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EFP 70: Overcoming Entrepreneurial Self-Doubt, Insecurity, and Unrealistic Expectations

Justin Cooke November 14, 2013

EFP 70: Overcoming Entrepreneurial Self-Doubt, Insecurity, and Unrealistic Expectations

Entrepreneurs probably doubt themselves more than anyone. Is my idea good? Do people value what I have to offer? The self-doubt goes on and on.

Curing Yourself of Crippling Doubt and Other Mental Garbage

This week we talk about the mental barriers that we see come up over and over again. Even successful entrepreneurs feel like frauds. Hell, Joe and I both do from time to time. Another common worry we see is that families and friends don’t quite understand the unconventional path of “Internet jobs.”

This episode has something for just about everyone. We all doubt ourselves as entrepreneurs and we all feel worried that we could lose it all.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Update from Davao and the recent Typhoon Yolanda
  • Overcoming the worry that you’re not good enough as an entrepreneur
  • How to stop worrying about how others view your work
  • The misconception of not needing money
  • Don’t worry about diversification – double down on winners
  • Common team building struggles that you may be facing



  • “Stop looking for permission because you’re not likely to get it.” – Justin – Click To Tweet!
  • “If you never fail or don’t have a history of failing then I have a hard time believing you are successful.” – Joe – Click To Tweet!

Do you find yourself struggling with the same issues we talked about on the podcast? Get in a conversation with us on Twitter, leave us a message on SpeakPipe, or leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!


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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 the 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:                   Welcome to episode 70 of the Empire Flippers Podcast. I’m your host Justin Cooke and I’m here with Joe; hot money [inaudible 00:00:33]. What is going on brother?

Joe:                        Hello, everybody.

Justin:                   We’ve got a great episode lined up for you this week. We are going to be talking to solo entrepreneurs; the guys that have taken this from being a hobby to really wanting to make it a business. We’re going to discuss roadblocks that you run into when you’re growing from a four figure a month to a five figure a month business. We’re going to talk about those roadblocks, some of our answers to get over them, and how you can do then in your own business.

                                Before we do that, we’ll do some updates, new and info. First thing buddy, iTunes reviews.

Joe:                        Hit me up, man!

Justin:                   We’ve got one five star iTunes review from aconnell in Florida. It says, “Funny, entertaining, and actionable, great show.” He says he’s in the other tropics in Florida, United States. I don’t know, a little different. It’s pretty hot man. They call them ‘epees’ here, big –

Joe:                        Cockroaches.

Justin:                   Cockroaches, man. The flying cockroaches in Florida.

Joe:                        Water bugs, yeah.

Justin:                   Lots of stinky, nasty, yeah man. I feel your pain on the bugs, but I do love the beaches and the chill atmosphere.

Joe:                        But talking about the weather, wow. What’s going on in the Philippines right now?

Justin:                   As you guys probably know, the largest typhoon I think ever, right Joe, ever?

Joe:                        Yes.

Justin:                   Yeah, the largest typhoon ever hit the Philippines last week. We’re okay. We want to let you know that Davao City Philippines has been absolutely fine. In fact, not to make light of it, but we had a bit of rain and a breeze blow through. It was actually really nice weather. Some of the people aren’t doing so well, though. The Tacloban area, I think that’s how you pronounce it.

Joe:                        I think it’s Tock-lo-ban.

Justin:                   Yeah, it’s in Samar. It’s in the middle of the Philippines and it’s a particularly poor area of the Philippines and it was hit really hard. They’ve got looting going on. I know they’re sending a U.S. Carrier group out there. It’s been really bad. They’re saying 2,000 to 2,500 deaths. That may go as high as 10,000 or more. We’ll see.

Joe:                        You know the really concerning thing here in the Philippines is the construction level is not that good in the cities. Out in the provinces, especially these poor provinces like Samar, are really going to suffer when things like this happen.

Justin:                   It’s scary too because the middle of the Philippines, Cebu area, especially Northern Cebu, they were hit with an earthquake a month before; a pretty bad one. Now they’re hit with this typhoon. Man, it’s rough.

Joe:                        In the cleanup efforts that are on CNN, they’re saying, “Hey, we’re having the biggest time getting through on the roads because the roads are so bad.” I’m thinking to myself, “The roads were bad before the typhoon. I can only imagine- [crosstalk 00:02:54]

Justin:                   So that’s one of the reasons they’re having trouble getting the death count right because they’re not able to get in there. A lot of aid workers haven’t been able to get in. They’re sending helicopters in because that’s the best way to do it. Just wanted to give you an update that we’re fine. There are a lot of people that are hurting. Our buddy Chris Ducker over at had up a donations page. But for obvious reasons, he had it up there and PayPal made it shut him down. You can’t be a for profit raising non-profit money. Otherwise, everyone would throw up donation pages and pocket the money or whatever. Chris wouldn’t do that, obviously. But they made him take it down. We’re going to put a link to some legitimate organizations that we know will get them the money and be able to help out with the situation. If you want to donate, please feel free. You can check out the link in the show notes.

Joe:                        Just use your best judgment but stick to the big organizations lik the Red Cross. Those are going to be the ones that utilize the money the best. If you do want to give on an individual basis, Odesk is doing a special until I believe November 24th, where they’re waiving the 10% fee on any one-time bonuses. So if you have any employees on Odesk, I suggest giving them a one-time bonus. It’s a great way to get cash in the pockets of your employees, if they’re in the affected area.

