My guest speaker this week has been on the show a few times, and I'm so excited that he is back to share his own personal story today. He's also known as the guy that helps other people buy and sell their website and brand.
Today I'm talking with Joe Valley to learn all about his story and how he has gotten to where he is today. His company is in the process of working with a business to sell their brand for over 20 million dollars.
I'm going to calling this “storytime with Joe Valley.” As you learn more about Joe's story, I want you to understand that being an entrepreneur will have its ups and downs, but everything you go through will help prepare you for what's to come in the future and help you prepare.
Work Hard and Hustle to See the Results You're Looking For
One of the most valuable lessons I learned while working in high school that has stuck with me over the years is to always work hard and hustle at whatever I do in order to see the results I am looking for. As I grew older, I become more intrigued with the entrepreneurial world. I learned early on that I didn't want to work nights and weekends long term. All the little bits and pieces that I've learned along the way have definitely helped me become who I am today.
I didn't have my first “real” job until I was 29. By this, I mean one that lasted for more than a year. I worked for a company in Portland, Maine, starting out as employee #34, and within a couple of years, we had over 1,000 employees.
When I first started, I loved that I would come up with an idea, and my team would go with it. However, as we grew, I felt like a worker ant and ended up leaving because I couldn't keep my mouth shut about what I thought about the changes. I knew that I would eventually be fired if I didn't quit, so I went ahead and moved on to my next adventure.
Identify Your Own Skillset and Be Realistic
I think it's very important for any entrepreneur to understand the term “getting promoted to your own level of incompetence.” You need to be able to build on the skills that you've learned and use those to help you with your next job and be willing to move on to the next adventure when the time comes. You should never take on a job that you're not qualified for, or you'll be setting yourself up for failure.
When I started my first company, I was still working another job on nights and weekends while running my own business on the side. My goal was to be able to replace my income so I could focus solely on my own business. I ended up doing very well in my first year, and my business grew quickly.
Eventually, I started selling my own product, a colon cleanser, and within a few years, I got tired of managing my own staff, so I took everything online. Over the next five years, I focused on doing things the right way and slowly grow the business. I expanded and turned it into a digestive wellness center, and it was a great ride. However, as an entrepreneur, you can only do so much until you're ready for the next adventure. I started to feel this way, and around 2010, I was so tired and decided to finally sell my company.
Always Be Willing to Ask for Help
I purchased another business in 2012 after I sold my own, but within six months, I was penalized when Google released the “Penguin Algorithm.” Many of the backlinks to the website were not related to the website's topic, and within a few short months, all of my keywords were removed from the first page of Google. After this happened, I quickly realized that I should have had someone who knew what they were doing to help me throughout the process of purchasing the company.
For me, the lesson I learned was that if you cheat, you're going to get caught, so always do things right the first time. With the lessons you learn over the years also comes the experience that will allow you to do better in the future.
Focus Your Efforts On Building a Sustainable Business
I now am a partner at Quiet Light Brokerage and have talked with over 5,000 online entrepreneurs about their business and looking at their financials to help them decide if they should sell their brand.
If you're an online entrepreneur, be careful not to risk everything that you have, or you may never have the opportunity to do it again. There is nothing wrong with building a business and focusing on sustaining it so you can have a nice sized business that allows you to provide for your family in the long term.
The sad part is that life is moving quickly. The importance of a sustainable business while supporting a family is critical, so you need to make sure that you do it right.
As I grow older, I want to continue to make money while working as little as possible and avoid the daily grind. I want to try to control my time and life so I can help as many people as possible and in turn, help to grow my own brand and reputation.
Final Note from Scott
There you have it! I could sit and talk with Joe all today if we had the time! He provides so much detail within his stories, and I love all the lessons he has for us all to learn from them. He really does have a lot of wisdom. The thing that stuck out to me the most is that you shouldn't allow yourself to get in a position where you're working in a job that you're not qualified for and should always ask for help when you need it.
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Take-Aways From Today's Episode
- Work Hard and Hustle to See the Results You're Looking For (5:57)
- Identify Your Own Skillset and Be Realistic (13:54)
- Always Be Willing to Ask for Help (35:09)
- Focus Your Efforts on Building a Sustainable Business (46:04)
It's very important for any entrepreneur to understand the term “getting promoted to your own level of incompetence.”
Quiet Light Brokerage – https://www.quietlightbrokerage.com/
00:00 I didn't have my first real job until I was about 29. And I defined by real, by one that lasted for more than a year, you know, 29 years old. And I hadn't really stuck to anything because I always had that entrepreneurial drive.
00:20 Hey, Hey, Hey, what's up everyone. Welcome to the rock, your brand podcast. I'm your host, Scott. Bowker a serial entrepreneur on a mission to help you. This show is designed to teach you to inspire you, to motivate you, to take massive action and build a future proof business. So whether you're just starting out or taking your existing business to the next level, this is your home. Now, if you're ready, I'm ready. Let's rock your brand. What's up guys. Welcome back to the Rocky brand podcast. This is episode eight 88, and I am super excited. You're here because I've got another great featured guest. And this one here is a little bit different because the guy that I had come on here for this, uh, this interview, he's been on the show before a few times, and you guys know probably who he is and you know him as the guy that also helps people buy and sell their own websites, their brands.
01:22 And, uh, that guy is Joe Valley from quiet light. And, uh, I wanted to get him on to not necessarily talk about that. I wanted to know about Joe. I want to know Joe, how the heck did you get to where you are today to where he just said, literally their company is going to be selling a business for $20 million. That's right. $20 million, but they still do sell websites and brands that they might only be 30 to $60,000. So it's all over the map. But the crazy thing is, is his story is just really, really cool. And it actually, it makes me think of myself a lot as when I was a kid when he started and I'm going to have him tell his story, which he will, and he gives you all of these really great details about his, his childhood, but then all the way up to where he was doing these other things and thought that that was going to be his big ticket.
