framework recap:

Step 1: Identify a quantifiable target income to replace your current income / to support your current lifestyle

Step 2: Free up 2-3 weekly "time pockets"

Step 3: Identify and immerse yourself into a target market to familiarize yourself with the needs of that market

Step 4: Identify a "niche problem" you can solve with your existing skills. Turn this skill into a solution for this key problem

Step 5: Offer a solution to help the target customers solve their "niche problem"

Step 6: Refine your service, scale up, and systematise to reach your income target

 

 

How Saeed, a math geek, (aka an actuary) used the 6-step framework to build a $5,000 per contract consulting business. 

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Saeed spent 7 years of his life studying, and working as an actuary. 

From 2010-2012, he would jump from job to job hoping to find something that would excite him. He came to the realisation at the beginning of 2013 that the company he was working for wasn’t the problem...

At his last job, he was working 10-12 hour days for a small, high-paying firm in Vancouver. He was living in a beautiful 44th floor downtown apartment that overlooked the British Columbia mountains and the ocean. Most people he came across would tell him things like "You're so lucky" or "you're set for life".

He obviously didn’t feel the same way.  

Hearing things like that only had him feel more conflicted on what he actually wanted from life.

He had a job that a lot of people would’ve killed for, yet, he grew more anxious and less fulfilled each day.

He described his life at the time, as..

 

"wake up, go to work, workout, have dinner, and then watch TV or go out for drinks until it was time to go to sleep and do it all over again the next day"

 

He wanted more to look forward to than just the weekends and 3 weeks of vacation every year.

He wanted to work on his own terms and he wanted to live his own life away from the obligations of a corporate job.

In 2012, Saeed visited Dubai, and parts of Africa to attend a wedding.  He spent over a month away from home, and in that time, he began to realize how much of the world he still hadn’t seen. He enjoyed traveling for extended periods of time and the opportunity it gave him to get away from the touristy activities and actually learn about other cultures.

He continued to crave it even more after he’d returned from the wedding, and he knew he wouldn’t every be able to do what his heart wanted if he was stuck in his workplace.

 

Fast forward to today...

 

Saeed lives comfortably with a consulting business that he’s moved to his laptop so he can travel and work at the same time.

He just returned from a 6-week trip to South East Asia where he made a lot more money than he spent and was able to choose when and where he would work.

Here’s how he did it using the exact 6-step framework we spoke about in part 1 of the master class... 

 

Step 1: Identify a quantifiable target income to replace your current salary / to support your current lifestyle

Saeed was making $90,000 per year working an average of 50 hours per week at his job as an Actuary.

To identify his lifestyle supporting target income, he first calculated the monthly amount that it would take for him keep his place, pay the bills and put food on the table. He ended up with the number $2,300 per month. This was the very bare-minimum amount he needed to make each month with his business to scrape by.

Saeed also had a huge passion for food. Going out and trying new restaurants on a weekly basis was one of the things he was not going to give up. He factored in an additional $650 a month -- approximately $8,000 a year for supporting this passion.

Lastly, he wanted to save up for a home and have some leftover funds for miscellaneous things or emergencies. He decided that he would settle with another $1,500 per month.

This brought his monthly target income to approximately $4,500 per month.  It wasn’t the $90k per year he was making at his job, but it was enough to support his lifestyle and grant him freedom from his job.

He essentially had to make $150/day, sign 1 client for $4,500, or even 3 clients at $1,500.

 

Step 2: Free up 2-3 weekly "time pockets"

Saeed had no extra time to invest into the building of his business when he was first starting off. His daily routine ate up every last bit of time he had. To "create" extra time for building his Freedom Business, Saeed first started to pay closer attention to where he was spending his time.

He realised that the redundant, time consuming tasks he was spending his time on were the following:

  • Taking unscheduled, incoming phone calls
  • Going out for last-minute dinners with friends
  • Last minute shopping runs
  • Watching Prime Time T.V. (Restaurant Makeover, Top Chef, Iron Chef,... )
  • Social media and Youtube

He decided to check and respond to his emails, and surf the net for 1 hour everyday after he got home from work.

He cut the amount of television he watched down to 30 minutes after he’d finished his hour of work.

He moved his workout sessions to the mornings, and he scheduled in his meals for the week on Sundays so he knew what groceries he’d need, and what he’d need to prepare so he wasn’t wasting time on figuring out what to eat.

