Today’s interview is bootstrapping a business tips, tricks and secrets. with Rob Palmer. He will reveal how every entrepreneur can bootstrap a business and generate wealth. I’m your host Manuj Aggarwal. And today we will be talking about our favorite topic, which is bootstrapping a business with entrepreneur and business expert Rob Palmer.
We are excited to learn about bootstrapping for sure. All right. To get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and your experience in the field of Business and Entrepreneurship?
Yeah, I can. So I actually started out as a journalist, so I didn’t have any intention of going to business originally. But after doing that, for a year or two, I got involved in kind of more like marketing advertising projects. And I found that to be a lot more interesting. And once I started getting involved in business, I realized that it’s actually fun to boost our business and to start your own Empire from nothing and build it up is really interesting and enjoyable thing to do. So I started doing that way back in the 1980s. And I’ve been doing it ever since. So I’ve started from zero several times and built up several businesses, and I’ve sold some and other things will happen. So had a lot of experiences. And I still enjoy doing what I do. And I hope to do it for many more years to come.
That’s great. So can you tell us about your early experiences, you know, early successes and struggles in bootstrapping your business? And also tell us, you know, what your focus is, like, you know, which field Do you focus on? Or is it a diverse field that you that you have interested in?
Okay, so when I started my first business, my only investment, the only money I had to invest was one pound for a bus fare. This was when I was living in the UK. So one British Pound knows about… I used to go and meet my first pace my bus fare to meet my first client. And luckily, the client gave me some work. And that was I was then able to reinvest in some more marketing and build up my business. So I’ve, bootstrapped the business from a one pound investment. So I know you can do it, you don’t need to have a huge amount of money. Of course, it’s much easier if you do have a bit of capital to get you go in. But wherever you have, whatever asset you have, you can use that to get yourself started. And today, it’s so much easier than it was when I started. We have with the internet and all the amazing tools and communication options we have, you can reach the whole world. And I think it’s a fantastic opportunity now for almost anybody can start a business and do it. Well
So obviously, you know, that was a quite a lucky break to get your first client on on the first sort of lead. But tell us also about some of the struggles that you may have had, which, you know, many people go through when they are on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Yes, always up and down. I think sometimes you have perhaps a problem with confidence, you always think that people who have been older than you perhaps I’ve been doing it longer know much more, and you feel like I’m not the expert, these guys. But the fact is, we all have our own experience of life, we all have something to bring and wherever you are, you should just be prepared to go ahead full steam and make it and make the most of what you have right now, whatever that may be, and use that to forge your own path.
So now you know, I meet a lot of people who they have a desire to start their business. So what is, you know, the first step that you will recommend that they they take in their journey to start a new business or bootstrap a business.
Yeah, pretty friends what kind of business they want to do. But I would advise people to focus on one thing, it’s very easy. Once you start get into the entrepreneurial world, you start seeing opportunities everywhere. And you start off doing one project and and then maybe you watch a YouTube video or something and think, Oh, that’s interesting. Maybe I should be doing that. And that takes you off in a different direction. And then you come across something else that takes you in a slightly different direction again, and you end up doing something completely different to what you started and you don’t, you’re not focusing on one thing. And you end up with half a dozen projects, which are all started and none of them are making any money. And you’re spending money on all of them trying to get them going. You’re much better off trying remit, stay focused on one thing. if you’ve got one thing that’s working, then just go hard on that and make it as successful as possible.
Yeah, that’s for sure. All right. Now, I come across another set of business owners who have taken the first step they have started their businesses, you know, it’s going okay, but you know, they’re still in early in their journey. One of the typical problem I hear is where do we find clients? How do we increase our sales? So, you know, obviously, you must have done something right to get your first client on your first visit. So what can you share in terms of, you know, sales and marketing and how people can invest? Little but get big bang for their buck? If they’re bootstrapping?
Yes. Okay. Yeah. Again, it depends what your model is. But certainly, if you’re trying to reach a business to business, audience business audience, then LinkedIn is fantastic. I think it’s very much an underrated resource. And it’s amazing that you can actually reach the key decision makers in big organizations, and you can get to them directly through LinkedIn. So I think definitely, if you get really good at that, that’s a great way of reaching those people. If you’re doing other kinds of projects, then there’s still a huge opportunity, if you really get get really good at SEO, which means really means get good at link building, then again, that is still a fantastic way to do it. it’s slower, it takes Not gonna happen overnight, but you can do it. But I think the best advice is to price, your product or your service in a way that allows you a budget for advertising. I think a big problem is people often undervalue what they have. Maybe they cut prices, because they’re trying to think I’m just starting, I need to be competitive, I’m going to cut my price. But then they don’t have enough profit margin to invest properly in advertising. So you got platforms like Facebook ads, or the Facebook ads platform is absolutely amazing. You can target exactly the right people. And the algorithm is so smart now will actually find the right people for you. But you have to spend money, you can’t do it for free. So I would go for a high value product or service, and build….make sure you build in a decent profit margin. So you have the ability to invest in marketing, and then you can really bootstrapping and grow.