02:18 And, uh, and also how he got burnt on one of his, uh, one of his purchases of a website that he bought before he actually started doing it himself. It was like $265,000. And then as soon as he bought it, the thing, uh, well, Google slapped it and he lost all of his traffic. Uh, he's got a common theme and that is usually when he makes some type of mistake or something doesn't work. It generally costs him about $250,000. And you're going to hear all of the ins and outs of these stories, but, uh, I'm calling this story time with Joe Valley because he's got a lot of great stories. He remembers people's names like crazy. Um, I think you're gonna enjoy this. And I just really want you to understand that, uh, everyone that's out there being an entrepreneur, going out there finding their way is going to have ups and downs.
03:11 But every single thing, every single thing we do prepares us for the next thing. And we learn a ton. All right, guys. So sit back, relax. Enjoy this interview that I did with my good buddy Joe Valley. All right, well, welcome back to the podcast, Joe Valley. What's up my man. How are you doing? I'm doing well. How are you doing Scotty? I'm doing good. I'm doing good. And you and I were doing a little bit of talking here before we got on the air officially, but I wanted to get you on. I've had you on before. And we talked to, you know, about how to set up your business to get it, this be sold and you know, how to acquire and all of that stuff. And, and, you know, we can still talk about that stuff, but I said, you know, Joanne, I haven't really had you on as a guest.
03:51 It just shares their story because you've been an entrepreneur for a while. You've got some pretty good stories. And, uh, I'd like to kind of go back in time a little bit and talk about Joe and kind of how you got to where you are. How did you even get to the place where you are right now within quiet light? Like all of that stuff. Like, I don't think we've ever highlighted any of that stuff. So I think this is just an opportunity for you and I to catch up and, uh, and maybe dig a little bit deeper into your story. Even the book that you're writing right now and all of that stuff and how that transpired. So,
04:20 Yeah, man, I'd love anything you want to know. We could talk about, I don't know if you want to go as far back as the worm farm that I had when I was nine years old growing up on central street and name, actually, that was fun stuff. You know, let's, if we could all be entrepreneurs where all we had to do was wait until it's dark, go outside with a flashlight, grab that Nightcrawler, put it in a bag of dirt and put a sign out on the tree out front. That would be ideal.
04:44 Well, no, so I mean, that's a, that's a real story. Yeah. Okay. And so who, who encouraged you?
04:51 Gosh, you know, I think I did it myself. I don't know my, yeah. You know, everybody knows the millionaire next door, right? So my dad is the classic employee, right. He worked for the state of Maine as did my mother, but their best friend, uh, the McCurdy's, uh, they, Stan was a owner on Stan, Stan and Sandra were owners in a very large company in town. And they used to play Chinese checkers all the time. And I remember my dad, I got to be a teenage year. I ended up working for Stan part time. And, uh, as a kid and one day, one Saturday night, they were playing Chinese checkers. And I was complaining about not having enough money, not having enough, you know, extra spare cash in the bank account. And he told me to man up, suck it up. There's plenty of work to do.
05:45 Just ask Kenny, who was my direct boss there for more work there's so much you can do just do more, just put in more time. Okay. And that's exactly what I did. And it was a lesson I've learned my whole life were applied throughout my whole life. Um, and it's funny cause I live in North Carolina now, as you know, and I haven't, hadn't steamed seen Stan for at least a decade. And I saw them a couple of summers ago and I conveyed how important that message was and um, how it's sort of held me into just working very hard at whatever I do. And kind of just, I don't like the term hustler, but hustle or card and putting more or just take action as a friend of mine. It says all the time. Right? Of course. Yeah. While like, look, I, uh, uh, I went to college at Northeastern university in Boston.
06:37 I, I, um, was working through the co op program there, which is you go to school, you go to school first, full year. And then for the next four, you work three months, you go to school, you work three months, you go to school three months more than anything else I learned what I didn't want to do, which was put on a suit and tie and carry a Brie Kay briefcase, downtown Boston. Um, but yeah, became really, really further interested in the entrepreneurial world. Um, we all know, uh, well grub hub, right? So back in the day, there was a company in Boston called dining in and I was working in one of my entrepreneurial then at a restaurant crazy. I go to college to become a, get a degree in finance and I take it. Okay, go up job at a restaurant called Cajun Joe's fried chicken and biscuits.
07:28 Nice. Uh, in, uh, on Allston road in Boston, Massachusetts, and I'm working there and incomes a guy in jeans and a polo shirt or a beat up leather jacket, beat up briefcase. And he pitches us on being the delivery service for our little fried chicken restaurant. He left his name was Michael hackle. He left the night, turned around a Dick. And I said to the guy that owned the business, I want to do that. He goes, I'll back you. So I came up with a thousand, he came up with a thousand, we cleaned out the basement of another location, set up a phone. I created flyers, handed them around the Northeastern campus, signed up five or six cheap restaurants like pizza places. And I was in business in September of, you know, late, late, late, late eighties. And I work seven nights a week delivering food for restaurants.
08:25 I it's, this is how long ago it was. They would call in the order. I would hand write it out. I would fax the order to the restaurant and then my driver would go pick it up and deliver it. Um, and I did it for about four months, seven nights a week from four to midnight while full time in school. Oh my gosh. And Christmas break came and I'm like, yeah, yeah, this, this is not the lifestyle I want to live. So what I've really learned there was, I mean, I, yes, I failed, right. I sucked it was profitable, but I still had three years of time. There was no way I was going to continue this, but I learned, I did not want to work nights and weekends because I wanted to have a family someday and it's not the lifestyle I wanted to live.
