00:30 James Schramko is a master of many things business
01:20 James talks business structure, first up is taxes
03:30 Set up your business in a way that protects your assets!
06:30 Keep 100% control of your business!
08:00 James and Ezra talk partnerships
11:45 You need to have a business strategy and a purpose
18:50 During start-up it’s all about avoiding waste and creating a brand
22:50 James gets high level and talks veneering
28:50 A few tips on innovation
32:00 James explains how to get the most when you sell
36:00 The S.Y.S.T.E.M. and James’ favorite tools
43:25 You need to be testing!
48:15 Automation, systems to make running your business easier
52:15 James’ tips for assembling a team – hiring, firing, and training
55:00 The three T’s – train, transfer, or terminate
57:15 Maximize your team by using standard operating procedures and delegation
1:02:15 James talks business values
1:07:30 You are the most important thing in your business
1:14:00 Question everything
1:21:20 It’s a competition, so get out there and compete!
Click Here For Video Transcript
Ezra: We have a really special guest today, an overall business genius, James Schramko. James, thank you so much for taking the time to sit with us and share some of your knowledge with us today.
James: Happy to be here, Ezra. I always love talking about business with you.
Ezra: Sure. I want to give people a little bit of context on you. I mean, for those of you who don’t James, he runs a website called SuperFastBusiness, and James is a master of many things business, but one of the things that he’s really helped me with in my business is structure and systems. And there’s a lot that goes into running a successful business, a successful e-commerce store, and it’s more than just strategies and techniques. There’s things that you should be paying attention to, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, that will help you grow faster, that have nothing to do with your actual store. And so that’s what James has come here to talk to us about today, so thanks for that, man.
James: Absolutely. So it’s kind of like that, where he’s not very popular these days, but Lance Armstrong was talking about it’s not about the bike, you know? It’s got to be about the drugs, probably. But in business, if you do some things, you’re going to get a better result than others. So we’re going to cover some of the main things that I’ve observed can help you, especially with your e-commerce store, to grow it faster and more profitably, and to be able to keep it for the longer term. Are you ready to roll?
Ezra: Absolutely. Let’s roll.
James: Okay, so first up is structure. And we want to build on solid footings. It’s like when I went to Egypt, I had to look at these pyramids, and they’ve been there for a long time because they are built right. There will be lots of times with your store that you can make a choice. And you can have like a band-aid solution that might be like a temporary fix, or you could have a longer-term solution that might give you that enduring business structure that allows you to keep that thing up and running. So every decision you make as a business owner, think about the long haul, and where you’re going to be. So you want to make sure that you have everything in your business in place. And I’m not just talking about the website here. So I’m going to give you some examples of how you can be on solid footings. Tax is a big one. What I’ve found is a lot of people who maybe go from a job or set up their first business online, and not set up very well for tax, and they end up just paying the majority of what they earn back over to the government. So there are things you can do by sitting down with a proper accountant that will help you identify where you can actually get some benefits.
And this might be in terms of what structure you have your business under. It might be how you move your profits around in terms of entities, or where you place them in between tax periods, and also getting your tax timing right. Cash flow is such a big deal with a business, and you need to keep as much of the money that you’re bringing in for yourself and pay out, I guess, an efficient tax rate. You don’t want to be doing anything dodgy or illegal, but you certainly want to get good advice because it can save you hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars over the time that your store is running. Also, you want to protect the assets that you have. You definitely don’t want to be out there as a sole trader or just working under your own name because, particularly in North American market, it’s very litigious, and sometimes there’s even people out there who will want to come and take what you’ve got for no other reason then they can exploit some legal loophole. So you want to set up your business in a way that protects you and your family and your assets from being just taken from someone for some frivolous lawsuit.
For that reason, I recommend that you speak to someone really sharp with a legal perspective and get the right entity and the right setup for your situation that will protect you. Insurance is a must. It’s amazing how many business owners that I speak to who operate online and they don’t have insurance. And sometimes you can’t help things going wrong. The chances of you not having someone being upset at some point, if you have lots of customers, is pretty slim. So you want to have insurance in place. That’s why insurance companies exist. You pay a premium each year to make sure that if someone wants to really try and take you on that you’ve got that protection, the weight of an insurance company, behind you to help protect you from any kind of overly litigious customer. It also helps you sleep well at night, which is good. Now, I’m not sure if you see there in the picture, Ezra, is a banana, and I know you’re so fond of those.
Ezra: Well, I used to be fond of them. I actually haven’t had one in close to 18 months.
James: Eighteen months? All right. I wonder how many you could eat in a single day.
Ezra: Well, 30, of course.
James: Oh dear. It’s a little in-joke, folks. Okay, now, here’s the thing. You can actually continue to grow your shop by buying other shops. And this is probably not talked about often, but if you were to weigh up starting from scratch, having to go out and set everything up and then do all your marketing and brand your brand, versus just exchanging some pre-tax dollars to buy an already-existing store that you know you can fix, you can really accelerate your growth. I’ve done this several times. So I went out and bought websites that were already out there, and then accelerated their growth because they were already in play. And what I worked out was, it’s cheaper to buy them than to have the resource to set them all up, in some cases. So, depending on where you’re at, this might be a good strategy for you. And you might simply, well you might simply . . .
Ezra: Sorry to interrupt you.
James: Oh, that’s all right. You might simply buy the store just to get the database, or to take out a competitor who’s stealing your market share.
Ezra: Yeah. And it’s big in e-commerce. You’d be surprised how many store owners in markets are willing to sell, or want out or, you know, you can absolutely — e-commerce stores are easy to acquire.
James: There you go, from the horse’s mouth. Okay, now, control. This is absolutely one of my favorites. It’s a topic that I’m passionate about. People know me for this topic. It’s about taking control of your business. I’d see this mistake where people give away equity. And you know why a lot of people give away equity? It’s because they want their hand held and they want to suck on that little dummy, that pacifier that they had when they were a baby. They want someone else to be responsible and deal with the bogeyman. Well, I’m saying, folks, step up. Take control. Keep 100% of ownership if you possibly can. You don’t have to take equity. You don’t have to take a partner. In many cases, you’re just doing it because you’re a wuss. So man up, or lady up, and get control. Keep control. If you don’t have to have shareholders, if you don’t have to float publicly, it’s probably a good thing. And you want to own the racecourse, as I say. Own each piece of the game, if you can. It gives you so much more power. There’s no compromise. And you don’t have to do something just because the shareholder or the partner wants to do it.
You do something because you want to do it and because it’s the right thing for your business and for your customers. Next up is when you want to sell, there are certainly things that you need to be aware of, especially if you have partnerships. My recommendation is that if you’re going into a partnership, you talk about how you’re going to exit the partnership before you even start. That is essential, and it’s going to save you a lot of legal fees and a lot of lost sleep.
Ezra: Let’s talk about — let’s just talk about a hard example of that with our podcast.
James: Okay. Well, Ezra and I have a podcast together. It’s called ThinkActGet.com. And I have another podcast with another guy, called Tim, and I have my own podcasts. So when Ezra and I were talking about having a podcast, I actually sent Ezra an email and it said, “Here’s how I think that it would work, and here’s what would happen if it were to end.” And it’s like the domain goes here, the customer list gets shared, and whatever, whatever. And Ezra said that all looks fair to me. Now that’s a documented thing in writing. Now here’s the thing. If we ever have to pull it out, if I’ve ever got to go and search for that document and see what it says, then the deal’s probably — the partnership or the ThinkActGet’s probably finished. Because if I’m starting to figure out what’s my entitlement, then that’s a bad sign. The chances are I’ll never have to go and look it up. But the best thing is, we both went forward on the agreement that we came up with before we invested energy, before we put dollars into it, before we put time into it, we knew how it was going to end. And I think it will probably go for quite some time because we have a partnership that is equitable.
