Brought to you by: FreeAudioGift.com
This is Internet Business Mastery, Episode 68.
Sterling: This is Internet Business Mastery, episode 68.
In a world where bosses control your life, and thoughts of escape fill your mind, where inspiration seems dead and cynicism rules the masses. You have a desire to break free, you feel the need to take control. Now - there exists a place where the secrets of freedom and wealth are given to those who believe. Internet Business Mastery.com - free your mind!
Sterling: Hello, and welcome to Internet Business Mastery online at InternetBusinessMastery.com. I'm Sterling....
Jay: And I'm Jay...
Sterling: And we're here to help you escape the '9 to 5,' and live the lifestyle of your dreams by turning your life's passion into a profitable internet business, even if you're just getting started today.
Now on this episode of Internet Business Mastery, we have a cubicle escape story with Cornelius Fichtner. And we'd like to remind you that if you'd like to get a jumpstart on creating your own profitable internet business using our proven method, claim your risk free trial membership to the Internet Business Mastery Academy by going to FreeAudioGift.com.
So Jay, what's been going on for you for the last couple of weeks?
Jay: Well you know, I've got to say I'm a little bit frustrated. I'm a little bit perturbed even. You're like, "Uh oh."
Sterling: Should we know about this, or is this something else?
Jay: You're like, "What did I do now?!" Bringing the smack down on Sterling. No, actually I'm frustrated with affiliate programs. I'm really kind of....I mean okay, I'm sure it comes as no surprise for people listening to this that part of the way we make money is through affiliate selling. We recommend services and products that we use, and when people sign up we get some kind of commission of that.
Now we definitely try to stick to those things that we are confident in, that we've used ourselves, we know what it's all about. So those are the kinds of things that we recommend, because we realize when we recommend something, we're basically taking our relationship with our listeners and they're trusting what we say. So our brand is on the line there.
And the way that that ends up turning out for them in very, very significant when it comes to our brand and our relationship with them, and then on the other side of things too is then just the relationship that we have as an affiliate with the person who's selling the program. And I've got to say, recently it's been really frustrating to see some of the stuff going on, and with just these high-end affiliate systems. So it's like oh, this is the cream of the crop people that we make tons of money, we sell millions of dollars of stuff through our system, and it's an affiliate program. Yet you go in there and you can't even easily figure out how much money you've made, or it's not even accurate and you're constantly having to mess around with it. And that's completely destroys my confidence in their ability to actually be fair and integrious with what they're doing.
It's like am I actually going to be getting paid the money that I've earned? And I don't want to be a huge headache for me, because it's not worth it at that point. But there's been a lot of that going on lately it seems like.
Sterling: Yeah, well obviously we're both going through that same stuff. And I just keep getting blown away that these huge marketers that are supposed to be completely cutting edge and top of the line stuff, have issues that are so basic. I mean it's almost the same as we were talking about the fact that in the membership site world, there wasn't one system that does all these things we want. We couldn't believe that didn't exist with again, all these big marketers out there. And we're like having to have it created for us.
And it's such a weird thing where somebody says, "Oh our system's completely cutting edge," and then we run the numbers and they still owe us a $1,000. And we're like, "Uh, not so cutting edge if I've got to actually do the accounting myself." Well and then because this was an issue just recently here in a little Meetup.com group that I go to from time to time about internet business, that was an issue that one of the guys there was having again, with another huge company. And they owed him a significant amount of money.
And again, I'm sitting there thinking, can you imagine people that do only affiliate marketing? They must be just frustrated and scared all the time because, "Am I going to get paid, when am I going to get paid? They said I was going to get paid here and they're not paying me until next week!" I mean that's some scary stuff, it definitely made me happy though that we didn't choose affiliate marketing as our top strategy. It's just like the whipped cream on top. Might as well get paid for stuff that we use and we talk about, right? But if it was our entire business, I would constantly be in fear because again, even with the big guys we're like, "Uh, we should have got paid yesterday."
"Oh, we're going to pay you in a week or so." What?! Like if that money was actually mortgage money, and I've got to wait an extra week, that's some bad news man. It's just a weird thing to see how this affiliate marketing stuff is not as solid as I always thought it was. And I'm glad we don't teach to do that, because we can see how it actually works.
Jay: Yeah, there's definitely a few lessons learned there when it comes to being selective about who you work with as an affiliate, and obviously we've learned that at least with the streams of affiliate income that are actually significant for us, we've basically got ourselves or somebody who works for us comb through that and make sure that we're actually getting paid the money that supposedly we've earned.
So that was definitely one lesson learned, and another lesson learned is to look carefully at the system that they're using to track the affiliate income and to give you reports. Does it actually give you the information that you need is another big lesson. But one of the most recent lessons that I'm frustrated about is, here we promoted to our own audience or list somebody who's been very popular in the Academy, gives great information that we trust.
I mean we promote something because we trust it, but sad to find out it's like through the launch process it's like our people ended up getting hammered, and anybody who went and signed up for his thing went and got hammered with emails. And like all this feedback was coming back to us, it was like holy cow, where are all these emails?
And yeah, we emailed a couple times on it ourselves, but at the end of the whole thing we're just like um, my goodness. I just ended up being too much.
Sterling: We like this stuff, but we're not going to be a part of the launch process.
