The Entrepreneur Forum | Financial Freedom | Starting a Business | Motivation | Money | Success

Anatomy of A Failed Fastlane (What You Can Learn From My Mistakes)

Learn how to build wealth and win financial freedom the Fastlane way!

Say "NO" to mediocre living rife with jobs, ascetic frugality, and suffocating savings rituals— learn how to build a Fastlane business that pays both freedom and lifestyle affluence. Join more than 70,000 entrepreneurs who are making it happen.
Join for FREE Today
Get the books
Remove ads? Join Fastlane INSIDERS
(Registration removes this block)

jpanarra

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Jan 9, 2014
956
2,793
32
Indianapolis, Indiana
What a fantastic read, you're a hell of a writer. You got me engaged in your story and throwing me emotional rollercoasters.

Following this thread... i gotta know what happens next!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
33,474
128,815
Alpine, UT
Marked GOLD!
 

ZF Lee

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Jul 27, 2016
2,580
4,534
23
Malaysia
Our client contacts were only founders/owners at the smaller companies. At larger orgs, they're mid-senior management.

I'll have some things to talk about later actually with regards to things you've touched on - stripping down the service to the essentials, and some larger corporate deals we had in the pipeline.

Thanks for the rep.
For larger orgs, mid-senior management might not work. You need to go to the WAY higher ups. Those who have higher executive command and control. Management may be management all right, but even the senior managers are EMPLOYEES. I mean, you can hire managers too, right? With your hiring and performance evaluation systems, it is likely that even the seniors will be afraid of a culling in the case of the company deciding to find people to let go of.

It works because only the founders or owners will be concerned about the business, and the people who work on it. They WILL think about employee performance or hiring. Management is well....hehe....well, let's say their general attitude is what brought most of us to the Fastlane rather than corporate security.

There are two types of customers you need to go to:
a) those who are looking for the solution, and will 100% definitely buy it
b) those who are interested, but not sure. You need to give them a push by preferably paying a coffee-and-diesel visit

In this case, founders or owners ARE better customers as the urgency of a possible lack of employee performance and hiring procedures (or lack of quality) is more dangerous to them than the mid-senior managers. Those managers will generally run away to another job and leave all the shit to their employers.

How do I know? Look at all the armies in history that used mercenaries. They didn't last long, did they?

Timing is also very important. If you had struck in economic downturns, where companies are desperately weighting the options of letting employees go to save costs and letting the best stay, you would be considered very relevant and even much needed. Right now, things seem lovey-dovey as far as the news trend is concerned. But wait till 2017 or 2018....the doomsday sayers claim that another crash is coming.

But Fastlanes that rely on timing too much are quite stressful. It's like deploying an army in the event of an invsaion.

Smaller companies would be concentrating on sales,instead of hiring, and their sales volumes wouldn't need a very large staff anyway. Besides, the typical lifespan of small firms staff should be higher than that of larger firms. Some of the top startups still have senior staff from the old days of their inception, accounting for this fact.

Excuse the thread jack, but I noticed something REVOLUTIONARY in something so humble...as a soft drink machine.

When I examined the Fastlane discipline of selling, I found out the action of selling is not enough. We must look at the GIANT we are going to fight, or the market we will sell to. How big it is? How desperate is their need?

I opened a soft drink machine today and saw ten types of drinks, all name brands. But although all are different in their own right, they were all the same. This was what I noticed:
a) despite their copywriting claiming that they were healthy and fresh, they all just tasted the same thing: SWEET. And they roughly had the same ingredients, the weightage aside.
b) Three of them are produced by the same company via a sister company.
c) Four of them were in cans that looked the same. If anyone says packaging makes the difference, I'll shiver.

In my country, the food and beverage industry has edged closer to commodization, i.e the war for prices and usage of same old boring copywriting and USP. However, the total population of my country is 30.33 million as of 2015, and for your general knowledge, we in Malaysia have FIVE MEALS A DAY averagely.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and teatimes in between. Effing Sidewalk, but that's the population majority for you.
And not to sound evil, but this overindulgence has resulted in 15.2 % diabetic cases...of the population??? That's a lot! Who the hell will buy so much soft drinks, only to kill their health?

But it's a freaking good Fastlane, with a freaking huge gullible consumer base (evil laughter)

Well, that's a thread for the health section. But here are some pointers, and maybe that's why you failed.
a) As I have said in my earlier post here, scale might be disarmed. You could sell only to at most big companies. Buyers of magnitude products tend to be more picky, and you of course need more sales rapport. As for scale, lesser sales rapport is needed with 95% of your customers (except for the suppliers or distributors). You can just knock out the average Slowlane or Sidewalk customer with good sales copy.

Of course they'll complain if things get wrong, but generally, they'll accept it as long as it settles their needs. JUST SETTLES THEIR NEEDS, NOT PERFECT. This is a population that accepts societal norms willingly that we are talking about.

b)I have mentioned that you might need to cut down your products' functions. Probably they can be made as part of a product instead of being THE product. Look at Microsoft. You see Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Chrome and others in their computers. Never sold as separate products, although now you need to pay for licensing of the Microsoft project programs. They used to be free.

McDonalds sell burgers and fries together. Rarely do people purchase them separately. As for cars, you don't see them selling wheels, steering and mirrors separately, do you? Instead of being sold separately in their own packaging, stationaries are sold as SETS. A box with an eraser, pencils, ruler and everything else...how neat! They were my favourite back in school. Cuts down shopping time.

IMO, perhaps you could reduce and join their capabilities in a new tool, with the addition of the more relevant feature, sales enhancement. Put in some sales analysis or research tool to cut their time down on making silly sales presentations, and give your customers more time to do diesel and coffee. Seriously. Even in college, I wasted more time being the nerd than making relationships in clubs that would give me connections to more higher tier activities.

Sales performance tool + employee performance evaluation + hiring tool = one hell of a product

People are generally lazy. They hate using solution A for problem A and solution B for solution B. They want a one-size-fits-all. Well, it can't be perfectly done, but at least you'll help them in MOST, if not all areas. That company with three soft drinks in a machine? That company with the three soft drinks? The drinks were of a same series of type of beverage, but vendors have to buy the SERIES instead of just drink A or drink B.

This kind of structure denotes a higher value offering compared to the price. In some cases, you are even allowed to charge as much as you like because the market has began to lust for your value.
 

ZF Lee

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Jul 27, 2016
2,580
4,534
23
Malaysia
Remember way back in the webinars post, I said I'd created a loyal fan club full of people who could never buy from me? Well, this is what I meant.

There's no prize for second place.
For upscale services, get an upfront fee. Even my college demands an upfront fee before camps in case we dropped out before it.

If they don't pay, no go.
You are making the stance that you WILL save their asses from whatever problem you are facing, and YOU rightfully need the resources aka money.

If they don't want to pay, well, there are more people who need you. That is why I said earlier that your target consumer market should be freaking LARGE via scale as you won't hit them all. But you should hit MOST OF THEM.

If you can't kill a whole army, take down at least most of it.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
@Contrarian @Andy Black You guys kill me with your eloquence. :thumbsup:

Eloquent UK version: Being an optimist is not without its perils.
Murrican: Life's tougher if you're stupid.

:rofl:

It sounds really camp when I read it back now. Oh yes! Dahhhhhhhrrrling! Indubitably!


What a fantastic read, you're a hell of a writer. You got me engaged in your story and throwing me emotional rollercoasters.

Following this thread... i gotta know what happens next!

Thank you!

Marked GOLD!

Wow, thanks MJ. Now I just have to make sure the rest of the thread lives up to its billing.

About time!

Seriously @Contrarian your loyal fans are waiting to hear the rest of the story! Do you have any idea how many fake internet dollars I will pay to hear the rest? Literally tens.

