EFP 132: Lessons In Startup Failure From A Harvard Grad

Justin Cooke Justin Cooke April 10, 2015

“Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future success.”

Dave started off in a much better position than most entrepreneurs. He’d been accepted to and graduated from Harvard, had a great job and trajectory into the business world, etc.

Still – he wasn’t happy. He needed some adventure in his life and so he took off to explore the lifestyle of a digital nomad. He had a TON of success to start…and then it all went away.

Introducing Dave – The Self Business Man

In today’s episode, I sit down with Dave from SelfBusinessMan.com to discuss his ups and downs with entrepreneurship. We look at the lessons he’s learned and discuss why his latest venture is the one he’s doubling down on.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week:

  • Intro/Backstory
  • Life As A Digital Nomad
  • From Successes To Failure (And More Failure)
  • Bouncing Back

Mentions:


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“If you don’t have a brand based on value then you don’t really have a long term business” – Dave – Tweet This!

“Mixing business and personal relationships is very difficult” – Dave – Tweet This!

“You have to will things to happen to be successful” – Justin – Tweet This!

What did you learn from this episode? Any particular thoughts on how to avoid some of the failures Dave ran into? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!

8/23/2018 Update!

 

Hey everyone, Greg here!

I just wanted to update this post to reflect that Dave Schneider is no longer running Ninja Outreach and Self Made Business Man. However, he is still very much in the online business game. If you want to reach out to him, you can find him at his new projects lesschurn.io and daveschneider.me 

 

Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire Podcast episode 132. Academic success doesn’t necessarily transform to the business world. After graduating from Harvard, Dave Schneider opens up about startup failures and struggles with being a digital nomad. He’s sharing his experiences in the hopes that it helps you with your online business. You can find the show notes and all links discussed on this episode of EmpireFlippers.com/Harvard. All right, let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs and want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire, you are not alone. From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the Empire Podcast. Now your host Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   When we talk about life scripts or traditional career paths we’re supposed to follow, I usually have a picture in my head of a middle class guy in a middle class job sitting in a cubicle and looking to break free. The truth is though, there are people from all different kinds of backgrounds that can feel stuck in the position they ran are in or the life script they have laid out for them. There are some really interesting backgrounds to consider, I think. For one a doctor, let’s say that’s finished med school or residency, that is only doing it to make her parents feel happy. Right?

Joe:                        Yeah, definitely. I could see this being the Harvard type of person where they have this script from their family in their head about their life and they just, they’re not happy with it.

Justin:                   I was listening to a podcast the other day, it was a really interesting case where there was a guy, he went to prison for five years on drug charges. Anyway, while he’s in there, he sees an opportunity and ultimately creates an eight figure company out of it. There’s a real opportunity I think to send pictures to people that are in prison from family members and stuff, so he set up a service that allows people to send photos and other things to loved ones and has made it a ridiculous business where he’s got crazy investment money. The thing is he’s in a weird position because he’s a convicted felon so it’s hard to get an apartment, it’s hard to. He couldn’t get an apartment in his own name even though he’s raised millions for this business. It’s just interesting. This guy was a convicted felon, he was a felon in prison, he saw an opportunity and definitely broke free from what traditionally would be your path, which is probably re-incarceration, really crappy jobs, just not looking great.

Joe:                        Yes, definitely something you’ve got to consider. There are all types of life paths out there and we shouldn’t just have this pigeonhole of, you said, the middle class guy looking at break free from the cubicle.

Justin:                   Yes, I think I most relate to that just because it seems right to me. Right. It’s closest to my script, or the one that I was stuck in but there are plenty of other ones out there. I really like Dave’s story. I really appreciate it. It’s raw honesty and we talk about some pretty difficult things that he went through in terms of struggles, in terms of failures with his businesses, and I really appreciate him opening up because I think it gives value to people that are listening to this that may be in a similar situation, or they may see some of the mistakes they’re about to make and what he’s already done and go, “Oh, I should probably back away or change that.”

                                I also like the fact that this isn’t the easiest story to tell. It’s a lot easier to tell it after you’ve made it, right. You’ve got a really successful business. Let’s easily go back and say, talk about the struggles that you had, but as you’ll see in the call or in the interview, he hasn’t necessarily, he’s not sure how this is going to turn out and he talks about some of the bright spots in as new business or current business. Yeah, it hasn’t really been figured out yet so I think it’s a courageous story for Dave to tell.

Joe:                        Yeah, I mean I think that’s true of a lot of entrepreneurs, right? Is that you never really make it. Yeah, of course there are the exceptions to the rule, the guys, the Richard Bransons of the world, but for the rest of us, there are always dips. There are always doubts and you really have to take that as your strength and something you can come back from.

Justin:                   All right man. Time to pay the bills with your feature listing of the week, what you got for us buddy?

Joe:                        We’re talking about listing number 40132. It’s a site in the sports and hobby niche, specifically about rifle scopes. We’ve done a lot of these kinds of rifles sites. This one is on the bigger end though. It’s averaging just about $6,700 in net profits per month in the Amazon affiliate niche so we have it listed at just over $135,000. I really this site because it hits a hell of a lot of traffic, almost a 100,000 page views a month, which is quite, quite nice. About half of that is coming from search engine traffic, so there are some other sources of traffic for this thing. There’s not really a heck of a lot to do here besides, add new articles which is something we say all the time but this is really the case. The seller here has been running the site for a few months and only adding articles. I think it has some longterm stickiness in terms of the niche, in terms of the content it has and in terms of increasing revenue by maybe looking at different monetization strategies considering the amount of traffic it’s getting.

Justin:                   Yeah, man. I the fact, well this was built in January, 2014 so it survived some updates. It’s a stickier site. I think the niche is interesting. What I really about this one though is that it’s at the point where you could definitely start testing drop shipping, right? You could definitely start testing, adding to the monetization method and seeing if that’s going to work and so adding maybe some side projects or one or two scopes that are your own, I think it might be interesting from a drop shipping perspective. I think you’re going to improve your margins there. I mean your margins aren’t as big from Amazon obviously. I’m actually surprised we haven’t mentioned this one because it’s been there for a while, but I think this is a particularly good site.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think it’s particularly a good side too because the thing I about the gun niche is that obviously it has a very hardcore following and this gets enough traffic that you could possibly set up a forum, or a membership site and start delving into more focused traffic and selling people on a little bit better product.

Justin:                   It’s a hobbyist niche, right? The people definitely have some money. They definitely get really into it. Yeah, I think it does well for that. You remember our e-commerce fuel site, the trolling motor site, it seems similar to me in that way, right? Where the people have some disposable income that are in that niche. They definitely like to spend money on their guns, on their scopes and trying to pimp it out. Yeah, I can see that. It’s funny coming from you, man, you’re not a gun fan.

Joe:                        I’m not a gun fan.

Justin:                   You’re a business guy first. Right? I don’t guns, but I get the business there.