Jay: Yeah not if it means that our list gets totally hammered, and then to find out, it ended up being...well unless we were the last person they clicked on, we actually didn't even get credit for the sale. And so basically, that made it so that if we wanted to be sure we got paid, we had to hammer our list even more. So he was hammering anybody who went and signed up for his early notification list, plus basically he was saying if you want to get paid, you're going to have to hammer your list too to make sure that the last thing that they clicked on was your link.
And at that point, we were just like oh, forget it. This is not worth it, like we're not just going to go and destroy our relationship with our list, then that, and some feedback that we got about the sites and the videos. And people were just kind of like, "Is this really good stuff?" And again, going back to when we talked to him in the past and content he's done with us for the Academy was stellar stuff, but lesson learned. Sometimes you've just got to....the launch process wasn't so smooth. So I guess our apologizes if you got swept up in that, we're definitely all taking that into consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not to promote the stuff again.
So there you go, some important lessons we've learned, some frustrations that we've had, and definitely some things to consider when it comes to promoting affiliate stuff to your own lists.
Sterling: Well and I think that what we'll have to do is, we'll have to put together something for the Academy about how we now pick who we're going to partner with and do affiliate stuff with because again, one of the other things is an affiliate manager telling us they have the most state of the art system, and then when you actually went through and did the accounting on it and went, "Uhh, we're missing this much money."
And it just wasn't like what they said, and now on the product side, the product's awesome. The person's awesome, it was just the way the affiliate system was run; on our end of things was a real downer for us. And again, on some of the upsides is, it helps us in designing our own affiliate program to know what is frustrating, what it needs to have, what it might be missing now, that kind of thing.
So at least the good side of frustrations are, if you learn from them and then of course make your own procedure lists, make your own systems on how to pick in the future, you can actually gain some knowledge from it.
Jay: Yeah, so if you're an affiliate for us and you're frustrated with anything that we're doing, we have a renewed sense of sympathy for affiliates, so by all means contact us and we'll see what we can do about it. So there you go.
Okay, so we're going to go ahead and move into the interview now, but before we do that we want to let you know a couple things. First of all, if you're new to the show, we have an interview like this once a month. Normally we do the two regular episodes where we share all kinds of tips and tricks, but recently we started doing this third show where we're going to be interviewing people from the Internet Business Mastery community who have seen good success in their own businesses so that we can learn from the things that they've been doing.
And so we're going to have an interview like this every month, and also just to let you know that this one goes a little long. The interviews sometimes end up going that way, but that's because we get such great information when we're talking to these people and they're sharing the process that they've gone through with their business. So we just decided to let it be what it's going to be, so just wanted to give you a heads up there.
But without any further delay, here's our interview with Cornelius Fichtner.
And now the featured segment...
Jay: Hello, it's Jay here, and I'm on the line with Sterling as usual, and also today we've got somebody that we were just talking about, how this is the first time we've talked on the phone with him, but we've known him for a couple years. He's one of our students in the first of the Internet Business Mastery coaching courses, a podcaster, a successful internet business guy in his own right. Cornelius Fichtner who is the host of the Project Management podcast, and who actually comes from his native Switzerland.
And he's been working in project management in his native Switzerland, and Germany, and now in the U.S. for the last sixteen years and has taken his expertise and dare I say passion, and turned that into an internet business that is doing quite well. So we're excited to talk to Cornelius today, thank you Cornelius for joining us and welcome to the call.
Cornelius: Well absolutely! Thank you very much for having me, I appreciate it.
Jay: So let's go ahead and dive right in and chat with you, I guess the natural place to start is to get your version, talk a little bit about how you got into internet business, and podcasting, and information marketing, and what's brought you to the point of where you're at today.
Cornelius: Well to tell you the truth, this was totally unplanned. I never planned to be an entrepreneur or a business man. I really stumbled and fumbled my way into this whole business, and I had never seen myself as an entrepreneur, never as a business man. I expected to be employed for the rest of my life, and yeah, then my wife made the mistake of giving me an iPod for my birthday.
I have been complaining about the fact that I have to carry around a CD player, and it's way too heavy, and I'd love an mp3 player, but these things are just way too big and clunky, and I'm not going to buy an iPod, it's way too expensive...yeah, yeah, yeah. At some point just flip and said, here you go. And that was the first time in my life when I was absolutely silent for about 45 min. I mean seriously, I was so surprised by this gift, and she got the best top of the line iPod, and that really got me started.
I started to listen to of course music first, and books on tape, and then I heard this word 'podcast' somewhere and I started listening to podcasts. I'm a bit of a science nut, I like to listen to all those science shows that you can get on iTunes, and at some point I told myself, there's nothing here for project managers. And at the time I was living and breathing project management, I was employed as a project manager, I was on the board of directors here locally of my chapter of the project management institute, and that was just my life.
And I'm thinking, there's got to be something out there for project managers to listen to, and it turns out there was nothing. And at some point I just decided okay, I'm going to do this, I bought myself a small little Logitech 2750 microphone for the desk, and started recording into that microphone. My first shows sounded absolutely awful if you go back now and listen to them, it's so bad. And the whole thing really took off from there, because at some point I started to realize okay, I have a listenership of a few thousand.
I am a project manager, I have all this experience in project management, I am also a trainer for a particular project management certificate which is called The Project Management Professional - the PMP. And I decided to put all this together, and I decided to put all this together, and I decided to create a podcast for people who wanted to become PMP certified.
