Starting from Nothing - The Foundation Podcast | Building your business ENTIRELY from scratch.

Siamak Farah is the founder of Info Street (now SkyDesktop), an in-browser cloud app platform that allows small business owners to access, manage, and use all their business apps in one place. Siamak has had an amazing career working his way up at multiple software companies, including Steve Job’s Next Computers. With the knowledge and experience he acquired, it’s no wonder that he now runs his very own successful software company.

In this interview, Sia shares his journey of how he learned every facet of running a software company, from his time at Next Computers to starting his own web-based operating system. Sia gives us his insights on automation, being ahead of “the cloud” curve, and implementing the lattice management structure to empower his team’s passion.

  

In This Interview I Ask:

2:54 - When did Info Street originally start?

3:47 - Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you started Info Street in 1994.

4:46 - What was your role at Next [Computers]?

10:03 - What did a Next computer cost at that time and who are you selling them to?

12:43 - So when you started Info Street 1994, where was your head at, in terms of what problem are you going out there and looking to solve or what sort of a solution we're looking to provide to people?

16:12 - Give me some examples of the study the type of stuff that you guys were

automating.

17:48 - So take us through a little bit about like the-the progress of Info Street as it evolved.

22:15 - What was it like when you started telling people in `95 that the best

operating system was going to be no operating system at all?

24:39 - How do you sustain that passion when things are getting tough?

28:34 - there's a certain percentage of your employees that are human and then for the rest of it, you employ technology. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

31:34 - what have we got going on in July for Info Street?

33:40 - what are some of the must-haves in there that every small business needs?

 

Know How to Speak the Language of Your Staff

Prior to starting his own software company, Siamak worked for other software companies to learn the multiple facets of running a software company effectively. Having that base understanding of different roles in the company gave Sia the experience to manage his own employees.

“I have a policy of hiring people smarter than me and always listening to them, but nowadays everything's gotten so detailed that when you hire people smarter than you and you want to listen to them, if you don't have a base understanding, you can't listen to them. You don't know.”

 

Railroad Track Your Processes

Info Street was growing too fast for its small team, but not fast enough to raise funding. Siamak then decided to implement automation, or as he likes to call it “railroad tracking”, 90% of his company to better serve his clients and increase revenue.

“Whatever we're doing twice we are going to automate, and whatever process that other people [would] have to use to do, we are going to go ahead and automate that and basically write it down.”

Pro Tip: Write down the processes of ALL repetitive, tedious tasks that you do for your clients, and AUTOMATE IT.

  

Have Passion and Stick with It

Many people think they can go work for themselves, but they forget the benefits of an established organization (things included such as HR, legal, and sales). Eight out of ten small businesses go belly-up in the first year because of passion missing. You have to have the passion to see it through. “You have to go through the passion and not get slowed down with things that seemed more important than the bigger goal.”. It’s easier said than done. If you have a passion you will succeed, but if you don't have the passion, within a few months, you’re going to miss that paycheck.

 

 Empower Employees with Lattice Structure Management

The typical pyramid structure management has a top, middle and bottom. Lattice structure management is characterized by self-management and has no hierarchy or defined leadership. Every point is in support of every other point. The person closest to the problem is the one that's going to make a decision.

“So I may be the CEO of the company, but for instance, if the janitor comes in and says our vacuum cleaner is broken, it shouldn’t be my decision to decide which vacuum cleaner to buy.”

When you empower people, you actually give them passion. If you delegate properly everybody has their own area, and then we all work in unison together, you get very nice results with very little tension.

  

Build Your Business on “The Cloud”

“The internet is a great democratizer.” - Siamak Farah

Thanks to “the cloud”, some things that were only available to the large businesses ten, fifteen years ago are now available to everybody. Nowadays you could work from home or work from some of these shared office spaces or whatnot. You don't really need a secretary. You could answer your own phone, voicemail, whatever. Plus Info Street / SkyDesktop provides various packages of the common tools every small business needs to foster start and grow their business.

  

Show Links:

SkyDesktop, website

Get 10% Off Info Street, link

Direct download: Episode_167_-_Siamak_Farah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am CST

Kallen Diggs is an international bestselling author, career strategist, and contributor to major publications like Entrepreneur Magazine and The Huffington Post. He is the founder of Reaching the Finish Line, and has both a book & internationally syndicated radio show by the same name. Kallen has helped over 2,000 people reach the finish line in their careers.

In this interview, Kallen shares the mission behind Reaching the Finish Line, how he got started in entrepreneurship, and the habits he practices as well as the tools he uses in his business. Kallen also gives his insight on what it was like to publish his first book through traditional publishing, and why writing for smaller publications actually produced more sales for him than his exposure from larger publications.