09:07 So I actually close shop and then went to work for Michael hackle dining in and we've, we all know grub hub. Now, Michael eventually expanded from Boston to New York to Chicago and sold the grub hub. Oh wow. But it's taught me to hustle and work hard, all those little bits and pieces and things. Um, but I kicked around a long time. Scott, I feel for the parents that have kids that are, um, haven't quite figured out what they're going to do yet. Uh, and they're, and they're teenagers and they're not sure what they want to do in college or they're in their twenties. And they're not sure what they're going to do for the rest of that. And I always said, look, I didn't re I didn't have my first real job until I was about 29. And I defined by real, by one that lasted for more than a year, you know, 29 years old.
09:57 And I hadn't really stuck to anything because I always had that entrepreneurial drive. And I worked for a company in, uh, in Portland, Maine. And, uh, I interviewed for them on a Saturday and the person that interviewed me, this is there's a theme here. Uh, she had sweat pants on and I was like, I love this place. Go back to what I interviewed for fried Cajun Joe's fried chicken and biscuits. And when I interviewed for that job, the guy that interviewed for me, uh, interviewed me. He said, so do you like beer? And I was like, I got to work with this guy. I got to work for her. Um, and, uh, so I, I knew the, the, the dressing up and pretending to be something more than you are wasn't really for me. But I worked for that company in Maine, uh, talk America.
10:44 I was like employee number 34. And we went from 17 million that first year, which was like 94 and 95. We did 34 million. And, um, in 96, I think we did 105 million Oh revenue. So we went from me being employed, number 34 to over a thousand people there. Wow. And it was, it was incredible. It was awesome. It was wonderful. There were days, most of the early days, I couldn't imagine working anywhere else because you come up with an idea, you implement it, you, you just drive revenue, drive revenue and not. Um, and then later on, as we had a thousand people, I felt like a worker ant couldn't imagine working there another day. And I learned again, you know, that, that second full year when we did 34 million in revenue, the owner of the company was privately owned company, Rob. And, and by the way, this is, I know way too many people, Rob, Rob, uh, did made this, built this incredible company, but had no more than a high school education, just horrible success.
12:01 Um, but he made something like 5 million, you know, net income in that $34 million a year, the next year, crazy growth, closer to 105 million. And he actually lost reportedly $3 million. Wow. And it made me realize, okay, I don't care about top line revenue. It's really how much you keep. And those days when we had, you know, a couple hundred people, one fifth, the size of when we did, you know, a hundred plus million and a thousand people were better and I was happier and the team was more cohesive and whatnot. So I left that company for a very specific reason and I'm pointing out a lot of my faults here. Um, how do I say this? I couldn't keep my mouth shut Scott.
12:54 I wasn't, I wasn't happy. And I expressed it and the person in the sweat pants that interviewed me that day, and I won't say her name, but we became good friends, um, early on. And then his company grew because she was an employee. So early on, she was just appointed to grow in her role and in her role and in her role. And I, uh, I said more than once that she had been promoted to her own level of incompetence. There's not a very nice thing to say. Uh, and so, uh, I kind of had to, I saw the writing on the wall and it was time for me to leave because if I hadn't left, I was going to be fired. But that term right there promoting yourself or getting promoted to your own level of incompetence, I think is critically important for any entrepreneur to understand about themselves.
13:48 Now, like I know this about myself, I not great at managing staff. Um, I'm not great at detailed longterm planning. So I can't promote myself to, or, or the company that I'm with now, Mark and I, we can't, both of us are this way. We don't want to have a high level of employees with an intricate, uh, HR organization, because we'd be promoting ourselves to our own level of incompetence. And I find that a lot of people think they start a company and they, they they're going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Scott Voelker, or as a Firestone, whoever it is, they, they, they're gonna, they've got to figure out when they have gotten to the point where it's not the fun ride anymore, and it's not exciting anymore. And they've got to move on to their next adventure. And I, and I did that a few times. Um, you're not asking me any questions and I'm just flapping my jaw. I don't know how they always go. No,
14:55 Yeah, this is really good. I've got some questions, but I want you to finish, you know, finish that, that thought. Cause I think it's important to paint the picture that everything that you are doing up to this point, uh, kinda led you to that next thing. Right. It's kind of like, you always kind of like build from the skill that you just did and you learned a ton. I think the one great thing that you outlined was you created this little mini company, right? You thought it was going to be awesome, delivering stuff. And then all of a sudden you did it. You're like, Oh, wait a minute. That wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be like, there's a more to this than I had thought. And the same thing goes for the company that you then started working for that grew to a thousand employees. You thought one thing, but then as it grew, it changed. Right. And it changes or we change. Right. And that wasn't your, your goal. And, you know, for you to identify that and to say, okay, so now what's my next move. So that actually is my question for you, like, as that's happening, right. You're in, how long were you at that company that grew to a thousand employees?
15:56 Three years, three years. I was there from January of 97 till, maybe end of August three and a half, I guess, four to midnight.
16:05 You're there for three years in your head. When you first started there, did you think this is something you were going to be able to ride for a while?
16:12 Oh yeah. I remember being in there in a meeting with, uh, a bunch of us who had been promoted to our own level of incompetence with Rob and Rob stood at the top and he told us he was going to make us all millionaires, that the goal so big and whatnot, you know, and do all these different things. And in hindsight, that's what Rob was doing is promoting himself through his own level of incompetence because he didn't have that skillset. And we audit, um, and we all as entrepreneurs, I think the one thing we want to do it, we're just looking for that freedom. We're looking for that income, that cashflow that control. And, uh, and, and, and I began to lose that freedom and I became a worker. And so when I left, I started a radio direct response media buying agency. It's like a PPC agency now, but I did it on radio because that's the last role that I had at the company.