And I really had no plan for this, I had no intension of making this into a full time business, I just thought it might be nice if I could get back the money that I had invested in my recording equipment, and the hosting provider of my free program. So I decided okay, I'm going to do this, and I started writing the scripts and preparing the recordings, and I started recording a second podcast for people who want to become PMP certified. And I started selling it, and that's how it really all got started, and it spiraled from there frankly.
And at some point, I had to make a decision, because my side business was going well, I was making decent money with it. It was not enough to die with, and also not sufficient to survive on. And I just had to decide okay, I'm either going to have to drop this whole thing and start doing it because it takes away a lot of my free time, or I'm going to just have to bite the bullet and become self employed and focus on that part of my business and just build it and grow it.
And well, I decided to do it, and after I had taken...actually I did it before I had taken your coaching course, and that really helped me to make the final decision and go okay, I'm going to do this; I'm going to move forward with it.
Sterling: What was the trigger that made you suddenly decide like, I can actually do this and make real money at it? Was there this point or some sort of thing within you that made you go, 'I think this really could work?'
Cornelius: It was a combination of two things. First of all, it was a combination of me seeing that my sales kept growing, and growing, and growing every month. So the logical conclusion was, if I can put more effort into marketing, publishing, making it better, updating my website, building a larger, better, bigger list, I could probably make a good living with it.
And the second factor was that the company that I was working for, I had been working for them for about six years or so, that is was really starting to get old. You know how it is when you've worked for a company and there comes the moment when you think, 'I've seen it, I've done it, it gets boring, it gets repetitive. I need something new, I need something different.' And those two in combination really made me make the decision to jump into the pool headfirst and try to swim.
And I have to tell you, if I had waited for two, maybe three months, I wouldn't have done it anymore, because that was before the economy took this very strange turn to the left. So I didn't see that coming, and if I had waited for two or three months, then I would have known how bad it was, and I would have probably been too fearful to make that decision and become self employed.
Jay: Well we're glad you did make that decision. It's a good one.
Sterling: Okay, so who would you say if your primary target market, or another way of saying it is, who are you trying to reach with your content?
Cornelius: Well as you've probably guessed by now, my real big market are project managers, but there are three submarkets in that category. First of all there are the project managers from around the world who just want to learn new information, get new information about project management and stay on top of their own education and business. And for those I have my free podcast, anyone can listen to that.
The second market, that's of course those project managers who decide okay, I want to take that PMP certificate, I want to do this on my own, and because I listened to Cornelius' podcast and I trust him, I'm going to try this product from him. Well that's market number two.
And then once you are certified, once you have passed that exam, this is not something that you keep for life. You have to recertify every three years, and in order to do that you have to gain what's known as professional development units. You have to have sixty of those, and pretty much one hour in the classroom gives you one of those units.
So within three years, you have to take sixty hours of training, that's very simply put. And here the free podcast gives you about fifteen of those, and I also have a couple of products that I'm focusing on these project managers out there who are certified, and who want to keep their certificate alive. So that's my primary market at the moment, however there is something in the horizon that I am kind of working on and I'm thinking of doing, because I'm planning to take another exam within the next twelve months.
It has nothing to do with project management, and of course you know the first thing that I was thinking when I realized oh, I'm going to take this new exam, how can I turn this into a part of my business and create some training for? You immediately start to think differently, if there's something that you enjoy, if there's something that you're doing, you immediately start thinking, is there a way of turning this into an information type product that I could create once and sell many, many times?
Sterling: Yeah, it's really hard to turn that off once it gets started.
Jay: Awesome, so you said you've been doing project management for a long time, and that you'd never really thought of being an entrepreneur, but then these opportunities kind of presented themselves while you're listening to podcasts realizing there's nothing out there. You kind of saw a hole, or a need that you could fulfill. A lot of times people have a hard time though....so the niche obviously kind of presented itself to you, but still a lot of times people have a hard time making that decision of saying, "You know what? Yeah, people would be willing to listen to what I have to say about topic 'x'," or in your case project management.
Was there a phase of wondering, it's like okay, I don't see any podcasts out there about project management, but why would people want to listen to me, or did you have any of those hiccups when it came to the process of choosing your niche? What can you tell us about what that was like for you to choose a niche and say yeah, I'm going to go ahead and say yes, I'm somebody who has something to say about this.
Cornelius: Hmm, as you said, it was a defacto decision. I was living and breathing project management, and I still kind of am, so it was the obvious choice for me. There wasn't really a hiccup or any doubt that people would be wanting to listen to me doing....well actually that sounds very bad. No, there was; at the beginning I had absolutely no statistics. I put this out on a free server that didn't give any statistics whatsoever, and I was always wondering - I have no idea how many people are listening to me. Is this valuable for people? Do people want this kind of information from me?
And at some point I switched over to Libsyn, and from day one on Libsyn I had these statistics, and I was floored when I put out a new episode, and after 48 hours, 1,000 people had downloaded it! Wow! This is incredible! That was only after about episode seven or eight.
Sterling: And you're thinking that the five guys that you know in project management might listen to it, and there's a 1,000 people!
Cornelius: Yeah, so that was totally unexpected, right? I knew I had valuable information, I knew I had valuable content to share with people, but I really didn't know whether or not people wanted to listen to it. Nowadays of course when I'm thinking about a new niche, like I said, I'm thinking of things that I like to do or I'm looking at things that I have to do anyway.
