business, people, book, entrepreneurs, thought, damon, story, kelly, lane, called, entrepreneurship, big, person, niche, elaine, building, write, chris, couple, years
Damon Pistulka, Elaine Pofeldt, Curt Anderson
Damon Pistulka 00:07
Well, Kurt, we’re live today. We are live. All right. Well welcome everyone once again to the manufacturing ecommerce success series. I’m one of your co hosts Damon Pistulka. And with me today, I’ve got the other way. I’ve got this person right here beside me, Kurt Anderson, and we’ve got a special guest and we’re gonna we’re so excited. We’re going to get going now. We’re a couple minutes late and Oh, Dan bigger if he’s out there. He’s probably going What the heck are these guys doing? But it’s well worth the wait. So let’s take it from here, Kurt.
Curt Anderson 00:38
Absolutely, man I proof I didn’t I didn’t I even did my hair today. It says this is such a huge event. I can tell me this is a big one. So look, guys, happy Friday. If you’re coming to us live on LinkedIn, please drop a note. Let us know you’re here. Let us know where you’re coming from. We want to connect with all of you here. And boy, we have an extremely special guest who is dear close to my heart, Elaine. Happy Friday. How are you? Oh,
Elaine Pofeldt 01:04
thank you so much. It’s great to be here. Curtain. David, thank you so much for inviting me.
Curt Anderson 01:08
Absolutely. So this is long long in a waiting so Lane pole Phillips guys, please connect with lane on LinkedIn here. And so I’m going to game I’m going to share a little bit about my dear friend lane. So like we go, we’re like pre COVID which is like pre COVID. Like 100 years ago, Lane is matter of fact, I remember our first phone call. I was like on my back patio was like a gorgeous summer day and I was on a phone.
And I’m like, Man, that was like an eternity ago that was like that was so pre COVID. You know? So guys, Elaine is a journalist, author. She’s just a high level, just just a total rock star every sense of the word. So Damon, I know like, when we went to college, did you apply to Yale by any chance? I didn’t? No, no, I didn’t. I didn’t need to. But for the
Damon Pistulka 01:51
Curt Anderson 01:52
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So we were to go stateside. So we were deceived by Elaine was at Yale University. So I do. Gal she has a lifetime career as a journalist. And how we connected is she wrote a book called Million Dollar, one person business, million dollar, one person business. And I caught lane on a podcast and we connected and became fast friends. So lane. Sure. Look, just give everybody a little background. I know four wonderful daughters, I believe is that correct?
Elaine Pofeldt 02:20
I have four kids. One of them is a little boy
Elaine Pofeldt 02:25
here any minute, but we’ll say
Curt Anderson 02:28
we’ll give everybody a little background on yourself and on career journalists. Just a little bit on your background where we’re gonna dig into a couple of your books here.
Elaine Pofeldt 02:35
Oh, sure. Well, I have been writing about entrepreneurship. For a long time, I was a senior editor at Fortune Small Business Magazine, where he was on the website and then at the magazine for eight years. And then I went freelance about 15 years ago now. I had at the time, I had three kids ages four and under a little chaotic. So yeah, I liked having control of my time. And I found that in my writing, I was getting very interested in businesses that were on the smaller side, that offered a better lifestyle, and the whole Go big or go home.
Mindset didn’t really work for me as a mother with four kids and, and yet, I was really interested in business. I love the entrepreneurial lifestyle. And I found my coverage starting to gravitate in that direction. And the book, the million dollar, one person business happened by accident I was I write five blogs a month for Forbes and I was getting to the end of the month, I think was Memorial Day weekend.
And I ran out of ideas. And usually I would do interviews, but somehow I hadn’t done one. And so I was Googling and I came across census statistics about non employer businesses. And that’s government jargon for businesses that have no payroll, they might have worked there, but they’re usually contractors or to the owners. And I was poking around the chart, and I noticed that there were some that were getting to 1 million and here I am a freelance writer and I know a lot of freelance writers and artists and none of them are making a million dollars in revenue.
So I started poking around to see okay, what are they doing? And what was so interesting was, they were in almost every possible industry, you can imagine industries that you wouldn’t even think of including manufacturing. And so I wrote a post just about the data. And it went viral. And people started writing to me and saying you lean that was really a cliffhanger you didn’t tell us any of the businesses that are doing this degree of this, but I didn’t know because the Census Bureau isn’t going to open the kimono and tell you all the people that fill out those surveys.
So I did a series about like consultants reaching $1 million or E commerce etc. And people started writing to me if they fell into these categories, and I save them up and then I did a post looking at five of the entrepreneurs and that went really viral. It was like over 300,000 page views So I saw that I had written so many articles over the years, this was the one topic that just people had a real thirst for it beyond anything I had seen. So I started just continuing to cover it with anytime one of them wrote to me or one of them introduced me to another friend, I would do a feature about them, and then an agent notice it, and it turned into that book.
But the new book, tiny business, big money came out of something else they were experiencing, which was, when I updated the first book, some of them were saying, Elaine, you know, I’m really sorry, I’m not a one person business anymore. And I said, I’m happy for you, you know, you know, what are you doing to scale and a lot of them were struggling with this whole idea of starting to build a team. They want their freedom and independence, but then you can become a bottleneck if you’re not communicating with your team. And they don’t know how you want the work done, or they can’t reach you.
So I started interviewing people about how are they managing this, because they don’t want to do it the corporate way, they don’t even have the resources to do like, you know, the big conference, Room meeting and office in New York City or whatever they, they they’re doing it in their home in mostly, or in a small office somewhere. And they were doing really interesting things like managing the whole business on a platform called notion and having no meetings at all. And so that’s what this this book gets into.
Curt Anderson 06:25
This is so good. So talk about your let’s we’re gonna take a step back in time and kind of wait, and then we’re going to lead back up to your books again. So a lifetime career in journalism. And as you said, just business and entrepreneurship just really kind of touched your attention, your passion, your heart, you went that direction. But you’ve written for Forbes, you just mentioned fortune, The Economist all sorts of really
Damon Pistulka 06:46
mobile who’s who it is the who’s who, the top
Curt Anderson 06:49
magazines. What led you was was back in yellow days, it was that was that a career aspiration? Did you want to be a journalist? Or how did you kind of go in this direction?
