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Stop Trading Time For Money: A Candid Conversation About Starting A Business From Scratch 

In this interview you will learn how to make money with the skills you already have and start a business from scratch that puts money into your pocket starting on Day 1 and the mindset you need to adopt when transitioning from being a freelancer to building a real business!

In this episode you will discover:

  • How to make money with the skills you already have (even if it's just lawn mowing) 
  • The new mindset you need to adopt when transitioning from being a freelancer to building a real business
  • How to turn a service into a product you can sell
  • How Mike suddenly was cracking the nut for customer acquisition (and made three sales from people he had never seen before) ...
  • The biggest breakthrough for Mike when he started to build his business
  • Why Mike never that it was possible for money appear out of the ether (until it happened)
  • An amazing success story (that did not involve going to motivational seminars)
  • How do you stay up-to-date without getting overloaded?
  • The biggest time waster for new entrepreneurs
  • The easiest way to start a podcast
  • The best way to start a business from scratch (that puts money into your pocket starting on Day 1)

About Mike Partee

After almost being evicted, laid off from a dead-end job in technical support, and utterly broken and defeated--Mike Partee found himself reaching out to every Podcast Editing Company Google could spit out;

Facing dozens of harsh "No's" and an orchestra of crickets.

Still determined to make something happen, the mantra became:

"If nobody will give me a job, I will."

Podcast Rocket was thus born as a Craigslist hustle, then a Fiverr account before starting this website. After many long nights, phone calls, listening to customer's needs, and faith...

Customers came out of the woodwork. Staff was added. Prayers were answered and Mike turned his freelance career into a successful business...

The Interview

I'm currently 21 and created this business called Podcast Rocket where we edit and do post production for people who run podcasts, like yourself.

I was just this nerdy kid who liked writing music on computers. I created techno music and stuff like that back then. That was in 2008 and 2009. I did that throughout my childhood and later on down the road, I started to look into entrepreneurship. I had a mentor who took me under his wing and I was enticed by the freedom of entrepreneurship.

If you fast forward to now, I basically just looked at the skill base that I had, which was music composition and audio engineering; I spent a lot of time recording bands or setting up rigs for people in live concerts and had this huge skill base in audio production.

Then I asked myself what does the market need?

The question was:

How can I match what I learned with market needs and create a business out of it?

That's how this business was born. The podcast editing world checked a lot of boxes.It was something I knew how to do.

I did not have to worry too much about it, I just needed to sell.

A big plus was that this can run remotely. That's where I am now a year-and-a-half later and really enjoy the progress I've made.

What's the difference between being a freelancer and building an actual business?

The number one thing is the mindset. When I started this business, the only goal that I had was practice in business.

Two years ago, I had nothing. I had a couple of failed projects and a few little things that nobody would be proud of.

I learned a lot from the mistakes I made. I learned what not to do.

That's when I changed my mindset. I had nothing to show for all the work that I'd been doing for several years.

I wanted to find something, just anything, that would work. Anything that would get me practice on business.


When I started this business, the only goal that I had was practice in business.   Two years ago, I had nothing. I had a couple of failed projects and a few little things that nobody would  be proud of.


Then there came to a point where that sort of belief or that mindset ended up not serving me.

I asked myself: If you're just practicing, when are you actually gonna start playing the game?

There was a certain point when I started thinking well beyond. Not just pay the bills and get practice.

The biggest shift happened when I decided to evolve from being a freelancer to somebody who is running a real business that has employees and a large base of customers.

A business that serves a lot of people. It's not just practicing, it's playing the game.

It's having that desire to really build a multimillion-dollar company and waking up to that vision instead of waking up and thinking, “how am I gonna pay the bills today?” That's been the biggest shift.


What were some of the things that you would not like to do again and that you would not recommend anybody to do as well?

First of all currently I have a productized service. That means my company basically performs a pre-packaged service that you wouldn’t fulfill yourself.