That after, I think we’re up to, we’re about to do our ninth episode, and after that amount of period, we seem to have found a good balance. Ezra does the pre-work, and I do the post-work. We both market it, we both get good feedback, it’s helping both of our businesses, it’s a good deal. But mostly because we talked about what would happen if it were to stop.
Ezra: Absolutely. And I think that — and that was precipitated by you, and I thought that was a really smart thing. I didn’t think to say hey, let’s sort out what happens when and if this thing ends, so I appreciate that and I think that it’s really smart and I just wanted to share an example of you actually doing that.
James: Yeah, and this has come from hard-earned experience, so I’ve exited partnerships before. I had a partnership that was costing me $10,000 a month because I set it up too much in favor of the other party. And it took me a couple of years to exit that, and it cost me at least half a million dollars over time in excess fees because I needed someone to hold my hand in the beginning. So it was a very expensive way to set up. Now here’s the deal, also. It’s not as expensive in the beginning. Partnerships are expensive when things go well. It doesn’t matter is the sale, if the website flops, if there’s no money made, no one’s really missing out on that much except for a wasted opportunity. But if it’s wildly successful, can you imagine what happens when you start generating a million dollars a year from your e-commerce store and you decided to give two-thirds of it to two other people? Now, by the time that million dollars gets siphoned down, less the stock, less your marketing, you might end up with $50,000, and you say, “Why am I doing this?” And that’s when the tension starts.
All right, next up, strategy. And you need to have a strategy. This is a business, this is a real deal. You’re out there and there’s other players and you have to know how it works. You’ve got to, firstly, the strategy is to create and retain a customer. This is a Peter Drucker thing. You’ve got to get out there and create a customer, and then you’ve got to keep the customer, unless you’re dealing with wedding favors or a one-time purchase, which can be difficult. Ezra will tell you more about having one-time versus repeat customers in the course. But you have to have a strategy. If your strategy is like mine, it’s to create and retain a customer, and you’ll need to continually market and innovate. Now, completely referencing Peter Drucker here, but this is just the fundamentals. You’ll always be making changes to your store, and you’ll always have to market it in some way to stay fresh because there’s other players out there and they will wipe the board of your pieces. And in business, any of the statistics you look at online will show you the majority of businesses actually fail. It’s only the businesses who have a strategy who win. Next up is purpose.
Ezra: That’s what you’ve come, that’s what you’ve come to this course for. Strategy.
James: That’s right. You’re already getting the playbook. Now you have to play. And you have to have a purpose. Like what is the point of this store? You should sit down and think about this before you go and spend 20 hours a day in your new-found passion and build this empire and realize that you’ve left your family in your wake, or you’ve burned all your best friendships, or that you put on 20 kilograms and you’re stuck in the little dark room because you’re a computer geek. Think about this carefully. What is the point of this store? If this is to free you up from your job, make sure you’re not spending twice as much time on your new business. And this is a pretty easy trap to fall into when there are very soft boundaries. I call it “jelly edges.” But there’s — when you have an open schedule, and it’s your business, you start to get jelly edges. You don’t really know where things are. So be clear on your purpose and measure your level of interest. You’ve got to love this to really do well at it. You don’t have to love the products you’re selling. You might be selling dildos or something, but if you’re passionate about the profit that it brings, if you’re passionate about the pleasure that it brings your customers, then that’s okay and you’ll find that level of interest will be required to be successful.
Ezra: And you know, something funny happens, is you tend to — or most people tend to get interested in what they’re doing. So as you do this, you’ll probably find yourself being fascinated by search engine optimization, and fascinated by paid advertising. So I think that hopefully that one will self-fulfill for you.
James: Correct. Now, design. Think about how you want your business to look. Do you want to work from home? Do you want a little office with some staff? Do you want an overseas team? Are you going to be really ramping up the marketing like to a Zappos level and having huge corporatey sort of stuff? Are you going to — what level are you stepping in at? Are you enterprise? Are you mumtrepreneur? Because you can plan your business in advance. You can actually decide what it will look like, and then fit, so to speak. It’s like ordering the shoes and then growing into them. So think about the design of your business. And I quite often question assumptions here. Some people tell me they want to go and set an office, they want all this staff, and I think, gee, that sounds a lot like the job that you’re looking to leave. And they’re like, oh, you know, what? That’s right. I’m not going to have time with my family, it’s not actually going to fulfill what I was trying to do in the first place. So think carefully about your business design.
All right. What sort of business model are you going to have? Well, you’ve got the course that Ezra’s put together. That should give you some massive indicators. You’ve got the road map. Observe other people before you, see what they’ve done. See what works for you. See where you fit, and then pursue it. And if you can possibly make your business work without you, that’s even better. So Ezra will probably cover the parts that you can get other people doing. And there’s going to be bits that you still have to do, and I suggest if you’re going to do some things, it should be controlling the checkbook, and being the chief marketing strategy person in your business. If you can take those two roles, they’re the main things you want to be doing, rather than taking pictures of your stock or loading up SKUs.
Ezra: Or handling the live chat or answering the phones or any of that other stuff that we talked about. In that module about sourcing, we discussed which parts of the e-commerce business are really easy to outsource to someone else, and which ones you shouldn’t kind of let go of, like your paperclip campaign and that kind of stuff.
James: The checkbook! Don’t let go of the checkbook! Make sure you sign off on all payments. People have the nasty habit of writing themselves checks if you give them the checkbook.
Ezra: Who does that? Who does ?
James: I don’t know. It just, it happens. It’s very common. Okay. You want a defensible position in the marketplace. See, this is the thing. There is a low barrier to entry with the Internet. Anyone, Uncle Bob, Cousin Tim, they could go and buy a domain for nine bucks and set up a shop with one of those free shopping things. There’s a big difference between doing that and doing it well. That’s why you’ve got the course. You want to be able to stay there in business. You want your business to be special, unique, and you want to stop people coming and copying you so easily. The more personality you dial into it — and I’m going to bet that Ezra’s covered this somewhere — the harder it is for people to copy you, because the personality of your business is what people are buying. They’re buying that experience, they’re buying that unique factor. So any way or where you can be different or move faster than your competitor or dial in personality, that’s where you’re going to have a more defensible position, and it is going to be harder for people to just come and cut and paste you.
Ezra: You know, this hearkens back to my viewpoint is that the faceless e-commerce store is dying, and that in order to succeed in e-commerce these days what you need is a brand, and some kind of value that you’re adding to the market beyond just your product line. And if you remember, in that module, I was actually talking about James’s course, Own the Racecourse, over at owntheracecourse.com, because one of the easiest ways to add value to your market is to share your viewpoints and opinions on the products themselves and on the topics and conversations that are relevant to the people who are consuming those products, and videos about the products, all that kind of stuff. So we actually talked about your course in that module.
James: Ah, cool. Yeah. Take every single question anyone ever asks you about your products and services, pop it back up there as a video or an audio, and you have dynamite, marketing dynamite. All right, so with the startup, here’s a couple of things I’ve learned about this. It’s all about avoiding waste, and best reference I’ve read about this is “The Lean Startup,” by Eric Ries. But you want to go out there — you don’t have to be a perfectionist. Just get something good up there, and work with — do your research. Do what Ezra said. If you filter your products, your prices, your markets according to the way that Ezra teaches, because he’s a genius at this, you will eliminate waste. And you’ll learn quickly what works, and then you can keep scaling the winners. I’ve heard Ezra say this, is you take the best products you’ve got and do more of those. It makes so much sense. And don’t take funding if you can avoid it. Just fund yourself by continuing to leverage your winning campaigns, your winning products. Recognize when things are changing in the market.