17:05 Um, but the key thing is for those that are listening, that are not, that are in the corporate world. I still have a job when I started my company. I, I did it during the day, but I worked 40 plus hours, nights and weekends. I went, I went from rising in management at that company talk America, where we took inbound sales calls and did direct response, radio and television and things of that nature. I left and I went to work for another local offshoot as a sales rep nights and weekends while building my radio direct response agency. And I, um, I was making $35,000 a year. And my goal was just to replace my income. That's all I wanted to do. And beautiful thing is Scott, that the freedom of, of self-employment and when you hit it just right, um, you don't, you don't go from $35,000 a year and you gotta, you know, a pay raise annually or three or 5%. I made 15 times that amount of money in my first full calendar year. And it was in a magical, magical thing. Never, you know, there was no overhead. It was me living in my two family apartment where my tenants in the back paid the mortgage. I had no debt. And I remember writing, you know, how many thousands of dollars I made that week on my hand, you know, 7,000, 10,000 and I'd show it to my wife. Actually, we were engaged at the time we got married.
18:35 It was a beautiful thing. But again, with that, I took it from just me to, I can't handle all the com all the, all the, all the growth I need to hire somebody. I hired a guy named Pete and I hired Carrie and then Marsha and a few other people. And it got to the point again, at one point where, you know, I was a media buyer, I ran a company buying other people's time, and actually I'm going to back out one really important thing to do. And this I give credit to my wife or is, is not burning bridges. So when I left that company talking America, there was a man there named Dan, Dan and Mark two guys. And I didn't really like Mark all that much. And Dan could have run for president. Um, and cause he's just so likable. Um, yeah, but I left and I didn't burn the bridge with them.
19:29 I certainly did with the person who I, who interviewed being the sweat pants. Um, but uh, out of the blue, maybe six, seven weeks into me starting my company. And I had, I had a client that paid me $3,000 a week, something like that a month as a flat fee to buy his media, which kind of made me achieve my financial goal. Um, but six weeks, eight weeks in, I get a call from, uh, Mark who had in previous times spent some time in prison for fraud and things of that nature. No. All right, I'll listen. Like don't burn the bridge. Listen, they want to, they're opening up their own company and they want me to, uh, buy their time. Absolutely. I'm here to help. I'm here to help. I'll do everything I can to make you successful. I'm here to help learn that lesson early on.
20:28 And, uh, we go to the recording studio cause it was a radio spot ad dance in the studio recording and the opening line to the ad. And I still remember it to this day is how'd you like to look better naked now you can with fat assassin. Yeah. Dan was, Dan was tipping the scales at like 375 pounds. This dude, big boy, I leave the studio, I've got the cassette tape and I pop it in my car and I listened to two ads on the way home. And I think neither one of these, that kind of work. That's a shame. All right, whatever, I'll do the test. I spent $8,000 for them about four different stations, roughly per ad. And one of them did absolutely bomb, but within the other was a hit. And within three months, four months I was spending about a hundred thousand dollars a week on radio time for those guys.
21:28 Wow. Um, and it was just a huge success for a couple of years, lots of different ads rotating in and out and testing different things. And, um, I found my key role at that point was to make sure that, um, the, the backer of them who paid for all the time, um, stayed in good graces with Dan and Mark cause Dan and Mark ran the call center and, and the, the backer was really the owner of the product name. And it, my, my role was to manage their emotions and expectations. Of course, I had a bike right time and invest their money and get a good return on investment. But I also had to keep the emotions and expectations in place and it worked for a long time. Um, but from it, as soon as they went away, I, um, had a, had a guy walk through my office and said, man, I hear you by great time.
22:18 I'm opening a call center. I've got this other person that, um, you know, that, uh, write some great copy. I think you should develop your own product and send the calls to me. I did it worked. I made a ridiculous amount of money. We went radio, we produced a TV infomercial where my wife and I were the, the spokespeople of the infomercial. Oh yeah. I need to be a big star, Scott. Yeah. I got to see clip. It's funny because we spent the money on it and it worked very, very well in the test. And then I thought, huh, I wonder if I should have this reviewed by an attorney for, for, for claims. And I go and I spend 10 grand on a, his attorney in D C, he scared the hell out of me. And I changed everything. And then the response and results went away.
23:16 Oh, really? It worked, who's driving traffic and revenue. And then I edited it to the point where, yeah, it just, you could break even, and I can break even doing nothing. So stuck to the radio, did a good job. They're still by time. Did my second TV infomercial from my second product. Um, I promoted myself to my own level of incompetence with this one because I did radio. Yeah. I, this is the current theme, consistent theme in my life. I did a radio campaign on a, just a colon cleansing product. Okay. Alright. Um, I had tried one used one, uh, when I was 29 years old drinking and eating way too much and partying at a, you know, talking America in Portland, Maine where there's more bars per capita than almost any other city in the country and had a client. And they were sending us these calls and everybody tries the product and we're all trying.
24:10 And I'm like walking, walking around one day. I'm like, I feel healthier than I have a right to feel. And, uh, maybe that product, if I ever leave this company, I'm going to market one of those products. It wasn't the first it was, was the second. And, um, I did nine months on radio. It was going incredibly, incredibly well. I had hired a different call center. They were doing customer service for me and taking my inbound calls. And there were two brothers, uh, Jim and Frank and, um, Jim was my boss at the previous company. Oh wow. And, um, Frank was his little brother and Frank was head of customer service and he yelled a lot. I don't really take well to people yelling at me. I just, whatever dude, I'm your client. I, if anybody's gonna yell, it shouldn't be me. It should be you.
25:00 And it got to the point where like, all right, listen, I give him a 30 day notice that I was going to take my, the customer service in house. It was going to continue to send them my calls. And by taking customer service in house, I had to have a staff and I had to bring on, you know, 10 people sitting there at all times taking my side to, you know, take the expense of the telephone lines, the rotting, the switch, whatever it's called now, or was then, um, and then staff and you can't have 10 full time people there without having really 15, because there are a lot of part time people. And I found at that point, I, uh, what, what, what Frank did was, uh, Frank and NGN, they got me and they said they sent me a letter back said, appreciate it.
