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Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
13 minutes | Apr 23, 2022
Bring your breakthrough idea to life.
There are two potential routes to a solution of a problem. The first is conformity, Peesapaty tried to influence government policy. The second, originality, in the case edible cutlery. Unconventional thinkers have unprecedented access to knowledge, talents, capital and potential customers. Yet breakthrough products or services are hard to find, Gary Hamel, a recognized business thinker, notes that corporations are awash with ideas that full into one of two buckets. Incremental no brainers or flaky no hopers. How to bring your breakthrough idea to life?
13 minutes | Apr 22, 2022
Start with a side gig - develop your breakthrough idea
There is a saying that the best time to plant a shade tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. The best time to launch a consulting business is when you are still employed. And if you are not employed then the second best time in now. How to stand out from the crowd It is estimated that globally there are 53,000 coaches and 700,000 consultants. I recall chatting with a colleague we were both thinking about a post retirement consulting business. I figured I had some unique characteristics that would make me stand out. I had lived on three continents, worked on four, I had extensive M&A, business startup, and business turnaround experience. He said, “You know Jeremy, there are thousands of people out there who are just like you and me” And of course he was right. Just hanging out your shingle is not going to get it done. How to stand out from the crowdIt is estimated that globally there are 53,000 coaches and 700,000 consultants. I recall chatting with a colleague we were both thinking about a post retirement consulting business. I figured I had some unique characteristics that would make me stand out. I had lived on three continents, worked on four, I had extensive M&A, business startup, and business turnaround experience. He said, “You know Jeremy, there are thousands of people out there who are just like you and me” And of course he was right. Just hanging out your shingle is not going to get it done. How will you find your breakthrough idea? Already within you have everything you need to develop your breakthrough idea. Your business experiences, life long learnings, passionate beliefs and values are unique. No one is the same as you. There maybe many like you but there is only one you. Teasing that breakthrough idea out of yourself, well that maybe a bit more challenging.
13 minutes | Apr 20, 2022
10 things you need to consider before you launch your second career.
It’s time to grab a notebook and pen or pencil and start jotting down the thoughts that are going through your mind about your new business venture. I do strongly suggest that you do physically write down your ideas rather than typing them on an electronic device. Research has shown that the act of writing by hand leads to better retention of ideas. And if you are like me I love a high quality note book combined with a fountain pen. There is something deeply satisfying about liquid ink gliding over smooth paper. But then I know I am a bit of a throw back. Please listen as I cover 10 things you should consider when about to launch your second career
13 minutes | Apr 19, 2022
Why Listen to the Geriatric Entrepreneur
Is retirement not for you? Me neither! I have always known that retirement did not hold any attraction for me. Those financial product advertisement promising early retirement never resonated. As Elizabeth Queen of England, who is still active at the age of 95, says “If I stop, I will drop.” In season 9 I will share with you my experiences running a consulting business that delivers the much targeted six figure income. I also invite you to join me, as I build my business plan to escape the tyranny of the clock which limits my earnings to the hours I work. Over the next five years I plan to build an income portfolio that will support my family into the future. Please join me as I plan that journey. Many people in later life say they want to start their own business but only a small percentage actually do. Whether it is a belief they are too old, that they cannot master today’s technology or the risk of failure I do not know. For those who do not start these fears are real but they do not need to be. I have had so much fun since I left the corporate world, I feel it is my duty to share my experiences, and may be increase that percentage, even if only slightly, of folks who make the leap and launch their own business. I believe there is a lack of support for the older entrepreneur out there. Witness the fact that I was able to obtain the domain name thegeriatricentreprenuer.com Dot com domain names are not so easy to find as they once were. In addition I use Canva for most of my images and I could not find a suitable graphic that delivered the message that retirement was not for me. And for my younger listeners, do not let the name of my show have you reaching for the search key on your mobile phone. In forty years I have learned a few things. Although the way business is carried out today is very different than it was when I started; the fundamentals are still the same. You have to build a product or service that people want, you need to ensure that they know your product exists, customers need to be able to access your offering and you have to price it correctly, so you make a profit. I will address all these basic truths during the season. And as a plus, us older folks do not have as much time left, so we must move quickly and get it right first time. Not a bad concept for any entrepreneur. Also, we cannot risk too much of our capital, so if you are a cash strapped entrepreneur, my low investment strategies will be useful to you. As my tagline says Putting experience to work, suitable for all ages. Yes, this show carries a G rating.
