I love it. I think it's the chance to influence someone's life for the better that gives me the buzz or perhaps it's just my ego inflation from standing at the front of the room :) Either way, I enjoy the experience so take the opportunity when I have time.

This year I was invited to co-teach a very cool subject called Career Dynamics at Monash Caulfield. It's the first subject I have heard of that is an elective for the entire school and fully focussed on getting students a job when they graduate. Of course, I encouraged them to #BYOB but that's another story!

The benefit for my company is I got to test out my personal branding strategies on a group of students to see if I could engage them. Much harder than my usual clients who seek me out - great learning! Now I am applying some new techniques to make branding even easier for our clients at Social Star.

3) It Builds Your Character

Each week when I get off the train from teaching uni at Monash Caulfield, I am confronted by the frustrating sound of chillout music, sights of people drinking cold beers and smells of freshly cooked burgers and fries. Damn you, whoever put a bar along the fenceline of that platform 10!

When the weather is fine, of course, I would rather be having a few beers with mates, but I chose to help others instead because I fully believe that doing something for others, above your own needs, builds character. This isn't something business people discuss as much these days, but if you look to the leadership of the last century where your word was your credibility, you gave back because it was the right thing to do and you stood up for what was right - I feel a lack of charcter in many of our leaders.

Teaching this group of students isn't going to change the world, but if I change one of their worlds then it's all worthwhile. Just maybe I will make up for all the bad stuff I have done!

Hope you enjoyed the blog,


P.S. If you haven't checked out my new podcast have a listen to my personal journey here.


BYOB Andrew Ford, Social Star

Welcome to my new podcast! Check out all the details here - Download the episode here, Listen to the episode on iTunes here

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


Want to Build Your Own Business? Take a 'boliday' by yourself.

I recently returned from a quick 'holiday' in beautiful Phuket, Thailand. During my six days in Kamala beach, I discovered a few things about myself and my business that might be handy for those working on their own corporate escape. Here are my top three takeaways.

Andrew Ford, Social star, BYOB


The reason I put 'holidays' in parenthesis is that it's not really a holiday, it's a boliday. A business holiday. I go by myself to work on my business plan for the next year. I see some sights, swim, drink too many beers, but overall I am 'working' about 5-6 hours a day. It's a bit lonely at times, you get a few funny looks having your laptop at breakfast, but that's the point - to get away where there are no distractions and let your brain work out what's next on the journey. I have had a few of these and have a few tips for people wanting to try one. Hope they help.

Tip 1 - Actually Get Away

The first problem to overcome is actually getting away in the first place. I'm sure it sounds nice, but how does a small business operator even get away in the first place? Between partners, kids activities, business commitments and of course the cost I know many small business owners who would never consider taking a holiday by themselves - ever. I tend to work a lot and don't take many breaks so I have to have a system in place for me to take regular bolidays.

The system for me is to be in a travel club where I pay a small amount each month which gives me points towards a holiday. It's a package deal so you have to go somewhere nice and actually be on a holiday. The points expire so I use it or loose it! Great motivation to book a trip. By the time you get to the boliday, it's mostly paid for so the money excuse is gone too. This trip, I used my frequent flyer points for flights and the package part cost me $250 for 6 days.

So tip 1 is set up a system to ensure that once a year you take a boliday alone to work on your business.

Tip 2 - Set Intentions

Before I left for Thailand I already knew what I wanted to get done. My first book 'Creating a Powerful Brand' (written in Bali a few years ago on my first boliday) has been out a few years and I have a bunch more material I want to share. So time for book number two. The problem was I was so busy with work and kids, that I wasn't clear on what it should be about. I needed some space to reflect before I committed a year of work on that project.

Day one of being in Thailand, I sat by the pool with my notebook and wrote my intentions. I had to finish a few work and University items before I could focus, I wanted to read Daniel's Priestley's book 24 Assets to stimulate my thinking, prepare for two courses I was running and get my book plan done. I also checked in with my team and ensured the business was all okie dokie.

This might now sound like a holiday, it isn't. It's a boliday. The benefit is that after work instead of the long commute home to cook dinner, do the washing and do emails in front of the TV. I would walk down this beach (see drool photo above) and have a $10 pad thai on the beach with sand in my toes and a few beers. Not so bad after all.

The tip is to be clear about what you want at the end and write it down, review regularly and take the actions.

Tip 3 - Your Brain Will do the Work

Day one of a boliday I am always a bit anxious. I try to get clarity, I force myself to relax and will my ideas to come. Doesn't work.

This trip, I just did the work I had to get done first. This helped my brain relax as I knew once it was completed I could genuinely relax. I put myself into a relaxing environment by the pool, had a few drinks if I felt like it, read some of my book, did some exercise and cruised. It's amazing how many hours there are in the day once you take all other distractions away.

After a few days of 5-6 hours work on my stuff, I started to unwind and let my brain think about the future. It's funny how when you set an intention, your brain just starts working on it all the time without you even knowing. Then you're at Phi Phi island enjoying the sun, taking selfies and you get a moment of clarity about your book - awesome!

The tip here is, you can't make it happen, you have to set the focus and let it happen.


Boliday's are not for everyone, but for those considering starting your own business, I highly recommend it to get some clarity. If you have any other tips on your annual routines to plan your year, love to hear them!

P.S. My next book & podcast is all about Being Your Own Boss #BYOB coming soon!


Like this blog? Check out some others I think you would like on my website. Here is one on my Vietnam trip.