Justin:                   So anyway, thanks in advance if you do decide to give. People here are really appreciative; especially those that are struggling right now.

                                Back to the podcast topic. We want to talk a little about our content site. We put together a site with all of our leftover content from the niche site we discarded or whatever. It’s doing well. It’s up to over $200 a month. So $200 a month and growing. We’re really excited about that. We used an expired domain, something we picked up from Jon Haver. It’s been successful. We’re rolling out some new sites with the expired domains. We’ll let you know in the next couple of months how that’s going. If it’s successful, again, we’re going to lay out the entire process for you and make any changes so you know what’s up.

Joe:                        Yeah, early results are good and man, I really like that site. It’s definitely growing and reminds me of the olden days when we were building those niche sites and getting them pumped out.

Justin:                   Kind of the impetus for this show is we’ve been talking a bit about the bloggers, niche site creators, solo-preneurs that are really starting to get a little  traction but aren’t quite there yet, or don’t have a full-on five figure a month business yet. We’re talking about people like Jon Haver,; Tong Tran over at; Larry Dean from; Matt Allen from These are guys that are building out niche sites, looking for profit streams, adding products, and doing some really cool stuff. But they’re in the thousand to let’s say three or four thousand dollar a month range. They’re really trying to take it from solo-preneur to business. Some of them are looking to hire their first employees and VAs.

                                We want to talk about  roadblocks that we’ve run across from that point to actually having a full team of people, processes in place, and hopefully help them and you avoid some of those roadblocks and navigate your way through the jungle, so to speak.

                                Alright let’s get right into the heart of this week’s episode.

Announcer:        This, is the Empire Flippers Podcast.

Justin:                   So the first point we really wanted to talk about is something you deal with before you’ve made your first dollar online to all the way through the five figures a month range. This is basically self-doubt. There are a ton of things that come up in this. One of them is “I’m not a good enough writer. I’m not a good enough idea guy. I’m not technical enough. I don’t think I’m enough of a leader to really do this. Do I really understand business as much as so many other people do?” This feeling that you’re just not good enough. You’re not able to take it on.

Joe:                        I think we hear this all the time from people as an excuse not to get started. That’s what I would really put this under. It’s an excuse. Really I think you have to get past that. You have to take your own life, the bull by the horns kind of thing.

Justin:                   The thing is, Joe, nobody’s good enough.

Joe:                        Right.

Justin:                   Right? There’s always going to be someone better than you that knows more than you. Nobody’s amazing at that particular thing. Do it. Just start doing it and you’re going to get better. If you don’t feel you’re good enough at that, dig into it. Dig into it even harder so you can get better, so you can improve. Be honest about it. Say, “Look, I’m not best SEO guy in the world but I’m digging into it. I read more. I’m studying more than anyone else you’re going to work with because I really give a shit about this subject.”

                                Another thing that I think people struggle with, and I’ve struggled with this, through [inaudible 00:07:20] through Empire Flippers, is the imposter syndrome; the feeling that what if it could all go away? Or, there are things that like, oh my God, what if our business fell apart or this happened or that happened? Am I really the best guy? There’s people that are smarter than me that are better off at this than me. The thing is that never goes away.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think, like we were saying before the show, Richard Branson probably has that thought. Deep down in the back of his head, one day he goes, “Well, what if I lose everything?”

Justin:                   He’s at a level now where like, “What if this business collapsed or I had to layoff a bunch of people?” He thinks about it at a much higher level. But it’s still the same thing. I think one of the ways to get through this is you can channel some of these worries or fears into improving those areas where you feel weak.

                                Take that as a challenge. Take that feeling of being an imposter in a particular area as a challenge to get better. I’m not saying, “fake it until you make it.” I think transparency is key here. But if you can acknowledge the fact that you’re weka in that area you can focus on it and get significantly better in a short amount of time.

                                Another point that you brought up Joe was that a lot of people starting off are afraid to fail.

Joe:                        I think this is an extension of the “I’m not good enough” point as well.

Justin:                   We see these guys all the time.[crosstalk 00:08:38] We run into them like they’re working on this. They’re moving and shaking over here. And then they’ve got, oh my god, that kind of opportunity. They don’t really explain what happened but now they’re on this and this thing’s crushing it because this guy rocks. Nothing goes wrong for him.

Joe:                        I mean that’s the first sign of a poser, right? Everything always works out. [crosstalk 00:08:57]

Justin:                   It’s magical. Touch it and it turns to gold. They take that approach. It just turns to magical gold.

Joe:                        The first red flag that I get when I talk to people, is if you never fail or you never have a history, or you don’t have any history of failing, it’s hard for me to believe that you are even successful.

Justin:                   Alchemy is bullshit.

Joe:                        That’s a good way to put it.

Justin:                   Yeah, man. What’s interesting about this is there are ways to work through this. There are two different types of people. There are people that need a soft landing or need a contingency or backup. If you’re afraid to fail, if you have this cushion, you have this alternative path that you could take if things really went deep or dark and got bad for you. Some people react better when they have that cushion. Some people need to take that cushion away. I think I’m one of those people. Right, Joe? I need that cushion away. I burn my boats, right? You’re the kind of guy that with a backup plan, you feel soft and secure. That’s a weak way to put it. But you feel secure and can move forward hard charging because you feel safe.

