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Starting you own Business "The Journal" 2

AAAgent

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For anyone who has posted in the previous thread, here it is. It's also a good reference point for people to see how I have progressed and learned from past mistakes.

http://www.sosuave.net/forum/threads/starting-you-own-business-the-journal.190037/

I've tried many businesses and ideas. Oh boy, have I tried to do many things and failed. Especially the billion/million dollar ideas. Will make this a quick 3 sentence summary of what I learned so I can start logging my journal.

Big ideas are usually a waste of time as they involve too many people just to make the business work and when you put your faith in others to make your dream a reality and have no influence over them, it is highly likely you will fail. You want to find a simple business idea that YOU alone can make work. First, start with 1 client and find a way to make that a successful relationship then pursue others.

So i'm finally making money. Not making the big bucks, but i got my first client in December 2016. I tried selling him back early 2016 and was a friend of my brothers. He did not buy back then and did not want to talk about this.

My business is online advertising. I provide online advertising services for small to medium sized businesses. I worked for a global agency as their head of sales previously, and then moved to the largest newspaper company selling online advertising with them last year. Now I sell the a large newspaper company in a major metro area for their online news site. The online news site doesn't provide any other services outside of online banner ads on it's news site. This was where the opportunity was and how I started my business, but I didn't see the opportunity until it smacked me in the face.

My brothers friend, an auto repair shop needed help with social media advertising on facebook. I've sold it in the past but didn't really know much about it (how to set it up, run it, manage it, payment, etc.). He had asked my brother about it and my brother told me to take the opportunity to man up and do it. I called up a few friends and one of my good friends was currently the account manager of facebook for a large pharmaceutical company's campaign (he did not know how to manage either, just conveyed results). I built a presentation and sold my brother's friend on facebook advertising and my friend said he'd figure out how to run it.

Friend ghosted me since he didn't want to spend time learning how to run the campaign, I didn't want to lose face so I spent hours watching videos on how to setup a campaign and run it. After a few days, I set it up, and after a few weeks I learned how to do it on a decent level and was getting results. By months end, I was getting him leads and private messages about work. I called back up my friend and sent him the positive results and he got on board if i promised to train him.

I've used the opportunity at my current online ad sales job to identify openings for my existing clients that wanted to advertise in social media and turned them into my personal clients. My first client has also referred me two new clients, and my employee (who I've given the opportunity to become partner if he brought on x revenue), has also brought on a small client.

I'm currently on track to be making $500 a month profit ontop of my existing job and have roughly 6-9 clients. I have good relationships with all my clients as they are either all referrals, or existing clients from my current job. I also turned my barber into a client this past monday.

Sometimes, you gotta try, try, and try again until you find something that works. Also, slow and steady often wins the race. I'm not rich, but im slowly working my way up to making money that matters.
 

AAAgent

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What i'm learning now is

1.) I'm spending way too much time on these clients and I get paid very little.
2.) I'm doing way too much work.
3.) my employee/partner is doing alot less work which he acknowledges and is splitting half with me. (I have told him I will be cutting his pay to 40% of all sales this month, and if I hit 10 clients, I will be cutting it to 30% unless he brings on sizeable clients).
4.) I have not been charging setup fees
5.) I'm monitoring the campaigns at work, late at night, in the middle of the night, etc.

I'm currently doing all the selling, I'm setting up the accounts on the spot with the client as well (takes 1-2 hours). And I'm actually running and monitoring the campaigns. It's getting a bit crazy with all the clients I have. Luckily I brought in a monster account at my FT gig so I'm just coasting and able to build up my own personal business but it's getting to the point where I can barely manage everything myself. My friend is trying to step up but just isn't as creative with his solutions as I am (he acknowledges this).
 

AAAgent

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Had a very good day yesterday.

I was able to sell a website making a good $180 profit. I also had another client that GAVE me $100 and another gave me $20. I made a good $300 today and will be on track to make $500 this month! I've been handling all their marketing. Including either building their website or dealing with their outsourced vendor to build it. I help them setup and cancel other services. I even helped them post job listings or cars for sales listings for my collision client on craigslist. They are very computer illiterate and think this is all rocket science. My one client sold his dodge charge in one day and made $1500 the day after i left. He was holding onto that hemi for two week before hand.
 