Joe:                        Yeah, and the accessory niche, it’s not we’re selling machine guns or something like  that. These are the kinds of scopes that most likely you’re talking to people hunters would use. I think that this is, if it sits by my moral clause, but you said, business owner first. The great thing about this site too is not only does it get a lot of traffic, but its traffic is very steady and slightly on the incline. I think that’s something people have to keep in mind if they’re considering the site.

Justin:                   Cool buddy. All right, let’s dig into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:           Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:                   A lot of us in the location independence movement left our life scripts, left our jobs, left our positions and community and our careers and decided to travel and change our lives and change the life script those laid out for us. But some of us didn’t have the most amazing scripts to begin with, maybe where we were at just wasn’t amazing. Dave here had a very amazing trajectory. You started off, you graduated from Harvard. First you got into Harvard, which is amazing. Then you graduated from Harvard and you had a great corporate job.

Dave:                    Yeah, I definitely, Justin.

Justin:                   You graduated from Harvard, got the nice cushy job and then said, “Screw it. I’m out.” How did that come about?

Dave:                    Yeah, it’s tricky, right? Basically I went to Harvard for applied mathematics and then after you graduating in that I worked at a financial service company, and it’s fairly well known and I had worked there as a business analyst, which is a mix of marketing and analytics. Things were going really well. I’m dating my high school girlfriend, we just moved to Washington DC, great city. I’m making some pretty decent money. By the time I was maybe 24, I was probably up to around 80 grand or so. I’m not trying to brag or anything because some people made a lot more money than that, but basically life is comfortable, and I can see where this is going in the corporate ladder ahead of me and that. If I just were to keep my head down and follow along on this path, things would probably go pretty well, I think most things would be taken care of.

                                You’ve spoken with a ton of entrepreneurs, and you just know that when you have that drive in you, it’s almost like you couldn’t not try to pursue something else. I remember I watched a lot of videos about startups and things that, and I forget who it was, whether it was Mark Zuckerberg, and he’s trying to come up with a reason as to why you should pursue a startup, and he said, “The reason to do it is you just feel I couldn’t not do it.” That’s essentially where I found myself about two years into that job.

Justin:                   You were talking to your girlfriend and said, “Hey, look, we’re going to quit the job. We’re going to travel.” Was it her that suggested it? Who was the driving force, who was more into it than the other?

Dave:                    Yeah, honestly, I definitely give her a lot of credit. By the end of the two years or so, I definitely felt it was time for a change, but I wasn’t really sure what that was going to be. My girlfriend, who is my high school girlfriend, I’m still with her, was very much travel focused, really wanted to get out and see the world and had put together this whole plan of one or two years of backpacking. I’ll be honest in saying that I was a little bit hesitant, obviously about just ripping myself out of the workforce to go on this backpacking extravaganza, but she really made a compelling case and I knew it was just really important to her. So I said, “Yeah, okay, let’s do it.”

Justin:                   You decided to take this backpacking journey. Were you entrepreneurial at that point or were you thinking, I’m going to build the business, or were you more chasing adventure?

Dave:                    It was probably more chasing adventure, I guess. Nowadays, I obviously really associate with being an entrepreneur because it’s been a few years on my own but when I first started, I was extremely academic and professionally focused. I was thinking about getting the best grades, getting into the best college, getting the best job and it’s really hard to get out of that condition and mindset where it’s you just think that that’s what achievement means, you know? But adventure has its alert too, and I think that’s where my girlfriend helped me see that side of things.

Justin:                   What did your friends of family think?

Dave:                    Friends they think it’s just awesome because I think anybody who’s in their 20s can just be “Wow, this is going to be a heck of a trip here. Just traveling to all these different countries in two years backpacking.” At least that’s what they were openly and maybe behind my back. They were “This guy is crazy.”

                                My parents were very open about it being crazy. Well, at least definitely my dad because he’s just wondering about what is your entry plan because when you go off on a trip to go two years backpacking around the world, you’re thinking eventually I’m going to come back, I’m going to have zero capital, and I’m going to need to get myself on my feet again and that’s a tricky transition plan.

Justin:                   Did you see it as a gap year or a two year gap year or did you secretly think that or were you thinking, no, this is a new lifestyle change for me.

Dave:                    I thought it was gap year. I thought I was going to go travel for a while and then I would probably go to business school. I had already taken the G maths, I had a good score. I felt I was poised to get into a top business school when I got back and that I would probably just go back into this status quo, it wouldn’t be exactly what I had been doing before because I didn’t really love that type of work but that it would definitely be some professional and corporate environment.

Justin:                   Okay. So you ended up leaving your job, you take off with your girlfriend. Where do you head first?

Dave:                    Well, first we had to our parent’s house to live there for a little bit and move in all our stuff, but we were only there for about a week until we finally went off to Japan, which to this date it’s one of my favorite countries just because the people are so kind and the culture is so different and the food is so awesome.

Justin:                   What year was this man?

Dave:                    This is …  Jesus, this tell me, this was in 2012. This is 2013, I think this might have been in 2012. Yeah, it was. It was September of 2012. I sometimes think it was only two years ago, but it was actually almost two and a half.

Justin:                   Got you. Okay. 2012 you take off, you head to Japan and was the idea immediately, hey, let’s do a travel blog that’ll make some money or was it just doing that for fun?

Dave:                    We had actually started the travel blog about February of 2012 or so. We were trying to build something out that we thought, we weren’t thinking it was going to make any money or anything that per se, except, well maybe some real small change, maybe a couple hundred or maybe a couple of thousand over the two years but we probably honestly thought that was just going to give us a lot of free stuff and that we could do reviews, and we’d get some free trips and stuff. We started that in February, and mind you, my girlfriend and I we are not tech savvy, in the least. I don’t even know if today I can really call myself tech savvy, but back then I didn’t even know what WordPress was. I had to ask a friend what was WordPress?

                                We put this thing together, and I remember working nights and weekends just trying to get the design of this thing right, messing with the HTML and CSS and getting it together. Eventually, when we finally took off in September, that’s when we started blogging full time I guess.

Justin:                   That’s when you started a couple of Travelers.com, and the thing blew up. You guys started to make quite a bit of money out of that. Was that expected? How are you making your money? How did that of go down?

Dave:                    That was completely unexpected. Essentially what happened was, and things went really well, really fast and within probably four months of starting the blog we started to get some inquiries from advertisers, and most of these people were representatives of travel companies. They could have been Expedia or they were some middlemen agency between those. They were really interested in basically buying sponsored posts on the website. If you don’t know what a sponsored post is, essentially it’s a post with a link back that usually you’ve given out specific anchor text as requested by the purchaser who is looking to rank for terms.