And like I said, in the next twelve months I'm trying to take this new exam, so my focus really is going to be on whatever I do in preparation for this exam. I'm going to think about how would I teach this? What kind of tools would help me as a student? When I talk to my fellow students here in this class, what do I hear from them? What kind of tools would they like? And I've already started working on this just before we started the interview, I got an email back from one of my V.A.'s whom I had sent some information about this new exam, and I said, "Here is a PDF document about this exam, please turn this into 'x.'
And he has created a new tool for me that's going to be part of the suite of the information product that I'm going to sell focused on that particular tool. So every time I come up with an idea, I turn around instantly and send it off to a V.A., give them instructions and say, "Here is all the information that you need, this is the output that I would like to see. Please gather, put it together, and send it back to me." And then of course it's up to me to take what they return to me and review it, enhance it, make it better and improve it. And about ten days ago or so, my wife and I, we actually went on a strategic retreat close to where you are Sterling, up in Julian. Don't know if you've ever been up there, it's up in the mountains.
Sterling: I haven't.
Cornelius: It's a really nice hiking area; you've got to go there, it's very famous for their apples, great apple pies too. And what we did is we were up there for about four days, and I think two or three out of these days we spent just talking about the current business, what's going on, what are we doing, how are we are compared to other people who do free podcasts in the project management space, because now there are others who have jumped up on this bandwagon.
We discussed future business ideas and we also dismissed future business ideas, simply because we realized it's not going to work for us. We had this idea that we may want to go into the antiques market, but we realized our passion for the antiques market really isn't there, and we also don't know enough yet about it. With some basic knowhow, you really can't build a business.
And last but not least, antiques means there is a lot of physical storage that may be needed if you really want to buy and sell antiques, and that was the original idea. So we decided we really didn't want to get into a business where you had to do and store items physically and ship items physically. And I know Sterling; you've learned that lesson.
Sterling: Yeah, definitely like NOT having to send things now. I love the digital aspect of things.
Cornelius: The other day I occasionally do giveaways on my podcast. I had a giveaway where I had to send out two books and a CD. Oh god, that was hard, just putting them into envelopes, putting addresses on, going down to the post office. That's just three items, right? And I only do that occasionally, and still it's such a hassle.
Sterling: Yeah, you're like anytime I do a giveaway it takes two days of my time to actually give away stuff.
Cornelius: Yes, I love giveaways of electronic products, put the person into the system and you're done.
Sterling: Yeah, that's it. Okay, so you've mentioned project management and a couple of possibilities, I guess can you share how you're currently making money on the internet, or is it the project management? Is there something else as well? How are you making money?
Cornelius: Currently my number one focus is the project management products that I sell. So there is my, I call it the prepcast, that's the podcast which prepares you for that PMI, PMP certification. And I sell that in two ways, I have individual sales to individuals who just want to buy this, and I also have one person who's licensed it in OEM version for me, so they include my product into their product. And whenever they make a sale, I get a nice fat check from it.
I have a couple of companion products for that area of the exam that people are always a bit worried about, formulas is one of them. And the other one is, I have recently created a set of flash cards that you can use on your iPod or iPhone, or pretty much any modern smart phone that you can have, and you can study on the phone if you like for that exam.
So that's the side where people take that PMP exam, and then on the other hand I also have these lectures that I sell. I have corporations with other project managers, the forward thinkers, those that are on the forefront of our business. And I get together with them, and we record just like you do, we record these lectures - two hour long lectures - and we sell them to project managers around the world. And my free podcast I decided to add a premium feed to it, so if you want to listen to the free podcast fine, you get an episode every two weeks. And if you subscribe to the premium feed, you get an episode every week.
I don't make a lot of money on that, that's not the intention. The intention here is just to offer something more to those listeners who would like to support me in my efforts of furthering project management throughout the world. I also have a few Google ads of course that I run on my website. What I have to say though is, my biggest customer funnel is quite clearly my free podcast, and I also have created a free newsletter. It's actually just a free mailing list for people who are taking this exam who are looking for some sample exam questions.
You know when you're taking an exam, the biggest question that you always have is well, what are the questions like? So I created I think about 110 questions, and if you want to have access to those questions, you need to sign up for my newsletter. And I get about 80-100 people every single day who sign up to that newsletter. That just blew me away when I got these statistics. Now this has been going on for I don't know, I think twelve or thirteen thousand people who have signed up for that particular list, and that really blew me away.
So those two - the free podcast, the listeners right there, and the people who sign up for my free questions - that's my biggest funnel. So that's a recommendation that I have for everybody out there. If you have a good product that you're selling, create a compelling companion product that you can give away for free, and create a list for that. Create some way of your potential customers to get access to this so that you can bring them in and make them a fan of your products. So give them something very, very valuable and they will come back to you.
Jay: Well those are some excellent tips, and they are very similar to the type of funnel that we use as well. When people hear that you are making money online, of course they always want to know well, where's the traffic coming from? Where's the people coming from? But you're also doing some interesting work with affiliate work with affiliates. So how important has the affiliates that go out and promote your product, what kind of success have you had there?
Cornelius: The affiliate network that I have has turned out to be a very important funnel for me. I made a statistic this morning, and I went through the last 1,000 transactions that I had. And out of these 1,000 transactions, 248 came from my affiliates. So that's roughly 25% of my sales that come from that. And that's the individual sales, people who...individuals who buy my products.