25:43 Thank you. Uh, without customer service, it doesn't make it profitable. We, we we're, we're now giving you 30 day notice where we're not gonna accept your calls anymore. Oh, wow. I was spending at that point probably 50,000 a week of my own money on radio. Oh my gosh. Very, very profitable. And a, like a dumb ass. I said, okay, fine. I didn't tell them. I just canceled all the media in one week. I said, these guys are just a call center. I can remember not rocket science. Any, any of the offshoots can do that, Alex or, uh, any of the guys there, there are three or four companies around town that had left that bigger one. I'm like they can, although it turned out I was wrong, Scott, really? I was wrong. Um, none of them could pull off the conversion, the close rate, the average ticket, um, that, uh, gender Frank could.
26:46 And, uh, so I failed my same ad copy, same radio stations. Yet the conversion rate goes from 23% down to seven average that do you think, was it the people on the phone? They're they're calling people. Yeah, no matter how much I went in and trained, just like I did educate, train, train, train, help, help help with Jim and Frank's group. The other people couldn't do it. Jim's group was just better. And so, alright, I got this right. We've got both got kids. We hear them say that as Dean, I got this, I got it. As what I did, I'll just flip the script. I'm going to do a free trial. We're going to, we're going to give this away for free, no longer. It's a, is it a risk free trial when you it's basically a 30 day refund? If you don't like the product, it's a, it's a free trial.
27:35 We're going to give you three. Uh, we're going to give you a, it was a, basically a, a month supply for free, just for the cost of shipping. And, uh, if you don't cancel within three weeks, we're then going to send you a three month supply at $160. Okay. Find a call center out in New York, get another offshoot from this company in Portland, Maine. And, uh, I let them run with it. I was back up to $50,000 a week in spending and running with it. And the conversion was great. It was a risk free trial. I was doing a little better than breaking even. And then three weeks later making a ton of dough, I mean, $160 ticket. And this, you know, a three month supply of this stuff was, you know, $15. It's crazy. Um, and it was going great until the merchant provider reached out and said, dear, mr.
28:24 Valley, based upon your chargeback rate, we expect that you will owe us $280,000 wholly. Therefore, we are not going to give you any of your money until you develop a reserve of $280,000. Wow. Wow. Talk about a heart stopping moment. Um, wow. So I had a few options there, not many, uh, turn the key, lock the door, walk away, try to file for bankruptcy or walk away, which I probably couldn't have done because I think when you sign for merchant accounts, you sign for personally, um, fight every charge back, which you can't really fight. And when chargebacks Sue the call center, we audited there. This is where I was being lazy and not a grownup. We audited there. Once we get that letter, we started actually auditing the recording call, recorded calls. Something like with the sample, we got something like 40% of the time.
29:29 They didn't read the script that they were. And they said, yeah, no, it's free. If you there's no additional charges, just charging your shipping here, you'll get the free sample. And if you decide, want to get more, let us know. That's not exactly what the script says. You know, it was very regimented. They had to tell a customer and it had the customer had to agree that they were going to get charged three weeks. So I could have sued them as well. Cause I had the recordings and they were putting me, you know, more than a quarter of a million in the hole. Wow. Um, but at the age of 54, I've never sued anyone and I've never been sued. I chose not to. And I, I thought about the customer that had been lied to every single one of them. And uh, I wanted to make sure they got their money back.
30:17 And if I sued this company, I wouldn't necessarily make sure these customers got their money back. And so, um, I fought to survive and negotiated a deal with a merchant company. And I pre-funded charge backs every week. We modified the script, they read the script properly and it worked. I just couldn't spend as much money cause it didn't work as well on every media outlet that we bought time on. And an end result is it worked. We did it, we were successful. We paid back all of the money. It ended up being like $250,000. They were very accurate, very right. Um, but we, we survived and eventually I got sick of it. And in 2005, as you know, I took that a hundred percent online and tired of the staff because I was not good at managing the staff. I let everyone go customer service, media buyers, everything except for my second employee, Carrie, Carrie, uh, w I moved to my home office, work from the basement.
31:20 Carrie had a separate access. And from 2005 through 2010, she bought some media for me. And I, I let that go. But I went a hundred percent online. She started writing content for me. She was a terrible writer for my website. I was a terrible writer, but we did what we could. I sat down with a, uh, a web developer that told me that, remember, this is a colon cleansing product. How much content can you write about a colon cleansing product? Right. And he said, Joe, don't worry about it. You'll be able to write so much content. I'm like what? He, he, he, he was a web developer for a website called women, two women, T O N that's for women in menopause. Amazing, incredible, just incredible content and their business model for online. It's incredible. Um, I said, okay, we'll try it. And he was right.
32:12 We focused on good quality content over a five year period, while at the same time spending money on Google ads instead of my quick fix and flip the script, give them a free trial and charge them three weeks later, which was very immature, especially when I didn't pay attention to what afterwards we did this, right. It was a slow write, good quality content. And Google will eventually reward. You know, I learned how to do it and do it well with SEO. And I took that business a hundred percent online from just a colon cleansing product to really a digestive wellness center. Okay. From liver house to, we had articles on probiotics, we had a nutritional supplement vitamins that were all digestive health oriented, everything from your mouth to your exit, there was an article written about it. Um, even the color of your stool, we had articles on, um, and it was, it was a great ride.
33:10 And I've learned a ton about e-commerce. But again, as an entrepreneur, you can only do so much and you get bored, right? Shiny object syndrome. You want to move on to the next adventure. And I woke up one day, I took it through the best of the economy and the worst, right. 2005 to 2010 through the great recession. And I came out tired thought, gosh, I don't want to do this anymore. Poor me. I'm working, you know, 20 hours a week, living on a Lake Norman in Morrisville, Maine. And I could see my kids out the window in the pool with their friends, and I have an awful life. I need to sell this. This is what I'm thinking. Poor pitiful me. Um, and I looked online and I it's just, I decided to sell is what happened. Um, there were no real educational tools at the time and many companies that can help me with at the time.