                                For example, cheap flights to Miami or something that, right. I remember September, we were in Japan, it’s literally our fifth night in Japan and I get an email from an advertiser, and they go, “Hey, would you be interested in putting these two links in the two posts and I’ll pay you $300 if you do?” And I said, “Yeah, sure I can do that in five minutes because even though I know I’m a complete tech bozo, I can definitely put a link in a post.” I did that and she paid me right away, and I said, “Vicky, we just paid for a couple of days in Japan just now.”

                                And we were thinking, can we do more of this obviously? That’s when we started trying to talk with other travel bloggers and find out, “Hey, are you guys doing this? Because we just had this person talk to us, and they were giving us this money. Do you know anyone that does that?” We started trading with other people, building up our list of advertisers, and within a few months we were up to a couple thousand dollars a month.

Justin:                   It’s interesting to me because so many travel bloggers don’t do well and if you’d asked me if you just start a travel blog, I’d have laughed at you. I’d have said, “That’s a horrible idea.” I know a bunch of our travel blogs, they don’t make any money. Leisure is not a business, if you want to do it for fun, I get it, but not as a business. I think because you took more of a business approach to it and you started actually looking for advertisers after you had a couple of wins, you started to realize that there’s some value there aside from scoring a free hotel now and again. That thing really started taking off. At what point did you say, “Oh my God, this is my new job. I’m gonna do this forever. We’re crushing it. I’m going to continue on my journey and I’m going to be a travel blogger for the rest of my life.”

Dave:                    You know what, actually, never. I’ll tell you why, because so at least the way that this ended up playing out was, I said, we started just very steadily increasing the amount of money that we were making each month through the travel blogging.

Justin:                   What did you get up to?

Dave:                    At the peak, which would have been January of 2014 we had made around 20K in profit. Between the two of us, meanwhile we’re in places Vietnam where we feel we’re the richest people in the world or something and basically, a long story of how you get from two grand a month to 200 grand a month. At least to the short version is that we just connected with a lot more advertisers. We started buying and building a lot more of our own websites, and we started to have 20, 30 websites that we could pitch to the advertisers and that’s just how we scaled it.

Justin:                   You continued growing this out, it caught up to $20,000 a month, then you were crushing it but that was the turning point. At some point revenue started declining, it wasn’t doing so well. What was the impetus for that? how did that come about?

Dave:                    Yeah, and this is exactly why I just never really felt that this was a real longterm business because I just knew that something was looming over. I mentioned earlier that we were selling sponsored posts where you’re giving advertisers their choice of anchor texts and most people that do SEO will know that this is a big no, no, it’s against Google’s terms of service and the end result is that a lot of times your sites will get penalized.

                                Eventually that did happen to us that a lot of our sites got penalized and when they get penalized you’re not really attractive to advertisers. It’s pretty hard to recover from a Google penalty. In addition to that, it wasn’t just at a micro level, like this just happened to us but there was a whole macro level going on as well where in January of that year, literally when we had our best month an article came out and it was basically from an SEO who was really bitter about all the large companies that were buying links and ranking high in the search engines. He wrote this tell off article and he called out a bunch of people and it really forced Google’s hand to act and they actually penalize several of these large companies. They actually penalized Expedia. Expedia dropped in its search rankings, they lost traffic and they actually their stock price dropped. It was it wouldn’t be like the real world.

Justin:                   Who is the blogger?

Dave:                    He’s called [Naeadd 00:17:50] SEO. It wasn’t anybody that I knew personally or know the name, but once that happened it just sent a scare through the whole industry that all of a sudden we were getting all these emails from advertisers saying, “Can you remove our link, we’re worried about our clients.” Nobody was buying anymore. Demand just literally dropped off the cliff. Literally in February we made half of what made in January. In March, we made half of what we made in February and in April we made half of what we made in March, and by the time we got to May, we were basically making nothing.

Justin:                   You saw this going down and you said, “People were pulling their links. The climate had changed and you were going, “Oh my God, I have to do something else.”” At what point did you start your blog Selfmadebusinessman.com?

Dave:                    I started that in around March of 2014 basically a few months after everything was happening and it was a couple of reasons but one of the biggest learnings that I had from the whole experience of just this really quick rise and this really quick fall was that if you don’t really have a business or brand based on value, then you don’t really have a longterm business and basically when everything dropped off and I felt I was left with nothing. Not only did I not have a business, but I didn’t really have a brand either because we were in the travel blogging niche, which just is not really a niche where you’re going to build a brand as a business entrepreneur. I felt man, I need to start in making a bit of a name for myself if there’s anything to do so that if ever I get into a similar situation where the business just tanks, that at least I can fall back on my audience and things that.

Justin:                   Why was it a couple of Travelers.com not a business? Why was it not a brand that you could build out into a company?

Dave:                    First of all, it wasn’t a business because I don’t define a business by how much money something makes. Yes, we were making decent money with our websites and everything, but it wasn’t sustainable. I don’t know if you’ve read that book The Millionaire Fastlane or whatever, but DeMarco has his five principles of what is a real business and one of them is self sustainability and I knew that, anything that was based on Google algorithmic changes was just really not a good longterm prospect.

                                Now, could we have tried to recover from that? Could we have tried to double down and just really push through the bad time? Yes, absolutely. We got to this point, we were really at a crossroads and I was thinking, should I just weather this storm, I still have all my assets, we still have all the advertiser contacts, we still have all the websites, a few months from now this will blow over and things will pick up or should I just really just pivot into something totally different?

                                That’s when I said, “I don’t really want to be living this where I never really feel I can make purchasing decisions because I don’t know what my income is going to be next month.” I just said, I just said, I’ll just start the whole thing.

Justin:                   I know that for me sometimes when my business is doing well or our business is doing badly that can really, my highs are high and my lows are low and that can affect my personal relationships. What effect did this have on your relationship with your girlfriend, I mean, were there tough times in the relationship because of this? How did that go?

Dave:                    Yeah, sometimes things definitely weren’t the best. It was never that there would be any longstanding tough times. We’ve been together the whole time traveling the whole time, which is a difficult situation just for couples in general, but it’s just mixing business and the relationship I find very difficult. I had a night one time when we had an advertiser come to us with some deals and he was offering us $1,000 to write some articles and I asked my girlfriend to write them and then I was just reviewing the articles, the articles didn’t come out right. I was just really not the most pleasant person at that time just because I was like, and sometimes it’s difficult not to treat your significant other like they’re an employee almost. When you’re working together like that, it’s awful as that sounds, and really not proud of some of those moments. That’s why honestly when I can, I try to separate the relationship from the business.

Justin:                   How did you separate, did you guys work together on a daily basis, sat together and worked together or did you, how do you separate the work from the relationship?

Dave:                    No, we didn’t. That was the issue. At least then we are and worked together really 24/7 and basically in one room apartments with our laptops and I’ve never go elsewhere to do work. We were working side by side. What we tried to do is simply divide, the basically what everyone is responsible for. My girlfriend would be a lot more responsible for the travel, the logistics, getting us from A to B, booking apartments and things that, and I would be very full on with the business, managing the assistants and communicating with the advertisers. At some point when we just started to make a lot more money and have a lot more attraction, it became too big for just me to handle. I had to bring her into it and then it just, the whole, there was no separation whatsoever.

