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Moved to Scottsdale, Growing a Web Design Firm

Bigguns50

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Hey Guys,

Just a quick update here (I'll go in and edit this later to add in more info) but wanted to just highlight quickly what's been going on with the business this previous month:

Now that I've proven the concept with this business and seen what's possible, my main focus this month was on automation and leveraging systems so that I can execute on a larger scale.

With the amazing network of entrepreneurs that I've met through the forum and since living out in Scottsdale, a good friend who is an expert at automation / systems graciously offered to help out and we worked together to find the right systems to do what I need to start scaling here so that's really exciting.

I barely did any new outreach this month and was still able to bring in $3k from current businesses that I'm working with already and the new goal is by Monday next week, to do outreach to 100 businesses as a quick test run to see how it goes with the systems in place.

I figure this run will help me identify challenges in the processes/systems that I can improve upon before really scaling things up and reaching out to much more businesses.

New Business Goal: $250,000 in revenue in 2021

June Revenue: $6,500
July Revenue: $3,000 (-54% from last month)
Total Revenue: $12,500
 

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Hey Everyone,

I wanted to share a quick update for the month of August with the new business and a quick overall update. Even though August wasn't my best month (the new business did $4k), from all revenue streams, it was my best month ever so it's been good to see that progress.

I did a large amount of outreach utilizing different systems that friends helped me set up and I learned a lot from that exercise. Lots of bottlenecks in the process were exposed and I'm switching up my strategy a bit with outreach and which types of clients that I want to target going forward.

What's been incredibly encouraging is the positive feedback loop has continued, almost every single client that I've worked with is happy with this new business and either asks for more services and/or refers me to a business owner friend to help them.

The demand is there and the need is absolutely there to easily meet the ambitious goals that I've set for this business, the biggest challenge is just working through some bottlenecks in the process and continuing to push forward.

Besides running this new business and my main digital marketing business, I've also been spending way too much time addressing some personal issues too so that's been a huge time sink, but I'm doing what I can to balance all of it and not get overwhelmed.

New Business Goal: $250,000 in revenue in 2021

July Revenue: $3,000
Aug Revenue: $4,000 (up 33% from last month)
Total Revenue: $16,500
 

MJ DeMarco

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ew Business Goal: $250,000 in revenue in 2021

July Revenue: $3,000
Aug Revenue: $4,000 (up 33% from last month)
Total Revenue: $16,500

Am I missing something? Where is $200,000 in revenue going to come from in Q4?

Is this the launch of a your new product/service?

Hope you get your personal stuff figured out my friend!
 
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Am I missing something? Where is $200,000 in revenue going to come from in Q4?

Is this the launch of a your new product/service?

Hope you get your personal stuff figured out my friend!

Hey MJ,

I set an ambitious goal when I saw the potential with this business, but as I've scaled things up some bottlenecks have caused more headaches than expected. I figured I'd keep the original goal up to hold myself accountable, even if I significantly fall short of that.

In the meantime, I'm working on how to continue to scale this up and move past some hurdles that came up. Trying to learn all that I can to keep adjusting my approach and work towards taking things to that next level with this new business.

The demand is clearly there (it's just that right now no one knows about me or that this service I'm providing is even possible), I've gotten a great response rate when I've done large outreach, it's just a question of getting enough clients in my pipeline and then handling the bottlenecks at appear at scale. Very possible that at the scale where I'd be making around $50k/month that I'd need at least a virtual assistant or someone full time on my team to help with the daily work to fulfill those client requests. A lot of items to figure out, but it's been a great learning experience so far and I just need to keep pushing myself / working smart to work towards the main goals I've set.
 
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BizyDad

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The demand is clearly there (it's just that right now no one knows about me or that this service I'm providing is even possible)
Speaking of demand...

So I heard through the grapevine what you are building and whenever you think it makes sense, please reach out. I have clients who from time to time need what you're building. Maybe we grab a bite?

