Episode 19

Bootstrapping Your Way to a 7-Figure Business [Ray Blakney]

by | Nov 18, 2020 | Podcast

One of the biggest hurdles new entrepreneurs face is coming up with the capital to start their business. How do you start a business if you don’t have any money? Well today, Ray Blakney is on the Nine-Five Podcast to talk to us about bootstrapping your business. In otherwords, starting a business without seeking investors and without any money invested upfront.

Nick (00:00:00): I just want to preface this episode by saying, wow, this interview completely blew me away. Welcome back to the Nine-Five Podcast. And if you're new to the show, glad to have you on board. I am your host, Nick Nalbach, and I'm here to help you start build and grow your own business. In today's episode, we're sitting down with Ray Blakney and we're talking about bootstrapping a business over the past several years, Ray has bootstrapped multiple six and seven figure businesses. And if you're not quite familiar with the term bootstrapping, it's where you start a business from the ground up without any investor or personal capital put into the business. So simply put that means you're starting a business from the ground up with no money at all. Well, we get into all of that, exactly what bootstrapping is and how you can actually start growing your business from the ground up with no money invested. Now there's a ton of value in this episode. So I won't make you wait any longer. Let's get straight into the interview with Ray Blakney.

Nick (00:00:58): This isn't the Nine-Five Podcast, and I'm your host, Nick Nalbach. Where we get into the minds of entrepreneurs and people just like you. So you can start, build and grow your own online business.

Nick (00:01:16): Welcome to the Nine-Five Podcast. I'm your host, Nick Nalbach. And this is the show where we get inside the minds of entrepreneurs. So we kind of learn from them and help you grow your own business. And today I'm very excited to bring on Ray Blakney. So Ray, welcome to the Nine-Five Podcast.

Ray (00:01:33): Nick, thanks for having me here.

Nick (00:01:34): So you have a pretty awesome experience in the online business space. I mean, you've helped grow multiple six, seven figure businesses through both investing investments, getting investments, and then actually bootstrapping as well today on this episode, we're actually, we'll be talking about bootstrapping, which I'm pretty excited about because I know virtually nothing about this topic.

Ray (00:01:55): That's my specialty.

Nick (00:01:57): Well, Ray, to kick things off. Why don't you give the audience a little bit of an idea of who you are and what it is you actually do?

Ray (00:02:04): Sure. So here's the 30 second elevator pitch. I was born in the Philippines, my dad's from the United States, but he grew up in Africa. I grew up in Turkey and I moved to the US to finish high school. Junior, senior year, went to college, became a software engineer. My tour of duty is I like to say in Silicon Valley, because all software engineers have to pass through there at some point. Then when worked for some fortune 500 companies, then I realized, Hey, I don't want to sit in a cube the rest of my life. So I quit almost a six figure programming job. And I joined the US Peace Corps to work for $150 a month in Southern Mexico, helping indigenous communities. And all of that led to me meeting my wife and becoming an entrepreneur. We launched our first business together, which was a chain of language schools in Mexico. That became an online language school, which multiple other types of businesses, a lot of in unrelated fields around the world. And right now I run three to six businesses at any given time and usually launching at least one every year. Primarily because one fails every year as well. So, you know, I got to replace that, so.

Nick (00:03:01): Well, that's an awesome, I mean, hell, you've been all over the place. You've seen everything. That is so cool, man. I'm very jealous of you there.

Ray (00:03:10): I haven't seen everything. I hope I haven't seen everything yet. There's still plenty. You know, my wife and I wanted to go to Nepal. We want to hike seven days in Tibet. I mean, there's all these cool things we haven't done yet. The world's big. Go out there and explore, you know, I'm just turning 40. So I've kind of in that middle, right? When things are starting to hurt. So I still got to go and do those kinds of physically hard things. And while I still can.

Nick (00:03:29): Absolutely. So you've you said you deal with a lot of businesses failing businesses, succeeding, hopefully as well. Is that, I mean, from everything that you've been telling me offline, it seems like you have pretty awesome portfolio. How do you deal with the failure versus a success? Like how do you that's I think that's a big fear that a lot of people have, right?

Ray (00:03:47): Yeah. So one of the first off I say, you have to redefine failing. I actually just commissioned two paintings. Um, I'm a little bit of a geek, so they're kind of like geeky paintings, but like, you know, medieval and all that kind of stuff. But to get my quotes, my two favorite quotes on it, because I want them in my office. And one of those quotes is exactly about what you're talking about. Failure is not when something doesn't work. Failure is when you stop trying and that's something you really have to redefine, right? If a business didn't work, a lot of people say the business didn't work, I'm a failure. And then they give up, they go and look for a job, whatever that may be. The business didn't work. And then you're like, okay, let's try something else in my book. That's not failing. That's just trying something. It didn't work. I mean, if you imagine, if we stopped trying every time, every little thing in our life failed, right? When we're little kids, I got a baby now. Right? So, you know, when you try putting that square and the circle hole, when you were a year and a half old and you couldn't use threw it up in the air and you'd be like, where would you be in life now? Business is like the same thing, right?

Ray (00:04:46): Business not working is like you trying to fit that square in the round hole. All you gotta do is try another one and eventually you'll get the right one. You'll figure it out. And you'll be able to get some successful financially successful businesses. That's why most people that's what most people are afraid of thinking that this is my one shot. That's all I got. It's not the case. You try it doesn't work. I guarantee you, if your business didn't work, you'll learn a ton. And then you won't make those same mistakes next time, trust me.

Nick (00:05:05): That's beautifully put. And I mean, we're gonna be talking about raising money and doing all that. That's a big part of it. So I'm really excited to get into that. Before we do that though, offline, you talked about being a semi-professional sword fighter. What the hell!?

Nick (00:05:23): You can't tell me that and then not talk about it on the show.

Ray (00:05:28): For some reason that seems to draw a lot of people's attention. I don't know why. So backstory. I was that geeky, if you have that kind of geeky, Asian kids with the big glasses who got picked last in PE and all the intermurals, when you were a kid, that was me. So I kind of grew up in, I used to love these movies. That little geeky kid became a bad-ass at some point in his life, right. He learned how to be a Ninja or something. So I love that stuff. So when I was a kid, I started learning all these different martial arts. But I was a skinny, geeky kid and I just was really bad at all. I mean, I really tried it. I had no coordination on the rest of that. So the way it worked was so in college, I took a year off to go to Silicon Valley, to work at a startup, not as founder, just as programmer, but that was back in the day where give me stock options and then I'll work for a year and then you'll sell it for $10 billion.

Ray (00:06:16): And I'll never have to work again. That didn't happen. But my roommate, when I was out in Silicon Valley was bodybuilder. So he was an accountant at HP and he taught me, Hey, you're skinny. I was skinny before I'll teach you how to work out. Right. So we started working out, eating, all that stuff. So when I came back from that year, I put on like 25 pounds. It's probably a little overweight, but you know, I did because I didn't know how to eat right. I just eat a lot. And it's really different when you're working out with somebody who takes steroids and you don't take steroids. I mean, yeah, he was getting, putting on pure muscle. I wasn't quite the same, but I suddenly could actually, my body was actually moving pretty quickly at that point. So at that point, I, I still love martial arts. So I came across this martial art called Kendo, which is "the way of the sword" It's a Japanese martial art.

Ray (00:06:54): Not very well known outside of Japan, but in Japan it's like baseball in high school. I mean, everybody does it until they get of get through high school and I loved it and I started practicing it. And I mean, the beauty of it is there's only four attacks and Kendo, it's not like there's a million different moves and you spend your entire life mastering those and there's no blocks because if you block, there's only two things that can happen. I like the philosophy, the philosophy business. When you block something, there's only two things that can happen. You either stop their attack or the hit you. There's absolutely nothing else that can happen when you block. So worst case, best case scenario is you're in the same place. Worst case scenario, you lose. So they didn't teach you to block. Somebody is attacking you, you attack back and you attack with more force than they do, you win the center and you win.

