EFP 39: Business And The Borg
Welcome back to the newly re-branded Empire Flippers Podcast! In episode 39, Joe and I discuss the some of the issues and problems that arise with building and running a business as non-technical founders. The project management triangle of picking 2 out of “Fast, Cheap, and Good” definitely applies and we’ll be discussing this in terms of actual examples and how it affects our business.
How to Stop the “Technical” Struggle
This episode’s for you if you’ve ever found yourself struggling with technical products or services, have had difficulties finding and working with programmers or designers, or are looking to build an online business without many technical skills.
Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:
Direct Download – Right Click, Save As
Topics Discussed This Week Include:
- The reason for the switch to Empire Flippers and what to expect
- Comparing hardcore tech startups to the borg
- Fast, Cheap, Or Good – Pick one other than cheap!
- Get specific – Why saying “make it happen” doesn’t work
- Programmers Vs. Designers – How to work both to deliver a kick-ass product
- Products Of Yesterday And Tomorrow – Threading the needle
- EmpireFlippers.com – Our new home! Some new pages: Blog | Marketplace | Get Started | Products & Services | About Us
- Adam @ TropicalNomad.com – Agreed, man…coupons suck!
- Mockingbird – Great cloud tool for mockups
- Own The Racecourse w/ James Schramko – Our inspiration for the Productized Services – Worth checking out. Thanks, James!
What did you think about this episode? Do you like the new brand? Give us a shout on Twitter or let us know in the comments below!
Announcer: Welcome to the Empire Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that ebook you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers.
Justin Cooke: Welcome to Episode 39 or should I say Episode 1 of the Empire Flippers Podcast. I’m your host Justin Cooke. I’m here with hot money, Joe Magnotti. What’s going on buddy?
Joe Magnotti: Welcome aboard everybody.
Justin Cooke: We’ve got a new, fantastic show lined up for you. We’re going to be talking about that in bit. We’re also going to be covering building and online business without the borg. And I think we’re going to explain that a little bit. First let’s do some updates, news, and information. So, we’ve got the transition. Here is the plan. So we’ve gone from AdSenseFlippers.com to Empireflippers.com. A part of that though is also combining our outsourcing company TryBPO and our newer site outsourcing for startups into one brand.
Justin Cooke: As you continue to grow we figured that we need to grow as well. I mean we are no longer just doing niche add sense sites, and so we probably need to grow our brand and grow our communication and our content along with that. I think this would be a little less restrictive. There’s less confusion about our brands from different customers and we can focus on our efforts. We talked about this a little bit before we started the show. When you have multiple brands and you go from one to the next to the next, you lose something in trying to shift your focus. I mean it’s just like your daily tasks, right?
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, right. Multitasking, I mean sometimes you have to do it, but it’s definitely not the most efficient way to use your time. It’s probably better to focus on one thing at a time, complete that task out, and then get to the next one.
Justin Cooke: Plus, personally I just want to be part of something right? And I really feel like we can take Empire Flippers way beyond where we’ve been able to take Ad Sense Flippers by itself, where we’ve been able to take TryBPO by itself. I really think this is our baby and we can drive it home.
Joe Magnotti: I tell you, it’s been a hell of a long weekend though. We put in some long hours.
Justin Cooke: Sweet Lord. I also wouldn’t be able to sell cross platform products. So we can mix in products with outsourcing. We’re going to talk about that in a bit.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, part of the problem I think was that our customers from one area of our business didn’t know about the products and services we offered on the other area. So this makes it a lot easier for them to access that.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, we telling an outsourcing client the other day about Ad Sense Flippers and kind of what we’ve done there and he was really interested and kind of impressed, but he had no idea. I mean they are totally separate, kind of unrelated entities. So bringing those together I think will be clearer for our customers and definitely clearer for us.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I had a business colleague that I talked to about our podcast and he’s in the call center business. He’s familiar with TryBPO and he went and listened to the episodes, 38 episodes and he was like, “Oh my god, you’re like a radio DJ, host guy, I didn’t know that.”
