James Schramko, Managing Director of SuperFastBusiness
Supercharge your business with James Schramko
Employed by Mercedes-Benz, pulling in $300,000 a year … By a lot of standards, James Schramko was doing pretty well for himself. Yet he felt stifled. He was relying on one source of income, which although high, he felt was capped, and didn’t have creative control. As he tells Foundr, he wanted to be the primary beneficiary of his own efforts, rather than have his employer reap the rewards.
The upside was that it prepared him well to strike out on his own, as he did six years ago. “Running a multimillion dollar business for someone else … really gave me the solid training to be able to run a business,” he says.
He admits it was gruelling juggling his job with a budding business to the tune of an extra four hours every day, but now he works about the same amount, minus the 9-5, that is. He aims for a 25-hour week with time for at least one surf session a day – fitting work around the tide charts.
Schramko’s thing is internet marketing and coaching. It’s a field littered with snake oil and empty promises but he stresses that “a website is not a business” and “internet marketing is not about sitting in your underpants scamming people with a bullshit promise that they’re going to get rich”. Rather, he wants to help others build their businesses and avoid the gauntlet that he ran himself in the early days. Having done the yards and made it through, he’s distilled that knowledge and is sharing it online.
Over the years he’s tried a number of different business models. His first foray into generating income online was affiliate software sales. He also bought up domain names, then ventured into web development and SEO.
“I call it virtual real estate – it’s really just like property development but online. There are so many ways to monetise a domain … it’s really like buying greenfields, you can build a building on it, you can rent it, you can sell it.”
But it’s never wise to spread yourself too thin and today his primary business revolves around one website: superfastbusiness.com. He’s consolidated a handful of sites into one place, fed by a series of podcasts (his favourite traffic-generating method), with a separate, premium Mastermind offering (“the Mercedes version”) at silvercircle.com.
“It’s a matter of owning your asset, owning your own website, your own premium platform and no one else can change the rules on you,” he says.
“Put very good content on there… get a course that you have charged for and give it away. People will really appreciate that. I do a lot of problem solving posts, generally they start with how-to
interviews with experts. It brings new audience when they share their post, and helps my customers solve their problems.”
Schramko uses a lot of video and audio; he’s a fan of Wistia, which includes a lot of analytics that enables him to communicate with people in response to their viewing habits. “If you focus on your content and then start looking at how people interact with it then you have a pretty advanced marketing machine at your disposal.”
Admittedly, those starting out won’t have any numbers to work with, but he advises installing Google Analytics and learning what people are looking at, how long for and if they’re converting to your offerings. From there, you can experiment in order to improve those stats and easily create more of your own products, be they information products, software or physical products. But first off you must know your audience before you start to produce content.
“Start with a hungry crowd first, then make the hamburgers,” he says. “That will establish value in you, and trust.”
According to Schramko, it’s about having really good data, watching the numbers and understanding your key metrics. “I get a daily report from my team on the things that are important, and every 10 days – on the 10, 20th, 30th – and monthly, and then every quarter.”
Schramko says there are two fundamental themes across all the business units.
“They build on the idea we will have a lifetime customer, who will stick around for a long time. So we look after existing customers more than chasing the next customer. I see too many businesses chasing the next customer and ignoring the ones they’ve already got. Mercedes-Benz really taught me that. Even on a slow cycle of 24, 36 months, looking after that customer and nurturing them. When they come back to buy there’s a lot less resistance, it’s a lot more profitable and it’s far more enjoyable.
“The other one is having a heavy emphasis on problem solving. I always felt I was helping people find the right solution to their problem and by having this approach rather than a hype-y, having to promise things or tricking people to buy , if you’re just solving problems, it really automatically takes care of a lot of the issues out there. It means you have to understand your customer, you have to communicate with them to really know them, empathise with their situation and construct proper solutions for them. You have to be able to show them you are delivering value. It really forces proper reporting and systems so people can see the progress they’re making.”
The other part of the equation, of course, is staff. Having good people is crucial to business success. The majority of Schramko’s staff came from call centre backgrounds and he trained them up from scratch on all things digital.