Ray (00:07:34): So that really resonated with me when I started doing it. So I got sent by the national Federation. I was in to try out for the US national team. I didn't make it, but I won tournaments across the United States. And this, I currently still travel around the world and I always take some of the gear with me and I've practiced in Asia, the US all across Latin America. I'm working on my fourth degree, black belt in that right now. So I've been, I like to tell people I'm a semi-professional sword fighter and I get hit on the head with sticks. We use these bamboo sticks on a regular basis. And my wife says, yeah, that explains a lot. When you meet this guy. Spent 20 years of getting hit over the head with a stick, but it is an amazing stress relief. We meditate for five minutes before every class and at the end of it. So there's the mental aspect. It's really tough. I mean, if you've ever done any kind of contact sport, like three minutes of full contact, sparring, you really get hit that looks similar to like you as an American football year. And at the end, I mean, at the end of three months, three minutes, most people are hacking up a lung if they have a practiced because I mean it is really really intense.

Ray (00:08:34): So I love it. I could talk about it all day long. I put my dreams on them, Japan for a few years of practice.

Nick (00:08:41): That's insane. I've never met anybody who does sword fighting.

New Speaker (00:08:47): I know in Charleston where you're at, they have a club. You should go check it out. At some point, the thing is, nobody does it professionally. So it's not like karate and TaeKwonDo where it's commercial. Generally Kendo clubs though, the teachers are just going for the love of it. They don't actually make money out of it since the gear's kind of expensive. Like the people in the clubs tend to be kind of like in my club half of them were doctors. I mean, just because, you know, the intro gears like 700 bucks and then going up from there it'll cost like a few thousand. And dedicating yourself to it for the long-term is if you can do it until you're 60. So we have a lot of the kind of really high-level people, nobody, nobody makes money. They might charge you enough to pay for the rent of their facilities. So it's a very different kind of martial arts compared to those that have been commercialized in the United States. People make millions of dollars off of teaching.

Nick (00:09:30): Yeah. That's super fascinating. It's called Kendo. You said?

Ray (00:09:33): Yep. Just look it up. Kendo club nearby. And you know, if you have one, it's free, give it a shot. It's not for everybody, but I love it. I love it.

Nick (00:09:40): It'd be a cool thing. Just to try even once just to say, did it

Ray (00:09:46): One thing I'll add to that? Don't think self-defense. I'm not walking around the street with a sword in my hand. So generally speaking, you know, it's not that practical, but I don't have to defend myself on a day-to-day basis. So even if I knew other martial arts, so it's very cool.

Nick (00:10:03): All right. One thing I like to do with all of my guests, when they come on the show, I like to ask them what their superpower is and by superpower, for those of you that are just tuning in for the first time, when I say superpower, I mean, what does that one thing that you are just the man at? Like either someone comes to you when they need help with this one thing or just something like you are the fricking man, what would your superpower be?

Ray (00:10:22): Yeah. So I have the most boring, super power known to man and nobody comes to me for help. So I'll give a quick backstory on how I discovered this was my superpower, because I had no idea. It was until about five or six years ago. I was at a conference put on by some friends and one of the activities they had us all do. They give us all these post-it notes. And they said, Hey, write down what your typical day is like one activity per post-it note. And let's put them up on the wall to see what it's like. And I remember thinking to myself, it's kind of an odd exercise, you know? So I'm like, okay, I wake up at 6:00 AM, six, 6:15, and have coffee with granola at 6:30, meditate for 15 minutes, you know, seven o'clock go to the gym, got all the way through the day.

Ray (00:11:00): I had my head down. I was writing all that stuff down and I kind of put them all up and I look up and I look around the room and everybody else looks kind of confused. Like I don't really have a day. Each day is different. I don't really know. So I got to put myself out there and people started looking at me like I was crazy. It's like you do that every single day. I'm like, yeah, I wake up every single day and I do this. I mean, I'll tell you what time I'm answering emails, what time I'm working, what time I'm at the gym. And it was, then it was actually a few days later that I realized kind of looking back what my superpower was kind of related to the martial arts. It's discipline. I can tell it's super boring. You know, it's not something that you're going to put on a t-shirt, but I get up every more every day from Monday through Friday, I work 10 hours a day on my business, but I'm also strict about stopping the six. And I spend time with my family and all the rest of it. I am super disciplined. I'm even disciplined about my days. I'm not disciplined. Right? I'm like Saturday afternoon is free time. I'm very disciplined about not having that free time. So my superpower, and I think what's gotten to where I am today is discipline.

Nick (00:11:55): I think that is a really good superpower. Actually, you say it's boring, but I think it is something very valuable to have. And like how you mentioned having the separation between work and personal life, family time. That that is something I've definitely need to work on myself because granted, right now I'm working a nine to five job and then I'm working on my business on the side. So I'll end up getting caught up in my own business. And usually my free time just disappears. And I don't separate the time for like me time and family time. So I think that that's definitely a very important superpower to have, and then not, not to mention, just being able to get stuff done during the day

Ray (00:12:32): Anybody can learn it, is the thing, you know, some people's super powers like, you know, being able to dunk a basketball, I guess most people, some people can learn it, but if you're five feet tall, you can practice all your, like, it's just not going to happen. But discipline it doesn't matter. I mean, you know, if you put your mind to it, anybody can learn to be disciplined. It's gonna change your life. It's work in the beginning, like a lot of these things, but in a lot of senses, it makes my day easier. I don't have to think, Oh, it's 9:30. What do I do now? I know exactly what I'm doing at 9:30 every single day. Because it's the same thing I do every day at 9:30, right?

Ray (00:13:02): I mean, it might be different emails. It might be all that, but I know what I'm doing. So a lot of people get caught up in that. They spend all their energy trying to decide what they're supposed to do while if you have discipline, you know what you're going to do every single day and that the decision has gone, right? It's just a matter. It's like brushing your teeth at night. Once you get in the habit, most of us don't think about it, right? You just get up, brush your teeth, and go to bed. If you can get to a point where your Workday becomes like that, like, you know, working on your business is just, I just get up all this time. I'll work on my business. It's not a question. It's not a decision. It's just, this is the time I'll work on my business. You can change your life.

Nick (00:13:32): I love it. That's awesome. Now, segwaying from there. Let, let's talk about bootstrapping, I guess, first of all, why don't you give the listeners a little bit of an idea of what bootstrapping is, kind of define that for us here.

Ray (00:13:46): Sure. So there's an upside and a downside to bootstrapping. So we'll start with that. So bootstrapping pretty much means starting a business with little to no money invested. The counterweight to that is to start a business. You need two things, right? Money and time. You're not putting very much money into it. What does it mean? You gotta put in a lot of time. If you have a few million dollars, you shortcut, you're gonna have to put in that much money, right? I mean, you just hire people to do it all for you and the business could be successful in six to 12 months. Unfortunately, most of us don't have a million dollars sitting in the bank. If you did, maybe don't go into business, enjoy your million dollars. Right? I mean, you know, that might be what I advise. So that's the background in bootstrapping. It's pretty much the, that side of the equation, where you don't have the money and you have to be willing to put the time in to build the business.

Ray (00:14:29): And I, as I said, I think most people are probably a lot closer to that end of the scale. Right. They might be able to find the time, even if they're busy, they can find a little bit of time, but I say, Hey, do you have 10 grand, you can throw at this? Most people will be like, the other option is loans and VC and all the rest of it. I don't like that in all of those cases. It's like, you're hiring a boss. Even if it's a loan from the bank, the bank is after if you. If you have venture capitalists behind you, they're looking over your shoulder every day. Not really what I'm looking at for out of life. If I wanted a boss, I'd be back working for corporations in the United States. I wouldn't be starting my own business. So that's the short answer of what bootstrapping is.

Nick (00:15:04): That I have. So I started a business. It would have been two years now. I want to say with both my dad and my brother, and we've discussed that because it's something that we need, I think money to get in there. It's kind of a new idea, but to get the word out about it and kind of get people knowing about it, we have to put in the money for marketing, advertising, right.

Ray (00:15:23): Not necessarily. It depends on the kind of marketing you do. Um, so the marketing I build my businesses around is something called SEO, search engine optimization. That really doesn't take money. It can take a ton of time, right? I mean, depends on how competitive the niche you're in. If you're looking to sell, you know, pink bath towels for your back and you know, yeah. You might be able to rank pretty quickly for that because there's probably not that many people selling them and not that much competition. Right. But if you want to sell used cars, you know, nationally, I mean you could compete, but it will take you at least three to five years before you even start showing up on SEO traffic. And so the strategy on that as you go after the low hanging fruit, right? So if you want to do your scars, find your niche first, don't go after all used cars say, I'm, just selling use Pintos. You know, Auto trader doesn't care about used Pintos.