If you can be faster to detect change, you can make good decisions based on all the data that’s coming into your site with all the analytics and your product lineups, and I’ve done this with e-commerce store customers. I’ve said, “Pull out your last six months of sales. I want you to filter the total volume of sales, and now I want you to filter by profit. Which products made you the most profit?” And I remember this one instance was a home-wares store, and he thought it would be fry pans or cookware or whatever. And you know what it was, Ezra? It was candles. Candles was the most profitable item that he sold, on a pure profit basis. They were a low-cost item with a high margin, and almost everyone grabbed candles at the checkout. So we got him to order containers full of the stuff from China, and he was able to double his business within three months.
James: Okay. So, paying attention to the name. Brandable, trademarkable is great. Again, it’s another way you can stand out. If you think about the great e-commerce brands, like Amazon, Zappos, they’re not any words that mean anything, until you have an experience with them. So you don’t have to have a keywordy domain. I like trademarkable brandables that stand out, that you can build an aura around. Google, Yahoo!, Apple, they all fit that same criteria. So don’t think you have to have your market name in it. Don’t know what Ezra’s viewpoint on this is, but just from my own point of view, I’ve found that these ones build the most value, people remember them. Be clear and specific and try and get different dot-com, dot-org, dot-net if you can protect it. If you’re really out building a serious asset, I wouldn’t, I would not get an e-commerce store unless I could have the dot-com. I just wouldn’t. It’s not worth it.
Ezra: Yeah, and we talked about that when we picked our domain name. We’re not going, I just don’t want a dot-net or a dot-org, and you don’t want a 15, chickencoopsbybob.com. I mean, you just don’t want something like that.
James: And look, here’s the other thing that I’ve found, that quite often you can just go and buy the dot-com. It’s almost always the good ones are just sitting there, parked. I bought a domain called “Link Juice,” which is ideal for the market that I operate in, for backlinks and SEO, and it was sitting there, ready for me to buy. And it was just a matter of paying the money, and it was mine. And like literally the day after I bought it, someone else, one of our mutual friends, offered me twice as much as I paid for it.
James: It’s an obvious domain for that market.
Ezra: Yeah, someone tried to get smartmarketer off of me after I bought it, too.
James: It’s a beautiful domain. It says what you are. Okay.
Ezra: I appreciate that.
James: Veneering. This is a high-level concept. Work with me here. This is about creating a layer on top of the same core engine, to make it brand new and different and valuable. I want you to think about the desks in many offices. They’re usually chipboard with a nice fancy veneer on top. The veneer could be white, it could be glossy white, it could be fake wood, it could be graphite, it could be any number of veneers. And they will all look different, but essentially it is a chipboard desk or compressed-timber desk with a fancy top. Does that make sense, Ezra?
Ezra: Yes, the sugar coating. It’s the outer layer on the outside of the M&M. Anyone here eat Skittles, eats M&M’s?
James: That’s right. So yeah, it’s like an M&M. They all look different. It’s just chocolate with some sugar on the top. So, veneering is how I take an existing business and make it wildly profitable. I go out and I can get a new domain name, and pitch to a new market, a specific niche market. Let’s just take a wild example here. Maybe I sell pools, or pool supplies. I might then go and set up a new store. I’ll take the best product, maybe the best product I had was Creepy Crawlies. So then I could set up a special Creepy Crawlies site, that just does Creepy Crawlies. And I can then use the same engine that drives my normal pool supply store to drive the Creepy Crawly store. They could all be under a master brand called Pool Supplies, Inc., or whatever. Acme Pool Supplies. That could be the engine. That’s where my accounting is, that’s where my e-commerce billing and gateway, my order responders, everything could be set up under that master account, and then I just niche it out to my little markets by veneering the same stuff, but into slightly different markets, specializing. I could be a swimming product, and now I’d niche it out for tri-athletes, or I’d niche it out for Olympic swimmers. I’d really tailor it for that market, and the greatest example of that is these huge pharmaceutical companies who niche out their tablets for different people but it’s the same stuff, but they just label it differently.
Ezra: You’re so smart.
James: Now here’s the thing, right? This is just the extra twist that I love. I’ve sold my veneering sites. And guess who supplies my new customer, who I’d just got paid for? Me. So I could sell my Creepy Crawly site, bring forward all that cash, and then when they sell it, now I’m the drop-shipper from my master company.
James: Right? So this is how . . .
Ezra: You know, this is in the expansion module when we were talking about having one mother store within a niche, and then multiple sort of, I don’t remember the lingo we used, but basically creating stores based around your most popular sections of products to drive even more traffic and retail more of those products and take up more spaces in the SERPs and all that kind of stuff, so this is akin to that.
James: Yeah, well, you can literally create one, market it, get it standing on its own two feet, sell it, and continue to supply, and then create another one, and another one, and another one.
Okay. Chocolate Wheel. This is my way of looking at your product and model mix. Now I get that this is about e-commerce. However, there’s a lot of related products and services. Affiliated offers, consulting, workshops, coaching courses. Like if I was selling motorcycles, I could have a motorcycle outing day, and I could charge people for that tour. I could have New York City Motorcycle Club or something. And if I was the Harley-Davidson e-commerce store, then I could just have drive days, ride days, in touring Route 66 or whatever. So many things you could monetize around a store, so it’s a matter of mapping it out, just splat it out on a whiteboard. Here’s your store in the middle with your core customer. What else does that customer need or buy already that you can just go and offer it to them and get a cut, even if it’s an affiliated offer?
Ezra: And you know, you should be doing this anyway, because this is the same line of thinking that you need to have in order to produce the kind of content you need to produce for your blog.
James: That’s it. You should be finding out what they want. They tell you, anyway. They say hey, Ezra, do you know where I could get bla, bla, bla? We have a search engine optimization company, and we get customers saying, “Do you know who builds websites?” And we say, “As a matter of fact, we build websites.” It’s my job to let them know that we build websites. Most of my customers would know that, if I’m marketing properly. And if you’re doing Own The Racecourse, then you are driving people to this central source often, and that’s where you can put your banners for your related offers. It’s where you can put a clickable link off to your related offers. I’ve got this one website, the superfastbusiness.com, and it feeds all of my main businesses because I just mention them in my videos. It’s that simple. That is my marketing strategy. Create a piece of content every day and put it up there and then tell people about what else I’ve got. That’s it. That drives millions of dollars in sales. It’s so simple, and we should all do it. How are we going there, Ezra?
Ezra: Well, I’m doing it, so . . .
Ezra: I’m taking your advice on that one.
James: Innovation. Here’s a few tips on how you can — if you get a stumbling block or you’re stalled or you’re not sure how to go to the next stage, these are some questions that I like to ask. How can we do better? Now, if you can’t answer that, then ask your customers how can we do better. You could put this on an email receipt. When someone buys something, you can say, “Hey, yesterday you purchased a Zickey Zack 24,000. Just wanted to know how the experience was, and perhaps if you have any suggestions on how we could do better. Please hit reply.” They will tell you what to do. This is how to innovate. They’ll say, “Oh, I really would have liked to, on the checkout, to be able to select multiple quantity, because I wanted to buy five, and I could only buy one at a time and I gave up after two.” Right? That’s how you grow your business. You could ask why are we doing this. Get back to that clear purpose, the focus. What were you doing this for in the first place? What are other people in the world doing better than you? Go out and look for them, seek them out. Hunt them down on the Internet. Look for them at events.
Go to these smart marketing-type events where smart marketers hang out, and find out what they’re doing, because they will have ideas that you are not doing. I could guarantee you that I am doing things in my business that not every business is doing yet. If they find out what the things that I am doing are, they’ll do them, and they’ll profit wildly from it. But a simple example is this. For your average e-commerce store, they’re probably not up to the stage where they have a shopping cart abandonment follow-up process. The average store probably isn’t doing that yet. The good stores are. They know if someone goes to buy and doesn’t, they will follow them up with a link to that order and perhaps even an incentive. That’s an example of innovation that can seriously lift your profit. And if someone out there is doing it and you find out about it, and you’re not doing it, then make sure you write that down as an action item.