Elaine Pofeldt 06:57
Like, do you want to be a journalist, but I was I had no interest in business. In fact, I remember when I was very young, going on an interview at the New York Daily News. And the guy said, What do you want to cover and I said anything other than business, I thought was really boring. But I, at one point, I was an editor, Women’s Wear Daily. And I you know, it was like covering runway shows and things like that a little bit, but I didn’t really enjoy that part of it. And I found I enjoyed learning about the businesses of the fashion designers and their, you know, their business plan and all that. And I never knew I was interested in it.
So then I went to Success Magazine for a while as an editor, and I really found that I just fell in love with covering entrepreneurship, I felt like the entrepreneurs was so much fun. They were not like the button down, you know, your lips sealed kind of interview that I was used to if I did corporate stories, you know, they were really open and they were the business. And I got hooked on it. And then I had an opportunity to come on board in the Fortune group. And I stayed there and loved it. I really, you know, I’ve never gotten tired of it. Right? That
Curt Anderson 08:05
inspiration so you know, followed your passion of journalism, and had no intention of going into business. And then it just you just kept finding it just like, like the was the Godfather, they keep drawing me back. Right. So I want you back over. Yep. Keep pulling me back over and over and over. Now you’ve been I think you have a couple of TV sets. Have you been on CNN and MSNBC?
Elaine Pofeldt 08:28
I did. I’ve done I did on those shows. But I was never like, an announcer or anything like that. I I just have been against.
Curt Anderson 08:36
Yep. You’ve been guessing though. So again, you know, Ink Magazine. So like you really all over the place on business. And what I absolutely love what you’ve done, you know, so many times as entrepreneurs, Damon, we call it that entrepreneurial curse, we try to be everything to everyone.
And you know, you could cover a wide broad range of topics and what I absolutely love, like you practice what you preach, and what you discovered with your own entrepreneurs is like how to really niche yourself down, where you’ve branded yourself in this undercurrent of like these thriving entrepreneurs and brought a nice light to these folks that are doing seven figures as single entrepreneurs. So let’s dig in.
I want to I want to again, I love your first book Love the second book, we’re going to take a deep dive into the second book. But guys if you if you’re new to lane, please connect with her on LinkedIn. Of course, she she put you over the limit. So follow her, check out her first book, million dollar one, one person business. And in that book talking about niching you talked about how I remembered I think there was a title of one of your chapters. How far can you niche Do you remember that I have that right.
Elaine Pofeldt 09:39
there anymore. But yeah, this well, like it was funny because I was just doing an excerpt of the book, the new book, and a couple of the people said there are riches in niches and and I thought that’s such a great expression because really, these people are just masters of these niches that other people haven’t noticed. Yes, that are sitting right in front of them. And I think you may have introduced me to one of them. Jeffrey Stern.
Yeah. So that’s
Elaine Pofeldt 10:08
what a beautiful business. I mean, he makes a little voice boxes in the bears and Build A Bear workshop. It doesn’t even have any employees. Now he’s gone back and forth between employees and contractors. It’s about a $4 million business. He’s in his 60s. And I think that’s significant because there’s an entrepreneurship boom for people over 50. And people always think it’s always like, 24 year olds in Silicon Valley.
Yeah. And this is a career where there is not age discrimination. Nobody can be like, Oh, you’re 50 year old in technology. You can do this as long as you have the mojo to keep doing it and doing it. So I love his story. And he also does the voices in the singing greeting cards that you know, the fold out. Very interesting guy but but it’s an example of how you can be a manufacturer from your living room.
Curt Anderson 11:01
Absolutely, so guys, won’t pay Look at this. Damon, I haven’t passed away. Yeah, guys. Again, you know, check out our first book, strongly encourage that, and then run right into the second book just came out on Tuesday, tiny business big money. And I love this tagline strategies for creating a high revenue micro business, high revenue micro business. So Jeffrey Stern, that’s a perfect example of voice Express.
He, as Linda said, makes those little recording devices of for all of us I have, I have like a whole tub full of builder bears, and they all talk to you. It’s that little recording device. And he just plays quarterback. So he has his account, his accounting firm marketing firm, so and so forth, and outsources everything. Layne gave me a little shout out in your book, God bless you, thank you, I’m
Elaine Pofeldt 11:43
I was more than that. I mean, you, you are really a great resource on manufacturing, because you’re right on the front lines of it. And it’s very important, I think, for people to talk to folks who are really in these areas, because I’m a generalist.
And if I were to write a book, about every industry with the whole instruction manual in 10,000 pages long. So coming to webinars like this, listening to podcasts, talking to people in industry associations, reading, market research reports, all these sort of niche II things are really what will help you to get started, I mean, this book is inspiring, because it has a lot of hope it’s inspiring, it has a lot of stories of people who have overcome the odds against starting a business and they are pretty steep, because we’re not really raised to start a business.
Agree everybody sort of primed to become an employee, but then, you know, getting past the inspiration stage and getting to the next stage, we actually starting it and running. That’s, that’s more of a practical thing. And you really need the knowledge of people who know their way around that industry, because they’re like, I saw this with California, when they pass the law 85 that changed the rules about who can be a freelancer, there were over 100 industries that ended up being exempted. And the reason was because each of these industries has these quirky ways of doing business and make sense to the people in the industry.
But there was no way that the legislators who were writing this law could really understand, you know, like, Okay, this is how it works when a musician books a gig and why they shouldn’t be on payroll or freelance writers, why you can’t limit it to 35 articles a year, because a lot of columns like these little details, but the devil is in the details. And the success is in the details too, is like knowing how things were. And sometimes knowing and throwing it out the window because you’re an innovator.
But at least if you know what the way is, then you can it’s a conversation in the industry. And so you’re moving the conversation forward, or maybe you’re part of the existing conversation and being really, you know, a great participant. But you do need to know how it works.