Justin:                   Got you. We’re here in [inaudible 00:22:27] Vietnam right now and my girlfriend and I, and we have another couple we know here that they work together as well and I was asking them, “How do you separate the work from the relationship?” And they were saying, “I only get places that have a bedroom and a living room. We don’t just stay hotel rooms. We need a little bit of space.” Sometimes he’ll go off and work at a coffee shop, she’ll work at home and they try to have that separation. They say that’s pretty important, and that’s something my girlfriend and I have figured out as well that we have to have some separation. We have to have, my headsets in, I’m busy, I can quickly tell her, “Nope, I can’t talk right now. I’m busy with work.” We found that that helps as long as we understand each other. It doesn’t always work, but as long as we understand each other for the most part, we can separate the two.

Dave:                    Yeah. Good for you guys. That’s a working progress for me.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think that’s always a working progress. You never get that totally. All right, so you had this blog which was crushing it, not crushing it anymore. You created Selfmade businessman. Now, this blog was pretty popular I think early on. I remember finding your blog early on either a tweet or we’d connected somehow and I was like, this guy’s going to do well. What do you think made this one a success? I mean, was it your previous success with the travel blog. Do you think that got you started?

Dave:                    It definitely had a great start. I mean, it’s just not going to go down in history as the most trafficked blog of all time or anything that but the first couple of months we definitely got a lot of trashing, we got a lot of visits and in newsletters subscribers.

Justin:                   How did you do that?

Dave:                    A lot of it was through networking and influence your outreach and in reaching out to guys Spencer from Niche Pursuits and Matthew Woodward and just saying, “Hey look, I just started this new venture, this new blog. I could really appreciate your support. I’ve been a long time follower of your blog and if you could just come over, share this article that I wrote, that stuff.” And a lot of them said yes, they were really nice and that’s what got it off the ground.

Justin:                   This is a weird thing to talk about when you’re talking about connections, but Joe and I did this actually. We were very strategic. We had spreadsheets and we have daily quotas. Did you do it like that? Was it lik I need to reach out to this many people. I need to connect with these people. I need to comment on their blogs or was it more just every once in a while?

Dave:                    No, it wasn’t very deliberate. I think what you’re saying is where it’s you literally have your target list on your spreadsheet and you’re okay, I’m going to do two comments a day on this one. I mean, you try to be more genuine and that, as to being so formulaic about it, but the principal is essentially, I’ve got this list of people I’m trying to engage with them. I’ve been engaging with them over the last year or two but I just want to up my efforts just specifically at this time, just before I maybe asked for something in return. Yeah, that’s pretty much how I approached it.

Justin:                   You were doing well, the blog was taking off, you’re getting some traction, people were paying attention. It wasn’t, like you said, it wasn’t hitting the gates, like all of the gates just blowing up, but it did well and then you took a hit there too.

Dave:                    Yeah, it took a pretty big hit there as well. In my mindset right now, I don’t know, I’m thinking, “Hey, I’m going to start this business blog in six months. I’m going to for some info product and I’m just going to be back on my feet again in no time.” I remember I was sitting at a cafe with my mom in Madrid. Madrid is where my sister lives and she goes, “How you guys are going to recover from a couple of travelers because obviously they had been following that ride?” I said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this new personal brand blog. I’ve seen other guys do it. Give me six months and we’ll be back in action.” And in six months I was absolutely nowhere basically, and I don’t even know why this is the case, but I lost basically the majority of the organic traffic for the blog and probably about two thirds of it or so just really hasn’t, I mean the trajectory that was going upwards, it looks a couple of travelers but instead of money. It was page views.

Justin:                   I think you’re lucky that it happened early. Could you imagine if it happened later on? That’d be pretty devastating. And early on too, a lot of your traction comes from the connections you’re making. So even if you weren’t getting the organic traffic, you’re going to get the type ends, you’re going to get the referral traffic. That’s helpful. Did that ever get fixed, how did that right itself in terms of your organic on Selfmadebusinessmen?

Dave:                    No, it’s definitely really gotten fixed. One of the things that happened, and this was around November, so was that my websites got hacked and it wasn’t just self made businessman, but it was also my girlfriend’s food blog, Avocado Pesto, it was also my business at the time NinjaOutreach. All of those websites got hacked and taken down. After that they didn’t really have a strong recovery. They recovered obviously somewhat, but not to where they were before pre-hack. I really just don’t know what happened. I reached out to a lot of people in the SEO niche to see if I could get help. I even put in some solicitations for paid companies to see if they could take a look and surprisingly nobody really took me up on that offer.

Justin:                   So tell me, okay, so you got hacked. What was the purpose of the hack? Were they hoping they can hold you hostage, get some money out of you? Or was it just messing with you?

Dave:                    Nobody ever communicated with us, so it wasn’t a ransom note or anything like that, but it did seem pretty malicious in nature. I remember I was sitting with a developer and he was just like, we were looking at the files and it just looked they had just been the infection sprayed all over the folders and the files. It was a proper hack. It seemed it was definitely malicious intent. We don’t have any suspicions like, oh it was a competitor company or anything that but it seemed pretty deliberate.

Justin:                   Yeah. Who would it be, I wonder? I just talked to an attorney the other day, and we’re actually going to have him on the show and he was telling me he’s dealt with situations where someone hacked and took all of their domains, all their sites. Then we’re talking multimillion dollar properties and then trying to get a ransom out of them, $100,000 and not give them back. The lawyer Is trying to negotiate between the hacker and the company and what a mess. It’s so scary.

                                I was listening to him and I’m going to put a little note to myself to make sure I secure my passwords again. Yeah. Bad scary stuff. Okay. This blog, you forced it to happen. You forced it to be successful even though you were hurt with your organic traffic and you did, you built up a nice email list. You were well connected I think in the small niche that we’re all in, right?

Dave:                    Sure.

Justin:                   With this building sites and talking about online entrepreneurship, you’ve done well. And then you had an idea and you had an idea with a couple of other founders to build something out called the Mastery. Tell me a little bit about that.

Dave:                    Sure. And this is also, we’re around maybe October or November of 2014 which in general, if you haven’t been able to tell it was a horrible year, but he had this idea for the Mastery. I should mention also at this time, I’m also working on one other project, which is, NinjaOutreach. I’m somewhat divided into my attention, but I was a bit frustrated with the speed of development for NinjaOutreach and it was just like every month was just putting off and off and off and eventually I got to that stage that a lot of entrepreneurs get to where they’re just like, “All right, I’m going to start something else because I just can’t wait for this thing to come around.” Right.

Justin:                   First off, tell me what the Mastery was and then number two, tell me who you are a partner with on this. what was the plan there?