And now, so you mentioned LinkedIn. And you mentioned SEO and Facebook. Do you think a person I mean, is there enough information out there that they can do it on their own effectively? Or do you recommend that they, you know, look at hiring some expert advice to get them going?
Yeah, okay. That’s a great question yet. Certainly, I think to get yourself started, if you’re bootstrapping you’re on a budget, then is one of the things are great, great things about starting a business now is there’s so much information that you can just go to YouTube, let’s say you want to learn Facebook ads, you just go to YouTube and do a search. Or you can get a ton of really useful, valuable information. And then if you spend just a small amount on courses on Udemy or skill share, for something like 10 $20, you can take your course, which will take it take you a little bit further. And that’s enough to get you started and you can get things going. But once you have a making a success and is profitable, then you could probably increase your success by reinvesting some of your profits into hiring an expert who can take it to the next level. Yeah. So you can you can start small and scale up and bring in experts when you when you need to.
Awesome. All right. Let’s let’s try to go back to your the start of your journey. What is one tip or advice that you wish somebody gave you when you were bootstrapping your first business?
I wish I had known that anybody can start a business. It’s, it’s difficult to when you when you’re the new guy, you see all these kind of successful business around you. And you seem they’ve got all this money and expertise. So yeah, I wish I’d had more confidence that leap in feet first. And again, I think especially nowadays, it’s really so much easier to start a business that there there is no barriers. So I think if you’re thinking about starting a business, and even if you are on a tight budget, you need to bootstrap, just be aware that yes, you can do it, you shouldn’t let that kind of fear hold you back. Because we all have that kind of fear of the unknown. And the only way to get over that is to take the first step. And you don’t have to do it all at once. You can take small steps, you can start a business as a side hustle. So maybe do a little bit of freelance work and put your toe in the water that way. So yeah, the main thing is just to decide, yes, I want to do this, I’m going to do it, and you take the first step towards making it happen. And then the next step, and then the next step, and you will cover a lot of ground that way.
Okay. Now, did you? Did you lose some time? Did you hesitate? You know, when you were thinking about starting a business? And is that why you regret that?
Well, I certainly missed opportunities. Looking back, now I can, I can see that. If I take some of the opportunity, which which came to me at the time, I could have been very successful, and I let those slip by. And but there are always more opportunities than we could ever make the most off. But guys, you need to keep your eyes open. If you see an opportunity, that’s a really good fit for you. Don’t let a lack of confidence stop you from do it. Just look, take a close look at it. And if you think you have the abilities to make it work, then just go for it.
Yeah. And in the same tone, it’s never too late, either. Like, you know, even if some people have been putting it off, you know, it’s never too late. They can start at any time.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m 58 now, and I’m still starting new businesses. So I intend to be doing this over the next 20-30 years. So look at Warren Buffett, he’s 89 years old now I think I’m uncomfortable, keep going. So you can be 90 years old and still running a very successful business. So no, definitely never too late for anybody. There’s no, it’s always the best time.
Yeah, for sure. All right. So besides somebody, you know, giving you this advice, what is something that you have discovered in your journey that you thought, you know, it’s sort of a discovery that you made or misconception that you had, or something that you discovered through your journey that that may be useful for entrepreneurs.
So what I found is that we all have a unique voice. And that’s something that perhaps we don’t you don’t appreciate, we kind of think that we’re pretty much the same as everyone else around us. In reality, we’ve all have a totally different experience of life, no one else’s, experience the world in the same way, you have’nt formed the same views. So that gives you a unique perspective, even if you’re competing in a market where there are already a lot of competitors. Although the people, other people might have a similar product or service, they can never have your exact worldview and your expertise and your ideas. So always be aware that you can use that unique perspective to make your business a little bit different. You stand out, and you give yourself a little bit of an edge. And there will be some customers who are a good fit for what you have that the other competitors are not such a great fit. But you are here yet this is exactly who I want to work with.