Curt Anderson 13:52
Right? Yeah, and you do a great job. In both books, you talked about a lot of resources. I know you and I have talked a lot about the Small Business Development Centers, how they’re out there helping you know, those entrepreneurs, especially like the folks that you covered, they feel like they’re in a silo, they’re on their own, you do a great job of listing a ton of different resources available for entrepreneurs that can really move the needle. You know, you’re mentioned a couple examples. I’d like to throw a couple Chris Mead with his cross net. You know, that was a great story. I know you want to share that one.
Elaine Pofeldt 14:22
Oh, my goodness. This is such a fun story. It’s these two brothers and their buddy. They’re all in their early 20s. And they love sports. And Chris was commuting from Brooklyn to Manhattan every day he was selling for Uber Eats and doing cold calling all day long. Very stressful. And he that he wanted to start a business and so one night they’re watching sports. And like volleyball clip came on and they start brainstorming. And then like, Wouldn’t it be awesome if we created a volleyball game that was a four way game like Foursquare, so you know it’s quadrants.
People would be in the different quadrants and they went And they got these two nets from Walmart. And they set it up and they played it because you know, they’re athletic and, and it was really fun. And so then they created a prototype when one of the partners had experienced a little bit in engineering. And so they found a factory to make it and then they using Chris’s sales skills from his original job. He was calling retailers and he got it into shields, which is a Midwestern spoil store. And they tried to into stores and it sold out. So then they ordered it for all the stores.
And then that was a jumping off point where now when he was making sales calls, he could say is already in all the shields, whereas he had a little story around it success. And it’s grown so much. It’s almost too big for the book. Now. I think they were closing in on 2020 employees, when, like when I was fact checking, they probably above that now, but they’re all read, I think they were like 15 million in sales. And they were mostly just the three guys for a long time. And then they added on a few friends. And then it just started scaling like crazy. And their manufacturers, right.
But they just, you know, we’re like three recent college grads, Chris had a lot of student loans he needed to pay off. And he wasn’t going to do that with the Uber Eats salary. Yeah. And he wants you know, he wanted to do this, and he made it happen. And interestingly, his background he studied film, like so he’s done a lot of videos that helped to promote the business. You’ll see there’s a lot of videos on cross net. And I thought this is how a lot of times maybe you didn’t study entrepreneurship, but his cold calling skills, you know, the video skills, all those things went into the business, but they were repurposed from earlier versions of his career. Yeah,
Curt Anderson 16:48
yeah. You do a great job covering e commerce in manufacturing. I know like I’m in fact, I was just reading last night about Anna, with her. In Australia, she came up with, right. And what a fascinating story in she she goes on Shopify, and like sells, sells a pair sells a pair of started getting some traction. You want to share a little bit about Anna’s in a story.
Elaine Pofeldt 17:09
Oh, yeah, I loved her story. She was a medical school student. And she she loves sketching just, you know, relieve the stress of school and that sort of thing. And so she liked to design fashions, and she wanted to start making them but she only had $200. And she didn’t even have enough money to make a dress, she had enough to make a bikini prototype. So she found a manufacturer going on Alibaba, which probably the listeners of this show would know, it’s a sourcing site, in factors. And she found a small up and coming factory that was willing to just do this one prototype.
And then she put it up on Instagram. And she connected to a Shopify store, as you mentioned, and she bought Facebook ads to drive traffic to the Instagram and she took pre orders to see if women would buy the bikini and 1000 placed pre orders so that your factory if she had proof of concept, and they said well, we’ll do this small run for you. Because in case there is anyone on familiar, a lot of times you don’t want to do a very small run, because it’s expensive to fire up the factory and get the workers in there. So they were willing to grow with her and she created a brand called Pink colada.
And I knew her I wrote a million dollar one person business story about her and then it was getting so busy, the business was growing. And I spoke to her a few times. And she would seem to always be at the warehouse, you know, packing things herself. And then finally she hired five people. And now she’s expanding into the United States. She was in Australia. And now she’s prepared to handle the added demand of a much bigger market. I loved her story because she was he didn’t waste a single penny in this business. Like she she no one could have made more out of $200.
But yeah, I think one of the reasons Her story is so inspiring is because of the innovation and how she did this, like she found a way using these low cost and free digital tools. And she didn’t have to have a big budget because she she used her creativity and her Moxie to find solutions to every single thing like she called a lot of factories. Not all of them would do the prototype. Not all of them would do the manufacture. And I think she even went to China if I remember correctly, because she’s in Australia, which is closer. And then she built this beautiful business.
Curt Anderson 19:30
That’s fantastic. So again, as we’re coming to the top of the hour, guys, thank you for joining us today we’re with Elaine po felt we are promoting her wonderful book, tiny business big money. So now, Elaine, I need to talk to you about I’m going to turn I’m going to open up the book. How’s that? I’m going to turn to page 140.
There’s a gentleman in the book by the name of Kelly Cudworth. Can you talk a little bit about Kelly Cudworth? Damon, I think you might know this guy, don’t you from Seattle. So if I share a little bit about your story with Kelly And I have a few things highlighted in the book that I want to share. But what’s your What was your take on your interview with Kelly cupboard? And he owns New Earth office solutions. So just hear a little bit about Kelly.
Elaine Pofeldt 20:10
Well, he was in a family business. His father had started, I believe, and the business had sales people who would go to local businesses. It was an office supply store, basically. And then he read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and he thought, oh, there’s got to be a better way to do this. So he started taking it online. And he brought it online. And it grew like crazy. It was I think it was 7 million in revenue, or 9 million in revenue with two employees.
Yeah. And it’s totally online now. And he has a strategy of very aggressive pricing. That’s how, you know a lot of people go with very high margins, he goes the other way. And he’s done really well with it. And he’s created this beautiful lean machine of a business. And it’s a real inspiration, I think for people in brick and mortar businesses who are like, how do I transition? Everything’s online now. And you know, he changed the whole business model. So I want to hear what you had to say about him. No,
Curt Anderson 21:12
that was actually a connection, a connection through Damian to myself. So let’s so he Kelly was a guest of ours a year ago, and I’m going to share a little bit of about how our relationship mainly demons relationship with Kelly, but it’s kind of Damon, it’s indiscreetly in the book here, but guess what I want what I want to really focus on here is Kelly So Kelly is 43 year old young man, cuz I’m not a young man anymore. But he’s a young man takes all comes into his father’s business. So family business, and what’s more of a commodity than office supplies? My goodness? How do you compete with Office Depot? Staples, everybody, right?
