I’m here with James Schramko in a one-on-one discussion about his amazing event, Super Fast Business Live.
James and I have different approaches to our businesses, but one thing we agree on is this: We’re both playing the long game. We’re always looking several years ahead.
He’s been putting on SFB Live for 9 years now. And my question for him was, How did he turn this into one of the most respected events in the industry, and one that people keep coming back to year after year?
“I think the answer is actually in the customer,” James says. “It’s very community based.”
James highlights the importance in eCommerce of continuously tweaking and improving your product to better suit your customers’ needs.
“You really do build the audience that you focus on,” he says.
As is often the case in eCommerce, the trick is not to find a market for your product, but a product for your market. It can take exposing your product to the market and getting feedback to really understand what people want. This is one of the tenants of the lean methodology.
For James and SFB Live, it means catering to higher level eCommerce business owners who are looking for higher level content.
“You get presenters and experts that are at the level the audience needs, which then in turn attracts people who want to come to the event.”
So while James had success early on teaching people to build their first websites and create their first offers, he chose to grow with his community instead of continuing to focus on that beginner-level audience.
And he didn’t just guess what his audience wanted: He did research.
“We’ll see from the statistics what kind of people we get to the event, and to a large extent that actually dictates what we talk about.”
And this is why it’s so important that you pay attention to what your customers are saying: Reviews, pos-purchase surveys, customer support tickets. This is all extremely valuable qualitative data that provides insight into how you can improve the experience you’re offering.
Like Smart Marketer, Super Fast Business live has stuck around because it keeps offering the latest in what’s working in eCommerce, and staying on the forefront of the industry.
We’re able to do this because, among other things, we know when to buy help. It’s so important for us as business owners to step away from the daily operations and focus on the bigger picture.
“It’s building an orchestra,” James says, “and being the conductor, not the trumpet player.”
In another video, James and I break down everything that was covered at this year’s Super Fast Business Live. It’s a lot of amazing content! Check it out here.
0:30 In business you should be playing a long game with long term goals
0:59 It’s very important to get feedback from customers and make modifications as you go
1:23 Create products and solutions around your own needs as well as the consumer
2:23 Business is like building an orchestra where you are the conductor
2:50 When creating a management team be willing to relinquish control of the things we are good at
3:20 First get help for things you’re bad at then get help for the things you’re good at
3:44 Delegating frees you up to play the bigger game of strategy and vision
4:45 Be willing to buy help especially for things you’re good at
5:04 SFB Live is one of the top events in the industry
5:30 When you have an event with high level personnel you will get high level content and attract high level consumers
5:45 You get the audience that you focus on
Click Here For Video Transcript
James Schramko: I’m good, how are you?
Ezra: Good to be here. We just did the SuperFastBusiness Live event. When I say “we,” James put it on, I just showed up and partied. One of the things–
James: I like that. We just put it on.
Ezra: We just put it on together. We did it.
James: Couldn’t have done it without you.
Ezra: Thank you, I appreciate that. So you’ve been doing this thing for like nine years now? Ten years?
James: Probably about nine.
Ezra: One of the things that we have in common, we’re very opposite, but one of the things we have in common is we both play a very long game. We’re looking ahead several years, and what fascinates me is that you’ve been doing this event for so long. And you’ve had the opportunity to really refine the product, and when I say the product I mean the event, to suit the needs of your customers. And what I want to know is where it started. What things you tweaked to make it a better product over time, because I think in e-commerce and in all business that’s a really important part of offering something, is getting feedback from the people who you’re selling it to and making modifications as you go.
James: Well, I think the answer is actually in the customer. It revolves around the customer. The customer asked for this. They want to have an event where they can come together, so it’s very community based. And because I’ve always created products and solutions around my own needs, it’s like my audience have actually come along with me.
Ezra: On the ride.
James: Yeah, if we went to the first event that I ran, I had people bring their laptops and we went onto the internet and we researched a market, registered at domain, and created a sales offer.