Ezra: And the key is to put yourself in the line of fire where you will find out about what’s being innovated in your field. The e-commerce blogs, the marketing blogs, whatever it is you want to find out about, there’s other people out there talking about it. It’s why I consume James’s media. It’s why I — I consume a whole bunch of media to keep me up to date on what’s going on in the fields that I’m interested in so that I can process that information and then think about how it applies to my business and my life, and innovate from there.
James: Yeah, well, what’s changed with your business by adding more videos and getting more social? I’m sure it’s had a huge impact.
Ezra: It’s a game changer. I mean, it’s — yeah.
James: And a lot of e-commerce stores are not doing that, so you currently have the market advantage. You’re the business that’s taking the market share, taking the profit from the competitors who can’t do it or don’t know to do it. All right. Byproducts. What assets are you creating? You might be creating assets you don’t know about. I’m really big on this. I always look for the hidden asset. If you’re going to set up an e-commerce store and you’re really good at it, then you might as well document it and turn it into a course. There’s an idea, Ezra.
Ezra: I think that’s a pretty good idea.
James: So that’s an example of how to do it. I have this habit, when I do a new thing for the first time, I generally just write down the steps that I take, because that provides me a treasure map, if you like, to be able to do it the next time. But I could also sell that, because there’s other people who want treasure. And if I’m doing anything for the first time, even if I’m learning how to film videos and put them on my website, chances are that all of my customers want to know how to do that, and I could turn that into a course. Hence, Own the Racecourse.
Ezra: And it’s never too simple. It’s never too simple, and here’s a good example of it. I’m in a Master Mind with multiple seven-figure business owners, and James — I learned how to do, I learned about podcasting from James, and I learned about the podcasting medium and I got some experience with it through ThinkActGet. So it came time for me to upload my own podcast, and there’s just a plug-in that you use, and it’s like this simple step by step sequence, and so I just documented it as I did it. I just documented submitting it over to iTunes, and everyone in that group was all super-excited about learning how to submit a podcast to iTunes. It’s not like it’s difficult. It’s explained right in that plug-in how to do it.
Ezra: So the point is, you don’t have to worry about — you should document whatever you’re doing because people will find value in it, even if you think it’s easy.
James: Well, if you popped in a little time-travel capsule and went back 100 years, but you managed to take your iPad, I think the tribes, the society would be pretty fascinated with it. Something that they haven’t seen before, they don’t know about, is pretty exciting, even if we’re used to it. All right. Exit. This is the part where, this is the payday. This is, for some people, the goal. Sell it for multiples of its profit. And if you start with the end in mind, it helps you make decisions along the way that will help you sell it. Now, the main rule of thumb here is it is salable to the level that it works without you. That’s the bottom line. If you’re required to run this business, then it’s — whoever buys it’s going to have to do what you’re doing now, and that’s job lack in quality. To the level it works without you is the level of leverage you’ve got, and that will affect the multiples you can sell it for, how profitable it is.
Ezra: Which is what I think is the beauty of an e-commerce business, is that they’re extremely salable. And you take, for example, smartmarketer, this company that I’m building. Well, that venture does not work without me. And I understand that as I’m going into that business model. I enjoy it, I’m happy about it. But it also makes sense to have other businesses like e-commerce businesses that can work without me, because smartmarketer is not really much of an asset. It’s more of a cash-flow thing. I don’t see it actually building into much of a liquidatable asset, not that I intend to liquidate it, but I ran into this problem. I ran a — I did all the marketing for a company that sold information products on how to become a life coach a couple years back, five or six years ago now. And when it came time that that company was ending and he was considering selling it, he couldn’t really get an offer, he couldn’t really sell the company because it was all based around him. So it wasn’t really much of an asset.
James: Yeah. So if you’re going to put your name in it, just remember, it’s your baby. It’s much harder to sell. But if you build up a smart marketer star business, where you are required to turn up, you can lend your authority to your business in the beginning and then step back a bit.
Ezra: Good point, good point.
James: That’s the Richard Branson model. Okay. SYSTEMs. Want to talk systems for a second here. SYSTEMs is an acronym. It stands for Saves You Stress, Time, Energy, Money. Okay? Put things, shout from the rooftops. Put things where you use them. That’s a really great tip. I’ll tell you, there’s this lunatic I used to work for. He had a smash-repair business, and in the smash-repair business they use power tools. And he would actually screw the power extension cord into the power socket so that the employee could not take the cord and use it somewhere else, so that it was always there, where it was required, and there was never down time. Because you know what it’s like. You go to use a tool, oh, someone borrowed it, they didn’t bring it back, and then you’ve got to go and find it from 20 workstations. That was clever. I’ve never seen that before, but it just makes so much sense.
Ezra: Also something that a crazy person might do. Oh yeah. You don’t want to be moving the stuff.
James: So another thing with tools is you want the minimum number of tools possible. It’s very tempting to get on the old tool roller coaster, oh, the new this, the new that, the bright shiny object. We have a tools philosophy in our business. We use very few tools for the number of people we have and the amount of work that we do. And we have some rules. Firstly, we have to test tools to see that they absolutely work as promised. We have to have the very best tool for the job. If there are three tools, we’ll compare them, we’ll work out the winner, and we’ll use the best. And the third thing is we have to use them within an inch of their capability. No point in having a fancy tool if you don’t know how to use it. So this is how we roll. Minimum tools, the best tools, we know how to use them. Okay, devices. With e-commerce, you’re probably going to be able to use devices like an iPad or an iPhone. And get good equipment so that you can access your store remotely to reduce the office time that you’re burning. Also make it easy for customers to access your store by devices, because that will increase sales these days.
Now, if you have team, a great tool that we use is GoToMeeting. In fact, Ezra and I are using this right now to make this, since he’s in New York and I’m in Sydney. This tool is a global leveler. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or where your team is, you can come together and meet online. So I’ve had tremendous value from this, but you can also run virtual workshops or online events for your customers. That’s why this tool is in our toolbox. The same for webinars. It’s the same tool, pretty much. For storage, we’re using a couple of tools here. I use Dropbox for the team, and I use Evernote for my own personal filing cabinet, which is like an online scrapbook. And I use Amazon S3. Amazon are pretty big in the e-com game, right? They have some fairly robust storage systems. So that’s where I put my media files like audios and things that I want. You shouldn’t be storing media files for your website on your website. You’ll probably blow up your server or use up too much bandwidth. So get them away from your main site, put them on somewhere super-robust and secure.
For accounting, if you, you probably don’t have this service unless you’re building out your Chocolate Wheel, but if you do have billing that needs to be automated, FreshBooks is good, because they can actually post out, with a stamp and envelope, a real invoice. But for a lot of business owners, Xero is great. It pulls in PayPal, it pulls in bank feeds, and it can give you tags and costs and labels, so you really want to know your numbers. And you can also use add-on software like PeopleMind, and it can show you who your best customers are. And this is essential. You need to know who your best customers are, the ones that order the most. I know who my best customers are, and I’m always in touch with them, because that’s where you get your best innovation from. And when you lose a big customer, it can hurt your business. So tools like this really help you keep an eye on those numbers. For emailing the team, Google Apps is good. It’s a robust email service. It’s highly searchable.
