Welcome to episode #181 of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
I am your host, Simone Vincenzi, The Experts Strategist, and this is the podcast for experts who want to become the ultimate authority in their niche while making an impact in the world.
Today I have the pleasure to Interview Nick Bolton
Nick is the founder and CEO of Animas. An existentially-oriented coach and supervisor, Nick has created Animas to embody the qualities of unknowing with an emergent approach to coaching that informs the coach training at every level.
In this episode, we talk about
Building a 4 Hour Work Week Business
What does it mean?
For Nick, it doesn’t mean “passive income” – it means a system that empowers other people to do a great job, realise their potential and provide real and lasting value to customers.
It means a business that continues to thrive and prosper without the direct requirement for me as an owner to be a “doer”.
Keys to success
- Great product or service
- Cash preservation
- Building a team step by step
- Don’t be afraid of hiring and firing
- Be willing to risk but not so risky as to lose it all
- Invest in technology to allow your team to be more creative
- Allow your team to do what they love within the parameters of what the business needs
- Create a stake in the company
- Willingness to trust people
- Willingness to lose in the short term for longer term gain
Evolution of my role
- Creator, strategist, administrator, provider
- Creator, strategist and provider
- Creator, strategist
- Investor and chairman
- Right people, right seats
- Creating a sustainable business model
- Overcoming the anxiety of charging an appropriate fee
- Scaling whilst keeping quality
- Not giving up on the aim
- Non-Attached Experimentation
- Find the keepers
- Make tough choices
- Optimise what works, cut what doesn’t
- Don’t spend the cash
- Put customers and employees first
To read the interview transcript and get bonus resources you can visit
Connect with Nick Bolton
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– Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome, welcome, welcome to this exclusive interview with the one and the only, aka the sexy beast– Nick Bolton, founder of Animas. How you doing, Nick, today?
– Yeah, really good, thank you, very good, Simone.
– Oh, fantastic, welcome, welcome. I can see you guys, you are watching in. So, immediately, can you please write what would you like to get out from today? Let’s get things started, let us know because what–
– Can I just put dignity there?
– That’s right, dignity, and that’ll be me done for the evening.
-I think I will do my best to let you keep your dignity, I will not be too tough, I promise.
– Ah, good.
– Want to know, guys, what would you like to get out from today because this is incredible interview that we are doing with Nick, and we want to make it as interactive as possible. So the more you will participate, the more you will get out. So don’t be shy in writing comments. It will be about 30 minutes plus another 15 minutes of Q&A, and if you’re watching the replay again, welcome to the replay, thank you very much for joining us. So Nick, we’re talking about today the four-hour, living the real four-hour work week. Before we get into the topic, why did we choose this title? Let’s start from there.
– Oh, I tell you why, because you and I were chatting about my move to living on a canal boat with my wife and stepping back from operationally being a CEO. And I happened to mention that influencing me over the last maybe, I don’t know how long, 10, 12, 13 years, or whatever, was Timothy Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, which when I first read it, I was really inspired by it, as I think a lotta people were. But like a lotta people, I didn’t have the context in which to immediately apply those ideas or to make it happen. And then I looked, and then sometimes it goes into your mind unconsciously, sort of hovers there, and you don’t know you’re necessarily pursuing a particular end, but somehow it’s influencing you. And this concept, called the four-hour work week, influenced me and I sorta look back and go, oh my goodness, all the time on some level I was movin’ towards it even though I wasn’t deliberately movin’ towards it, and so hence the name. It’s more of a sort of a little nod to Timothy.
– That’s, I mean, I’ve been following Tim Ferriss for a while. That was actually one of the first book that that got me thinking about entrepreneurship and getting started as well. Let me know guys, in the comment, have you read the book The 4-Hour Workweek? Let me know, yes, if you’ve read it or if you haven’t read it so then I, we can see if you have some context. But it’s a great book that gets you thinkin’ about how can you have a great business and a great life at the same time, and in particular, how can you have a business which is not dependent on you. But now we’re talkin’ it, I mean, here in the room, when I started as a coach and you started as a coach and trainer, people here are training. Some of you guys are training to become coaches with Animas. Some of you maybe have already completed your diploma and the different courses, but how can we create, then, as coaches, as trainers, as consultants, a business that doesn’t involve us? Because, you know, it’s not like a tech business. It’s a different kind of field, right?