Dave:                    Yeah, so the mastery, the vision for that was that it was going to be a membership site for all online entrepreneurs with the specific value proposition. Now, we were going to help you find a mastermind group and if you read some articles, take a look around, the mastermind groups are, they’re hot right now, they’re trending, you’ll see, Pat Flynn and Chris Ducker talking about how the best thing they ever did was to try and form a mastermind group and things that. Then if you read the comments on those blogs, you’ll see a lot of people saying, “Man, that sounds great. I’d love to find one of those, but where do I begin?”

                                It does seem there’s a problem. Then of course there’s also online membership sites for entrepreneurs. Those have been around for years, Dynamite Circle and Firstlane Forums and all those. The combination seemed like something that would be fruitful. I pitched the idea to my friends, Doug and Louis and both of those guys are also, and I’m thinking that you know them. Doug does a niche site project and Lewis does cloud income and they really took to the idea as well because as people who run personal blogs, we get emails from time to time and people are always asking us, oh, where can I find a mastermind group and stuff that.

Justin:                   I’ll stop you right there. I love the idea of you partnering up with them, and you guys were in a mastermind at the time, right? You’re in a mastermind saying, “Hey, this is really valuable.” You guys are talking regularly. You guys are all in the space and so you can team up and build this thing in the space for people in the space where you see there’s an obvious problem. I love the approach. It is interesting in this field. Why ultimately the mastery was not great. Well, what happened there?

Dave:                    Yeah, the approach seemed good, right? We partnered with each other, which, this is really one of those network type place where it really helps to know a lot of people because you’ve got that chicken and the egg problem and you’ve got to start to fill it. We had great talented team, a decently talented team, we’d spend this amount of time with the execution. I think the idea had some merits.

                                That said a few months later we found ourselves essentially closing the doors on the Mastery. Why did that happen? I don’t know if it was anyone, if I can pinpoint any one thing, but it was a variety of a couple of different things. The first one, I think we essentially went into this thinking that it was going to be a side project. If I put in five hours a week, Doug puts in five hours a week, Lewis puts in five hours a week, you’ve got 15 hours a week going on this. I think you know that this is an easy enough project that we can make something going on as a side project.

                                The lesson that I’ve learned from that is that side projects are a terrible idea. It’s just so hard to get something going without a full investment on everybody.

Justin:                   Yeah. There’s no ownership, right. No one’s taking this project on and saying, “I’m getting … ” because you have to will things to happen, right. You have to will success in projects and if there’s no one just saying, “Yes, I own it. I own the success and failure of this.” It’s everyone donating their time but not really making it successful. There’s an interesting podcasts with our buddies over at Tropical MBA on a software project they had that failed and so they went into detail with their partner on that and they talk very openly about their failed project. They’re, it’s painful. That was one of the problems they had, was that no one really took ownership of the project, and they realized that after the fact when they were launching it, they hadn’t. You guys were building this out when you were, did you validate it all? Were you asking people would you pay for this? And they were saying, “Yes. Right. Oh, yeah. That sounds great.”

Dave:                    Yeah. I mean we definitely were. Validation is you can always try to validate more and we probably should have tried to validate more. Yeah. We didn’t actually ever take any prepayments or anything that, so it wasn’t maybe the most extreme version of validation. But I definitely talked with people and said, “Hey, this is something you would pay for?” I have even people telling me that they would pay for it without me asking. There seems to be indicators that this was needed.

Justin:                   You can’t trust people that say that they’re going to pay for it and then because until they actually do, you just don’t know. And that’s so scary. I think that’s something all of us have done. I’ve done that. I know other entrepreneurs have done that were like, “Oh, this will be done. This is a done deal. They love this,” and then yeah they don’t.

Dave:                    Absolutely. Yeah. I don’t know if you’ve read Dan Norris’s article from WP Curve on why start a validation, it’s BS? He had at least as far as I can tell, all signs were pointing to the fact that he was onto a win with his content marketing software and it just really flopped and luckily he recovered very nicely.

Justin:                   We paid him for that. I really wanted that one to work. I really wanted it to work it and we were its customers for that and it just didn’t hit, and it became too difficult and then give a bunch of problems. One of which is too difficult, the clients were so varied and trying to show them the right metrics and it just sucked. I loved, I wish someone fixes that problem. Being able to track which content is the most successful for you but yeah, I was really rooting for Dan on that one. I’ve been rooted for Dan for a long time so when he crossed it with WP Curve, it was awesome to see.

Dave:                    Yeah, for sure.

Justin:                   Cool man. Okay, so you launched the Mastery and you guys were excited as you were getting up to launch, you were pretty fired up. You knew that it was going to work, and you guys emailed your list and few people signed up. How did that happen? How did that course of 24 to 48 hours happen, where you guys were like, “Holy shit, this isn’t going to work.”

Dave:                    The interesting thing was, so it was an application only membership site, so you had to basically apply and be approved and that was to maintain the quality of the membership site and also maybe create a little bit of an alert around it. We got 80 applications or so into the membership pushes, it was really a pretty decent amount of people, because we also had free memberships that we had given out to some of our friends. I really thought that we were going to launch with a couple hundred people, a good amount of paying customers. I can’t remember the exact pricing, but it was around say, I don’t know, say $50 a month, something that. If you’ve got 80 people, you’ve got a business off of that.

                                What happened was that after people applied and then were accepted, they didn’t convert to a paying customer. At that point, I can only think that either one, people didn’t realize that it was a paid for platform, that might have just been some poor marketing or communication. Honestly, it’s still confusing to, when I’m thinking back about why somebody applied and then gets in and then he doesn’t really pay, in that quantity. Right. It was really the vast majority of them or maybe just they didn’t really get the value. It’s a bit of a head scratcher sometimes.

Justin:                   Yeah, it’s crazy. I just had a call two nights ago or something, I was talking with this girl, her name is Shola and we were talking about info products a little bit, we were talking about e-books and then we talked about meetups and events, right? We were talking about the idea that you have to do an event that maybe costs a couple hundred dollars for a weekend. She was saying, “No, I think you can do big events.” I said, “what do you mean by big events?” She’s like, “Just make it baller, man.” She says, “Why don’t you charge $10,000 and do a four orfive day event on a private yacht?” That’s awesome, right? That’s an experience. Think about the target market that you’re going for with that $10,000 customer, right?

                                Think about what type of person that is willing to pay $10,000 to go do that thing. You’re gonna be hanging out with interesting people. I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know if people would do that.” I’m consistently amazed with the things people are willing to do, willing to pay for, the amount of money they have to invest in this, that or the other. As we’ve sold websites that are more and more expensive. It gets to the point where I’m like, “Wow, these people have a ton of cash. They have lots of investments. There’s a market here on the high end.” It’s surprising to me and I should stop at some point. Stop being so surprised with that because it just consistently happens and those customers in general are better. Anyway, that’s my rant on that.