“The most important thing is to hire for attitude, look for good behaviours and don’t worry so much about skills, unless you’re in a screaming hurry – and hopefully you’re not, because you’re looking at your numbers,” he says.
“The biggest mistakes I see people make are they don’t realise they need to hire someone until too late. They hire someone who’s got the skills but a bad attitude and then they churn and then they have to do it all over again. And because they churn they don’t invest any time or energy into training or inducting the right people because they expect they’re gonna leave, you get this ridiculous cycle of churn.
“Do the opposite. Hire before you need someone, hire on attitude and good behaviour in the past, then skill them up with proper induction training. Give them massive support, show them exactly what the mission is, tell them the results you want. Let them come up with some of the paths to get there, treat them with huge respect and responsibility, let them have the ability to do what they need to do rather than to micro manage them and show them absolutely everything.
“People are far more capable than most leaders would give them credit for. People can stretch, people can expand, people can grow.”
This is where good systems come in. Schramko’s centralised the business’ standard operating processes in Google Docs, which every employee has access to. “Anything that gets done more than once gets documented.”
Every single staffer also has a “Noah” – another equivalent who can perform the same tasks. “You need two people in the business who can do any task so if any of them falls over, gets, pregnant, goes on holiday or leaves the company you don’t have single source dependency,” he explains.
“Operating procedures for everything and two people who can do every job – that’s gonna give you a solid infrastructure.”
The team are almost all based in the Philippines, but distance hasn’t proved an issue.
“I’ve got my team to a point where I only speak to my managers for 15 minutes a week each. They run a 7-figure business – mostly girls and guys in their 20s and 30s working from home, some with kids, in another country.”
He relies on Google Apps for business, and uses email groups for different purposes – communicating with managers, website staff, etc. “By segmenting your operation into groups it’s like you’re in one building with one room for each team but virtually.”
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Schramko isn’t one to rest on his laurels. He describes himself as a “voracious” student of business books and management gurus and often tries out things after reading about them. And of course, he’s learned a few things the hard way, like not giving more equity to partners than their contributions warrant; the importance of routine and discipline; and of course, getting the basics like structure and trademarks right from the beginning.
“Never build on someone else’s trademark,” he says. “Be really careful with names – think of a long haul. As soon as you have significant momentum … get in there early if you know you’re onto a winner.”
James Schramko’s top 3 tips
How to put a solid plan into play – or else wind up like a drug user with an instant rush and wind up with nothing but a bad hangover.
Expand the window of how long you’re looking to get a result. Most people in this very early phase are looking for the instant win, they’ve got no cash … they do stupid things. Instead of asking ‘how can I make $1000 in 7 days’ ask ‘how could I have a business that pays me $10,000 a month in one year from now?’ That’s going to change the filters on what you should be doing. A more long term focus is going to give you better choices for the long run.
Question absolutely everything you already have. Is this appropriate for my new goal, new timeline?
Start capturing email addresses earlier than most people do. Start validating ideas before you build too much of your machine … It doesn’t matter if you think it’s the greatest idea ever. If no one else thinks its the greatest idea and is not prepared to pay for it, it should die an early death.
Continually checking in on your plan with the numbers and tweaking your strategy. It’s like the guided missile – continually analyzing where it is in terms of its target.
- James talks about how he started out as a marketer and entrepreneur
- Tips on how to build a massive team
- Words of wisdom on seeing talent and building a team
- James shares the process of training people and running a mini staff
- Tips on starting your own online business
- How to overcome your struggles as an entrepreneur
Full Transcript of the Podcast with James Schramko
Nathan: Hey guys. Welcome to the “Foundr” podcast. My name is Nathan Chan, and I’m your host. Today we’re speaking with James Schrmako. James is an extremely successful internet marketer and runs a blog and website, superfastbusiness.com. He’s got over 2,000 websites in his portfolio. He’s earning about 200k a month. He’s got some crazy strategies around internet marketing, content marketing, podcasting, entrepreneurship, and systemization. You guys are really in for a treat.