Justin Cooke: That’s so funny. It’s cool. So anyway I think that putting them together would be great. Let’s talk a little about the changes before we get into the heart of this week’s episode. First of we’ve got the marketplace. We’ve always sold our own sites on our buyer’s sites page. We’re now turning this into more of a marketplace. So we’re taking vetted sites that we dig through and approve to be listed on our buyer’s sites page as well. It means there’ll be sites listed right alongside ours. We also have a feature listing area where the idea is to start flipping mini businesses. Full on, three, five, ten, fifteen thousand dollar a month businesses that people can take over and own.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I’m really excited about this. I know the marketplace doesn’t look awesome right now, but it does work. It does get the point across and the numbers on these sites that are out there. These are vetted sites that we’ve gone through and verified all the numbers on. That we know the people behind them and the methods they used to build them. These are not some random people out there on the internet just selling sites through Empire Flippers. This is something we’ve gone through and made sure is correct.
Justin Cooke: The other thing stemmed from you guys. We’ve had some emails from [inaudible 00:04:06] that said, “Hey, you’ve done a lot. It’s kind of hard to dig through your content. I don’t know what your updated methods are. Can you kind of point me into the right stuff.” So we decided to do a get started page and this will be kind of our updated, here’s what we’re doing, here’s what we’re working on kind of page. We’ll update this on a regular basis so people know the more current stuff. You know blogging man, is just a couple years ago was like a lifetime. So we’ll be able to be a bit more updated. The other thing we have is a products and services section.
Joe Magnotti: I’m really excited about that.
Justin Cooke: Yeah. So basically we taking some of the things we’re doing already, leveraging our team, and allowing you to leverage our team by offering key word research, content management, site management, these types of things.
Joe Magnotti: So many people out there have asked for this. They go, “But you guys already do content editing. You already set up the site.”
Justin Cooke: We’re like “No we have a specific process for only our people and we said no.” So we were like that’s silly, why should we keep saying no to people that want to give us money for these products, that’s silly.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I mean we’re just trying to say people have a specific process. They have everything handled except the keyword research and we say, “Well you have to hire four key word researchers.” And there like, “I don’t need four full time key word researchers. I just need a batch of a hundred key words.” So this gives them the ability to do that.
Justin Cooke: So anyway, sorry for being so dense. We’ve heard you loud and clear, we now offer these products on the products and services page. Now before we move forward let’s hear a quick message from Adam and TopicalNomad.com.
Adam: Hi guys. I was listening to a few of your podcast there and my name is Adam. I am fairly new to your website to be honest lads. [inaudible 00:05:37] I just joined up and I like the podcast man. They’re pretty good and they’re funny and realistic. I just wanted to say about finding the coupons, yeah man like the amount of things that have gone into GoDaddy to buy a domain name and I can’t find a fucking coupon code, and I know it’s half price. And then you end up paying full price so, I just wanted to say that I agree with you like, websites should have a fair price if you want to buy a product and the next thing you click out and its like, Oh well actually [inaudible 00:06:08] twenty dollars instead of thirty. Yeah that’s bullshit and they should just have one fair price for everything. Keep up the good work lads. Hopefully I see you in Philippines later on in the year. All the best from Adam.
Justin Cooke: Adam thanks for the shout man. Really appreciate it. I totally agree with you, coupons are bullshit.
Joe Magnotti: Every time I buy something I’m searching for the coupon code when I see that little box and every time I’ll end up going to a bunch of coupon codes that work. Drive me crazy. The good news is, Empire Flippers, we don’t use coupon codes and we never will.
Justin Cooke: Anyway, top of the morning to you? Hey Adam, thanks for the message man. Appreciate it and do check out Tropicalnomad.com. I’d love to check out New Zealand someday. Your pictures looked awesome.
Justin Cooke: Anyway let’s get right into the heart of this week’s episode. Building and online business without the borg.
Announcer: This is the Empire Flippers Podcast.
Justin Cooke: So let’s talk a little about this title. We’ve got five points we really want to dig into. Let kind of explain kind of where we are coming from. We were talking a little bit about, as kind of like non technical founders, or business owners, what it’s like to have to do some technical work in your business. And it can be a bitch, basically.