Joe:                        At the same time Justin, I know what you’re saying. If you’re under the gun maybe you perform better and whatnot.

Justin:                   Deadlines, yeah, you can get it.

Joe:                        Yes, on a small tactical level I think that’s effective.

Justin:                   But if you’re worried about where you’re going to get your next meal, maybe not so much.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think that you, not have to plan to fail, but you have to have some contingency plan for failure in your overall vision. You have to have the freedom to fail so that if you do fail at something small it’s not the end of the world. If people are riding you or people are on your back, we’re going to talk about people a little bit later, but you have to get away from that. Failure is going to happen. Just accept it and move on and get closer to success.

Justin:                   You know what’s interesting is that you hear from a lot of, if you watch Ted videos or listen to a lot of people who have had a ton of success in their business and their lives, they’re very open about failures they’ve had previously in their business; even that they’re currently struggling with. It’s not that they got to the point by faking it and then all of the sudden became open and transparent about what they sucked at or what they struggled with. They were doing that all along the way. I think that’s a pretty good distinction. The fake it until you make it people, you don’t often see them wildly successful, everything’s gold. People at that level are much more open and honest. I think they got there because they were open and honest and that connected with people.

                                Anyway, last point we wanted to talk about with self-doubt is the procrastination problem. All of us struggle with procrastination where you put something off or it’s just not good enough so you don’t put it out. Really the answer to this, the fix for this is ‘done trumps perfect’ every time; well, 99% of the time.

Joe:                        I love that quote because it’s so true. The ‘just ship it’ is so important to get there. One of the blog posts that I think we should link to is the 37 single guys. They have a great post on that. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you ship it and then you adjust, you’re going to be able to get a lot more value out of something, then always trying to make it perfect.

Justin:                   Now I’m not saying, “Put out crap” right? That’s not what I’m talking about. We’re talking about just getting it done. It’s probably better than you think it is. Let’s say for example that 2% of the time it would have been better to wait and make it perfect. The downside of shipping that 2% when you should have waited is massively outweighed by the 98% of the time where you held off procrastinating until it’s perfect and didn’t get shit done.

Joe:                        Agreed.

Justin:                   The second point we want to talk about, again, I think this is for people when they’re just starting off or really early in building a business, is worrying about what other people think. We’ve talked about people who struggle with this. We’ve talked to our apprentice about this and other business builders. But they’re at a point where their family wants you to be a doctor. They want you to be a lawyer. Why can’t you get a real job? Why aren’t you following a real career path and stop goofing around with this internet stuff?

Joe:                        I think the answer to that is giving yourself space. Whether that’s physical space or mental space, take it under consideration. Sometimes breaking away and having that little bit of space is really a healthy thing.

Justin:                   So divorce your family, Joe. Is that what you’re talking? You’re going to breakup with your mom and dad and brother and uncle who says “You’re doing weird internet stuff.” Is that what you’re saying? No.

Joe:                        No. Obviously you still want to have that lifeline and you still want to have that connection. But, you might want to take a step back from being around a negative influence in your life.

Justin:                   Sometimes, family and friends they think it’s a fad or a hobby. I think it’s really important that you build that line or that distinction between who your business network is or who your peers are, and your family and friends. Keeping those separate. Maybe you don’t talk to your sister about your business as much, simply because she can’t help you in that area. Maybe you do talk to her about problems you have with your father or how to speak to your mother. That’s of course, acceptable. But maybe you hold back on things and talk about your business with people who are in the same space.

Joe:                        Hey, our apprentice wrote a post on this, didn’t he?

Justin:                   Yeah, so, check out our blog. I’ll link to it in the show notes. He wrote a post on how to address what it is that you do or this weird internet stuff to family and friends. I think you’ll find it valuable.

                                The other thing I think happens with family and friends, and those that are close to you, is the fact that it’s easier for them, subconsciously, to not recommend something to you, to not recommend something. It’s easier to say, “No, yeah you probably shouldn’t do that.” If they go with you and they say, “Yes. You want to do this? You should absolutely do it.” They’re worried that you’re going to blame them if you fail. Or that you’ll come back to them and say, “Oh, I wish you wouldn’t have encouraged me to do this. I lost so bad.” They’re worried about that in their mind. They don’t want that pressure on them. So they’ll just say, “Don’t do it.”

Joe:                        I mean, you’ve said this before Justin. I agree with you. I can’t see if you had a dad that was a CEO and business extraordinaire kind of guy, I can’t see him having this mental difficulty. But those kinds of people that are very mediocre in life and they’re just kind of getting by-

Justin:                   Mediocre might be a strong word, but timid. They’re a little less aggressive or a little more risk averse, right?

Joe:                        And they’re just not taking control of their own life. They’re definitely the kind of people that are going to hinder you by saying, “Hey, take the safe way.”

Justin:                   Yeah. And that’s the thing. You need to stop looking to them for permission. In fact, you should stop looking for permission at all because you’re not likely to get it. You’re not likely to get it from third parties that are hoping for your best and don’t want to put you at risk.