Ray (00:16:06): So I'm starting my use Pinto site. I can rank for that. Okay. That's generating money. Let's go onto the next one. Let's add used VW bugs, right? Just these kind of little cars that nobody cares about. Eventually you get another rep let's add a Corolla, let's add, you know, these used cars that everybody wants, but you have to build your way up to that. A lot of these issues, a lot of people want to skip those steps. I want to rank number one for the word cars in the world. It's not going to happen. Unless you, as you said, you get $10 million and hire multiple agencies to get you up there. But that's what I recommend for people starting off SEO. It's the greatest bootstrapping. I've bootstrapped my six and seven figure businesses all starting with SEO.

Nick (00:16:42): Well, how many, how many businesses have you I guess started? If you can keep count on that.

Ray (00:16:47): I don't have a count of those. I have no, what happened was the first two businesses I launched, luckily were a success. So the brick and mortar language school, I launched it with my wife that made about mid six figures before we sold it. And then from that, we launched our online school, which has now grown to a multi seven figures. But it was when we sold the other business, it was also mid six figures. Right? So we bootstrapped both of those businesses. And at that point I was like, my background is engineering, not business. This whole Business things easy. Why does everybody write books about this? I'm like, you know, what, why would you need to read any books? So I spent the next two years, pretty much just launching a business every three months and every single one of them bombed, right? Every single one of those businesses I launched for the next two.

Ray (00:17:28): Cause I had like, you know, the shiny object syndrome every three months, I'm like, Oh, let's do this. Oh, that would be great too. Let's do this. Luckily my other business has kind of just stayed stable in that time. They didn't grow at all, but they stayed stable. So it was a blessing and a curse. The curse was, I didn't need to work. I mean, you know, they weren't, we weren't living the high-life, but I'm like rent is paid for, I don't really need to worry about that. We didn't have kids yet. But after failing for like two years, what happened was Google did an algorithm update. So search engine optimization gets you to number one in Google, but Google does a big algorithm update. Like literally one of the businesses died overnight and I had to rebuild it up. That's livelingua.com like our biggest business right now.

Ray (00:18:07): I had to rebuild it a second time. And at that point I was like, Oh, we got to diversify right now. Have to, I don't want to depend everything on SEO is a great way for bootstrappers. But once you get those certain money, start paying for paid ads or sponsorships or whatever, there's other things you can do, but you don't use your own money anymore because your businesses do you just use your business's money. So that's what we've done with Live Lingua over the time. We have one of the top language learning podcasts in the world right now. Right? So we got about a thousand, 2000 downloads a day on our podcast that brings in students as well. But you need money to produce podcasts or else you need time. Because as you know, editing all that kind of stuff takes a lot of time as well. So yes, I've failed at a lot of business. But I was lucky to succeed at the two before I failed those.

Nick (00:18:47): This episode is actually kind of interesting because last week's episode of the time of the recording, it would have been yesterday that I recorded it. But last week's episode for the listeners, we were actually talking about creating physical products and everything that goes into creating a physical product. So this episode kind of fits perfectly into where we're going right now. Now, so I guess first off, where did you come up with the idea for Live Lingua or when you're thinking of a business that you want to do, where do you actually come up with these ideas to begin with?

Ray (00:19:16): So when I come up with business ideas, I like to say that there are two kinds of entrepreneurs in the world, right? They're the visionary entrepreneurs. And I think that's what most people think of when they're thinking about entrepreneurs, Steve jobs, Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, you know. That's who most people consider entrepreneurs. People who invented things we didn't even know we needed. And then we went out and bought them like the iPhone, right? I mean, nobody was asking for an iPhone until we invented iPhone. We all want an iPhone. I'm not that kind of entrepreneur. I'm not that visionary stuff. The kind of entrepreneur I am is kind of entrepreneurs that see a need that nobody else is meeting. So let me just mention like Podcast Hawk. My newest project is launching in January, right? The idea behind that was okay, we're talking about diversifying Live Lingua's marketing. Right. I tried like, you know, we have, we have our own podcasts, it's working this spring stuff and I'm like, Hey, you don't be really ready to be on other people's podcasts to show up and promote our product because then I can get in front of new audiences.

Ray (00:20:11): So how do you do that? You know, what's a good, scalable way to do that. So first thing I went to Google podcast to appear as guests. You know, you find all these podcasts, half of them aren't even making episodes anymore, their emails aren't working. I'm like, yeah, there's no way that will work. Okay, let's pay Ffr an agency to do it. Contact a few agencies. They're charging $1,000 to $5,000 to get you on five to 10 podcasts. And I'm like, no, I'm not paying that much money unless you're getting me on like, you know, Tim Ferriss or Joe Rogan, I'm not paying you five grand. Right? I mean, it's not worth my time. So I looked at, is there a software, can I look on iTunes for podcasts? I couldn't find anything. So that was step one. Right? I saw that I had a need. And no one was meeting this need. At least not in any kind of reasonable, affordable way.

Ray (00:20:54): So step two is, Hey, could I meet that need? So I went out, I spent just a weekend. I'm like, is it feasible for me to do this? So I wrote a quick piece of software. I'm like, I need to get all the, the episodes from iTunes, every, every podcast, every episode, every review, can I get that? Yes. Next week, And I'm like, huh. I need their emails. Can I get those? And then I spend a few days investigating that and like, yes, I can do that too. I can get all the million, 1.5 million emails from up from that as well. And then like, oh we're done. Because you know, I'm like, Oh, you throw that in the database and you just make it searchable. And suddenly people can now, Hey, you know, I want to appear on business podcasts that have been an episode in the last 30 days that have the word pink laundry, you know because we talked about pink towels, in the show notes description somewhere.

Ray (00:21:38): So I know that they they've probably talked about my product before. Reach out to all of that. That's how Podcast Hawk was born. That's what the necessity-based entrepreneur does. Right? They look for things that they need. They don't find it. And they say, okay, instead of giving up, they say, Hey, I'll make that. If I need it, chances are there other people out there who needed as well. And you can look for that, right? You can use Google keyword tools. You can see how many people are looking for this every single month. And you can have a pretty good idea of what your market is. Again, if you have found a totally new market, then you have no competition. It's like a thousand people are looking for this every month, probably sell to 3 to 4% of all. You have to do the math. There's 3 to 4% of a thousand worth of your time? If you're selling a Ferrari. Absolutely. That means I'm going to be selling 20-30 Ferraris a month.

Ray (00:22:17): If you're selling a $5 paddle, probably not. Because, you know, even after all, you're working, making $150 a month, but you go through all those steps. That's how you figured out that I'm an entrepreneur. I'm just like, yeah, just do it. Don't spend all day planning with business plans and all that kind of stuff. Just start working on it. Do what you can get out the most, the MVP minimal viable product as quickly as you can, and then grow a thick skin because you're going to get some really bad piece of feedback for the first year or two, as you're making the product better. But that's how you get started. You'd need start making money, getting people to pay for it right away. Not free. Everybody signs up for free stuff. But you know, can I get somebody to pay me 20 bucks a month for this, 30 bucks a month for this? If they can't, the business is not going to work.

Nick (00:22:59): You touched on a lot of really great points there. I mean the problem solving, okay, that's what you are doing. Like you said, you're not the guy out there trying to think of something that's completely brand new. I mean, you have to be someone extremely fricking special to come up with something that nobody has already thought of. We're done. So

Ray (00:23:18): And you need a lot of money, like Elon Musk is building a rocket to Mars. I'm like, yeah, that's great. I could come up with that idea. I'm not going to do anything about it. I'm going to build one in my backyard. So exactly.

Nick (00:23:28): Really, if you take a look at it from that aspect, from anybody who's wanting to start their own business, look around, pay attention to what people are saying. And there was a book I read the Millionaire Fastlane. That's kind of what got me on a big kick of wanting to become an entrepreneur and kind of venture off on my own. But he said, you pay attention to key phrases. People are saying like, I hate when this happens or this really frustrates me when this happens. Listen for stuff like that. And then see if there is a solution to that problem. Is there something you could create that would ultimately ease that frustration? And then if you can't really pick up on that stuff, I know I have a hard time listening to it. I can think of it after the fact sometimes, but places like Amazon or going to the app store and reading reviews and taking a look at all that type of stuff, like you can read all of the negative comments people have and people aren't going to be shy about sharing negative comments. So every one of those negative comments is a potential business opportunity that you can take advantage of. So I think that is an excellent point that you made when you are getting started with this new business idea. Is it typically, obviously with Podcast Hawk, you went in, you did a little bit of the engineering yourself. You kind of, you had background in the technology-based side of it.