:rofl:

Maybe I should start a subscription service. A new chapter in your inbox every day, for ten fake internet dollars a month.

What a write up! Seriously you've a writer in you. Thanks for sharing this @Contrarian and look forward to the rest of your story

Thank you sir. You are very welcome.

In this case, founders or owners ARE better customers as the urgency of a possible lack of employee performance and hiring procedures (or lack of quality) is more dangerous to them than the mid-senior managers. Those managers will generally run away to another job and leave all the shit to their employers.

They certainly are better customers. However - good luck at getting in front of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to talk about recruitment services. Unless you're recruiting the COO.

You do touch upon something that I'm going to expand on later in my analysis. Recruitment is one of those things that's incredibly important but nobody gives a shit about. Everyone passes the buck on to someone else. Noone pays any mind to it until they needed to do it yesterday, otherwise they don't want to know.

ZF Lee said:
Timing is also very important. If you had struck in economic downturns, where companies are desperately weighting the options of letting employees go to save costs and letting the best stay, you would be considered very relevant and even much needed. Right now, things seem lovey-dovey as far as the news trend is concerned. But wait till 2017 or 2018....the doomsday sayers claim that another crash is coming.

It's a common perception, but it's actually the other way around. Every time there's a recession, thousands of recruitment agencies shut their doors and somewhere close to 90% of recruiters leave the industry altogether. It's brutal. It's the first industry to go and the last to come back thriving. That's another thing that worried me about this business all along - we're due a recession or even a depression any time now. Would everything I'd worked for years to build just collapse like a house of cards? Or would we hang on in survival mode for years, waiting to build back up again after the crash and put my Fastlane goals on life support the whole time?

When the oil crash happened, oil and gas recruitment went from boom times with ginormous fees to almost completely dead. Practically overnight. Thankfully I'd seen it coming and got out first.

ZF Lee said:
a) As I have said in my earlier post here, scale might be disarmed. You could sell only to at most big companies. Buyers of magnitude products tend to be more picky, and you of course need more sales rapport. As for scale, lesser sales rapport is needed with 95% of your customers (except for the suppliers or distributors). You can just knock out the average Slowlane or Sidewalk customer with good sales copy.

Of course they'll complain if things get wrong, but generally, they'll accept it as long as it settles their needs. JUST SETTLES THEIR NEEDS, NOT PERFECT. This is a population that accepts societal norms willingly that we are talking about.

Yes.

Companies will buy recruiting services quite readily - as long as they fit into their preconceived notion of what a recruitment service is, require minimal upfront commitment as is customary and stay in the price bracket they're accustomed to.

We didn't really fit into any box. We weren't a cheap churn and burn recruitment agency, and we weren't an eye-wateringly expensive retained search firm with a prestigious double-barreled name and staffed by people in three piece suits. We were something different entirely.

People didn't know what to make of us.

For upscale services, get an upfront fee. Even my college demands an upfront fee before camps in case we dropped out before it.

If they don't pay, no go.
You are making the stance that you WILL save their asses from whatever problem you are facing, and YOU rightfully need the resources aka money.

That was certainly the plan!

This is terrific! Eager to hear what didn't happen next...

Thank you! Incoming...
 

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
The last ditch turnaround

I was unhappy. I felt stuck. I was sick of staring at these same four walls from dusk til dawn. I didn't know what to do. Life was just work, thinking about work, grinding away at a road that looked increasingly unlikely to ever converge with my dreams, and rarely seeing the outdoors. I'd been neglecting my health, my friendships, and my life itself. And all for what?

Something had to change.

WHY oh why didn't I just stay freelancing to begin with? When I was freelancing, I had money to pay the bills, and the freedom to go for a two hour lunch or sleep in if I felt like it. I didn't have to worry about any of this crap. And I would have been earning much more money - enough to save up that precious freedom fund.

Most importantly, I'd had the golden opportunity of time and freedom to build something else on the side. Why didn't I just do that in the first place?!

But I knew exactly why. I didn't do that because I was impatient and rash. I didn't want to spend time trying to figure out the little things now in order to get to the big things later. No, I wanted the Master Plan (TM) to riches all in one convenient-looking package. I'd made my bed, and now I had to lie in it.

I thought seriously about leaving. But to do what - I still didn't know. But Steve had invested so much in me. He wasn't ready to call it quits. If anything, he was more optimistic about our chances than I was.

As I often do when I find myself stuck in a rut, I started reading obsessively. This time it was sales books. Tony J. Hughes. Anthony Iannarino. Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount. And The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

I was going to build myself a lifeline - whether it was something on the side, or the option of a remote job. But in the meantime, I recommitted to turning things around - no matter what it took. Maybe once things were going well, the business would become what I'd always wanted it to be.

I didn't really believe that, but I had to try. Most of all, I couldn't leave Steve deep in the red. If I was going to leave, at the very least I had to pay him back first. We had to turn some kind of profit.

Going into things, I'd believed that by creating something of superior value, sales should almost take care of itself. It shouldn't be necessary to grind away making cold calls every day. Surely we had a product problem, not a sales problem.

But the sales gurus said that the biggest cause of sales failure was buying into the inbound marketing hype instead of doing the grind every day and making new contacts.

They painted a picture of the truly successful salesperson. The relentless, never-ending discipline. Day after day, month after month, year after year. Forever. Hours of canvassing, every single day. Calls. Meetings. Deals. And yet every month, you start from scratch all over again. You have to live the endless treadmill that would guarantee continued success. The ultimate slowlane roadmap.

But I realised that's exactly what had caused my previous successes. That was why everyone used to try to headhunt me. That's how I'd earned my five figure paycheques. I was willing to make phonecall after phonecall, overcome objection after objection, and make things happen. Day after day. I was a machine. Noone else made as many calls as me. That's why I used to be the best.

Amongst all the noise of webinars, inbound marketing, automated email, and everything else that'd been keeping me busy, I'd completely abandoned the one thing that had made me successful in the first place.

The sales gurus painted a picture that was inspiring, freeing, and at the same time, filled me with dread.

But this was the type of person I had to be - and stay - if I wanted to succeed. I knew what I had to do.

I built a list of fifty target clients. I sacked off everything else I was doing - the webinars, the marketing, all of it. I blocked off my calling hours. And in those hours, I cold called three different contacts from each company per day. I left voicemails, and followed up with emails. Just kept grinding out the contacts.

And it worked. I started to get leads. I started to set appointments. Things were looking up.

I got jobs on. I made some placements. I dug ourselves out of the red, and we even turned a small profit.

Steve was happy. He started talking optimistically about the future. When I was around him, I also bought into the optimism - it was infectious. But it was a short-lived high.

Because most of our prospective client base were half way around the world, I could only call them from the afternoon onwards. Sometimes late afternoon. When I moved abroad later in the year, I knew California would then be NINE HOURS behind me.

I'd already used up most of the day's energy, and now it was time to sit and make cold calls for hours. People would email and call me back at 10 o'clock at night. I felt like I was chained permanently to this damn desk.

It got worse. When I actually got work on, I had to use that same short time window to call candidates, too.

It really exposed the flaws of our business model. The plan was to eventually hire someone in the US, but when was that ever going to happen?

I was relieved that we'd turned a corner - but I wasn't any happier.

This was the very opposite of what I'd wanted all along.

All the things we'd done to create a semi-automated, scaleable business system had failed (or mostly failed).

The only thing that had succeeded was to trade my time for money.

Even the work I'd won wasn't in the way I'd envisioned it. No, I won cut-price work on a no-win no-fee basis - just like every other recruiter on the planet.

How could we scale that?

I read TMF again, cover to cover.

I realised that I'd subconsciously downsized my dreams in order to meet my expectations based on my new reality.