 

 

In This Interview I Ask:

1:54 - What is the purpose of Reaching the Finish Line? How do you help folks?

2:38 - Who is the avatar for Reaching the Finish Line book/radio show? Who do you see as your target audience?

4:25 - How long have you been doing this? Give us a timeline [between] the book, the website and the radio show?

9:10 - So what happened right after college? Did you dive right into the path of becoming an entrepreneur? What did that look like for you?

9:29 - What was the job that you got out of college? What did you do initially that kind of gave you the taste of what normal employment might look like?

11:02 - When somebody comes to you, what are the types of things that you put them through to help them essentially get more fulfillment out of what they’re doing? What process do you put them through?

13:13 - Give us an example of some of the questions that you ask [clients] when they come to work with you?

17:23 - What are some of the things that people believe are stopping them from getting what they want, but doesn’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things?

21:07 - How was your book published?

23:09 - When you first thought about writing a book, did you consider all options from self-publishing to traditional publishing? Tell us about the process about how you went about publishing a book.

24:02 - What was it like for you to actually start reaching out to other publishers? How did you actually start connecting with [publishers]?

30:16 - From that interview you did, what is one of the biggest takeaways you got from talking to [Robert Kiyosaki]?

32:27 - How do you plan, set goals, and execute [all the work that you do]?

36:11 - Do you write every day?

41:51 - How do you define success? What does success mean to you?

 

How to Reach the Finish Line in Your Career

  1. You need to be willing to be open, humble and receptive to considering things that you may not have considered previously.
  2. You need to determine if you are happy by defining what happiness means to you.
  3. The most common mental block that people have is the belief “I don’t have time”. You have two options: you can continue to believe you don’t have enough time OR you can look at things that are not getting you to your finish line and cut those things out of your life in order to create the time you need to get you to your finish line. If you want to create more time, what are things you’re willing to sacrifice?

 

Getting Your Book Published the Traditional Way

Books are a great way to earn passive income. Although self-publishing has become popular amongst online writers and entrepreneurs, you may prefer to publish your book through traditional publishing companies.

It is important to have a book proposal for your nonfiction book (publishers will ignore your manuscript alone). You will need to answer the following questions for publishers:

  1. Why is your book project a good idea?
  2. What is your following (what type of people and how many)?
  3. What are your marketing plants to help the book become a bestseller?

 

Tips for Writing for Publications

  1. When you write content, try to repurpose the content so you’re not reinventing the wheel over and over.
  2. It may seem counterintuitive to write for a smaller publications versus a larger, more popular one; however smaller publications have more targeted audiences.
    (ie: The Huffington Post publishes content for all types of people and interests, while The Good Men Project publishes topics that interest men specifically)
  3. The amount of shares your content receives is the primary metric you should focus on. Shares indicate the amount of people who actually enjoyed your content and those people become part of your Also keep in mind that the audience size of the publication you’re writing for doesn’t always produce greater results or shares. Sometimes a smaller more target publication may produce better results and shares.

 

Show Links:

Reaching the Finish Line, website

Reaching the Finish Line, book

Kallen’s Robert Kiyosaki Interview, podcast

Zoho: business management tool, website

Trello: project/task management tool, website

Calendly: appointment scheduling tool, website

Direct download: Episode_166_-_Kallen_Diggs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30am CST

Jenn Scalia runs a coaching business and membership site for women who want to put themselves out there and run their own online business. Formerly, she enjoyed doing social media full-time for the largest casino in Atlantic City until she was laid off. Jenn felt like she hit rock bottom after her second layoff in two years. It was then that she decided that she wanted control over whether or not she worked and how much she earned. Jenn then moved back in with her parents’, and leveraged their support to get out of debt and slowly grow her business to the six-figure company it is today.

In this interview, Jenn tells us all about Little Black Business Book, and what it takes to run a membership site. We also talk shop about creativity and why she’s addicted to investing in one-on-one coaching.

 

 

In This Interview I Ask:

2:35 - Did you go and get another job after [getting laid off]?

4:21 - What were the first 60-90 days like from the time you [decided to start a business]? What did it look like in the first three months of you figuring all this stuff out?

5:40 - Did you have habits or rituals that you did everyday? Did you do things to condition your mindset that way you could keep moving forward even though it was kind of tough?

6:50 - What are you saying in your marketing materials in order to attract clients that sets you apart from the other options that people have?

7:40 - How would you describe your ideal customer?

