How long does it take to be the expert? My guest today, Mícheál O’Neill is proof you don’t have to wait. After starting his first business at age 21 with his brother, he became the largest provider of business start-up courses in his country… at the age of 23. If you’ve been struggling with how to be the expert with your business, you gotta listen to this one.
The climb to becoming the “guru” or the “go-to” can seem like an unscalable mountain. After 16 years in business and working with thousands of entrepreneurs, Mícheál has made that climb. The key to his success? He didn’t wait to be anointed an expert… he focused on establishing it at each step along the way. This episode is full of gems to transform your mindset to become the expert (hint: you’ve already got expertise in at least a couple things just by surviving this long).
Can’t-Miss Moments From This Episode:
This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!
My name is Mícheál O’Neill, and I help experts, coaches, and thought leaders transform their knowledge and expertise into a profitable, leveraged, impact-driven, online business.
Entrepreneurship and business building has always been in my blood.
From my first business selling bundles of fertilizer bags from our farm to a local fuel merchant, my early school years selling ice pops to my classmates at lunchtime, through to making a 75% mark up on selling singles from a pack of 20 in high school (fully legal but not something I now realize wasn’t in anyone’s best interest!) My college years saw me branch into many different money-making schemes when at 21 I started my first official business,
In fact, by 23, I had become the largest single provider of Start Your Business Courses in Ireland, providing training to thousands of entrepreneurs on behalf of state agencies mandated on behalf of the Government to foster entrepreneurship in Ireland.
Working with my brother, I took the consultancy and training business we started when I was 21 from start-up to multi-million-dollar business, in a tiny professional niche, building a team of 25 along the way. When we realized that our business model would limit our future growth, we began the process of migrating from a traditional bricks-and-mortar business to a scalable, leveraged, online knowledge business.
In a few years, we built our recurring annual membership and information product revenue from 0 to just shy of $1,500,000. Through this process, I fell in love with the beautiful simplicity of the online business model. Everywhere I looked, I saw opportunities for business owners to take all that I had learned and not just create a better life for themselves, their family, their team but to create an even bigger impact by reaching a wider audience and leveraging the business model to create even more profound transformation in those they reach.
When I realized that I could no longer contain my passion for helping people build online businesses, I took the painful decision to exit the company I started. I now dedicate myself to my mission of helping experts, coaches, and thought leaders, transform their knowledge and expertise into a profitable, leveraged, impact-driven, online business.
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Angie Colee (00:02):
Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hey and welcome back to Permission to Kick Ass. With me today is my friend Micheal O'Neill. Say, hi Micheal.
Micheal O'Neill (00:25):
Hey, Angie, how are you doing? I'm absolutely delighted to be here. And look at just before we kick off. I just love what you're doing with Permission to Kick Ass. And I, you know, I look at, I think everybody is being in a position where all they needed was a little encouragement and somebody telling them that, yes, you can do what you can make a difference in the world. And you know, there's so much negativity and divisiveness in the world, it's just so refreshing to see somebody come out and say what you're saying. And you know, for so often I would have loved in my past, if somebody had to put their arm around my shoulder and said you know what, Micheal? Yes, you can do it. So, you know, and I know there's awful lot of people out there who need to hear it that as well. So thank you.
Angie Colee (01:04):
You just made my day, but, and this is the first episode I'm going to record today. So I'm just going to be flying high. Somebody's going to have to pop my head so I can leave the room later. I've told the origin story about this podcast before where, you know, my mentor said, Hey, I am here by giving you don't need permission to be an expert, but I, in case that's, what's holding you back. I am giving you official permission, TM to get out there and do this. And then I still didn't really embrace that for probably like a year until I saw a colleague of mine that I really respected, who was also a high-level copywriter. Um, she had just landed a project and in our private mastermind group was like, okay, watch me meltdown in real time. Like I haven't heard from them for 12 hours after I submitted drafts. So clearly I'm the most horrible person on the face of the earth. And everybody knows that I'm a fraud. And that was when it really clicked for me that I'm not the only one freaking out about everything and wondering if I'm doing it right. And, you know, potentially miscommunicating with people and shoot myself in the foot. And that was when it really just opened my eyes to like, I'm not alone, but I am over here kind of suffering in silence while I'm pretending, like I have all shit my together. So that was really the impetus behind the show, just to show other people that like, yeah, there are a lot of people at a lot of levels of success that are fucking it up all the time and they're doing just fine.
