Every web entrepreneur loves John Lee Dumas—or at least that’s how it seems to us.
John’s EntrepreneurOnFire.com blog hosts a seven-day-a-week podcast, in which he personally interviews entrepreneurs and experts from all over the web. He also publishes a blog, produces ebooks and other resources, and manages the passionate, inspired and inspiring Fire Nation Elite community.
It’s exhausting just to think about! What the heck is his secret? This week, I got the chance to find out in a quick Q&A session with the man himself.
John, you’ve interviewed more than 300 entrepreneurs. You produce a weekly podcast, you’ve created a dedicated EntrepreneurOnFire app, and you also create ebooks and other resources for your followers. Where on Earth do you find the time?!
I am an extremely efficient person, and I’m a big believer in the idea that “the task will expand to the time allotted”. Therefore, I allot my time wisely and make the most of what I’ve got!
An example is my batching method for the podcast. With a seven-day-a-week podcast, some might think that I’m literally on the line with a new Entrepreneur every single day recording one more episode. Truth be told, I have about 30 episodes scheduled out in LibSyn right now. That’s because every Monday I do eight interviews, starting at 8am, and ending at 5pm.
I then spend the rest of my Monday night editing every one of those episodes. Come Tuesday, my week is free of the “episode portion” of the business so I can concentrate on the other things you’ve mentioned like ebooks, social media, Fire Nation Elite (my elite mastermind group) and other resources.
Wow, that really is efficient! I know you also have a team, which must help with that too. Can you tell us a bit about them and what they do?
I currently have one Virtual Assistant working for me from the Philippines, who I found through Chris Ducker’s VirtualStaffFinder. She’s awesome. I pretty much delegate anything to her that is a repetitive task. So, she does a lot of the scheduling for our social media posts, helps me create the skeleton for my show notes pages, and creates things like the pretty links for every guest’s page on the site.
I also have a partner in the business, Kate Erickson, who is the Content and Community Manager for EntrepreneurOnFire. She writes our blog, creates all of our content for the website (our giveaways, for example), manages our marketing campaigns/CRM and is the lead on Fire Nation Elite, our mastermind group. She’s also my girlfriend, so finding her was pretty easy!
Aha! Well, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty smooth-running team there. I’m getting the impression that process is really important to your ability to get things done, but also to the quality of your output. Is that true?
Yes, it’s absolutely important in terms of getting everything done. Without the batching of the interviews, for example, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that I do.
But just because I batch doesn’t mean I slack on quality—that’s number one for me.
I’ve ensured that I have the best possible set up with the best possible audio, and I do every edit myself. Quality is very important to me. The process supports my goals in that it affords me the time during the rest of the week to get other important stuff done for the business, like creating resources and products for my audience.
Well, let’s talk about audience. Your business is pretty heavily niche-focused. How important do you feel it is to have deep experience within one niche in your success?
Niching is so important—it’s required. If you don’t know exactly who you’re speaking to, then you’re speaking to no one.
I think that dedicating yourself to becoming better at what you do every day is the most important thing—always be ready to learn. When I started EntrepreneurOnFire I didn’t know how to conduct an interview. I didn’t even know how to record a podcast. It was through my relentless dedication to, and passion for the process that both interviewing and podcasting have become skills of mine.
So I think it’s more about the depth of your skill (knowing exactly what you want to be known for, and dominating that) rather than breadth.
Wow, it’s difficult to believe that you started out without knowing how to interview people, or how to create a podcast. What’s been your biggest challenge in growing your business to the point it’s at now?
I think for me, the biggest challenge is maintaining quality while continuing to scale. I mentioned earlier than quality is very, very important to me, and so it’s definitely been a challenge to continue to bring myself back to that when there are opportunities all around me that I could go after. I will not go after those opportunities at the cost of quality.
I’ve overcome that by hiring amazing people to help me. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without their help.
That’s a great point. Is there any other advice you’d give to someone building a web business?
Just start. You can’t let fear and doubt keep you from following your passions. It doesn’t matter if your product or your website or your podcast isn’t perfect—you have to get it out there. You can correct course, pivot, improve along the way, but if you never start, then you’ll get nowhere.