13 minutes | Apr 16, 2022
S8 E52 Affiliate Marketing
Ideas from “Entrepreneurial You.” Dorie Clark “Monetize your expertise, create multiple income streams and thrive” Affiliate Marketing Following the various ideas we have covered in earlier episodes you may have been able to build a substantial following. Now is the time to consider affiliate marketing as a low-cost option to generating income. This is particularly attractive if you do not yet have a product to sell. What is affiliate marketing? It is an agreement where you agree to promote a product or service in return for a share in the income generated from your lead. If effect it is a fancy term for the historical, but still relevant, finder’s fee. The most widely known affiliate program is the Amazon associate program where if someone clicks on your link you earn a commission on anything they buy in the next 24 hours, with some caveats. It is easy to set up your associate status, I did it in a few minutes. But there are a few things you should know, and I will share them in my new blog The Geriatric Entrepreneur launching to tie in the start of season 9 on IBGR next week. Although I will be focusing on the challenges of starting an entrepreneurial business later in life, as the tag line to my new site says “suitable for all ages” the content will be relevant to all. Amazon is not going to make you rich a few hundred dollars a month is likely to be your maximum earnings. Some folks have made much more. If you have a good following and promote products that are relevant to your community you will achieve a level of success. My earnings in the first week of being an Amazon Associate – zero dollars. I must build more of a following.
13 minutes | Apr 15, 2022
S8 E51 Provide your followers with lower cost options
Ideas from “Entrepreneurial You.” Dorie Clark “Monetize your expertise, create multiple income streams and thrive” Lower cost options – Help all your followers. You can cater to the rich, and I’ll take the rest; the good Lord made more of them. Kemmons Wilson founder Holiday Inn Not everyone can afford to spend a couple of thousands of dollars for a course. And it is likely that many of your followers fall into that category. They have been devouring your free content and would love to buy something from you. But $2000? That’s way beyond their budget. If you have built up a decent following it is possible to generate an attractive income from a $100 product or even a $10 product. Jason Van Orden of Internet Business Mastery thinks of these varied product offerings as ascension ladder. He says it is foolish to only think of selling big ticket items. Instead, you must think about customer lifetime value. A customer spending $25 per month over five years is worth $1,500. And done right your marginal cost of serving this customer can be near zero. That $1,500 is pure profit. And the folks who do buy your big-ticket items. will be interested in your lower cost options and they can certainly afford them. In this episode we will look at some low-cost options you can consider.
13 minutes | Apr 13, 2022
S8 E50 Create online courses.
Ideas from “Entrepreneurial You.” Dorie Clark “Monetize your expertise, create multiple income streams and thrive” Leverage your platform by creating online courses You have an expertise; you know others want to learn it because you have been building up your following. What can be more obvious than to develop an on-line course? The ultimate make it once, sell it many times. If only it was that easy. The truth is creating and launching a course is difficult. That’s what Jared Kleinert found when he tried to launch a course called “Yourself with Wealth”. In a very transparent Forbes blog post he detailed his failure. It started with three numbers $997, $11,000, $0. The first number $997 was the price that Jared intended to charge for his course. $11,000 was the amount he had spent preparing his course. $0 was the sales he achieved. What went wrong? As Kleinert puts it; “As entrepreneurs we like to chase the next shiny object, like a cool online course. In my rush to make a quick buck, I missed a vital step. I never interviewed my potential customers” Jared has moved onto other things but his advice to others thinking about launching an online course is “You have to build up over time. You have to ask your customers what they want. You need to build something they want, that is of value to them. Then scale that over time.”
13 minutes | Apr 12, 2022
S8 E49 Build a speaking practice
Ideas from “Entrepreneurial You.” Dorie Clark “Monetize your expertise, create multiple income streams and thrive” Build a Speaking Practice. Last week we learned how you can start building your brand and then ways to use that brand to monetize your skills. We looked at the steps needed to build a consulting or coaching business. And then how to break away from the tyranny of the clock, which limits your earnings to the hours you can work. If you can command $300 per hour, and very few consultants are able to charge more, then earnings more than $250,000 per year are possible. But wouldn’t it be nice to earn that, or more, working fewer hours. We learned lessons from folks who has developed as systemized approach and others who had the courage to offer a premium product that could be sold over and over again. To some extent this week we start by returning to a paid by hour activity. Building your own speaking practice. The difference? Once you have established your credibility as a speaker your hourly rate will be very very attractive. Event organizers often have a generous budget speakers. And why not? You will be speaking to hundreds if not thousands of people, imparting to each of them some of your ideas, experiences, and wisdom. How can you start building your speaking practice?
12 minutes | Apr 9, 2022
S8 E48 Break free of the clock.