Micheal O'Neill (02:18):
Yeah, exactly. You know there's so many people out there are afraid and it's almost that they'll be afraid that they'll be found out, you know, afraid to stick your head up above the crowd and to stand out because you know staying in your lane, it's comfortable. And having worked with so many entrepreneurs in the past, you know, it's almost like staying safe is this point. So it is a primal instinct. And, you know, previously it was because we could have got eaten by a saber tooth tiger. It's not here anymore. But I think the new survival instinct is not to have our insecurities or our flaws exposed. And, you know, I think it's, it's made an awful lot worse by social media. When all we look around, we see everyone with their perfect lives and their perfect business and their perfect, everything else, hugely successful, well, because they say so on Instagram, but you know, everybody is dealing with their own crap. Um, and I think really the, the thing that really differentiates, you know, nobody gets great success without having great challenges and, you know, overcoming great things. I think the one thing that differentiates really successful entrepreneurs from the ones who, you know, just get by or don't make it as well as they're more comfortable in embracing who they are, what they do, their challenges, their weaknesses, and just putting it all out there. I think like if you, if you look at it for any business and any business idea or anybody starting a business, or has a business, there are people who were not, you know, who had less than you, who were born with less money, with less opportunity who, you know, have less skills who have less talent who have less experience, I guess what they are living the life and living the dream that you have.
Angie Colee (04:07):
Yes. And they don't have anything special that you don't. That is, uh, that was like the biggest eye-opener. I think somebody actually said that to me, when I was feeling particularly, you know, stuck in my victim mode of I have this job and I have a mortgage and I have to stay because I need stability. And like this just story that I told myself that kept me trapped in misery for so long. And when I was just looking at my friends that were successful freelancers and being super envious of them, one of them just said, Angie, we don't have anything that you don't. We just made the choice to make the leap and then figured it out along the way. And that was another light bulb moment for me, that somebody was like, you have all the skills, you're just not doing anything, but I'd surround myself with blunt people like that on purpose. That really helped me get out of my own way. Sometimes, especially when that fear cycle, just like takes over and start screaming at you
Micheal O'Neill (04:59):
And look at it. It's not just, I think, I think everybody needs that. And I think that's why, you know, especially in entreprenership, why, you know, coaching is so important because it is so hard for people to see themselves. It's still hard for people to see their own qualities, their own skills, and to believe in themselves. And that's why, you know, kind of coaching. That's why I love, you know, what you're doing and, and stepping up and helping people because you're really helping people. And I'm, how was it, you know, your dare to believe in people until they have enough, you know, until they believe in themselves enough to get to where they want to go. And it's just, I think it's, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's something that as an aspiring entrepreneur or as an entrepreneur, I think it's the one thing to really lean into is to find that, you know, on a, like a, a commercial basis are, you know, on a peer basis to find those blunt people who are just going to come out and who are going to say it. So,
Angie Colee (06:10):
And they'll say it because they love you, not because they want to keep you down or they feel superior. Like there's a difference between people that are blunt because they want to help you and people that are blunt because they're assholes. And knowing the difference between the two, I think is really important.
Micheal O'Neill (06:24):
And the first one is a very, very rare. So the first one is a very rare species because there are the people who will not be blunt because they feel that they might hurt you or will not be blunt because they couldn't really care. You know, they don't want to go there because they don't want to feel uncomfortable with saying something. Then you have the people who are blunt, just because while they're rude and ignorant, then that's what, you know, that's the way they operate and look at. Let's face it. That's not that character assassination there is stuff going on in them. That is causing the, that's not the personality. That's a behavior that has developed over time. And I don't want to, you know, there are people who are blunt and when you start looking back at what's happened in their past, you can understand exactly how they got to there, but it's a very rare breed of people who will be blunt enough to be honest and honest, because they want to see you succeed and they want to see you step. And if you do find one of those people, you hang on to them.
Angie Colee (07:22):
Declare them your new best friend and keep them in your life for like, as long as you possibly can. And I get that discomfort because look from the other end of it, as somebody that is categorically blunt, and I hear about it all the time. So I just acknowledged that this is my personality. The part of the reason that I am this way is because in the past, when I have made my visible missteps, but from putting myself out there, I've had various people over the course of my career, reach out to me, usually privately and say, Hey, maybe consider doing it differently because what you just did could cause XYZ. And it was because they came up to me and challenged me that I have this mindset of even when I'm going into an uncomfortable conversation, I have to give someone some harsh feedback. Um, I have to give somebody some advice that they may not be ready or willing to hear right now because of where they're at. And I totally get that. I go into this thinking, do I need to say this? If there's one person that needs to hear this message and will be impacted by it, then yes, I need to say this. Even if it comes across as harsh, even if somebody like has to go cry for a little bit and then come back and be like, yeah, you were right. Um, I've had people do that to me. And it changed my life for the better. Yeah.