Kudos on finding a problem and tackling it.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Speaking of demand...

So I heard through the grapevine what you are building and whenever you think it makes sense, please reach out. I have clients who from time to time need what you're building. Maybe we grab a bite?

Kudos on finding a problem and tackling it.

Damn, way to raise the level of intrigue!
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

I wanted to share a quick update to recap September and to just go over what's been going on with me lately. The personal issues that I mentioned I've been dealing with (don't want to get too into them) but they've been impacting me the past 5-6 months and I am extremely grateful that it finally is starting to get better.

It's made working on growing this new business really difficult but I'm glad to say that things are starting to trend in the right direction for the first time with the personal issues and I can see it not being an issue sometime very soon in the near future.

I'm extremely fortunate to be in a place where my main business (the digital marketing firm) has been able to consistently do $10-12k per month throughout this year. Thanks to the lessons that I learned from this community I focused on growing it as a business and not just a job / acting like a freelancer, so all of the tedious parts of the work are outsourced and I have just been handling the high-level items.

This has allowed me to put almost all of my time into addressing the challenges I've been dealing with on a personal level.

With things improving, there are a lot of things I'll never take for granted again after this whole experience, but I don't want to focus on that too much and want to share some quick updates on the new business:

  • Hired a friend to help with sales to start outsourcing the outreach part of this business. He's a really smart guy who I trust and he's picking things up really fast. Training him up on the process helped me document procedures / create videos that I've saved and can flip around to anyone else I bring onto the team now
  • September was one of the slower months with this business, 100% my fault - my capacity to work on this business was severely limited due to the personal reasons so I'm excited to jump back into it and focusing on taking things to the next level
  • Updating the goal below as that's what I'm mainly focusing on now with a mastermind group that I'm in with some members on here... given my baseline of around $10k for the digital marketing business, that means I would need to do around $20k with this new business in one month. That helps me break down how many clients I need to work with, what my conversion rate is (to know how many to reach out to), etc.
  • Running into some more bottlenecks - this business passes the CENTS framework with flying colors all except the C (control portion) of it. The barriers to entry are decently high since this is such a newer and unknown industry, the need is overwhelming, the amount I'm getting paid (for the small amount of time) is fantastic, and the scaling potential is huge... the big challenge is that I need to rely on other companies and as they change some things on their side, I have to find workarounds for that. My main focus for this month is going to be to focus on eliminating and reducing some of those bottlenecks to the best of my ability

New Business Goal: Have one $30k month before March of 2022

Aug Revenue: $4,000
Sep Revenue: $2,150
Total Revenue: $18,650
 

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Hey Everyone,

Apologies for the huge delay in posts here, honestly can't believe it's been around 4 months since I last posted. As I was growing my second business, I promised that I'd eventually reveal what I had been up to for the last year or so, and now that I'm at a point where things are becoming clearer for the future of that business, I wanted to give an in-depth breakdown of that secondary business and my decisions about it going forward.

PART 1 / 2 (original post was getting way too long)

At the end of 2020, I had a nightmare client who basically just wasn't paying me for services already done and agreed upon, so when I put my foot down in an assertive / professional way, he went crazy and started posting all of these negative reviews that he admitted weren't true to "destroy my business". Desperately looking for any solution out there, someone recommended a company abroad that helped remove negative reviews. I was shocked that I A) didn't know this existed B) never heard of this before and C) how much money they were charging (something like $1k for each review removed).

A lightbulb went off in my head that maybe this is something I could look into. Once I figured out my own situation, I just leveraged a network that I already had. From running my digital marketing business for years and networking and all of that, I had created a fairly large group of businesses that I could help. So I just put my head down and spent weeks, maybe even months trying to help business owner friends get down negative reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc and I was getting some traction (and charging a pretty small amount).