Instead of making £5-10m in a 5-10 years so I could be free forever, I was just hoping to survive and make enough money to buy some temporary freedom.

I'd started thinking of six figures as "a lot of money".

I started reading Brian Tracy. Brian Tracy says that if you find yourself in something that doesn't serve you, the only thing to do is to get out of it as fast as possible.

And I wasn't getting any younger. Freedom wasn't getting any closer.

I even paid $200 for a Skype consult with a business & lifestyle consultant to talk about my options.

Something had to change...
 

ZF Lee

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Jul 27, 2016
2,580
4,534
23
Malaysia
They certainly are better customers. However - good luck at getting in front of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to talk about recruitment services. Unless you're recruiting the COO.

You do touch upon something that I'm going to expand on later in my analysis. Recruitment is one of those things that's incredibly important but nobody gives a shit about. Everyone passes the buck on to someone else. Noone pays any mind to it until they needed to do it yesterday, otherwise they don't want to know.
Maybe companies poised to go big, aka mid-stage will be fine. You might not need to go directly to the CEO, most likely he ain't going to be on the front lines. The human resources department head or higher executives might work. It's those who deal directly with the problem of hiring and evaluating employees that will find it more relevant.

It's a common perception, but it's actually the other way around. Every time there's a recession, thousands of recruitment agencies shut their doors and somewhere close to 90% of recruiters leave the industry altogether. It's brutal. It's the first industry to go and the last to come back thriving. That's another thing that worried me about this business all along - we're due a recession or even a depression any time now. Would everything I'd worked for years to build just collapse like a house of cards? Or would we hang on in survival mode for years, waiting to build back up again after the crash and put my Fastlane goals on life support the whole time?

When the oil crash happened, oil and gas recruitment went from boom times with ginormous fees to almost completely dead. Practically overnight. Thankfully I'd seen it coming and got out first.
Oh, I was referring to your employee evaluation tool. Firms will be evaluating their employees very carefully to avoid making costly firings even for the sake of cost-cutting. You don't want to cut out the important people! And hiring should be regarded as an investment of energy and cash. Unfortunately, it's probably the one thing that can kill businesses besides defying the commandment of Need.

Timing is still important. It's not a lucky factor. It's about coming to the rescue of the person who needs it in their most desperate hour. It's saving firms from the brink of sales loss and high costs before they die.

When the economic crash happened, people needed a side job for extra bucks. AirBnb, Grabcar and other gig companies came in. They needed the bucks, those guys came along. Plus, the services they offered like accomodation, rides and paperwork were being sent to crap by the long-standing conventional firms. That's timing for you.

But I agree with you. This Fastlane looks stiff, quite inelastic. If i were you, I might have branched out into sales and human resources development programs, seeing that the focus is on helping companies save costs on hiring and increasing sales, with the tools as a supplementary product, but it'll probably be in a different field altogether.

Hehe, on the oil and gas recruitment, I couldn't help be think of how thousands of my college peers went to engineering school, especially petroleum engineering. I'm not ripping on engineers. I'm ripping on their future prospects as employees with no control over time and decisions. As oil and gas are heavily commoditized, dependent on price, it's pretty hard to introduce any technological or innovative reforms that can enhance productivity in the industry. Not to mention the corporate interests and stock market influence. Therefore, any changes will give a hit rather than a dynamic revolution.


This was back when I had a bit of an identity crisis as to whether I was a recruiter or a management consultant.
You are both. We are both the seller and the educator or consultant. We are players in our respective fields, and therefore, we would know more insights than the customer. Selling involves educating the customer on how to use the product, and whether he needs it. Look up James Altucher's Choose Myself. He explained that he missed the chance to set himself up as an expert in social branding in one of his failed ventures due to ignorance of that fact.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G-Man

Cantankerous Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jan 13, 2014
1,989
10,678
Then there were the times I was told I had to "take accountability" for getting something apparently urgent done that I didn't see any point in in the first place.

This^^^ Of all the aspects of being an employee that can grind apathy into an otherwise responsible person, it's this. Being responsible and accountable for pointless shit.

Thanks for the continuation! I have just sent you literally dozens of fake internet dollars.
 

LuckyPup

Done Dicking Around
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Aug 2, 2012
519
825
Midwest USA
I've been away from the forum for a while.

You may or may not remember me. Either way, that's not important.

I first came here two and a half years ago, a few months after reading TMF . The book that changed my life forever, although not as quickly or as much as I would have liked - for reasons of my own making.

Soppy stuff doesn't come easily to me, but I must take a moment to express my sincere and undying gratitude to @MJ DeMarco. I don't know where I would be or what road I would be on now had I not found the book or this forum, but I would certainly be a lot worse off.

When I first came here, I felt trapped in a job I absolutely despised, working for people I viewed with contempt, with others who hated it just as much as I did but who continued to work there year after year anyway.

I hated it so much I once watched back-to-back episodes of 24 from the moment I got home through to 7 in the morning, just to escape the reality of it. Yeah, almost a whole season.

I'd been screwed out of £15,000 commission from my previous employer, and fired with no notice for daring to discuss a business opportunity with somebody else and being naive enough to mention it to a snitch. Being the sidewalker that I was, I'd earmarked most of that money to pay off my credit card debt from living beyond my means. I had no savings whatsoever. I took the job because I had to.

Today, things are very different.

Thank you, more than words could ever express.

Bleurgh...OK, enough with the soppy stuff. :)

So what happened in the meantime?

A bunch of stuff. I've (almost) always worked in recruitment, so I spent a few months doing freelance recruitment. I investigated a bunch of ideas, one seriously, and which was massively beyond my financial means.

In the end, I created a recruitment business with a previous employer - one that I'd always stayed on good terms with, and kept in touch with.

I desperately wanted to start a business. I didn't have any money. I lacked direction. I was running away from more than I was running towards. Here I had a willing partner and investor. Here I had a ready-made escape. One that I took.

You wise folks will no doubt already be thinking - first mistake. And you'd be absolutely right.

This thread will chronicle the fifteen months that followed that decision. The mistakes, the failures, the learning points, and also the successes. I'll update this with a new post every day.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the circumstances surrounding that first mistake. Why I made it, why deep down I knew it was a mistake even as I was making it, and why I went ahead and did it anyway.

Beyond that, I'll cover areas of success and failure in the business itself - the hollow victory of being anointed a "thought leader" despite having no clients, a marketing strategy that worked brilliantly (but also didn't work at all), the folly of trying to scale the unscaleable, and many more things besides.

Stay tuned for part two...
Thanks for putting that out there. I'm sure it's as cathartic for you as it is instructive for us. Waiting for the rest of the story! (Welcome back, too!)
 

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
Maybe companies poised to go big, aka mid-stage will be fine. You might not need to go directly to the CEO, most likely he ain't going to be on the front lines. The human resources department head or higher executives might work. It's those who deal directly with the problem of hiring and evaluating employees that will find it more relevant.

Yeah, the best clients tend to be small companies in a period of high growth. You get to deal directly with the decision makers, they haven't delegated their responsibility for hiring to HR gatekeepers yet, and they're in a mode of getting shit done. Plus, they have the volume of work because they're fast growing.

Most of the big corporates - and increasingly even the mid-sized companies - buy recruitment the same way they buy stationary. I thought we could bypass that problem by doing something transformative.

I was wrong.

It never used to be this way. But then came the bureaucratisation of industry. If we had executed the same business model in the 80s or 90s - the heydey of the recruiting gold rush - I'm sure it would have been a very different story. Well, excepting the parts about remote working and selling to people on the other side of the world that technology makes possible.

ZF Lee said:
But I agree with you. This Fastlane looks stiff, quite inelastic. If i were you, I might have branched out into sales and human resources development programs, seeing that the focus is on helping companies save costs on hiring and increasing sales, with the tools as a supplementary product, but it'll probably be in a different field altogether.

