EFP 53: Riding The Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster

Justin Cooke

June 27, 2013

Starting a business is definitely not for the faint-hearted or weak-kneed…

Sure, there are some clear benefits to being your own boss…but the up-and-down swings can leave you feeling either elated or downright miserable. The funny thing is that they don’t seem to go away – definitely not on the timetable you’d prefer.

The Big Ups and Downs of the Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster

The GOOD news is that there are some things you can do to make the lows a bit more bearable, while maximizing the value you get out of the highs…and that’s exactly what this episode is about. Joe and I will share some of our experiences with the entrepreneurial roller coaster and delve into how we’ve dealt with them through the years.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Quotables:

“We were at Outback Steakhouse, literally doing the napkin math (to sketch out our new business)” – Justin – Click To Tweet!

“When you’re losing, that’s not the time to double-down and try to win back your losses” – Joe – Click To Tweet!

“When I got to the PI and was hit by that foreign smell I thought, “Wow, I get to LIVE here!” – Joe – Click To Tweet!

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Webmaster Tools – Is it worth it?
  • High: Your Big Idea
  • Low: Newness Wears Off
  • High: The Work Starts
  • Low: Unforseen Setbacks And Pivots
  • High: Profits And Diversification
  • Low: Another Kick In The Nuts
  • High: Fighting Back With Tweaks And Iterations
  • Low: Becoming Your Own Bottleneck
  • High: Replacing Yourself And New Revenue Streams
  • Low: ???

Mentions:

So…what do you think about using Google Webmaster Tools. Is it worth it? How has your entrepreneurial roller coaster been going…more highs or lows? Give us a shout on Twitter or leave us a comment below and we’ll respond publicly!

 


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Speaker 1:                           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 e-book 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 53 of the Empire Flippers Podcast, I’m your host Justin Cook and I’m here with Joe. Hot money Magnotti, what is going on brother?

Joe Magnotti:                    What is up everybody?

Justin Cooke:                     We’ve got a great episode lineup this week. We are gonna take a ride on the entrepreneurial rollercoaster. We’re gonna go up, we’re gonna go down, we’re gonna take you through the process all of us have to go through when we are building a business.

Joe Magnotti:                    Make sure you do it on an empty stomach.

Justin Cooke:                     Definitely, you don’t wanna throw up on this ride, baby.

                                                So, let’s get into some of the updates, news, and information. First thing is we have a new iTunes review, it’s a five star, buddy.

Joe Magnotti:                    Hit me up, man!

Justin Cooke:                     So we got Dick Wood says “Amaze-balls. Well done, guys. Congratulations on the May 2013 [inaudible 00:01:05] report. Love the podcast, it makes my two hour drive today actually something I’m looking forward to. All the best in the UK.” -Richard Woods from yompmarketing.com

                                                Let’s get into our second news and update. We’ve got our [inaudible 00:01:18] master mind we’re just getting back from. This last weekend we went to [inaudible 00:01:21], we hung out with Chris Tucker, Mark Brenwall, and some of the other cool, sharp dudes that were at the master mind. And Mark actually; we talked about last week in the episode but his Facebook page presentation; he went through it with us and it is sexy shit, man.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I mean if you have the software and you do it right, you have the good engagement.

Justin Cooke:                     Software? Oh you mean the way to subscribe, yeah, to subscribe to the emails.

                                                Yeah, it’s crazy dude. You spend I think $500 and he’s making about $300 a month. He got 800 sign-ups; email sign-ups. About 1000 now, actually. And last month he made $300 with it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Right, the ads part is crucial, the software part is crucial, too, to get the email list. But the engagement I think is one of the pieces that really needs to be there as well. But once you put all three of those elements together, you’re in the right niche. Wow, it’s very profitable.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah I mean he’s really kind of soft-selling in emails, he’s not just like hardcore asshole marketer kind of play. I mean he’s just get them great information, real content, and then sending them to different places they can buy stuff and they’re appreciative it looks like.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, it seems like a good way to make money on Facebook.