                                The third thing people struggle with, I think this continues from even before you start to when you’ve got a business up and running, is that you can carry with you some unrealistic expectations. A few of these things we cover. One of the things is, “I don’t need runway.” By ‘runway’ we mean a nice bit of savings. We’re talking about both personal savings and business savings. The truth of the matter is you are going to need some cash. No matter what you think, it’s going to cost you some money to get your business up and running, definitely to scale it. So thinking that you’re going to be able to start your business with a $10 GoDaddy URL isn’t going to but it.

Joe:                        You need something. You need to leverage your job, leverage your savings. You need something to build on and usually that’s money. And you’re definitely going to need some time. Have that going in and have a real expectation of how much time and how much money it’s going to take to build a business.

Justin:                   Have a clear expectation of “I know that I need to get this running and I need to at least start turning a profit in 10 months, 15 months, and really try to work through that so you have a good idea on what it’s going to cost you to get it rolling.

                                Another thing I think that people struggle with is they say, “Oh, once I get up and running it will be all profit. It will be all profit. I’m not going to have any major expenses. I’m going to cut back on expenses.” That’s true I think when you’re making a few hundred bucks, maybe even up to a thousand bucks a month. But when you start to build systems, when you start up a process in your business and you want some automation, it’s going to cost you. There’s no way around it.

Joe:                        You may get to the level where some of your people are making more money than you are. That’s just kind of what you have to do to get to the next level. You have to be willing to risk that money and spend that profit in order to expand your business.

Justin:                   We’re not in that position right now. But we know million dollar a year entrepreneurs that make less money than some of their employees. It’s absolutely fact. The reason they do that is they’re reinvesting in their team. They’re reinvesting their business because they want to build something big, meaningful, that they’ll have for long-term. So they’re wiling to reinvest their money into their team.

                                Another problem, and we hear this a lot, is people go, “Oh my God I really need to diversify.” They buy into the advice that “Oh my God I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. I shouldn’t rely on Google. I shouldn’t rely on Facebook. I shouldn’t rely on all these third party platforms or systems or whatever.” I think that does make sense, but this is a five figure a month problem, right?

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   This is a problem when you’re making five figures a month or more. Until you’re making five figures a month, don’t even worry about diversification. Dump it.

Joe:                        Yeah, you just find the one thing that’s working for you and scale that.

Justin:                   If you’re a $1,500 a month, $2,000 a month, find the most profitable, the thing that seems to be a hit, and roll that out, double down, build that piece of your business. Forget about the things that are time wasters. If you focus on those you’re going to be diversifying yourself out of a business. You really need to focus on the things that are profitable, that are making you money. That’s what you should be doubling down on. Until you get into the five figure a month mark, when you’re there, okay, now start to look at diversification. You’re starting to build a real business, a real company that you’re going to want to be diversified. But until then, don’t even worry about it.

                                There’s another problem I think new entrepreneurs have, solo-entrepreneurs, and it seems to be a generational thing, definitely younger generations from my age and younger, it’s this, “I deserve it because I desire it fallacy.” Let’s say I was the kid I always got a gold star for participation. I always got everything. It didn’t matter how good I did at it as long as I tried I got a trophy. That’s not the way it works in the real world. It just doesn’t happen. People do have this something for nothing belief.

Joe:                        Not only are you not entitled. Not only is a plan needed, an action plan needed, but action is needed. I think a lot of people fail on that part.

Justin:                   No, Joe, what are you saying here man? Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up buddy. I thought I just had to plan. So you’re telling me that if I put a plan in place I have to actually go do it? I hate you. I hate you right now. No, just kidding buddy. But it’s true. You can’t just put a plan together and say, “Okay, I’ve got my goals. I’ve got my dream board up. Now I’ll flick my fingers and have it magically happen.” No fairytales here. You’ve got to do the work.

Joe:                        Vision is great. I’m glad you have it and I’m glad you daydream about being successful. But action is very very important.

Justin:                   And not only that, just because you take action doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. You may fail. You may try and double down on that profit stream and it fails miserably. The thing is, if you keep pushing forward you’re going to find a workaround. You’re going to pivot and do something else. You’re learning constantly and it’s likely you’re going to find success somewhere; maybe not in the thing you’re working on. There’s no guarantees. No one owes you success in that area. But you’re much more likely to find success if you keep driving forward.

Joe:                        So Justin, let’s get into some points that are going to help people grow their businesses. People that are just starting out there, more medium sizes and they need to expand.

Justin:                   As you’re starting off, you’re getting from the $1500 a month range, the $2500 a month range. Sales become key. This is something we had too. I think we speak from experience here. We feel like we’re not really sales guys. We’re not really sales guys, we’re going to build it operationally.

Joe:                        You know what? I hate sales. I hate getting on the phone. I hate selling people. It’s not fun.

Justin:                   You think even good sales guys that are effectively putting people in products that they’re looking for, you think the whole process is sleazy. Even good sales guys, you feel sales and bells go off in your head, “Sleaze, sleaze, sleaze.” Right?

Joe:                        I do. And I still do it myself.

Justin:                   And it sucks but you realize it and you’re like, you have to remind yourself Not all sales are sleazy. That’s not necessarily sleazy.” But here’s the thing, we get the fact that you don’t feel like a sales guy. But here’s the thing, we have to be honest with ourselves, you own a business, you are a sales guy. There’s no way around it.

Joe:                        Especially if you’re the CEO or the head entrepreneur or the solo entrepreneur. You are the sales team. The idea that you could hire a sales guy is just a fallacy and you’re not going to be able to do it.