34:05 Um, but I, I did reach out and I found three and to reach through the phone, to get their hooks into me for a commission and I hated it. And the third just offered to help and gave me some good advice. And the advice was, dude, your numbers are rising. You wait another six to nine months. You're going to make X amount more. I think you should just wait. And I said to myself, who the hell is this guy telling me not to sell my business right. Telling me to wait. I love this guy. He's looking out for me. And, uh, you know, it turns out to me, my business partner now marked out and we did it. We sold the company in the fall of 2010. I went back to media, buying started JVs, needy up again, uh, realized 12 months later why I had stopped because I just got tired of it, sat down with Christiana.
34:56 I said, I need to do something else. I need to, I need to buy something. I think I need to buy something. So, and she said, well, and I really enjoyed the process. So simultaneously between, uh, looking to buy a business who was also talking to Mark and Jason here at the time to join the team at CLI light. And, uh, I did both at the same time, I bought a business, uh, March 1st, 2012 and John quiet light at about the same time with the business I bought. It was a content site that I thought I knew a lot about, but I really, all I knew how to do was write good quality content over time and be rewarded. But I didn't know how to analyze the content site for SEO rankings and things of that nature. And I thought it was pretty smart. And I said to myself, I got this.
35:43 And so I bought it. I spent about $280,000 on a content site that had six keywords. And I know this in hindsight, on page one in 42 liters, 42 days later, it got hit by the penguin update. Yeah, I got crazy. I got a call from my affiliate company giving me a heads up. Hey, just thought you should know this, this Google, Google algorithm update happened. Who's your buddy in the background there. That's amazing. Amazing. She's our doodle. I'm losing me Dasher dashes in the background there. Poop is as big as my dog probably anyway. Um, the, uh, affiliate company gave me the warning and I'm like, nah, no big deal. But within six months, all my keywords are off page one and nowhere to be found. And, um, w within that 12 months that that $280,000 was, was gone. It was a great lesson for me.
36:40 Um, I really should have had somebody help me regardless of how much, you know yeah. Um, having an outside person look at the business you're buying or, or selling, um, uh, you know, would have been great. What did you end up doing with that? I don't think I know the story to that, but I actually just, you know, I looked at, uh, the ability to, um, I read every article on how to overcome the penguin update and they were all boy too much work and way too much time. Um, and I, and I really, I had decided it was the, the, the, the, the business I bought was, it was called in Texas auto insurance.com and my, my, my fault, it was, so it was an auto insurance affiliate site just for the state of Texas. And my thought was, I'm going to do that same thing for every state in the country, very niche down, you know, good quality articles for every state in the country.
37:36 And the insurance companies are gonna pay me lots of money. Um, I didn't have, uh, the patients to, to do that after the fact, I didn't, you know, just, I, I, I wrote articles for the, in Texas auto insurance. I hired content writers for the next year, and it just didn't even come close to overcoming the penguin algorithm, update penalties that I got and the punishment that it got. And so what was it, so what was the, what was the penalties as far as like, was it negative backlinks? Was it, Oh, it was the, the content. Yeah, he was backlinks. Yeah. In hindsight, looking at what this guy did, I bought the company from a guy in Greece through a broker down in the Southeast is a internet business broker down in the Southeast. And then the seller was some guy in Greece. And, um, you know, at that time, all you had to do was you could pay companies with lots of traffic for links and, you know, looking at the backlink profile that he, that was there, you know, it was from sites that had absolutely nothing to do with the state of Texas are on auto insurance.
38:36 It was, you know, sexually oriented sites, you know, pot, smoking, drugs, smoking, whatever. It was just every poker, everything. But what is it I should have done? So, you know, Google eventually figured that out, but the lesson for me was if you cheat, these guys are pretty smart. You're going to get caught. You're going to lose. Yeah, no, I hear a theme there with, uh, with 280,250, it's like a quarter million dollar lesson for you. Yeah. Yeah. During that same time, do you remember? I was like, what chargebacks was like around two 50 to seven 50, two 80, this was two 80. And take, you know, house in the fall of, in July of 2006 in North Carolina, which is the absolute yeah. I lost, I lost somewhere in that range as well. So the three quarters of a million dollars in ventures. Oh my gosh.
39:31 But with those lessons, you know, it comes experience and some knowledge and, you know, hopefully, uh, that short-sightedness goes away, but no matter what we're going to continue to be. So you, you start talking to Mark about the, how does that turn into Joe Valley now partnering? Like how does that positioning to that? Well, just like when I was seven out there getting worms in the worm, farm and hustling in college and working hard, doing two jobs in the first company that I launched and whatnot, I did the same thing here at quiet light. I went, I went to a stale lead list where people had reached out for a listing information and never listed their business. I reached out to every one of them. I just worked really hard. And I made myself invaluable. My first full calendar year here, I closed 23 transactions.
40:26 The average value back then was, you know, maybe $150,000. And then in 14, 15, 16, so on and so forth, I was 50, 60 at one point I was 70% of all of quiet lights, closed transactions. And I just loved it. I was helping first and foremost and loved it. And it was paying off. You know, I don't know if you've heard me say this stat, but conservatively I've talked to over 5,000 online entrepreneurs about their business and looked at profit loss statements and things of that nature. That's conservative, you know, over the last eight years with that comes some experience and knowledge in terms of device giving and, and brand and reputation personally and professionally with quiet light. So it got to the point where I just sat down with Mark and I said, the one thing that I'm missing here is equity. I've always had it.