Justin Cooke:                     All right buddy, so enough about the Facebook market, let’s talk about our business this month. We’re gonna do, obviously, another income report but as of right now we’re; I think either just under or just over $100,000 in sales for June.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah I have to run the numbers to be sure, probably should’ve done that for the show, but we’re real close.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, if we didn’t break the barrier we’re real close to it, so that’s $100,000 in sites purchased from us, now a good portion of those are vetted sites, they’re not actually our sites, so we don’t get all the revenue from that.

                                                But just how cool is that that we’re pushing through $100,000 this month in business.

Joe Magnotti:                    It’s awesome and thank you to all our customers out there, we had a lot of repeat business this month from customers that haven’t bought in a while bought last year in 2012 and are looking for new sites this year. So I’m really happy to see people come back a year later and still want to buy sites.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah I’m really excited about the new; the different types of sites that we’re gonna be pushing out here soon (available for sale). I know that some people are like “Okay guys, get back to your niche ads, I wanna buy some of yours” and we’ll have those, too. But I think we’re gonna have some interesting stuff coming out within the next couple of weeks. Should be pretty sexy and we’ll keep you updated via email.

                                                The other thing we wanted, we actually wanted to ask you guys a question; what you thought about this.

                                                We stopped putting all of our sites in webmaster tools and it really wasn’t a hiding thing, I mean, we’re in analytics, we’re in ad sense, whatever, so it wasn’t hiding but it was a manual process and kind of a pain in the butt. So we stopped doing it but, I mean, there’s some value in being in webmaster tools with updates and I’ve been seeing new updates coming out of webmaster tools; which they’re trying to be more communicative I think.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, they put a bunch of messages in there and they made the take ownership piece if you have Google analytics set up on the site and it’s in your account. They made the take ownership piece very, very easy but still you have to go in there and click the button. And if you’re creating 100 sites a week like we are; that’s a lot of buttons to click.

Justin Cooke:                     Well we’re not creating 100 sites a week right now. Oh my god, no way. We’re doing maybe 20 or 30 right now.

Joe Magnotti:                    Okay, maybe 100 sites a month right now but we’re gonna gear up to 100 sites a week. That’s just a lot of buttons to click, I mean, it wouldn’t be somebody’s dedicated job but it would take a few hours a week for sure just to sit there and set things up right; webmaster tools. And my question to our audience is. Is there value in that? Should we really spend some man hours and do this? I wonder.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, if I had ten sites or something I’d say of course I would, but I’m not sure with our process. I think we should but it’s definitely up for debate, so if you have any thoughts on that we’d love to hear from you in the comments. Enough about that, let’s get right into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 1:                           This is the Empire Flippers Podcast.

Justin Cooke:                     So this week we are riding the rollercoaster of the entrepreneurial train, buddy.

                                                You know basically every entrepreneur is going to go through their ups, their downs, you know.

Joe Magnotti:                    Steady pieces.

Justin Cooke:                     Their steady pieces, they’re gonna go through; they’re gonna run the gambit really with their business and so we wanted to take this episode to talk about those different phases; those different periods you could can go through with your business.

                                                We’re going to share some of the experiences we’ve had in our own business and how they kind of relate, and how we got through them.

Joe Magnotti:                    One thing you did say before the show, Justin, which I thought was interesting from a philosophy standpoint is that when you are one of these up times, that’s the time to push it. That’s the time to try to take extra ground and get a lot done. It’s in the down times that you need to retract a little bit and be careful about your progress.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah I think, you know, if we’re robots in the perfect world you just muscle through the entire thing, right? But we’re not robots and we’re not perfect like that. So if you have to double down, you should double down when you’re rising. When things are going really well; so you can make that peak higher.

                                                Ultimately in your business you’re going to have peaks and valleys but you want that to be a trending line that’s moving up. And the best way to do that is to push your peaks. When things are down, you know, you can’t hurt it that much by to being as involved. Normally it doesn’t happen. You may feel like it is, but it doesn’t.

Joe Magnotti:                    I mean this is a gamblers credo and I definitely think its the right one. Its when you’re losing is not the time to double down or try to make up your losses.