Joe Magnotti: Well first probably we should explain what the borg is. Come on Star Trek nerd, tell us.
Justin Cooke: We were talking about how do you say that a non technical person, without three long words in a title. And I was like, “I don’t know.” So we started thinking well a techniphobe or something. No that doesn’t really sound right. Leadite, should it be leadite dude? No, no probably not that one.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, we’re not afraid of flashlights and telephones.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, I’m not riding around town in a buggy or something. I don’t know how to program. I don’t know how to code. In fact it’s Greek to me. When you’re building a business that’s difficult. Especially when it’s an online business. And we thought that maybe there are some ways we’ve found to kind of work around that and there are a couple of things that are still things that we struggle with. We just kind of want to talk about that a little bit in the podcast.
Joe Magnotti: So the borg is, for the guys who don’t know out there, that’s the characters from Star Trek that were half robotic, half alien.
Justin Cooke: It’s this crazy looking box that’s like totally technically efficient and they just go, “I will assimilate you.” That’s the whole idea. They are just going to take you over and just own you. And if you’re a great tech team, like some of these tech startups and stuff that come out with just this amazing team that are just … they’re like the borg. Well we don’t have the borg. So unfortunately we have to figure work arounds.
Joe Magnotti: I do consider myself technical. I was an engineer back in the day. But man, just doing this site and learning this technology that we’re learning, it’s just way over my head now.
Justin Cooke: Fuck it. It’s like the Millennium Falcon baby. That’s what we are. We’re going to have to borrow the Millennium Falcon. Please get me there to light speed or whatever. We’re totally dorking out on this dude. Let’s get into the main points. First point is, shit ain’t cheap.
Joe Magnotti: I don’t know who these people are who are saying, oh it only cost me eighty dollars to get this great website done. Or I only spent a couple hundred dollars online and I didn’t even know the person. All these fantastical prices and cost that they seem to say.
Justin Cooke: It’s offensive to me a little bit. If you were to like, “Ah yeah so I just whipped this together for two hundred and thirty dollars, it was gone oh desk, no big deal it’s like this crazy cool thing.” I think it’s kind of like maybe bragging rights for people. I don’t know what that is. Anytime that we’ve wanted to get anything done or build anything it’s costs us quite a bit of money. As non tech guys it’s going to cost you even more money.
Joe Magnotti: I think you’ve got to go back to the old cliché triangle here. Fast, cheap, and good, pick two. And usually, especially if you’re in the online space you’re going to want fast and good. You’re just going to have to give up cheap and pay for that ability unless you know how to code; unless you know how to program on the back end.
Justin Cooke: Of the three, and you get to pick two. I kind of feel like if you’re not a tech guy, it’s actually two and you get to pick one. I mean it’s not going to be cheap period. It’s going to be fast or good. Those are your options so you better pick one right. For us, that’s kind of the way that it is unfortunately. That’s just, it is.
Justin Cooke: Anyway, point number two. Programmers need specifics.
Joe Magnotti: Oh man. We’re pretty good about this actually. We usually try to give our people mock-ups. We try to sketch out what we think the U.I. is going to look like. We can even use programs for that. We have clear objectives for our people. But we’ve heard of people going out there and just giving ideas to engineers and not really explaining or thinking them through very well.
Justin Cooke: I’d say that I did this years ago. Where I would say, “I want this thing to kind of do this.” And they would go, “That’s awesome. How?” Well I don’t know man, you’re the tech guy just figure it out. That doesn’t work. So I figured that out years ago, but if figured that sometimes actually explaining the details aren’t easy and so it takes you some time to develop that. So having a way to kind of show them with online tools. What’s a good cloud based tool that you can use for mock-ups?
Joe Magnotti: It’s called Mockingbird.com. This is a really good way for you to outline what a U.I., what a user interface should look like on what you want that functionality to be. That makes it easier for the programmer to conceptualize what you are thinking and have to go ahead and make it on the back end. Now, he might not make it pretty, but that’s something that we’ll get into.