Justin:                   Yeah, a sales guy to just do the sales stuff and get money in the business, that’s just, maybe it works for someone but not from any of the successful business that we know and all the entrepreneurs we talk to. It doesn’t happen. Maybe somewhere there’s that unicorn but we haven’t found it. The truth is you’re in sales. You’re either in sales, you’re selling potential customers, you’re selling your team on the vision, you’re selling yourself to potential investors or partners or limited partnerships. You’re selling somewhere.

                                Another thing that we see people struggle with is they say, “I need to get my banking in Singapore. I really want the corporation in Hong Kong.” So they spend their time focusing on what we call ‘operational hell.’

Joe:                        I’ll even drill it down to more than that. The saving taxes thing we’ve talked about until we’re blue in the face. The setting up the Hong Kong company, the Singapore stuff, I’m sure that works when you have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of profit to hide or whatever. But at the $1500 a month level you shouldn’t be worried about that.

                                The other thing you shouldn’t be worried about are the small cost cutting measures, the “I could save $25 a month on hosting and it’s going to take me three days to switch my websites over to the new hosting provider but then I save myself $500 a year.” Well, no you didn’t really because you spent all this time, effort, and energy on finding a new web host provider, on moving all your sites, when you could have just gone to your existing customers and asked for an extra $25 a month.

Justin:                   I think you’re totally right. Again, I think Hong Kong corporations, Singapore banking, that’s a five figure problem. If you’re at five figures a month, okay, now you can start looking at that. You can look at, maybe [crosstalk 00:24:09]

Joe:                        I disagree. I think it’s a six figure a month –

Justin:                   Six figure a month? Maybe, maybe man. I don’t know. We’re at the point now, we’re okay. We’re looking at that, we’re thinking about that. We’re thinking about tax breaks and what we can do there. But we’re mid-five figures, so you’ve got a little while until you need to worry about that. I think that’s a form of the resistance in a lot of entrepreneurs. They’re hearing from other people that are worrying about those problems and they like to think about those high level problems because it keeps them from selling their business. It keeps them from having to do the work to build up revenue. I know that this is. It’s like the sales reluctance thing where instead of making more money for my business to where I can have the luxury of having those problems, I’d rather focus on those luxury problems now and now build revenue in my business. It’s insane when you think about it.

Joe:                        It is insane. I think it has to do with there is a clear path to getting a Hong Kong corporation. But there’s not a clear path to getting more sales.

Justin:                   Money. I want more money. What’s my clear path? They’d rather focus on things that are 12 step, I can get this done problem rather than bringing in the money when that’s scary and unsure, maybe.

Joe:                        Yeah  and it’s going to be a lot of rejection. If you go to a bank in Hong Kong, they’re not going to reject you. They’re not going to say, “No.” But if you go and try to make a new sale and pick up the phone, you’re going to get rejected, rejected, rejected. Then you’re finally going to get the “Yes.”

Justin:                   Another thing with sales, and we see this with the [inaudible 00:25:31] the ones that are building up, they’re looking at monthly recurring models, is they go “Ah, all the big guys do it. I’ll just buy sales. I’ll buy customers. I will maybe do a freemium. I’ll find a way that can buy users.”

                                I think that works for large, well funded startups. If you’re in the [inaudible 00:25:54] you’re well funded, you’re working on your second, third round, or whatever and you have the cash and they’re looking for you to drive users quickly, buying users is no problem. But that’s not a boot strapper problem.

Joe:                        What I would say-[crosstalk 00:26:08]

Justin:                   That’s not boot strapper solution [crosstalk 00:26:09]

Joe:                        It’s not.

Justin:                   It’s not a boot strapper problem, sorry. It’s not a boot strapper solution.

Joe:                        Even if part of your model requires paid traffic or buying leads for your service, you still have to convert that traffic or those leads into customers; which may take marketing; which may take sales forms; which may take phone calls. You shouldn’t be afraid. You shouldn’t be reluctant to get on the phone and convert these prospects into customers.

Justin:                   Talk to your potential customers. Have emails back and forth. Give them an old fashioned call. Chat with them. Find out what their worries and concerns are. See how you can match those worries and concerns. See how you can solve their problems. You’re going to learn more than you are trying to buy these mythical user with an insane amount of money.

Joe:                        Justin, I do that today. I mean, still do that today with our company. I don’t rely on just everyone coming to the webpage and clicking the ‘Buy Now’ button.

Justin:                   I love when they do that. It’s so automated and done. They just go and click and they buy and it’s easy. But I think if it’s just that way, you can get out of touch. Some of these guys who have fully automated systems, the guys who have fully automated systems and successful know that they need to go out and reach out to their customers. They talk to their customers anyway. But the idea that you can have this fully automated system and never have to touch your customers because you just don’t like doing that, that’s a unicorn. You’re chasing after something that’s not real.

Joe:                        In closing, I’ll just say that sales is something you’ll always want to work on and always want to develop that skill. You’ll always want to keep it sharp. Don’t ever stop doing sales.

Justin:                   Joe, stop selling me on sales, man. You’re so sleazy in your approach, buddy. You’re so sleazy.