– Sure. So there’s a few things. First of all, what do I mean by four-hour, by the way, I don’t really think of this as a four-hour work week business. It’s just that it was, I sensed the energy that influenced me and pervaded a lot of what I did unconsciously. But in reality, I wanna make it a zero-hour work week. That’s my real plan. I think Timothy was giving too much of his time to his business. But I say that jokingly, but it’s sorta partly true. And so what do I mean by it? Well, I don’t mean passive income. What I mean is creating a system in which your humility and your lack of ego allows you not to be the centre of it. I think a lot of people, if they’re really honest with themselves, would have to admit that part of the reason of having a business is to help themselves feel better about who they are in the world. And the minute they start to lose the sense that they are the ones showing up, that somehow they feel like they’re losing something, they’re losing something that makes them feel important. I weirdly never felt that. I always, indeed, I was very deliberate in making my business from day one not by Nick Bolton. It was never Nick Bolton’s programme for this, or Nick Bolton’s school of coaching. It was always, first of all, the Smart School of Coaching was my first version, and then five years later Animas Coaching came along. But both of them were very deliberately positioning me not as the head of, I just happened to be the person that created it at the start, but always with some intention of depersonalising it and taking myself out of it. So that’s the number one thing is to create a brand that doesn’t, you know, pull you into it by its very nature. You know the Simone Vincenzi School of Life is gonna need Simone Vincenzi there if it’s gonna be credible, whereas the Animas School of Life doesn’t. So I think that’s one thing. The rest of it is kind of the journey, Simone. I mean, that’s what interview’s gonna be about, isn’t it? It’s the journey, it’s the patience, it’s the rigour, it’s the determination, it’s the trust. It’s the going with your gut, it’s the jumping and knowing that even if you hit the ground, you’ll survive. It’s trusting other people and knowing that some will let you down, but some will thrive. It’s sticking with them long enough to let them thrive, letting people go, it’s like all of that. And no doubt over the next half an hour, we’ll dive into that, but that’s the journey. It’s like can you survive long enough to build the systems and the cash, which by the way is one of the most crucial things you can have is cash, can you build the systems and the cash such that you can build this life you want? If you can’t sustain it long enough to get to that point and put the work in hour after hour after hour after hour, if you can’t do that, that’s fine, but you probably won’t get a business that you can step out of, and that’s okay. It’s just about knowing what you really want and what you’re prepared to give for it.
– That’s a very good point, in particular, you mentioned the journey. We’re going to tap into the journey in a moment. Just wanted to say hi to everyone that may join just now. Peter is actually reading, Peter Ridley is reading the The 4-Hour Workweek at the moment. Tricia said it is on her list to read. But Natalie hasn’t read it yet. Then Chris said, Chris Shepherd started reading it a couple of years ago and stopped after about 40 pages. I think I would resign my corporate job if I finish it. I feel like I’m ready now to read it until the end. So that was, that’s the right moment. Joanna del Hamlin says awesome book. Absolutely the greatest, Joanna said. Lucian said that he’s also curious to know about your process of succession planning.
– Yeah, yeah.
– And how you will handle, will step away but signal who will be the public face and hold the organisational body going forward.
– Yeah, very nice.
– Very good point, Lucian. Thank you very much. And any other thing that you would like to get out from this interview, don’t be shy. Write them in the comments, because we will tackle them during the Q&A as well. And I have to say that this is a bit of a, this interview’s a bit controversial, if you are looking at the current trend of the the coaching-speaking industry, because now everyone is telling you build a personal brand. Build a brand which is based on yourself because people are buying you. But Nick is saying no, don’t build a brand which is based on yourself, otherwise you’re a slave of that brand and you will always have to be involved. So what–
– I think there’s two points to that, Simone, I think one is what you want to do, and the other one is like what’s the right move for where you’re trying to get to in the long run. And they’re two different things. Like, you can, if you actually will feed from having a personal brand, then great, build a personal brand. Even if you’re not sure that’s gonna get you where you want to, you will feed from it like a feast. But if actually being that personal brand’s gonna deplete you, then even if theoretically that personal brand concept gets you where you wanna go, you’re gonna be miserable as you get there. I’m not a personal brand kind of person, I’m just not. I just never wanted to be a personal brand. I’m incredibly, like I wanted to be in the background. Even though I’ve had to be in the foreground to achieve my aims, I want to be in the background. And so it suits my aims both ways. Number one is to not be a personal brand, and number two, to get to a point where my business can survive without me. So it was win-win for me. But you need to kind of figure out for yourself what’s the journey that’s gonna make you happy now, but also where you’re trying to get to that will make you happy, and how do those two bits marry together.
– I’m curious to know, guys, that you’re listening. What kind of person are you like? Are you the kind of person who likes it and thrives being the centre of attention? Likemyself for example. Or are you more like Nick and saying actually I want to create a company which doesn’t have to be about me because I don’t like all the eyes to be pointed on me all the time. Actually, that’s not giving me energy.
– Well, but by the way, Simone, it’s not just that either. It’s not just about the eyes pointing at me. It’s not about not wanting to be the centre of attention. It’s actually not believing I deserve to be. And I don’t mean that I deserve to be less than other people, I just think that everybody has something that enables them to shine. My, the way I see entrepreneurship for myself, not in general as a universal thing but for myself, is to create the conditions in which the right people who become part of my circle are able to shine for themselves. It’s not that I’m shy of being looked at. I just don’t think that I’ve got anything so special to say compared to other people, so therefore, I’d rather create the conditions in which people can say stuff that resonates with the audience that’s not just what I’m thinking or saying.