Joe Magnotti: With Intellitheme we had an idea, a concept for a theme, but that was very, very specific. We had a whole bunch of niche sites. We know we wanted to improve CTR. But programmers that we spoke to didn’t really understand our business. Some of them didn’t even know what Ad Sense was. We had to lead them down the path step by step, by designing these sort of interfaces, showing them what they were going to do, and then putting them all together at the end of the day to have a product that works simply and beautifully.
Justin Cooke: Why tracking a click in the box isn’t the same thing as tracking a click on the link. Very specific things like that. These are things that you have to do and it’s definitely our point number two.
Justin Cooke: Third point. Cover your ass. Joe had this saying in the U.S. He would always say this. “What if so and so gets hit by a bus? If so and so gets hit by a bus. He would ask this of his supervisors and managers. What would you do if so and so got hit by a bus? To get them thinking about, Oh well I better have secondary or tertiary backups for that particular job. That’s an important job, I need to back it up. Here we call it, hit by a jeepney. That’s what we tell our employees here in the Philippines.
Joe Magnotti: It’s probably a lot easier to get hit by a jeepney than a bus for those who know the Philippines. This is just so key.
Justin Cooke: We make this mistake though. It’s something that you never fully get over.
Joe Magnotti: Especially when you start to trust one person. You start to get very comfortable with them. They start to know and understand what you like. They start to interpret you. Maybe they even start to get ahead of the game. And then things are great for a little while until all of a sudden they drop off a cliff and you don’t know what happened. That’s why always have something in your back pocket to back those things up.
Justin Cooke: This definitely comes from experience. [inaudible 00:13:13] is where we take it too far and then how am I going to, what were you thinking. I think that because it’s easy. It’s easier to trust one person to be ultimately responsible for that, but you never know it’s going to happen.
Justin Cooke: Fourth point. There is a difference between programming and designing.
Joe Magnotti: This is one we’ve struggled with. Sometimes you will meet the best programmers. They’re fantastic and the work they do is great. But ask them to create an image that looks like a little cartoon guy doing this and go into Photoshop and make a button for me that looks beautiful. No. They can’t even do that. They don’t make nice things. The code on the back end is beautiful in itself. It’s elegant. It’s clean. But the U.I. design can be pretty ugly sometimes.
Justin Cooke: This is why you’ll see a lot of times with internet marketing, you’ll see that a really flashy, really sexy looking tool or program, so it has a great U.I., or U.X. and it’s fantastic, but there’s no meat and potatoes behind it. It is run on vaporware. Or you’ll have this amazing tool that is bugging and give you error codes when you hit the submit button. It looks ugly on the front end but it is amazingly powerful on the back end. It’s because someone had one and not the other when they were putting together that tool.
Joe Magnotti: The action item here for you guys out there is, don’t try to put this in one roll. Hire programmers and hire designers. Get them to work together. It’s going to be expensive, but it’s better off done that way. Each person can focus on their individual expertise. You’ll get a better product in the end. And everyone’s generally happy because when programmers are forced to do design work or forced to do programming work errors get made and issues come out of it.
Justin Cooke: Maybe you’re one and not the other. Maybe you’re the programmer and you think UAC, I can do design. Especially this happens with programmers. Oh I can do everything. I can build the entire thing. That’s probably not the best idea. There’s someone out there that make it look a hell of a lot better than you can. Use them for those talents. Kick ass on the back end and have them pretty it up on the front.
Justin Cooke: Okay, our fifth and final point. Don’t use yesterday’s or tomorrow’s technology.
Joe Magnotti: So hard to stick to this one because it’s really easy to reach for tomorrow’s technology. You say, “Oh, it’s coming down the pipe. I really want the features and functionality of that in my website. I want to get off this older platform.” You have to be very careful with it because a lot of this technology is not proven. We’re going through that right now at Empire Flippers.
Justin Cooke: I feel like we did this a little better. This isn’t on a very high level or anything, but we used Thesis 2.0 to build out Empire Flippers. And, okay, Thesis 2.0 might be great in the future and for some people it might be great today. But for us it was not the best choice right, because it is still, there are still problems with it. People are learning it. It was between Thesis 2.0 or Genesis. And Genesis is today, maybe a little older, but it’s today because there are a lot of skins built for it already. There’s all kinds of additional tools and support for it.