I also have that one OEM that's selling as an affiliate, and I also have one company, they do in classroom training, and for every class that they do - let's say they have 20 students - they buy 20 licenses from me, and every student gets my product for free. At the very beginning, it was very tough to build an affiliate network, because my product was new, it was something different. Podcast - people didn't know about it two years ago, and my name at that time wasn't very well known either. I was a newbie, the new kid on the block, right?
But now three years into it, that has changed, and I have a good reputation in the market, and my product gets rave reviews throughout. So a lot of people are in fact signing up for my affiliate program without me doing much. What I did however is, I made it very easy for them to sign up, you have to fill in one form and you're automatically signed up for my affiliate program, and there are videos that show you how. And what I realized is that many of my students who go through the program, they have blogs or websites, or they may even be owners of some kind of a project management related company.
And because they've seen the product, they value the product, and they've been able to take that exam with it. They like it, and they would like to get the benefit of re-selling it. So what I did is, at the end of most of my mailing lists, I have a 'why don't you join my affiliate program' follow up message. And that has proven to be very valuable, so people are signing up through that. At this point what I'm using, I'm not sure if I should mention this here, but do you guys know Paul Culligan right?
And he has a product out there called PremiumCast, and that is what I'm using to publish all my four paid podcasts through. And at the beginning, I'm sorry to tell you Paul, but at the very beginning the affiliate program sucked, it was really bad. But in the meantime, this has become really a fully featured affiliate program. And I'm using that for 100% of my podcasts and my videocasts that I'm selling to people.
Jay: Meaning so your affiliates, when they're referring people to your podcasts and your products, it's the PremiumCast system that is managing your tracking where the referrals come from and how many people are being referred, so that's all managed through the PremiumCast system?
Cornelius: Correct, yes. So my affiliates, they sign up for a free account with PremiumCast, then they are automatically attached or signed up, or linked, or whatever you want to call that, to my program. They get their affiliate link through that, they put their affiliate link on their website, and from that moment on, every time somebody clicks on their affiliate link and buys my products, they get 30% of the sales price.
And it doesn't matter what product they buy, so if they buy any of my products, they get 30% commission even if they buy a product that they hadn't clicked on. If you have three products that are three affiliate links, so it doesn't matter which affiliate link your customer clicks on, you get the commission.
Jay: I mean there are some very powerful strategies that you are sharing here, and one of the big reasons that we teach the methodology of become an expert, become that trusted advisor, that person that people trust and want to do turn to for information in a very specific niche is because people do want to work with you, and they do want to refer your products to other people. And the licensing opportunities that you've mentioned, the OEM opportunities, I mean it's nice to have all these streams of traffic coming and individual sales coming in all day long, but isn't it great if you know that a company is going to be purchasing twenty units of your training every month, or even if it was every year.
These are big chunks of sales coming in, and so when you've got that position as the trusted advisor in your field, those are the kinds of deals you can put together and it's very powerful stuff. And obviously it hits your bottom line, because these are significant income streams that come in when these affiliates all want to work with you, and these licensees all want to work with you, and so on and so forth.
Cornelius: But that takes time, time and effort. And the way I did it is I think I had a two- or three- pronged approach here. One approach was of course my product itself, it is outstanding and everybody tells me so, I get very, very few negative reviews on the product. So that's number one, you have to have a crackerjack product, otherwise it's not going to give you the recommendations that you want.
Second, there are a ton of forums out there, and I'm actively participating in these forums, and I help people for free. So wherever you go, and wherever you turn, my name pops up. And I also write a lot of articles about project management, and certification and that, and I publish them both on my website, and on other websites. And I also used some article marketing, where I just pushed them out to the various article directories that are out there. And to do that, it takes time, and you have to put effort into it.
And this is not something that you can take lightly, your reputation is - in this kind of a business - your reputation is the number one sales factor. If you have a bad reputation, people will not buy from you. If it sounds shady, it probably is shady. There was recently somebody out there who was trying to sell a similar product of mine, and it sounded really strange the way he announced it - 'and if you want to buy it, send me an email, and I'll tell you how.'
That just didn't ring with me. If I was a customer, I probably wouldn't go with that particular person because it doesn't sound like he is building a real business, and it doesn't sit well with me.
Jay: Well yeah, trust when you talk about reputation, it's about personal brand, it's about the relationship with your market, with the trust they have in you, and you talked about how people got to know, like, and trust you through your podcast. And so yeah, everything you're saying is absolutely right, and if you violate those principles of building up trust and allowing people to get to know you, and being authentic with yourself, well yeah, that's going to create dissonance when people hear your message and they're just going to go, "Um, that doesn't sit right with me." And then the relationship doesn't build up, and then no value exchange ends up happening in the end. You don't make money, they don't get the valuable information, and it doesn't work in the long run at least. So yeah, those are important principles you are pointing out there.
Sterling: Well next I wanted to kind of talk about how when a lot of people get started, and I know we had this experience and a lot of people expressed this to us, that they're a little bit scared of internet business, or they've got a lot of fears behind starting an internet business. So we wanted to know, what fears you've faced along the way in starting your business, and how did you overcome them?
Cornelius: There were two that I had really at the time when I was starting out. The first one was will I be able to make enough salary with this? Will I be able to keep afloat, and the second one was - what if my wife loses her job? Will we able to have health insurance?