Ezra: Did the business model that was…
James: Put up a website and published it. And it was a lot of logistics to do that, but now my audience have grown up as I have and I don’t encourage people to build their own websites anymore.
Ezra: We encourage you to have Greg Merrilees design yours. Love you Greg.
Ezra: That guy got plugged more than anyone. That guy was just getting plugged at this event.
James: Yeah, came up in the feedback. Greg’s a bit of a sales machine. Get your website built by Dave Wooding’s team over at recommendwp.com. But the point is, we probably have a higher purpose now of running the business and letting other technicians do that.
Ezra: So building a system rather than being the operator.
James: Building an orchestra. And you want to be the conductor and not the trumpet player. It’s like that.
Ezra: How does it go?
James: Well, I’m not a conductor, because I’ve actually… You go like this.
Ezra: You’re a fencer.
James: No, and then after a while you say, “Hey, come over here. Just hold this. Wave it around. Look confident.” And you can actually put in a management team to run the business you need as well.
Ezra: It’s funny that you say that because right now what I’m doing in my business is I’ve become the manager, which is great. I don’t do operations. But now I’m actually bringing in, I’m about to hire a project manager, because I’m not the best project manager in the world.
James: It’s awesome. I’m surprised by that, firstly, but secondly, is the hard thing is actually giving up the jobs we’re good at. We tend to cling onto them the last, and for you I know you’re really good at driving traffic on the internet.
Ezra: I’ve let that one go, which is good.
James: But it can also chain you to your job. That’s the sort of thing you have to pay attention to. If you’re spending money on ads.
Ezra: So you get help for the things that you’re bad at, and then the next level is get help for the things that you’re good at. Play that manager role.
James: Exactly, and that’s way harder. Everyone knows to delegate stuff you’re not good at, so it’s an easy decision to have someone come and mow your lawn. It’s much harder to say, “Hey, I’m the best traffic guy on the internet and I want someone else to do it so that I don’t have to,” that almost sounds counterintuitive.
Ezra: It does, but it frees you up to play a bigger game of managing the operation as a whole and holding the vision and strategizing and figuring out what needs to be done. People consider that, like, “What have I even done today?” Right? “I just sat around and thought.” But who else is going to do that for you, you know?
James: Yeah, and probably one of the greatest examples of that is a student of mine, Jared Robinson, who was the best PE teacher in the world at using technology. He’s the world’s only PE geek, but in my discussions with him I said, “Jared, if you let go of doing the classroom stuff, you could actually serve a lot more people.” And when he gave up full-time teaching, he freed up.
Ezra: Now he could…
James: Yeah, he had an extra eight hours a day to now build a team of trainers, to start visiting extra destinations.
Ezra: To reach more people.
James: To work on his automated webinars and getting bigger class sizes. So he’s teaching a lot more people, but letting go of something that he was a world-class expert at.
Ezra: It’s a really good point. Be willing to buy help, especially for the things that you are good at. So, Ezra Firestone, James Schramko. What we’re going to do is we’re going to come back and actually break down your event. I mean I go to a lot of events. You go to a lot of events. This is by far one of the top events in our industry and I would say the top event in our industry, and the reason is it’s intimate. It’s not a million people. It’s like you get a couple hundred people. You get really high level speakers. You get people who are actually in the game sharing with you what they’re doing, not just talking about fluff, and you know.
James: We’ll see from some of the statistics the type of people we get to the event, and to a large extent that actually dictates what we talk about at the event.
Ezra: That’s the point I was trying to make, you said it better, which is that when you have an event of people who are at a bit of a higher level, you end up with content that’s catered to people at a bit of a higher level rather than…
James: And you attract people who come to the event because it’s a higher level. It’s like you really do build the audience that you focus on. You get the audience that you focus on, and then you get presenters and experts who are at the level that the audience needs, which then in turn attracts people who want to come to the event. And that’s why it’s actually easy to run an event each year, if you have momentum.
Ezra: Below this video will be a link to the video where we break down what happened at SuperFastBusiness Live.