This is really, really good episode if I do say so myself. I actually have referred to this one quite a few times, so you’re in for a treat. What’s been happening with me? Not too much. Just gearing up for Christmas. I’ve been doing a bit of shopping. Yes, do preparing for the end of the year, and yeah really, really excited for 2015. Just a short note from me guys.
Hope you’re all having a good holiday. If you’re having a break, please do enjoy yourself. Try and just yeah maybe take a few days off. I’m gonna try and take a few days off, because I know it’s so important to recharge your batteries, yeah, and really come back and better and fresh for 2015. So, that’s it from me.
If you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave us a review, foundrmag.com/cast. You can check out the show notes on our websites foundrmag.com. If you’re loving these interviews, please check out the magazine. Now, let’s jump into the show.
Today I’m speaking with James Schramko. James Schramko is an extremely successful internet marketer, an entrepreneur and runs a blog website superfastbusiness.com, as well as many other numerous businesses. James, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, man.
James: It’s great to catch up, Nathan.
Nathan: Yeah, it is great to catch up, because I’ve heard a lot about you and you’re very well respected marketer, an entrepreneur. So can you first tell us about how you got your job?
James: In the current business that I have now?
James: Well, I kinda created it for myself. I was reading lots of books about having a business, and I used to run someone else’s business. Actually a Mercedes Benz dealership, and I could see the limitations of being an employee, namely, being paid by one person was very dangerous when you have a housing loan and a family to support. And also I felt that I had a cut income. Even though it was a very high salary. I was earning somewhere around $300,000 a year.
I just had this idea that having my own business would change everything. I’d get paid by lots of different people. I would have the benefit of being paid first and then paying my tax later, and I would have a lot more control and upside for my creative outlets to build a business, but to be the primary beneficiary of it instead of my employer.
So I set about learning how to build a website, and through that process of hardship doing it part time on my laptop on my couch while I was watching TV on dial-up, I, sort of, went through a series of learnings on how difficult it was to start up a business. And eventually, I found my mark as an affiliate selling website building software. It’s the same tool that made it easier for me to build a website in the end. With such a breakthrough that I thought I’ve gotta share this with other people.
So that was really my first foray into generating a proper income online was selling someone’s software as an affiliate. So it’s kind of like a sales rep earning a commission, and then I built on that over several years until I could quit my job and that was about six years ago that I quit my job.
Nathan: Well, and if we first forward to today, I read, when doing research before speaking to you, you have 2,000 websites in your portfolio?
James: Yeah. So I’ve tried a few different business models, and a few years ago, one of the the big models was I was acquiring domains. Basically, when you bring in a huge income if you don’t reinvest it in the business you just pay tax on it and then that’s it. So at one stage, I was reinvesting profits back into buying premium domain names. Many of them worth, you know, lots of money some of them up to $15 or $16 each.
And what I did was build websites on them, and I repurposed my team from doing that to working on customers websites. So literally I started out hiring one, and then two, and then three people to help me build these websites. And then I developed a search engine optimization service and a website development company around this team which is now expanded to about 50. And we still have about 1,800 of these websites.
We have been selling them off in our marketplace that we created just to let go of the sites we no longer need, and, of course, we use plenty of our sites in our own link building efforts. You know, it’s kind of I call it “virtual real estate.” I think John Reese coined that name, but it’s really just like property development but online. And there’s so many ways to monetize a domain when you build our website on it. It’s really like buying green fields and then building a building on it, you can rent it, you can sell it, you can do different monetization methods, but I’ve got a lot more than I need now. I’m really sort of pruning back. but that’s one of the legacies of an earlier business model that I had.
Nathan: I see so you’ve got the 2,000 or 1,800 per se websites, then what are your other businesses? Can you tell us a bit more about those?
James: My primary business is really now centralized around one website and that’s superfastbusiness.com. And it’s been a, well, a six-year journey to get to that. Up until even the very beginning of this year I had five or six different websites that were selling things like, the services websites for traffic, the services websites for website development. We had an affiliate website where we recommend products. We had our own marketplace where we sold these websites that we no longer need. And we also had our primary blog.