Justin Cooke:                     Oh yeah, I’ve done that at the poker table buddy, yeah. No, you’re on tilt or whatever. Not a good time to be playing.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah so you definitely only wanna be push it when you’re winning.

Justin Cooke:                     All right so let’s talk about your first up. So you have a business idea, right. You are ready to roll with it baby. We’ve got the business idea, we’re gonna make a gazillion dollars, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    And we see this from a lot of people, right? They start doing some napkin math. They start sketching out what the features of functionality of their software is gonna be. All this kind of stuff, and this is just …

Justin Cooke:                     It’s revolutionary, man! We’re gonna change the world with this thing, right? It’s gonna be awesome. We’re gonna make a ton of money. Customers are gonna be fired up, it’s gonna be fantastic. And we had a moment like this, right? We were, if you’re in the US, we were at an Outback Steakhouse; which is like this faux Australian beef place basically.

Joe Magnotti:                    Not very good food

Justin Cooke:                     No but good beer, right? They had nice draft beer. so we were there after work one day and we were literally doing the napkin math. We had a napkin and we were adding up numbers and trying to figure out how we were gonna get this thing in the Philippines rolling, right?

                                                We had opened the door to having the conversation with the CEO/CFO about this. We’d been kind of working with my mentor, the CO, at the time about how to kind of plan it out and you and I were like frantically trying to figure out our game plan. We were fired up about our business, right? We were like oh yeah, we’re back in business It’s been a few years we’ve been working for the man. We’re going to do it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I remember the napkin math that we came up with put so much money in a bank account after two years that I can’t believe I don’t have that much.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, what the hell happened right? So we were doing this fantastic plan that sounded just amazing, so that was a big up for us but we did have a bit of a down and this comes to everyone, I think. You get that bright idea, it’s shiny, it’s new, and then all of a sudden you start doing a bit more research. You start planning at your business and you go oh my god, there are competitors or there are competitors out there doing it better than I could.

Joe Magnotti:                    Or the development process is gonna cost $10,000. I don’t have that kind of money.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, it’s too expensive, there’s no way I can really do this. I’m not the right person for this, or whatever, right? A lot of times it’s this; yeah you take the information too far, you’ve researched too much before you’ve actually taken action and you do go through a bit of a lull after the bright idea.

Joe Magnotti:                    And the worst kind of lull I think are the ones that you put in front of; you put those obstacles in front of yourself that aren’t really there. We did this.

Justin Cooke:                     Yes, so this is something that we did. Joe and I were getting the business up and rolling. We were setting the business up in the Philippines. It required a lot of paperwork to do kind of the business stuff. So Joe and I we took a traffic laced trip to Los Angeles. I swear to god it was a four hour trip to get there. We went to the Philippines embassy and we had to bring all this paperwork; all of our corporation documents from the US and we had stacks. Remember that? Just stacks of paperwork.

Joe Magnotti:                    Oh my god, yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     And it wasn’t enough, right? Because they needed like six copies of everything and we only had two. So we did like pay; I think it was over 100 bucks just for like copies and we had to wait like two hours just for the copy machine to make all these copies.

                                                Anyway here’s the scene, we’re surrounded by people who just kind of like don’t give a shit about us, right? We’re waiting in line, they tell us it’s the wrong line, we’ve got these little tassels with like little red strings attached to all these documents, it was ridiculous, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, it really was and to look back on it now, it seemed to important at the time to have this Philippino operation set up and owned by our US corporation. And yeah I’m glad we got it done the right way, but I think-

Justin Cooke:                     I’m kind of glad, I mean honestly there’s so much hassle you can save by not even; a lot of people do it without even having a Philippines corporation set up.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah and I think maybe we’d eventually have it done that way, but in the beginning if we had focused on making new sales and finding new customers, that would have been so much more money.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, doing that over today; it would be a totally different approach. We wouldn’t care about any of that, we’d get the money flowing in, get the customers, get everything set up first. We wouldn’t even care about that, really, right?