– That’s really important. So everyone can understand that, okay, how can I start building that? What’s the kind of mindset? Because let’s talk about the journey now. That’s where we starts, because it’s a mindset shift that people need to have. So how did it start for you from the moment–
– Well, I won’t go into the super detail of it all. But I kind of, unusually for me, I just did some notes for this just ’cause I thought there were a few key, I’ve never spoken about this before publicly, so there aren’t the usual tropes I can fall back on, this is all kind of very fresh. So I thought to myself, what’s the evolution of my role within my own school? And when I first started I was the creator, the strategist, the administrator, and the provider, I did all of it. I was the bookkeeper, I was the trainer, I was the salesperson, I was the presenter, I was, you know, I created the course, I facilitated the website creation, et cetera, et cetera. Over time, I dropped the administration part. I became the creator, the strategist, and the provider. So I was still training. People still enjoyed being trained by me. There wasn’t somebody who had yet replaced me fully, but I was no longer doing the enrollments and bookkeeping and stuff. And then I shifted probably about two years ago into the what I would call the creator-strategist where I wasn’t doing almost any training anymore. I was doing very little speaking apart from when I fancied speaking. The only thing I was still doing was the introduction day, which was, if you like, our kind of our stall for people to join us or not as the case may be. And I see in my future I’ll be the investor and the chairman, so the final shift has been away from all of that stuff, because it’s been created. I want the team to now be creators of anything new. But I’m the investor and the chairman, which means I have an oversight of where is the company going, is it working, et cetera, et cetera. That’s been an evolution, you know, it takes time. And I think that’s the critical thing is to recognise that you give things up a little piece at a time. And many years ago, one of the very first and best business books I read was a book called E-Myth by Michael Gerber in which he talks about creating an organisational chart and then replacing yourself from the bottom up, so ultimately you’re only there at the top as the CEO or the chairman or whatever. But if you’re cleaning the office, at some point you’re better off getting a cleaner than carrying on cleaning the office. So you start at the lowest-level jobs and replace yourself bit by bit by bit. And again, this is one of those books that perhaps more consciously than Timothy Ferriss, has influenced me, but unconsciously too, like I’ve been obsessive around replacing myself where I’m not needed. But one of the interesting things for me, a real shift for me, became when I, I was still doing the introduction days until about, I don’t know, six months ago perhaps, maybe even more, and I was on the Tube to do an introduction day, and I was really not feeling it. I was like, my energy for this is one out of 10 in terms of being in this room today and talking about what I do, et cetera. And I thought, right, this is my last one. And I walked into the training room, or into the introduction room, and said hey, guys, you’re the very last people I’ll ever do this with. Actually they weren’t, but I thought at that time they were, but they nearly were. And at the time my team said to me, Nick you can’t give up. Like, nobody can do the introduction day like you can do it. And I said, in that case, we’ve got a problem. My business is broken if we can’t replace me because it means that it’s like it’s so reliant on me, the human being, if I can’t be replaced that it’s literally not a real business, not in my mind anyway. And so and I didn’t believe I was irreplaceable, not at all. I actually believe wholeheartedly, it’s funny how other people thrust at you this idea that you’re irreplaceable when you know you are replaceable. At least I have the humility to know I’m utterly replaceable apart from by Dani who’s next door, like, she doesn’t wanna replace me, but anyone else can replace me. And I knew that, and I knew if I could, like even if they’re only 80 percent as good as me, that would be fine for me to have the freedom and to create a scalable business, and it’s just one of those moments you have to know yourself. Like, what’s important to me here? Is it being the very, very best, or is it being good enough for the business to thrive and to release me to do what I really want to do in the long run? And that was my kind of final point where I went, this is me out of it. And by the way, I say all of this with no, it can sound like I’m wanting to be out of Animas ’cause Animas doesn’t, it’s like this, I don’t want, no, not at all. I just think as an entrepreneur, there’s a point where you feel you’ve given what you need to give.
– You know, I’m a creative person, and I feel like I’ve given what I need to give to Animas in its current form, so now I’m lookin’ at these other things like the somatic school, the facilitators academy. These are where I can now stretch my imagination and my creativity again, but I don’t, I’m not needed for running what already works, that’s how I see it.
– This is very powerful what you’re saying, and in fact, Chris is saying also, so true. Perfect is the enemy of good enough.
– And I just want to pick some key beliefs here, because in the coaching and the speaking field or in the coaching and mentoring field, we can all see that it all starts from there, we can all start from the beliefs and values that you have, and there are some beliefs that you hold that are really important, and someone want to set up the company that way.
– With one is I’m replaceable.
– The first thing you need to believe about yourself.
– And celebrating that.
– And that’s great that you are replaceable.
– Secondly is the fact of creating a system that can replace you, so working more on the business as Michael Gerber says in E-Myth rather than in the business. And I was lucky enough actually my very first business training has been the Dreaming Room with Michael Gerber.
– So I was already thinking about from, that was very lucky, nobody told me, you need to be in the business. The first one was, you need to create something that can be bigger than yourself, and needs to be bigger than yourself. And then the third thing that you said which is a really key belief is the fact that you’re at the point where you’ve given what you had to give.
– And now it’s about other people to give what they have to give to the business.
– Can you expand a bit more on that?
– Well, yes, I mean, as much as I feel like you’ve gotta be in tune with yourself and honest, and brutally honest in some ways with yourself, because I think that the risk is that if you start a business, it becomes a prison because we’re so afraid of losing what we give up by not having it or by risking its failure which, let’s face it, anytime you create the change, there’s a risk involved. So I think you, I think that’s the number one thing, is like you’ve got to be willing to face that and be true to yourself and acknowledge the feelings I’ve got now for what I’m doing is no longer coming from the same place of love, passion, commitment, vibrancy, et cetera, and the only reason I continue to do that without those feelings is because I’m scared of not doing it, and that isn’t a good place to live from for me. If you, if the only reason why you’re remaining in business as the operator is ’cause of the fear of what happens if somebody else is delegated to or somebody else steps up and become a public face or whatever it might be, that’s a place of fear that I just don’t want to live my life from. Now, I’m 49, 50 next year, I’ve got about 50 years left. I don’t wanna spend them in a place of fear, absolutely not. So I would say that there’s a time and a place for this, but I don’t think we should rush towards it. I nearly stepped back too soon a couple of years ago when I first met you, I think, in 2016. I was on the verge of sailing around the world on the Clipper race, and I’d paid my deposit, and I’d spoke to Robert, Robert Stephenson, our director of training about maybe heading up the business, and then about four months into that, I went, what are you doing, Nick? The business isn’t ready, Rob’s not ready, I’m not ready, it was, I tried to rush it. And so another two years of application, it’s got to the point where now it’s ready. Rob’s ready, I’m ready, the business is ready. So there’s something about tasting and knowing that the system is ready for you but at the same time being brave enough to finally go, now’s the time.