In an earlier episode I mentioned Michael Port’s book “Book Yourself Solid”. Let me share with you the changing ways Mr. Port was able to capitalize on his book’s success. After publishing his book in 2006 Mr. Port suddenly had a massive new audience. He now had the scale needed to build a group coaching program. He started with teleseminars, most internet connections at the time were not fast enough to support video conferences. The cost for a three-month program was $1,200 and demand was strong. Then he tried a yearlong mentoring program for $8,000 per person which entitled his clients to several training calls per month and three, three-day retreats per year. His initial program had 40 participants. Even when he increased his price to $12,000 demand remained strong attracting between 150 and 250 clients each year. But his participants found travel to the retreats pricey, and Michael Port found executing large live events, costly and stressful. Like all good entrepreneurs he took the time to re-evaluate his program, even though it was delivering an excellent income. He completely changed his business model. He eliminated the three live events and reduced the cost from $1,000 per month to $89 per month. For their money clients got access to 9 training calls per month, one conducted by Michael himself the rest by trained associates. The revised program brings in less income than the early more comprehensive program but requiring much less of Mr. Ports time and with significantly less stress. And maybe in time the lower price point will attract enough sign ups to make up the difference.
12 minutes | Apr 8, 2022
S8 E47 How to build a successful coaching/consulting business?
Step 1 Develop your initial market. Tell your family, friends, contacts about your decision to launch a consulting business. Ask them for introductions to folks who are able to hire and who you may be able to help. If time permits you should do this with a personal call or e-mail. And be specific about the type of client you want to attract. I would love to work with anyone in the aviation industry, or do you know anyone in Google, they would be my dream client. Of course, this assumes that you have a clear idea of what type of coaching/consulting business you want to build. If it is not obvious to you where your skill set lies, or maybe you are a generalist, complete an assessment of your areas of expertise. Some pointers from Bozi Dar who runs an online business as a side gig, 1. Understand what you are well qualified to share. In her book Dori uses the phrase uniquely qualified, but as few of us are uniquely qualified, that is we are the only one in the whole world I have modified the term to well qualified. You can build a business based on the skills you have. What are you well qualified to share? Think about the questions people seek you out to ask. When would your work colleagues turn to you for advice? 2. Do not quit your day job. Take the time to test your hypothesis of what type of work people are willing to pay you for. What’s the problem? Are people looking for a solution I can provide? Who and where are my potential customers? As you start to close deals and build a client base then you can take the plunge and become a full-time consultant. Check your employment contract with your current employer to ensure there are no clauses prohibiting you entering other part time employment. When I started my consulting work as a side business, I advised my company’s HR executive of my plans and obtained their approval. I felt that added a level of integrity to my business, I could tell clients that I was not working behind my employers back. And I avoided all conflicts of interest by only having clients in fields totally unrelated those of my full-time employer. 3. Build your competencies. If you are employed full time and even if you are highly talented, you may not have all the skills required to be an entrepreneur. If you are a marketing exec, possibly your financial skills need improving. Consider taking courses, hiring a business coach, join a group focused on entrepreneurship. Re-invest the income you are earning in rounding out your skills, so you are ready when you break ties with your employer and launch out on your own.
12 minutes | Apr 6, 2022
Monetize your expertise
Building up the courage to charge for your services is challenging. What if no one wants your product? Or people complain that you are overpriced? Or call you a sell out for charging at all? Yes that may well happen. But you cannot help others with your advice or great product or outstanding service if you cannot keep yourself in business. It’s strange, people will pay $200 per hour for a psychiatrist but will look askance at paying the same rate to tap into your decades of experience. I “lose” many potential clients when I tell them my charges, for me this is often a cause for regret, not because I have lost a potential client but because I know I could deliver them many times more value than I charge. Should I reduce my rates? No! I charge what I am worth, as is borne out by my client history. My clients can terminate my services at any time, I do not insist on a notice period. Yet all my clients have stayed with me a minimum of two years and many much longer. Charging what you are worth is key to creating the long-term impact your desire. How can you do this? The first step is to understand the value you bring to others. Once you can do that you will feel comfortable charging appropriate or premium prices. When you start out as a solopreneur you will probably undercharge rather than overcharge. You are anxious to get a few jobs under your belt. Dori tells a great story in his book which I will paraphrase. After pitching a proposal to an early client, the client asked the obvious question, how much? Dori was not prepared for this question and mumbled $60 per hour, which was a little less than her acupuncturist charged. The client instantly said yes, and Dori knew she had left money on the table. I made a similar mistake with my first client, although my rate was a little higher than Dori’s. It was also the first, and last time, I agreed to be paid by the hour. Full disclosure Dori now commands top end prices whereas my rate remains more modest.