                                                It’s a totally different approach to what we were thinking at the time. I remember just being in that embassy. We had to actually leave, we had to come back a different day, and it was a thing man. For a couple of weeks were just like-

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah I can remember getting that paperwork in hand finally and it was exhilarating; just to get paperwork done. I mean, that should alone tell you that there’s a problem. When you get the paperwork done and just feel like you accomplished something by getting paperwork done, that’s a big [crosstalk 00:11:03] That should stand out as a red flag.

Justin Cooke:                     That process is like the DMV on steroids man, it’s horrible.

                                                Anyway, our next up; and so, you know, we continued on, we built our business. Our next up was wheels down in the Philippines, right? And this happens for a lot of people when they actually get started on the work. So they’ve had this idea, they went through research process, they brought themselves back from the brink, and they’re starting work on their app. They’re starting work on their business and it feels good, right Joe?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I mean, one point of lifestyle here for me in the Philippines; especially as an American; maybe other people have this same thing but when you get to a foreign country I feel like every foreign country has that foreign smell, you know? And when I got to the Philippines in August 2009 I got hit by that foreign smell and I was like I’m gonna be living here.

Justin Cooke:                     I like it, I like that foreign smell, man. I know exactly what you’re talking about, and if you haven’t traveled overseas much you might think we’re crazy, but it’s absolutely true. Every country has their smell, right? It’s so true.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah and when I moved here in 2009 I was like this is it, I’m going to run my business, I’m going to live in the Philippines.

Justin Cooke:                     And it was exciting too, and for us we’ve got the office, we’re patting each other on the back, we’ve got our employees, we’re just all happy to have our team here and are working.

Joe Magnotti:                    25 employees, we’ve got computers set up, we’ve got, you know; we’re getting work done for customers, we’re bringing on maybe new small side projects, that kind of thing. You know, we’re really developing our own business, we’re doing it, man!

Justin Cooke:                     And that’s a great feel, you know, when entrepreneurs are actually doing the work they they wanted to do. When you’re realizing your dream in terms of actually doing the work, it’s just a great feeling.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, especially you’ve gone over all of those planning and research hurdles and developed it into a legitimate business. You’re open for business now, you’ve got sales coming in the door, you’re making a little bit of money, everything’s good.

Justin Cooke:                     I think a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs think that’s it. They think that’s the point at which you made it, right? Cause you’re doing the work finally, you’ve got everything figured out and now; you know maybe that’s a little down or a little up or whatever but things they just kind of roll from there.

                                                It’s not the case for us and most of the businesses and entrepreneurs we’ve talked to it’s not the case.

Joe Magnotti:                    I wish man, I wish it were that easy.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, so you’re doing the work, things are rolling, and then problems kick in; problems that you did not anticipate. For you this may be a development hurdle that you can’t cross. This may be you’re priced too high, like your friends and family bought from you but real customers, “Real customers” aren’t purchasing, any number of things but basically you notice some problems with your business wasn’t completely fleshed out before you started.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I mean I think there’s fundamental issues, like you were trying to say, with your business where like there’s really not enough profit margin in the business for you to operate and you start realizing that. That’s a major problem, now you need to raise prices

Justin Cooke:                     Kind of a big deal, yeah, you gotta make money, yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah and then there’s smaller issues that can be nagging and can kind of slow down your business and then

Justin Cooke:                     Employees, or partners, you know, partner issues or hassles with one of your employees where it’s not really working out you had planned it. Everything is still cruising along but the pain starts to kick in and these issues start to add up and that’s what happened to us. We had an issue where we had a no cut contract that ultimately got cut, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right.

Justin Cooke:                     And so they didn’t cut it right away, they started cutting back. We said okay, well we can deal with that, we’re still adding new clients, we’re still scrambling to find them-

Joe Magnotti:                    But it felt like one step forward and two steps back all the time.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    We would find a new client for three people and then our biggest client would contact us and say “We want to remove four people from the contract.” And if we said no and started sticking to our guns what would they do if they said “Well then cancel the whole thing.”

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah I don’t know, I wonder what we should have done back there like-

Joe Magnotti:                    We just had no leverage!