I would figure out what the patterns are, so you can turn it into a product and resell it on a larger scale.

This way it's a lot less custom, limiting the number of variables.

With that in mind, one of the things that I'd would 100% do, without a second doubt in my mind, is that if you're gonna be starting off in services, you need to hire sooner than you think you're going to.

You need to get out of the trenches of fulfilling all the work yourself and get to building out the systems.

You need to find the right people and design the processes. Get out of doing this service yourself so that you become the entrepreneur. Become the builder and work on the business, not in the business like Michael Gerber said in his book the E-Myth. It's an excellent book on this topic.

The next thing is to make sure that you're charging high enough.

If you are not charging enough, you will have a hard time to find people to fulfill the work.

This might get you in the same situation where I was with too much work I had to fulfill myself.

That leads to not reaching your deadlines.

You need to find the right people and design the processes.  Get out of doing this service yourself so that you become the entrepreneur.

 

You'll not have enough time to sell or people are paying you too little for you to be able to hire anybody else full-time.

Make sure that you dial that in correctly. You want to become the entrepreneur and not be a worker in the business.

How did you find your mentor and what have you learnt from him?

My first mentor was a guy who I met in the music world. I was about thirteen or fourteen.

Just as I said, I was just this super young guy, writing techno music on my computer. Just this weird little hobby. He was the only other person in town, in my city, that actually did what I was doing.

Eventually we ended up meeting and having a good chat about music, about workflows and about the creative process behind writing music.

I asked him, what do you do? Because this was a guy was a bit older and had the freedom to be able to go see me at like 10 o'clock in the morning on a Tuesday. This was not even conceivable in my mind because I thought everybody works a nine-to-five.

He said "I'm an entrepreneur. I run a web design business and I own 12 properties that I rent out to families." And I was like, Damn! If that's what you have, I want it.

And since then, we've become great friends. We're still really good friends too but he took me under his wing and showed me a lot of stuff that I'm just incredibly grateful for.


What would you consider your first major breakthrough when you were starting out?

I think the biggest breakthrough was probably cracking the nut on how to acquire customers.

That must be everybody's biggest problem in the beginning. You think, well, I've got this great idea, I've got this great product.

How do I actually get it in front of people?

So, the biggest breakthrough was just learning how to drive traffic to a site.

Learning very basic web design skills so somebody could find out what we're doing.

On top of that I was getting better on the phone. That means if somebody was actually interested in the product I would not have a nervous breakdown on the phone.

When being on a sales call, I could have a good conversation and be able to sell something confidently.

Learning sales has been the biggest breakthrough so far.

How did you get traffic to your website? 

I got the first sales from Adwords, which was ridiculous! It was like, I turned them on one day. When I woke up there were like three or four sales and I was like, how did that happen?!

Then I remembered, oh wait, it's just from Adwords.

Before that, it was a little bit of a longer process.

Before that there was a lot of persuasion involved. But this was just somebody who was genuinely interested in the service and decided to buy without even having to think about contacting me initially.

I got the first sales from Adwords, which was ridiculous!  When I woke up there were like three or four sales and I was like, how did that happen?!


The customer thought “He has everything that I need. I guess I'll just buy…”

I never really realized that was possible until it happened.

There's something amazing about just having, I guess, money appear out of the ether. 

If you had to start all over again today going to university or college, where would you start?

For somebody who is interested in entrepreneurship and young enough, I would say: Get off your butt, don't be lazy, cash is king.

Your ideas don't matter unless you can take something and make something out of it.

I almost got evicted before I actually got any traction with this business.

This is long time ago, granted.

I almost ended up going broke before I said: There's something wrong here. I need to actually make something out of my knowledge and talent.  

You gotta want it bad enough. It must hurt bad enough not to do it.

In the Fastlane Forum there is this amazing comic of three people going to a motivational seminar.

Two of them were just attending and this third one was thinking, 'I could do better than that' and sat down to actually write a script while the other two were just talking.