                                It’s just amazing talking with this girl Shola. Now, it was really interesting having this conversation about the upper end of the market for events for getting people together. The Mastery, you did this and it didn’t work. Luckily you had something else going on. You had a company called NinjaOutreach.com which you had started before and the Masters as a side project. NinjaOutreach, when the Mastery failed, you’re like, “Okay, this is my baby, I’m driving this one home.” What have you done differently with NinjaOutreach? What did you learn from the other projects that you’re applying to this one?

Dave:                    Yeah, so the interesting thing is we technically started Ninja Outreach before the Mastery, but just because it’s a software play, it takes an awful long time to develop it. We were just really sitting in development for really quite a long time. Then until finally we launched a Beta in October to a couple of hundred users and then finally launched it in January and now we’ve been live for about two months. Realistically, despite there’s so many new failures to be had, I feel that even when you learned from an old failure, there’s always new failures that you didn’t even see coming and I’m just like, oh well I didn’t learn this one from the Mastery, but now I’ve got it down. But basically I guess the validation is obviously probably the biggest thing that we needed to do to improve the situation with NinjaOutreach.

                                That’s where I think I literally got on the phone with quite a lot of people, a lot of agencies and customers to really understand, what was the solution that they were looking for? Were they were using competitor products and what was lackluster about those? What features did they like? What didn’t they like? At least in that sense when we had the product that would come out, we thought and knew that it would fit more what the target audience was looking for. That was probably one of the biggest things and the second obviously it was really the focus issue and we just, it’s like I have one project and that’s it. I’m just going to see this one through for until I’m in my grave.

Justin:                   Yeah. That’s something we realized last year in 2014 when we dumped all of our side projects, dumped everything that wasn’t related to Empire Flippers because we said, “Look, this is the winner.” We weren’t sure, we were taking a bit of a gamble, but we, the signs were there that this is the one that we should be focused on. Like you said, side projects can be a major distraction. Tell me what NinjaOutreach does exactly, what problem are you solving and how does it work?

Dave:                    Sure. NinjaOutreach is a blog outreach software, which essentially means that once you are able to login, I can do a search by keyword such as fashion, and you’ll find a bunch of fashion bloggers and companies who are ranking for that keyword combined with a lot of the metrics that normal digital marketers and SEO agencies are valuing, like their cloud, their domain authority, the size of their traffic, and things that. They can use this dashboard as a way to form partnerships. Maybe they want to do content marketing and they want to do a guest post or a product review where they’re looking to recruit affiliates. It’s essentially meant to be a dashboard where you can find bloggers to work with to promote your business.

Justin:                   Okay, so I like the idea. Let’s say that I search for an artists who’s really small, let’s say I search for website brokers. It gives me a whole list and I can start to look at those and determine who the bigger players are. I can build myself a nice list that I can start to reach out to and connect with. It’s a way for me to get partners, get affiliates where we can start to build a community inside of the industry and maybe even a monopoly, we can start to own the market. I can bring these people together. That makes sense. Okay. You built this, was this a problem that you had? Was this, how did you find this issue in the market? Why build this?

Dave:                    Now we’re back at basically June, 2014 so I’m partnering with two other guys on this one. The way that got started was I actually did a podcast with Mark and he checked back with me two months later to talk about the podcast. We were kicking around this idea for a social analytics tool. We both had independently had this thought process that we wanted to build this marketing and analytics tool. We always said, “Hey, should we combine?” Because I needed a developer, and he had one and we just thought we’d make a good team. At that point, when we started to reach out to people in the industry like Matthew Barby for example, he’s a great content marketer and SEO and ask him, Hey, we have this idea for a solution, how do you feel about this proposition?”

                                He was like, “Well that’s okay, but actually what I’d really like is this.” And then we asked Brian Dean from Backlinko and we pitched him our solution. He was like, “Well that’s okay, but what I’d really like is this.” And then Matthew Barbie was saying, and it seemed that there was a cohesive need for this one product that people wanted a blogger outreach software at a reasonable price because there are some others out there, but they tend to be pretty high end, and they’re just not really feasible for startups and small business owners and bloggers and things that. Or if they in that price market, they don’t really have all the full functionality and features that we’re trying to offer or prospecting outreach combined.

Justin:                   Okay, so you hook up with this partner, you’re checking with other people in the space and just asking what they want and they’re changing your direction, and showing you, okay, I think I need to head in this direction. These are the things I think I need to build. Backing up a second, how did you split up the company? I mean there’s not much of a company at this point. There was an idea, but how did you split that in that partnership? Was it 50/50, was there any discussion, what if things go wrong later or was it like, “Hey, let’s just work together on this and see what happens.”

Dave:                    It was a bit tricky because my other two partners had actually already been working on the idea for a few months, and they had developed a basic technology for what we were looking for. Essentially I was coming in a little late to the game, and it wouldn’t have been fair necessarily to start off, just everybody’s going to be equal right off the bat or some compensation would have to go. The short answer is that I paid them some money and we are all one third partners.

Justin:                   Got you. They were like, “Look, we’ve already done some work, man. You’re late to the game. You got to buy in and you ain’t gotta pay to play it Dave.”

Dave:                    Yeah. Pretty much.

Justin:                   Cool. Okay. You paid to play and they let you play, you guys are all third partners, which I think makes sense because you’re just starting out. You don’t want to have this debate early on. Do you have, and I’m just asking because you know what, I get asked this new previously. Do you have an exit clause? If one of you wants out, how do you get out?

Dave:                    Yeah. We have a basic contract in place that essentially said that everybody would be one third, one third, one third and in such and such. It’s almost, I think of it as a placeholder contract because I don’t to get overly bogged down and so the legal stuff, when there’s really nothing going on right now with just an idea and there’s no money, right? It’s like, let’s not put the cart before the horse. That said, I think the approach that I would probably like to do maybe in the next few months or whatever, it’s some vesting where you know everybody, you earn your equity by working for the company for a number of years. Usually it’s four, so you get the full equity after four years and if you leave after say one year or two years, you only get a fraction of it.

Justin:                   That’s a good idea. You guys can formalize that later. Of course. Okay, cool. You’ve got that, you’re getting started. I know that you put a post in the DC or Dynamite Circle and you said I’m going to get to, was it 10,000 monthly run rate by the end of 2015, that’s the goal, right?

Dave:                    That’s the goal. That’s the minimum goal where I would feel I had a successful year. Naturally I would to pass that if I can.

Justin:                   Yeah. Okay. This is recurring income, so you’ve got some interesting things like, how much does it cost to acquire customer, how long do they stick, and how much you’ll charge them? You’ve got some things you can play with. What makes you think this one’s gonna be a success?

Dave:                    I think, sorry, I’ve probably [crosstalk 00:44:15].