It did cross my mind.

ZF Lee said:
Hehe, on the oil and gas recruitment, I couldn't help be think of how thousands of my college peers went to engineering school, especially petroleum engineering. I'm not ripping on engineers. I'm ripping on their future prospects as employees with no control over time and decisions. As oil and gas are heavily commoditized, dependent on price, it's pretty hard to introduce any technological or innovative reforms that can enhance productivity in the industry. Not to mention the corporate interests and stock market influence. Therefore, any changes will give a hit rather than a dynamic revolution.

I once had a bunch of jobs in Azerbaijan on the BP Caspian project. They really struggled to get people because they were "only" paying $650/day plus living expenses. One of the guys I got was from Malaysia - he was thrilled because it was four times his local rate! I wonder what happened to him.

This^^^ Of all the aspects of being an employee that can grind apathy into an otherwise responsible person, it's this. Being responsible and accountable for pointless shit.

Thanks for the continuation! I have just sent you literally dozens of fake internet dollars.

Grind apathy. What a great and accurate summary.

Thank you - I shall put them straight into my fake internet freedom fund!

Thanks for putting that out there. I'm sure it's as cathartic for you as it is instructive for us. Waiting for the rest of the story! (Welcome back, too!)

Thanks!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
The final chapter

I wasn't happy in the business, but what I did have was newfound clarity as to the direction of my life.

This road wasn't going to take me where I wanted to go. It would never give me the life I daydreamed about every single day. I'd been burying my head in the sand for far too long - I'd lost sight of my why.

The only reason to stay was out of loyalty, and that's not a valid reason to sacrifice your dreams. The pull of loyalty did have a strong hold on me, but I knew what had to be done. The longer I left it, the worse it would be for everyone.

Seemingly at just the right moment, one of my contacts in the industry - who I'd done a webinar with - sent me an email. He was absolutely amazed by how I'd come out of absolutely nowhere and pulled off the Summit. He wanted to talk about working with me. I didn't want another J.O.B., but hey - I had one more option than I did a moment ago. I had to listen to what he had to say.

In the meantime, I met with Steve. He was ditching the office and turning his other employees into remote workers (good choice!). So they needed new contracts. He wanted to give me a contract too - the one I hadn't had all this time, and never insisted on because I trusted him implicitly.

I don't think that trust was misplaced - but at the end of the day, I'd violated the Commandment of Control by getting into this business in the first place, and then violated the hell out of it by not having a contractually binding agreement. I'd still placed my future completely in Steve's hands.

He went through the contract with me. It was exactly the same contract he gave everyone else. He glossed over parts of it, almost embarrased, saying that all of this will be irrelevant when I become a shareholder anyway. But it included things like my working hours, a non-competition clause, and the standard employment contract thing of "no outside business interests" without written permission.

Hmm. Well, I'd already admitted to myself the error I'd made by getting involved in this in the first place, so it didn't make me angry. But it certainly crystallised my decision to leave.

He also said he'd have another contract laying out the terms for gaining equity...but he didn't have that prepared yet. I wondered if it would ever materialise.

Encouragingly, he also told me how happy he was that we were finally making progress. If things continued as they are, perhaps we can even accelerate me becoming a shareholder in only a matter of months. And suddenly I felt good about it all - but for a day, at most.

It still left me with this deal with the devil - the contract of employment, the signing away of my soul. And I wasn't sure I even wanted the shares anymore. That would just make my leaving incredibly messy and complicated.

I took the contract away with me - and within the span of a week, he'd chased me three times to sign and send it back. So we worked without a contract all this time, and suddenly it's a matter of grave urgency?

In one sense, the business wasn't a failure anymore. We'd turned a (small) profit. I had a pipeline. We were on track for a solid performance from now on.

But - would that ever get me where I wanted to go?

I wasn't enjoying the work, and that was unlikely to change.

I was tired of dealing with useless HR fools and soulless careerists. I hated when I spoke with candidates and wanted to send them to the Fastlane Forum rather than the temporary reprieve of a new job. These weren't my people. What I was doing was incongruent with my values.

I had no prospect of even increasing my earnings at any point in the near future.

100% effort would only ever net me - at most - 50% returns.

In the very best case scenario, we might sell the company at some undetermined future point and I might walk away with a £1-1.5m cheque.

Most likely, I'd end up like Steve - running on the treadmill fighting fires for the next 20 years and never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I liked Steve - I still do. I hope he finds that light. But I didn't want to be where he is. We should have stayed as business acquaintances, or distant friends.

Inspired by a conversation with @Andy Black (thank you Andy!), I got my local lead gen site up and running. It took me a matter of days to get my first client. It's pocket change at the moment - but it was liberating to see with my own eyes that I could make money completely on my own. And even though it's currently pocket change, it's pocket change that keeps on working whether I work or not. A small taste of what a genuine Fastlane looks like.

I had a couple of Skype meetings with my contact. He wanted me to be their sales guy. I made it crystal clear that I wasn't interested in being an employee. I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule, work from wherever I wanted and run my own business(es) at the same time. And that my ultimate goal was to build my own successful company.

I asked him to show me an achievable plan that would allow me to earn $250,000 a year. He came back with exactly that.

He'd - almost by accident, over the years - built his one man blog into a seven figure business with an offering noone else in the market could compete with. He's still a bit in shock at his own success, I think. But it's a story I could get behind. A real tale of process over event. These were my kinda people. And for once I'd actually get to sell something that's not a grudge purchase.

I didn't send the contract back to Steve. I psyched myself up to give him the news. I was actually nervous about talking to him all weekend, and all morning on the Monday. I never get nervous about anything. I even went to Skype him, then made an excuse to do something else for five minutes before forcing myself to just press the damn button.

We were on the video call for less than three minutes. I could tell he was genuinely upset. He said he didn't want to talk about it now, but let's catch up on it tomorrow. I just felt completely numb afterwards. I just sat there glum-faced for what seemed like an eternity. I started doubting my decision. I called my girlfriend. It felt like breaking up with someone. I pondered that I would have rather been fired - at least I'd have a clear conscience.

But I knew I was doing the right thing. I was experiencing exactly what I'd been coaching candidates giving their resignation about for years - the guilt.

When we did speak again, Steve made sure to let me know how disappointed he was. He really poured on the guilt trip. But then he was very matter of fact - he wanted me to see the month out, at least, finish up what I was working on, help find a replacement and hand everything over.

And after that it was back to normal. It was like nothing had changed - I kept doing the work, we talked every day as usual, and Steve was back to his happy old self. Perhaps he realised deep down that I made the right choice.

In the end, it had a happy ending for me. My last day was yesterday - and Steve called me with a proposal. If I was up for it, he wanted to keep me on as a freelancer. He'll take over the reigns of the business, but he'll feed me any work that comes in and give me 50% of the fee for any placements I make, including the ones I already had in the pipeline as an employee. So I can expect to net an extra £10,000 in the next month or so just for finishing up my work - which will come in very useful indeed. I had to stop myself from volunteering to finish those placements for free - there's that damn guilt coming back again. Shut up and take the money FFS! Idiot!

It's no big deal for Steve to just keep it ticking over while he looks for someone else - it uses all his other company's existing infrastructure anyway.

Now I can help my customer base in two completely different ways. I have my freedom back. And I'm still on good terms with Steve.

I've learned so much, and I'm excited to march boldly into the next chapter - only this time, with complete clarity of purpose and mission.

So that's the story. Now it's time to focus on the lessons...
 

ScottT

New Contributor
Apr 29, 2017
4
18
55
New bedford, massachusetts
The final chapter

I wasn't happy in the business, but what I did have was newfound clarity as to the direction of my life.