Not only was I succeeding in getting negative/harassing reviews down that Google and Yelp told me "weren't coming down", but the business owners were thrilled... they'd recommend me to friends, they'd tell me "you should be charging more for this", and kept giving me more business. It seemed like an amazing opportunity as:

-Almost every single business owner I spoke with didn't know this was possible
-I set it up where they only paid me for successful review removals (aka no risk to them if it doesn't work)
-They didn't need to give me passwords or access to their account whatsoever

Once I had made a few thousand bucks with this, I decided it was time to give this a real shot. I got the business LLC, the bank account, created a business name, made a simple website, had some testimonials, success stories, etc.

I decided on charging $750 for each review removal so I realized that I needed to pick a niche where they could easily pay that (and it would be worth it). I had worked with a few lawyers and they were thrilled about this, so I realized that law firms make enough to justify this cost, they're extremely polarizing businesses so people leave a lot of angry/harassing reviews, and I had case studies already in getting reviews down in this space.

I became obsessed and would spend hours each day just prospecting and combing through law firms in the US that had negative reviews that fit a certain pattern/criteria that I felt I could get down. After I had a list of the first 100 or so, I used some software for email marketing and sent out an email series to these individuals and was shocked how easy it was to sell this.

What always concerned me though was in the back of my mind I knew that Google/Yelp/Facebook had WAY too much control and they could shut me down at any given point. Continuing this with another post since I think I'm almost at the character limit...
 
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GuitarManDan

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Part 2 / 2

In the beginning, things were going great and even after just a few months of starting the business, I had a month of doing $6k (while I was going through some fun health stuff that required me to spend several hours each week going to doctors, specialists, etc) and running my other full-time digital marketing business.

Probably 85% of the business that I did was with Google reviews and the rest was mostly Yelp (and some Facebook). What I noticed was that even in the few short months that I had been running this business, Google had COMPLETELY changed the way they facilitated the process of removing reviews, escalating them, etc. All of the usual contacts that I had made (with their fulfillment team in India) had moved onto different teams, all of the previous communication options (live chat, live calls, etc) were shut down and it was just a ticketing system with emails.

It then became this game of cat and mouse where Google would make huge changes, I'd have to figure out a new system and way that things were done, they would shadow ban one of my accounts, and I'd have to create a new one and keep going with this frustrating back and forth. They had no consistency in their decisions, and in fact if I referenced previous cases that I had worked on... this was a bad thing because they knew I was a company offering these services (which probably led to some shadow bans).

The revenue had peaks and valleys (basically good months when I figured out the system and didn't get banned and bad months when they changed it all up).

The main goal was to sell this business and create an actual scalable/sellable business asset, so I knew me doing all of the work manually wouldn't cut it, so I linked up with one of my automation expert friends who's on the forum and who I met at the summit a few years back. We created this fantastic system that would scrape negative reviews for law firms in the US and return a CSV with certain targeted keywords.

The challenge was that once again, those keywords became almost useless because Google would change up their policies, standards, and procedures so it was almost just unknown which reviews were coming down and which weren't.

A lot of my friends from the forum who knew what I was doing told me that it seemed like the business had stalled and that I should make a decision soon as it may not be worth it to continue working in this space when Google / Yelp made it where I legitimately no 0 control of this business. The time per hour was amazing and businesses were thrilled to work with me when it worked, but it just wasn't scalable after trying this for a year or so.

This previous month in January, I gave myself an ultimatum saying that I was going to go all out and make a final decision at the end of the month. In typical fashion of this business, I got a bunch of new clients, the system worked for a little bit (after they changed it again) and I was able to make a pretty fast $6k in January before Google just throttled my account (where the systems I used to report reviews, check on them, etc) was just broken and suspiciously wasn't working (once I reported a large amount of reviews).

Overall, the side business made about $40k (which was probably at 90-95% margins all in for any small costs) but even when I was dealing with a small amount of clients such as 5-10 at a time, Google was making it almost impossible to scale this up.

I definitely learned a lot from this experience, and I'm too stubborn to give up easily (with all of the challenges that came up over a year or so), but what really did it for me was trusted friends from the forum that I've made giving me a bit of a reality check that this wasn't going to be something that could scale the way it currently was, so it may be best to just let it go for now.