– Is there something that, is there a clue, like for you, okay, what was the clue for you that told you now it’s ready.
– Now, that’s interesting. I don’t know is the answer. I would say that there were a number of things, and one was that I didn’t feel that the, my input was exponential enough anymore as an entrepreneur. I think entrepreneurs are exponential people. You know, we start from–
– I like the word exponential, by the way, I really like it
– Yeah, of course, of course you do. But I, you know–
– Of course you already know my company’s called Growing Together Exponentially, so that’s why
– And you must have subliminally gotten inside my head.
– Yeah, exactly. I’m inside you.
– It’s funny, business owners, we start things from scratch, entrepreneurs start things from scratch. It’s funny, ’cause I watch, ah, that’s not fair to say that. I was gonna say, I watch Dragons’ Den. I always pooh-pooh Tej Lalvani ’cause he took over his business, he didn’t start it. But that’s probably unfair, I don’t know the guy, I don’t know his business. But I think entrepreneurs who start things from scratch, we take something from zero, in my case, I sold my old canal boat 10 years ago for 15,000 pound on the verge of bankruptcy, and I turned that 15,000 pound into Animas and a new life. That’s what entrepreneurs do. And I think there’s a point where you feel like what you’re doing is so incremental in its impact that it’s no longer satisfying, you’d rather be out of it totally or somewhere else. And that’s how I feel right now is I just feel like my energy needs to, I don’t know, like a bamboo, do the bamboos do this, but I kinda draw back into myself for another stage of growth, and when that stage of growth will come, I don’t know, but I feel like all my input now is so incremental that it doesn’t need me. And I’m holdin’ back my team from being the people who really do the incremental growth because they’re still lookin’ to me, going like, Nick, is this a good idea? Like, just do it, right?
– Find out, figure out! Find out!
– Right, exactly, yeah.
– Yannick and Laura made two great comments. So guys, hang on, because we are going to in 10 minutes to start a Q&A part where Nick is going to answer those questions, so keep writing those questions.
– It’s going fast, this part, isn’t it? 20 minutes in already do you realise, that is flying by.
– I know, the time flies when you have fun, right? So guys, make sure you keep writing those question in because some of them are going to be answered organically in this part, but other then we will get them answered in the Q&A part, so make sure you keep writing them. So Yannick and Laura, you are next in the Q&A part, so stay there. So you mentioned the fact that it took awhile, and there was a moment that you know when it was right to shift. How long was the entire process for you? For how long have you been running Animas now?
– Well, I wouldn’t say that’s the time frame we should look at. The time frame is when I first started the business at all which was 2000 that I started a conference business in the public sector, and that’s where I introduced my own style of coaching. And then in 2008, I started my first coaching school, and then in 2013, I started Animas. So it’s been an 18-year journey. I definitely think I could’ve made it much shorter had I learnt more sooner, had I learnt from mentors. There’s so much I coulda done sooner had I not been such a lone wolf which is my natural tendency is just to kind of figure stuff out myself and not worry about what other people want to teach me. In latter years, I’ve learned actually mentors are phenomenally important, and they’ve fundamentally shifted how I’ve done business, but you know, live and learn. So yeah, I mean, in reality, I would say that if you take, it’s hard to extract Animas from the Smart School because when Animas started in 2013, it already had a head of steam from the Smart School.
– So it wouldn’t be–
– Business you had before.
– Yeah, exactly. When we first, I say it took five years, but I would say realistically seven years was the real time frame had I kind of just, if I look at it like that.
– You mentioned not to look at the life of Animas or the other business you had before, but to look at the life of yourself as an entrepreneur.
– Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Why did you say that?
– Why did you say that, why is that–
– Oh because–
– Why is it for you so important saying, actually, don’t look at just this, look at this.
– Of course, because you take in all the intellectual assets, the skills, assets, et cetera, from your previous stuff. I mean, funny enough, I was a bank manager, I was a financial commissioner and a financial advisor, you know, I did a lot of things. When I look back at my 20s, well, I go, wow, that actually taught me a lot even though at the time, I really didn’t like it and I was a very bad employee. You know, I still think, well, that was part of my journey, but in true terms, my entrepreneurship came in 2000. And you can’t really separate the skills you learn along that way. You know, it’s like those 18 years were a part of the same journey, they just happened to be different manifestations that we call a business here and business there. But you know, like, I’ve gotten, I went insolvent twice with my first couple of businesses, and you learn a unbelievable amount from that. Like I remember, you know, I was earning 16,000 pound before I started my first business, and I went from 16 up to 105-pound profit in my first year. And then I remember having 100 and–
– That’s not bad at all!
– That’s not bad at all!
– Not bad at all, is it, except for I had 110,000 in the bank, and I thought that was my money, but it wasn’t. And so all of a sudden, that 110,000 dropped to 20,000, and I thought, where did that go? I ended up in a 27,000-pound debt to the corporation tax. And you know, you learn such ludicrous lessons along the way, but it’s all part of that journey. So I can’t really say had I not had that first 13 years, my final five years would be the same. Almost certainly they wouldn’t.