13 minutes | Apr 4, 2022
S8 E45 Build Your Brand
Build Your Brand The underlying advice contained in Dorie Clark’s “Entrepreneurial You” is that most entrepreneurs in the coaching, consulting, speaking field fail to diversify themselves. Diversification can enable you to earn more and mitigate risk. Too many entrepreneurs focus on earning revenue from one or two activities, such as consulting and coaching. To stop being held a slave to the clock, trading hours for dollars you need to develop multiple streams of income. In his prologue to the book Dori states that her business model has seven distinct streams. Before you tune out at the thought of developing seven, yes seven, income streams, keep in mind that it has taken Dori over ten years to get to this stage. As she describes in her book “The Long View” it takes time to achieve great things. Not all potential income streams will be appropriate for you, select the ones that match your business goals. Your objective, and its mine since reading Dori’s book, should be to be earning money while you sleep. And although I will focus on the solopreneur, much of the information shared in these episodes is applicable for the intrapreneur working within corporations with all the advantages that access to funds and talent that brings. Nor do you need to quit your job to follow Dori’s advice, a side gig can bring in useful additional income. Over the next few episodes, you can learn how to build your portfolio career.
13 minutes | Apr 2, 2022
S8 E44 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Build the house you want to live in. Define your values early and often. Values are not generic two-word commandments that state the obvious. They should codify what you believe in place where everyone can see them and everyone can suggest changes. Values should be an oral tradition. They should tell your employees how to behave in both normal and extreme situations. And they are effective because values stick in our brains, they are efficient and memorable. Using Nordstrom as an example. For my listeners outside North America who may not be familiar with Nordstrom, it is a high-end department store noted for exceptional service. In an iconic story a customer brings a set of tires to a store to be returned, even though Nordstrom sells clothes, not tires. The store accepts the tires and fully refunds the customer. In another case a clerk being unable to find right pair of shoes for a customer recommends a competitor, Macy’s and pays for the additional shipping cost. These stories tell you more about the service Nordstrom and their customers expect than a thousand-page manual on how to be a good salesclerk.
13 minutes | Apr 1, 2022
S8 E43 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. At this stage of our business cycle, you are profitable and growing organically. Maybe this is the end game for you, you are earning a nice living for you and your family. But many entrepreneurs want to continue to see their businesses grow. And to stand still means to go backwards in this every changing world. You do not need to grow like crazy, but you do not want to stagnate either. As a minimalist entrepreneur you have a built a business that you enjoy working on, it’s a pleasure to go to the office every day. But sustained growth presents its own set of challenges. One tool that may help you decide the best path for your business in the Ansoff matrix which I discussed in episode 29 of season 7. To listen to that podcast CTRL Click here When a business fails, it is not usually due to a tide of unforeseeable events, its usually for a handful of reasons. The most common of which is running out of money. In his book Sahil talks about how to avoid these mistakes.
13 minutes | Mar 30, 2022
S8 E42 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook can take away your business at any time by changing the algorithms, shutting down your account, or making you pay to turn up. Social media is a great place to gain distribution you are building on rented land. Once you have social media followers, start building an email list. Email is a peer-to-peer network giving you a direct line to your customers. This is not controlled by anyone but yourself, an algorithm or whether you spend money. The author’s position is that when someone gives you their e-mail address they are your friend, not a stranger. But it is very easy to lose that friendship. You would not spam your friends so you should not spam these contacts either. I have had some bad experiences recently. Look I get it, a business owner has spent time to develop a piece of useful content, or to produce a YouTube video. If I want more, then I buy the additional information such as an e-book, with my email address. And I know I will get some follow up e-mails and if they are not to frequent and add to my knowledge, provide inspiration, or entertain me that is fair enough. But sometimes I find I have opened myself up to a barrage of emails that are thinly disguised sales pitches. That’s not what I signed up for. I unsubscribe and no longer consider the sender my friend. Just as described in episode 41, for any type of content you produce, ensure your emails first educate, second inspire and finally entertain. And only send out an email when you have something useful to say.
13 minutes | Mar 28, 2022
S8 E41 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Selling to strangers is hard, it’s much easier if you have a connection with your potential client. In this episode we will hear what Sahil Lavingia tells us on developing your audience. Congratulations, by following steps outlined in last week’s show which was part manifesto and part roadmap. you have built a community, a product and one hundred customers. You have achieved product market fit. Note the 100 customers is not a hard number, it will depend on your business. If you are a coach, consultant or other solopreneur this number maybe only 5 or even as low as 3. The point is that you have repeat customers. This week we will look at the advice for the minimalist entrepreneur offered by Savil Lavingia on how to grow beyond 100 customers starting with marketing by being you. Sales got you to 100 customers, marketing will bring you thousands.
