Business or Pleasure – Industry Change Episode 8

This episode of Industry Change, Richard is in the amazing Maldives, speaking with James Schramko owner of Super Fast Business.

James has worked hard to establish a business that he doesn’t need to constantly micro manage. This means that he can structure his time to best suit the lifestyle he wants to have. Most people would think that this kind of work life balance isn’t achievable for them but in reality it definitely is. The key step is creating the framework, the structure inside your business, first. Create a business that runs like a well-oiled machine ESPECIALLY when you aren’t in the office!

Watch the whole episode for all of James and Richards conversation, and some advice on how to create the work life balance that you want to have!


Video Transcription

James:             It’s starts when I get in the maxi taxi, I get a big taxi for my surfboards.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And he says, “Is it business or pleasure?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. I guess I’m doing some work but it’s a lot of fun.”

Richard:           It’s Richard Toutounji from COM Marketing Group and another episode of Industry Change and I’ve got a special guest in a special location. James Schramko welcome.

James:             Thank you.

Richard:           Well thank you, we’ve been here for seven days. It’s pretty magical place, Maldives here.

James:             Got a little bit of sun on the nose there.

Richard:           Just a little bit? It’s … How many surfing trips have you done in the last two weeks?

James:             Well I’ve been here for two weeks so I’ve been surfing 32 times so far, enjoying it.

Richard:           And that’s what I want to talk about in this episode because James I want to kind of get your whole view around lifestyle and business. But before we do so, I wanted to deep dive into how you got sitting here and out of your seven day a week general manager position and what was the transition? Now you run a super successful business called Superfast Business and you’ve been doing that for about 10 years. Is that correct?

James:             Yeah. Back then I had a job and I wanted to have my own business as well because a lot of my customers had their own business and I could see that you know they were doing things like having a day off to go play golf or coming into the office mid-morning and doing work and then leaving and they could because they’re the boss. But I noticed there’s two distinct groups, there’s the employees and then there’s the business owners. So I wanted to get a foot in the business owner door but I didn’t know what my business would be and I really struggled to build a website because a decade ago that was actually pretty tricky.

Richard:           So 2000s? Early 2000s?

James:             This is 2005 I registered my first domain name. 2006, I was trying to build a website and I struggled so much that after this huge trial and error and not putting budget towards hiring someone to just build it, because even if I did I didn’t even know what I would build. I ended up finding some software that made it easy to build a website and I decided to sell that as an affiliate for commission. I started selling some of that and then I started learning all the things, how to write more compelling website copy, how to drive traffic to my website, how to convert that traffic, how to build my email list, how to make videos, and over time I started to get really good with search engine optimization.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             I sold a guide that helped other people who were trying to build websites and then I built a community of people who wanted business help. I realised that a lot of people in the online space don’t have real business skills and I had all these real business skills from a real business.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             From running this huge real businesses and I found that that has been a helpful sort of service to offer people. So I’ve built and sold website development companies. I’ve had a search engine optimization company, which I sold and I now I just do the coaching. I have little side projects here and there but more or less it allowed me to let go of the job so I stopped having to go somewhere else every day and just sunk my efforts into having my own business.

Richard:           I love the concept that you actually building it as you had a full-time job. You didn’t like stop and say hey I’m going to start my business here. You were working two things at the same time.

James:             Yeah. I think it’s … unless you’re single and you’ve got no expenses, you know like a Tim Ferris.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             You have the four hour work week. You can’t relate to that when you have a family, a mortgage, you’re living in an expensive place like Sydney, you can’t just quit for your pipe dream. I think that would be a mistake. So I’m a huge fan of setting a trigger point of where you will actually be able to build your side business up enough to say hang on. It’s crossed over that point now and I can let go of the normal job.

Richard:           But it sounds like is that you actually had a very high up position and you had to run that every day with the stress of that, then you actually had to build a business on the side to replace the income, is that what you’re saying?

James:             Yeah. Exactly. For a little while there I was just working a little bit extra hard. And is easy as it’s painted on all of the video’s in there.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             That’s a lot of marketing gump really is, just don’t believe that. It is easy if you have the right path.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And you have some good guidance, and you got something in motion. But I find that the startup face is particularly difficult. And for most people is especially difficult, because we’ve been locked into certain way of thinking.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Certain way of living, we’ve had this nine to five, Monday to Friday. We just do what everyone does.

Richard:           Sure.

James:             We go to school, university we get a job we pay our taxes, we get employed by someone else. We get told what to do.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             A lot of time, and we boxed in I just wanted to just get out of there. I wanted to design my own life and get back in control. And shatter this idea that you gotta work really hard till you’re 65. And then you have a pile of money and you can sit around and do nothing.

That’s not practical I like to live like I’m semi retired so now I align my interests and my passions. With a way to create incomes so having a trip like this for example.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             If I put together a trip and I can come and do some surfing and talk about business. And find other people who wanna do that too, we all chip in a little bit then we can make something amazing.