Ray (00:24:36): Yeah. I'm a software engineer. So I do have a little advantage there, but it's not necessarily today. There's so many tools out there that you can build. Yeah.

Nick (00:24:43): That's kind of what I was getting into. Do you need, you know, what, like, do you have to have knowledge about the product or service that you are trying to create before you actually start creating it?

Ray (00:24:52): No. So there's different levels of knowledge about the product or the service. So there's knowledge about the product, which is slightly a different thing. Right. Um, you know, I needed to know the basics of what I wanted. Let's say design the software system. You don't need to be a programmer to do that. Right. That's on the high level. Let's say, you just need to know I need this information and I need it to be saved this way and show to the user. Just on that high-level stuff. So that's kind of knowing your product, knowing the industry. No, but you have to, you know, I'm not an expert podcast or anything like that. Like I know everything about the podcast industry. I know very little, I had a few podcasts. Most of them also bombed. 20 episodes I got to thank my mom. Like mom, you listened to it 20 times. That's great. Those were the only downloads I was getting for most of my podcasts.

Ray (00:25:42): So I have the experience in the industry do not necessarily have, as long as you have the willingness to learn, right? You can't just go in there and not know anything and stay ignorant the whole time expecting your business to succeed. You do need to learn it and at that point. For some people, I think it'd be easier to go into industries they at least know, but it's not a hundred percent necessary. For example, language learning, right. We have one of the top three online language learning schools in the world with livelingua.com. I knew nothing about language learning almost when we started. I learned quickly and now I know the thesis. I'm still not a teacher right. I mean, I'm more the business, the marketing, all that kind of stuff. My skill set is now building products around other people. Not necessarily me being the product. And For that kind of thing. Yeah. You don't need the knowledge to know the basic that there's a need. And then you're listening to people using it. And again, launch it.

Ray (00:26:31): We got the beta launching in January. I have about 50 people signed up. Let's say half of them actually use it. But part of my caveat for the beta group, as the developer is I'm giving you a huge discount here, but you gotta get on a call with me every 30 days. And tell me everything that sucks about my product and not hold back. and it's going to hurt because you know, I'm putting a lot of work into this thing and I want to be perfect, but I know it's not, there's some kind of quote, I'm paraphrasing, but like perfect is the enemy of good enough or something like that. You know? Cause people just wait for the perfect product to launch it and you never have a perfect product. So they never launched anything. Just throw something out there. I think it's, uh, the founder of Twitter whose name is escaping me right now, but normally I know it. Jack Dorsey.

Ray (00:27:11): He's the one who said, if you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you waited too long to launch. I live by that. I love that saying. I'm just like launch it. You're going to be embarrassed by it. Just see what people are going to, let's see what people say and then improve it. So that's, what's going to make you the expert. You don't need to be going in, but you need to be willing to go through that baptism by fire. Everybody just ripping it apart for the first six to 2 years in order to be successful at the other end.

Nick (00:27:38): So that actually what you were just talking about right there, that reminded me of what I was going to say earlier. On last week's episode, we talked about something very similar to that. Like wanting to be so perfect. When you go to launch that you basically paralyze yourself from launching at all or you do launch it, but it's kind of half-assed. Getting the product out there and testing it out. You said trying to sell the actual product. You're testing the market. You're seeing if there is value for everyone out there. I think that is a genius idea. And I can't remember where I had heard it, but they talked about the feedback loop. So what you're saying is like you're having

Ray (00:28:13): The book, the lean startup by Eric Reese, they talk about the feedback loop.

Nick (00:28:18): That sounds familiar. That might've been where I heard it from. Yeah. So you put the product out there expecting to get negative results. Maybe you get some positive results as well, but the market is telling you exactly what they want out of this product. And that's, that's how you build a really great product for your audience. The people that you're trying to serve is by taking that advice from what everyone's telling you to do, like, I hate this part of it, so, okay. I'm going to fix that now. How is it? And you just kind of keep building off of that. The market's gonna tell you exactly where to go, but you have to have something out there in order to build off of it.

Ray (00:28:46): That's it. I'm going to use a martial arts analogy analogy here, right? So at the end of every practice in Kendo and a lot of other martial arts, what you do is you go off and you say, thank you to each one of your teachers. What they generally do is they tell you something you did wrong and what you could improve at the end of each class. So it trains you essentially to go up and ask for criticism, which at school, we're kind of, you know, if I get something wrong, I failed. It's kind of, we have to lose that mentality. We learned at school, right? I don't want to get anything wrong. In entrepreneurship you got to lose that totally. So in martial arts, it's the same thing. You're the first day you're doing everything wrong. There's absolutely no way. And you go up and the teacher says, this is the most important thing.

Ray (00:29:27): You need to work on. You work on that and you improve it. And then once you improve that, they say, okay, now you've got to work on this. You got to work on this. And we're talking like 10, 20, 30, 40 years here. If you just going up and every single time he's going to go up, he or she is going to tell you, you got to work on this. You got to go work on this. Business is exactly the same thing. You need to go to your customers and positive feedback, sorry, it's useless. I love your product. I'm like, what am I supposed to do with that? I love your product, but I'd love to have this, this, this, you got a thousand people telling you that, go fix that. Go improve In that area and your business will get better. People will still have issues. You can't fix everything. There's always those people out there complain about it. But if a hundred of your clients are complaining about the same thing, you better go back and start working on that. Otherwise they go somewhere else. As soon as an alternative is launched by somebody else.

Nick (00:30:13): Absolutely. To what you were saying before, you have to have something out there.

Ray (00:30:16): Exactly. Exactly. Without trying, you got nothing.

Nick (00:30:19): Everyone out there that's sitting on a product, whether it's something as simple as like a lead magnet or something, small, whatever it is, put it out there. Hear what everyone's telling you about this product and build on from there. That's the best way to get started.

Ray (00:30:32): It's the internet. You can launch that and just delete it. You can change your brand name. You can change your website. You can point it somewhere else. It's not the old, you know, it's not the old days where you had that store in downtown, or you put up a sign. And if you got a bad rep, the whole town didn't like you and nobody would show up at your store anymore. It's the internet. There are 8 billion people on the planet have a hundred of them hated your first product. You still have the other 7.99, nine, nine, 9 billion that they could probably cook that could buy it later. So don't worry about it.

Nick (00:30:58): Absolutely.

Nick (00:30:59): Okay. After we've come up with the idea, we know what we want to create. Now we need money or we need to start building buzz around this thing. Where, where do we go from here? What's the next step in the process? After we've figured out a problem we want to solve, we know how we're going to solve it, but we need to actually start creating this.

Ray (00:31:15): Okay? So if it's a matter of creating, it depends on what the product is, right? So my expertise is more in the digital realm. So let's say digital products, PDFs offering you, whatever it is as a service, that's an easy way for anybody to get online. You know, even a coach you're gonna offer. Hey I'm a programmer, I'm going to program for somebody else. I'm going to program 10 hours a week. So the first thing there is you throw up a website. You don't need to do any programming. All you need to know is something called WordPress. There are free things all over the web. Go to the cheapest host can find for the first version. I said, I always recommend Bluehost or Justhost or HostMonster. It's the same company don't get fooled by their name. It's the same company. That's what I launched Live Lingua on in the beginning. It's $60 for a whole year. That's for the domain and your hosting. And if you do it like black Friday I think you might get for like 20-30 bucks for the year. And you're done, that's your only investment. You go there, you throw up WordPress. Who cares? What? It looks like.

Ray (00:32:05): WordPress has these things called plugins. So if you want to make it a store, you just install something called woocommerce. If you want to make it a service-based thing, you can do all that stuff. And if you need to have a little technical knowledge, but I'm talking like level, do you not use word and PowerPoint? And you could probably figure out how to get these things up on WordPress, your websites there. Don't nitpick about, Oh, I'd like the image to be a few pixels to the left. That's where a lot of people get cut off. I promise you the only person who's going to notice that as you, you know, I had a spelling mistake on the first version of Live Lingua for six years, nobody noticed. We had already gone to half a million dollars before anybody pointed out, there was a spelling mistake on our home page.