8:20 - How does your membership fee work?

9:20 - What are some of the specific mini courses that people could go through as a part of the membership site?

10:11 - When you launched the membership site originally, how many mini courses were a part of that?

14:04 - What’s a typical time frame from you’ve got the idea to it’s on the membership site?

14:40 - What’s your magic when and where for creation?

15:57 - Do you have a specific place you like to create?

16:42 - What are the strategies that you use you to acquire your ideal customers?

18:12 - How do you capture testimonials?

20:47 - What’s your most popular mini course?

21:48 - What’s your favorite social challenge that you run? Give us a taste of what that looks like.

23:12 - What’s content prompt?

23:36 - What kind of team is behind this?

24:22 - What do you think is the biggest chokehold in your business? What are you working on the most?

25:28 - What do you see for your business in the next three years? What’s that look like?

26:25 - Of the education and training you’ve experienced yourself, what are some of the game changers for you?

27:35 - What’s the latest book that you’ve read in the last six months that has shown you something new that excited you or that grew your business or your personal life?

28:26 - Did you systematize [drinking water] in any way?

28:52 - Let’s say you woke up and you don’t feel like you want to work. Do you have something that you do to push through or step back from the business? How do you look at a “down day”?

30:29 - Do you ever abstain from technology?

31:36 - What does success mean to you?

 

How to Position Yourself in the Marketplace

Position yourself as a thought leader and as someone who is the go-to person in your niche. Create a viral visibility so that people know who you are and know about your business.

 

How to Capture Testimonials

In order to get the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. Get your customers to express the journey from when they decided to hire you to their end result. Some questions you might include are:

  • Where were you before you purchased [product/service]?
  • What happened during your experience with [product/service]?
  • Where are you now after experiencing/using [product/service]?

Pro Tip: Ask for video testimonials that included specific numbers and actual results such as an amount of money saved or earned or percentage increase of goal(s).

 

Jenn’s Business Game Changer

“Every time I’ve worked with someone one-on-one, at a higher level, it definitely moved the the needle for me. I’ve also taken lots of courses, but I don't think, looking back, any course or program itself was a game changer. It was really having that first hand one-on-one support and accountability that really changed it for me. I'm addicted to it.”

“If I don’t continue to invest in myself, and I don't continue to have that support I'm not going to be able to continue to run a business that’s seven figures.”

 

Show Links:

JennScalia.com, website

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, book

Direct download: Episode_165_-_Jenn_Scalia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32am CST

Jason Carter is a software engineer with a PhD in computer science. While going through The Foundation Process, Jason dabbled with a few different niches. Once he started seeing results, he focused on the path of least resistance. Through consistent action and reflection, he learned what he what he was doing wrong in his process, then made adjustments to set his system right. In just eight months he was able to generate $115k all from using cold email.

 

In this interview, Jason tells us what he’s learned from mistakes he’s made when he first started cold emailing people, and what he changed in his subsequent emails. He also shares why he deviated from developing a software for multiple customers in one niche (like most Foundation students have done), to developing software on a per-project, one-off basis.

 

 

In This Interview I Ask:

4:41 - What was going on in your life before the Foundation, and what was the impetus for you to decide to go through [the program]?

6:01 - Have you ever been out there selling to the customer?

7:42 - How did you kick off your first project?

10:24 - How passionate are you about dentistry?

13:50 - What was the call to action in the [initial] emails [you sent] that made it seem like you were asking for too much for a cold email?

14:39 - What did you change when you [started] cold contacting the list of dentists you had an affiliation with?

12:52 - Take us through the story of the first person you started working with. What was that like?

15:27 - Why did you decide to build a software for one dentist as opposed to many dentists with the same problem (what students typically do in The Foundation)?

16:50 - So what did you make on this first project? What did you quote it?

18:20 - What was the time frame from the time you sent the first email to the time you started getting paid by your first client?

19:50 - If I were to go out there and pick a list of 100 people, what are some of the mistakes that I would make as a novice?

25:00 - What have been the outcomes of cold email in your life?

22:47 – Have you ever really done anything [related to] a sales career?

23:12 - How uncomfortable was it for you to do this?

23:29 - When you get that voice in the back of your head, how did you get through that?

24:33 - From the time that you did your first project, how many other consulting projects have you brought on as a result of this cold email outreach?

24:49 - You want to tell the Vegas story?

27:50 - Where are you going to take all of this?

28:38 - If I were just the middleman entrepreneur who went in and discovered the problem and then hired a developer to complete that deliverable , out of the $115k, what would I actually keep in my pocket?