Yeah, you can find a lot of people shy away just because they see that there is competition, or there’s a you know, somebody else doing the same thing, but they don’t realize, you know, there are hundreds of, of brands of cars are filled, everything that we buy, and you know, they’re all thriving because of some differentiation as you.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, competition, it’s a good thing, if it’s for a lot of competitors, it means they making money, there’s money in that market, a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to find the gap in the market, they’re trying to find a little area where there are no competitors. But usually, if there are no competitors, it means there’s no money. There’s no demand, and nobody wants what you’re offering. So, I mean, occasionally, someone’s going to come along like Apple with the iPhone, and create something totally new on it. And every well, and we didn’t know we wanted smartphones until Apple created the iPhone. So that they there was a demand there. But for in vast majority of cases, if this, nobody in that market is probably be there’s no bias, there’s no demand. So yeah, you should not be afraid to go into competitive markets and just find your little niche, somebody, almost every market is bigger than you can imagine. You just need a tiny slice of it to build a successful business.
Especially these days, as you said, the you know, with access to the internet, you can get clients internationally, I mean, there are no boundaries left anymore right
so there are now 5 billion smartphones in the world. And nearly all of those are connected to the internet. I just think how amazing that is. If you said to someone 20 years ago, one day, you will be able to, to sell to 5 billion people all over the planet, wherever they are, whether on the bus or the train, wherever they’re doing, you can sell them stuff. And you know …. that’s too much .. that will never happen. And here it is. We walk all walk around with our phones. And you know, if you go on Facebook, and an ad can pop up, and you might find us spent $1,000 on a product or something. So we have to be the opportunity to be the person selling the product or the service. So it’s a fantastic opportunity that no previous generation has ever had. And we should definitely appreciate that.
So you said that you have built several businesses and sold a few. So can you tell us some of your biggest successes and some of your biggest failures or things that you regretted that you could have done better?
Yeah, okay. So I was a freelancer for a number of years in the UK. And that’s fine. But looking back, I wish I would have hosted it again, I would turn that into an agency Robbins stays as a one man freelancer. So I did. But it’s still how to enjoy an interesting career doing that. And then when the internet came along, I started my first online business. And that grew into a kind of multimillion dollar business. So that was really interesting. And the great thing about that was it gave me the opportunity to live anywhere. Previously, I’d been tied to London, I had all my clients who were in London, Nova suddenly had this online business, I could live anywhere. So I actually emigrated from the UK to Australia with my family, we…. I think we became the world’s first digital nomad family. And I’ve been traveling there ever since. So nowadays, I’m based in Thailand. And it’s, I love this lifestyle where I have my online business. And it doesn’t matter where I am right now I’m in a hotel, and I’m still able to do this, this call and Wherever I am, I can carry on running my business and see the world and do all kinds of cool things. So yeah, it’s the world has changed a lot. And in terms of technology, and how it helps business, it’s all for the better.
that’s great. All right, now, let’s share some secrets. So is there any secret formula or advice that you can share with the audience today that, you know, other people may hesitate to share? Something that you have gained through your experience in the field of entrepreneurship?
Yeah, but we talked about before focus. And I think it’s really important to try and to work on productivity, because although this technology we have is fantastic. It can also be a problem and there can be a distraction, it’s so easy to maybe you think you need to research some information. So you Google something, something and you end up watching a YouTube video. And then you see a related video is six funny cat videos. So next thing you know, you’re what, you’re watching a funny cat video, and you’ve been completely distracted from work. And of course, with Facebook, and everything else is so easy to get distracted. So I think a lot of time is lost through that kind of lack of productivity. So we do need to manage that problem. And so I tried to, if I come across a YouTube video about the watch, I know I put it on a list of things I’ll watch, I don’t allow myself to watch anything until 6pm when I finish work, and then I can watch that kind of stuff. So you need that kind of self discipline to keep yourself productive and getting things done.
Sure. Now, is there any? Are there any tools are, you know, just like you mentioned? You make a list of things to do. And you do that after six? Are there any other tools or resources that you use to manage your time better?
Yeah, well certainly use Google Keep I find the whole Google system was Google Calendar and keep and the tasks or I find really useful. Of course, it’s all free as well, which which is a bonus. And it’s all in the cloud. So under the cloud tools are getting better and better. I use Trello for project management that’s really useful for brainstorming ideas and for managing progression of projects. I also like streak CRM book, which actually I love that one because it actually works inside your Gmail, so other CRM to send you off to their kind of website or their app to do what you need to do with Street, you do it all inside Gmail, which makes it easy to manage. So it’s great for things like like doing these kind of interviews and things where you need to keep on track of what’s going on and who you’re contacting and who you need to follow up with. So I find that a very useful tool, plus things like zoom we’re using here for to do this call. And slack is a really, really good tool. Cool. So yeah, yeah, there are lots and there are more and more all times.