Richard:           So, talking about that we are in the Maldive you’ve been here for two weeks I’ve been here for a week. And you basically saying that you can set a trip like this is really important for you.

To actually setup your priorities and say I can actually achieve work, I can have business at the same time. So it’s like you breaking every work, life, myth possible.

James:             Yeah, I mean it starts when I get in the maxi taxi, I get a big taxi for my surfboards.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And he says,”Is it business or pleasure”? I’m like, “I don’t know I guess I’m doing some work but it’s a lot of fun”. So yes it’s breaking the para nom it’s like going to the cinema on a Monday when there’s three people in the whole place.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Or at the shops when it’s empty, instead of doing the weekend thing. Living life kind of secretly is extremely enjoyable and it’s available to everyone. But we just sometimes don’t know that’s possible.

Richard:           What is like one or two tips for business owner that wants to get to that stage. However, to go to the movies on a Monday they feel that anxiety or that stress or that guilt they have. If they got a team or their clients but don’t want to tag themselves or take a picture.

Like I hear that a lot I don’t want to take a picture because someone would think I’m on holiday, how do you break that? What is the tip you can give to break that?

James:             block it in your dairy.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             As, if is an appointment with a customer.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And pay yourself first, so for most service professionals, if they would have just blocked time as if they were a customer of themselves. Give that customer their absolute best attention.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Then they can start to chip away that mindset block. It’s just a mindset block.

Richard:           Okay.

James:             And what you find is, when you go away for a little bit your team step up. You find out who the leaders are, you find out the holes in your business that you can plug. And unless you have a business that works to some extent without you, you don’t really have a business you have a job.

Richard:           Sure.

James:             So, the first time I came on Maldive trip a few years back.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             I just brought my iPhone and I left my laptop at home. And I decided just to see what would happen at a week.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             You know and amazingly business didn’t blow up, my team were fine. The customers were okay.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And I realised that it was all in here, this constraint.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s really good, that’s really good I find that your systems as well. The system you share on your blog the resource you give out all for free. A lot of it for free mind you is that it’s all round systems. And is all round structure, can you go a little bit deeper into that like, how do you go from … how do you really systemize and structure your business.

To ensure that you can take that week, two weeks, three weeks away. And know that the systems and the staff and the whole routine will take place?

James:             It’s a matter of been proactive and not just being reactive.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             So, for all the people who say I would love to just do whatever I want, whenever I want I tried that when I first had my own business.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James:             And I found that people just get in there, and they’re always wanting this and that. Because there is no deadlines or partitions it sort of opens [inaudible 00:08:51].

Richard:           Sure.

James:             So, I have things like a schedule that only opens up my calendar on a Wednesday morning and a Wednesday afternoon. So, that’s the time when I commit myself to giving my best to other people.

Richard:           Okay.

James:             Which I means I get the other six days to myself.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James:             And so the first step is really to put in boundaries and to partition out the bits and craft the big space for yourself. And then put everyone else into what’s left.

Richard:           I like that so just go straight to your dive first, and craft your time?

James:             Yeah, you can actually take control of your life and stop being reactive all the time.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

James:             The same goes for your inbox, your inboxes today list and other people add things too. So be ruthless about who you subscribe to, and who you let come into your inbox. And for anything that’s not absolutely essential that should be acted on right now.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             It either goes to a filter, or it goes to a help desk where your team can look after the support better than you can.

Richard:           Great, cause I have seen your update about zero inbox and really keeping your inbox clean. And that’s a way that also I’m assuming that it please that mind for yourself.

James:             Yeah, have been away for two weeks and have got two emails in my inbox so.

Richard:           Right.

James:             It’s easy just to manage that, and a little bit of discipline like about 30 minutes a day with my phone.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             I can manage to maintain my business.

Richard:           Great.

James:             If I wanted to put more in there then I can grow it bigger, but I think it’s a choice you know. I’ve put out a post about this recently I don’t think 10 million dollars in revenue should be the goal anymore. I think we need to grow up and say,”You know what, maybe an extra million dollars in our bank account isn’t gonna change my life”.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James:             For the better.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             It’s gonna bring in more compromise may not have to do things that will take away from my life. And so I think maybe we should think about what sort of life do we want? And then put this step in place to go it.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative). So instead of going the financial go, put the life goal and see what that looks like? If it’s the financial goal you want or is that life goal that you want?

James:             Exactly.

Richard:           It balance a bit more. Those are really good tips, I want to get a little bit deeper now into you’re writing a new book that’s coming out shortly. I want to kinda grab maybe a chapter or two around you know some of the strategies in that book to really get that business owner to the next level.

Unless they do have a solid business right, they are thinking how I wanna five times my business. What advice are you gonna be giving around that, is that something that you talk about?