41:20 I've owned my own companies. I don't have that. Let's work that out. We worked it out, we inked it. And, uh, you know, we've grown something like 40% year over year since then. And even with the pandemic, even though we had a bit of a pause in March and April, I still think we'll hit those numbers. And the crazy thing Scott is that, you know, back in 2013, the average ticket, the average transaction close was around a one 50 with each year. It grows. And there was a time when we said, uh, you know, we, we had our competitor Effie international that so many folks know about it as well. They had closed a transaction for drip, for Rob walling. Who's been on our podcast lots of time. You should have had him on yours. If he hadn't already, it's a hell of a story.
42:05 He is a great entrepreneur that has done so much more than me. Rob long, look it up, folks, Scott, you should have him on, but he sold his business for 10 million bucks. Right. And he did this through Effie and we were like, we'd never want to do that. I don't ever want to be, you know, shirt and tie, investment banker type folks, you know, having to fly all around the country, doing $10 million deals. Well, somebody, people that we work with coming back, they did a hundred throwing out $25,000 site. And they've got a 500,001. Then they got a million dollar one, and so on and so forth. Ramon who we've talked about, his first site that he sold was $7,000. The next one that he sold was 20,000, the next 220,000, the next 8.75 million. And we had those last two. And so no matter what were pulled and pushed in the direction of the M and a world, we're all getting certified.
42:57 Now we're closing the transaction next week, actually next month. Right? So this is late September, 2020, we're recording, but it's a, it's a $20 million transaction. Um, we just keep getting pushed and pulled in certain directions because of the people that we've helped. And we worked with now, we always had this conversation about not promoting ourselves to our own level of incompetence. And we've got to be very careful about that, even though someone may love us and want to work with us, and we have a great relationship with them, we may not be the best option you and I have a good friend in common who I, won't not certainly not going to say his name. And I'm pretty sure he's under all the lie right now for a mid eight figure. Yeah, I guess it's eight, right? Mid eight figure transaction. And we probably could've pulled that off, but I think we might've been promoting ourselves to our own level and competence.
43:56 So it's best that he's somewhere else. So we've learned through our own personal experiences as entrepreneurs first and foremost, and all of our successes and count them my $750,001 failures, um, what not to do and through the different people where we've got, you know, our doctorate and not, we're not actually, I was gonna say, we're not online marketers, but everybody is. I mean, Amanda was on the cover of time magazine for her, you know, uh, Pearl business importing business adjacent was a super affiliate. Everybody's got to experience Chuck who, you know, dude is making 80 grand a month in college. I know online, you know, um,
44:41 We're more,
44:43 You have the expertise where you live in it every single day on, on, on building a brand, you know, we're helping those people now understand the value of that brand through our own personal entrepreneurial experiences. And now the 8,000 people that I've talked to in the, you know, the, the tens of millions, hundreds of millions actually, and transactions that we've closed over the last 14 years, somebody quoted that we've closed a billion dollars in transactions. And that's a stretch folks. I personally am tracking towards a hundred million. And that number sounded impossible. Bull to me a few yeah.
45:23 Years ago, the reality is that
45:26 It's going to sound small in a couple of years, Brad's got one that's just under 25 million that he's working on an LOI. So my a hundred million in total transactions closed is going to sound sad and pitiful in, in, in a short period of time. But we all grow with our, uh, experiences with age and with our mistakes. You can't, as I tell my kids, um, you can't live life safely. You have to take risks and you have to not be afraid of failure and just go out there and hustle and work hard, try it. And if it doesn't work, that's okay. You learned a ton and you can move on to the next one. The same goes for the entrepreneurs that are building online business. Just gotta be careful not to risk everything, right. Because you may not get the opportunity to do it a second time.
46:11 Well, yeah. And I think I want to highlight that real quick is like everything that you just said, it's like the businesses that you're currently helping is really theirs. They're, they're building something learning, and then they're taking that experience to another thing and then building and growing and then potentially selling again. And that could be their model, right? They it's like they buy a fixer upper and they fix it up for a couple of years and then they go ahead and they resell it. It's the same idea. It's got good bones, but you can see that, Hey, with a little bit of remodeling or a little bit of like love in these certain areas, we can bring that to another level. And then in a year and a half, two years, we can, we can multiply that. Um, but in the same breath, uh, you know, we're talking all these big numbers and everything, but to some people they're not after that right there, they're after just building a sustainable business skills, whatever that provides a living so they can watch their kids play soccer, you know, baseball or whatever.
47:08 Um, and I know myself personally, like, even to think of, like you said, yeah, like a thousand employees or whatever, like, or, I mean, even we know you, usual friend, uh, Greg Mercer has built, you know, jungle scout over 130, 150 employees. It's like, I never want that. Like, I don't want that lifestyle just because I don't want that many employees. Um, it just stresses me out to even think about that. That doesn't mean you can't build a nice, you know, a nice size business that produces enough income for your family and up to invest. But also, you know, who knows, maybe you trade up, you know what I mean? Like you buy something now you sell it and then you build something or you buy something that's already now fast-tracked you to what it took you to get there too.
47:48 Yeah. And there's, there's absolutely nothing wrong with building that business. That's sustainable and focusing on it, you and Finster, uh, I dunno if you know you and or not, that's what he does. He buys content sites and he wants to become, you know, the Berkshire Hathaway of content. That's buys them as building a portfolio of them and just focusing on building value and recurring, you know, similar recurring revenue that the sad fact is Scott, that life's gonna pass us all by very quickly. You and I got more gray on our heads than when we first met. It's funny, the shorter we cut it, the gray or at Luxe. Uh, I know, thanks to Chris Shaffer. I did get my haircut, correct?