So what we did is sort of push them all together, and so now most of them are under one roof and they’re fed by a series of podcasts which is my favorite traffic method. And I think there’s four about to be five podcasts that drive traffic into SuperFastBusiness, and then people find the right product or service that suits their needs. And we also have a internet business community and a high-level mastermind.
The only thing that’s not on SuperFastBusiness now is the high-level mastermind because of premium branding, and that one’s called “Silver Circle.” So it sits above SuperFastBusiness in terms of desirability and brand values. Its kind of the Mercedes AMG version of our business.
Nathan: Man, you’ve got so much going on and even six years is a long time, I think, you’ve created so much in those six years. There’s a few things I’d like to unpack. And the first was how did you do this? Is it from building a massive team or do you have a business partners? You have business partners or?
James: No, it’s just from my previous career trajectory where I worked my way through from accounting to credit, debt collection, finance, administration, sales, sales management, general sales management, and then general management, and then really became a student of sales and marketing.
So basically running a multimillion-dollar business for someone else gave me huge skills, and working with a multinational brand like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, General Motors. It really gave me the solid, sort of, training to be able to run a business. And then, of course, I’ve been a voracious student of business books and experts on strategic thought like a like Eli Goldratt, and management gurus like Peter Drucker. I really wanted to learn as much as I could and then I implement.
So I read something and then I try it. And these days I go around the world attending conferences and events and building my export markets to the UK and to the USA and Canada, and even Dubai and New Zealand.
And I’ve found that by having solid systems by regularly planning, like, very regularly compared to most businesses, and having really good data like watching the numbers and understanding your key metrics, I get a daily report from my team on the things that are important, and then I get a report every 10 days. So 10th, 20th and 30th, and then monthly. And then every quarter the management team and I sit down and plan the next phase of the business. So, I don’t have any partners. I don’t have any advisors outside. I really have done most of this myself, but it’s probably my strong suit, and hence,I have this masked mind where I help other business owners because it really is my special skill.
Nathan: I seem, yeah. I have a friend that’s actually part of your community in the…I think, it is the mastermind and he speaks very highly of it.
James: Yeah, I hope. That would certainly be my wish that anyone involved in any of my products or services would be getting a better result than whatever they invested in it. And that’s one of the fundamental underlying themes for all of the business units that I have. is they’re built on this idea that we’ll have a lifetime customer who will stick around for a long time. So we look after our existing customers more than chasing the next customer. And I see too many businesses chasing the next customer, chasing the next customer, and ignoring the ones they’ve already got.
And Mercedes-Benz really taught me the value of an existing customer, because they will continue buy over and over again for their partners, their business, themselves, even on a slow cycle of 24 or 36 months. You know, looking after that customer, nurturing them, when they come back to buy there’s a lot less resistance, it’s a lot more profitable, and it’s far more enjoyable. So I’ve had this underlying theme of lifetime customer.
And the other one is having a heavy emphasis on problem-solving. I always felt that I was helping people find the right solution to their problem, and by having this approach rather than a hypy marketing approach where you have to promise things or trick people to buy,and now if you’re just solving problems it really automatically takes care of a lot of the issues out there. It means that you have to understand your customer.
You have to communicate with them, to really know them and to be able to empathize with their situation, and to construct proper solutions for them, and then you have to be able to show them that you are delivering value. So it really forces proper reporting and systems, so that people can see the progress they’re making and build a lot of confidence from that. And probably I picked up those skills from leading large teams, you know, up to 100 people at one point.
But for the last four or so years of my career, I had 70-plus employees under my command. And these days I run a business with 50 people, and I’m quite comfortably able to do that because I’ve spent a lot of time doing that, and I’ve made a lot of errors, and I’ve had a lot of wins in leading and managing over the years. So I’ve learned how to do it.