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, we had no leverage. That was our problem, we were in a business relationship with no leverage on our partner basically.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     Horrible so they kept cutting back. We also had employee issues, there were cultural differences that are just legit and difficult to deal with. It’s easy when you’re in the US and working with Philippino from the ground here, but when you’re day to day it can bog you down.

                                                I’m sure they get frustrated with us with our crazy American ways so yeah, it can be pretty frustrating. Definitely some downside there. It was troubling for us. We were stressed out about that.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah especially because I think it’s a little bit of a hang over from the; you know, you started the work, right? And the work is rolling and you feel like everything is good and then you start to see these little nagging problems catching up to you and you’re like “Man can’t I just get back to doing work? Can’t I just get back to the fundamentals of my business?” And you can’t until you solve these issues.

Justin Cooke:                     And so we were down, I’d say this is around October, November, December 2010. This was right around the time we started looking for other alternatives that we could have our employees do because we lost the last bit of that contract with all these employees sitting around and we wanted to keep them employed. We didn’t want to fire them, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right.

Justin Cooke:                     Lay them off.

Joe Magnotti:                    I think what these issues force you to do, Justin, is they force you to pivot your business, to change your business, and become so diversified that you’re not going to have these fundamental issues any more. You have to overcome them in order to continue.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, so we got, I guess, stock in the position of diverse buying and adding profit to our business, which is obviously a great thing. So we were basically forced to find something else to do with these agents, otherwise we’re going to have to let them go; we go back to more of a lifestyle business where bills are paid but we’re not really growing.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, so the next up is you find ways around those obstacles. You become profitable and-

Justin Cooke:                     Diversified-

Joe Magnotti:                    Diversified, yeah. And for us that was the ad sense flippers.[crosstalk 00:16:55] That was discovering that whole process of building those sites and selling them.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah so when we were in that position we started thinking I don’t care, all of our outsourcing customers could cancel tomorrow and we’d have people building our sites for us and it’s great because then we’d pick up other outsourcing clients or whatever. We’d take them off that process and put them back. We have our own product, we’re not reliant on customers in any sense of the word, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right, and I would go back to the beginning of the episode a little bit here and say this is when you’ve gotta run with your business, when you’re in this phase make as much profit as you can with the existing tentacles and the existing revenue streams that you have. Run with those, maximize them as much as you can.

                                                I think actually we could have pushed it more than we did, Justin, that’s something that if I could go back and change I would have.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, but it’s hard to see when you’re in it, too. It’s a lot easier for us to go back and say aw man, we should have down this. We should have really ridden that train harder and driven more, but you know.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah but that’d the advice [crosstalk 00:17:53]

Justin Cooke:                     Hindsight is 20/20, yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    That’s the advice that I give to all of you junior entrepreneurs out there. If you’re in this phase right now, maximize.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, things are working out and you’re really riding that peak; go all the way up. [crosstalk 00:18:05] Go as far up as you can.

Joe Magnotti:                    The black swan is coming. You don’t know it, but it is coming.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah so again, you know, you say okay that’s it, you’re diversified now, you’ve got multiple business interests, isn’t that enough? Aren’t you done, man? Didn’t you win? No. Yeah, I wish.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah so the down is the unexpected kick in the nuts, right?

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, so no matter what you do there’s gonna be other problems that kick in, that set you back, that cause issues for you and this can be someone changing the way their system works; not allowing you free access to a tool that you had free access to previously. Let’s say for example like LongTail Pro would get a kick in the nuts by Google keyword tool, no longer allowing free access. Boom, Longtail takes a big hit, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right, and outage bays, or a week long outage where you lose customers, all these customers cancel on you.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    So this is different from the other down where the other down is kind of like these fundamental issues in your business that you have to change and pivot and diversify from. This is more-

Justin Cooke:                     Serious change or pivot, like you get to make more major company changes, and this is more something that requires not a full pivot but like a tweak, right? This is not where you’re going to iterate. So you know, our problem was definitely Google changes, right? We were aggressive in our link building especially using tools like BuildMyRank and other link building schemes and basically we had to go conservative, right? So we had to back off from some of the aggressive stuff in link building, but yeah, that was painful cause it was like we’re on this peak; Empire Flippers was a runaway train. We still had our outsourcing client basically; outsourcing clients paying the bills and [inaudible 00:19:46] going wild. Then we got hit with Google changes, right?