James:             I do actually go through the profit formula in the book.

Richard:           Oh, yes we did that last night.

James:             Yeah, that’s just focusing on certain areas of the business where you can have easy wins. Because of all the things that you can do in your business there are somethings that are hard to do, and there are somethings that are easy to do.

So, what I like to do is go straight for the easy things do and to get some confidence.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             With the wins, and that’s why I focus on just a few areas first and then we go from there. So the chapter on the profit formula is actually quite helpful for a business owner.

Richard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative). Makes a lot of sense is just a micro stuff instead of trying to get a new option all the time.

James:             Well most of the time we already have all the resources we need. We already have customers if we have a business. So even just going back to the exact same customers and asking them to buy again. Is significantly easier than go find a whole new group customers.

Richard:           Yeah.That makes sense, the other model … my last question is that if you got business owner they say it’s a lot I wanna grow that invent a new product, anew service. Or they get into in a business or they sell the businesses to recreate something else. Have seen in your formula that you are structuring a down less, but tighter as well.

How do go from model of I’ve got a lot of different moving parts to really streamline something that’s really just tight. So it does have less of your resources and time.

James:             It’s just truly understanding that not all the business models that you have are equal. And so you can’t do everything that’s just a fact. You just can’t do everything so if you’re gonna do few things, why don’t you identify the few things that are far more effective.

And just zoom in on those and magnify it. And you get a significantly better outcome. Than giving equal portions of your effort to things that don’t deserve it.

Richard:           So, you would go and find the parts of the business that’s taking less time or the most profitable part and then kinda eliminate the rest?

James:             Yes, you can use a stop, start, continue. You can say, which business models or units or parts of our business should we stop doing.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             They are a completely waste of time, and aren’t achieving the goals we want. Don’t make the filters that we set.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Which things are working really well, that we most continue.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And what things haven’t we been doing that we really should start. And if you can through that stop, start, continue then you might actually end up finding a few tuning adjustments to get your results.

Richard:           That’s really good I love that part in a lot of people go into business for this is what we are talking about right here. But I really feel that is under talked about once they have gotten the pictures, the laptop or they’ve bought into that dream.

It’s never really touched on very much at all.

James:             Well I don’t think most business owners get there.

Richard:           Right.

James:             Most business owners go broke and the ones that aren’t broke.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             A lot of them are struggling not enough time, they having hustles with staff. They are struggle with how to price their products and package them. And you know never really get over those hurdles to the nirvana of having a business you don’t actually hate.

Richard:           To the top end of it?

James:             Yeah.

Richard:           To the top end of it, thanks so much. I know there’s a hip of resources that you published as well. I do want to touch on that before we go, but it’s called one of your processes is a lot of content. And I know that you have heavily involved in search engine optimization. But now is around content before we do go can you give me a snippier of what the process you do to get people to your website? Which, is superfastbusiness.com.

James:             Well the main media channel that we use is podcast.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And we got there by doing a few different types of media channels and seeing where the buyers come from. And overwhelmingly they come from podcasting. So I do more podcast and I stopped doing some of the other things like LinkedIn for us was as important.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Pinterest for example. So we called this one the race course and it’s saying that our website is the central place we like people to come to.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             And then we put our good contact there, we make it high value as you’ve mentioned. Some of it are content is as good as what people would pay for.

Richard:           Yeah, sure.

James:             And we give checklist and cheat sheets and upgrades and transcriptions that people can download. And we often ask for an email address for that. But we also publish the whole transcriptions for free, without even an email.

If, they visit the site we can recontact them with our Facebook advertisement. They can subscribe to iTunes, they can subscribe to our youtube channel. Where, we are placing bits of that content.

Richard:           Yeah

James:             All pointing back to our website.

Richard:           Yeah, and I think your owner right theory is really around a lot of marketers. We use parts for this work, I think it makes sense if you are producing a great business. And you actually want to give a value, which is then all those other kind of businesses. That don’t want to do that, that’s where they can actually produce that.

James:             The big thing the most important thing is that if you just build your business on a youtube channel.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Or on a Facebook page and they no longer want to support that and they turn it off. They you go on.

Richard:           Yeah.

James:             Then you are out of business, so its about protection, is about no compromise.

Richard:           I think any business that has been through a circle of business, will realise that yes your day might be gone on website mode. Maybe gone a Facebook change algorithms and then you pretty much gone after that.

James:             Yeah, advertising account gets blocked.

Richard:           Awesome. So James would we see you here next year Maldive since you regular every annual year for you here?

James:             Yeah, I have actually blocked the week and it’s 40% sold.

Richard:           Perfect.

James:             Yeah.

Richard:           Just finally where can they go and find out more information about you is it just the website there?

James:             Yeah, superfastbusiness.com.

Richard:           Awesome, thanks so much James.

James:             Thank you.

Richard:           I’ll see you next week on industry change.

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