– So, it’s so true, and you’re getting me to think about all the lessons that we had with GTeX as well. You know, I think that you can learn entrepreneurship from a book, you can learn entrepreneurship from a course, but it’s when you really run a business where there are these moments where you have to negotiate with HMRC because you cannot pay the VAT bill that month, or you’re applying for a last-minute loan because you have the corporation taxes due at the end of the month and been a bit stupid with the money and not put the money aside or maybe just needed that money for the taxes to live and this choice was do I eat and pay my rent or do I pay taxes? Well, I need it to pay my rent rather to pay taxes. But these are the things that make you, as you say, as an entrepreneur.
– So I wanna start now because we have questions like flooding here like crazy, so–
– Before we do the Q&A, can I?
– Before we do the Q&A, can I just, can I just say a couple things I really think are important.
– That I would love to make sure the guys hear from me this evening, because you know, having taught for 18 years as a businessperson, I would say there are some key lessons I’ve learned which if I could leave people with, I really want ’em to get. And they’re really brutal messages, but they’re important ones. And number one is cash matters. The biggest thing I learned through running a business was you can’t do anything without cash. And make sure it’s your cash, but which I mean if it’s the HMRC’s cash and you’re just hangin’ onto it until the corporation tax paying time, it is not your cash, don’t spend it. But what I’m talking about is making sure that everything in your business produces cash appropriate to the value you give. And I’m not talking about charging too much for what you do, I’m not talking about ripping people off, I’m talking about making sure you charge a good rate for what you do and making sure that the cash that comes in from that you keep in the business rather than take it and spend on cars or diamonds or whatever else nonsense that people wanna spend money on. Keep the cash in the business. I cannot tell you how important that is. People often say the first step in building a big business is growing a team. No, it’s not, ’cause if you can’t pay the team salaries, you’re going nowhere, you need cash, and I really wanna say that. Like, for all of you listening, if you’re serious about building a business, keep the cash in the business. If you look at, you, by the way, you can go to Companies House and you can download the balance sheets of companies. I download often my competitors to see where we’re at from an assets perspective. Animas along with The Coaching Academy is one of the biggest because I’ve kept the cash in the business. I’ve got, they might be doing better than me, worse than me, but either way, the cash isn’t in the business. So either they’re drawing out and spending it, or they’re not making it, but it’s not there. I believe that my desire to live a frugal life, living in Folkestone in a one-bed flat only two years ago was precisely ’cause I felt it was important to keep the business strong before I thought about my own lifestyle. And I was, you know, Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last, that was me. I was paid the least of all my team just two years ago, but I knew that in the long run, it would pay off. Getting cash in your business is the most important thing you can do, and I’m really sorry it sounds such a brutal message, but it’s true. Second thing is, once you got the cash, begin to trust that building a team is gonna pay off. I spoke to a friend very recently who was saying she cannot delegate ’cause people let her down. I said, fine, get rid of them, but at some point, you need to stick with somebody and you give them long enough to have successes. If you really believe they’ve let you down too badly too soon, fine, let them go. But if they let you down a bit, hang onto them, they will grow and grow and grow with you. But I would say cash and team are the two most crucial things you can do to make a business work as a substantial thing rather than as sole practise. It’s really basic, Simone, but it’s so important, cash and team, and you’ve gotta have the willingness to lose cash by having a team that lets you down compared to if you did it all yourself ’cause in the long run, it will pay off. That’s me done.
– You say simple, but not a lot of people that, in particular in the coaching industry, ’cause you know, we mentor coaches starting their own businesses–
– With GTeX. And the majority of the people that come to us, they’re people that, they got into coaching, they got into speaking or in consulting because they wanted to make an impact, not necessarily because they wanted to run a business first.
– Yeah, yeah.
– And then, they got into the idea, oh, well, what if I actually can make an impact and earn some money? And sometimes actually the fact of giving and helping out which is the nature of a coach, that’s why you are a coach, because you want to help and making this world a better place for people to live in and make an impact into the next generation and the current generation. So it’s not, money and cash is not always there like you would think in running a business. For me it took, I think it took about three years before I understood the importance of it when I lost my first business, and I went in the ATM cash machine and I put my card in, and the ATM took the card because Company House closed my company automatically because I haven’t paid taxes for two years, that’s another story, but that is what I’ve learned. Actually, I’m in business, I’m not a charity. And so what you said is as simple as it sound, it’s important for people to hear and to remember.
– It’s fundamental. I would say, had I not done the simple thing of raising my price, course price, which was a big, like was a big deal for me emotionally. And I don’t mean I was like, but I was like, oh my God, what if this doesn’t work? Raising my price brought cash in. That gave me the security to make some really important choices. Fundamental game-changer, more than anything else I’ve done.
– Brilliant, shall we start with some question, okay, are you ready?
– Go for it.
– So we got a few here. I’m gonna start with Yannick, which is, so because we have a few, if you can answer like quite like straight-to-the-point answers so that we can go through all of it. Because every answer can take as much or as little as to ask. Okay, so Yannick says, I’m about to start a business where I’m not the cental point of the service delivery, early stages and getting the team together at the moment. Ideally, I’d like to be the the guy with the idea and involved in creative direction and building the relationships. The immediate manager, for example, is something that I have to force myself to be, but I’m also struggling with letting go of control and trust people with my quality or standards. How does Nick deal with letting others take over?