                                                So that was painful but the next step is an up, and it’s a funny up because you’re actually fighting or clawing your way up, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right, yeah. I would say this is when you learn that; for us, anyway, what we learned is you have to accept less per site. You have to be willing to say “You know what?” Sites are not going to be able to make as much money as they did before but they’re going to be safer and more reliable, and that’s going to be more predictable and that’s gonna be easier to sell to our customers eventually.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah and so we put contingencies in place to help protect our business from Google changes and from other things, so these are iterations that kind of like; we’ve all ready diversified, our revenue stream isn’t bad, but now it’s basically protecting our company for long term growth.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah and I would say you can’t plan for every black swan, but you can kind of try to give yourself multiple outs. Try to give some cash buffer in the bank. Try to give yourself multiple revenue streams. You know, all of these types of things you can’t get wiped out just by one event. That’s what we’re trying to avoid here and that’s what the up is. The up is you overcome this black swan in order to find that your business is steady.

Justin Cooke:                     Now here is the interesting thing here, Joe, because I remember having a conversation with you about this. I forget exactly when, but we had a conversation and we looked at our points of failure, right? We said where are the points of failure in our business, and there were a few. Two or three things.

                                                I think we actually; maybe we talked to Chris Tucker about this, but I think we were talking about two or three points of failure that could really damage our business, right? And I’d say after this point, after the unexpected kick in the nuts with the Google changes and our changes away from that. That wasn’t the case any more. We’d get hit, and we’d get hit with 15 percent of our business. We’d get hit with 18 percent, 25 percent or something, but nothing where it’s like completely damaging to our company.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah especially because in the months that we weren’t taking hits we were growing more than Google could possibly kill us. That was kind of what we noticed is that; let’s grow as much as we can in the in between phases.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah so yeah. That up is definitely the fighting back and the; becoming so diversified that no single or second point of failure could really knock our business out. But that’s not it either, buddy, that’s not the end of the rollercoaster. We still got one big doozy for you.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I would say that this is a big down. I mean, once you really get a train trucking along and you think you have all of these contingencies handled you’re kind of gonna notice that you have to j-o-b again, man.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, so you’re working for yourself but you’re working for yourself. You’re working a job for yourself and this is what we came up with. This is our down as find out we’re the bottle neck. We’re maxed out, I mean there’s not a whole hell of a lot more we can do ourselves and we had some worry and fear about letting go of some of the processes we had. For example; we were worried about having customers talk to our agents. We were worried that they would potentially steal our people away, that our agents might screw up the message to customers, they might not speak as clearly to the issue as we would, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah and I think this is very common things that other people deal with too when they get to this level of their business is; they become the bottleneck because they just want to talk to the customers or they just want to do this thing all the time because they do it the best. You know, Tim Ferress, there’s a lot of problems in the Tim Ferress book, but I like this part where he says “You know what? When you just stop becoming the bottleneck and stop becoming the crutch, all of a sudden the people that are doing it; their IQ goes up by 20 points.” [crosstalk 00:23:33] That’s amazing.

Justin Cooke:                     That was a big problem for us was our lack of autonomy given to our team and you see this, I think, with a lot of small business that are trying or struggling to become medium sized business is, is the CEO gets in the way. He’s the best at this particular thing so he just does it and that’s it, “I’m not going to let other people take it”, and that becomes a bottleneck for the company and really hampers growth. And so luckily we have other people in our business or around our business; peers, mentors, that were able to explain that or kind of share that with us; that they thought that might be a problem for us, and so we really focus on that, I’d say the last six months or so?

                                                That’s been a focus in our business on giving our people more autonomy, and I’d say that puts us in a real up and that can put you in a real up as well; where you have a “Real business”, right? You’re moving on to the next profitable process, you’re continuing to expand your business, but it’s now real in the fact that it’s no longer a job. The train is chugging along without you.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I love this part of the business. Probably the only other one I like is before you see the black swan hitting you in the face, that’s the other part where you really see a big upswing in your business; but yeah, the last six months, Justin, has been a wild ride.