Want to read more about how amazing people manage to get so much done? Read our interview with affiliate extraordinaire Rae Hoffman.
When was your last vacation? I mean a real, email-free, no-phonecalls vacation. If you’re like most people I know, you can’t quite remember. This is why I like today’s post, by David Bakke. It’s a reminder that entrepreneurship is about balance (not extremes), and that having a better work life balance can improve productivity and happiness.
Running a small business is tough. With the flexibility of creating your own schedule and being your own boss, comes big responsibility. But not only are you responsible to your business, you are also responsible to yourself. If you don’t pay attention to balancing personal life with work, your health, relationships, and finances can seriously suffer.
A friend of mine found this out the hard way. She owns a lively coffee house, but in the beginning, she worked 12 hour days and didn’t take a single day off. She was ultimately forced to take a break when her husband threatened divorce unless she start devoting time to their family. Extreme, perhaps, but it got her attention. By prioritizing balance, learning to delegate responsibilities, and better managing her time, she got her personal life back on track.
If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately – or wish to avoid that trap – read on for seven tips that can help restore balance to your life.
1. Create a Schedule
Once you start your own business, you won’t have a boss to report to, and can work whenever you want. However, I made the transition to small business ownership several years ago, and my organization suffered significantly at first due to my ineffective management of time. By setting a schedule, I became more efficient, and now know when it’s okay to unplug for the day. To create a schedule, use Gmail’s Calendar. Or, if you don’t have a Gmail account, use the free software WinCalendar (available for download via CNET) or the calendar feature in Microsoft Office Outlook.
2. Commit to Breaks
You may feel guilty by doing so, but taking breaks is important. Trying to get work done when you’re not at your best can waste valuable time.
3. Focus on Personal Health
If your business is Internet-based, you may find that finding time to exercise is more difficult than ever before. Get a gym membership or exercise at home to improve your health and increase your chances of succeeding. Running a small business requires long work days, but by exercising sufficiently, you’ll sleep better each night and wake up each morning with a clear head so you can better tackle the challenges of the day.
4. Improve Your Personal Finances
Is credit card debt nagging at you? Are you struggling to pay monthly bills? If so, these nuisances can impede your ability to fund your new endeavor. It can become more difficult to concentrate on running your venture, in addition to putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to succeed. Get yourself on a personal budget and pay off your debts. By doing so, stepping away from your business to allow for more personal time becomes easier.
5. Improve Your Diet
If your day is filled with quick stops at fast food restaurants because you don’t think you have the time to eat healthier food, you’re not doing yourself any good. Take the time to switch to a diet based on homemade dishes consisting of more fruits and vegetables, and look for a farmers’ market in your area to buy fresh, organic produce for cheap. You’ll save money and potentially decrease your medical bills.
6. Get Out More
If you’re running your operation solo, loneliness or even depression can seep into your life. To prevent this, make an effort to strengthen your relationships with family or friends, or go out and make new ones. Volunteer your time, and keep an eye out for social organizations in your area. As you meet new people, try to keep business topics out of the conversation so that you may give yourself the mental break you deserve.
7. Find a Mentor
If you find yourself working too much or too little, seek a mentor. Check with family or friends for recommendations, or post your request on your LinkedIn profile. Your local chamber of commerce may be able to help too. A mentor can assist with virtually every facet of your small business, including juggling your operation with your personal life. Finding someone who’s been there and done that can cut down on the time it takes you to achieve the right balance.
According to a small business survey conducted by U.S. Bank, 45% of respondents said “their business is their life, and their life is their business.” Don’t be one of those people – always be sure to include some “me” time during every single work day. Even if it’s just watching some TV, even mindless entertainment can be an effective way to unwind and refresh. Or, pick up a good book – and not a small business self-help book. Select an author that you like and read their work.
What additional tips can you suggest to balance small business ownership and personal time?
Photo Credit: happykiddo
David is an online marketer, author, and blogger for the popular personal finance and business resource Money Crashers.