– I would say that the key for me has been letting the market be the best arbiter of that, not me. I don’t think many entrepreneurs ever feel that anyone does the job as well as they do. But am I getting complaints, am I getting cancellations, do people tell me the course has gone down? If not, then I have to trust that it’s good enough. Now, that might not feel like the right answer for Yannick, but if Yannick wants, and I know Yannick very well, if Yannick does want a substantial business with a number of trainees, he has to be willing, yes to have quality assurance measures, yes do observations, yes, you know, we use a robot course swivel. Rob has a robot in Edinburgh and London and Berlin where he can then watch the trainers and then afterwards have dissection of the training which is all recorded and put onto the cloud. That’s the technique for how we do quality assurance. But the ultimate arbiter is to me the entrepreneur but the market, my customers’ feedback, and that sort of thing. And so is it, you said to be short, so I apologise, but I’m just gonna say one more thing which is you’ve gotta have the courage of your convictions. If you want something Yannick, you know that you have to let go, so at some point, you have to be courageous enough to do that letting go and let the chips fall where they do whilst being as fast as you can be at controlling the falling of the chips.
– But there’s a part two of the Yannick question, which is the E-Myth suggest to have very clear and bullet-proof franchise instructions. I believe the business landscape changes consistently. How can we manage this without being involved?
– That’s interesting, I don’t know the answer ’cause this is a journey for me at this stage of my career. However, what I believe and what I’m doing is empowering my senior management team of four people. So instead of going, oh, I want an external CEO, I’ve empowered four people to have equal power in the organisation with me as a chairman kind of figure rather than as a CEO figure, and they are all, they all have a now financial stake involved in the business which means that they will make decisions based on the long-term and short-term health of the business, and I have to trust that they are smart enough given the freedom and the space to run to starting making strategic choices that will work for the business and for me and for them and for everybody that we deal with. Like, I’ve just gotta trust that. The E-Myth is about yes, there’s change that happens. The E-Myth is never about setting out procedures and so on that are fixed in stone. They’re about what works right now but then having adaptability of how we shift them, but why should I be the one that shifts them? Why not trust that the people I employ have the same level of quality thinking I do if I encourage it, facilitate it, create the space for it, and reward it, which is important.
– That’s brilliant. Laura McAvoy, I hope I’m pronouncing your surname right, guys, or your names right. I have a very strong Italian accent as you can hear, so I’m sure I will screw up some of them, but don’t take it personal. Laura asks, was your sole focus before this shift always the work? I’m assuming she means the work you’re doing with your clients or the work with Animas.
– I guess she means the work with Animas. Yes, I would say it was for a long time. You know, I was a pretty obsessive entrepreneur, as most entrepreneurs are. I would work ’til two in the morning quite happily. I would say the big shift for me ultimately came by my meeting my now-wife that just made me go, is this still the life I want? So yes, it was, and I never really lost that passion for it. But only once I lost that passion for doing that operational work did I say, okay, my time’s come. I didn’t have an urge to get it back. I didn’t feel like, oh, where’s it gone wrong, I must get it back. I was just like, no, that phase of my life is gone. So I think the first bit Laura’s asking, and yes, it was on the work. It was very much, I would say I balanced it, Laura, between working in the business as in what are we doing, et cetera, and working on the business, as in how are we making the business structure work. But I get most passionate about working on the business, so a lot of my time has always been spent on how is the system working.
– That’s, thank you you very much for the answer. And Nick, going to Nick Morley. Nick asks, you have now learned how to build systems, hire great staff, and create a business that people love.
– That’s a great, already a great frame or great testimonial from a customer.
– More Nick.
– Immediately, did that just happen, or was that all part of the vision-slash-grand plan?
– Yeah, I don’t know if you were there at the very start, Nick, but I would say I was unconsciously directed by some of the literature I read like the E-Myth, like The 4-Hour Work Week. I would say that it was unconscious, well, I didn’t have a 10-year plan to leave the business, I just didn’t, and I thought I’d never, to be honest, I never thought I’d leave the business. But at the same time, I was unconsciously moving towards, and consciously, consciously and unconsciously, moving towards the place of empowering systems and teams and people to do the work for me. Actually, it was interesting, as I got to the point where I’d achieved that so well that I suddenly went, what’s my point? Like, what’s my point here? Not as a human being, but what’s left for me to do? I really felt that, I was like, I kinda feel like I was scratching around trying to find things to do and slightly being in the middle in ways that–
– I need to find, I need to find something to do!
– Yeah, kind of, and I am a very good critical thinker, so if you ask my team, I think they would agree with me that I actually do give a lot of value by looking at what they’re doing and encouraging them to change it or challenge them, et cetera, but there’s only so much of that you can do before you stifle their ability to do it for themselves.
– And I felt like I was becoming a stifler rather than an enabler, and so it was time for me to go. But it wasn’t my long-term plan, Nick, but I think at one level, I did want to get to that point of freedom to some degree.
– Thank you very much. And now Peter Ridley says, hi Nick. My aspiration is to build a financially viable coaching business where I can live and work around the world. I’m committed to achieving this and when I do, I can’t imagine wishing to retire from that life. The 4-Hour Work Week focus on enabling people to remove themselves from their business, whereas at this moment, age 29, I have no desire to do this. I’d be interested in hearing your, to hear your thoughts.