Justin Cooke: We bought Thesis 2.0 and it was kind of untested. So we had to basically test our way through it. There wasn’t a lot of write ups on how to use it. So we had to spend all this time kind of figuring it out. And that sucks. Using tomorrow’s technology today is going to cost you in time and you may end up with a lemon. Now we didn’t luckily because we had a great guy figuring it out. So thanks John, I appreciate that. But you’ve got to be careful with that. And using yesterday’s technology can screw you too.
Joe Magnotti: We had a lead generation tool that we built back in 2009. And this was before we were truly convinced at the power of WordPress. And we just built it in static pages and making any change at that point was completely impossible.
Justin Cooke: Oh my god. I couldn’t do anything at all. Anything at all had to be done through a guy. And it just sucks. Yeah not good. Not good for you non programmers. Not good for me. Not good all the way around.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe.
Justin Cooke: Let’s get into niche business idea of the week. This one is something we’re dealing with right now. We’re trying to transfer Ad Sense Flippers over to Empireflippers.com and it is a bitch basically.
Joe Magnotti: I would think that a high level migration service would be a good business. Now I’m not talking like just moving people’s niche sites or something like that when it’s something that we do for free when we sell sites to people. But even that, I mean people don’t know how to do it and they don’t really care. So people have to move hosting services all the time. We moved to WP Engine. They pointed us to some migration consultants, but honestly they were expensive. I would love to see a productized services that could just for a flat fee take that under control.
Justin Cooke: Let’s back up for a minute. We’re going from Ad Sense Flippers to Empire Flippers. We’re changing domains, but we’re also changing our slogs right. It’s Adsenseflippers.com word, slash, word, slash, word, slash, word or whatever. We’re changing that to x-word, slash, x-word whatever.
Joe Magnotti: So category names are changing. What that means is we no longer put the category names in the URLs.
Justin Cooke: So we asked around. We asked around to friends, connections, for people that we knew had this type of experience or at least part of that experience, if they could help us out, and no one wanted to touch it with a ten foot pole. Well here’s the idea. If they were a little scared or nervous about kind of putting it all together, how do you think we feel? How do you think the customer would feel about that? They’re really kind of freaked out about having to do all this themselves. That’s something, that’s a real pain point right.
Joe Magnotti: It’s amazing to me …
Justin Cooke: We’d have paid thousands of dollars for that Joe.
Joe Magnotti: Nobody wants to really own this. We had the migration handled and just the 301 redirect we needed a person, an expert, and no one wanted to step up and take responsibility for it.
Justin Cooke: And we kind of donked it up. I mean right now we got our site there that discuss comments don’t work. We made some linking mistakes. We didn’t really know what we were doing. We kind of fumbled our way through it, but I mean we would have paid thousands of dollars for someone to take care of that pain for me. And if someone did it great, I would have totally recommended that to other people that wanted to do the same thing. I’m telling you, I’m sure there are people out there, we found a guy, that’s really good with Thesis, that’s not taking clients right now because he’s too busy. There’s totally business to be had there. If you’ve done a few of these and you at least know one of the areas really well, you might want to think about offering that as a service. I think you could do really well because you’re leading into, or you’re handling a pain that’s scary to for people that have websites with traffic and a bunch of post and that kind of thing. Definitely worth checking out.
Justin Cooke: So let’s get into our tips, tricks, and plans for the future.
Announcer: The Empire Flippers Podcast.
Justin Cooke: So our first tip is a shout out to James Schramko. He has a course, and you know an internet marketing course whatever, but this guy’s legit. He as course called Own the Race Course, which basically shows you how to deliver value to your clients or customers on different levels, how to meet different needs, et cetera. He actually gave me copy of Own the Race Course. I started going through it and it was like wow, this is pretty interesting, like how you can deliver all these different pieces to people. What they need and when they need it, type thing. So this is really inspiration for our product ties services page. Our products and services page. Where we offer little bits of the process to people directly. So I’m really excited to see how that works. I love the Own the Race Course strategy or theory and I’m excited to put it into practice.