Note: Ashwin’s guest post pitch cracked me up. He has some great tips on landing a guest blogging spot. Interested in doing the same? Read on: we’re always looking for talented contributors to the Flippa blog, and you’ll now know exactly how to submit a post.
This post was written by Ashwin Ramesh, you can follow him on Twitter. Ashwin is the Chief Hustler at Guest Post Labs.
Not that I feel particularly proud, but most of my guest blogging opportunities (unless it’s someone I know already) come from what some would deem as “cyber stalking”.
I’m going to be showing you how I landed this guest post on Flippa by reaching out to the right person and show you how you can do the same thing.
STEP #1 – Identify the blog that you want a guest post from
Before you even go about stalking your way to success, it’s important to first identify blogs or websites where you’re going to get maximum bang for your article.
I typically ask myself these questions:
a. What is a website or a company that is most aligned to my target customer base?
b. Who is an authority blog in my industry?
c. Which is the most socially active company or website in my industry?
Answering these questions will give you some easy targets to go after. But, if nothing else works, you can always go the grunt route and use the guest blogging query generator.
STEP #2 – Start looking at sources to stalk from
A. Facebook Graph Search
Facebook Graph Search is an exceptional way to find the right connect in the website that you’re looking to get a guest post from.
For instance, while I was looking to get a guest post up on Flippa, I did a Facebook graph search for “people who work at Flippa”.
That gave me a few options:
The most relevant among these options seemed like Ophelie who was a marketing lead, and I knew whom I had to reach out to in order to get a shot at contributing my content to the Flippa blog.
While Facebook Graph Search is an excellent way to find the right contacts, it may not be successful for you all the time.
When Facebook fails, I typically head over to LinkedIn. The interesting thing about LinkedIn is that, it’s a great tool for you to “identify” the right people, but not so great for you to contact them.
So, taking the example of Flippa again:
I find a similar “connect” at Flippa (Ophelie, again) who’s relevant to what I’m about to pitch. But, LinkedIn is hit or a miss since I can’t really reach out to them unless they add me back as a contact.
I like Google because it aggregates a lot of different sources – many a time, it may just work for you to enter “marketing + company name” to find a list of people that work in the marketing department of a company.
If you’re feeling it, you could even try more elaborate combinations like:
“marketing manager + company name”
“content manager + company name”
STEP #3 – Finding an email for a contact
If you find your right connect via Facebook, you’re in luck, since Facebook allows you to message anyone without them having to be in your friend’s list. But, there is still that oddball chance that your Facebook messages may get flagged as spam and never reach the intended recipient.
Under these circumstances, if you know a contact’s name but need to find their email address, the best tool to use would be Rapportive.
Install the Rapportive addon for Gmail and, once done, add different combinations of the first and last name of your contact in the “to” box in the Gmail compose box and wait until Rapportive gives you a hit.
Some combinations you can use are:
Now that you know how to find the right person to pitch – go ahead and bounce your ideas off them; you’re bound to get a nod of approval for at least one of them.
What do you think? Would you use these tips to submit a blog post to your favorite blogs? And who is on your guest blogging hit-list?
If you run an ecommerce business, or are thinking of diving into the online merchant space, you owe it to yourself to learn the ins and outs of dropshipping. Dropshipping is a product fulfillment method that enables ecommerce sites to avoid stocking the items they sell. Instead, when a customer makes a purchase, the business then buys the item or items from a third party, which ships directly to the consumer. In other words, fulfilment is handled by a third-party supplier.
This means your team will never actually handle the goods your customers receive. Dropshipping is a controversial and complicated process, but it can absolutely be the perfect solution for your business if executed correctly. Intrigued? Check out this comprehensive guide to dropshipping by Shopify, creators one of the biggest and best ecommerce platforms.
Dropshipping is currently very popular in the online sales space, and for good reason. As the guide explores in detail, dropshipping requires less startup capital for your business, far less overhead, ease of scalability, and the opportunity to offer a wide array of products. On the other hand, it’s much more challenging to hit high margins, as you are in essence a middle-man. You’re also relying on a third party to provide accurate and on-time shipping to your customers, which can be tricky business indeed.