                                The fifth point we wanted to cover is people that struggle with team building. I’ll say this is a higher level problem and level I mean revenue problem. This is when you’re at the five, probably four to six, four to eight thousand dollar a month problem and you’re looking to build the team. One of the biggest problems we’ve seen, well one of the problems we’ve seen with entrepreneurs is they say, “I need to hire. I can start hiring right away.” They want to hire at $1800 a month in revenue. They’re at $1800 bucks a month and they want to start hiring. The answer to this is, “It’s way to early. You need to figure out a lot more before you start hiring and you need to get your plate full.”

Joe:                        We see this a lot, not only $1800 a month in revenue but I’m only working two hours a week. Maybe you should dial up the amount of time you’re investing in your business and try to maximize the profit per one person before you hire a second.

Justin:                   When should you hire? A lot of people have that question. At what point should I hire for my business? I think it’s not great to hire early. It’s not the worst thing you can do, but it can be bad. You can end up not really having a process figured out. We talked about on a previous episode, you can end up scaling a crappy process because now you’re passing bad habits and learning experiences on to your team. When you should hire, generally, revenues should be maxed out. Your time should be maxed out 80 to 90%. When you’re starting to fill your plate, that’s when you should scale.

Joe:                        If you have a full time job and you’re working 40 hours a week, you just have to understand what kind of commitment level you’re making. If you’re making an extra 20 hour commitment to your own personal business, I think if that’s 90% full and the revenue is pretty maxed out with that 20 hours, that’s probably a good time to start hiring an employee.

Justin:                   Here’s the thing, if your time is 80 to 90% full and your revenue is only at let’s say, $2500 a month, $3000 a month or something, that’s not good. Really, you need to look at what you’re doing and cut out diversification or all the other things you’re doing. Maybe you can just eliminate some of that, cut down on your time, and then fill that time with more revenue producing activities like selling to your potential customers.

Joe:                        I love that and thinking about your revenue in relation to the amount of time you’re putting in. Honestly, if your per hour is so low [crosstalk 00:30:09]

Justin:                   It’s most likely that you’re filling your time with things that are not revenue producing and you need to cut those. You need to go into sales mode. You need to go into ‘drive my revenue up’ so I can get to the point where I can start building a team. This isn’t from some hot money perspective. You know what I mean? It’s not from some “Oh my God I just want to make more money.” Something I heard Andrew Warner from [inaudible 00:30:34] say, he didn’t start [inaudible 00:30:36] to just make a ton of money. That wasn’t his goal. What he realized, his show got really good when he started making money. When he started making money with the show, what he could do is he could put that money back into quality, into really improving the show, hiring the people to do pre-interviews. So he loves getting as good as he can at doing his interviews, at doing his podcast. And he doesn’t love it from just from a ‘drive the money’ perspective. What he realized is by boosting revenue, his show got better. That was a big learning experience for him.

Joe:                        Having a profitable, repeatable process, is the most valuable thing in business. You can pass that profitable, repeatable process off to someone else and start to scale your business.

Justin:                   What do you think about this, Joe, because some people say “Well, I can just build the business myself.” Or, “I can take it all the way.” There are some solo-preneurs that have very successful service based businesses where it’s just them, maybe one part-time assistant. But that’s not a business in how we think of it or the types of business we want to build, right?

Joe:                        It’s like playing poker. You can only play so many hands of poker at the same time on a computer. You can only play one hand of live poker at a time. You’re very limited to what you can do as one person. I am opening myself up to hiring a team. Now I have an unlimited amount of work that can be done.

Justin:                   This particular issue seems to be pervasive in the lifestyle design, or lifestyle business crowd. On the low end, the revenue end, you have the guys making $1500 to $2000 a month are happy backpacking on Cal San [inaudible 00:32:12] road in Thailand and living cheap, but surviving and making it through. On the high end you have the guys making $12 or $15,000 a month doing consulting or whatever. And they’re doing well in terms of personal revenue but they’re not really building a business. Either that could go away really quickly or it’s not going to really grow. It requires their input.

Joe:                        I think replacing yourself needs to be one of the key characteristics to getting to the next level.

Justin:                   Yeah, process plus team members equals the type of businesses that we’re looking to build. The other thing that you mentioned before on this show, Joe, was that you need a network.

Joe:                        I think this is pretty important. We talk about it all the time. Being an entrepreneur on an island, like we were before, both literally and figuratively, it’s very limiting.

Justin:                   We’d bounce ideas off of each other and that’s fantastic, but God, I mean it’s worse…You and I know each other really well. It’s good to get third party perspectives on our business because they’re going to see things differently.

Joe:                        Third party, fourth party, fifth party. I mean, I want to be part of a group of people that are going to give me feedback on my ideas: a mastermind, a forum or something like that. Or even just, hey, go out and have a beer with people that are link-minded that I can discuss and talk about business with.

Justin:                   And hear some of the cool stuff they’re doing and see how you can provide value to their businesses and give them insights and perspective on what you’re doing.

Joe:                        Because that gets the juices going. That really helps your process, you developing your business. If you just sit down, head down, and just get your work done all by yourselves, it’s not very effective.

Justin:                   When it comes to networks too, and I say this especially for the guys that are leading in their niche, they’re doing extremely well, you don’t always have to look up. You don’t always have to network up. But I think that’s something that people are always trying to do. They’re trying to reach. How can I get connected with this guy who is extremely successful and I want to move up the ladder, move up the ladder. You don’t have to do that. We actually get a lot of valuable ideas and insights from people that are just starting out. They see it with a fresh perspective. We’ve been in masterminds with people that are really new in their business, are in totally unrelated industries, and some of the things are a little difficult because they don’t understand how your business works or whatever, but other times they thrown in insights that were like “Oh my God, we should have seen that.”