Ray (00:32:44): And we taught languages. I mean, you know, you should not have a spelling mistake on your homepage. Nobody reads, nobody pays that much attention. Get it up there, throw it up there. So that's step number one of actually building your digital products, physical products. I don't have a hack to get around needing money. That's why I stick with digital products, visual PDF, make it word PDF or PowerPoint. Save as PDF. You're done, there's your e-book. You don't need anything more than that. And that's what you can use for your lead magnet and getting everything started. And for marketing, as I mentioned, SEO is a great way to do it. That's a little bit more of a mid and longterm game. SEO will not get you number one tomorrow. It's something you have to do for six months to a year in a non-competitive niche. Multiple years in a competitive. And we can talk about SEO because I've been consulting for it for a few years. But it's about building links back to your website. It's an overly simplified description. People should link to you and your website.

Ray (00:33:33): Otherwise, to get your word out there, easy hacks, go on Reddit and find, you know, a group that's talking about whatever niche you're actually say, Hey guys, I got this. What do you think about it? Or ask for feedback. Don't sell it because they'll throw you out of groups right away. Right? You have to contribute to the groups ask for feedback on this idea. What do you guys think that'll get buzzed. Some of these Reddit groups like language learning. We don't post in it because it can be too salesy, but sometimes people refer to our product and we see this big spike in traffic, on our website for like the next three days. Because they have 1.2 million people in this Reddit through group. I mean, you know, they just say, Hey, here's a free resource online. You just got a huge amount of traffic whenever that happens. Right? So there are this kind of groups that you can join that will get your word out there.

Ray (00:34:16): If you have networks, you can also do something called JVs joint ventures. Hey, I got this product, you got this. We both have mailing list of a 300 people. It's not huge. Hope is there. Everybody's just starting off. But how about we all get together? We're not competitors, but of we combine our product. This can be kind of useful. So how about you promote your product to my group and I promote your product and vice versa. So you suddenly, you guys get emailed to 300 different people. You got a group of five or six people together, and you have a mailing list of 50-200 thousand people. Everybody helping everybody else out and you can grow your business in that way as well. Under normal circumstances, speaking at conferences is a great way to do it. Um, generally they will not, if you're starting off they won't pay you. So there's a small cost in you getting there. But you know, if it's in your town, go to your local, small business, you know, small business association. I mean, they're always looking for speakers. You'll run a 50 to a hundred entrepreneurs. If that's your client base, excuse me, and give them a free talk again. Don't make it a sales stock. Nobody will buy, provide them value in advance. You say, Hey, you want to know more? I offer coaching I offer this service.

Ray (00:35:18): You can get a free PDF on my website, whatever the lead is. There, there are multiple ways that you can promote this product for free. And then the next one, the final step is you send me a list of questions. So I kind of know what the, what else. When is, when do you start raising capital? You don't and I never raise capital, but you do for the X amount of money you make, you don't make it, you throw it right back into the business. So you made a thousand dollars from that talk. Well, okay. Let's try Facebook ads just as an example, right? I got a thousand dollars. Now let's try on Facebook ads. Let's see if we can make that a thousand, 2000, that didn't work the next time you make a thousand on your next talk, let's try Google ads, or let's try sponsoring a podcast or let's try putting a billboard on the highway.

Ray (00:35:56): And if any, one of those works and you make $2,000 back, you still don't make any money. You take those $2,000, you know that that works, right. So you got this talk to billboard and then you're like, okay, next time I make another talk. I get another billboard, which makes me my $1,000, $2,000. And what do I put that $2,000 to make $4,000, $4,000 to make it $8,000. And you keep going up eventually. You're like, yeah, the business is making 50 grand. I can start making. And now I can start paying myself a salary, right? Because I got this thing down. I know exactly how to generate it repeatedly all the time. And I would start paying myself 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand, you know whatever it is that makes you know that you're looking to do. But you have a system in place to get you there. I know it starts with the talk. So if I want to make twice as much money next year, I'd give two speeches. And then I give three. Then I give four. Then I give five. Then your business grows from there.

Nick (00:36:46): That's a really, I'm like processing all in my head right now.

Ray (00:36:49): Yeah. I like to say all my businesses, my sports, I was really bad at sports as a kid, so I love this stuff. So I can talk about it for like days. I go to conferences, just spending three days talking about it. So I apologize to your listeners with I babble sometime, but it is. I love this stuff. This is fun.

Nick (00:37:06): Um, I'm having a blast. It's, it's, it's really interesting to me. So a lot of the, a lot of the growing that you do is not raising any kind of capital at all. It's just getting the word out about what you're doing. Yeah.

Ray (00:37:17): I've never taken out a loan. I've never taken any investment from anybody. It's always taking the money and investing it back in my business. I know. That's it. That's all I know how to do.

Nick (00:37:25): So, okay. Then I have a question for you on the SEO side of things here.

Ray (00:37:28): Sure.

Nick (00:37:29): Since that, that sounds like that is the main

Ray (00:37:32): In the long-term it's free traffic. Yeah. I mean, SEO is like, you look for Spanish lessons online right now where like the top two in the world. And we've got thousands of visits a month and hundreds of clients through there of multiple years to get us there. But then we still work at pure profit. When you're paying for ads, you got to say, okay, I bet a hundred dollars for the ad. I made $110 and I made $10. If I did an organic and somebody signs up and I make $110 and $110. Right. So you can see I'm a 10 X, the person who gets paid to get that same time.

Nick (00:38:03): Okay. When you're getting started with SEO, I know. Cause I've, I've been dabbling in SEO myself, but finding the right keywords to target, like you were talking about getting that low hanging fruit. You mentioned that earlier in the podcast, how do you know what keywords are going to get you the right kind of traffic? So I could go rank for, like you said, pink towels. But if my podcast is about online business, that's obviously going to do me. No freaking good getting those.

Ray (00:38:28): Exactly. Exactly. So what you have to do, the tool I recommend is it's free. You just keep Google keyword tools, right? So you go in there and you type generally the high level keyword that you're looking for. Let's just say Online Business, right? You go into Google and you type in online business and their, their keyword tool. It'll tell you how many people look for online business, but it'll give you a thousands of other options that are related to online business, online business courses, online business videos. And it'll just, you're going to up and down that list generally what I recommend for anybody starting out, because it'll tell you how many people look for it. Right? So online courses, online businesses, probably a million people. Way out of the range of most people to rank for that. Because a million people are looking for that means big companies are paying money to rank for that. If you're starting off, what you need to do is you sort by monthly search volume.

Ray (00:39:16): And then you scroll down to the point where there's between 100 to 500 people looking for it. That's usually the range where I start because a hundred to 500 people is not worth it for, you know, for Amazon to go after, right? They're not going to bother optimizing for something with 100 seaches a month, right? You were just starting general rule of thumb that I say is if you do SEO and we're good on the first page, generally the top five you'll convert. 1% of those people you'll get one client out of that depends on what the industry you're in. That could actually be awesome, right? If you're a coach, and you charge $2,000 a month for your coaching and you get one client because you wrote an article and you rank about rank for that really low thing. That's amazing. If you have a bigger business that can still add up. Like, you know, you're selling products one sale a month, isn't bad, but let's say you wrote that one article and you got one sale a month and you write three articles a week.

Ray (00:40:04): So by the end of the week, end of the first month 12, you wrote 12 and you're making 12 sales, right? And then by the end of the first year, you're making 144 sales a month, right? Because you've got all these little keywords and you're getting one sale, 145 sales a month. And you're making like 50 bucks a pop you're like here somewhere. Now you hire a writer and then they instead of three, they're doing six. So by the end of the next year, you're, you know, you see how it goes up, right? You're making a thousand sales a month. It's not the thing about bootstrapping. And I think the thing about online business that a lot of people don't understand is bootstrapping will not get you a, you know, a million dollar business at 30 days. That's not the way it works. There were very few people, the only people would get rich off of 30 days, courses are the people selling your 30 day courses.