Shopify’s guide features all kinds of additional information on dropshipping, including advice on the best products for this ecommerce method, tips on finding and working with suppliers, a checklist for starting a dropship-focused business, and loads more valuable details.
Have you had any experience with dropshipping, positive or negative? Let us know your thoughts!
Flippa’s founders, Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz, with the Founder of the Internet, Vint Cerf, at the 14th Webby Awards
We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the people behind the scenes who make Flippa happen. There’s information about Flippa on our About Us page, but what about the individuals that bring it all together? Today, we thought we would start by telling you a little bit more about the two people who started it all: Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz.
Mark lives in the world’s most livable city, Melbourne, Australia, and is a regular fixture at our Melbourne and San Francisco offices.
Mark is one of Australia’s most respected start-up entrepreneurs. He was recently named 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by BRW Magazine, Australia’s most prestigious business publication, and regularly advises (and sometimes invests) in startups in both Australia and the US. Some of the more recent coverage on Mark includes this article in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Newspaper, and features on Shoestring Startups and Dynamic Business Magazine.
Like most Australians, Mark loves the beach and sport and can generally been found waterskiiing or jetskiiing through summer on his weekends or attending Australian Rules Football games through the winter.
You can follow Mark on Twitter at @daxatron
Matt still lives in the second most livable city in the world (sorry Matt), but equally beautiful, Vancouver, Canada. He regularly makes the Top 30 Under 30 lists, including Forbes Magazine’s Technology list, Inc. Magazine’s 30 under 30, and the recent Smart Company 30 under 30. He’s a regular contributor to a number of business publications including Forbes, Business Insider and Entrepreneur. You can find links to more of Matt’s articles on his personal blog. He’s an avid wine collector (no word yet on whether he prefers Australian wines!) and traveller, who visited 9 countries in 2011, including Kenya where he watched a pride of lions take down an eland.
Over the past couple of years, Matt has spoken at numerous conferences including Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Underground Online Seminar, and Conversion Conference. Anyone in San Francisco next week can meet up with Matt when he teams up with the likes of oDesk.com CEO, Gary Swart, to discuss building online marketplaces – http://marketplaces.eventbrite.com/
Matt tweets interesting links about startups and business at @sitepointmatt.
How Mark and Matt Ended up Founding Flippa
Many of you know that Flippa originated from SitePoint and quickly became the #1 marketplace in the world for buying and selling websites. What you may not know, however, is that SitePoint was created in 1999 by Matt and Mark, and quickly became the go-to place for best of breed, cutting edge web development resources.
Sitepoint.com has consistently been ranked by alexa.com in the top 1,000 most visited sites in the world and has been ranked as high as the top 100. Matt was only 16 and Mark 26 when the pair partnered and decided to take Matt’s existing site, webmaster-resources.com, and re-launch it as sitepoint.com. In this interview for Entrepreneurs-Journey.com, Matt describes taking calls from ad buyers on his late-90s cellphone, between high school classes, and explains how the partnership came about.
Growing and growing
As SitePoint’s traffic went through the roof and its community forums grew, it wasn’t long before webmasters began offering their sites for sale to other SitePoint community members. This activity led to the creation of the SitePoint Marketplace, which in turn led to the launch of a new business, Flippa.com in 2009.
Flippa is not the only company to have grown out of SitePoint: 99designs, Learnable, and Wave Digital also started life at SitePoint.
The most well-known of these companies, 99designs, has attracted some great attention in the last few years, including winning the prestigious Webby Award in 2010, beating out Dropbox and Tumblr. In 2011, 99designs announced $35 million in funding from the Accel Partners (Investors of Facebook, Groupon, Dropbox). Investing alongside Accel were Flickr Co-founder Stewart Butterfield, SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg and ex-eBay exec Michael Dearing. This was one of the largest tech funding deals in Australia in recent times, and helped put the Australian startup scene on the map for international investors.
As you can see, Mark and Matt have been around, and know their stuff when it comes to internet startups and business in general. Want to take advantage of this? Leave your questions for them in the comments. We’ll pick the best ones for an upcoming Q&A session with them.