Nathan: From the sounds of it, you know how to build good teams, too, because it’s such a big part of and building a successful business, and being able to see key talent and recognize that. So I’m curious, you said that you have right now around a team of 50 people, are they all based in in Manila, in the Philippines?
James: They’re based around the Philippines but not in Manila. So they’re they’re all based in the Philippines. I think there’s only one guy in Australia who helps me out with part-time task that we do and occasional when I run an event I get some support from a crew. But aside from that, yeah, it’s pretty much all overseas, and they’re all working from home. They don’t work in a central office. They are very stable and have been serving for a long time. The original ones have clocked over four years now, and the majority of them have been with me for three years plus.
Nathan: And I’m curious, when I mentioned before about seeing key talent and building teams, what lessons or words of wisdom can you advise around building a team?
James: It’s most important thing is to hire attitude and to look for good behaviors, and don’t worry so much about the skills. Unless you’re in a screaming hurry and hopefully you’re not because you’re looking at your numbers. You know, the big mistakes that I see people make are they don’t realize they need to hire someone until too late. They hire someone who’s got the skills but has a bad attitude, and then they churn and they have to do it all over again. And because they churn, then they don’t invest any time or energy into training or inducting the right people, because they expect they’re gonna leave, and you get this ridiculous cycle of churn.
So if you do the opposite hire before you need someone, hire on attitude and good behavior in the past, then skill them up with proper induction training. Give them massive support. Show them exactly what the mission is. Tell them results you want. Let them come up with some of the paths to get there. Treat them with huge respect and responsibility. Let them have the ability to do what they need to do rather than to micromanage them and show them absolutely everything.
People are far more capable than most leaders would give their team credit for. People can stretch. People can expand. People can grow. The majority of my people were working in American-run call centers. Doing night shifts, doing telephone calls and never heard of anything to do with the internet or websites or whatever. We’ve trained them from scratch.
Nathan: That’s a great insight. I’m curious about that you have in place for training people up and inducting people into your business because, I think, me, personally, that’s something that I’ve struggled with, you know, for the magazine I have a team around the world and, you know, we have all sorts of things going on and I don’t really have it many call processes in place. Can you give us a little bit of an insight into some of the processes behind your businesses, so you can run that mini staff and what is the basis?
James: The first SOP or standard operating process or standard operating procedure is that if something is gonna be done more than once, we create an SOP for it. We centralized our SOPs in Google Docs or drive Google Apps for Business, which I highly recommend you have. Every time you hire someone give them their own email address at your company. Put them on your Google Apps for Business. So we centralize all the standard operating procedures. Anything that gets done more than once gets documented.
Every single person in the company has what we call a “Noah,” and we take that from Noah’s Ark where there’s two of every animal. You need two people in the business who can do any task. So if one of them falls over, or gets pregnant, or goes on holidays, or leaves the company, you’ve got the ability for the business to sustain itself. You don’t have single source dependency or single point sensitivity whatever you want to call that, and they basically are then able to train up their next, you know, Noah. So the bottom line is operating procedures for everything and two people who can do every job.
That’s gonna give you a solid infrastructure to invest the time and energy that you need to train and nurture your team in the beginning. They’re gonna need a little more resource up front, but they’ll need very little resource down the track. I’ve got my team to a point now where I only speak to my managers for 15 minutes a week each, and they run the business on the service side. They’re running over seven-figure business and they’re mostly girls and guys in their 20s and 30s working from home. Some cases, with kids, you know, in another country.
Nathan: Well, that’s fascinating, man. That’s really handy that’s something that I’ll implement for my business. So thank you.
James: You’re welcome. And the other thing is when you’re using Google Apps for Business, you can create groups, which is really important. I tend to manage my business via email. So I can send an email to the website group if I find a nice theme that, I think, looks good and I would tell them, “Hey have a look at this.” You know, check it out. I’ve got a group for training where we send things that are of a general nature. And I’ve got a group for managers where I can send them information that might help them lead their own team.
So by segmenting your operation into groups, it’s literally like mapping out as if you’re in one building, and having a room for each team where you do it but virtually, and now you can manage that via groups.