And what I did in regards to the salary is, I created a budget, I really went through the numbers and I looked at the growth I've had in the past in this business, and this time I also managed to find somebody out of Florida who was looking for a part time consultant in project management. And he also has a podcast, and that was how we got to know each other.
And he pretty much offered me a job and said, "Look, I would be more than happy to bring you aboard as we work through this," and it looked like an incredibly good model, and I still believe in his product. In fact, I'm still working for him, however, because later on the economy crashed, this side of the business, it really just died. There were no sales coming from his end, and I'm really happy that I was able to build my business so strongly that I was able to get enough salary really to keep myself going, and make the money that I needed every month to pay my mortgage.
And in regards to the health insurance, I asked that question to you guys in fact! That was during one of the Q&A sessions of the coaching class, I just sent in and said, "Hey, I'm afraid of this, and what can I do? And what is your suggestion?" And I still think that what you said then still holds true today, and not just for the health insurance. This helps for every single fear, and the answer that you gave is, well what do you have to do in order to make it happen?
So if I'm afraid that I won't be able to get health insurance coverage, well what is it that I'm going to have to do in order to make it happen anyway? So I thought this through and I realized, well, I live in California. If I have a problem with health insurance coverage, first of all there is I think is called Cobra. After my wife gets laid off we will be able to get health insurance through this Cobra coverage. It's going to cost us more. And this simply means that I'm going to have to find another market that I'm going to have to be able to sell more products to more people in order to do this.
That was step one. Step two was that I decided to incorporate and create my own company, and because I have my own company I can now go ahead and provide health insurance coverage to myself and my wife through our company. The company's going to pay for all of it, and thereby I am covered. So those were my two fears that I had at the time, and how I got over them.
And I think the one that really surprised me more was the one with the salary, because I had never thought that I could make more salary with my own side of the business than with the side of the business where I would be working as an independent consultant for Mark out of Florida.
Jay: Both those are awesome stories in that the whole idea of asking yourself, well how can I do this? How can I make this happen? How can I afford this? How can I get creative? Whenever I put myself in that position, I usually end up surprising myself at the solutions I end up coming up with, and I guess I don't know why our default position sometimes is immediately get uncomfortable, or worried, or afraid that we'll be able to come up with the solution. But I think too often we cut ourselves short in our ability to be able to just think well, if this is a worry what's the worst that can happen?
How will I handle that? What can I do to prepare for that, or what can I do right now, or how can I afford it? And just kind of start getting creative, yes it's non-traditional to think about some of those things that you mentioned, because we're just so used to 'well I get my job, and that's where I get my health insurance,' and it's just kind of what we do. But to have to force yourself outside that box a little bit and just think about it. You learn to trust yourself in those cases; that's one of the most powerful things I've learned as an entrepreneur along the way, is just to learn to do exactly that process that you just talked about.
Cornelius: You also have to understand that this whole health insurance business, that's a question you only ask yourself in the United States, because here in the States, health insurance is provided through your company. In my home country in Switzerland, it's your own problem! You provide your own health insurance, you get the coveragel; your company may provide you with a plan. You can choose from Plan A or B, but they do not give you any type of benefits with it. They don't pay part of your health coverage. So coming from that point of view, and because my background is a bit different, it never really was a big worry for me, because I knew I had done this in the past and I can provide health insurance to myself if I have to.
Jay: Interesting, very interesting. Obviously things seem to be going quite well for you. Like I said the sales keep growing and you've been able to meet those salary needs that you've wanted. How else has having an internet business impacted your life?
Cornelius: Let's not talk about about the last six months shall we? Because that's going to sound very, very bad. In the last six months, my internet business has pretty much locked me up in my house. But that has to do with the fact that I am in this particular niche of project management professional certification. This certification changes every four years, and that meant that I had to update all my products to the new standard. So for the last six months, I have worked like a dog to update them, and I also decided to go video.
So my product is now no longer an audio podcast, it's now a video podcast. So that added a bit of complexity there as well. So in the last six months, it was really tough, because I worked more than I had ever worked before in my whole life. But now this is over, and I intend to do a lot more of the stuff that I really enjoy doing. One of the things that I decided on doing is, Thursday is my day off. Well, including Saturday and Sunday of course, I intend to work as little as possible on Saturdays and Sundays.
So Thursday I will be going out and about and doing things, and going for a hike, and going shopping, and going to a museum, and just taking a day during the week for myself. And I can afford to do that, right? But I also have to say, what I definitely miss is the water cooler. I have a lot fewer social interactions on a day to day basis, because you are a solo entrepreneur, you work out of your home office, and you can't walk up and walk into the kitchen and oh, there's Joe from the billing department, "How are you doing? How was your last weekend?"
There's no way you can do that anymore. Of course, I've started using Twitter, I've started using Facebook, and I started connecting with other people like myself in the same space and just connecting with them. I'm also quite lucky that my neighbor here, she's a graphic designer, and an internet graphic designer. And I always have projects for her, I've got to update my logos, got to change something on the website, somebody wants a new banner. So we're always working together, so that kind of helps a bit to overcome this thing.
I also live in the boonies, I live in an unincorporated area, so it's very quiet out here. You can't just go out and there are people walking around, no. Out here it's quiet, it's ten miles to the nearest shopping center for me, so there's not really much out here. While all this sounds bad, I have to tell you, I love what I do. It is an enormous amount of fun, because I am my own boss, I decide my own hours. I hope to decide my own hours now that I'm through these six months of working....