Joe:                        I also think you learn by teaching. It’s great to be able to mentor someone, to be able to answer their questions. Because then you think about how your process is developing. You think, “Am I sticking to those principles and those fundamentals that I had early on? Or have I really changed that? Can I get back to basics and really make a more successful business out of that?”

Justin:                   When you’re helping someone else grow their business, there’s something about it. You really want to make sure that you understand and know what you’re talking about. You might be less likely to just give advice, “Okay, this is what you need to roll with,” because you’re mentoring, right? You want to make sure you give them the best help possible. It makes you know it really well. It makes you learn it because you don’t want to let them down. It’s a weird dynamic.

                                Another thing I think people struggle with when they’re building team is they say, “Outsourcing is going to solve all my problems.”

Joe:                        We love these guys. One of the reasons why we don’t want to do any outsourcing anymore, right is because we get this a lot on the outsourcing side of the game. Guys just think [crosstalk 00:35:27]

Justin:                   Just build it.

Joe:                        Oh yeah.

Justin:                   Just build it for me. I have this business idea, I just need you to build my business. It’s going to be fantastic, man. We’re going to kill it. I’m just going to pay you $3 an hour. Can you go do it for me?

Joe:                        I mean, it truly does get worse before it gets better. Like we talked about earlier in the show, expect to have employees that make more money than you when you’re in that mid range of getting stuff done.

Justin:                   Expect it to suck when you’re at 80%, 90% of your capacity. You have to dig deep and pull out another 20% or 30% or 40% to spend the time training them. I mean, you’re getting someone up to speed. You’re using the skill transfer process to get them up to speed. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time and there are struggles but those are great struggles for you to learn. You’re not going to be able to build a team unless you’re able to effectively hire, use the skill transfer process. We’ve talked about this on previous podcasts, how to hire your first VA, skill transfer process. We can link to that in show notes.

                                But until you effectively get those down and build out process for doing it again and again, you’re not going to have the type of business that we’re looking to build. So yeah, getting worse before it gets better, you’re going to spend a lot more time training and it’s going to suck. But eventually, when you have those processes and people in place and you’re adding more people to really grow out your team, it’s going to be awesome and you’re really going to dig it.

                                So anyway, I hope that information’s helpful, especially for you guys that are taking it from a solo-preneur position to a full team based business. Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions. Let’s get right into our tips, tricks, and our plans for the future.

Announcer:        You’re listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   Alright, so I’ve got to say something for these tips before we even get into it, man. I’m a little slow to finding these so this might be one of those, “Oh my God, I can’t believe he’s mentioning this.” But it has been helpful to me. I’ve been using it for the last week or so and hopefully gives you value too.

                                The first one is Feedly. If you’re looking for a feed reader, Feedly I think is fantastic. It’s great. You can pull up, you can categorize all of your different feeds you’re looking for, maybe SEO, content, marketing.

Joe:                        Is it a good replacement for Google Reader, kind of thing?

Justin:                   It is. One of the things I really like about it is, it’s very clean and simple. I think a great way to use it, if you’ve listened to some of our marketing podcasts, like marketing for non-marketers, and we can link to that in the show notes too, we follow a process where you go through and you do blog commenting and you’re trying to connect with other people in your niche. You’re trying to get good information and it’s a great way to connect with people. You just put them in your connections folder, basically, and then every day you wake up, get your coffee, and start going through reading their blog posts and commenting and making those connections. It’s a fantastic way to do that. We’re back on that wagon train. So we’ve been using it the last week or so. It’s pretty cool.

Joe:                        Cool.

Justin:                   Second thing, and I’m really slow for getting on this, man. But I sat down with our apprentice Vincent a couple of days ago. We started going through our social media strategy. We’re planning out how we’re going to approach Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and we decided it’s just better for us to use Buffer. If you haven’t used it before it’s fantastic. Basically, it will just schedule your social media across different platforms. A great thing about Buffer is that you can add other users to your platform. So I can have him in there without giving him a bunch of logins and passwords. He can just have the buffer account and basically schedule out these posts to go out for us.

Joe:                        Great for outsourcing.

Justin:                   Yeah, it’s good for outsourcing or good for using VAs or another person, an apprentice or intern or something, even if they’re remote. One of the things I really like about it is that you can look at your Facebook, your Twitter information, see what times people are on during the day. For us, especially being in the Philippines, the best time to put out messages on Twitter, Facebook are not the times we’re awake. So, being able to schedule those out at optimal times for our readers, for our fans, is fantastic. We normally get like three or four interactions on Twitter. And the first day we implemented it we went from like three or four to fifteen to eighteen, something like that. It was significantly different.

                                You can also use it to Tween the guys that you read earlier in the day or left comments on and you can Buffer all those. Then you’re going even further to connect with the people you want to connect with.

Joe:                        Please don’t use it to make all your social media automatic. That’s not what social media was meant for. We heard a fairly good talk at the DCBKK about this and using social media as a real person. I think these tools are great to extend your social media presence but you still have to take an active measurable stance.