AAAgent

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It's getting a bit crazy with work, relationship, life, and my own business. This month my employee/partner is pretty busy with work. He's apologized for being busy so i've had to manage 5 facebook campaigns on my own. I've also sold 2 websites and if you deal with small business, it's alot of work. They are so busy that when I finally get them to commit to buying a website and pay, they just expect it to be all done. Pictures, text, etc. II haven't found a way to make this a smooth process yet. I'm kinda just getting paid and working it out as I go, but it's driving me crazy. One of my clients who loves talking about business idea he hasn't thought out yet, wants to partner with me to do another seamless. That is taking up my time as well. Just feeling a bit overwhelmed but i guess it's good my monthly income has increase this month.
 

AAAgent

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For anyone jumping in, this is my part time business I started during my free time. I found synergies in my sales role that allowed me to convert clients into my own customer if they were not itnerested in buying from me during my full time gig. What also helps in sales is, your always out on the road. If i need to see one of my clients during my work week. I schedule an appointment for my full time gig with client of mine at my day job, and then after that's done, i will swing over to my person business client.

Apologies for the last few posts. They probably seem like they don't make sense, but when you are so stressed and try to piece things together half heartedly, it comes out jumbled at best. I did not expect my business which started as 1 client, to turn into 10 clients in 3 months time. I also did not expect to find someone to build websites and graphic design. Selling into new revenue streams that you don't have control over creates alot of headaches. Especially being overwhelmed with work hitting you in a small time frame.

Things have settled down a bit since then. Month of March is over. I have collected payment from all of my clients except 1. The remaining one is my best client and i'm not too worried as he has referred me many clients already (3). April is starting out smooth. My employee is busy this month so i've spent most of the weekend and free time at work setting up campaigns for the month for my clients. This way the campaigns run automatically for the month, clients are having clients coming to them, the work is done one my end, and I keep all the profit for myself and don't need to split. Had to get down and dirty and do the work myself but I get paid for it.

I just finished my first client website and it's mediocre. I partnered with this college student from China who is very eager about getting more business. His english is bad and my mandarin is mediocre at best. Since his background was computer science, he looked smart, and came as a referral from a friend, I assumed he was legit. When we first started working together, he told me his dad owns a big web company in china, and he has a group of friends back home who are programmers as well. Together they build the sites. Since it came as a referral and he built my website and mobile site, albeit he used a templated website builder, I just took his word. As time goes on, it really just looks like he's using a templated website platform to build a website. This is work a trained monkey can do. Just go to wix, squarespace, shopify, etc. and spend a few hours and bam it's done. You'll probably have to watch a few tutorials on youtube, and then fix grammatical errors, but that's about it. He get's the job done and only sells me the website's at $250, half upfront and half when finished so that's a major plus as whatever I sell the website for on top of that, is in my pocket but I did have a company ask me straight up, why is he paying me to make a templated site. I sold him on "time".

I told him "You pay me to do the grunt work and built out your site. Fix the spelling mistakes. So you can free up time to do other things. Yes you can do the site for alot less $, but is that $500 worth your time and sanity while your trying to launch your business?". He agreed and paid me the $500 but honestly, I can pay a cheap college student to do this but I guess that is exactly what he is. He's a junior in college. Just kind of annoyed he sold me as some web guru, but he's not. Still have communication issues with him as I don't understand what he's saying and we're working on a restaurant website next that I sold for $400. This restaurant guy is very anal, but has already paid me half upfront so I will need to get it done. I tried to throw my good friend a bone who dabbles in web design and is unemployed....He made ****ty designs (I told him before I sent the designs to my client). I sent the client over 13 different digital logo's but the client basically trashed the designs and said take that money and use it for the website. Makes me look bad but what can I do?

I'm still working out the kinks on my pricing and I think i've setup thresholds now. For any client that wants to spend less than $300/m in advertising, I will charge them a minimum of $100/m. Any client that wants to spend less than $600/m in advertising, I will charge $200/m. Any client that wants to spend less than $1k/m in advertising, I will charge them $300/m. I will be adding setup fees $50 per setup no matter what as well. websites I need to up my pricing and flatline it. I spend too much time after the sale, following-up for creative assets and direction, and worst of all, sometimes i need to create the content on the website because my Chinese guy definitely can't spell or proofread (let alone understand American culture).