Ray (00:40:44): They didn't actually do it. They just sold you the course on how to do it. But you know, they don't actually do that. Building a business takes time, but let's just talk about the meth- You know what I just, you know, we just did 144 items a month by the end of the first year. Let's say that goes up to 500 items a month. By the end of the second year, 1,000 items by the end of the third year, by the 5th year, let's say you're doing 3000 items a month. In five years. And that's probably going to get you up to, let's say at least half a million, if not a million dollar business at that point right? How many people here working in a nine to five job are going to be bringing in a million dollars, five years from now? Nobody. It sounds like a long time. Let's say it took 10 years for you to build a million dollar business.

Ray (00:41:22): How many people years from now, we're going to have a million dollars coming in. And if they stay in their job and they get their 3% raise every year, it takes time to build a business. But 10 years to change your life five or 10 years to change your life. I mean, I know it sounds like a lot of you're just starting, but trust me, 10 years down the road, you're like, , why didn't I start 10 years ago. Now my life would be different. So that's what I've done. It took me seven years to build my first seven figure business. It wasn't an overnight success. It took me four years now. to actually start making as much as I would have made as a programmer. I have been for those first four years, I would've given up the stress and I would've made more money, but you've got to get past that. And it's just, you know, we don't have that 20% growth every month. Like you see on all these other internet startups that have millions of dollars now. They grow one or 2% every month, maybe 10, 15% a year. Hey, that's awesome. I never got a 15% raise at any of my jobs. I mean, you know,

Nick (00:42:14): I mean, it's still forward progress, but I think it's kind of cool. Like how you kind of described that you are every step of the process. You're compounding. So you're Going, you start, you get a win here and then you build off of that win. So kind of like how you mentioned, you're taking the money that you earned there and putting that into your business and how can you increase that amount of money that you're making a year making a little bit extra? How can you take that and double that and double that and double that by the end of it, you've got your million dollar business,

Ray (00:42:41): That's it? I tell people who spend all the money they make, you don't have a business, you have a hobby because as soon as something goes wrong, you're done. I mean, you know, because you haven't saved anything, you haven't reinvested in your business, going to take everything. The first person you have to pay is your business. At least the beginning, just because you're hoping then four or five years. And I think most people do stuff, do it for four or five years. I think most businesses fail one because they don't, you know, they're not meeting a need. So they didn't actually do the whole first part about what do people need kind of thing. And second part is because they give up because they're not making a million dollars in two years, like all the TV shows are, all the books tell us we should be making and everybody stops. You just keep at it.

Ray (00:43:16): I think most people would have a great call, quote, unquote, a lifestyle business within five to 10 years. What's a lifestyle business? It's a Comfortable, low to mid six figure income. I mean, that's net a hundred to $300,000 a day at home while working at home and probably having time to spend with your family, maybe travel around the world or whatever it is you like to do. And you kind of have you own your own time, but you're making more money than you need. That's great. You're not going to be Steve jobs. You're not going to have a private jet, but really most of us, that's not what we're looking for. So kind of keep that in mind.

Nick (00:43:45): No, I think that's an excellent point. I mean, you don't have to be the next Steve jobs to have a life that you want.

Ray (00:43:54): Actually, if you've read his biography, that guy was pretty miserable. I mean, if you've ever read his Bio, he only ate apples for a while and he went through a phase where he didn't shower every day. He's divorced was an awful dad. There's a whole lot of things that you read his bio and be like, yeah, he was rich and he did some cool things, but he wasn't happy. I mean, I got from his book. He's not a very happy person.

Nick (00:44:16): Well, I really like everything that we've been talking about. I think it's got me kind of thinking now too, about everything that I've been doing with my business, where I can go and make some changes on it. One of it being the SEO. Cause I think something that I made a mistake with early on and I think probably a lot of other people do as well. When you start doing that initial keyword research, you're looking for the big, hard hitters, like thousands of searches a month. And you look for the easy thousand searches a month, but usually that doesn't help when you're trying to get you don't get the right visitors. Yeah, exactly.

Ray (00:44:46): You're competing against businesses. My size because you know, I would go after a thousand to 5,000. Because Live Lingua is already established. We rank pretty well. I would be competing at that level. You'd be competing against businesses that either had millions of dollars or had been at it for 10 years. And yeah, unfortunately, unless you have another, you would only beat me if you did it for 10 years. Right. If you were, if you and I competed for the same thing, I have a 10 year headstart on this. Don't go for that. Go for the ones that are too small for even a mid-sized business like us to go after and you can build a very successful business off of that.

Nick (00:45:17): And it all stemmed from not wanting to be patient enough. I'm thinking about it. I'm like, yeah, shit.

Ray (00:45:24): But we all go through that, right. Dream big. Like I'm going to rank for books. I'm like, wait, you know, amazon.com, nevermind. I've heard of them. We're not going to rank for books. Children's books for five-year-olds with a disability. For example. I mean, just that something really long tail like that. Nobody's meeting this need. I can sell these books for 50 bucks, profit margins, like $10 and dollars every month. That's worth Amazon. Won't touch it with a 10 foot pole. Jeff Bezos, I think makes more money. You know, just when he goes to the bathroom. I wouldn't even stop going to the bathroom. Even if you know the example I live, you went to Jeff and said, I have a million dollar business idea for you. We'd be like, laugh in your face. Right? It's like, what are they gonna do with a million dollar business idea? Those are the business ideas you should be going after as a small business, because most Amazon, Google, Microsoft, they're not going to touch it. But for us, it's life changing.

Nick (00:46:25): A hundred percent. All right, man, let's talk about Podcast Hawk. That's what you're focused on right now, attacking. So you've already talked about what it is a little bit. When, how long ago did you start working on this and when is it actually releasing? Because I know that it's actually coming up pretty quickly.

Ray (00:46:41): So six months ago is when I thought of it. The six months ago is when I actually had the whole, I want to get on podcasts. I can't. And I tried and I couldn't. So that was when the whole thing started. I probably spent what, two to three weeks out, whether it was actually feasible to do it. I built the basic design, a what they call the wireframe of the website. So this is, what's going to look like this. What's going to flow through. And then I started coding in about two months ago. We should have the beta ready in about four months. It'll be about eight months from, Hey, it occurred to me to launch, to launching the business. I'll be honest. I'm not a graphic designer. So it's not going to look great. It'll work. What Podcast Hawk will do. I mentioned the, you know, we talked a little bit about what it was, but I'm going to do a little bit more detail. So the idea is I want to help people get booked on podcasts, but I also want to help podcasters get connected with great guests because I was a podcaster. And after I used my network, I was like, how do I find more guests? I mean, it's, it's a lot of work finding guests for your podcast. As a business owner. I'm like, it's a lot of work getting on these podcasts, but I know podcasters one good guests and I know good guests want to be on podcasts. There's just no good way to connect these guys.

Ray (00:47:45): We have a database of every single podcast on iTunes and it gets updated. So if somebody launches a new podcast within 24 to 72 hours as well, we made it all searchable. So you can go there and search for it. So, you know, Nick, I want to be out of you. I want to be on business podcasts that talk about, you know, e-commerce right. So you go in there and they produce an episode in the last 30 days. So I know that they're still active or 90.

Nick (00:48:11): That's a really cool feature. I think that is awesome.

Ray (00:48:15): When I was doing too, I was reaching out to people's like, Oh, we don't record anymore. I'm like, . I just spend all my time emailing, find your contact information. So you can do that. You can even sort by ratings. How many episodes they have. One of the things I found on my podcast, if you go on new podcasts, there's a one out of three chance that they're not even ever going to publish it.

Ray (00:48:31): Right. They had the idea that we're going to have podcasts and they just never actually get in there. I want something with at least 20 episodes, for example, right? I want to be on someone with 20 episodes. At least they're better at it for a few months. So go do that within a few seconds. Instead of hours, we give you all the results, a few thousand podcasts, few hundred podcasts, depending on how specific your podcasts, you go through the results and you say, okay, we just scanned. Is this all there? You have the episodes. You're like, you scan it and like, okay, that's a good fit. That's not a good fit. That's you don't have to, but I recommend you do go and delete the ones that are totally irrelevant to you. Because even with a really good search, you're going to get a few in there that are just like, yeah, that's totally, you know, they're talking about monster trucks, right?