Jay: Except for every four years you decide your hours....
Cornelius: Except for every four years. I love tinkering with my business, I enjoy make it run more smoothly, I enjoy working with my students and helping them, and I enjoy the moment when I'm sitting here and I'm going, you know there's this big bright bulb going on in my head and I'm like, "Oh this is a new opportunity! I have to do that!" And that's the moment when you put everything aside and you start on a white paper, and you draw something new out, and you create something new from scratch.
You hand it off to a V.A. to create it, you review it, you build it, and sometimes it takes only three or four days, and that new product, that new item is finished and out there. It's incredibly satisfying to do something like that.
Jay: Yeah, we hear ya. Absolutely, that's the whole definite major purpose kind of thing, you're just thinking about what is it that fulfills me in life? It sounds like you are definitely a teacher, and you said you're in this position now where every time you learn something new now, you're like how can I turn this around and teach it to somebody else, and maybe even make money while I do it kind of thing.
That's kind of this phenomenon that I think happens with successful information entrepreneurs. And it can, it can be very fulfilling to create that in your own life, so that's very cool.
Sterling: Yeah, it's a weird thing, the thing that I started realizing with the internet business is you're constantly thinking, what can I teach, and how can I make new part of the business? Actually it's turning that off when you need to, like take a break. Yeah like Thursday, you're like Thursday I'm going to try to have some time off.
Alright, so what we'd like to know now is what are your top two tips for somebody who wants to start an internet business?
Cornelius: I actually thought of three for you, the third one just popped into my head right this very second. And that is, if I can do it, you can do it. Like I said, I had never considered myself to be an entrepreneur or a businessman. I stumbled into this, I fumbled into this; I don't even know 100% of the laws of this place that I'm living here. I've only lived in California for about six years, and I'm still making it happen. And I'm making it happen by reaching out to people, I have a CPA who's helping me on the taxes side. I instantly hired a bookkeeper who's doing the books for me, and I also have one of my neighbors here where I live, he's a lawyer.
So whenever I have a legal question, I go to him. So if I can do that, somebody who of himself would have never thought this to be possible, than really anyone can do this, even if you stumble, and fumble, and go one step forward and five steps backwards, you will learn that this is something that's doable.
Second, don't overanalyze it; just trust your gut feeling. I never did an in depth business plan, I never really thought okay, I want to do this podcast for this PMP exam, is this something that people really would like to do? Will they listen to this? Can I sell this? I was enough of an expert in that particular field that I could sort of from a gut feeling tell that my product would be innovative, and if I made it a whiz bang product, people would like it and people would buy it from me. So don't overanalyze it, trust your gut feeling.
And lastly don't try to go from zero to one hundred in one step. Start your business as a side business, if you're still doing the 9 to 5. Find your niche, find your passion, come up with new products, ideas, things you could sell to people out there - information marketing products, and begin selling them. You also have to be prepared to fail. I was very much prepared to fail with my product, so if you built this small, and you start small, you could also build it in such a way that it takes little effort to run in the beginning.
And then just like me, at some point you will see your business, your side business grow, and grow, and grow, and it will come to that point in time where you have to make the decision - is it time for me to quit the 9 to 5, and do this as a full time job? And then you have to do the analysis, because there you shouldn't say oh, I've just got to do this, I'm going to ignore the numbers, I'm going to ignore all the warning signs that are going off in my head, I'm just going to do this because I hate my 9 to 5 job so much.
No, don't do that. Really analyze it, make sure that this step is something you want to do, and that can support you financially. Because the last thing that any of us here on the Internet Business Mastery want is you take the step and in the end it's not going to work out for you, and you fail. That's the most important thing, start small, build it, and when the time comes, make sure that you understand the pros and the cons, and that you feel yes, this is something that will be able to support me in the future.
Sterling: Yeah it's interesting you mention the kind of start small, and do it in your spare time, as opposed to just being radical about it, and we talked actually a lot about that when we were designing the Academy, and we decided to do these weekly checklists where we decided okay, working a full time job, about how much extra time could a person put into this and do other things while they're working a full time job?
And we wanted to be really specific to go okay, we're not trying to push it so that they're spending 16 hours a week on this thing, because they've got full time jobs right? They've got families most likely, and they want to enjoy life as well. So like we decided to be very specific in the Academy so it's an approximately...here's a checklist that's based on about four hours depending on how much time you do, how long it takes you to do things, so that it's not a tremendously, time-consuming, take over your entire life and all your extra free time and family time and all that kind of thing just for that exact reason.
So it's a nice steady, just when you can, scheduling a little bit of time right? Four hours is still a couple hours during the week, and maybe a couple of hours on the weekend, do a little bit of stuff, and just nice and progressive, and not crazy.
Cornelius: Yeah, you definitely don't want to do something that I did. I started out with a humongous project as my side business. That initial podcast that I recorded was 35 hours in duration. So I first had to create the layout, the design, the script. I had to record it, had to edit it, it was an incredible undertaking.
There were let's see, it was about a half a year, and during this half...again six months seems to be following me around. During this half a year, I had at least one to two hours after work that I spent on creating this product. So if you have an idea for such a huge product, don't jump on that first. Look around and say okay, this is going to be my target. Yes, I want to create this humongous product, but what type of product could I create that's smaller, easier to create, and still gives great value to my customers?