You can store documents like standard operating procedures in Google Drive, so I would recommend this if you want high deliverability for your personal emails, and if you want to be able to manage teams with groups. So if you had a whole team of people entering SKUs, or if you had a photographer or if you had a traffic team, you can just set up a group for each team and just communicate to that group, and not to everyone. Now for your list marketing, there’s a few options here. The ones I’ve tested and used are AWeber and Office AutoPilot. But there are other ones, like MailChimp and iContact, InfusionSoft. Ezra’s probably covered all of this in the course, but these sort of systems — for me, Office AutoPilot is a very clever system, because that’s how I can do my end-of-subscription follow-ups, my shopping cart abandonment follow-ups. I can trigger certain pages to send an email to people, or if they click on a link in my email, I can add them to an automated sequence. So say I had in an email a link that says, “This week, we have a special on bla, bla, bla,” and people click on that link, then Office AutoPilot could add them to a particular sequence for that special, for that product, and it will only follow up the people who clicked on the link, and not the people who didn’t. And I think that’s really cool.
CRM systems. There’s a couple out there. Highrise and Capsule. There’s also SugarCRM, they sort of pop up quite often, and that’s why I mention them. Capsule gets pretty good raps, and this is how you can — if you have a bespoke cart, you might want to be doing this. If you have really high-end items, you might want to do some assisted sales, some phone follow-ups and direct-response marketing to generate more sales. For shopping carts, there’s all sorts. In fact, I’m not an e-commerce specialist when it comes to the carts, so please forgive me if Shopify is not ideal for you. Probably you like different ones, like Bigcommerce or Magento. Ezra?
Ezra: Yeah, we’ve got it, we’ve got most of these folks on Bigcommerce, pretty much, yeah.
James: Yeah. I hear great things about Bigcommerce. In fact, I would change this picture to Bigcommerce, knowing that. Whatever you say is good by me. I’m more of an information products and services, so we use Nanacast for that, and it’s very powerful for those things. Conversion testing. This is a real must. I’m really improving my opt-in pages by 50%, 25%, 100% using Visual Website Optimizer. Even if you have an e-commerce store, you still need a landing page for different source of traffic. And if you want to really drive up your business, you’re going to build a list of customers, and the best way to do that is to have squeeze pages, where you offer really good information and tips or tutorials, but also ask for people’s details. And by continually testing those, you can increase your conversion rate and build your list faster. So I love Visual Website Optimizer.
Ezra: Plugs right into Bigcommerce.
James: Beautiful. Project management. Bunch of different things here. There’s — by the way, if you’re using Google Apps, you can also get a plug-in these days called Wrike. It’s w-r-i-k-e. It’s really simple and easy and our team are loving that at the moment. But we’ve used Basecamp, Trello, Podio, and there’s also Teamwork. So there’s a bunch of different tools you can use for that. And this is to, in the background, to manage your team. For surveys, Google Apps are great. They make fantastic forms. Or SuveyMonkey. Either of those are going be great. It’s fantastic to know what’s happening with your customers. You could just ask them an open-ended question, and both of these tools will create a word cloud of the most commonly used words in the responses, which is fascinating, even for an open-ended survey. Dashboard. I’m just using my own tool here, which I’ve made available, I think, on a free trial, Speeddash. And that pulls in RSS feeds, it creates quick links, you can get Google Analytics, [inaudible 00:45:06], it pulls in your Gmail, Basecamp, and a few other bits and pieces.
So that’s a handy way to have everything on one page, if you want one place to log in that has sort of the starting points to your day. For support, I’m loving Zendesk, and that integrates really well with some of the other tools that I use, like LiveChat, Inc. And you will boost sales if you are doing live chat and if you have a really solid FAQ or macros built into Zendesk, where you can have templated replies that send people to the right FAQ video, perfect. For websites, I’m using WordPress because I’m not the e-com guy, but for your e-commerce store, make sure you’ve got a blogging function. How does that work, Ezra?
Ezra: It plugs right in. WordPress is installed in a subdirectory, which we cover in the course.
James: Perfect. We’re all on the same page then. I live LiveChat, Inc. Really great to engage people. You can have triggers that set when someone visits a certain page and they stay a certain time, they can engage in a chat. If you don’t want a chat, if you can’t get someone to man it, then you can actually have it leave a message, and it pushes into Zendesk, which is sweet. For templates and checklists and standard operating procedures, we use Google Apps because it’s so searchable, but if you’re just a sole operator, you might use Evernote, and if you’ve got an agency-style cart, you might want Basecamp. It’ sort of more — you can involve a customer in that if you needed to. But I’m finding these days people switching away from Basecamp because it’s, I think it’s they’ve had their run, for some reason.
Ezra: Yeah, the community is really anti-Basecamp these days for some reason.
James: Yeah. It seems to have gone off. We were on it for years. We’ve gone off it as well. Okay, so reporting. I mentioned Xero. Also Putler. If you just use PayPal — now, there are some people that do, and I did for a number of years, because it was hard to get a merchant facility — Putler is amazing. It’s PayPal Putler. And it pulls in all your PayPal accounts, and shows you these beautiful reporting of your best customers, your average transaction, your sales velocity, your daily sales, monthly, year-to-date, quarterlies. It’s awesome. I highly recommend that. Of course, you should have Google Analytics installed. You should be checking your cart, top items, what’s selling. This is essential. And of course, when you sit down with your accountant often. You don’t want nasty surprises, especially if you’re going really well and you’ve got to pay huge tax bills. It’s quite daunting at times.
So the next topic that we’re going to cover that you felt would be real interesting is automation. And this is about creating a system to handle things automatically. And this can be, there can be automation in different ways, and one of the ways that is pretty common is human automation. This is where we’re going to have a lot of heavy items that need doing — customizing your product pages, taking pictures, making videos, adding items, doing traffic, creating content. The biggest capacity constraint for a lot of businesses is just the ability to hire and train people. It is a high-energy thing to do. It’s going to take bandwidth, it will stress you at times, but it’s also a barrier to competitors. If you can’t hire or manage staff, it’s really difficult to scale your business. You can’t be a Zappos or an Amazon or whatever without staff, so you’re going to need a team. You’re going to have full-time people at some point, and you’re better to outsource than task-source. And task-sourcing’s where you’re running around little sites like Fiverr, trying to find someone for five bucks to do a job.
And then you have to survey or scrutinize their work, or maybe send it back, or then you want another one and they’ve gone, you’ve got to find someone else. That is a difficult way to get other people to do your work. It’s probably easier for you to do it yourself. Better to get outsourcing, which is where, if you can’t build your own team, find an existing team. There’s teams of people out there who are already specialists at what they do. For example, we have an SEO service. Our team are going to be 10 times better than your average little band of operators that you were trying to hire and train on SEO. You’re not going to do it. You’re an e-commerce store owner. You’re not an SEO specialist. I’ve got . . .
Ezra: Hey James, what’s your package structure, while we’re talking about it?
James: We have different packages, like we have video optimization, we have stuff where we do infographics, and then we just do straight, look, we’ll create some content for you to put on your website because you’re so busy and you don’t even want to research and write about your own topic. So they range from . . .
Ezra: So you guys do full service?
James: Yeah. Well, full service could mean different things, but what we found is that business owners are very busy. They don’t understand much about it at all. They just want someone to do it. So we can come along, find out your topic, research, write, we can even do press releases and we can make videos, all sorts of stuff. And there’s two main products that we have. Our brands are SEOPartner.com and LinkJuice.com. Now, you’d be insane to try and build a small team of people to do what we do, because I’m already maximizing our efficiency. I’ve been running this for three years. I know my costs, I know how the team work, we know our process. So it’s easy just to pay $230 a month or something and have our team do it, and you just focus on building your empire.
Ezra: Nice. Sorry, I kind of forced you to pitch there. I want people to know about that service.