– Nice, well, at the age of 29, I hadn’t even started my first business yet, and had somebody said to me you’ll be interested in retiring from your business, I would go, no way! I’ve just started! What are you talking about? At the age of 49, 20 years later, I feel ready. I can’t say more than that. I think you’ve just gotta, it’s like I said at the start, you gotta tune into what’s real for you. If you think that you don’t wanna retire and you don’t feel like retiring, don’t do it. There’s no law that says that. A lotta people say you should always build a business to sell. I never had that desire. Now, it could be that I’m wrong in that and one day I’ll go, oh my gosh, just sell this. But I never felt that, and I still don’t feel that. But I do feel like I want to retire from being operational, so then the thing is, how do I create a business that sustains my team, who I love and I really care about, generally care about them as human beings, how do I sustain, create a business that sustains my customers and how do I contribute to the profession that I am part of as a school all whilst allowing me to step out. That’s a win-win for where I am in my life right now, and it could be that that changes, I suddenly have this obsession about creating a new business where I’m deeply involved with detail. Just right now, I don’t feel that. I think tune into what’s real for you and then follow it. So Peter, if that’s how you are for the rest of your life, great. Like, one of the things I’ve noticed is, I’m a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, but I was watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s incessant energy, which I love, but it made me realise I’m not him. I don’t think I’m a born-and-bred entrepreneur. I think being an entrepreneur for me was an 18-year journey that gave me enough meaning to be purposeful until I got to a point of cash richness that I can make other choices. For me, that’s how I feel. I feel like, yeah, I’m ready not to be an entrepreneur now. I don’t define myself by that in the way that Gary does so naturally. And I don’t think I am a natural born in the, like born in the, what’s the word, born in the, whatever, born-and-bred entrepreneur.
– I think I created enough of story around it for myself to be meaningful and effective so get me to a point in life where I had other choices, and that’s where I feel I am right now.
– Thank you for the answer, and if you don’t mind if I can add something, ’cause I’m 30. So I started my first business actually when I was 22.
– That was when I started that first business, and it’s a process where you evolve, the more you grow into the business and the more you run the business, the more you’re defining your role for yourself. If you are looking at what Nick also shared at the beginning of the interview is that he started in one way doing everything and the he removed himself from the accounting and then removed himself from something else, but it was a process that was starting with the idea I’m going to remove myself, but he didn’t from the beginning, and there are some people that are really happy in working the business and being hands-on and because that’s where they thrive.
– There are some people that are really happy just creating the system and then letting it go, and that’s where they thrive. So because you will find your zone of genius. Start and then things will unfold. That’s what I would love to say on that.
– If I can give you a little story on that very briefly. I had lunch with one of the country’s most successful coaches, not the most successful coach, and he said to me that he briefly had a mentor who tried to help him create a system that enabled him to replace himself as a coach. And he said, “Why would I want to do that? “I’m a coach, I don’t want to have products and books. “I’m a coach, that’s why–”
– I think I know who you’re talking about, I think I know who you are talking about.
– And he said, “I don’t want, I want to coach!” That’s what he wants to do. I’m not that person anymore right now, but that’s life.
– Absolutely, thank you. Sue Haswell is asking, what would be the three things that you wish you had done in 2000 that would have made a difference? What difference would you have wanted to make?
– Yeah, that’s so interesting, I mean, I think a lot of entrepreneurs, and maybe other human beings too, don’t tend to ask what-if questions, but I can answer that, to be honest, at least to some degree, I’m not sure about three. But the biggest thing was that very early in my business, I got the contract a with Shelter, the big charity, you know, the homelessness charity, to run a series of conferences all the way from Glasgow down to London with all these big names, and it was like huge profitable for me. In one month, we did like 70,000 profit which in my new business, I mean, the director of Shelter at the time didn’t even ask me could I fulfil the project. He just said, “Oh, Nick, would you do this?” And I’m like, yeah, of course. So then I had to hire people. But I actually made less profit my second year on the back of that than I did in my first year ’cause I hired a team and they cost me a lotta money as teams do, and I didn’t know how to assist with that and break through that initial cost side of things. And so in retrospect, I wish I could’ve educated myself on being an entrepreneur sooner such that I coulda hung onto that team and made that business successful. But then I wouldn’t have Animas. So there’s no point asking what-if questions, but I get Sue’s question. It’s like what should she be learning now that will serve her. Number one is learn about business. Number two, learn about how you, if you’re interested in this kind of business I’ve built as in a non-sole practitioner business, learn how to build a team and learn to suck up the loss that creates in the first instance because it will pay you back in the long run. But it will suck up, it will cost you at first, and it’s painful at first, and you don’t get the right people at first, and you make these mistakes at first, but if you don’t push through, you’ll never get a proper business because you’ll never get a team.
– Oh, and there’s a second thing I would say is, absolutely categorically charge enough money to make the business cash rich because that will change your life, you’re business’s life, your customer’s life, your team’s life forever.
– Now, just to give you a cliffhanger, guys, we are going to talk, we’re going to do another interview for this series on the 13th, which is going to be next Tuesday, on how to build a coaching business. This is a how do you build. Now we’re, today we’re talking how do you scale. Now, next interview, we’re going to talk about how you build, so we’re going to talk pricing, we are going to talk structure, we’re going to talk strategy, so make sure that you register for the next one, and we’ll send you a link if you haven’t registered yet. Got one more question from Sue, and then we can work towards wrapping up this interview. The next question that she asks is that what did you do, if anything, that was a complete waste of energy? I love this question!