31:40 - What is the biggest takeaway for you over the last eight months?

 

The Foundation Process

  1. Find a problem to solve.
  2. Pre-sell your solution to that problem.

 

 

How to Pick a Market

You can pick a market that you’re passionate about, but it would be better to pick a market that actively spends money and invests in their growth. “What you need to fall in love with is the process of starting businesses rather than the specific niche or passion.” - Frank Mocerino

 

Tips for Cold Emailing

  • Find the top influencers in your target market. Those are the type of people who will do extra work (and spend the money), are passionate, and want to grow.
  • Mention your common affiliation (ie: college or networking group) in the subject line of your email. If you don’t have a common affiliation, take the time to read their blog or listen to their podcast. Then share what you found valuable from your experience with their content. They will appreciate you for taking the time.
  • Keep in mind that one lead can connect you to another. Top influences will know and put you in contact with other people in their field. After confirming their problem, ask them if they know of others like them who also suffer from that same problem.

 

Mistakes to Avoid When Cold Emailing

  • Don’t send emails to general addresses like info@website.com. Instead, go for the direct email name@website.com.
  • Don’t try to sell them something in the first email. Instead, explain your interest in learning about their pain and wanting to help create a solution for them.

            Example: Jason was too focused on himself and what he wanted from the email

recipient rather than what he could do to help them. “I was focused on ‘This is

who I am and this is what I want’ instead of ‘This is who I am, how can I help

You?’”

  • Don’t worry about the quantity of your email list. It’s not about how many people you email. It’s about the quality of the people you email.

  

Show Links:

The Science of Cold Emailing, sign up form

Direct download: Episode_164_-_Jason_Carter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CST

Jennifer Barcelos and Sandy Connery are both alums of The Foundation Class of 2013, who met and instantly became friends at our Foundation live event. Jenny was a lawyer and new mom wanting to explore new ways to fund the nonprofit organization she worked with, while Sandy was a certified pedorthist, who after selling her previous business was looking for a new entrepreneurial challenge. After uncovering a common pain point shared by yoga studio owners, Jenny founded Namastream, a virtual wellness studio service for yoga instructors. Sandy, being a fellow yogi and Namastream enthusiast, joined the team a year and a half later.

In this interview, Jenny tells us the story of how Namastream came to be, and what her experience of building a SaaS solution from inception to growth is like. Sandy shares what prompted her to join the Namastream team and how roles are divided between them.

 

In This Interview I Ask:

4:59 - How many studios did you end up speaking with before you saw the pain you were going to solve for them?

5:35 - How do you actually take that pain and start taking action toward building a solution to it?

7:20 - How were you thinking about the long-term vision of what you wanted to get out of building something?

10:01 - People always say that you should build a business in an area that you’re passionate about; is yoga a passion of yours?

12:50 - Jenny, how long did you run [Namastream] without Sandy, and what was the impetus to bring somebody on?

14:54 - How did you decide to bring someone on as a partner versus hiring a rockstar team member that you pay as an employee?

16:50 - Sandy, what drove you to get involved?

19:35 - How did you go from a bootstrap company to going through the 9Mile Labs Accelerator program?

27:28 - What are some of the core takeaways from the Accelerator program?

29:30 - How do you two divide your roles in the company?

33:30 - Who’s the ideal customer for Namastream?

37:41 - What’s the vision for Namastream over the next three years?

40:13 - Do you feel like you went in and dominated yoga and now you’re spreading, or does it feel it doesn’t do you any good to sit around and dominate yoga for years before you spread?

42:12 - [What is] the biggest mistake that you believe you’ve made that has led to breakthroughs or growth?

 

How to Validate a Pain Point

  1. Interview multiple target customers and find a common pain point.
  2. Have an additional conversation with each of those same customers you interview, and get them to confirm the pain point you’ve discovered.
  3. Research bigger brands and companies who have already figured out how to solve the pain point you’ve discovered, and evaluate their solutions.

 

How to Qualify a Potential Partner

  • This person should know your business.
  • This person should be someone you trust 100%.
  • This person should be as excited and interested in your company as you are.

Example: Jenny and Sandy were already accountability partners within The Foundation program so Sandy knew all about Namastream from their conversations. Sandy was always interested in Namastream so when Jenny proposed a partnership, Sandy intuitively said yes.

 

Show Links:

Namastream, website

Soulful MBA: Start Your Own Health and Wellness Business, website

9Mile Labs: Accelerator Program, website

Direct download: Episode_163_-_Jennifer_Barcelos__Sandy_Connery.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CST

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