James: Oh, look at, well, this is a good example. There’s some things you shouldn’t be trying to build a team for. If you’re going to be entering SKUs all day long, every day, for the next decade, you should hire a team for that. For sure, get them on to it. Have them customizing your content. Get good people in your business, so pick and choose the right team. But what I am suggesting is you’re not going to be able to do it by yourself. You’ll reach a limit. You only have 180 hours. When they’re gone, that’s it. Now, when it comes to the team, I’ll give you a couple of tips here, because I’ve hired quite a few people now. People want to belong to a cause. They want to be part of something bigger. If you look at companies like Zappos, people are proud to work there. They love it. They like their little crazy cubicles and because they get to dress it up with different pictures and stuff. I don’t really get it, but maybe they love it. Hire well, train well, and understand that this is a moving target. You’re going to have challenges with staff. It’s unavoidable. People are emotional. But once you’ve got your team, you’ll be glad you did.
They’re very powerful and they’re energetic. They can be loving, they can be funny, they can — you’re doing this together. It’s your business, and they want to work with you. It’s pretty empowering. So with hiring, firing, and training, you’re going to have to be doing this. I’ll give you a couple of tips on these topics, because it’s something people do so poorly. Hiring. Make a list when you’re hiring, a checklist, of must-have skills and desirable skills. Okay, so if you’re talking about someone to help you with your website, they must have a computer, they must have Internet, and they must speak English, perhaps, if you’re speaking English as well, if your market’s English. What would be desirable, but not essential? Maybe they’ve got some HTML, maybe they’ve been doing it for a couple of years. Maybe they know WordPress, okay? But if they don’t have that, it’s okay. There’s so many courses on those things. But it’s really essential that they have a computer, Internet, and English.
By having less must-haves, you’ll open up your market, if you’re prepared to train on the desirables if they don’t have it. So I hire people who know nothing about Internet marketing, and I train them from scratch. But they do have to have a computer, they do have to have an Internet connection, and they have to speak English. If they don’t have those, it’s just going to be tough. But it opens up my market. So I even set up a little division of my business to handle this. So it’s like two people, we only hire the best people we can get from each recruitment induction. Be slow to hire and fast to fire. If you find out you’ve hired the wrong person, get on to it quickly. You’ve got to take action. There’s a three-T situation that you can go through, and I’ll tell you what that is in just a second. But set your criteria of what a good employee would be like, and then hire according to that criteria. Don’t just wing it.
What are the three Ts? These are your options. If you find you’ve got the wrong person in the wrong role, this is what you do. You train them, okay? Train them up. Say, “Hey, look, I notice you’re not doing the job according to the way we like it to be done. Could we give you some training on this? Here’s a course. Would you like us to sit beside you and show you this?” If that doesn’t work, you can transfer them. This happens a lot in our business. Recently, the head of our SEO team went into a different team where they are responsible for publishing our magazine. And that’s quite a strange move, isn’t it, from a linked building role to a publishing role. But guess what this person used to do in their previous employment. They worked for a publishing house, producing a magazine. Now if I’ve employed this person in my business and they want to do that, isn’t it good for me to be able to put them in a role that is perfectly matched to their skill set, and that they want to do and they enjoy?
The last option is to terminate. And sometimes you’re going to have hired the wrong person. Usually it’s because you haven’t hired well, but sometimes someone misrepresented themselves, or they fudged something, or they just had a really good run with their interviews. You’re better off to let them go into whatever they’re destined to do, and get on with the job. You will never say, “Oh gosh, I wish I held on to them a little big longer.” It just won’t happen. That was said by nobody. You’ll always say, “I wish I did that earlier. I’ve been holding on too long.” Now, with leadership comes great responsibility. You have to be a role model. You have to care and you have to communicate, and you will have to show by example. You can’t be this tyrant boss. We’ve all had a tyrant boss, the one that says this but does that. Lead by example. Roll up the sleeves. Step in the trenches with the troops. If you want some examples of this, General Patton was kind of like this. He would just roll out there on the front line with his troops, always leading the charge. He was right there. He loved his team, he really did build good teams.
Here’s how you get the most out of a team. You want standard operating procedures. This is a list of things that you do each time when you do a role. And this would happen for everything. When we hop into an airplane to go on a flight, the pilot is working off a standard operating procedure. The nurses in the hospital when you go to have a checkup are using a standard operating procedure for an injection. There’s a way of doing things that it must be done every time, and that’s no different in your business. You can keep these in Google Docs, which is a great place to store them. Every time you do something for the first time but you plan to do it more than once, create a standard operating procedure. One of the standard operating procedures we have is the end-of-day report in our business. And every single person in my business, at the end of the day, goes to a page that we have set up, it’s a Google form, and they just say what did you do today? That’s it. That’s all I want to know. Now, this is the thing. It’s absolutely optional in our business. You only have to put in a daily activity report if you want to get paid for that day. If you don’t put in a report, that’s fine, but we will assume you didn’t do anything that day, therefore it’s not a pay day. Make sense?
Ezra: That’s ninja.
James: Yeah. So it’s optional. No pressure. Only if you want to get paid. That’s how we’ll know that you worked, and we’ll know what you did. So you don’t have to worry about time tracking crap or all that stuff. If you really don’t want to trust people, then show them you don’t trust them. And time-track them and micromanage them and make them feel like crap. And I’m sure they’ll produce a fair enough result but nothing exceptional. If you really want awesome people, just give them free rein, but just ask for some basics. I just want to know what you did today, that’s all. Just give me a sentence. I don’t care. But I’d love to know that you were there and participating. And I suspect that people in my business love working in the business. It’s not too onerous to send a daily report. Okay. Delegation. Oh, this one brings many a tyrant unstuck. This is where you explain why you’re doing things as well as the result you want. Sometimes the team will come up with much better ways of doing things than what you can.
And the most important thing when you’re handing over tasks is to test understanding. This is the part — you know what it’s like, you issue a job, they go away and do it, you come back, it’s nothing like what you thought, and then you tell them off. That is the typical manager. Why didn’t you do it the way I told you? That’s not what I wanted. Now how does the employee feel? They feel like crap. You’ve just told them off. A better way is to say, “Here’s what we need to achieve. This is the result that we want. We want these 10 items photographed and put up on the website with unique pictures and accurate descriptions of what is in the picture. Does that make sense so far?” We all agree, yes. Okay. “Now, the way we’d like to roll this out is I’d just like you to take one picture. I want you to do the first item only of the 10. Just one. Take the picture, load it up to the website, and then describe it with an accurate keyword. And then I want you to bring it to me, and we’ll look at it together and make sure that it is exactly how it should be.
And once you’ve done the one, then we can do the other nine, okay?” So this is a concept of small batch sizes. So we do the one. “Now, could you please tell me what this mission is, just so that I make sure that I’ve explained it to you accurately.” And they’ll say, “Take one picture, put it up on the website, describe it accurately, come and find you, check it.” “Exactly. Do it. Let’s go.” Then they come back, they show you, and hopefully, it’s accurate. If not, you probably didn’t describe it well enough. Take responsibility, own the communication. The person giving the instructions has to be responsible for the communication. It doesn’t matter how they receive it or how they hear it, if you didn’t give it properly, then you’re responsible. And this approach will help you be a more humble delegator, and people will actually look forward to pleasing you. How are we going so far, Ezra?
Ezra: You are just — you’re just — I mean, I don’t — you’re going, you are going. We’re going great, we’re listening. This is [inaudible 01:01:51]…
James: Good. It’s just that you were so quiet, I just wondered what — you’re probably taking notes again, eh?
Ezra: Well, I actually kind of was.