Joe Magnotti: The next thing we got for you is we are going to a weekly format Justin.
Justin Cooke: Yeah buddy, we’re back to a weekly format for the Empire Flippers Podcast. We’re excited to be doing this and we’ll be with you on a weekly basis. In your earbuds probably Wednesdays or Thursdays as far as publishing schedule. So, because we are going to be doing a lot more episodes, we’d love to hear what you like to hear about. So make sure to leave a message in the comments section, and we will see if we can fit it into the show as well.
Joe Magnotti: Guess I can’t be too far from fast internet anywhere in the world, huh?
Justin Cooke: And that’s it for Episode 39 of Empire Flippers Podcast. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to check us out on Twitter @EmpireFlippers. Not Ad Sense Flippers, Emipire Flippers. We’ll see you next week.
Joe Magnotti: Bye, bye everybody.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up Empireflippers.com for more. That’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.
Recently I was REALLY low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – 4khx
Great podcast guys. I know the new launch was a rocky journey, but you gained some immensely valuable experience for the next time. I definitely feel like you upgraded your understanding of an entire field on this one – though, as always, it was costly and a bit of a headache.
Regardless, it was a pleasure to be of assistance and I’m glad we at least got you started on a good track. 🙂
One tip I would offer your readers and small business owners, is to spend some time at least gaining an understanding of basic HTML, CSS, WordPress, PHP, etc… You don’t have to be a master… but 100 hours of education could save you many thousands of dollars down the line. If you’ve got 30k to dump into a website and that’s a drop in the hat for you, then no worries. But it’s much easier to pick a good team and organize a project with a little more knowledge under your belt. If you run a business on the Internet, it pays to understand what the Internet is built out of – as well as how some of the pieces fit together.
Thanks John, it was quite the journey getting this done, but now that it is out there a am pumped to see what we can do down the line. Great advice about learning at least some basic tech skills. Unfortunely, there are only so many hours int he day.
your site is looking kick butt! I am sure it will do well.
Thanks James! It has been a long journey to get here. We’re not finished yet!
Hi guys !
Happy to have you again in my earbuds .
When you said about combining your businesses , I thought it would great to be able to have a couple of sites AND a virtual assistant that can handle some basic tasks about the sites . I don’t know if this is too much , just a thought . 🙂
Be healthy and smile .
What exactly would you have that assistant do? Perhaps we could productize the offering to make it cheaper for you then just buying a full time agent you don’t need.
I wanted to offer direct assistants but we are really looking for set products here as they are easy to deliver. If you want a general VA to run your site, go to VSF. If you need to hire 4 people or more dedicated full time, contact us privately.
Thanks for the feedback though — we might have some new services available soon.
Ok . This is what I thought .
Lets say I bought the premium package and i have 3-4 ready sites and few more additional keywords to be turned into sites . That’s a lot of work . I could use a VA . Instead of going through the whole process of finding/interviewing/hiring/training a VA , I would be convenient for me to have him/her as a part of the package , an ultra premium package .
Hope it makes sense .
That’s my idea . If it can’t be implemented , what can you do . Another useless idea .
Won’t be the first , nor the last . 🙂
The problem with that is each process is a little different and each setup has it’s own ins and outs. It’s custom every time and that means lots of training and communicating, something we are trying to avoid.
There is something here though Ilias that can be made into a product. We just haven’t nailed it down yet.
One of the reasons we went the “productized service” route was because many wanted a VA, but didn’t have the time to have him/her working on a full-time basis. They wanted something specific done, but weren’t able to offer full-time employment. We thought we would take out the hassle of finding/hiring/training the VA and just offer the services directly as a “product” instead. Our benefit is improved margins and the customer’s benefit is no-hassle.
you need to fidget around with the checkout page for the godaddy coupons to work but they do work
I don’t know Mike, why not just have them include the discount in the price? Why make me hunt for it and waste time?
Congrats on the consolidation and expansion of your business. Look forward to more regular podcasts. Love your high level business talks and would like to hear more on topics such as process creation, managing outsourced projects and ensuring scalability/automation.
Thanks Christopher! We are excited about everything as well. I love your topic recommendations — very actionable.