Not an Overnight Success
Clickminded is currently a $490k a year business that started from exactly $0. Tommy started off just like anyone of us- working a day job at a normal company. He worked on the SEO teams of PayPal and then AirBNB and quickly realized two things 1) He enjoyed learning and sharing SEO knowledge 2) The educational gaps in the market are substantial.
At the time, most SEO courses were limited in quantity and poorly produced and executed. Tommy’s thesis was that he could deliver education in a value proposition to the customer that would give them the knowledge and tools that they needed and in an engaging way. He understood that great teachers must both educated and entertain.
Tommy started slow and made sure that each iteration of his business was a success by testing it in the market. He tried things, failed, pivoted, and then tried them a different way until he found pockets of success. Then, as his audience grew, he kept expanding based on what had worked until he was one of the top experts in his field. Only once he was confident that his business would only reach the next level by giving it his full attention did he quit his full-time job. The velocity of his exit all but guaranteed massive growth and profitability.
The great part was that Tommy could have taken a completely alternative path and stayed in the corporate world while running his business with his team. It was his decision to make.
From the podcast:
This guy, Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA, he coined this term for people that are starting side projects, I really like. I have the definition here, I’ll just read it quickly, “Exit velocity is the amount of professional and entrepreneurial momentum you have when quitting your job and starting a new venture. Momentum can come from a variety of sources, investment capital, experience, anchor clients, industry knowledge and connections, aka unfair advantage.”
Use your day job to pilot training and tools
How did Tommy get started? The first thing that he did was to accelerate his mastery of the subject matter and then he began to hone his teaching skills by giving away free classes to his employer and community. He tested delivery methods and approaches on his students who then provided feedback. He could feel the room out to see if he was an effective teacher on not. This was his laboratory.
The brilliant thing is that we can all do this. This week, go into work, raise your hand and offer to design and teach a free workshop in your area of expertise to your peers.
Towards the end of 2011, I had asked if I could lead one of the monthly marketing classes that were open for anyone to teach at PayPal. The entire marketing org was obligated, once a month, to “refine their marketing skills” and learn about a subject they generally knew nothing about. I put together a 2-hour “Introduction to SEO” course with a colleague of mine, and it went really well.
This is what I’m doing, as well. For me, I value the network and resources of the IMA. I am able to volunteer to teach at external events, conferences, and even chapter meetings. It’s all free and allows me to grow each time around.
You can also do the same thing. Find a professional organization, get involved, and make a name for yourself.
Even further, you can use the site Meetup.com to build an audience. This is something that I am currently exploring and thinking about doing on my end.
From the podcast:
Yeah, so the first hundred users, and actually one of my favorite tactics for when you’re just getting started, and you have no idea how to get rolling is meetup.com. I think this is one of the most underrated acquisition channels for first users because they do so much of the work for you. So you can sign up for Meetup as an organizer, I think it’s $15 for three months and you pick your topic, you pick your city. And what they’ll do is they’ll email everyone in that city that they think has an interest in that topic.
Leverage the platforms of others:
Another great piece of advice from Tommy was his commentary on using the platforms of others to catapult yourself. While these platforms take a large chunk of the earnings, you will gain access to their audience that you otherwise would not have had.
I’d rather had 25%-50% of something rather than 100% of $0, personally.
But to each their own.
I’ve been on Udemy since April of 2018 and I’m a big fan. I now have 5 courses and the experience has been beneficial. Since there is no fee to join, it’s a risk-free laboratory to test your teaching skills and methods. My first course was an excellent idea with a poor delivery- and the feedback let me know that. Since then, I’ve grown tremendously to deliver higher quality products. Even more, I can use the platform to attract customers at a discount for the first course but I can then build a relationship with them to cross-sell them to my other courses. It’s a smart way to grow.
From the podcast:
We really are in an online learning renaissance right now, it’s just way easier to get an online course up now than it was in 2012, but I started offline. I started doing meetups and physically teaching in-person and I’ll probably talk more about it later, but yeah, all of the courses that I was competing with on Udemy, which was the first platform I started on in 2012, they were all guys talking into their laptops from their basement. And when I was teaching the course in person, and you teach something that doesn’t connect, or kind of sucks or that joke wasn’t funny, or something that’s really good, you see that feedback on people’s faces right away.
Your day job enhances your side gig and your side gig enhances your day job.
Another beautiful aspect of working to master and teach a subject is that you will grow by leaps and bounds in your journey. You will not only master your focus areas but surrounding bodies of knowledge, as well. You will connect with new and interesting people, you will come across new ideas and perspectives, and you will amass a treasure trove of resources.
What this means, then, is that you will be much more effective in your day job. You start to look at things differently.
No longer do you accept “This is the way it is” but “How could this work better?”
You will be able to approach old problems with new ideas until they are resolved. You will be a doer, a mover, and a shaker. That is the type of attitude and work ethic that gets noticed- and gets you promoted.
Identify what you’re really good at, what you have an interest in, and what others may pay to learn.
Originally published at https://www.the-numbers-guys.com on September 8, 2019.