Meredith: Today we’re really pleased to be interviewing Pam Ivey, who I consider to be a mentor of mine. Pam’s been around in the online world for going on 14 years now. During those years, you’ve done a variety of things and have supported hundreds of business owners in their endeavors. What would you say makes the biggest difference between the businesses that launch and the businesses that just sort of wither on the vine?
Pam: Ah, the sustaining businesses. That’s a really easy one for me, because I’ve seen so many people launch businesses and then go back to that nine-to-five grind. It just didn’t work for them. The main point I really want to drive home is you have to have an entrepreneurial mindset. So many people are stuck in the employee mindset, waiting to be tasked all the time, having everything set out for them. That is just not setting you up for success as an entrepreneur.
Meredith: So how would you make that transition from being an employee, where people give you things to do, you sort of sit your little bottom in a chair, hang out there for 8 hours, and get your paycheck no matter what, but you have this wild hare passionate idea that you want to do something? How do you tap into that inner entrepreneur that most people have? Or do you think most people don’t have it? Do you think it’s something that people are born with or not?
Pam: No. It definitely can be learned. It’s not a “born-with” thing. I was just very fortunate that my father, in particular, always had a business as long as he was alive, so I was brought up in that atmosphere. But, really, it’s all about having a plan. You have to have a plan, your roadmap if you will, to success. That is utterly important. And you have to break that down into all of the pieces that it’s going to take you to reach those goals.
I’ve been in business for a long time, but one of the things I found that has made the biggest difference in my business in the last little while and really skyrocketed my income in particular is having a set time where I’m sitting at my desk – kind of like a 9-to-5 – where I’m completely focused on what I’m doing. I’m completely focused on completing tasks that will move me closer and closer toward my goals. I think planning, then really getting focused on what you have to do and actually doing it is key, because when we start our own business, we kind of think, “Now I can be a little willy-nilly and free flowing and do what I want when I want,” but that really isn’t how to build a successful business.
Meredith: I agree that there is a very seductive myth, and it’s almost #2 behind the myth that we compiled on this show, which is the “work in your underwear and make $100,000 in your sleep” myth.
Meredith: The other seductive myth is that you can get your business going and once you turn that key, without any further winding, the gears will just chug on, and money will just get deposited in your PayPal account month after month, forever and ever and ever amen, off of your $27 e-book, which is the same as everybody else’s $27 e-book. It’s just not true because, no matter what, there’s always work to be done.
Meredith: I think the key to fitting a business around your lifestyle — and this is something that you’ve supported people in for a long time, too — is getting the right help to leverage yourself so that your contribution can eventually get narrowed down to that tiny speck of utter brilliance you have that nobody else could contribute.
Pam: Very well said, and very, very true. It’s not often that someone just running out of the gate with their own business can quickly say, “Okay, I’m going to take on an assistant to help me 20 hours a week.” It usually doesn’t work that way unless you’re really blessed with a whole bunch of money.
So you start small, but getting the right help is really important. Should you really be spending 200 hours figuring out how to get your WordPress site up? That’s time that you can be spending to make money. Or can you hire someone for, say, 10 hours at even $50 an hour, because that’s not unreasonable for a technical person. It’s going to save you so much more money and heartache. And it’s really not where you should be expending your energy.
Meredith: And the website will be better, too.
Pam: A heck of a lot better, that’s for sure. As you were talking, something came up in my head. I’m a huge proponent of what I call “A.B.M.,” which is “Always Be Marketing”. That’s really important to keep in mind. Say you provide a service, and even if your roster is full of clients right now, you never know what’s going to happen down the road. Somebody could, God forbid, perish, which has happened in my business — a very large client. Or they could find a service provider that they want to try out, so they leave your business. For whatever reason, you could have gaps in business, and if you’re not always marketing, you’re scrambling to meet your consistent income every month.
Meredith: The other thing with that is you can always be marketing and you can have people coming to you, asking to work with you, and you can be full. Right?
Meredith: So then you just refer them to someone else, and that builds a lot of goodwill so that the other person can refer back to you when you need it. There’s no harm in doing that. I actually think that people hide a little bit in the nitty-gritty of their business in the beginning. It’s so easy to think that you’re working when you’re putzing around with WordPress, or making pretty little graphics on Canvo, or whatever it is that you’re doing. In fact, however, when we ask most of the people that we’ve talked to, “Who was your first client and where did you find them?”, 95% of the time the answer is, “Oh, it’s somebody I met at a networking event locally.” So if you’re not getting yourself out in front of those people, it’s really hard to get that first client.
Pam: It is. And to add to what you said, while you certainly can give referrals, something that I loved to do when I had a service-based business was to create a waiting list. The people you really resonate with, that you want to hang onto and not refer, will wait for you, and it creates a bit of scarcity, which makes you even more coveted…
Meredith: … because you’re so booked up. So what advice would you give to someone at the very beginning of their journey? Someone wakes up one morning and says, “You know, I don’t really like my job. I’m not really living in my passion. My passion is playing the mandolin and I want to teach people to do that.” What would be Step One?
Pam: Step One is to do some research and make sure that people really want to pay for someone who teaches how to play the mandolin. It’s all well and fine to have this amazing passion, but if nobody’s willing to pay for your passion, then you’re going to be broke real quick. You need to do some really serious thinking, not just “I’m going to fluff it over and I’m going to make it work whichever way it happens.” Or you say, “I’m going to find people who really want me. Is there a large enough audience who will buy what I have to offer?” I think that’s really, really key.
Favorite Book: Writing For The Web by Maria Veloso
Favorite Resources: Infusionsoft; GoToWebinar
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Pam’s Top Tips For starting A Business on a Really Solid Foundation
1) Have a business plan – something that lays out your goals and the steps it is going to take to get there.
2) Have a marketing plan – how are you going to get the word out?
3) Have a dynamic website that speaks to your ideal client’s pain points – almost everybody today uses Google to find things.
4) If you have a services based business – get a merchant account so you can automatically charge people’s credit cards rather than having to bill and wait for payment. Cash flow is key.
5) Don’t hide behind your computer – get out and go to where your potential clients hang out.
Pam Ivey is a tireless champion of the online business industry and is considered a Thought Leader in Online Marketing and Outsourcing. Known for her warm and engaging manner and wide-ranging, comprehensive skills and experience, she has inspired countless entrepreneurs to achieve greater heights in their businesses through training, coaching, speaking, and mentoring.
Her flagship program, Online Marketing Manager Certification™, is cutting-edge training designed to teach students all of the major aspects of online marketing from start to finish, providing them with the confidence and knowledge they need to secure high-level, high-paying clients, hungry and even desperate to partner with them to grow their businesses.
Pam is co-author of “The Business of Being Virtual” and is featured in the award-winning 2012 Technology Book of the Year, “Internet Prophets: The World’s Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Online”.
Located in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada, Pam feels very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, boasting the world’s longest freshwater beach, amazing forested trails, Ontario’s best downhill and alpine skiing, and a beautiful provincial park right at her doorstep.
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