Find a companion product that you can create, that's probably my biggest mistake. Once I had this thing finished, I started asking my students, what other kind of information would you need? And I instantly got feedback from these guys and within 48 hours I had a companion product finished! If only I had realized this first, I could have created that companion product first, it would have taken me two days. I could have put it out there and start selling it, and starting small rather than starting big.
So if I would have to do it again, I would have probably turned this whole thing around and start with the smaller products and work my way up to the bigger one.
Jay: Great tip, excellent tip. Now one more thing I wanted to ask you, and I meant to ask this earlier, because you mentioned that at some point you reached the point where like okay, I've got to make the decision to just dive in and do this full time so it could become everything that it really could be. And you said that was about the time that you decided to sign up for our coaching course.
And we talk about things like finding a mentor and things like that. What was the thought process and the decision of going okay, it looks like I should sign up for this coaching course, and what role did that play for you at that time, or what was the thought process when you signed up for that?
Cornelius: Did I mention the stumbling and fumbling? That was it, remember I am not a businessman, I am an employee, or at least I was until I started this. Everything here happened haphazardly, everything was a coincidence. And at some point I realized if I really want to make this happen, I have to understand better what this is all about. Yes, I could probably stumble through this, but why not simply invest some time and money and learn from people whom I trust, and get your information from this coaching course.
It cost me a pretty penny agreed, but it was valuable, it really helped me to understand better how these things work, and what I have to do step by step in order to do this. The interesting thing was about a third of your coaching course I had already done, so that just happens. There is stuff you know and stuff you don't know, and even if somebody today signs up for the Academy, they will probably find 'oh, I know this, and I know that, and I know this, why have I even signed up for this, this is just a waste of my money,' no it isn't because there is a lot more information in there that's probably going to help you in order to move forward.
That's how I did it, and that's why I did it. It was that simple, stumbling and fumbling, and I needed to not stumble and not fumble. Another thing that I did that had nothing to do with you guys is, here in the United States, there is a government organization called The Small Business Administration. And they offer completely free coaching, and that's one on one in person coaching. You can go down to your local small business administration office, they have these coaches and you can sit down with that coach, explain your problem to them, and they will guide you through this.
They don't give legal advice or tax advice or things like that, they're most often retired businessman who have experience, who know what it takes to run a business. And one of the things that I am working on at the moment is, because I have no board of directors to whom I am directly responsible to, I need somebody who calls my B.S. and keeps me on track.
So I decided to get in touch with one of the people, my early mentors from the SBA and say, "Would you like to be my board of directors so to speak?" And the plan is we meet once every six to eight weeks and we discuss the high level strategies that I am trying to follow in my organization so that he can call my bluff and say, "Hey, six weeks ago, you said this. You didn't do a single thing, and you were completely in alignment there and you said this was going to take your business to the next level. Why haven't you done anything?" This kind of 'kick in the butt' is probably something that I need as somebody who really has no discipline to run a business, and who doesn't have the experience to run a business. So that's one more thing that people can definitely do.
Jay: Well you're absolutely right, I mean I think like you said, we're solopreneurs often working by ourselves, that's the nature of this internet business. In the case of Internet Business Mastery, I have a good partner that I do work with that do helps me in many ways, but we are still always going to have our blinders, always going to have our own B.S. that works it's way in.
Maybe it's a matter of discipline, but maybe somebody is the most disciplined person but still I've just found....that's why we talked about the importance of masterminds and why I always make an effort to be a part of some kind of mastermind group or if you want to call it a board of directors, or have a mentor, or somebody...and accountability partner. Whatever you want to call it, because that phenomenon of just needing somebody to help you avoid the blinders, no matter how competent you think you are, it's just always going to be a fact of life and something that entrepreneurs need to deal with. So I resonate very much with what you're saying there, it's an excellent tip.
Sterling: Yeah I really like your awesome partner!
Jay: Did I mention how awesome my partner is?
Sterling: I can hear it again! So, where can we go now, where can people go and find you online then? Where is the best place to reach you for more information?
Cornelius: The easiest place to start is my podcast, and that is ThePMPodcast.com. And yes, I should have never chosen 'the' in my URL, but unfortunately PMPodcast was already taken at that time, and it still is. So it's ThePMPodcast.com.
Jay: Alright, excellent. Well, Cornelius, thank you very much again for your time. I mean awesome, awesome tips there, and that's why we love talking to people on the Internet Business Mastery community who have been there in the trenches doing it because there's great lessons that have been learned. So we appreciate your time and your willingness to share those things with us, and I know that I have been reminded of some great principles in chatting with you today. So thank you very much for that.
Cornelius: Absolutely, happy to help.
Jay: And we'll be seeing you online I'm sure and talking to you more, but good luck with your new project that sounds like you're going to be diving into there. It sounds exciting, so we'll be looking forward to see how that goes.
Cornelius: Thank you, you guys have a great day.
Jay: Alright, have a good one!
You've been listening to the Iconiclass of the 9 to 5, and the purveyors of freedom and fulfillment - Sterling and Jay! Sterling and Jay invite you to discover one of their most popular audio programs ever, the free builders of designing your ultimate internet lifestyle! Visit freeaudiogift.com now and sign up for the free weekly Internet Business Mastery email newsletter! And you'll get instant access to the life changing audio presentations, pulled directly from the content of the acclaimed Internet Business Mastery Academy membership community. Go now to freeaudiogift.com! Internet Business Mastery - free your mind!