James: All right. Now here’s something cool. This is something I learned running the Mercedes Benz dealership. It’s good to have core values. Now I’m not into all the hoopla, wa wa wa, mission statement, wanky-wank stuff, right. Seriously, that’s just like hand-in-mouth vomit. But what is important is to understand what the point of this business is. Who are we as a business? If we were going to put a DynaTape sticky label on our business, what would it look like? And here’s the values from our business. These are the ones we came up with that we thought represent SuperFastBusiness. What does it mean to work there? We have integrity. Like every product or service we do, a hand on heart, we feel that it’s an honest, fair product or service. We’re not out to rip people off. We don’t do those free $100 gift voucher CPA scams. We’re not out to screw people, we’re not doing anything shifty. We hand on heart deliver on our promises, so we have integrity. And everything we do is from this core value of ethics.
We’re fun! It’s fun to work in our business. I make a point of every day in our meeting, I make our team laugh. I make a joke, I tease them, I have, you know, try and do a comedic redirect or something to make them laugh and start the day fun. Like I might demand they get more coffee because they’re not chirpy enough or something, and they giggle. Or I’ll request that we have more roosters on the call, because it’s feeling little lonely without the animal noises. If you have a team in the Philippines, you know what I’m talking about. They always have a rooster next door. They’re highly skilled. If you work in our business, you are highly skilled. That is a presupposition. It is essential that you have high skills. We don’t need you to have those high skills when you start, but we will train you and you will be highly skilled. I swear that our people are world-level elite at the things that we do. Some of the SEO stuff we do, we are the best in the world at because we hone it.
We have a research and development team whose only mission every day is to find out what’s new, what works. We test stuff before it’s rolled out to our customers. That’s in line with our integrity. And they enjoy it, they’re having fun with this. Like they love blowing up a test site, you know, over-optimizing it and then fixing it. That’s fun, but we’re also getting skills with that. Then there’s excellent communication. Now, we have a predominantly Filipino team, and they’re known to be quite shy. But our team are not shy. These girls — I take them down to the firing range and they blow up targets with hand guns. Like they are outgoing, for Filipinos, because I’ve created a risk-free environment where we are expected to communicate. We can’t hold back stuff. If we know something’s not right, we say it. If we don’t agree with the direction, we say it. I want them to debate me, I want them to tell me their thoughts. I don’t want them to just to say yes, yes, yes. I want them to tell me, “You know what? That makes sense, but also, have you considered bla, bla, bla?”
And another thing is we are discreet. Most of my customers are resellers who have end customers, and we never talk to an end customer. We are quietly in the background, doing all the magic for our reseller. So we deal with the reseller. The end customer is getting the work. We are super-discreet. We’ve got hundreds of customers who resell to hundreds of customers, and we never deal with the end customer because we’re quiet. We don’t go posting about on Facebook. I don’t post all my staff team pictures up on our site. We operate in the shadows, in the background, because our customers require discretion.
So that’s our core values. What are you core values? What does it mean to work in your e-commerce business? Maybe you have different values, and guess who sets the values? It’s not you, the owner. It’s the team. Have a workshop on this. Have a white board session. Just say, “Team, what does it mean to work in our business? How would we describe ourselves?” And this is the thing. You should hire on your core values.
Tell candidates, this is what it means to work in our business. You should train on your core values. If you’re supposed to be highly skilled, you want to make sure you’re doing training. And you fire on core values. And I’ve fired people before for not fitting with the core value. If you can’t be discreet, you can’t work here. If you’re not an excellent communicator, if you’ve been holding back information that is vital for the business, I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go, okay? So of course you can do warnings or whatever, but core values will be the underpinnings for a strong business. Shall we move on?
Ezra: I think you killed it on that one.
James: All right.
Ezra: And I think this is so important.
James: Not as important as this one.
Ezra: And by the way, okay, let’s hit them with this one and then I’ll go into my spiel.
James: Yeah. I’m looking forward to your spiel.
You! You are the most important thing right now in your business. It’s your life, right? You are in charge. You don’t need anyone’s permission for anything, you’re the boss. You’re in charge of your destiny. Look after yourself. Eat well, not 25 bananas in a single day. Eat well. Exercise. Feed your brain. Keep sharp, stay passionate, stay on focus. If you’re not right, nothing else matters at all. It ain’t going to work, I’m telling you now. Almost every time I take on a new customer in my Master Mind, the first thing we’re looking at is you. How’s your in-box? How’s your health? How’s your routine? Are you happy? It’s your life, have a good one. Have a rich and full life. It ain’t going to always be easy, but if you know why you’re doing it, if you’re passionate about it, everything works out.
Do you want to step in now?
Ezra: If this, if that felt, if what James just said resonated with you, please go listen to our podcast, ThinkActGet.com.
James: Yeah, because we do, we bang on about this topic at the time. But that’s what that — the whole point of that thing is about the way that you think determines how you act, which results in what you get. That’s the premise of the show, and I believe it to be true. That’s why I went and registered that domain name years ago, thinking that one day, I would like, when the time is right, to share that message. And now we’re doing it. Who better to do that with than Ezra, my main man, banana fan, Firestone. You have to listen to episode, what is it — Episode 8 — to understand.
Ezra: It’s Episode 8.
James: Eight. That’s it, go and listen to Episode 8. You’ll understand what we’re talking about. All right. Mindset. We just covered it. You know what the biggest barriers are going to be? They’re going to be fear. Fear of doing too well, fear of people saying you’re no good, fear that this is different to what you’ve ever done before. Get over it. It’s fine. Go and jump out of a plane with a parachute or something. That’s what I did. Stand up in front of a stage of a few thousand people. Just do something to push yourself into a new zone, and after you recover, you’ll go, “Okay, well, what’s the worst that can happen now? I’ve jumped out of an airplane, I pulled the parachute, I landed, and I’m still alive.” And hey, if it doesn’t work out and you don’t happen to make it, what’s the downside anyway? It’s not like you’re going to be around to ponder your demise. But if you do survive, it’s very empowering.
So I think, with this training, I really hope that you have been able to empty your glass, so to speak. And this is where you tip out all the beliefs and all the crap that’s in your head from the things, you know, the little child’s fairy tales. Don’t get out of bed when the light is off or the bogeyman will get you, you know? Or don’t change, don’t pull a bad face because if the wind changes you’ll be stuck with it. And all this junk, it’s all mumbo. Forget it. You can decide what’s in your head, clear it out, get some good stuff. I’m giving you the good stuff. Nourish and adapt. Reflect on the good stuff because — I read this in a book called The Mental Keys, or something, by Charles Handel, I think it is — he said your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. And I thought that is fantastic. And when I read that I was a little bit chubby, I was a bit overweight, and I thought I am a fat pig because my head’s screwed up inside. I’m going to stop eating like a pig. I’m going to just moderate my intake, and I dropped like 10 kilograms just from that concept, that my outside world is a reflection of my inside world. I felt that I was overweight, because something on my inside brain was not right. And I made an adjustment.
Ezra: So, so, so true. And you know science is now starting to prove this kind of stuff, with, you know, if you guys pay attention to the far-out quantum physics and that kind of stuff, this is now like — science is sort of the medium by which people are willing — if science agrees, then everyone’s okay with it. So science is now agreeing with these concepts that what you think determines what you create in your universe.
James: Yeah. Okay, so here’s a big one. In your store, it’s likely that you’ll get busy from time to time. You’ll have a crazy customer, you’ll have a chargeback, you’ll have a returned item, the supplier you get stuff from goes out of business, your site goes down, you forgot to renew the domain name. All this stuff is going to happen. I can tell you, it’s pretty likely. I’ve experienced plenty of it. Have you ever had anything go wrong, Ezra? Ever?
Ezra: Oh, a couple times a day.