Nathan: Interesting. That’s really handy. Let’s switch gears and talk about content marketing, because I know this is a topic you’re quite fond of, and I know that this is the way you generate a vast majority of traffic to your site. Is this correct?
James: Yeah. I’ve reached a point where I’ve got a mature content marketing plan through various reasons. So one of them was Google at some point stopped letting me use Google Advertising for some affiliate stuff that I did many years ago, maybe five years ago. And there’s no discussing it with Google. And then I had the same problem with Facebook and I don’t even know why they stopped. But in any case it doesn’t rely on having paid traffic, it doesn’t rely on having affiliates, and it doesn’t rely on having launches, and you don’t have to compromise with joint ventures if you don’t want.
It’s really just a matter of owning your own asset. I’d say having your own website, your premium platform which is yours and no one else can change the rules on you, and then you put very good content on there, and I do actually detail this what type of content is good in a course that I give away for free, and that really is a big clue as to how this works. Get a course that you have charged for and then give it away. People will really appreciate that.
So I give away this course called “Own The Racecourse” and it talks about why the news format of media is handy, and you look at sites like “Huffington Post,” and you’ll see that that works. People repeatedly go back to news sites and news posts because they wanna know what’s new. And I also do a lot of problem-solving posts. So generally they start with “how to.”
And then the other thing that I do is I do interviews with experts as well which will basically bring new audience when they share their post and also help my customers solve their problems because I’m bringing in people to cover things that I might not be an expert in. Or just to verify things that I’m saying but to have it in a different voice. So this content marketing, if it could be basically the richest media that you can muster, whether it’s great words with pictures, whether it’s infographics…in my case, I prefer to make videos or audios because it gives me a full transcription, plus, the ability to leverage platforms like iTunes.
Of course, we use videos in YouTube, but I don’t use YouTube players to build up my counts. So I put a special player on my site that is very closed if you like. I use a Wistia player, W-I-S-T-I-A, and it’s a nice clean fast loading player that works on any device. But I can also do cool stuff like pass variables from my broadcast. So when I send an email to my list, I can see who’s watching the videos and then I can actually communicate with them in response to their viewing habits.
So if they view lots of videos on a particular topic, I’m tagging them with that topic and then I can start sending them sequences that relate specifically to that topic. So this is marketing segmentation we’re talking about. But the whole point is if you focus on your content and then start looking at how people interact with it, then you have a pretty advanced marketing machine at your disposal.
Nathan: I see. This ties back to knowing your numbers, right?
James: Well, in the beginning, you’ll have no numbers. You’re gonna have nothing. But it’s important to install Google Analytics at least and to start looking at things like which pages are people interacting with? Where do they stay for a long time? How many pages do they look at? The time that they spend on the website. What are your conversions into your free giveaway?
These things are important because you want to be constantly seeing if you can improve them. And, for example, I just ran a test on one of my opt-ins and I was able to lift the conversions by 50%. It was already pretty good at 30 something percent as I would get it up closer to 50% opt-ins by just trying a different combination of banner and removing a couple of elements actually, interestingly. And so once you have your benchmark you can continually see if you can improve. Beat your own best result in the past.
Nathan: Interesting. So, when you talk about content marketing what advice would you give to somebody that wants to get started in an online business? Do you think they should start a blog and start posting and start a podcast and, you know, create audios and videos and infographics? What do you suggest for people that want to get started in creating online business?
James: Well, it’s a very general question I’d say start with a hungry crowd first, and then make the hamburgers. I mean, you’ve got to know who your audience is before you make any content because you have to understand what their problems are, and then your content will come along and indicate to them that you can solve it. And that will establish value in you and trust and that will give you a platform to be able to make offers.
Now that’s where you could offer something as an affiliate if you don’t have your own product you could create your own products very easily and that could be information products, it could be software, it could be physical products with an e-commerce store. It doesn’t really matter this system will work for any type of online business. So far I’ve got software developers using it to sell software as a service.