What he does he really uncommanded eyes his business, if that’s a word. I just want to share a couple things. So a couple he originally he was doing a couple 100 transactions a month. He was up to doing 80,000 Daymond. Does that number sound familiar to you? Yes. Let me share this line. Last year, his business had previously peaked at 5.5. Then he hit 9.5 and was profitable. Last we spoke he was on pace to do 12 to 15 million to keep his company growth on track. He meets with a weekly virtual CFO Daymond. Do you know any virtual CFOs? By any chance?
Damon Pistulka 22:22
I’ve heard? I’ve heard of them before we
Curt Anderson 22:27
Yep. All like to my. Yeah, yeah. Alright, to keep us company growth. He meets weekly with a virtual CFO, a freelance business consultant and coach rolled into one. And David, I know like when you and I talk all the time, but you’re always like, Hey, I have the standing meeting on Wednesdays. And then I read this book, you know, the book says, they talk on the phone daily and meet every Wednesday. Do you know who this virtual CFO is? By any chance?
Damon Pistulka 22:52
Yeah, I’ve seen him in the mirror once or twice. So it’s, it is a great story, though, Elaine, I mean, you want to talk about salt of the earth, good people, his his father him, his family that the you know, and just to see somebody really be able to in a commodity market, on large platforms compete and win, and then only have a few people employed. And since you’ve talked to him this it’s really even exploded further with, with different things in automation. And, and yes, he did end up as he projected, and, and this year looks to be a significant growth. Here. Again, you know, he’s been in the Puget Sound region, he has been in the Puget Sound top 100, fastest growing several years in a row.
And he’ll be in it again this year, I’m sure. And, and, but the story of taking that first generation business into a second generation now and into online like this in a commodity product. It’s really, it’s really fun to be a part of. But these these businesses, like you’re talking about all of them, I mean, just the innovation that you see when you talk about Jeffrey stern or the the the bathing suit person, you know, and they just have to this this Bootstrap, scrappy mentality it to figure out, you know, yes, a big company would spend $100,000 doing this, but I’ve got $1,000 and I need to do the same thing, you know, and figuring out, it’s so great to see that kind of innovation coming.
Elaine Pofeldt 24:26
Yeah, yeah. I love it. I it was funny, because I went into New York City a few couple days ago, and I met at least to Shiro, who’s the event planner in the book, and she was like, What do you think they all have in common? And it’s a really big question, but it is a mindset I think of making things happen regardless of how much money you have to put into it. They find a way to get to the next goal and there there is a lot of passion to that, like office supplies.
When you think about it. Nobody is born and wakes up thinking My passion is office supplies I or maybe there is somebody but I, I don’t think so, you know, passion for entrepreneurship and innovation and efficiency and building something of value. And he also has a passion for things outside of the business.
I mean, he’s doing charitable work, incredible amounts of, you know, different nonprofit projects. And, and that’s also a driver, I think it’s important because when you think about it, in manufacturing, you know, maybe somebody’s making a certain part of a car or something like that, and maybe you’re passionate about cars, but not really that little part. And, and yet, there can be a lot of joy in these businesses, if you really get into the spirit of making it a great business, a great workplace, a part of the community, all those other things that a business is, it’s much more than just something that makes money. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 25:57
Curt Anderson 25:59
And that’s, and guys, you have to go get the book. So we’re not ruin it. But yeah, you know, just to continue on Kelly, you know, building a tiny business that makes big money starts with a vision for where you’re going, in his case, by converting to a high volume e commerce business, then it’s a matter of setting up a business in a way to get there.
And it’s all about automation. And if you don’t know exactly where to go, or how to get there, you hire a coach or consultant. So and you said, right, in the book lane, you know, it’s not about the money. It’s creating the systems and creating opportunities. And like you said, Kelly’s dedicated to, you know, you talk about his daughter, very dedicated to his nonprofit that he’s created because of this financial success that he’s created for himself. So let’s so Damon, kudos to you.
Congratulations. And what’s this is what’s hysterical named. So I just I sent Damon a copy of the book, we I have an extra copy I have. So either Kindle, I have the version, I have my hard copy. I sent him a copy. Every person that I’m talking to this week, I’m like, Guys, you have to buy this book. I was at Temple, promoting your book. So anybody that’s listening to me these weeks, I am promoting your book. But let’s talk about some more characters, some awesome stories of success on successful entrepreneurs. Kathy, I’m going to butcher her last name, the virtual assistant business. Can you talk about? Well,
Elaine Pofeldt 27:17
it’s good. Now I have a funny story about this, because I had to record the audiobook. And for all these years, I’ve thought it was go Haner. And then they had called me back into New York City for one hour, because they like their two last names you were mispronouncing, and so don’t feel bad. I mean, I for some I know she said it to me, but somehow it like, my name is really hard.
So hopefully she’ll cut me some slack on this. Yeah. Kathy googan. Our and, and she, what she did was work in marketing. And she was trying to get a promotion at her job. And she asked her boss what it would take. And he said, Well, you need to get an MBA. And this was like in the 90s. So women’s situation in the workplace was much worse, I think at that time. And she went back, got the MBA, and she came into his office, she said, I you know, I got my MBA, and you know, I want a promotion. He said, Well, you’re not going to get the promotion, because the real reason I didn’t give it to you is you laugh and smile too much. Like, I read that book,
Curt Anderson 28:26
I’m like, like, this person? Yeah. Who
Damon Pistulka 28:28
is that? Yeah,
Elaine Pofeldt 28:29
it’s just, you know, I don’t know. But she didn’t like working there that much anyway, because it was like, I guess it was like the Jack Welsh era when they were really promoting layoffs and things like that. And, and so when they were going to have a round of layoffs, they’d have the boxes in the hallway, a little bit before the layoffs, and everybody would start getting anxious, like, who’s going to be wrong. And she just started to feel like this job is gonna kill me. And so she she decided to leave. And she first she went into direct sales, she was selling candles for a little while, and she didn’t like that.
