I am fired up because we have another featured guest today, Chuck Mullens. He has 20+ years of experience online and has a lot of insight to share. He’s going to share his experience as an entrepreneur over the years. Let’s get right to it.
Where It All Began
In 1996 I graduated high school and got my very first computer. At the time, I was so excited. I set it all up, and there was nothing there. I quickly realized that I had to hit the “start” button to get all the programs uploaded. Next,I had no clue about computers at the time. I started messing around and ended up starting a site that I was able to launch for free. The niche was educational related.
A year into it, someone reached out and said they’d pay me $10 to add a link to their site, and eventually, I was making over $16,000 a month on just ads. In 2001 the ad money dried up overnight when the internet bubble burst. I had a good run for a four year period, and this was just from fumbling around and being self-taught.
From there, we just pivoted and created a membership site and ended up making $60,000 in the first month and continued to grow from there. Back then, no one trusted the internet, so we went ahead and added these handy trust badges on our site, and our conversation rates increased by 70%. This is the path that led me to start buying and selling websites. It’s all about creating credibility and trust.
For my personal sites, I use 800 numbers that I just buy off the internet. I have about 12 of those right now. I’ll pay someone on Fiverr to read a script, upload a voicemail and set up a phone tree.
With chargebacks being such an issue, we’ve found that when customers can call a number and hear a voicemail saying that we’ll give a refund, we’ve had a significant drop in chargebacks because they have peace of mind that they are going to be taken care of when they follow the return instructions.
Lessons I’ve Learned As An Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride. There is no doubt about it. It’ll never be all good or bad, so you have to be prepared for the difficult times that will come. There have been times when all of my websites were ranking high in Google, and then they’ve changed their algorithms, and suddenly we’ve had to pivot to get back to the top. It’s never easy, that’s for sure. You’ve got to have enough money in your war chest for downtimes.
For me, there have been times that I’ve had people on my payroll much longer than I should have. If you’re going through downtimes and keep trying to pay people, it’s going to hurt you in the long run. It’s ok to let go if it’s necessary, and you’ll be grateful that you make that difficult decision later on.
I’ve certainly learned a lot through the process of being an entrepreneur. It has surprised me to see how emotional it is to sell and buy businesses. People are always surprised when they have someone offer money to purchase their website.
They say how nice it is to be validated and see that what they’ve worked so hard for is actually worth something. It can also take an emotional toll when a sale doesn’t go through the way that it’s supposed to. We’ve had to talk people down so many times, and I’ve even experienced this myself before.
My Partnership With Quiet Light
I was making a lot of money in college and had no idea what to do with it. I was trying to figure out the best way to invest in it. Eventually, I just figured I should buy what I know. This led me to buy companies but found that it was hard at times to find companies to buy. At first, I had invited Quiet Light to speak with me at a conference, and from there, they kept asking me to come on as a broker.
The reason I choose to work with Quiet Light is that everyone there is an entrepreneur, and I enjoy the team. They genuinely care about helping people, and that got me excited.
My focus right now is 99.9% on Quiet Light. I have other people managing my content sites so there isn’t a whole lot to do besides creating content that I can easily delegate.
Building a Website from Scratch vs. Buying One
If you have more time, you can totally start a website from scratch, but if you have the money, I would recommend buying a website and improve it. Have someone prove out the model and let them get past the 90% failure rate.
Starting a content site now is very different than when I was doing it. Most of my websites are custom things that I’ve built myself. However, over time the process has shifted from being good at technology to marketing the sites and using social media and other marketing elements to do that.
I think forums and other user-generated content is an excellent way to have your users create the content while you’re still making money. You’ve got to get creative when founding a group, but it’s definitely worth it. When you’re starting a business, look for a niche that people are looking for information on and ways to get in front of them. If you do that, you’ll see a decent amount of success as long as you stick with it.
There is always an element with timing and luck. I see a lot of people who have created a successful business and dump their money into something else and fail. It’s not just being able to see what other people are doing and replicate it. That’s why I believe in standing on someone else’s shoulder and taking away from their success.
Advice Going Into 2021
The things I wouldn’t get into right now are trendy things that will fade away. No matter how well trends do, they don’t stay around for too long, and it’s not worth your efforts.
Think about things that will always be around. I also recommend focusing on a recurring revenue business. If you have a content site and your traffic goes away, you’ll lose your income too. This goes the same for e-commerce sites.
So, if you have a SAAS-based model or another sort of recurring revenue set up, you’ll see have ways to keep making money. You’ll have built-in value as a cushion. As an added bonus, recurring revenue businesses are always better to sell in the long run.
Diversity comes in many forms. The key is to not solely rely on Google or Amazon. Always go where the money is at the time and take the time to evaluate and weigh your decision before taking action. Over the years, you’ll build a skill set that you can use to help with future business ventures.
People get into a mentality when selling a website that they need to make a ton of changes right before selling it. However, that’s a bad idea. If you don’t provide time to see results, it’ll actually be a turn-off for potential buyers. You need to plan your exit well in advance so you can capture the value you deserve.
People want to buy a company that they can update and see opportunities to make things better. By seeing what needs to be fixed gives people an incentive to purchase and make it better.
Final Note From Scott
There you have it—another great episode with an amazing guest. I really love sitting down with other entrepreneurs that have been on this journey for a long time. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to understand that, for the most part, you’re always going to have ups and downs that you’ll learn from.
As you evolve, things will change, and that’s ok. If you want to sell your business anytime in the future, reach out to Chuck or anyone else at Quiet Light to talk. There is no pressure to sell, and they are always happy to help!
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Take-Aways From Today’s Episode
- Where It All Began (4:25)
- Lessons I’ve Learned As An Entrepreneur (19:03)
- My Partnership With Quiet Light (28:00)
- Building a Website from Scratch vs Buying One (33:00)
- Advice Going Into 2021 (38:48)
“Have someone prove out the model and let them get past the 90% failure rate”.
Quiet Light Brokerage: https://www.quietlightbrokerage.com
Digital Product Creation Fast Track – https://learn.brandcreators.com/offers/Zo37wCyz/checkout