The main digital marketing business has been consistent and steady for this year and last year (doing around $10k per month) which has been great for cashflow, so the plan now that I have more capacity is to try to double that while also keeping an eye out for the next opportunity/business idea. I think the mistake I made and the biggest lesson learned is just how you can't overlook the control aspect of the CENTS framework.

I also now have a network of probably 20-30 different law firms around the US that I worked with for this business who I can see if they may be a good fit for web/SEO services as well to get into that niche to grow the digital marketing business.
 
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BizyDad

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I think the mistake I made
I don't think you made a mistake. We're entrepreneurs. We "pivot".

This is still an incredible value-add.

And an even better prospecting tool. You can use everything you learned to target companies to pitch marketing help, and truly set you company apart by taking down those pesky reviews.
 

MJ DeMarco

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I don't think you made a mistake. We're entrepreneurs. We "pivot".

This is still an incredible value-add.

And an even better prospecting tool. You can use everything you learned to target companies to pitch marketing help, and truly set you company apart by taking down those pesky reviews.

Excellent point, it adds value skew to your existing company, can offer it as an add on at a premium price on success.
 

GuitarManDan

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I don't think you made a mistake. We're entrepreneurs. We "pivot".

This is still an incredible value-add.

And an even better prospecting tool. You can use everything you learned to target companies to pitch marketing help, and truly set you company apart by taking down those pesky reviews.
Agreed with your approach on this one man, I think I'm just my own biggest critic so I need to catch myself sometimes. Definitely a lot of lessons learned and new perspectives gained from this whole experience.

If nothing else, I did get some hysterical stories out of this of angry ex wives and girlfriends posting insanely harassing reviews (that stayed up for years) that I was able to get down.

My personal favorite was someone posted "this is the worst grocery store I've ever been to"... on a law firm's page... and Google kept telling me that it didn't break their terms of service (had to push for weeks on that one to get it down)
 
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Excellent point, it adds value skew to your existing company, can offer it as an add on at a premium price on success.
Thanks MJ - that's definitely the plan going forward. Although I'll wind down the separate LLC and everything involved with that, I will still offer this as a service for the digital marketing business, as it seems like all of the bottlenecks and challenges in the process go away when this is done on a smaller scale.

For now the focus will be on keeping an eye out for opportunities for the next business and continuing to grow the existing one.
 

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@GuitarManDan , thanks for the update. Amazing adventure!
Lost: Zero.
Gained: Experience, knowledge, connections, trust. Prolly more.

Whether it's with your existing business or the next one, I think some of what you learned or the trust and connections you formed will be critical to your success.

BTW...I had a negative review a few months ago. Lady reviewed a train ride...not me. I tried several time with Googe to have it reviewed but they wouldn't do it. I even consulted with Google Ads guy who used to work for Google. He told me they rarely remove reviews.
 

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Thanks a lot for sharing.
The main lesson for me here, is how it's "easy" to find new opportunity if you have the right mindset. (That's my main difficulty).
You can't home run everytime but IMHO this opportunity matched a lot of great criterias and was definitely worth trying.
Remember that you can't win big everytime, but the most shots you take the better are your chances.
 
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Great read! Thanks for sharing.

You definitely got the right mindset etc. Keep swinging and it'll be a matter of time until you really hit a homerun!

Though you are already doing great man, huge respect and keep going!
 

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The main lesson for me here, is how it's "easy" to find new opportunity if you have the right mindset.

And what an awesome 'hustle' this can be for someone who has no capital, but can now acquire some good starting funds ... $6K in one month working on your own with low overhead? That's $72K/year. Beats working at McDonalds 70 hours a week.
 

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Wow, great write up!

This is also a great example of why monopoly's charging super high prices invite competition.

Also... Google sounds like a nightmare to work for, rolling out changes to their systems every few months.
 