He also spoke with his boss about allowing him to work from home on days where client meetings weren’t taking place.  This would allow him to finish his office work quickly and avoid wasting time on hour-long lunches, and surfing the web when he had no assignments at the office.

These little changes freed up an average of over 3.5 hours per day for him to work on his Freedom Business.

 

Step 3: Identify and immerse into a target market to familiarise with the needs of the market

Saeed had experience managing a restaurant while he was in high school.  He was able to help the restaurant a lot by setting up marketing campaigns for them that actually brought people in through the doors.

He knew that there had to be others out there who needed the same help.  With all of the new restaurant fix-up shows that were on TV, he decided to find others in the same situation. After making a list of 5 restaurants that had opened in the past year but didn’t have a strong online presence. He visited each one, had a meal, and then asked to speak with the owner of the restaurant at the end of his meal.

He spoke with them with the intention to learn so he didn’t come off as trying to sell anything. He noticed right away that the restaurants were not very busy, so he knew the right questions to ask the owners.

He asked things like,

  • ‘How successful has your opening been?  Have you had as many customers as you expected to have?'
  • ‘Have you been doing anything to market yourself?'
  • ‘Do you know what people are saying about you online?'
  • ‘What do you do to keep people coming back into your restaurant?'
  • ‘Are there any fears that have risen since you’ve opened shop?'
  • ‘How do you plan to get people in through the door if your current efforts continue not to work?'

 

Step 4: Identify a "niche problem" you can solve with your existing skills. Turn this skill into a solution for this key problem

After speaking with a few of the owners, it was clear what the common problem was among all of them...

They wanted more customers but nobody knew about them.  What was even worse was that they had no system in place to keep new customers coming back, and they were wasting their time using things like Facebook, and Twitter with no set plan in place.

They had posted a couple of ads in newspapers and magazines, but these efforts were expensive and they weren’t measurable. The owners were discouraged by the results they were getting and they had no contingency plan in place to get more customers and have them coming back.

Saeed didn’t own a restaurant himself, nor had he worked at one for over 7 years, but he was able to come up with his own solution to the underlying niche problem quickly.  

 

Step 5: Offer solution to help target customers solve their "niche problem"

He knew that he had no real experience to boast, so Saeed designed a two-step solution that he offered as a free experiment to two of the restaurant owners he spoke with.:

1. Get people in through the door

2. Keep those people coming back

His solution was an exact answer to their current problems, and they had no risk since Saeed offered his services for free at first. This allowed Saeed to gain some experience, and build up some case studies that he could share with other restaurants if his plan proved to be successful.

He combined the skills he acquired managing a restaurant with what he learned from different TV shows, like Restaurant Makeover, to provide a well thought-out solution to their problem.

He planned to bring people into the restaurants by setting up a group-buy campaigns with companies similar to Groupon.  This worked really well, and the restaurant owners had no idea how to utilise these sites at the time - so the amount of people that came to the restaurant as a result of this was jaw-dropping for them.

Saeed’s second step was to hire a third party text messaging service to create ‘fan clubs’ for the restaurants.  These fan clubs allowed customers to opt in to the Fan Clubs where they would get exclusive discounts, and deals at the restaurant and the owners would have a means of communicating with their customers right directly on their phones.

He didn’t have any experience or real knowledge about text messaging campaigns, but he’d opted in to some of them himself and he notice how effective they were on him so he decided to test it out on restaurant customers as well.

All Saeed’s work entailed was the research to find a service provider that could provide a price that fit the Restaurant’s budget.  He built a relationship with the provider and explained that he needed to test the service for one month on two clients.  In exchange, if they proved to be successful, he would bring the provider all of his business.

The SMS provider agreed and provided Saeed a discounted access for both of the restaurants for one month each.  It costed him $60 in total, but once the restaurant owners saw the results of the campaigns, they wanted to sign up for the long-term.

Saeed negotiated a deal with the service provider and charged a higher amount to his clients so he would get paid back all of the money plus a recurring income for his time spent.

He was able to then document everything he did and build a proven package that he was able to market to other new restaurant owners in his city.

 

Step 6: Refine service, scale up and systematise to reach income target

After helping two restaurants set up, Saeed knew the system well enough to start charging for it.

He also had a couple of success case studies under his belt so he was a lot more confident when approaching other new restaurant owners. He had a system in place since he’d already done this twice so he knew he could take on more clients at the same time and in doing so, find out what else they need help with.