48:27 Yes, I got it. Cut. Thank you very much for commenting on how we just wish we had that head. Like I had to get, I, should
48:35 You look as old as I just shaved this great chin of mine, but you know, the, the, the importance of a sustainable business and a lifestyle business when you've got kids and families critically important, we both have kids that are grown and flown, so to speak. You're a grandfather now, mine, I've got one as a freshman in college. She's at the Walnut street campus upstairs now because NC state's not in session and another is going to be there before you know it. And, uh, I'd rather spend my time with them while they were around than working 60, 70 hours a week in a business. So if you've got a content or a brand that's out there that it's sustainable and you love what you do by all means, keep at it, enjoy that life, enjoy the business someday. You're going to have to pass it on. So eventually, you know, prep it for your kids or your somebody, you know, you're not going to live forever. So
49:31 Yeah. So let's, let's, let's wrap this up with a number one, where is where's Joe Valley, uh, in the next five years, you even gonna be able to kind of say, like, where do you, where do you see yourself? I mean, I know quiet light and all of that stuff. And you just, you're in the process of writing a book, which we'll probably have you back on once it's published and we can talk about it, but where, where are you? You know, like where, where are you going?
49:56 That's a good question. You know, um, a mutual friend of, uh, of, uh, Chuck's and a guy named Mike Nunez said it very well. And I'm just gonna say what Mike said and paraphrase, paraphrase. There was a time when, um, uh, all I wanted to do was work and make as much money as possible, make as much money as possible work, work, work. Now I want to continue to make money, but I want to work as little as possible. So I'm trying to frame up my life so that I can, you know, still as many people as possible, but without the daily grind, literally my calendar every Friday is blocked. No one's allowed on my calendar yet. I still let people sneak in. It still gets in there, but trying to control my time and my life so that, um, I'm still helping as many people as possible, which is, I keep saying that, but the model for me is help as many people as possible.
50:54 And in turn, I'm being helped, grow my own business and brand and reputation. I don't know what is beyond quiet light. I enjoy what I do. And maybe I'll just continue to do what I do, but eventually transitioned into a brand ambassador or something or other, I don't know what the exit preneurs playbook will bring. You know, it might just be a manual for those that want to understand. And that's all it is. It may put me in a different position as a bestselling author. I don't know exactly, but it's controlling that time and that grind more than anything else that I'm trying to do and move towards the next five years. So if anybody has any wisdom to share with me and tell me how you did it, what you do or who to talk to you, cause I need the help guidance there.
51:44 Well, Hey Joe, man. Thank you so much. I mean, it was great. I could sit here and listen to stories all day long. I just, I love it too, that, you know, like all of these guys' names, like you're like, you know, like the last name of your, your next door neighbor and like, you know, all of the, all of the, and I can almost like visually see them, even though I can't like I've got a 340 pound man that I heard is what it was a Chuck. No, it wasn't. It was Dan. That was Dan. Yeah.
52:07 Right. He could run for president again. He probably went today, but yes. Yeah,
52:10 Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, uh, I just, I, you know, I think it, if we go back even to just like to kind of sum it all up, like even back in the day when you were, you know, doing the nightcrawlers and selling them, it's, it's, you know, learning and then adapting to the next venture and then adapting to the next venture and then learning, and then having a $250,000 lesson and then coming back and trying to learn from everything. And, and you're, you're not done learning. Right. It's like we have things to learn as we grow. And I think that's what we're all doing as we, as we move on in life. Right. It's like we all have room to grow and learn. So again, man, I want to thank you for taking time out of your, out of your day and hanging out with us and definitely let us know when the, when the book is out. I think it's going to be like, probably like spring, I think is what you said. Possibly
53:00 Spring 20, 21, right? Yeah,
53:02 Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, uh, yeah, I mean, we'll, uh, we'll definitely get you back on, keep up with you, but, uh, where can people find out more about Joe quiet, light, all that stuff?
53:12 I find a LinkedIn of course, uh, Joe Valley, um, but quite light brokerage.com. Um, there, um, YouTube, the same thing. We've got lots of content articles, videos, uh, and quite liberal or shutdown. Yeah. Awesome.
53:26 Awesome. All right, Joel, this has been great. Thanks again, man. I appreciate you. And, uh, one of these days we're gonna have to have lunch in person when we get out of this pandemic. Crazy thing some day soon. I hope. Thanks, Scott. Appreciate it. Alright. Alright, man. Alright, well there you have it. I wasn't kidding. I could sit there all day and talk to Joe. Joe reminds me of, you know, a guy that I would sit down with and he would just tell me story after story, after story. And I just never get old. I just, he's got so much detail on his stories and, uh, he's just a really great guy to hang around with, but just to, to kind of listen to, he's got a lot of wisdom to, he's done a lot of things in his day as you heard. And one of the things that really stood out to me that he kept saying over and over and over is, do not, do not get yourself in a place where you're not good at that task.
54:18 Like don't set yourself up to grow into a position that you're incompetent, right? Like that you're just not set out for that. You don't have to be there's people that can do that for you. But every time he said that he seen a business either grow and scale it's when then they would take that person or maybe try to try to graduate that person into a position that it wasn't their type of position that they should have been in, in the first place. So again, just a great conversation with Joe Love Joe, he's a great guy and this was not like him to come on and talk about quiet light. Although if you are interested in either buying or selling your website or brand, definitely check out quiet, light, great people over there. I can't say enough good things about those guys because they really do.
55:07 They really do try to build relationships way before they would ever want to do business with anyone because they want to build that know like, and trust. And that's really what I'm all about as well. That's why we get along so well. So guys, that's it for this episode again, next week, we'll have another featured guest. I've got some really great guests coming up. I can't wait to share them with you. And it's going to be really, really exciting here. Moving forward into the fourth quarter. All right, guys. So that's it. That's going to wrap it up as always remember, I'm here for you. I believe in you and I am rooting for you, but you have to, you have to come out. Say it with me, say it loud, say it, proud. Say it wherever you are right now. Take action. Have an awesome, amazing day. And I'll see you right back here on the next episode. Now let's rock your brand.
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