Yeah. That’s another challenge. Like there are so many tools. I wish there was one tool that that could do everything.
I think there is a need for that. I think that will be an perhaps the next generation, there will be some tools which enable this kind of remote working and integrate everything. So rather than having 10 different apps going on, you’ve got one more integrated option.
Anybody? Anybody listening there? Right there? There’s an idea for a business.
Yeah, that’s right. Definitely. Yeah, I think it’s an opportunity. Yes. Can be someone that’s going to be a big business. Yeah.
So now do you work as a solo entrepreneur? Or do you have a team
I do post some I work with my son, my son is also an online marketer. So we work together on some some projects. So that’s really great. He’s, he’s also a digital Nomad. So we’re both traveling, and we meet up in different parts of the world, and work on projects, and also have my own projects as well. And I have some, like a virtual team to work with me on different things. And yeah, I love the fact that I can have this team. And it’s great now that you can work with people anywhere in the world, which means you can draw on the best talent, as it used to be what if, when, if you have, if you have a physical office, and all your employees are in that office, you can only hire people who are within about an hour’s drive of the office. But now we have the ability, you can find the best person if you need some kind of specialist, WordPress, PHP programmer, you can find the person who understands what you need and will get the job done.
Ability to hire freelancers online has enabled me to bootstrap my business. I mean, that was why I was able to do that, as well. Yeah. Completely agree with that. All right. So lots of good advice. Is there anything else that I may not have asked you about? bootstrapping businesses?
So yeah, I think the main thing is that you just need to make a start as my experiences is that kind of fear of getting started there. I’ve talked to a lot of people as I travel around the world, I mean, when I tell them what I do, and they love this kind of digital nomad lifestyle, and there’s, I’d love to do that. I’ve no idea how to do it. And then then you kind of help me get started, but there, no, I don’t know, I’ve got to have to pay the mortgage. And it’s big risk. And so I would say, you can definitely do it, you don’t have to leap in feet. First, you can start a business as a side hustle, which is how I got started. And I know you can maybe make a little bit of money that way and build things up on the side. And once you reach a point where you’re making decent money, then you can maybe quit your job and build your your business. So and there are multiple ways to do this is not a right way and a wrong way I meet people creating all kinds of businesses in niches that I’ve would never thought could be a business anything, really, you making money doing that? I would never thought it so. And the market, the global market is way bigger than you can imagine it is, I still find it hard to get my head around how big the population is that we can reach and how big that opportunity is. So yeah, if you can find your little niche and go for it, you can do very well.
Yeah. All right. So, you know, again, thanks a lot for sharing all this advice and your wisdom and experience with the audience. I’m sure everyone in the audience got a lot of value out of this. So thanks a lot. Now, before I let you go, can you tell us a little bit about your company or services? And how do you? How do you work with entrepreneurs or businesses?
Yeah, so as I said, for the last few years, I find that more and more people have been have been asking me to do this digital company, how do you start an online business and work from anywhere? It sounds? Sounds amazing. What do I do? So people started asking me, did you do any coaching? Can you can you help me with this? And initially, I was saying I’d No, I don’t do that. But then I saw to realize that Well, actually, now there’s, like, 20 people have asked me about this. Maybe I should be doing it. Yeah. So I’ve actually now started helping people with some kind of coaching and mentoring to get them started with on their kind of online business journey. So I do that through my website, gofreelance.com. So if anybody’s got any questions, they can go to go freelance and contact me through there. And I’ll be happy to answer any questions and give some advice. But I find it really interesting to work with all these budding entrepreneurs, these boots trappers who have a vision and they want to make it or make it happen. And I love the fact that you can create so much positive change in the world, let’s say let’s say you create a course, for example. And that course then can help people improve their health or get up, find a partner or find a new job, whatever it may be. And then you’re actually creating these waves of positive change throughout the world, which is really cool thing to do. So I’m enjoying being part of that.
Yeah, I mean, we are, we are trying to bring new talent and new methods to solve problems in the world, which, which did not exist before. So yeah, definitely, you know, moving humanity forward. Thank you so much, Rob. It was a pleasure speaking to you, and thanks a lot for coming onto the show and sharing your experience.
Okay, thank you,
Links & Mentions from This Episode:
- Rob’s website: https://gofreelance.com/
- TetraNoodle consulting services: https://go.tetranoodle.com/boot-podcast
- TetraNoodle professional training: https://courses.tetranoodle.com