Brian Bagnall, Marketer & Happiness Expert Discovers There’s More To Entrepreneurship Than Money

brian_headshot_2The thing that makes Brian Bagnall interesting is, he’s a marketing guy who has turned into a happiness expert. He still helps people with marketing but he also has discovered that making a lot of money in your business is not necessarily in the end what’s going to make you happy. We had a really interesting conversation about marketing, about how to know when not to quit, and how to not give up the second before your business is getting successful and all sorts of other really good, juicy things.


I kind of started the entrepreneurial journey because I despised authority, basically. You know, when I was 17, 18, 19 I was starting just like small businesses and not being successful with any of them. Partly because or mostly because I realized now that I didn’t follow through on them, when I hit roadblocks. I was sitting in college and listening to a business professor, that had never owned a business, never spent any money on marketing and just regurgitating things from the book, and I’m like, “This isn’t working for me. What’s the end game here? To go out and get a job and to listen to somebody else and take orders from somebody else?” I’m like, “That just isn’t going to work.” At that point, I think it was my second or third year of college, I realized that I had to do this myself because I just wasn’t going to be happy any other way. It was hard, I mean I had been starting businesses since 18 and didn’t have anything remotely successful until twenty two or twenty three.

The early businesses were, one was like that SMC thing, I don’t know if you remember that, we used to have like a late night infomercials, where they drop-ship products for you. I bought $1000 worth of products, and never sold anything. I had a cigarette website, which I don’t condone, I’m not into smoking or anything, but online cigarettes were big back then because you were avoiding the high taxes of cigarettes. They would drop-ship them from other countries and that kind of stuff. That was one of the ones where I realized I made a little money, but I wasn’t making the type of money that wanted to make so I just kind of gave up on it, which was stupid. It’s not something I would have stayed in but it would have been good for my business, you know for confidence building and that kind of stuff.  I had to learn not to quit earlier than I did, you know, but I guess we’re all on the path we need to be on. You learn by your mistakes and then you take those forward.

Then my first real business that I started and somewhat succeeded at was, I started a technology consulting firm. My big mistake there was I didn’t know anything about marketing, didn’t know much about business and I’m just like, “Well the more you spend on advertising, I mean it has to come back to you, duh!” I signed up for like $80,000 worth of yellow pages advertising.  And it was good until like the bills started, because you know they let you go for a month or two before, they let your ad run in the new edition for like a month or two before they start billing you. It was good until those big bills, thousands of dollars a month started rolling.

I’m like, “Oh, this really isn’t working out,” because I was in a stage where you just copy what everyone else is doing. You pick the biggest businesses and the biggest ads and you kind of copy their ads with your own unique twist. I obviously know there’s more to marketing at this time, but I also know that most business owners don’t know what they’re doing in terms of marketing so I was copying people exactly like me.

Then I got into real estate. I was somewhat successful at that – I made 25 grand on my first deal in a matter of six weeks which was great. I didn’t do it because I thought I could do it. I had an older friend who was kind of a mentor and he used to do this stuff in real estate and so I did this more prove him wrong and it ended up working. My first deal went flawlessly and I did tons of things wrong, too. And then I went into the second deal and just totally lost my but. It’s been a life of tribulations, but I’m like I have to be good at marketing, this is the secret. I started studying the big guys, Perry Marshal and Dan Kennedy and John Carlton and that kind of stuff and learnt how to build a real business and sales – such as that as a business you should be spending 80% of your time on sales and marketing and not putting out fires, all that good stuff.

Meredith: Right, so what advice would you give to somebody – like Jasper and I had a similar story about a previous incarnation of this podcast, that we had for a year. We didn’t really interview anybody else, we just talked to each other and we had an audience and we gave up like probably two weeks before it would have gotten successful, we found out later. They’re like, “Oh, when you get to this level then you know, then things start to happen.” We got right to that level and quit so I totally understand. What advice do you have for people to prevent that from happening? When do you know that it’s not just cutting your losses because it’s not working versus giving up to soon?

Brian: Yeah, I don’t know if there is an answer to that, that’s tough, you know. I guess, the best advice I would give on that is to,  you know when your business failing or not doing what we want it to do as quickly as we want it to do it. We look at the past, we look at all this work that we’ve put in and all the struggle and the people that have said, “You’re an idiot for being a business owner, why don’t you just get a job, why don’t you just do this, why can’t you just be normal?” You know, and it’s easy to get discouraged. Businesses require a lot of time and energy, money, effort, all that stuff. I would say the best thing to do is look at the business in small pieces, chunk it down. What is your problem? Is it leads, is it customers, is it sales, is it that your average transaction size is too small, is it that you’re not getting repeat customers? What really is the problem?

Don’t just look at, “Well, gee, I haven’t got enough money in the bank or things aren’t going as well as I want them to do,” – break them down, so if it’s leads, then you break that down into just leads, okay so what do I need? How much am I paying per click? How much is it costing me to get a lead? Is that the problem? Could I do some split testing of whatever widget I’m giving away or whatever squeeze page I’m doing. If you break your business down into those little tiny pieces, you can find out what’s not working and then those little tiny pieces seem a lot less of a big deal and it’s like you can tackle each of those pieces in like a day and come up with some split testing stuff or whatever.

Once you’ve exhausted all of those things and not just gotten discouraged because of, you feel that you’ve put in all this time an energy and you feel you should be at this point by now or whatever, and you’ve really exhausted all, trying to fix all those pieces and you’ve put in enough energy and effort into that as you can, I’d say that’s the point where you give up. Most of the time we just give up too easily, not because it is hard, but for our own reasons.

Favorite Resource: Fiverr

Brian is offering a free copy of his book – The Happiness Bible – go grab yourself a copy HERE!


brian_headshot_2Guest: Brian Bagnall – Bagnall & Associates, LLC

Despite a number of successful business ventures beginning in his early 20s, Brian had a dark secret–he wasn’t truly happy. Brian started a journey to discover what true happiness is and how to achieve it

Brian Bangall is the inventory of the Happiness Coin. A new kind of charity where people directly help other people and then ‘pay it forward’. Brian has been featured on the CBS Evening News, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, The Huffington Post and others, newspaper and magazine interviews.

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