Justin:                   Sorry, that was a little aggressive Dave. What makes you think that, so failure, failure, failure, failure. Do you think this one is going to win? But you do though, right? As an entrepreneur you just, you’re like, no, this is the one baby, it’s going to happen. Why do you feel that way for this one? What do you think is going to make this one is a winner?

Dave:                    Justin, you’re Barbara Walters. You’re going to maybe cry on the podcast. Thank God I know. This is really the one though, and this is why I think that we can pull this off. Let me just be honest here too, that we are not on track to do 10K run rate by the end of the year. So we’re still not even hitting that goal right now. But I’m still really confident in this one. And it’s for a couple reasons.

                                The first is that I really do feel there’s a need in the market for the product that we’re trying to offer here. I’ve just heard from so many people, we’ve had a lot of signups, a fair amount of money has come in looking for this product. The problem that we’ve had, up until now is that the product has really not been in a format that has just been conducive to really what people want and what I mean is that we have a desktop application for windows only and a lot of people really want a cloud based application. That was really our huge oversight with all the customer development calls that I did. All the tufts that I did. I never thought to ask, “Why would it change your mind if this was a desktop application?” That was really my fault there. But we are correcting that, and I think we’re going to have our web app out in about two weeks. That’s number one.

                                Number two, I just feel like we are going to make this a success, and I know that sounds like such, like just a fluff answer but sometimes you just feel, I’m just not going to quit until this thing is just a winner. I’m not going to give up on it. I’m just going to hustle and work 80 hours a week, and I feel the need is there, and I think that will push it forward.

Justin:                   Are you all in on this, or are you hedging your bets with other projects and other cash flows and other businesses right now?

Dave:                    I’m all in time wise, money wise, I’m literally at this point because we have at least an okay amount of savings from the past projects like a couple of travelers but my actual income right now is really negative actually because I’m investing in the project. I have calculated that I have about a two year run rate to pull this one off with the partners and I think that we can make it happen in that time.

Justin:                   Cool. You started with one partner. Did you add, the two were already working on it beforehand, and you got added to the project, right. Have you guys hired at all? Are you working with any virtual assistants? Are you hiring developers, and the like?

Dave:                    Definitely. We have one other full time developer who we recently hired, which has absolutely been crucial. Literally we just hired him a week ago because development has been the biggest lag and this is anybody that runs a software business or has a software startup will probably agree that software just takes ages. Right. We also have our fair share of virtual assistants who do administrative tasks, design work, and things that.

Justin:                   Dave, first off, I think it’s really interesting that you’ve had a bunch of failures and this is pretty entrepreneurial though. You had a bunch of failures in the past. You’re looking at this one and saying, “This is going to be the winner.” Honestly, you don’t know and I don’t know whether this will be the one, but I think that the fact that you’re committing yourself to this one, that you can make changes to it. That may make it the one for you. And if not, there’s would be the next one, right. One of this is going to work. Right. It’s weird though, because you’re in a position now where you’re doing this interview and just don’t know if this one’s gonna be successful. We did this recently, last year in October we did a talk on screw side income and double down on your one thing, right?

                                We did this talk, and we said, We’re going to double down on our one thing.” We spent most of the year working on that, but we didn’t have a great, now it’s amazing. It totally worked for us. It didn’t, we weren’t sure yet. We think it’s going to, we have a plan for it to work, but we don’t know that it necessarily will. I’d love to bring you back on in the future when we’ve either made this one a winner, or you’ve moved onto the next thing and made that successful. That’d be interesting.

                                Dave, let me ask you, what do you want listeners to get out of this episode? What do you want the people listing to take from us?

Dave:                    Yeah, I think, if there’s any interesting thing about me and my story here is that, I started off frankly doing fairly well and really having some nice successes right off the bat, which is the … and then really crashing down into failure basically where I feel I’m at that dip right now. Hopefully it’s a dip and not just a negative slope, linear line. But I think a lot of the stories that you hear on podcasts and stuff is to people that they’ve already made it and they’re looking back and it’s, I think I feel it’s a bit easy to do that, right? To be, I’d be like, “Well, by now everything is rosy but there was, oh it was really tough then.” But it’s really tough now actually. And I say, “This is really hard.” I’m thinking about what’s the mental state, the emotional state, the decision making process, but it’s still we’re really plowing ahead with it and not throwing in the towel and say, “Look, I can just fall back on this Harvard degree and just get a job or whatever and just do that.” No, I’m all in here on my time and my money and hopefully that inspires a few people.

Justin:                   Awesome Dave. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. If anyone wants to check you out, I’m a fan of your blog. It’s over at Selfmadebusinessman.com. Obviously you’re a company now that you’re all in on is NinjaOutreach.com if anyone wants to check that out. Are you on Twitter man? Facebook?

Dave:                    Absolutely. I’m on all that stuff. Our twitter is @NinjaOutreach and my personal one is @SelfmadeBM because selfmade and businessman does not fit in the Twitter handle and we are on Facebook as well.

Justin:                   Cool man. We’ll put those links in the show notes for anyone wants to check it out. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Dave:                    Thank you Justin.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Podcast. Now some news and updates.

Justin:                   All right Joe, so we have a couple of news and updates. First one man, our February monthly report is out and published on the blog and it is our worst month ever. I think it’s probably our worst month in business.,.

Joe:                        Ouch. Yeah, I mean especially if you include the $25,000 that was stolen from us, which we’ll get into in a later date. Definitely our worst month ever. We had some pretty bad months when we were in the mortgage business, but I don’t know if I would include those.

Justin:                   Yeah, this is top line revenue at less than five figures. We’re in four figure territory for top line revenue.

Joe:                        Yeah, and I would absolutely be hugely concerned about that if this wasn’t April and I know what the March numbers are.

Justin:                   Yes, it was a little bit better, that was a little bit, but yeah, I mean it was pretty disturbing though and it goes to show just how streaky our industry, our business can be. We’re looking to solve that a couple of ways, one being the investor program, but I think that there are some opportunities to solve the problem and then also, sometimes a problem just doesn’t need to be solved. Sometimes you just neeD to ride the peaks and valleys. Right. And make sure that over the long haul, looking at it quarterly or annually, that you’re on an upward trajectory. We can definitely say that we’re on an upward trajectory If you look at it over a longer period of time.

                                I think it hurts toO and in some situations, especially if you have a long sales cycle, it hurts to look at your business on a monthly basis. Right? Because it’s not as useful. It’s there’s some people where if you look at on a daily or weekly basis, it just wouldn’t make any sense at all. Our business, for example, if you looked at daily or weekly, it’s like, well, it’s all over the place and sometimes you just have to take a step back and look at 30,000 foot view of where things are growing overall.

Joe:                        I agree. Getting too granular can really be an issue. At the same time I think that you can wait too long to react and then have to get into an emergency mode. So having some contingency in place that require you to react before the absolute last minute is probably a good idea.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think it depends on the metrics, right? We’ve got enough traffic to where if I saw an immediate hit to our travelers, it’s something I’d start to research and see what’s going on. Whereas if we had a day where we didn’t sell any websites, huh, not so worried about it.