So then she started using her marketing skills to do blogging when she helped like one real estate broker. And then he said, other people could use this because the content marketing is really helpful for us. So she started doing that. And then she had more work than she could handle. She started finding people to help her and train them as virtual assistants. And she found a lot of them needed help with the business side of it. Because, you know, they didn’t know how to set limits with customers or you know, run it profitably. So she started developing courses.
And she’s in her 60s now and she’s running it she’s got a huge following and she keeps on adding these premium price courses, but she’s really good and I guess it pays for itself because she the same people that bought the entry level courses are going through the other ones. And interestingly, she helps a lot of women who are the main breadwinner in their house. A lot of them have husbands with disabilities. And I thought, well, you know, it’s it’s interesting how you can help people outside of a nonprofit, but just through how you run the business, and she’s a really big champion of helping women get into business and built a beautiful business for herself.
Curt Anderson 30:16
And what a couple things I want to take away here on this story, like when you look at these themes, or if someone’s like, he was like your friend, just, you know, when the folks featured in the book just asked you, you know, hey, is there a common thread? This story about Kathy is such an inspiration again, like corporate warrior that my goodness, you know, How atrocious they’re putting boxes in the hallway? Yeah, going like, alright, well, who’s who’s going out today?
Just a terrible mindset back then. So she leaves total leap of faith, you know, never been an entrepreneur takes, you know, I accidental entrepreneur, and what I love what she did, Lane, she went to a mastermind, if you’re thinking that you went to a mastermind, Daymond. And it was $35,000. And how many times you know, as entrepreneurs, like, you know, trying to hang on every penny, and don’t want to invest in ourselves, or like, you know, Kelly, yeah, Kelly relies on you as friend, mentor, CFO, and look at the monster success that you guys together, have built here.
Kathy has occurred the humility to go to a mastermind, and she was like, I didn’t have the money. Fine. Yeah. Together $35,000. And her business by sharing her passion niching down, she was a great VA, but she was better at teaching other people how to be a VA. Yeah, I love that story.
Elaine Pofeldt 31:29
Is that research, I did a survey of the entrepreneurs in the book, and 37% of them have a business coach 45% belong to an entrepreneurship group. And I thought that was significant, you know, not some people are going to have a peer group or other people that help them, but a very substantial portion are turning to experts to guide them. And, you know, understanding they don’t know what they don’t know. Right. And that’s, I think one reason they get to the seven figures is they do have that humility to admit they don’t have all the answers. Interestingly, they got to 1 million and an average of four years.
And they got to hiring their first employee in four years. And I, you might have some insight to that team. And I don’t know what happens, what’s the magic at four years. But that seems to be a critical year. And I would actually like to do some more, like more formalized research, because this isn’t, I was thinking about doing a more formal survey, and I spoke to a survey firm, and they said, You really need 200. And they’re about 60 in the book. So they said the way they would do that is more doing interviews, which is basically the method that I use for the book. Like to do a larger study of this to see like, what is happening at that inflection point for these businesses.
Damon Pistulka 32:47
I honestly think that’s the point, you know, for the first couple of years, people will will even the first few years, you can you can a I’m going to work more, I’m going to get more efficient with my processes, I might have a you know, part time help, I might have family help something like that can get you but there’s that point that you run into where it’s like, A, I need a full time this, I need full time that I’ve got to have that kind of help.
And it’s really, how efficient can you scale with one person yourself? And then how efficient Can you with maybe some 1099, part time help kind of thing. But eventually, if you keep growing, you just have to do that. And that four year might be kind of the like you said the magic number for this is the time when that happens?
Elaine Pofeldt 33:31
Yeah, I never I never I mean, I don’t know how if that number would hold if I did a larger sale. But I think these are folks that are united by really having a lot of best practices. So these are successful, profitable, million dollar businesses with tiny teams. And it’s interesting, I think, to just see that the number sometimes interestingly 88% exercise and I thought that was really interesting. And the number one exercise was yoga. And maybe it’s like a food truck, right? If you’re a very small business, you really are the business.
So if you get sick, or you just feeling crappy, you know, like, you can’t bring your oil to the business. So I thought they do take time out to take care of themselves in some way. I think the strength training was number two. Interesting, you know, just to know how they’re living their life. There a good portion of meditators, something I’ve never really been able to do even though I do yoga. It’s hard,
Damon Pistulka 34:29
but it is.
Curt Anderson 34:32
And I thought didn’t Don’t you do some type of martial art to
Elaine Pofeldt 34:35
you? Yeah, I do taekwondo, like, you know, it went to zoom during the pandemic. And so I actually enjoy the fighting part of it. So I’ve been going to see Kayo kickboxing, but I actually was going to reconnect with my teacher, because I’m hoping they go back to in person classes soon. He’s He’s a great teacher, and it’s a great class.
Curt Anderson 34:54
That’s I mean, a couple times were like, hey, I need to get going. I’m going to karate class or years that you’ve been, but, uh, you know, back in a book again, awesome themes here, as you guys are hearing, you know, coaching coachable, and I think that’s I think you hit it on the head lane you know that humility to be coachable and say, hey you know I have a goal, I have an aspiration, I’m going to get there, I’m not going to do it alone and you have like sub chapters tap the wisdom of the entrepreneurial community.
You know, Damon, you do a great job with your face as a business. We try to do our show here our show on Monday, Leanne, you’re putting out amazing pieces. Guys, please connect with Layne on LinkedIn, your how are you? How often are you posting on LinkedIn?
Elaine Pofeldt 35:36
I thought pretty much every day. I mean, I haven’t done I don’t. But I do write back. I love hearing from people because this is how, as a journalist I get better is knowing like, Okay, I wish you had covered that like that first article, like, why don’t you tell us the names of the entrepreneurs and you know, that set me on this path. So the best ideas really come from crowdsourcing and, and I do feel like this is a very generous community, like what you’re doing, you’re taking your time to share your knowledge and information and, and somebody is going to be listening.