Ray (00:49:13): I'm like, why would I be reaching out to that guy? I got nothing to do with that. Right? So you do that. You hit save. And then on the next page, we just say, okay, here are your email templates. We're going to reach out to them for you. So we have standard email templates in there, but you can customize. So it'll be, you know, first email we send out three days later, we send up. If they haven't replied, we'll send out a follow-up seven days later. If they have 14 days later from the initial email, if they don't reply, we'll send the fourth follow up. That's it. You go there, you customize it, you know the standard. Hello. And then you can sort the name and you can kind of all the podcast so you can customize it, how you want. So depending on the program you pay for, we will send out 25, 50 or a hundred pitches a day.

Ray (00:49:50): They have all these podcasts and if they reply, we will forward you the reply so you can get booked. So the way that we are marketing well, what'd I say, we, it's me, I'm the CTO, I'm the support. The way that the marketing is going on right now is we're at podcast booking engine. So literally you just set that up once and you're going to set up three campaigns at the same time and our system one for business, one for travel. These are the ones that this is one for business. One for travel, one for digital nomads podcast. Each one, you have different email pitches going out to them. We send emails out when they reply, they come to you and you just sit back. You don't have to do anything. I mean, the system's now running. And you just wait for the podcast bookings. We are playing around with the numbers a little bit and I'll tell you why. So, as I told you, 25, 50 or a hundred emails a day is the current plan.

Ray (00:50:35): So I sent out this database without a system to a few of my friends, because they want to get booked on podcasts. And one of them was using and he's like, look, I'm using, you sent me 500 people. I've reached out to like a hundred of them. And nobody's replying to me. I was like, I wonder if the whole premise for my ideas wrong, right? I mean, maybe people don't reply to people who are reaching out doing for podcasts. So I went in and I pulled out a hundred travel podcasts expecting like a one to 3% reply rate as a bit, you know, most business people know you get cold emails. If you've got 3% of the people that you're cold emailing, like, you know what sales calls the reply. That's amazing. So that's kind of what I had in mind. Yeah it backfired. I got a 33% reply rate. I got booked on 33 podcasts in four days. So yeah, trust me. I've been on a lot of podcasts recently, so we might change our plan a little bit because I'm doing the math on, like our high level sends out a hundred emails a day. If everybody gets a 30% reply rate by the end of the month, somebody's going to be booked on about 4,000 podcasts.

Ray (00:51:33): So if anybody's listening to this one to sign up 25, 50, a hundred number might change based on how our beta group goes. I might reduce that to 10 emails, 20 emails and 30 emails a day. If the response rate ends up being really, really high. But imagine that from a business point of view. So let's say I'm gonna charge 150 bucks. So somebody wants to bootstrap because that's well, I'm looking for, um, for the email, a thousand podcasts, let's say it is 1%. So I can on 10 to 20 interviews a month for 150 bucks, that's like $50 per interview. You do your calculation for the business. And this is like low. If you got 30%, then it's like 15 cents per interview or something like that. But what does appear on podcasting do for you, you get in front of the audience of the person you're on, right?

Ray (00:52:11): Great sales, especially if you're finding the right niche. And these are the kinds of people could potentially be your clients, right? So you get in front of most people don't think of this as SEO. If they have a website and they have show notes, you just got a link back to your website. That's the key to SEO. Getting links is tough, but you not only get it there, but they'll probably distribute it on Lybson, on Spotify, Stitcher. So now you're getting links from all these other websites, just because you spend 30 minutes talking about something that you're already passionate about. And the third part is a lot of people go into podcasting to promote their business. I did the same thing. It's a lot of work being a guest. It's a lot easier. I mean, you know, what is the podcaster have to do? They find the guests, they have to Nick, just like you did with me, prep the questions, research, produce, or pay somebody else to produce it. They pay for th hosting eon Libsyn or anchor.fm.

Ray (00:52:54): And it goes up there and whatever recording have, what does the guests, they show up. They talk for 30 minutes. And then a few months later they have social media and all the rest of you can build a whole business on this and what Podcast Hawk is gonna allow you to do is especially for people starting off building the personal brand, building a small business, it's going to give you the power to appear on hundreds and hundreds of podcasts without you having to sit and look for them every single day, you just sit back Calendly links or whatever software they use. These can be shown up in your inbox. And they're going to say, pick a time. I'd love to have you on my show. That's what Podcast Hawk is built to do. And hopefully by the end of next beta and beginning of next year, by the end of next year, it'll be a fine-tuned machine.

Nick (00:53:32): It's such a simple idea, but it is such a good idea. And that's, I mean, so to speak back to what we were talking about earlier, looking for possible things that you can like problems you can solve. A lot of times, it's a lot simpler than you think when you're thinking of an idea, you make it so difficult. Like you have to think of this really complicated, complex deal. And it's a lot of times it's something so simple, but so fricking awesome like that.

Ray (00:53:57): Hopefully nobody else signs up for this. I know at least I would use it. I'm going to use it. I mean like, that's the way I'm looking at, like, I'm going to use this if nobody else wants to, I'm like, at least it's going to work for me. And I'm going to show up on podcasts to promote my other business. My other two businesses, I'm launching an e-commerce store in January as well. It's fun like talking to you that it's actually fun for me. I'm not sitting here. So one of the marketing for that related to that, I am also launching the 1000 podcast challenge. I am going to be, my goal is to appear as a guest on a 1000 podcasts. It's probably two or three year project. It's not, it's not something that's, you know, I'm going to be doing in one year. Because I did the math.

Ray (00:54:38): Can I do it in a year< That's three hours of podcasting, almost every single day for an entire year. I'm like, I don't think I could. Three years. That's like one podcast, every two or three podcasts a week for two or three years that I could do. What I'm doing there. And you can check it out on the article on podcasts. Once I get up to a hundred and I'm going to be tracking my progress there, but I'm also tracking what podcasters are doing. Like how many, what percentage of podcasts is used to scheduling software. What is the most popular scheduling software used by podcasters? How do podcasters record? What software are they using to record?

Ray (00:55:10): How many people send emails before or after? What do those emails look like when they send emails before or after? You'd be surprised how many people don't send, Hey, you have a podcast today reminder in the morning, less than half podcasters actually do that. So I'll be able to come up with this best practices, guideline based on my experience, the most common questions. At some point when I can afford a VA, I'm going to have him go through all my interviews and I'm like list every question I've got. And I want to see what the most common questions are. So if you're prepping as a guest on the podcast, I'll give you the list of here are the 50 top questions that I to ask on a thousand podcasts. So you guys can get your answers ready for it. So there's all these projects that are coming out. I'm really excited about.

Nick (00:55:52): That is way too cool. I'm going to go. Yeah, I'm going to go look that up. It's what is it called? The

Ray (00:55:57): The 1,000 Podcast Challenge. So on social media, I'm trying to own that hashtag right now. So I've only posted about four or five things so far I've been on, I think it's about 70 podcasts right now, about 35 of them at the time of this recording, about 35 35, are produced because of that experiment, I told you that I appeared on 30 podcasts. So I got a lot of pipeline right now that haven't actually been released yet that I actually recorded. And once it gets to about a hundred, that's when I'm going to be. So I'm posting on my personal Twitter. My Facebook I'm posting this to podcasts. I've been on this podcast. So hopefully once I get to a hundred is when I'm going to have the page on Podcast Hawk slash 1,000 podcast challenge. And I'm going to be tracking the podcast softwares they use in the week, statistics, 30% of people use Zencastr, right? It's gonna be database driven. So the numbers will update every single time, a new podcast. Follow along with me as I go through the journey,

Nick (00:56:54): I'm excited about that for you. I can't imagine how you're excited.

Ray (00:56:59): Yeah, no, no. It's going to be fun. It's something I enjoy doing. It's some kind of marketing I enjoy. So, Hey, this is my sport. I love travel too. So, you know, those are some great, apparently in travel. I need to go to more Disney resorts. Cause there's a whole lot of podcasts out there and that's not my specialty. What else about Disney? I'm like, I don't know anything about Disney resorts, so I might have to go just so we can sort of hearing a few of those podcasts.

Nick (00:57:26): Awesome man. So what would be some last pieces of advice or some tips that you would give anybody who's trying to get started in their own business and they're going to try to build it from the ground up. They want to bootstrap this thing, like what you've been doing.