                                The second thing I want to mention is you had a nice little question and an answer over the Tropical MBA Podcast I thought was pretty interesting. Your concern was, I’ll just replay it here. We’ll put a link in the show notes, but you said, “Look, I’m getting on a lot of phone calls, top of funnel talking to buyers and sellers.” Your worry was that, am I going to be stuck on the phone doing this forever? It’s very heavily relationship based and if people need to talk to me, how do I clear myself from being the bottleneck or is there no end to this insight? Right?

Joe:                        Yeah. I think it comes further from the first point that we had that February was very bad and how we reacted to that was by getting on the phone and making sure that our top of the funnel process if it was broken, we repaired it ourselves and thanks to Dan and Ian for answering that question. I really appreciate it. Their answer was basically, you have to set short term expectations a little bit lower and look at more at the longterm, introduce people into a profit sharing piece, certain employees that are key to bringing in new revenue and look at some of these customers more as partners, which I think we’re doing with the investor program. I took their advice and we’ve definitely, we’re doing some of that already so I feel very confident there. I still think though our business is going to just require us to be on the phone more and we have to regularly plan for that on a quarterly basis.

Justin:                   Backing it up a bit. One of the things that was interesting was that it’s, look at ways to improve or increase the lifetime value of your customers. And they mentioned ways to do that, they said you can partner with your customers, you can bring them onto your team. Can they be a part of Empire Flippers in some way? It doesn’t have to be necessarily be an equity stake, but can they be partner with you? Can you align your interests in some way to get them, make them part of the Empire Flippers family, which ultimately will increase the lifetime value of that relationship. I thought that was interesting, and we’re doing some of these things through the investor or partner program and we’re doing some of these things with other people in the space and with our internal team, with the team that we’ve already hired and the people who we’re looking to bring on. Yeah, I think that we’ve got, we’re heading down that road, Joe. It’s just a longer slog, it’s not like that’s going to get fixed in a week.

                                That’s a longer slog where we have to spend a lot more time focusing on our team, our employees, potential partners, people in our space that we want to align ourselves with and put in the work required to have those relationships move along.

Joe:                        Yeah, definitely a longer slog. I totally agree with you there and I’m willing to sit back and look more long term, but I’m also willing to put it in the short term work and if it takes two or three weeks out of every quarter of me getting on the phone and doing those 30 hour a week phone calls in addition to my regular job in order for us to hit our goals, then that’s just what I’ll have to do short term.

Justin:                   Cool man. All right, let’s do the listeners shout section, also known as the indulgent ego boosting social proof segment. On Twitter, we had Sean Markey who said, “[inaudible 00:54:47] Flippers. You guys will bounce back soon. I’m sure.” That was in response to our February monthly report. We’ve got the same thing from our buddy Tong Tran, he said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, keep fighting guys.” We appreciate it Sean and Tong.

                                We got a nice mention from Sam Leslie. He said, “If you listened to Pat Flynn on Net Site Development, listen to the Empire Flippers on really good reads podcasts.” This is interesting Joe, this guy Sam, he asked for permission very nicely to take blog posts and basically turn them into an audio content. He’ll read the blog post and go through it and create a podcast out of that. What I like about that is that you can open it up to any blog, right, any blog anywhere. Now you probably want to be niche specific, but I mean that lets you take the best of the best and put it in an audio format, which is pretty cool.

Joe:                        Yeah, that’s a really interesting form of business. I wonder how he’s going to monetize that, but I wonder who’s doing all the reading man, I wouldn’t want to be doing that all day.

Justin:                   Yeah, that was him, man. I think it’s awesome too. You got to, the one he picked for us have a lot of numbers, so that’s confusing. 5,382 and then 2,000 you’re like, “Oh my God, for a podcast, I’m not sure that works.” You’ve got to be, I think careful with the blog post that you choose to turn it into audio format.

                                We got another mention from [inaudible 00:56:05] on Twitter. He said, “Empire Flippers, I’m doing an expert roundup to a newcomer. Would you recommend following money or passion when picking their first niche?” I think it’s interesting that it’s an either or when it of course it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way. My response was either it can work but gun to my head, screw passion, your passion is likely overcrowded, make money and find what you love there. We see this, a lot with people looking to buy websites. They say, “I want to a site about this small niche,” right? And there’s, everyone wants to make money with that small niche because it’s sexy. It’s fun and like, “Oh, I would love to do this.” Well, sometimes it’s just the boring damn niches that make money. Right? I know people, multimillion dollar businesses that do, are dealing with the trash and sewage. There’s nothing sexy about that, but they are absolutely crushing it.

Joe:                        Yeah, I definitely have to agree with you here. I thought we weren’t going to agree for a second, but yes, absolutely. For your first pick, choose money because you can always go into your passion later and having that war chest to go after your passion, it makes it a lot easier.

Justin:                   I think the other truth is too is that, if you’re chasing a niche that seems to be a good fit all the way around, you probably don’t hate it, right? You’ll see that you don’t hate it. You’re going to find your passion in that niche. You’re going to find the things that inspire you, that get you out of bed every morning once you’re into it. Because when you’re into anything, and you’re doing it on a regular basis, you’re going to find things in there that you love. Find things and then you love doing so. It’s not like, “Oh, I guess I gotta go do this.” No, because you’re going to find things you love about it.

                                We’ve got a nice mention over @business.com they’re talking about ways you can bring on a team and have them do amazing work for you. And they actually mentioned our skill transfer process that we talked about on podcasts and on blog posts and stuff, so I thought that was neat.

Joe:                        Yeah, very neat. I’m glad the skill transfer process is getting out there.

Justin:                   Yeah, buddy.

                                That’s it for episode 132 on the Empire Podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at EmpireFlippers.com/Harvard and make sure to follow us on Twitter @Empire Flippers. See you next week.

Joe:                        Bye-bye everybody.

Speaker 2:           I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire Podcast with Justin and Joe. Hit Up EmpireFlippers.com for more. That’s EmpireFlippers.com. Thanks for listening.

 

Discussion
Leave a comment
  1. Doug says:

    Hey Guys, great interview.

    It hits close to home, of course. And I think you both explained the Mastery well – side projects have the deck stacked against them.

    In hindsight, I don’t know what we were thinking, Dave! It seemed like it was such a good idea at the time.

    Keep up the great work with Ninja Outreach! I see you got a shout out at the Neil Patel blog the other day.

    cheers!
    Doug

  2. Awesome episode guys… I have just gone through a hacking nightmare myself.. It is an awful experience, that can be hugely costly.

    I can not stress this enough to anyone now that will listen. Take your site security seriously…

  3. Dave says:

    This turned out pretty well I think! Thanks again for the opportunity.

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