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I think you are mining data and soon you will find the best use for the service you're offering. All the best!
 

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And what an awesome 'hustle' this can be for someone who has no capital, but can now acquire some good starting funds ... $6K in one month working on your own with low overhead? That's $72K/year. Beats working at McDonalds 70 hours a week.
This is what blew my mind too... thinking how all of this was just done with an internet connection (honestly didn't even have a sales phone call with 95% of the clients I closed). Someone could easily do this in a country where the money goes a lot further than it does here in the US.

So many opportunities out there in the Internet era. Besides continuing to offer this service on a small scale, I have a lot of detailed and inside information about this industry now so trying to think of ways to monetize that (and if it's even worth it) vs. spending my time focused on finding the next opportunity.

Any type of educational product would be rendered useless after a few months with how often Google changes up their procedures/processes to get reviews removed, but I'm sure there's some way to capitalize on the info that I've gained with this.

I still have my old clients continually reaching out when they get new negative reviews so this should be a good few thousand a month side service to offer to help with cashflow this year.
 

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Any updates? What you up to now @GuitarManDan ?
Hey MJ - thanks for the push, I'll include a breakdown below of what's been up on my side since my last post.

After posting that the plan was to wind down the review business (and take on occasional clients with it or use it as an upsell to my main business) I had a networking connection introduce me to a huge company that wanted my review removal services (don't want to provide the specific name, but they apparently had a SuperBowl commercial this year which is crazy).

In addition to that, the same week I had an old review client who was very happy refer me to his brother's business. So without any real effort put into client outreach, I had a $6k month a few months ago which inspired me to pick things back up with that.

The main business still has the monthly recurring revenue from my SEO clients (most of them have been with me for 2 years and have been fantastic to work with and it's safer stable income), but my main focus has been more on the review side.

After my friend got me this huge client, she asked if I could offer a commission for future referrals so we agreed that any introduction she makes that turns into a client, I provide 10% for any review that comes down for that client.

Since that's been working well, I offered that same deal to some other trusted business owners I know who I know are well connected and network a lot. I've also been working on something on the IT side of things to identify review clients much easier (still in the works, but making big progress on that).

It really opened my eyes to how this could scale when I did $8.2k in just one week last month in June (just from a handful of clients) and how my larger clients are constantly getting reviews so it almost becomes a recurring revenue source for the larger ones.

I want to be able to post a larger update when I really have everything aligned so apologies for disappearing on here, but there's just so many unknowns right now for how this could go so trying to make it all happen.

On one hand, Google could smack me down and turn this virtually into nothing at any point, but when things line up, the amount I've been making for the relatively small amount of time (and how happy the clients are) has inspired me to really push myself on this and see what happens.

Happy to answer any questions!
 

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Hey MJ - thanks for the push, I'll include a breakdown below of what's been up on my side since my last post.

After posting that the plan was to wind down the review business (and take on occasional clients with it or use it as an upsell to my main business) I had a networking connection introduce me to a huge company that wanted my review removal services (don't want to provide the specific name, but they apparently had a SuperBowl commercial this year which is crazy).

In addition to that, the same week I had an old review client who was very happy refer me to his brother's business. So without any real effort put into client outreach, I had a $6k month a few months ago which inspired me to pick things back up with that.

The main business still has the monthly recurring revenue from my SEO clients (most of them have been with me for 2 years and have been fantastic to work with and it's safer stable income), but my main focus has been more on the review side.

After my friend got me this huge client, she asked if I could offer a commission for future referrals so we agreed that any introduction she makes that turns into a client, I provide 10% for any review that comes down for that client.

Since that's been working well, I offered that same deal to some other trusted business owners I know who I know are well connected and network a lot. I've also been working on something on the IT side of things to identify review clients much easier (still in the works, but making big progress on that).

It really opened my eyes to how this could scale when I did $8.2k in just one week last month in June (just from a handful of clients) and how my larger clients are constantly getting reviews so it almost becomes a recurring revenue source for the larger ones.