Ray (00:57:38): Get Started that's it. I mean the number of people when I speak at conferences or at different events that come up to me and say, I would really love to start a business is huge. And most of them, I will see them next year at the same conference. And I'll ask them, how's your business going? Then I go, I haven't started. That's why, if we can talk about failure, that's why most businesses fail. Nobody even bothers taking that first step to be embarrassed by it and grow from there.

Nick (00:58:03): Simple, short, sweet to the point. Get started. I love that. All right, man. Now where can people find you online?

Ray (00:58:10): So honestly I really need to get better answer for this because like I've spent so much time building businesses that I don't actually have a personal brand, right? I'm like, there's not like follow me on Twitter. I don't, I'm too busy to have something smart to say every single day on Twitter. So I don't really have one there, but if you're talking to follow me, you can go to, if you want to contact me, you can go to livelingua.com. L I V E L I N G U A.com go to the about us page. My email is my photo and my email is directly there. You can email me through that depending on when you contact contact me, you can also go to podcasthawk.com, the animal hawk and go to the contact us page. I am the support at least for the first six months of that. So just go to the contact us page that comes directly to me as well. And on social media, I date myself a little bit, but it's Facebook on Facebook. So just add me as a friend and then reach out to me there with a message. I'd be happy to chat with anybody. I'm not really that active. My businesses are active on the other social media platforms. I am not

Nick (00:59:06): All right. Well, anybody listening here, I will put all the links as always in the show notes to this episode. So make sure if you want to get in contact with him and you didn't catch all those links, make sure you go check out the show notes and get in contact with Ray. All right, man, that I, like I said, I had a blast with this episode. I just had a really good time. I learned a lot. You got my head turning quite a bit here, so I just want to thank you for coming on the show, man.

Ray (00:59:32): It was my pleasure. Sorry for going off on tangents, but hopefully the listeners will learn some stuff from it.

Nick (00:59:37): Oh, absolutely. I appreciate it, man. Okay. That is it for the interview. I learned so much from this interview and I think Ray broke it down really well.

Nick (00:59:46): And honestly he made it sound so simple, but like Ray said, don't expect the success to happen overnight. It takes a lot of patience and persistence to see that kind of success. Think about it like walking up a staircase, you aren't going to take one step. And then all of a sudden you're going to be at the top of the steps. You need to take one step at a time. And with each step you get a little bit closer to the top until you finally reach your destination. The same is true with your business. You need to start with that first step and consistently take more steps and more steps until you reach your ultimate business goal. So I hope you enjoyed this episode as discussed in the episode previously, all the links discussed, including the links to get in touch with Ray can be found on the show notes page.

Nick (01:00:28): And just so you know, if you haven't been to my show notes page yet, I share the transcripts for every episode on the show notes as well. So if you're interested in getting the podcasts in a written format that you can download or come back to that is available on every episode page, you can access the show notes to this episode, by going to ninefivepodcast.com/episode19. And nine five is going to be all spelled out. That's N I N E F I V E podcast.com forward slash episode nine. One nine. Finally, if you enjoyed this episode, head over to iTunes and leave a review of the podcast. Your reviews can help others determine if the Nine-Five Podcast is right for them. And if we can reach more and help more people, I'm all about it. So thanks for joining me and sticking to the end guys. I appreciate you all. And I will catch you guys next week.

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Hosts & Guests

Host – Nick Nalbach

Guest – Ray Blakney

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Show Notes

Can You Start a Business with No Money?


Simple answer, Yes.


In fact, as you’ll hear in this episode, Ray has started all of his businesses with no initial money invested in the company. Several of these businsses (like Live Lingua) have gone on to make 6 and 7-figures!

With that said, a business needs one of two things in order to get started:

  1. Money
  2. Time

If you have millions of dollars to invest into a company, you can hire teams or agencies to help get your business up and running.


But let’s be real. Who really has a cool couple million burning a hole in their pocket? I know I don’t!


So if you are like the vast majority of us who doesn’t have the money to invest, that means you need to invest time.

There is no way around it. Any successful business is a result of hard work and plenty of time invested.

Luckily, Ray breaks it down for us in this episode and makes the process extremely simple.


How to Start a Business with No Money


So, HOW exactly can you start a business with no money?




Bootstrapping businesses has kind of become Ray’s “thing.” With bootstrapping, you are starting a business with no initial money invested (aside from basic website hosting, like Bluehost which is actually super cheap).


You Business NEEDS to Solve a Problem


Many aspiring entrepreneurs get caught in the trap of thinking they need to create something that has never been done before.


This is way too difficult just not true.


Instead, you need to be thinking about what problems or pain-points people have. How can you solve or alleviate the problem someone is having with X,Y, and Z?

As we discussed back in episode 18 with Hitesh Sahni, you can find a goldmine of topics and problems to solve by taking a look at Amazon or online course reviews.

People are not shy about sharing things they dislike about a product, book, or course. Costumers are actually more likley to leave a review when something goes wrong as opposed to when something goes well.


Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to start doing something about it.


Building Your Business with No Money


One of the easiest most effective ways to build your business up with no money is by taking advantage of SEO.


This is how Ray has started almost all of his businesses.

By targeting the low-hanging fruit (less competitive keywords), you can start bringing people to your site, product page, etc to start making sales.


The key here is to start small.


Here is a brief breakdown of how Ray goes from zero traffic to consistent customers:


  • Create your product! – Make something, anything. Just get something created that you can sell to your future audience.
  • Target specific keywords – Use Google Keyword Planner (free) to find the right keywords
    • Low competition
    • 100-500 monthly searches per month
    • What is the searcher’s intent
  • Write your blog post/content – Write an article that answers people’s questions about the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
    • Content needs to be helpful
    • Include a CTA (sign up for email list, purchase product, etc)
    • Explain the benefit your reader will get by purchasing your product
  • Track your results – Pay attention to the number of visitors vs the numer of sales you are getting**
  • Rinse and Repeat 

**With each blog post that you rank on the first page, you should start seeing more visitors coming to your site. With those visitors, you should start getting sales (if you are not getting sales, think about the keywords you’re targeting and think again about your searcher’s intent).


This will not be a quick process, but effects of this process will compound over time.

If you write a highly-targeted article and start ranking on Google, let’s say you start getting 200 visitors per month. Maybe those 200 visitors will get you 2 sales each month (this is only a 1% conversion rate and very possible).

From there, you write another article that yields the same, or similar, results. Now you have 400 visitors and 4 sales per month. By increasing your output (content) you’re continously increasing your input ($$). 

Now, you may even get to a point where you are making enough from the sales that you can start outsourcing your writing and instead of 1 blog post per week, you are publishing 3 or 4.

Imagine where you could be at after 1 year of turning out consistent content like that!


It Starts with One Action


The process is all fairly simple. But it starts with action. If you don’t create something and get it out into the world, you won’t get anywhere.


Here is a (paraphrased) quote that Ray brought up on the episode from Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO:

“If you don’t hate the first version of your product, you waited to long to launch.”


Your first offering will NOT be perfect and you should never try to make it perfect. Your audience will tell you what they don’t like about it. It is up to YOU to listen to your audience and create the best version of that product.


But it all starts with you taking that first step.

Links & Resources

Note: Some of the links listed below may be affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to purchase through them.

  • Connect with Ray on LinkedIn
  • Check out Live Lingua, Ray’s first 7-figure business
  • See Podcast Hawk, Ray’s newest business and project
  • Here is more info about Kendo, Ray’s sword-fighting hobby
  • Check out the free Goolge Keyword Planner to start finding the right keywords for your articles
  • For the more advanced SEOs out there, I highly recommend SEMRush for SEO and keyword research
  • Read The Lean Startup and learn more about what a “Feedback Loop” is
  • Read my personal favorite, Millionaire Fastlane (this book changed my life!)
  • If you haven’t done this already, you can leave a review of the Nine-Five Podcast over on iTunes

Thank You!

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Nine-Five Podcast. Thank you so much for listening!


If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to iTunes and leave a review. Your reviews are what help get this podcast in front of more people!


What was your biggest takeaway from this episode?

Let me know in the comments below.



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"The value you provide to others directly correlates to your success. The more value you provide, the more successful you become. Focus on the value!"

- Nick Nalbach

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I am an entrepreneur and adventure enthusiast, looking to break free from the Nine-Five grind. I'll show you what has worked and is currently working for me, as well as what hasn't worked so well.

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