13 minutes | Mar 26, 2022
S8 E40 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Episode 40 Getting Ready for Launch – Your first 100 Customers Constraints lead to Creativity. If you are a minimalist entrepreneur the early stages of launching your business is all about constraints. You need to focus on doing one thing well and avoiding the temptation to try to do everything at once. Scope creep where a project or product launch becomes unwieldy due adding just one more feature, and wouldn’t be nice if we could do this. Sahal Lavinga uses this check list to keep things manageable. · Can I ship it in a weekend? Most prototypes of a product offering should be capable of being developed in 2 to 3 days · Will it make my customers lives a little better? · Is it likely a customer will be willing to pay me for this solution? · Can I get feedback quickly? This first product does not need to be pretty. Maybe the best example of a popular but not pretty solution is Craigslist. It’s never been pretty but it has always worked. So not being pretty has been no impediment to growth. An unpretty but effective solution will sell. A pretty but ineffective solution will not.
13 minutes | Mar 25, 2022
S8 E39 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Episode 39 Don’t let self-doubt set in; build as little as possible. Writers are told, “Write what you know” for entrepreneurs it’s not quite that simple. When you are starting a business you are imaging something that has not been done before, or at least not in the way you are contemplating your business vision. This applies even if you are considering a consulting or coaching business, there may be many similar businesses out there but yours will be unique because you will bring your particular skill sets and unique personality to the table. Unfortunately this is when many aspiring solopreneurs decide that building a business is not for them. Although they have the passion they let self doubt set in. They convince themselves they do not have the hard skills they need to be successful. Let me tell you a secret, every entrepreneur has doubts that their business with be successful. Even the most successful were not sure of success when they launched. Jeff Bezos of Amazon told his investors he thought that Amazon had about a 30% chance of succeeding. You do not need a team, money or degree to start building your business. Remember you do not learn and then start, you start and then you learn.
13 minutes | Mar 23, 2022
S8 E38 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Episode 38 Start with Community Sahil Lavinga starts this chapter with a story about entrepreneur Sol Orwell who, in 2009, was overweight and unhappy. He decided he needed to learn more about fitness and nutrition. He joined a Reddit community and the more he learned about the subject, the more he shared, he answered questions and posted about his personal journey of losing sixty pounds (27KG). Working with co “Redditor” Kurtis Frank, they built a community of 50,000 members. Kurtis and Sol noticed a common theme, many questions were raised around the subject of nutritional supplements. In 2011 together they launched Examine.com, they did not sell anything, just provided information. In 2013 they began to think about monetizing. By asking their audience Kurtis and Sahil identified a need for a single reliable source of information about supplements available in the market. They launched Research Digest a full four years after Sol started posting on Reddit. The launch exceeded their expectations, all built on reputation, trust, and word of mouth. As Sahil puts it, Sol is now healthy happy and wealthy all because he built a community, served its needs, and developed a business.
13 minutes | Mar 21, 2022
S8 E37 Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
Episode 37 Are you a Minimalist Entrepreneur? Introduction: Sahil Lavingia started his career chasing unicorns. He joined Pinterest as employee number two but left before his stock invested to build his own billion company: Gumroad. A tool to help creators sell their products online. Simplicity was key, no complicated setup, no elaborate storefront. Just a link for customers to pay and you are in business. Fifty thousand people visited the site on the first day and Sahil felt he was on the cusp of something big. Gumroad never did become a unicorn, after burning through $10 million of investor’s capital, growth plateaued, attempts to raise additional capital failed. Three quarters of the company’s staff were laid off including many of Sahil’s good friends. From the perspective of Silicon Valley, and in his own eyes, Mr. Lavinga was a failure. A move from San Francisco to Provo Utah enabled Sahil to change his perspective. Gumroad was a sustainable business, thousands of creators were using Gumroad to build their own businesses. Real people in the real world were paying their mortgages, their kid’s college funds or simply making pin money selling stuff online. By most people’s estimations Gumroad and Sahil Lavinga were a success. By changing his environment from the white-hot environment of San Francisco to the much more conservative atmosphere of Provo Utah it became clear that many more entrepreneurs want to build a sustainable business that matched their values and gave them a lifestyle they found satisfying rather than chase the elusive unicorn.
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