Pricing will be streamlined soon and next I will need to streamline workflow. I talked to my brother in law and he thinks im really smart and methodical but he pointed out to me that most people can't or won't put themselves through the stress I go through. That is why it's so hard to find someone willing to work for beans in order to grow something. He said you need to give people very short term goals, help them achieve those goals, reward them for those goals, in order to keep them motivated. Keep doing that over time, and them after a while of doing that, show them how far they've come, and that they were capable of doing it all along if they just structured things well. I do that for myself, but i didn't need motivation from anyone else. Life was motivating me to succeed and that was the part that I didn't understand other people didn't have. Self motivation and perseverance.
 

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AAAgent

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TL:DR - My programmer isn't actually a programmer who builds complex sites. He's been using very cheap template sites that cost $8/m and charging my customers $250 one time fee+$15/m to build a website. I then go to sell the website for more so I can make a profit. My issue is he lied and played me for a fool and sold himself as something he's not when I can easily do what he's doing.

Update:

Business still consistent. No new clients as of now just the same existing clients with recurring revenue. So i've come to the conclusion that this chinese programmer is a scam artist to a certain extent. He's not actually a programmer that builds websites. He uses templated website builders and straight up builds the websites that way. I'm a fairly trusting guy but i'm not stupid. After he sent multiple templates to choose from, and it linked to the

https://www.sitey.com/templates

For those of you who don't know, it's very easy to use squarespace, sitey, etc. to just pay $10 a month and build out a website. It takes a ****load of time and you can only choose certain styles but squarespace and sitey pretty much lay it out step by step for you. Choose how many tabs, label each tab, add in a picture, write some descriptions. It's very easy to be clear it just takes some time and learning the platform which is not hard to learn. The more unique sites take actual coding, flash, etc. but these sites just require you to fill in your fields and the coding is prepopulated.

At first I was like wtf. Are you using templates to build the websites for my customers? I don't want sh1tty templated sites and he reassured me he's not. He has a team or programmers in china that help him and they just use the look of Sitey's templated design for efficiency. I asked him one time to load up his program so i could quickly link Google Analytics to the platform and he loaded his Sitey account so I knew he had a login to the templated site platform to build a website. It was very hard to tell if he was really a programmer or not because one, i'm not a coder. Two, his english is very bad and my mandarin is basic conversational. Three, he was a referral from my cousin. Lastly, because he seemed to have a method to his pricing. He was pricing each page for me at $40 per page only for desktop and mobile was additional at same cost. It seemed a bit off at first and i caught him in a lie a few times but he was a chinese guy from china studying computer science. You have to have decent grades to come from overseas. He also seemed very hungry which was a positive sign.

Transparency is key to me and i make good money ontop of what I pay him for the websites. But it's fvcking hard to sell something and answer objections from my customers when I have no clue wtf you are using to build the sites, how you're hosting the sites, how long it takes, etc. If he would have simply told me, he's using templated sites and anyone can do it, but I just put in the grunt work that other people don't want to, I would have said cool. I respect that, I'll just charge ontop of what you charge me since I don't have time to do that work either. Instead, he lied to me and confused me and had to wait for me to find out. I actually addressed this to him a few weeks ago when I thought he was doing this and he just used some language/words i did not understand in Mandarin and I just let it slide since the work was getting done.

I've learned alot from this. I never thought I could sell those POS template sites but people will buy them. Now that I know he's making $250 for one site and I charged ontop of that, I can theorhetically pocket $1k if I built the site myself. Sure it will probably take me 3 - 6 hours the first couple of times, but that is well worth it. What's worse is, he is disabling the mobile version of the customers site which comes FREE with the template platform and telling me the customer needs to pay more for the coders to code the page. Basically ripping them off.

He is a good salesmen, unfortunately he met someone that's smarter than him. There was no risk or cost for me to work with him since I was always working with someone else's money. I would have never worked with him if it was my money.
 
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