I’ve got customers like Ezra Firestone are just smashing it with e-commerce like selling beauty products. And then, of course, information marketers and affiliates are doing well with it. Even our own affiliate marketing is a six-figure per year profit just from making subtle recommendations to our readers of, you know, what things we use in our own business. And it really just interviewing people who supply us products and asking them why it’s a good product and explaining why we used it and people also take our recommendation.
Nathan: Yeah, now look, you’re making it sound like a no-brainer, James, but I have to ask you how easy is this, kind of, stuff? How much time do you spend, out of curiosity, working on all the stuff that you work on because you’ve got so much going on?
James: Well these days I aim for about a 25-hour week and that’s that’s my main sort of key performance indicator that I’m after. My primary goal is to surf every day, and twice, if possible, so I work around the tide charts. I fit my business in around that. My primary workday is Tuesday that’s when I have three mastermind calls. The rest of the week is up to me and I don’t work weekends anymore.
In the beginning, I spent a lot of time. I was doing a full-time job that was already demanding and then I spent a lot of time after that. I’d say I averaged four hours a day on my part-time business, seven days a week, for the first few years 7 for 24 so it’s probably working about the same as what I work now plus the full-time job. And I was exhausted and it was unhealthy, and I really felt like I was running the gauntlet but I made it through to the other side.
Now, in saying that, nobody in my coaching community would have to go through what I went through because I’ve collated and collected everything I can find, and I literally even give away the blueprint of the best of what I know now, so that people don’t have to go through that scenario, and there’s absolutely nothing for sale there. It’s free.
And the idea is that they can use that to leverage themselves out of whatever job they’re doing now. Or whatever they’re doing that they don’t love, and once they get success with that, inevitably people will come looking for the next level of solution that I offer because they’ve already been able to get a win without having to spend a cent.
Nathan: That sounds really cool. We’ll definitely link up that resource.
James: Yeah, well, it’s continually updated and now there’s been somewhere around 12,000 or maybe 15,000 people have downloaded that. And many people who have implemented have come back and told me their success story which is very encouraging and it’s really good to be teaching stuff that is based on my own practical experience and my documented results rather than a theoretical possibility, which, I think, there’s a lot too much or out there on the internet.
Nathan: Oh man, look good there’s so much information there’s so many people telling you how you should skin the cat. It gets very difficult to know who to trust.
James: Yeah, and there’s a couple of things that are important. Firstly, like, a website is not a business and, secondly, internet marketing is not about sitting there in your underpants scamming other people with some bullshit promise that they’re gonna get rich. And, you know, if we could eradicate that theme, and if we could build real business knowledge…I also give away one of my other courses, which was paid, it’s called “Wealthification”. And it’s just 10 modules that are about 10 minutes each.
It literally will take you about an hour to watch the whole course. And that is the core things that I’ve learned from teaching six and seven-figure business owners. I just put the key points that people always get hung up on and that really comes back down to people, systems, cash flow, strategy, and it takes people through all the common mistakes and the simple solutions that you could start with without having to make all the errors that other people make. You can take years to discover all the things that I talk about in less than an hour.
Nathan: Well, that sounds next level, too, man. We’ll have to definitely have a resource for that as well in the issue. Look, I’m loving this advice, man. It’s really awesome. You said that you’ve had a few struggles but a lot more wins. Can you tell me about some of those struggles?
James: Yeah, I’ve had a few struggles. One of them, at some stage, I took on a partner in a venture which was…I think it was necessary in the beginning because I don’t think I would have done it by myself so I give full credit to my partner for being more technically precise and structured where I was a little unstructured. And, I think, this stems back to my first impression of quitting my job was that I’d be free and have no schedule and, you know, could just do whatever I want, whenever I want, and that’s kind of a flawed thing. What I realized is that routine sets you free.
So having a routine and I actually have the most discipline now of any time in my business career than when I had virtually no choice. Like going to work every day, sitting in that in the office, being in one environment. Now, I’ve got the whole world that I can use as my landscape, but I’m the most disciplined than I’ve ever been and that’s because I have routine.