And then a year later, they’re going to come to you and say, you know, I was I listened to that show you did on LinkedIn, I don’t know if you even remember it. And you know, I started a business. That happens a lot with books where people write to you. And they tell you, I’ve had a couple of people get to 1 million in one year. Yeah. And they’re getting information from various influences. And in the book, I actually asked a lot of them, like, you know, what podcasts are you listening to?
Or what tools do you use, but you’re kind of you’re the one who synthesizes it. And then maybe an opportunity presents itself or you have a life change, where now you can finally really work on this, like the pandemic for a lot of people. And then you start doing it and you’re like, Wow, this is pretty cool. And you keep showing up, which is a running theme. I think with all of these people, you keep working on it. That’s when you get the results similar to martial arts and similar to yoga, like your I remember this pasture called the crow, like you’re on your, you kind of put your knees on your elbows and you’re like, perched like a crow, right?
And I used to try to do it, I would literally fall on my face. For like two years. I couldn’t do it. I don’t I didn’t know how people did it. And then one day, I just went and I could do it. And I don’t know why on that day, it happened. Now I can do it every single time. And I think that’s how businesses like you’re working on something and like going at it from every angle. And studying it. I remember looking in books, I’m like, what is it something with the mechanics of this? And then, like, I absorbed it, and now I can do it?
Damon Pistulka 37:39
Yeah, it is. It is like that in business. It’s like that in business, you will set and you will think about a problem, you will try something, it won’t work, it won’t work, this won’t work, that won’t work. And then all of a sudden, it’s like the the clouds open up, the sun shines, and you figured out what to do. And it just happens and you go, it just happens. It just happens.
And it’s it’s because of all those iterations and all the effort that you put in and the thought you put in it that I think I think our brains as entrepreneurs synthesize this without even knowing it. And it’s just like the skies open up and it comes to you. And I know this sounds weird, but I’ve seen it happen so many times, and so many different situations that I don’t know how else to explain it. Just like you’re saying, you didn’t know any different. Yeah, it’s weird.
Elaine Pofeldt 38:34
I was like a musician, I think, right? Like you read song. And they’re like, I don’t even know where that came from. But it came from them playing for the last 20 years, or maybe not 20 years, but just practicing it. I mean, I think Seth Godin has a book called the practice, right?
And it’s really, but you have to find something that you’d like thinking about. That’s the other part of it, because he won’t show up. If you’re like, oh, gosh, I hate extra tire rims. I can’t stand thinking about them anymore. You know, like, if you feel that way other people might be like, I’m such a geek about tire rims. I don’t know why I love them so much. And you have to, you’ve got to find the thing that you’re like a little geeky about and then it doesn’t matter if other people think it’s interesting, as long as you talk about it at parties too much. If you like it, and you can get into the details of it.
Yeah. I mean, we all know it when we see like you talk to somebody who’s so passionate about what they do. And it’s like, you can never imagine yourself being that passionate about it. It’s so niche, but they are and that’s what counts because they’ve connected to that life force that makes you work at it and makes you excel at it and it can be in any industry. And once you start doing that, I think it opens the door to a lot of other opportunities. A lot of other good connections with people that you really like it’s just you’re like in the flow of this thing. Yeah. Well, I know Damon, I could tell you know exactly what I’m talking about with this right now. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 40:00
you hit that float like you said, you hit it there is a flow and you it is you have to be passionate enough to obsess over it to the point that you’ve tried a million different things a million different ways. And then all of a sudden that congeals into the right way. It just does.
Curt Anderson 40:17
Absolutely man this is linked. And I this is such an amazing guys, every honest guy. Like every person I was at Purdue University this week promoting your book, Temple University, everybody I’ve talked to, you know, Dorie Clark, you know, Dorie Clark,
Elaine Pofeldt 40:33
I need to her Yeah,
Curt Anderson 40:34
I connect with I’m part of a community with Dorie Clark, and like they are raving fans for your books I’ve been, I’ve been talking to in a Dorie Clark Community, pushing your book and they’re like, man, you because that thing, you’re singing their song you like you know your persona. And what’s amazing what’s so admirable about the career that you’ve chosen?
What you’re doing is you’re shining a bright light on a Kelly Cudworth on a Jeffrey Stern, on Chris Mead, and the bikini, you know, entrepreneur, all these amazing entrepreneurs that are just nose to the grindstone on a daily basis. And you’re come along and just do in such a, you know, game and how did so what’s hysterical, Elaine, you didn’t know that this was demons client? Well,
Elaine Pofeldt 41:12
I didn’t know that I didn’t even know. He didn’t know that the
Curt Anderson 41:14
book was coming out this week. And so I did this intentionally. So like both you guys are surprised. But like, Damon, what did Kelly How did Kelly feel when the book came out this week?
Damon Pistulka 41:23
Well, we were set, we’re doing our weekly Wednesday call and Kelly goes, Hey, remember that lady you connected me with I’m in her book. So I can’t believe I’m in her book. And I’m like, what? Cuz you know, me, I forgot about it, the introduction and stuff. And that made me so excited to be able to talk with you this week. Because, you know, it’s it’s just, it just, it’s cool that he is, you know, you see people that work really, really hard. And they create really nice businesses. And when you see that, they’ve, they’ve been able to share their story with somebody, it’s so cool in the way that you’re doing it, Elaine and consistently in your books, plural. It’s wonderful.
Elaine Pofeldt 42:07
Well, he’s, I mean, there’s a lot of generosity and giving the time. I mean, that’s what I so appreciate with these entrepreneurs is really telling me what they’re doing. And I think once people understand what someone else is doing, then they can build on it. Or they can do something opposite that because they have an even better idea. Or, you know, and so I think that’s where there’s a lot of cross pollination. And it’s those introductions like you made, I met you through Kurt. And, you know, it’s that whole ecosystem that really supports entrepreneurs, and there’s so many different ways you can tap into it and contribute to it also.