The more people he helped, the more he learned about them, and he continued to offer new solutions for their business and charge higher prices for his packages.

He eventually built his packages up to $5,000 per client before he decided to take a different business route to something less location dependant. 

 

INTERVIEW With SAEED

 

Starting a new business can often get very overwhelming.  There’s a lot to learn and a lot of skills that you acquire along the way.  A lot of people get discouraged by the new territory ahead of them.  Websites, sales, accounting,…the list goes on.  What advice can you give about learning and conquering the skills that go into running a business?

Getting a mentor is the absolute best way to acquire the skills you need quickly - especially one who’s been where you are before. They help you organise your priorities and they’ll accelerate the amount of time it takes to acquire the skills you actually need.  They’ll also be able to share with you the skills you don’t need to acquire so that you can keep your focus on the bigger picture.  

I wouldn’t waste as much time trying to learn and master every skill I come across and trying to figure everything out myself. I came to realise that the most important skill every entrepreneur must have is their resourcefulness.

You don’t need to be tech-savvy, you don’t need to know how to work a website, and you definitely don’t need to know how to build a Facebook following. We live in an era where information and experts from all over the world are readily willing and able to help us right through our laptops. When those bridges come - cross them by finding people to help you and add their costs and your time to the overall price of your package.

At the beginning - this won’t even be applicable.  

The main focus should always be on the needs of your target market and how resourceful you can be to map out a solution for them. That’s it.  Start small - utilise the skills you have to build a package people will pay for and then grow it from there once you learn more about what they want. 

You’ll acquire the necessary skills along the way and your mentor will most likely have taken a very similar path that he can guide you through as well.

 

Can you give us an example?

My first few clients were all new restaurant owners.  Most new restaurant owners had a marketing budget but they were spending it on things like magazine and newspaper ads and weren’t seeing any success. They’d often feel lost and afraid.  They didn’t know how to get people in their doors and they weren’t seeing a lot of repeat customers.

I started small by offering to help a restaurant owner get people in through their doors and keeping them coming back. My offer was to set up a group-buy campaign for them that would have them break-even for every customer that walked through the door, but helped people learn about the restaurant nonetheless.  

I then set up a text messaging campaign for them where they could gather the information of the people who came into the restaurants and text them whenever they had events or specials going on.  This provided direct contact to the restaurant's customers and it was easily measurable whereas their magazine and newspaper ads were not.

This took a one hour phone call with Groupon-type website local to Vancouver. I explained the needs of my clients and the specifications of the campaign.  They did all the work to set something up for me after that and I connected them with the restaurant owner for any communication after that.

For the text messaging campaign, I contacted a company that was situated in the United States to set us up with a short code that the restaurant could use to get customers to opt-in to in exchange for 10% off of their next meal. 

I then hired a designer on fiverr.com to create a small promotion card that we placed in all of the menus in the restaurant with the short code and the promotion on it. The design and printouts together costed me $20.  The group buy website didn’t cost me anything, and the text message service costed me $100 per month of which I charged my client $150 per month to cover the costs and my time.

I had a background managing a restaurant while I was still in high school and I use to watch a lot of TV shows on restaurant fix-ups. I used what I learned to offer solutions for other problems that the restaurant owners had and added the costs to the price of my package.

 

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were to start over?

I would’ve narrowed down my audience even more. I found that ‘New Restaurant Owners’ wasn’t a specific enough market to go after. There were too many different types of restaurants, and my techniques didn’t often work for restaurants that were serving to a higher-end crowd.

The restaurant owners wouldn’t want to be seen on websites like Groupon and they didn’t want to tarnish the luxury feel of the restaurants by adding promotional material in their menus. This forced me to try to prove myself by building out an entirely new system for every type of restaurant.

It wasn’t worth the time and it taught me a valuable lesson... Don’t try to please everybody.  Instead - get more specific on your market and try to help a small group of people solve one common problem.

You can reinvest the money you make to grow your business from there and offer more services from what you learn. Do not discount ANY of your skills, and don’t assume that ‘most people already know that’.  I took what I learned from watching a primetime TV show and I made a business out of it by talking to the right people.

I wasn’t an expert by any means - but I knew the solution, and I was able to create a plan that solved a common problem for the type of restaurant I was helping.

That’s what really matters - solving the common problem - however you decide to do it - there’s no single right way. 

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