This road wasn't going to take me where I wanted to go. It would never give me the life I daydreamed about every single day. I'd been burying my head in the sand for far too long - I'd lost sight of my why.

The only reason to stay was out of loyalty, and that's not a valid reason to sacrifice your dreams. The pull of loyalty did have a strong hold on me, but I knew what had to be done. The longer I left it, the worse it would be for everyone.

Seemingly at just the right moment, one of my contacts in the industry - who I'd done a webinar with - sent me an email. He was absolutely amazed by how I'd come out of absolutely nowhere and pulled off the Summit. He wanted to talk about working with me. I didn't want another J.O.B., but hey - I had one more option than I did a moment ago. I had to listen to what he had to say.

In the meantime, I met with Steve. He was ditching the office and turning his other employees into remote workers (good choice!). So they needed new contracts. He wanted to give me a contract too - the one I hadn't had all this time, and never insisted on because I trusted him implicitly.

I don't think that trust was misplaced - but at the end of the day, I'd violated the Commandment of Control by getting into this business in the first place, and then violated the hell out of it by not having a contractually binding agreement. I'd still placed my future completely in Steve's hands.

He went through the contract with me. It was exactly the same contract he gave everyone else. He glossed over parts of it, almost embarrased, saying that all of this will be irrelevant when I become a shareholder anyway. But it included things like my working hours, a non-competition clause, and the standard employment contract thing of "no outside business interests" without written permission.

Hmm. Well, I'd already admitted to myself the error I'd made by getting involved in this in the first place, so it didn't make me angry. But it certainly crystallised my decision to leave.

He also said he'd have another contract laying out the terms for gaining equity...but he didn't have that prepared yet. I wondered if it would ever materialise.

Encouragingly, he also told me how happy he was that we were finally making progress. If things continued as they are, perhaps we can even accelerate me becoming a shareholder in only a matter of months. And suddenly I felt good about it all - but for a day, at most.

It still left me with this deal with the devil - the contract of employment, the signing away of my soul. And I wasn't sure I even wanted the shares anymore. That would just make my leaving incredibly messy and complicated.

I took the contract away with me - and within the span of a week, he'd chased me three times to sign and send it back. So we worked without a contract all this time, and suddenly it's a matter of grave urgency?

In one sense, the business wasn't a failure anymore. We'd turned a (small) profit. I had a pipeline. We were on track for a solid performance from now on.

But - would that ever get me where I wanted to go?

I wasn't enjoying the work, and that was unlikely to change.

I was tired of dealing with useless HR fools and soulless careerists. I hated when I spoke with candidates and wanted to send them to the Fastlane Forum rather than the temporary reprieve of a new job. These weren't my people. What I was doing was incongruent with my values.

I had no prospect of even increasing my earnings at any point in the near future.

100% effort would only ever net me - at most - 50% returns.

In the very best case scenario, we might sell the company at some undetermined future point and I might walk away with a £1-1.5m cheque.

Most likely, I'd end up like Steve - running on the treadmill fighting fires for the next 20 years and never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I liked Steve - I still do. I hope he finds that light. But I didn't want to be where he is. We should have stayed as business acquaintances, or distant friends.

Inspired by a conversation with @Andy Black (thank you Andy!), I got my local lead gen site up and running. It took me a matter of days to get my first client. It's pocket change at the moment - but it was liberating to see with my own eyes that I could make money completely on my own. And even though it's currently pocket change, it's pocket change that keeps on working whether I work or not. A small taste of what a genuine Fastlane looks like.

I had a couple of Skype meetings with my contact. He wanted me to be their sales guy. I made it crystal clear that I wasn't interested in being an employee. I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule, work from wherever I wanted and run my own business(es) at the same time. And that my ultimate goal was to build my own successful company.

I asked him to show me an achievable plan that would allow me to earn $250,000 a year. He came back with exactly that.

He'd - almost by accident, over the years - built his one man blog into a seven figure business with an offering noone else in the market could compete with. He's still a bit in shock at his own success, I think. But it's a story I could get behind. A real tale of process over event. These were my kinda people. And for once I'd actually get to sell something that's not a grudge purchase.

I didn't send the contract back to Steve. I psyched myself up to give him the news. I was actually nervous about talking to him all weekend, and all morning on the Monday. I never get nervous about anything. I even went to Skype him, then made an excuse to do something else for five minutes before forcing myself to just press the damn button.

We were on the video call for less than three minutes. I could tell he was genuinely upset. He said he didn't want to talk about it now, but let's catch up on it tomorrow. I just felt completely numb afterwards. I just sat there glum-faced for what seemed like an eternity. I started doubting my decision. I called my girlfriend. It felt like breaking up with someone. I pondered that I would have rather been fired - at least I'd have a clear conscience.

But I knew I was doing the right thing. I was experiencing exactly what I'd been coaching candidates giving their resignation about for years - the guilt.

When we did speak again, Steve made sure to let me know how disappointed he was. He really poured on the guilt trip. But then he was very matter of fact - he wanted me to see the month out, at least, finish up what I was working on, help find a replacement and hand everything over.

And after that it was back to normal. It was like nothing had changed - I kept doing the work, we talked every day as usual, and Steve was back to his happy old self. Perhaps he realised deep down that I made the right choice.

In the end, it had a happy ending for me. My last day was yesterday - and Steve called me with a proposal. If I was up for it, he wanted to keep me on as a freelancer. He'll take over the reigns of the business, but he'll feed me any work that comes in and give me 50% of the fee for any placements I make, including the ones I already had in the pipeline as an employee. So I can expect to net an extra £10,000 in the next month or so just for finishing up my work - which will come in very useful indeed. I had to stop myself from volunteering to finish those placements for free - there's that damn guilt coming back again. Shut up and take the money FFS! Idiot!

It's no big deal for Steve to just keep it ticking over while he looks for someone else - it uses all his other company's existing infrastructure anyway.

Now I can help my customer base in two completely different ways. I have my freedom back. And I'm still on good terms with Steve.

I've learned so much, and I'm excited to march boldly into the next chapter - only this time, with complete clarity of purpose and mission.

So that's the story. Now it's time to focus on the lessons...
 

ScottT

New Contributor
Apr 29, 2017
4
18
55
New bedford, massachusetts
Fabulous thread/post...exactly the reason I signed into this site. You are a great writer, very even keeled, however it occurs to me that many of your decisions seem to be predicated upon emotion ( your actually a really nice guy...lol)...Im considered a reasonably smart guy and I would consider you smarter than I...however I think your internalls get in the way of your sight...takes away from what I see as great overall business acumen. For me...the passion or doubt even...is only unleashed after my mind has done all the math and I have at least a starting endpoint, a basic formula thats feasible given current or predicted market conditions...and my rule is always...one year till im making money while i sleep...even if its 5 cents that first year. Im actually living on my safety valves now..Just my humble opinion...great post, thanks for the read !
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

amp0193

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
May 27, 2013
3,251
14,578
United States
The final chapter

I wasn't happy in the business, but what I did have was newfound clarity as to the direction of my life.

This road wasn't going to take me where I wanted to go. It would never give me the life I daydreamed about every single day. I'd been burying my head in the sand for far too long - I'd lost sight of my why.

The only reason to stay was out of loyalty, and that's not a valid reason to sacrifice your dreams. The pull of loyalty did have a strong hold on me, but I knew what had to be done. The longer I left it, the worse it would be for everyone.

Seemingly at just the right moment, one of my contacts in the industry - who I'd done a webinar with - sent me an email. He was absolutely amazed by how I'd come out of absolutely nowhere and pulled off the Summit. He wanted to talk about working with me. I didn't want another J.O.B., but hey - I had one more option than I did a moment ago. I had to listen to what he had to say.