James: So one of the saviors is a routine, and that is blocking a schedule. Having a schedule is what saves you. So you could literally schedule time each day to deal with the inevitable stuff that will pop up that you never thought to consider. I mean, it blows my mind that people haven’t figured out that stuff is always going to happen, and they don’t allow that time. They literally chunk their day out so full, there is no time for emergencies. And when emergencies come, it just annihilates them, it wipes them off the planet. So in this regard, set yourself a schedule. It could be like on Monday I do something for content, on Tuesday I do something for traffic, on Wednesday I do all my stats and numbers, on Thursday I do my HR, people team, hiring, firing, training, pays, and Friday I go and have lunch with my wife and the rest of the afternoon off. That could be a routine. Okay? So whatever suits you. It might be different, you might do things at different times of the day. I’ve got a very solid routine. I wake up at 11, I have a team meeting at 11:40, I check my emails for an hour, and then I’ll create one video or piece of content, answer a few posts in the forum, have the afternoon off, have dinner, come back, do a couple more emails, forum posts, and then go to sleep.
That’s about it. It works for me. I do that pretty much seven days a week. Okay. Here’s a great tip. We’re almost there, but question everything. People are walking around in this cloud of trancelike unquestioning. Like they just accept stuff. Don’t accept stuff. Question it. Why am I only making $10 million a year? How could I make $15 million a year? Why do people buy this product? Perhaps I should ask them. Then I’d know. Then I could put it into my sales copy and I could tell everyone about it who doesn’t even know to think that. Am I paying the right amount for my hosting? I wonder what someone else in the world is doing with the same product but better than I am. When you start opening your mind and questioning stuff — can I really eat 25 bananas in a day? Let me try it. It’s fun to see what happens. So be open-minded I guess is the point here, and the extent that you question things, the less you’ll be hoodwinked by the society norms. And when you look at it, society ain’t happy. They’re in debt, as a nation.
The average person is pretty miserable, and they’re not going to be able to retire rich. They’re not doing everything they’ve dreamed of. They probably haven’t traveled the world. They never really got the car of their dreams. They probably resent going off to work with their little prison shuffle. So if everyone else isn’t that happy, it probably means you should be questioning that, and what can you do to change that. All right. Health. I’ve sort of got this down to the basics, right? I’m no super athlete. I’ve got a stand-up desk. That helps me a little bit with my computer time. Belly-button height is the rule of thumb. Just go and get yourself any kind of table, desk, or surface, or shelf, or whatever, to be about belly-button height, stick your computer on that, and prepare for a few exhausting days, and then you’ll be smash fit. Drink water, get plenty of sleep. There you go, that’s my health recipe. Extensive, I know.
Ezra: And it’s a good one. It’s a really good — I mean, those are the basics.
James: Eat greens. Yeah, I’ll just throw that in there, just for bonus vegetarian points.
Okay, learning. If you’re the best asset, and everything’s dependent on your capacity to manipulate your universe accordingly, you might as well learn some good stuff. Learn about how to — learn about relationships. Learn about being responsible. Learn about what other people are doing in your industry. Master a new craft. I’m always learning stuff. At the moment, I’m obsessed with conversions. And anyone in my sphere is finding out all about conversions. I interview people about it, I make changes to my website, I shout my test results to the rooftops, I love conversions at the moment. It’s like a secret traffic source. It’s how to double your business without any more traffic. Just optimize what you’ve got. So that’s my current learning phase, and I am immersed in it. And the next phase, I don’t know what it’ll be. Maybe it’ll be learning about movement of the body, or the promise of sleep or something. Whatever I’m learning about, I’m just absorbed in, and it lifts my whole life because I can translate the impact of that across my whole business. If I can double my opt-in, and then roll that across all of my websites, do you know what that does for the bottom line? It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. So that’s why I like learning. Learning pays.
James: Yeah. Communication. Well, look, you’re going to be successful to the ability that you can communicate. There’s not many super hermits that do that well. Even people like Bill Gates who’s classically not the most easy communicator, or Steve Jobs, or whatever, like some of them. Now, he was great with presentations, Steve Jobs. Look how well he went with his keynotes. And he was a bit of a tyrant behind the wall, but he did communicate the product well. The people who communicate better are going to get better results. And that’s why I think you need to be working on your communication. And remember, the responsibility is on the person sending the message, to make sure that it’s received properly. So you can tailor your message in all of your online sales copy, in your videos. Look, I’ve put up videos on my website like whether I should shave or not. I’m asking my customers, how do you want me to communicate with you? Would you like me to be clean-shaven? Should I wear a fancy shirt?
And there was massive — there was 300 comments. “We’ll just have you how you are,” or “James, as a first-time viewer, I wasn’t sure if you knew stuff until you opened your mouth because of your shoddy appearance.” No, shabby. Not shoddy, shabby. So communication is important. Interestingly, though, I was watching a prime-time TV show last night with a cooking lesson, and the guy was wearing T-shirts like I wear. And I’m thinking, well, if this guy can wear them on prime-time TV, surely it’s okay for my Internet show. Okay, filters. You’ve got to have filters in place. There are some nasty people out there who are going to try to do your head in. Avoid, detach, push away. Just get rid of them. And you’re going to have bad customers, the ones that want everything cheap. They want everything, they want — they just want unreasonable stuff. They’re going to suck up your time and energy, and they won’t give you anything back for it, so just detach, deploy, get rid of, remove, sack, screen them out.
The best way to screen out customers is to tell people who you are not for. Say, you know, welcome to — say, at our site here, this is who our gun accessories are for. This is who it’s not for. If you’re a pacifist or you don’t like killing things, you shouldn’t buy our guns. Okay? So tell people who you’re not for, and eliminate those potential problem customers. Research. Almost everything has been said and done and it’s out there already. And that’s what you’re finding, Ezra. You stumbled into my Master Mind, and through your investigative inquiries that led you to that, you unhinged the door to an Aladdin’s cave of new information, just by doing your research. Yesterday, I had a new member to my Master Mind who was referred to me by you, and he was doing his research. Where do I get the result that I need to get? You said go and see Schrammie. That’s my nickname, it’s your nickname for me, right? And he came to me. So by doing research, you uncover the gold.
And it worked for Sherlock Holmes, it’s going to work for you. And everything online. I mean, you give away the resources where you can go to websites and get anything you can ever dream to know. It’s all there. Which products sell? Which markets? How much? What’s the profit margin? It’s all there. Okay. Competition. You are in a race. It is a competition. You’re going to have to be good. This is not for the lazy man, this stuff. This is not for the weak of heart. You’re in a competition. Get competitive. Get — in fact, I would even say do something competitive, even if it’s play PlayStation. They’re like what? Did you just say PlayStation in a business training? Yes. PlayStation. Or play chess. Or go have a game of tennis. Do something where there’s a winner and a loser, and start to learn. Toughen up that competitive muscle. Because even if you’re the most passive, nice, generous, everyone should win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, great. But ultimately, if your e-commerce store is going to do well, probably you’re putting someone else out of business.
That’s the reality. It’s a competitive environment out there. If you’re going to take some of that market share, you’re probably taking it from someone else. Okay? So let’s just get the facts here. You’ve got to develop your competitive muscle. So go and do something that’s competitive as a hobby, just to practice that. Last one is, you’re going to be like the people you hang around with. If you’re hanging around Ezra, then you’re in good hands. And if you’re learning his e-commerce stuff, and his e-commerce stuff worked for him and it’s worked for others, chances are the only thing stopping you being wildly successful with your e-commerce business is your ability to implement the stuff that we covered in my training and his training, because it’s all laid out in front of you. The only thing left now is for you to go out and do it.
Ezra: And I think, I think we have to end on that. I think that’s just such a good final note. I don’t know, do you have more slides there? Because I kind of want to . . .
James: No, that was actually the end. That was my final “The End” speech.
Ezra: This was awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
James: Thank you, Ezra. Always good to hang out.