                                                We’ve had maybe some little downs where we kind of suffer from the entrepreneurial hangover, you know; all these ideas and all this flux and all of these things getting done that can’t just continue all the time, right? You’re going to have weeks where you just kind of go back to your cave and say “Leave me alone a little bit.”

Justin Cooke:                     A cave day we call it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     So I’d love to say; I wish I could sit here and tell you that yeah, that’s about it. There are no more swings, there are no sides, but the truth is we haven’t hit it yet. So I’m sure it’s coming, it’s probably in our near future, but for now things are up and things are climbing and we’re definitely going to tell you more about kind of our journey and relate it to yours as we continue on. Yeah, things are going good for now.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, any body else who is in this phase of their business where they’ve started replacing themselves and most of the bottleneck areas and they’re really seeing their business grow and thrive, I’d like to hear from you too and find out if you’ve gone to the next phase, have you hit the next down? What is that down? What should we watch out for?

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, let us know because I know that some of our listeners are old school business guys and they’ve been through all these ups and downs and they probably know the next three or four stages or phases we’re gonna go through. I’d love to hear about any comments if you could share your experience in business that would be really helpful. I’d be really interested to check it out.

                                                One of the other things I really like about being in this phase though is it allows us to kind of back off of the business aspect of things and really focus on kind of the big idea or the bigger picture, then really kind of drive our business home. I think we’re still struggling a little bit with the bottleneck stuff, but we’re pulling ourselves out more and more and I think as that continues to go on we’re going to be able to take a big picture approach to our growth over the next few months and years, don’t you think?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah I definitely love the fact of seeing our employees step up and come up with their own ideas, their own improvements, their own way of doing things that I would say, you know; some times you cringe a little and say “Oh, that’s not the way to do it”, but it works out!

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah yeah, and sometimes it works out even better.

Joe Magnotti:                    Right.

Justin Cooke:                     Like we’re worried about, you know, oh I’m not sure how they’re going to communicate with a customer, and then we end up screwing up communication with the customer like we just did that recently. Just last week with a buyer and there was some miscommunication on our end and we were like “Ah! God I wish we wouldn’t have done that!” But you know, it happens.

                                                And it happens with our agents and employees too, but as long as we’re able to openly say okay, sorry for the mistake, and clean everything up, and make sure that they understand kind of where it is that we stand, everything works out, right?

                                                All right, let’s get right into out tips, tricks, and our plan for the future.

Speaker 1:                           You’re listening to the Empire Flipper’s Podcast with Justin and Joe.

Justin Cooke:                     So our tip for you this week is a big self-serving but I really want you to hear about it. Wpranktracker.com So this is a site that we purchased recently. The deal is that it will track all the incoming keywords to your site and you can see over time what people are searching for, and it shows it right in the dashboard. It also shows quite a few other bits of information, statistics about your site that are pretty valuable.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah I think that; we were talking about it at our [inaudible 00:27:51] master mind, and Chris Tucker came up with the thing where this really helps you protect your brand because it may help you find keywords that you never knew you ranked for and you never knew people were searching for.

                                                Yes, you can use Google analytics for that, but this is just another way to kind of remind you that people are finding your site.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah and are they positive search terms? Are they negative search terms? Where are they coming from in their words they’re using to search for you, which is interesting. It’s a great way to kind of track your personal brand and see how you’re doing.

Joe Magnotti:                    And I’d say that as far as I understand it, our WP Rank Tracker is kind of impervious to Google updates because we’re using the referring URL to figure out your position. So if Google changes their front page, Bing, or Yahoo changes their front page in the way their [inaudible 00:28:38] looks and feels; that’s not how this is tracking position. So it’s kind of a unique way to track rankings.

Justin Cooke:                     And it’s not pinging Google or anything that may cause your site any problems, which is great for our site so we feel comfortable adding it to our niche sites. We’d love to hear from you on your thoughts of what you think we could do to improve the tool, so we’d love to hear from you and have you test out the plug-in, see what you think, and give us some feedback.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah it’s only 27 bucks for a site, 47 for 10 sites, so check it out.