In the meantime, I met with Steve. He was ditching the office and turning his other employees into remote workers (good choice!). So they needed new contracts. He wanted to give me a contract too - the one I hadn't had all this time, and never insisted on because I trusted him implicitly.

I don't think that trust was misplaced - but at the end of the day, I'd violated the Commandment of Control by getting into this business in the first place, and then violated the hell out of it by not having a contractually binding agreement. I'd still placed my future completely in Steve's hands.

He went through the contract with me. It was exactly the same contract he gave everyone else. He glossed over parts of it, almost embarrased, saying that all of this will be irrelevant when I become a shareholder anyway. But it included things like my working hours, a non-competition clause, and the standard employment contract thing of "no outside business interests" without written permission.

Hmm. Well, I'd already admitted to myself the error I'd made by getting involved in this in the first place, so it didn't make me angry. But it certainly crystallised my decision to leave.

He also said he'd have another contract laying out the terms for gaining equity...but he didn't have that prepared yet. I wondered if it would ever materialise.

Encouragingly, he also told me how happy he was that we were finally making progress. If things continued as they are, perhaps we can even accelerate me becoming a shareholder in only a matter of months. And suddenly I felt good about it all - but for a day, at most.

It still left me with this deal with the devil - the contract of employment, the signing away of my soul. And I wasn't sure I even wanted the shares anymore. That would just make my leaving incredibly messy and complicated.

I took the contract away with me - and within the span of a week, he'd chased me three times to sign and send it back. So we worked without a contract all this time, and suddenly it's a matter of grave urgency?

In one sense, the business wasn't a failure anymore. We'd turned a (small) profit. I had a pipeline. We were on track for a solid performance from now on.

But - would that ever get me where I wanted to go?

I wasn't enjoying the work, and that was unlikely to change.

I was tired of dealing with useless HR fools and soulless careerists. I hated when I spoke with candidates and wanted to send them to the Fastlane Forum rather than the temporary reprieve of a new job. These weren't my people. What I was doing was incongruent with my values.

I had no prospect of even increasing my earnings at any point in the near future.

100% effort would only ever net me - at most - 50% returns.

In the very best case scenario, we might sell the company at some undetermined future point and I might walk away with a £1-1.5m cheque.

Most likely, I'd end up like Steve - running on the treadmill fighting fires for the next 20 years and never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I liked Steve - I still do. I hope he finds that light. But I didn't want to be where he is. We should have stayed as business acquaintances, or distant friends.

Inspired by a conversation with @Andy Black (thank you Andy!), I got my local lead gen site up and running. It took me a matter of days to get my first client. It's pocket change at the moment - but it was liberating to see with my own eyes that I could make money completely on my own. And even though it's currently pocket change, it's pocket change that keeps on working whether I work or not. A small taste of what a genuine Fastlane looks like.

I had a couple of Skype meetings with my contact. He wanted me to be their sales guy. I made it crystal clear that I wasn't interested in being an employee. I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule, work from wherever I wanted and run my own business(es) at the same time. And that my ultimate goal was to build my own successful company.

I asked him to show me an achievable plan that would allow me to earn $250,000 a year. He came back with exactly that.

He'd - almost by accident, over the years - built his one man blog into a seven figure business with an offering noone else in the market could compete with. He's still a bit in shock at his own success, I think. But it's a story I could get behind. A real tale of process over event. These were my kinda people. And for once I'd actually get to sell something that's not a grudge purchase.

I didn't send the contract back to Steve. I psyched myself up to give him the news. I was actually nervous about talking to him all weekend, and all morning on the Monday. I never get nervous about anything. I even went to Skype him, then made an excuse to do something else for five minutes before forcing myself to just press the damn button.

We were on the video call for less than three minutes. I could tell he was genuinely upset. He said he didn't want to talk about it now, but let's catch up on it tomorrow. I just felt completely numb afterwards. I just sat there glum-faced for what seemed like an eternity. I started doubting my decision. I called my girlfriend. It felt like breaking up with someone. I pondered that I would have rather been fired - at least I'd have a clear conscience.

But I knew I was doing the right thing. I was experiencing exactly what I'd been coaching candidates giving their resignation about for years - the guilt.

When we did speak again, Steve made sure to let me know how disappointed he was. He really poured on the guilt trip. But then he was very matter of fact - he wanted me to see the month out, at least, finish up what I was working on, help find a replacement and hand everything over.

And after that it was back to normal. It was like nothing had changed - I kept doing the work, we talked every day as usual, and Steve was back to his happy old self. Perhaps he realised deep down that I made the right choice.

In the end, it had a happy ending for me. My last day was yesterday - and Steve called me with a proposal. If I was up for it, he wanted to keep me on as a freelancer. He'll take over the reigns of the business, but he'll feed me any work that comes in and give me 50% of the fee for any placements I make, including the ones I already had in the pipeline as an employee. So I can expect to net an extra £10,000 in the next month or so just for finishing up my work - which will come in very useful indeed. I had to stop myself from volunteering to finish those placements for free - there's that damn guilt coming back again. Shut up and take the money FFS! Idiot!

It's no big deal for Steve to just keep it ticking over while he looks for someone else - it uses all his other company's existing infrastructure anyway.

Now I can help my customer base in two completely different ways. I have my freedom back. And I'm still on good terms with Steve.

I've learned so much, and I'm excited to march boldly into the next chapter - only this time, with complete clarity of purpose and mission.

So that's the story. Now it's time to focus on the lessons...


You should read Thick Face, Black Heart. Sounds like you're ready for it.
 

Andy Black

Pick a direction. Get started. Keep going.
Staff member
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
13,265
51,240
Ireland
Inspired by a conversation with @Andy Black (thank you Andy!), I got my local lead gen site up and running. It took me a matter of days to get my first client. It's pocket change at the moment - but it was liberating to see with my own eyes that I could make money completely on my own. And even though it's currently pocket change, it's pocket change that keeps on working whether I work or not. A small taste of what a genuine Fastlane looks like.
Thanks for the shout-out @Contrarian. I wasn't expecting it to be inserted into your story. Interested in how that small taste affected you.

For those reading, we chat about the above in this call:
 

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
Fabulous thread/post...exactly the reason I signed into this site. You are a great writer, very even keeled, however it occurs to me that many of your decisions seem to be predicated upon emotion ( your actually a really nice guy...lol)...Im considered a reasonably smart guy and I would consider you smarter than I...however I think your internalls get in the way of your sight...takes away from what I see as great overall business acumen. For me...the passion or doubt even...is only unleashed after my mind has done all the math and I have at least a starting endpoint, a basic formula thats feasible given current or predicted market conditions...and my rule is always...one year till im making money while i sleep...even if its 5 cents that first year. Im actually living on my safety valves now..Just my humble opinion...great post, thanks for the read !

Thanks, Scott.

You're right. I believe that it's right for everyone to spend their own life pursuing their own happiness, not tying themselves up in obligations to other people or to "society". Yet, sometimes I struggle to actually do it myself.

Sounds like you have some interesting stories to tell. What's your next project?

You should read Thick Face, Black Heart. Sounds like you're ready for it.

Ordered!

Thanks for the shout-out @Contrarian. I wasn't expecting it to be inserted into your story. Interested in how that small taste affected you.

For those reading, we chat about the above in this call:

No worries Andy. When you're used to working in "Proper Businesses", it can be hard to realise you can actually just go and get a customer right now. You don't need a fancy website, a Ltd company, 50 hours a week, 12 months' expenses to live off, and a bunch of infrastructure and investment (your own or someone else's).
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
To the battle scars... (part one)

So here's what I've taken from this experience. In two parts because I have limited time today and I promised to update this every day - which I didn't do yesterday.

Do you really need a partner?