– I don’t think I can think of anything, and I mean that genuinely. Like, I’m very good, like I wouldn’t consider it a waste of energy, I’m very good at experimenting. In fact, one of my lessons I wanted to share was to experiment without attachment, and I think I’m very good at that. I’m good at trying something. If it works, pursue it and grow it. If it doesn’t, let it go. I don’t consider that a waste of energy, and I can’t think of specific incidents that would apply to that. So I mean, there’s plenty things I’ve done that haven’t worked, but I don’t consider them waste of energies. So I, honestly, I don’t think that’s, I would say experiment in an unattached way, and it will never be a waste, you’ll just learn, and some will work and some won’t, but it’ll never be a waste. I mean, I really mean, that’s not some trendy, self-help, you know, answer. That’s real, it really is real. I just don’t think of it as a waste ever.
– Thank you, thank you very much for sharing, Nick. Just to give you also a good feedback, what I would love to do, guys, if you can share in the comments what was your biggest learning so far ’cause we are going to be working towards wrapping up. So if you can share what was the biggest learning that you got from this interview so far.
-We need a lot more than half an hour, that’s the learning.
– Yeah. We need to have five hours with dinner included. Get your cup of tea ready. So Nick is saying, I was really taken with what you had to say on the introduction day, and this encouraged me to sign up. I will never forgot your good advice when you said it’s all well and good learning the skill of coaching, but also you need to learn how to run a business. And I can say, guys, that that, ’cause I came from coaching, I became a life coach as well, and the problem for me was that I’d never run a business before, and it became very difficult to understand how the industry works, how to get clients. And one thing is to be skilled at something, one thing is to be a great business owner or entrepreneur. They are two different skills that now you have to merge somehow.
– So that’s what I would love to say here. And then Tim is asking about this problem is about getting clients. We are going to talk about getting clients in the next interview, so we will have extensive time to talk about clients acquisition, strategy, and what can you do. So make sure, Tim, that you register for next week, for next week’s interview. Nick, any final thoughts on, about business or–
– So I put together very briefly five qualities I think are needed for this kinda shift towards this kind of business, and very super briefly, they are patience, I mean, it’s taken me 18 years to get to this point. And by the way, when I was doing those 18 years, I wasn’t like, c’mon, get to this point where I can, you know, move on. So patience, but it’s a constructive patience. Not giving up on the aim, so the persistence to grow the business. Non-attached experimentation. I really believe that’s super important. And belief in what you’re trying to do and what you stand for. And finally, and this is the one I think most people don’t really get is humility to know you don’t matter. And I think if more businesspeople understood that they as an individual don’t matter, then they would be free to make the choices they want to make in life. And I think that’s the one thing I’ve always had is like I don’t believe I matter that much, I don’t think I’m that special as a coach, as a trainer, as a business owner. When people say, Nick, you’re a great entrepreneur, I’m like, I’m really, really not. But like nobody’s asked me to be on Dragons’ Den as an investor, you know? Richard Branson has never come knocking in my door. I’m a incredibly average entrepreneur, and I’m okay with that. It’s made it a great life for me. I think if we can just be a bit more humble about our place in the world, it frees us up to make choices that are much more true for us instead of trying to live to some ego we’re building.
– Absolutely, so thank you very much, Nick. And also any, if you can share any thoughts about the partnership that we are doing, ’cause we, the reason why, or one of the reasons why we are doing this interview, guys, is also because we help coaches to start successful businesses. And we have met with Nick for a few years and been in the same radar, and then we decided also to help you out to start a partnership where we can help you out and help your business out. So can you give a few words around it?
– Hooray, yeah, for sure. So one of the, I mean, here’s an interesting thing. Unattached experimentation, I’ve struggled to build the structure that supports coaches to build businesses because I’m the only one in my business that really knows business, so I ran a mentoring group for about four years and around about 12 people, but when think we’re training 400 people a year, 12 is pretty meagre, and I recognised that I needed to scale it, so we tried to make, take me out of it and build system for that, and it flopped. And it didn’t flop because the product was bad or because, I just don’t think the heart was in it of the people involved because it wasn’t me driving it. It was people who weren’t really significantly business oriented, and so I’ve often felt frustrated around how do we support our coaches to have a business. And I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s better to partner with people who offer the different services who can then, who they can go to without any suggestion it’s the right choice, but at least they know that we’re sign-posting. So that’s my current strategy is to build partnerships with people like yourself, Simone, who offer different things that people can just explore, you know, no hard selling, let’s just, let’s put them in front of you because they can make choices then. ‘Cause I just don’t think Animas has the wherewithal to deliver business support, and yet that’s what coaches need once they qualify.
– And that’s what we build with GTeX. So we’re going to send you guys also an email to register to one of our free training that we are doing so then we can help you grow your business. You can see if you like our methodology. The reason why Nick and I clicked well is because we have a very similar style. It’s like, no pressure, you test it out, check it out. If you like the way we do it, if you see the way we can help you and it resonates, then great, we can keep working together. Otherwise no hard feelings. We spend a day together or a webinar or a training, online training, then you can see also the work that we do. So you will receive an email about that in the next follow-up, and what I want to also to remind you is the interview that we are going to do on the 13th of November, still same time, 6:00 p.m. in the evening in UK time, if there is anyone watching from another time zone, and we’re going to talk about how do you build and do you start a coaching business. So how do you get clients, how do you choose the right pricing. We mentioned that money’s important, finding the right pricing is important. So we’re going to cover all that next training. So guys, make sure that you register, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there.
– Thank you very much, Simone.
– Bye, everyone. Thank you very much, Nick. Thank you everyone, bye! I’ll see you next training!
– See you soon, bye-bye.