Justin:                   It was a fairly good talk, Joe. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from you there, buddy. No, it was really good. Some of these talks are like, “Oh my God, dude. Really? Am I really listening to this?” But yeah, she was really good. We used to do that, remember with the outsourcing business? We had this automated kind of Twitter. We got like 6,000 followers but they were all like robots and miserable and no one cares, man. We didn’t know what we were doing. [crosstalk 00:40:30] Doing our best.

Joe:                        We failed but we learned.

Justin:                   Yeah, now man, it’s all about connections being real and cool. Be cool, man. Be cool on social media. That’s basically the rule. Alright, that’s it for episode 70 of the Empire Flippers podcast. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to check us out at Twitter, at EmpireFlippers. I promise we’re not going to spam the hell out of you. We’ll see you next week.

Joe:                        Bye, bye, everybody.

Announcer:        You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s

                                Thanks for listening.



  • JakubHanke says:

    I worry about diversification a lot, because I started invest in shares prior to finding online business 🙂 I want to focus just on three main websites and nothing more, but that’s not so easy especially when browsing Flippa every single day. Glad you have not been hit by the typhoon!

  • Dan says:

    Hilarious guys! Loved this one cracked up multiple times. Especially love the speech on the entitlement crowd. There’s a few pull quotes in there for sure.

  • Charles Floate says:

    Hey Justin,

    You remind me a hell of a lot of GrooveHQ! Keep up the awesome tutorials and I’ve just launched my new company, plenty of anxiety over whether It was the right choice over quitting my job… Hopefully I can put my faith and confidence back into myself after a good days work!

  • Hey guys,

    Thanks for the kind mention in this episode.

    About the typhoon – I actually got a chilling email from one of my oDesk freelancers which explained how the typhoon had affected them. Not long after that, I got the one from oDesk explaining how we could donate via their platform (as Joe explained). I couldn’t resist. I had to send money. I know that what seems like a little bit of money to me will really go a long way over there…

    Everything else you covered in this episode hit home for me. I’m so grateful that you guys continue to produce episodes like this. It really helps keep guys like me motivated and dedicated to moving forward.

  • Dave Starr says:

    Gangbusters, guys, one of your best ever. I totally agree with the advice about not spending all the time on things like tax avoidance schemes, overseas corporations and bank accounts, etc. Build the damn business and start making a profit first.

    I have a blog reader who has now spent nearly a year doing his “due diligence” for a buisness he plans to set up here in the Philippines. LLC, bank accounts, a banking scheme I don’t even understand, business insurance policies (at least three thta I know if), and lawyers out the ying-yang in three different countries.

    The sad part? He has yet to sell his first product here in the Philippines!

    Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Booyah…thanks, Dave!

      Yeah, man…tail wagging the dog, indeed. It’s interesting how common this trap is though, eh? We’ve fallen into it before ourselves, which is why we try to warn about it now, heh.

      • Dave Starr says:

        Of course, everyone has different needs. Example in you and Joe’s case a corporate structure was nearly essential for the foreign business (employees, visas and such) which you were setting up.

        But in most cases, a guy/gal building web sites on their own or with contracted labor, doing affiliate ales, CPC, etc. there is often no need at all for incorporation.

        It may even be very harmful to the individual just trying to earn an honest buck.

        Main point is, though, as you point out, “Eye on the Prize”, not worrying about building a fancy podium for the prize presentation 😉

        See: Are You Sure You Want to Start a LLC?

  • PeterTrapasso says:

    Hi Guys,

    In your email that went out about this podcast you mentioned, “Joe and I are safely in the mid-5 figures with our business today.”

    You are making around $50,000 per year in revenue from your business?



  • Maxime Sincerny says:

    “MEDIOCRE” lolll

  • Hey Justin & Joe – Glad to hear you guys are okay there. I have family in Manila and that was some kind of storm. wow.

    The point about not worrying how others view your work really hits home. A lot of people don’t quite get what we do online. They might have a narrow view of how people make money online or just don’t really have any context to draw upon. I am finding that if I can provide my friends and family with some actual results they are way more likely to buy in and support me.

    Joe, buddy, I bet you’re a fine salesman – minimally sleazy. I have an engineering background too so I get where you’re coming from.


  • Hey

    Good to see you guys back in full swing.

    As always I have a lot to agree with here. My divergence is in the details.

    As a business man I believe in the old adage of employing people who are better than you are at a task. Creating the structure and vision and getting the hell out of the way.

    I do agree that a business needs funding and a run way. Where we differ is that employing smart people to leverage your ideas does make sense (Thats as long as they are contractors not hires). Even when money is tight and you can ill afford them, to blast away for hours,days or weeks doing a below par job to save funds is potentially dangerous. Sure put major effort in but identify and eliminate your weaknesses..

    I dont think pure ideas people can make it no. But i think Ideas plus experience and a great team can work.

    Whilst open and transparent business are a great way to learn. Pat’s blog has inspired many as has yours. I feel no need to blog about my ups and downs. Especially when causal effects are outside the business.

    Do i need to be a brand to be successful/happy/or have integrity I think not. Hopeful in a years time Ill make it on the mentions section with my latest attempt 🙂

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey, Steve…thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Yes, a business can definitely suffer from “death by a thousand cuts”. Trying to cut core spend can put out a sub-par product/service that will doom you, for sure.

      I’m not entirely sure transparency would work (better) in every industry, but it sure would be interesting to see more try.

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