And, literally, my routine revolves around surfing, and then getting the maximum result for the time that I spend on the computer with a minimum possible investment of energy. So I’ve learned about willpower and how it runs out during the day, and that I should do tasks early. So I’ve switched from being a sleeping in person to an early riser, for example. I’ve worked more on health and fitness and diet.
So some of the mistakes that I made were giving too much equity to partner,s who in the end, didn’t contribute enough effort to justify their equity stake, and I had to recover from those by restructuring. That cost a lot of money, for example, that was like $10,000 a month that I was sending overseas for about four years. So you can chop that one up to learning about partnerships and do a couple more.
At times, I’ve had troubles with trademarks or names. You have to be really careful with names that you choose, and think for the long haul. And certainly invest early on. As soon as you’ve got significant momentum, find out if you’re going to be able to keep the runway going, or if it’s gonna get shut down on you. Never build on someone else’s trademark, for example.
Nathan: Yeah, you know, I feel you there I just trademarked the word “Foundr” and I’m just going through the final processes of that now.
James: I’ve had situation where I’ve started businesses first, but someone’s come on later and trademarked a name that’s similar to mine and making it hard for me to trademark my own name. You know, it’s, kind of, like, Steve Jobs being fired from Apple, you know, it’s it sort of sucks. But just get in there early if you know you’re onto a winner. So most of the time when I’m speaking to business owners they have got none of the basics in place.
They have the wrong company structure. They don’t have insurance. They don’t have trademarks. They’re like paying top rates for merchants or PayPal and only using one payment method. They usually don’t have any redundancy built into the team. So these are things that are obvious mistakes that trip most business owners up at some point unless you know to fix them before it happens.
Nathan: Man, this has been an information gold advice packed interview. So this is awesome I’m loving it. So, look, we have to work towards wrapping things up. I just wanted to ask you, after everything that we’ve talked about and knowing everything you know on your journey. what are two to three action items that you would give to somebody that once they get started or wants to quit their job, or wants get out of the nine to five and start their own side hustle, or do something what would that be? And that would be my final question.
James: The first thing is I would just expand the window of how long you’re looking to get a result. Most people in this very early phase are looking for the instant win. They’ve got no cash. They need an instant result. They may have massive compromise. They do stupid things. They promote products with no integrity. They don’t invest in the appropriate resources to get the proper results, and they fall on their face.
So expand your time frame. Like, don’t ask, “How could I make a thousand dollars in the next seven days?” Ask, “How could I have a business that pays me $10,000 a month in one year from now?” Because that’s gonna change the filters on what you should be doing. That means you’ll need a more solid solution. A more long-term focus is going to give you better choices for the long run. So extend the timeline, that’s the first one.
Second one would be question absolutely everything that you already have. Go through it once you’ve done that and say, “Is this appropriate for my new goal, for my new timeline?” And probably a lot of things will be, “No.” And some things that have been hidden will be “Yes,” you know. Start capturing email addresses earlier than what most people do. Start validating ideas before you build too much of your machine because, you know, if there’s no market or no one wants your solution doesn’t matter that you think it’s the greatest idea ever. If no one else thinks it’s a great idea and they’re not prepared to pay for it, then it should die an early death.
So the third one would be continually checking in on your plan with the numbers and tweaking your strategy. So this really is like the guided-missile where it’s continually analyzing where it is in terms of its target.
I mean most people just set off. There’s this stupid motivational thing out there you’ll hear people say, “Take action, just take action” And great, but if it’s heading for the middle of the ocean or whatever then it’s not gonna do anything. It’s gonna be completely useless action. So I see people wasting time and effort on things that will never work, because they haven’t done the disciplined research or they haven’t validated an idea. They didn’t have a long enough focus on it. You know, so after you scam 10 people with your get rich quick thing, then what? You know, you’re not really any better off. You’re really just like a drug user with an instant rush who’s gonna have a bad hangover.
Nathan: Yeah. Now, look. That was epic advice, man. This has been an epic interview. So, look, I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing everything you have with me.Yeah, this has been gold.
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