Justin Cooke:                     Well that’s it for episode 53 of the Empire Flipper’s. Thanks for listening to us this week. Make sure to check us out on Twitter at EmpireFlippers and we’ll see you next week!

Joe Magnotti:                    Bye bye everybody!

Speaker 1:                           You’ve been listening to the Empire Flipper’s Podcast with Justin and Joe! Be sure to hit up empireflippers.com for more!

                                                That’s empireflippers.com

                                                Thanks for listening.


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Discussion
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  1. Josh says:

    I was listening to this podcast while going for a jog the other day. Right when you said “A black swan will appear right in front of your face” I looked up and saw that I was on “Swan Circle.” Does this mean that I’m going to get hit with a black swan? Should I be worried?

  2. Keith Mander says:

    There’s a Webmaster Tools API, so you can automate the process of adding sites. You could have developer make it so that you just paste in a list of URLs into a text area and click submit and the job is done (which is even better than the wish of uploading a spreadsheet).

  3. Chad Eisenhart says:

    Thanks for putting on the show. I started listening a few weeks ago and have heard about 20 or so of your past episodes.

    Per the Webmaster Tools discussion:

    Just as someone already mentioned you can submit your site map to Google. Which of course is automatically updated as you add more content (assuming you are using certain SEO or sitemap plugins).

    – You are also notified of site errors.

    – You can test your robot.txt file.

    – Choose the www vs non www version of your site.

    – Submit a site map of your images to drive more traffic to you site.

    I like to look what terms I am getting impressions for and where I rank. But I would look for terms that I am appearing in a lot of search for but I am averaging at the bottom of the 1st page or page 2. I figure this is some low hanging fruit to go after.

    And don’t forget about Bing webmaster tools also!

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Chad…

      You’re right about all of the updates…the site errors is particularly useful. I think the benefits far outweigh any negatives here, hehe.

  4. Ben Krueger says:

    Incredible episode fellas! This applies so accurately to my current situation it’s scary. I really got a ton of value from this episode, the different trials and tribulations you guys have faced and a bit of a ‘road map’ of what to expect. Keep it coming!

  5. Tauno says:

    I have added some of my sites, esp. the top performing sites, but not all of them. Same fear factor here, although I tend to think it can’t hurt the sites anyway. I find the stats very useful and checking it at least a few times every week. Esp. I like to check out the crawl and indexed pages stats and also positions and CTR for top rankings. My top site has reached 900K pages indexed according to Webmaster Tools, but 1.1M show up if I do “site: mysite.com” search in Google.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Tauno,

      I wonder where the additional pages are coming from with the “site:” search…probably tags/categories, eh?

      I think we’re going to go with Webmaster Tools. Hell, Google knows all anyway with Analytics and AdSense on the sites…WMT can’t hurt right?

  6. 100% yes to webmaster tools google knows everything anyway. Plus you get more info in analytics plus webmaster tools lets you upload sitemaps and do diagnostics. Lastly it can notify you of penalties. I saw some old sites get “thin content penalty” the other day. 1 day test sites from last year

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too, Steve. I wish we could just upload a spreadsheet with the sites, but it really doesn’t take very long…can just have an agent knock it out once a week. It’s just one of those things that slipped through the cracks that we never bothered to correct, hehe.

      Anyone have any reasons we should NOT do it?

    • Iain Robson says:

      Steve is bang on. That’s exactly why you should have webmaster tools.

      The biggest thing is the penalties that you be made aware of. This information would be extremely helpful if you were going to sell the site for instance. That is one of the most important reasons why you should do it.

      The real question is, is that information valuable enough to have someone do it? Not sure.

      If you could make it part of the process from the start, that would be better.

      You could do it from now on, instead of doing the backlog.

      Just some thoughts.

      • Justin Cooke says:

        Yeah…agreed with Steve here. I saw an older site get the “thin content penalty” as well. Funny enough…I actually saw a message for one “manual penalty”…it was the first I’d ever seen.

        I think it probably is worth having someone go through and hammer out the old sites as well.

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