She put in the hard work, this character. And at the end you could just see she's having her screenplay presented at a fair and the other two were just watching her movie film.

If you pay attention this success story doesn't happen overnight.

It takes a long period of time. If you looked in the comic, you could see they are aging.

It doesn't take one year to change your life.

It can take a long time to realize the vision you're going after.

First you need to put in work.


What are the best tools that every entrepreneur needs to use and you use to get business?

FindFocus is a great tool to stay focused but besides that a tool that I use to stay productive is Favro, which is amazing!

It's similar to Trello but they went off and added these functions that Trello wasn't developing and innovating on. I really like it.

I've got this crazy set up that looks like inside the head of mad scientist to anybody else but makes a whole lot of sense. It works for me.

Favro is the tool that keeps me on track.

Besides that it's important to stay aligned with what you're doing. Make sure you are not just focusing on your business, but success in every area of your life.

I created a big spreadsheet…


It's basically a spreadsheet that tracks my level of success on a scale of one to ten in each area of my life and then on the X-axis, represents time.

With that spreadsheet I track in a graph, how much my life has objectively improved over time.

I've been using that for a couple of months now and it's been awesome.

I don't know if I'll release the template publicly. But it's been really revolutionary in being able to look at the whole picture and say, okay, where do I have to actually focus?

So, that's been really helpful as well.

How do you stay up-to-date without getting overloaded?

Be aware of things that you can improve and take action to improve those things. I know it's easier said than done. A big key to make progress anywhere comes from having awareness.

Be aware of the holes in your life and then seek out the answers.

That's the best way to stay balanced without being overloaded with everything that's going on.

Everything always comes back to awareness and attention. Just take a look at FindFocus.

It's an app to raise awareness when people are sitting in front of the computer, doing work, creating value for other people. It stops them from wasting their time on Facebook, YouTube or Netflix and stuff like that. 

Be aware of things that you can improve and take action to improve those things. I know it's easier said than done.

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Where do you see entrepreneurs wasting a lot of time when they get started?

The biggest time waster is research. Everybody wants to think of every possible contingency. Just take action!

Make something happen today. If you can't make something happen today, then what are you even doing?

It sounds harsh but I've been that wantrepreneur that thinks he knows what he's doing.

Nothing matters unless you take action.

Just take a look a this podcast. Turning it into an article makes it more likely that it will get picked up by Google and other platforms.

It feels so much more fulfilling to actually create something that you can show to other people instead of saying “I read this great article.”

Make sure you are moving the needle every single day

Another tool that used is that from Andy Frisella and the MFCEO Project. There is an episode about the powerlist

This is a list you make at the beginning of your day, which says, here are my top three critical tasks that I'm going to do to make progress.

If I do these things, I win the day. If I don't do it, I lose. It's a really awesome episode.

Making sure that whatever you're doing is important enough.

Move those big rocks.

Which tools do you see are becoming much more important in the near future when starting a podcast?

In the podcast industry, I've noticed an overwhelming trend in start-ups coming out and allowing people to start podcasts a lot easier than it ever has been before.

The reason for that is that the dominant market players for a while now, has been some of these media house like Libsyn or Blubrry or Podbean and other companies who host media.

Then then they give you what's called an RSS feed that you send to iTunes or to any of the other syndication platforms.

The easiest way to start a podcast

Now there's an overwhelming amount of companies like Anchor.fm and a couple of other companies as well. It's probably the easiest way for somebody to start a podcast because then you don't have to worry about any of the RSS configuration.

You just set up an account, you publish your audio and it's basically done for you. That's been a big tool.

Besides that there are more analytics for marketers available. The only stats we've been able to get historically have been the download numbers.

With better statistics you can tell when somebody decides to purchase a product or decides to stop or start listening to your podcast. These stats are available for YouTube but you don't really have the stats for podcasts, yet.

You don't know if a call-to-action, for instance, was effective.