I mean, I see a lot of people doing this kind of mentoring that, you know, they just do it out of the goodness of their heart, and it makes the entrepreneurial community really vital. And I hope people will build on things in the book and take, you know, take it home and like play around with these ideas, and then maybe come up with a really great one that gets you to 15 million, and I write about, you know, what the next book will be. But this I don’t think there’s been a lot of coverage about these types of businesses, because everything has always been driven by like Silicon Valley, who becomes the next unicorn, but this is what always puzzled me.
When I would write stories, people always ask me about the smallest businesses, because people really want that. I think a small percentage of people would like to be those unicorn CEOs. And I, you know, they’re very inspiring, right? We all get inspired by their stories, but a lot of people want control of their lifestyle for different reasons. And there really hasn’t been some information about it. But like the practical day to day like, what are they actually doing the successful ones, not the ones that are sinking, because you need the help of the successful ones to turn it around.
But I really am interested in their best practices. And you know, I think we’ll keep like, I invite other people to tell me what you think they have in common because it’s a question I asked myself every day I know it when I see it. And I’ve pinpointed some things but there’s some glue that holds them all together. And it’s very like you would see it in your coaching practice, Damon, I think and Kurt, you know, it’s all the people that you work with you you know it, like when it’s in the room with you. But what is it exactly? It’s like an intangible, in a way. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 44:33
It’s so great. So great. Interviewer like your, you know, that it’s challenging, you know, our cyber, like, you know, I was need to have the next question prepared. And like through this entire conversation, Elaine, I’m, like, so captivated by what you’re saying. I’m like, oh, no, not I need to ask a question real quick. I’m like, You’re just such a captivating speaker. You’re such an amazing journalist. And I know we’re coming into time, but I want to if I can hang on to you for another minute or two here. I know we’re doing we’re doing okay.
Again, guys, you have to buy the book did I tell you buy the book, you have to buy the book. So you know, coachable, finding consultants niching down, you know, when you go through all these examples, I mean, like these people like really niche down hard. I have another entrepreneur that I want to talk to about real quick. You talk about the all freelance team, building up that off freelance team again, like, you know, being able to throw that ball around. The one entrepreneur that I wanted to ask, talk about Janine, she’s the broker for the private jets. Oh, yeah. What if David, what not an amazing story this can you share that one with us?
Elaine Pofeldt 45:36
Oh, sure. I’m Janine, IANA rally is worked in the aviation industry for a really long time. And she wound up building her own business selling used private jets. And it’s a commission driven business. And she does some collaboration where there are similar brokers in Europe and other places where they work together. But it’s obviously a big ticket item. So even if the commission was like, 2%, it was still pretty big. But she does.
She’s a daredevil. I mean, she’s like, there have been all kinds of different worlds situations where she’s had to move planes across the world. And I remember during the pandemic, she was moving them closer to where she is in Texas, because she wanted to be ready to show them out of the starting gate. And that proactivity I think, you know, that’s one of the things were like, they’re always thinking a little bit ahead, not letting things happen to them. But, but thinking, Okay, this is gonna be bad, you know?
And what do I do to position this business for success. And it’s not to say they don’t have ups and downs they do. But she outfitted her garage. And as she was building a tiny team, she’s got, in part, it was during COVID. And this way, she can work in the house and the team can they she was rotating in her team so that only one person was in the garage, which was fully finished and nice, at one time.
So there was not a health risk. And they’re very thoughtful about these types of things. Like, you know, if A happens, I’ll do this, if B happens, I’ll do this. And they build flexibility into the business model. And that’s, that’s also important because we everybody had to pivot so much. And the people whose business closed I think a lot of them were they were sticking to one business model and they just didn’t adapt quickly. Sometimes you get tired. I mean, it’s just life. I mean, we’ve seen a lot of businesses close, and I think some people have been through a few business cycles, and they’re like, I just don’t have it in me anymore to do this. It’s too tired.
But if you want to keep it going, you really like they have a lot of lessons about that. Another couple. Vanessa just Swanee and Kish bus nanny, they’re married couple, they have a business called Nomad lane, they make bags, their travel bags, and they it was initially an underseat bag that would be big enough for a laptop, and they manufacture it overseas. But then the pandemic hit nobody’s traveling, they raised 2.1 million on Indiegogo, by the way to make the bags. So they created a little face, it was actually a zoom group, to keep in touch with their most loyal customers and brainstorm with them and just talk about travel and what bags would they like.
And so they got the idea, their bag has a lot of pockets to keep everything from falling to the bottom. So they created at the fans request another big that was like for everyday use. And the in 2020, the business had been a 3 million in revenue with really just the two of them and a few contractors. first three months of 2020, they brought in 1 million fell off a cliff that was like basically all the money they made for the year. But now they’re almost back to where they were. And they did another crowdfunding campaign for the other bag.
And then meanwhile, the travel bag came back and I thought and she had a baby, the baby is like a year old. You know, along the way they moved from New York to to Florida. It just showed me a little bit about the way people think, you know, like not everybody, some people would have been like, Oh, my goodness, this business is finished, the travel is finished. But they took time to deepen the relationships with their customers. They always were careful about spending, they use credit cards to rack up a lot of points to pay for things in the business with points, but they always paid them down.
They use a lot of smart practices that I think if you really break them down, it’s like an engine for building a great business. One thing that I think a lot of them have in common is it’s not just one thing that they do. They you know, there’s seven or eight or 10 things that they’re doing consistently that make the thing work. And sometimes people are like, why? You know, could you give me a list of the things I need to do to start a successful e commerce business when it just doesn’t work that way. First of all, each person is different, their talents are different. The network is different their resources nurses are different.
They might be an introvert or an extrovert, which affects how they would sell a lot of things. And what I take from these stories is there could be seven people with different ecommerce businesses, they’re all getting to seven figures. But every single story is very different how they got there. And it’s a matter of figuring out how for you, you can do it. You know, if you’re, if you’re an introvert, maybe you’re great at figuring out some sort of online sales funnel. Another person who’s an extrovert might do great at trade shows, you know, or in person sales. There’s not a right or wrong, there’s right or wrong for you. And that might even change as the business changes or as you personally
Damon Pistulka 50:41
Yeah, yeah. Incredible.