I entered into this arrangement in the first place because, frankly, I was playing to not lose. By going into it, suddenly I didn't have to worry about making ends meet, or about accounting and bureaucracy, or all the back office stuff. Or having to make all the decisions completely on my own.

Yet, even if it had been a 50/50 split from the beginning, all future returns would have been instantly cut in half. Considering the upper limit of sale price for this company once built out would be very unlikely to go much beyond £3m at the very most, instantly the exit goes from coming close to my "number" to buying a mini-retirement and funds for the next venture.

So this is a great deal in the beginning - before you're making enough money to sustain yourself. But as soon as you start seeing success, well...it's not so great anymore. Don't overvalue the short term.

In future I will own 100% and only 100% of my businesses. While I still need to, I'm happy to freelance for people, but my obligation will be limited to the work I'm contracted to do. Here I had the worst of both worlds - an all-consuming commitment with job-like returns. I had no ability to pivot, be agile, and take advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves. I had to stick to the business and the model we'd ventured into together. Not smart.

Is it just about the money?

For me, the whole point of this whole endeavour of entrepreneurship is freedom. Sure, having a Lambo might be cool. So would an epic three storey penthouse with the best view in Hong Kong. Would I be willing to sacrifice 10 years of my life doing something I dislike in order to obtain either? Hell no!

Would I spend 10 years of my life to get to the point where I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want? Hell YES!

To me, wealth is about enjoying warm climates, freedom to travel, freedom to be left alone, and self-direction. I gave away all of these things to some extent to get involved in this business.

I chained myself to my desk through a business model that meant I had to spend hours making phonecalls at unsociable hours in perpetuity.

I didn't have and wouldn't get the freedom to be left alone, or to be self-directed in my actions - because I wasn't the controlling party.

If it's freedom that motivates you, think VERY carefully before involving yourself in ANY partnership. No matter how great the opportunity, or how much you like your partners or investors, you will frequently be confronted with this reminder: You are NOT free.

What is the purpose of marketing?

Is it to "spread the word"? Look cool? Stand out? Be innovative?

Situationally - maybe. But none of that crap matters in the beginning. The purpose of marketing is to create the opportunity for sales.

In the beginning, what you need is SALES. If it's not directly accelerating your ability to MAKE SALES, your marketing is a waste of time.

I even got known as "the webinar guy" - sometimes, people knew me and were on my email list but didn't even know what business we were in!

If I were starting again, I'd focus on making sales. The shortest possible route to getting paid. Then later I'd focus on marketing - and build it around the sales process, to support it and drive others to the beginning of the sales process.

I did it completely backwards - I built this elaborate marketing system that didn't even go in a straight line from A to Z, and only when we were backed into a corner did I go out and sell directly.

Don't make this mistake.

What is your value proposition, really?

Sometimes, trying to do everything better works against you. We were more thorough, produced better hiring outcomes - and also much faster.

But different types of customers care about different things.

It turns out most of our customers didn't care about the exacting search process, or the better hiring outcomes, or to adopt the processes we would give them in order to obtain them. Most everyone thinks they know how to hire well - it's the kind of thing where the flaws only show up a year later in retrospect, not at the time right now when they need to do something. Paying more now to maybe avoid pain later is a tough sell.

The customers that did care about these things, didn't care about the speed of execution.

Most people actually cared about the speed of delivery and that the quality was roughly in line with their expectations. But they didn't care for the rest of the package, and so didn't buy into our overall value proposition or the commitment it required.

We should have focused on one thing and delivered it exceptionally. We could have been the most thorough search firm delivering the best possible results, targeted a wider market, honed in on fewer clients and built them as key accounts - and we could have charged more money to those that valued these things.

Or we could have niched down further, built a database of every single person in the niche, and guaranteed shortlists for any role within 48 hours. But without requiring all these upfront commitments and time investments from both sides.

We tried to do both and straddle the middle ground - in the process we accomplished neither.

We worked in a disparate and global market, where job requirements are highly specific and geographically diverse. If - for example - we had set up in London and been a placement firm exclusively for Java developers in London - we would have made life much easier on ourselves. To some degree, as far as skillset goes - a Java developer is a Java developer is a Java developer. We could have used the marketing machine to recruit the best Java developers in town - and had a near limitless market for their services.

Instead, we did things the hard way.

What is your ONE core unique differentiator?

Part two to follow tomorrow. In the meantime - are you making any of these mistakes right now? Are you about to? What could you do differently in your business?
 

Andy Black

Pick a direction. Get started. Keep going.
Staff member
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
13,265
51,240
Ireland
When you're used to working in "Proper Businesses", it can be hard to realise you can actually just go and get a customer right now. You don't need a fancy website, a Ltd company, 50 hours a week, 12 months' expenses to live off, and a bunch of infrastructure and investment (your own or someone else's).
Yep. All you need to be in business are sales and customers.
 

Denim Chicken

Silver Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 5, 2010
424
927
California
I can relate to a lot of your pain points. Worked also has a top producer in the hiring industry, not in recruitment but in SAAS, all those things you mention about hiring managers are correct. But when I was working in that industry I never envied recruiters haha it seemed like a hell of a job with everyone at each other's throats.

Also you highlight the grind very well in your post... sales is a GRIND. True sales, doing it every day with a quota that resets on the first of the month, where you get paid for what you kill, is a grind. My phone was never off, I would answer emails at nights and weekends, write proposals and pitches at night. No one in my company did that, only I just became obsessed. Which led to success but it wasn't later that I realized I was working 24/7 for someone else. Good income and I loved the company and the job, but all an illusion. Not building anything of my own.

Like you I never thought to branch out and start my own thing when I had the job. No time to consider alternatives, no fire under my a$$ to leave something that was OK. Felt like I needed a partner or something else. If I left, I could sell but had nothing to sell or no product. And of course right around that time is when I read MJ's book and really started to delve into the threads here, which shifted my mind on what's possible.

Good story!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
I can relate to a lot of your pain points. Worked also has a top producer in the hiring industry, not in recruitment but in SAAS, all those things you mention about hiring managers are correct. But when I was working in that industry I never envied recruiters haha it seemed like a hell of a job with everyone at each other's throats.

Also you highlight the grind very well in your post... sales is a GRIND. True sales, doing it every day with a quota that resets on the first of the month, where you get paid for what you kill, is a grind. My phone was never off, I would answer emails at nights and weekends, write proposals and pitches at night. No one in my company did that, only I just became obsessed. Which led to success but it wasn't later that I realized I was working 24/7 for someone else. Good income and I loved the company and the job, but all an illusion. Not building anything of my own.

Like you I never thought to branch out and start my own thing when I had the job. No time to consider alternatives, no fire under my a$$ to leave something that was OK. Felt like I needed a partner or something else. If I left, I could sell but had nothing to sell or no product. And of course right around that time is when I read MJ's book and really started to delve into the threads here, which shifted my mind on what's possible.

Good story!

Interesting - were you selling SaaS to recruitment agencies, or to companies for their hiring?

Yes, best to take these skills and apply them to a model that doesn't reset to zero each month. Although being able to sell is a great headstart which most people coming out of the corporate world don't have.

I'm glad you liked the story!
 

Denim Chicken

Silver Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 5, 2010
424
927
California
Interesting - were you selling SaaS to recruitment agencies, or to companies for their hiring?

Yes, best to take these skills and apply them to a model that doesn't reset to zero each month. Although being able to sell is a great headstart which most people coming out of the corporate world don't have.

I'm glad you liked the story!

We were selling a hiring platform Saas to hiring managers as well as recruitment agencies ranging from small 1 man companies to large companies like Randstad.

Def learning to sell is a skill that is very empowering
 

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
The battle scars (part two)

Or, what I've learned from this experience.