If you had those statistics to figure out how your users are behaving in the middle of your podcast would be great. That would allow marketers and people who run podcasts as the marketing arm of their business to really make better decisions.  

They would know when and where to place certain content. For example, when to put a call-to-action or if they should put the sponsor spot in the middle or towards the end of a show.

Better Podcast Analytics

It helps you make a lot better decisions on how to format your show.

That is been a growing trend as well.

I really hope that we can continue to innovate in this space, because it is so untapped.

A lot of people say that there's too many podcasts out there. I don't believe that for a minute...

I think that, there's so much more room for improvement in this area, and it's just a matter of time before people realize it.

Another example is this very podcast.

All episodes are transcribed and transformed into a blog post that people can actually read.

Not just a transcription that nobody reads.

It's the next step of content marketing where you publish something and then syndicate it to other places, whether its YouTube, or Facebook, or Twitter.

Stop wasting your time on research

Put things out there and just create. This is so much more fulfilling. Even if the first episodes of the FindFocus podcast were not edited, you can see the progress you make over time.

It's so much more fulfilling to actually create.

Everybody who tries to start a business should start creating something and stop consuming so much.

When you create you can improve along the line.

To get good at anything will take some time and practice anyway.

If you are starting out nobody knows about you. That's a good thing. Because nobody sees how crappy you are. But if you got some practice for a couple of weeks or couple of months you will improve a lot.

And then more people will see your content and hopefully buy whatever you are selling.. 

Everybody who tries to start a business should start creating something and stop consuming so much.


What's the best way to start a business right now? 

Make sure that what you do is relevant for your customer.

If you're just getting started in entrepreneurship, start with a service because you get cash flow from day one.

You are trading time for money. Then you can scale up and start buying other people's time and selling it under the guise of your brand.

To get started, simply find the closest person to you that you can help with the skills that you have.

If it means you have to mow a neighbor's lawn, then go ahead and do it.

It's just getting the practice of reaching out to people and performing these tasks for people.

It may not necessarily be as scalable in the beginning but it helps you learn the ropes.

You begin to notice some distinctions along the way.

If you are the guy who's an over-achiever then don't just stop there.

Instead of one neighbor go to the entire neighborhood or the entire city and mow their lawns.

That's how you build a lawn care business.

How do you transition from being a freelancer to running a business? 

How do you transition from that freelancer lawn mowing guy to having an enterprise?

When your have your freelance business up and running change your mindset from getting the practice to running of business.

You had practice with just going to your neighbor, you had practice just going to your entire neighborhood.

At what point are you gonna play the game?

At what point is it gonna be important enough that you decide that an enterprise is something that you wanna build?

Change the mindset. Once you actually start scaling up, find resources like the E-Myth so that you can start building out your processes.

Start reading more literature on hiring services in general.

Start looking into how to develop a culture, so that you don't wanna bite your employees' heads off.

Make sure you're hiring people for character, not for skill because you can have somebody that's skilled and be a pain to work with, right?

You wanna make sure that you're still enjoying the process on your climb up.

Those are just a couple of little pointers.

That's where I would start and that's how I would address both audiences of the person who wants to get started as an entrepreneur and the person who wants to grow up from freelancer to an enterprise.


Do not believe this whole create info products right from the start, help actual people, get feedback, improve along the way and then you have the foundation to build a real business.



More Information

Learn more about how you can professionally do post-production for your podcast at Podcast Rocket

Get a free quote there or call Mike on his cell phone.

If you want to know anything about podcasts or just liked this episode then the can just say hi if you wanted to.


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"I turn it on whenever I need to focus.  Really liking it."
Brett McKay from the artofmanliness.com


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Martin Boeddeker
 

Martin Boeddeker is the founder of FindFocus.net, the One-Page Productivity Planner and the mind behind the FindFocus Distraction Blocker for Mac. He studied industrial engineering and management in Germany and worked for some of the biggest companies in the world. With FindFocus he wants to help people to get rid of what he calls DigitalADD so they focus on the things that truly matter in life.

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