Curt Anderson 50:45
Phenomenal. So guys, alright, Elaine, we’re gonna wind down, I’m not even we have to act like it’s like, alright, it’s 25 After the hour, so lane. First off, thank you for thank you for, for putting Damon’s client for my clients. little shout out to me in the book. So God bless you. Thank you. I appreciate you appreciate your friendship.
Thank you for signing up bright light on entrepreneurs and just been a huge advocate for you know, these tiny businesses that are making big money, what an inspiration you are. So first off, they can find you on LinkedIn. Where else Can anybody find you? Are you looking for I know you’re promoting your book like crazy. Any, any stories that you’re looking for right now? Any topics? We have some fierce networkers that that come on our program? Oh,
Elaine Pofeldt 51:31
good. Well, I’m on Facebook and Twitter also under my my name, my first and last, and then Instagram under million dollar, one person business. So any of those places is a good place to write, I do write back. And in terms of stories, I’m interested in smaller businesses that are getting to seven figures, either with no employees or with a tiny team. I’m continuing to explore this because I think there’s a lot more to learn about them. And, you know, I do a lot of general business coverage to personal finance and scalable businesses too.
So anybody in this space, if you think you have an interesting story, I do look for stories where people will share the numbers I should say up front, because it’s business, right? Like the numbers do tell the story as Damon knows, it’s not the whole story. But I need to sort of understand financially how the business is doing. But a lot of times people maybe aren’t ready at one point and then two years later, now they are ready. So, you know, this is an open invitation open indefinitely. And when you’re ready to tell your story, I’m here. Awesome.
Curt Anderson 52:38
That’s awesome. So guys, anybody out there that has you know, I know Dan bigger John, big Leno, Chris Harrington, any of you guys out there that are out there today gal. You know, if you have clients that you want to shine a bright light on, you know, connect them with Lane in, you know, great and just connect with Lane in general, you want to follow her stories, follow her articles. She’s an amazing journalist, great, fierce advocate for entrepreneurship. So lane, our last thoughts of the day. Any advice for entrepreneurs out there? What What would you share with them to really get out there and just go after it for 2022?
Elaine Pofeldt 53:11
I would say to own your own career. I mean, there’s a lot of critics out there armchair critics. And if you believe in something, and you can make it happen, you put the infrastructure in place to keep paying your bills. So you can you know, you can keep your family or yourself afloat and then then do it. And don’t worry about what other people think this all these folks have told me stories about people shooting down their ideas and other things like that. But it doesn’t matter if you believe in it, and you’re willing to do the work. It’s amazing what you can make happen.
Curt Anderson 53:42
In your dreams, guys, and that’s exactly what this book is all about what this is in, and I know we could go all day. And I have to say this before we wrap up what you talked about like the the unicorns, Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, you know, like Rockefeller, Carnegie, I mean, like all the people, you know, that half a percent, or whatever we want to call it, what you’ve done is you’ve taken a Kelly Cudworth Jeffree Star, and this is so relatable, this is so achievable. These are stories of just everyday folks that are doing extraordinary.
These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Yes. And you’ve shined a bright light on these people. And it’s inspiration for anybody on the call or anybody else listening to this, that yes, you can go out and do this. All the tools, all the resources, it’s a level playing field out there in a lane and both of her books strongly encourage you check out both of her books, really spells out a nice game plan on how for all of us to go out there and cheat it. So guys, here’s our challenge for the day go out there start hitting your million dollar business. That’s our getting right to me. Your next book lane so we’re objects for you. How’s that?
Elaine Pofeldt 54:41
Let me know what I’d love to know what you think the next book should be about. That would be you know, where’s your pain point and what do you want to know for your personal growth as an entrepreneur? I be very curious about that because I like the books to be helpful to people. I mean, that’s this one came out of hearing people saying it was hard to make that transition. And I thought You know that why is it hard?
Because existing methods weren’t what they wanted to do. They wanted to do it more in the spirit of their million dollar one person business. And it turned out there were answers like Brian Dean, who he runs an SEO business called Backlinko. ran the whole business on notion, and which is a technology platform. So you just bought it. And he just sold it? Yes.
Curt Anderson 55:23
Millions. Yeah. Brian Dean is getting the shoes. He’s a big Brian Dean fan. I’m a huge brain gene fan. He just sold his company. I think the SEM Rush was
Elaine Pofeldt 55:32
rush. Yeah. And you know, with us that the way you know how they look at the systems and processes, yeah, his work, and he wasn’t having any meetings for all those who don’t like meetings.
Damon Pistulka 55:44
It can be done. Yeah,
Curt Anderson 55:48
it can be so Alright, man. Well, we could go all day so late. Oh, thank you. Thank you, God bless. Have you come back. So thank you for everything that you do. Thank you for your friendship. You are such a blessing to all of us. So guys, have an amazing, incredible weekend out there. Daymond. I are back on Monday. We have an incredible guest on our Monday program. So Damon take it away brother, man, I’m just I’m gonna be glowing all weekend. Thank you. Lane. You just
Elaine Pofeldt 56:16
thank you both. It was so it’s so great to talk to him. And I had no idea. It’s so funny. He wrote to me, and I’m gonna have to write back to him now he might be watching. I don’t know.
Damon Pistulka 56:26
I don’t know. But I was I was surprised. The way it happened it was so guys I had no idea and like I said, Honestly, he showed me the book on Wednesday. And that’s the first I knew about it. And it just it things work. But thanks so much for being here today. Elaine, that tiny business big money go out and get the book. I want to thank you know, we’ve got Dan and Gary and Chris, John, Valerie Deb Snia Vaughn, Jen, Gail, and and care, Corinne.
I’ve hopefully got everybody that I saw comments for on here. But thanks for being here. We really appreciate you listening. And like Elaine said, reach out to where you guys have great knowledge about these businesses. And she wants to hear more. So thanks so much for being here today. We will be back again next week. As Kurt says, we’re out now for the manufacturing ecommerce success. Thank you.