I want to be able to post a larger update when I really have everything aligned so apologies for disappearing on here, but there's just so many unknowns right now for how this could go so trying to make it all happen.

On one hand, Google could smack me down and turn this virtually into nothing at any point, but when things line up, the amount I've been making for the relatively small amount of time (and how happy the clients are) has inspired me to really push myself on this and see what happens.

Happy to answer any questions!
Hi Dan,

I just discovered this amazing thread of yours. I skipped to this last page after page 10. Ha, ha!

You have accomplished so much in the last 3 years of building up your business. Congrats!

Can I ask - how many hours do you work each day? Do you tried to separate work and family hours?

I know this is way off-topic, but I'm just curious how hard entrepreneurs work on a daily basis.

Thanks!

Rex
 

GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

Wanted to share a quick update for what I've been up to since the last post a few months ago.

August has been my best month ever and between the two businesses I did just over $30k.

To be honest, the last few years ever since I hit the 6 figure threshold with my business, I felt like I'd gotten a bit complacent and stagnant, and I just needed something to get myself out of that funk.

I realized that what had helped the most when I was starting out such as learning from others, surrounding myself with people who had accomplished the goals I was after, etc. are things that I wasn't as invested in anymore and I was sort of just going through the motions.

Re-analyzing gold threads and INSIDERS threads on this forum and joining other communities/mentorship programs that I've joined where I would almost guarantee I'm one of the least successful people has really helped me get my discipline back and just aim higher.

One thing I always wondered when reading success stories on here and other communities is when someone throws out a revenue number that they hit, I wonder what's the actual profit margin and how much of that did they actually keep. To be as transparent as possible, for this previous month, my estimated margins were around 90% that I kept and there wasn't one giant payment that overinflated this month's revenue figures, it was probably on average 1.5k-2k for each client from several new clients acquired.

After getting my focus back, I put my head down and finally figured out something that I had been looking for for over a year with my 2nd business and that completely opened up a door to a new way to efficiently get new leads/clients.

It worked amazingly well (I was a bit over ambitious so I had some spam issues with the emails I was sending, but I've worked with others who are fantastic with this stuff, created a new business email and am planning to kick off more outreach in a more sustainable way in a few days where spam/junk issues won't come up).

When the system I created was working, I was effortlessly landing clients each day and it was pretty overwhelming. Now that I know the potential that's here and did all of this virtually solo, the next goals are going to be around scaling.

I've had some successes and some huge challenges in the past outsourcing work / hiring freelancers so although there's definitely some hesitation around it, I know it's the best way to go after some ambitious goals that I've set.

Still a ways to go, but it's been a solid month and a good indication that if I scale this the right way it could be huge.
 
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
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August has been my best month ever and between the two businesses I did just over $30k.

Is this web design/seo services and rep management, the 2 businesses?

Is there a spread you can share?

Congrats!
 

GuitarManDan

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Is this web design/seo services and rep management, the 2 businesses?

Is there a spread you can share?

Congrats!
Hey MJ - thanks man! Sure, so it’s those two businesses and the split was around the following for August:

Rep Mgmt: $20.5k
SEO/Web Business: $10k
 
Last edited:

GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

Wanted to share a quick update for the month of September. I was really happy with the progress that I had made with August being my best month ever and I was a bit overwhelmed at first looking at Sept. I wanted to make sure that I kept my focus high-level and didn't fall into any kind of mental traps of taking it easy and after one amazing month, falling back to the old income levels.

Although it was by a slight margin, I can say that September passed August as my best month ever.

August was about $30.5k and September so far has been about $32k between both businesses. In case anyone is curious about the breakdown, the rep mgmt business did about $24k and the web/seo business did $8k this month so far.

I'm happy with the progress that I've made, but I know I can do much more so I'm trying to do everything I can to execute on this more efficiently and scale this up as there's a lot more room for growth here.
 
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