On providing value

It's a common refrain around these parts that instead of chasing the money, you must provide value. And with very good reason.

However, we provided a ton of value and still struggled to pay the bills. Not only did I do the webinars and all the other stuff I've already talked about, I also spent countless hours helping people with their Linkedin profiles, giving them free career advice, introducing people in my network to others, etc.

BUT...

Providing value isn't going to give you a profitable business when:
  • The people that you're providing value to aren't the same people that make buying decisions
  • The value you're providing has little or nothing to do with the product or service you sell
  • The value you're providing isn't enough to justify your contact risk sticking his neck out for you within his company
Provide value. To people that can pay and will pay for that value.

On being a middleman when the middlemen are dying

Middleman industries are dying. If they're not dying, they're being replaced by technology and made faster and cheaper (like Uber).

It is true that a great recruitment service is far superior to any technology that currently exists, or which is likely to at any point in the near future. However...

In the recruiting heydey of the 80s and 90s, when you wanted to hire, you only had three options. You could hire someone you knew, place an ad, or hire a recruitment agency. Recruitment agencies were the gatekeepers. They had the databases, the rolodexes, the networks.

Now? You can find almost anyone you want on Linkedin, for free. You can pay a subscription to Monster.com and rent their database for a year for less than the cost of one hire through an agency. You can pay less than £500 to a company that will hire people in India to mine all the job boards for you and give you candidates. And almost every company big enough to need a recruitment agency has someone who does this in house. The larger companies likely have an entire department - staffed by ex-agency headhunters.

In many cases, these options are sub-optimal. But to most clients, "good enough" really is good enough.

People have been predicting the death of the recruitment industry for years now. I don't think it's going to die any time soon, but its utility is much more situational than it was. The industry standard fees are half - sometimes even one third - of what they were. Yet, there is almost no barrier to entry to being a recruiter. There are recruitment agencies full of "specialist headhunters" who worked in a phone shop just a month ago. It's probably the most competitive industry on the planet.

Possible to make millions? Yes. But there's a reason smart entrepreneurs aren't making a beeline for the recruitment industry anymore. Why do things the hard way in a declining and massively over-saturated market when you can just drive a faster road to begin with?

On the Commandment of Scale

The plan was to use the marketing machine to drive sales leads and candidate interest. Ultimately, I would just be the face of the company and farm out the work to employees or freelancers.

Yet, we picked one of the most highly technical markets you could possibly choose. Finding people who could not only understand this market, but execute well enough to deliver the quality of service our business model relied upon would have been very difficult, and quite possibly very expensive.

On top of that, being a recruiter in itself requires entrepreneurial skills. A good recruiter can always walk into a new firm, and many start up on their own. We would have had to offer them something exceptional to stay - and yet, as a relationship business, everyone who leaves poses a great risk to the company's future.

On top of that - the marketing machine didn't work as envisaged. So now we need salespeople. Who will probably need to be recruiters too. What now? The whole business model is in jeopardy.

Could it be scaled? Yes. But it would rely on highly skilled employees (or contractors). Who also have to maintain relationships for the company. Are there much easier businesses to scale? Definitely!

On making globalisation work for you

Just because you can sell and deliver to people on the other side of the world, doesn't necessarily mean that you should. Especially if you sell high ticket B2B services. Especially if you have an ocean full of competitors. Why put such a great obstacle in your own way like that? It would have been better to find a suitable market close to home. One actually conducive to face to face visits and familiarity. Some clients didn't care where we were based - others cared a lot, and I lost business to "someone local".

I didn't even have a US phone number, so people were often reluctant to call me back (understandably).

That's all I have to say about this one. I think it speaks for itself.

In summary...

The partnership was poorly conceived. It was the "easy" route. Beware of easy.

We picked a declining industry that's swimming against the tide of technological disruption and fighting to stay relevant. We picked a highly technical and geographically distributed market to serve, with a very specific niche - which caused scale problems in terms of hiring employees (if we ever got to that point), total client value (we could only fulfil a fraction of their hiring requirements), and repeatability (how many times can you sell this widget - I mean, candidate? In a more generic market we would have been able to re-use candidates multiple times against multiple jobs/companies).

By choosing to do what was "easy" (something I already know how to do - recruitment), I actually made things much harder than they would have been if I'd just taken the time to learn how to create something with more unique valuable, with fewer competitors, and more potential for scale from the beginning. Beware of easy.

In the beginning, you don't need marketing. You need sales. And when you do get marketing, it needs to drive or support sales.

Don't "go global" just because you can. Start where you are and branch out.

I'm sure I could say more. But the biggest lesson of all is that the business - and the partnership - was poorly conceived. It would have been extraordinarily difficult to make this a business that detaches from my time, even if I stuck with it. It should never have been started in the first place.

And the other lesson? That if I can get as far as I did with this, I have the skills to make my next venture a huge success. A venture where I'm bringing the right product to the right people at the right time.

I'm grateful for these lessons.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Denim Chicken

Silver Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 5, 2010
424
927
California
I was actually surprised to learn that it takes almost nothing to start as recruiter (To succeed is a different story). The barrier to entry is really nonexistent because there are no certifications, no tests, etc. We would have people signing up for a free trial that when vetted, would be a guy in his house with a phone trying to make it as a recruiting firm. Nothing wrong with that but a lot of them failed.

What are your next steps or venture? Given that you understand the hiring pains you may consider starting a venture as an offshoot of that.

It's always in the back of my mind but I got other things going on. A previous co worker ended up starting a saas that takes the pain point for hiring managers of firing people and letting them do it easily thru the platform. All the paperwork, the legal consultation and the delivery of the notifications and documents.
I'm sure there are some ideas out there that can clean up the hiring industry quite a bit.
 

Contrarian

Gold Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Nov 13, 2014
281
1,599
36
Jalisco, Mexico
I was actually surprised to learn that it takes almost nothing to start as recruiter (To succeed is a different story). The barrier to entry is really nonexistent because there are no certifications, no tests, etc. We would have people signing up for a free trial that when vetted, would be a guy in his house with a phone trying to make it as a recruiting firm. Nothing wrong with that but a lot of them failed.

Yup. And 90% of them don't last six months. But they give everyone else a good dose of guilt by association in the process.

Denim Chicken said:
What are your next steps or venture? Given that you understand the hiring pains you may consider starting a venture as an offshoot of that.

I started today as a commission-only sales rep in a different field serving the same clientele I was recruiting for. Made two appointments in my first five (cold) calls - and in both cases they asked for the appointment! Wow. So this is what it feels like to sell something that people actually want!

I'm also building a local lead gen site. And I signed up for the ForeverJobless Incubator this weekend.

Denim Chicken said:
It's always in the back of my mind but I got other things going on. A previous co worker ended up starting a saas that takes the pain point for hiring managers of firing people and letting them do it easily thru the platform. All the paperwork, the legal consultation and the delivery of the notifications and documents.
I'm sure there are some ideas out there that can clean up the hiring industry quite a bit.

My first business idea - before I dived into this one - was actually a SaaS to replace recruitment agencies for supply teaching (or substitute teaching as you would call it in the US). Fairly static labour pool. Barriers to entry to join it. The agencies make 50%+ margins for adding little value. Prime target for disruption.

When I really looked into it, I realised it was going to cost me £50k just to get the platform developed. Then there's payroll (for the teachers) and the cashflow problems that presents, compliance & liability, selling to government...that's a business for someone with deep pockets. Not the right thing for me at the time, and it's not the right thing for me now either. Ideas are everywhere. :)

Besides, I'm kinda sick of staffing now. But for sure, there's a lot of opportunity in this area. What business are you in nowadays?
 

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Must Read Books...

Explore books recommended by MJ DeMarco and other members of the Fastlane entrepreneurial community.
Fastlane Bookstore
Top