Micheal O'Neill (08:40):
I mean, it's something that's really important when, you know, I knew, uh, you know, for a lot of people listening here, they're either our entrepreneurs, business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners, or, you know, there's a mix obviously as, as well, if you think about, you know, for your team, I think, you know, and if you're building a team and if you're working with people, I think that's possibly one of the single most important leadership skills to have, because yes, you want your business to grow and develop and move forward. But you're only going to your business only grow and develop as much as your team grows and develops. So if you're unlimited, there's nothing wrong. If you were, if you were one person, you know, consultant, whatever it is, business, and that's how you want to operate, that is a brilliant business model. And that is the perfect point of view. I'm not saying you have to build a team, but if you're building a team, your business is suddenly, you are not the most important player on the field. Your team is. You have to think about how you give them feedback. So it is not just that you get the result from your business, but did you for your business, but you get a result for them.
Angie Colee (09:46):
Well, and that's important as a leader too. And I'm going to circle back to, to give that a little bit of context in a second, but I think too many leaders, like they give the critical feedback, but they forget the positive feedback too. Like it's one thing to be really good at giving critical feedback in a way that helps someone improve and feel more confident in their skills. But if you're also neglecting to say, Hey, I really liked that project that you did. Oh, I really liked that approach that you took. I appreciate that. Please keep that up. That will go a really long way with keeping your team like loyal and motivated and really just in it to win it because they love you. And I mean, like, I love that you're talking about teams because I think you're one of the more advanced business owners that I've brought onto the podcast. And you have grown teams, you've been through multiple iterations of your business. Actually. I'd love to take a second for you to tell the listeners what you do and what you have done in your past as a business owner.
Micheal O'Neill (10:35):
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I started, uh, started a business with my brother, um, probably 16 years ago. So as you can probably tell, and this is not an American or a Canadian accent. And so it's based in Ireland. And, um, we started out providing consultancy and training to accountants. It was a form of insanity. And I think when, when the business started, I think I was 21. I was still in college. My brother had was six years older than me. So he was 27. We had no clients, he worked for, he was qualified accountant. He worked for, um, a year or two years with one of the institutes. Um, and then we decided to start up this business. So we, we went in and the, the crazy thing about the businesses we're in a tiny, tiny niche. So we serve practicing accountants. So practicing accountants think PWC, KPMG, you know, the accounting firms, as opposed to, uh, as opposed to accountants in industry and the nuts thing about it was we pretty much only had an entire market. We had, you know, when we started out probably around two and a half thousand potential business clients, it's only two and a half thousand clients. We didn't let it stop us. We, we went, we forged ahead. Um, and as it turned out, it was a pretty good business to be in. So we grew, at one stage, we, the training division, we were running 150 to 180 courses a year. These are public courses where we would have, you know, we would go, we would pick a topic, speakers, we'd book, a hotel. We would market the event, um, run the event, issue the CBD certs and move on to the next one. Um, and you know, our team was growing, but we suddenly, we realized, oh, crap, we're we're. We were really burning out. We kind of hit a bit of a crisis point where we decided something had to change. And because, you know, like we were young and we were very focused on building a business, but there is more to life and the business is one element of life and you can, you know, we, we kind of lost sight of that and the business was, was life for us. And it was at that stage that, you know, we kind of met a mutual friend in, in, in Jeff Walker and we started looking at, well, how can we move from this thing where we were consulting in your accountancy firms and training all around the country? How can we move that online? Um, so we, we did our, you know, kind of, we brought out our first information product and we brought in another information product, another one that we had a couple of memberships and all of a sudden, you know, we were there, our business was, uh, we had 25 employees. We were, we had a turnover of in US dollars. It was just over 3 million US dollars, 25 employees. And we had about one and a half million in recurring annual revenue from digital products, you know, and, and as things moved on, I kind of absolutely. My, my heart is always been with business and helping business owners grow. And, uh, you know, then I came across the online business. So, you know, way back into business or way back at the start to the business, I started delivering start your own business courses almost as a hobby. And I just went in and I delivered one. Um, it was good, but you know, these were three days. So 24, 3 day, our 10 week courses. And at one stage, I think there were two years where I had three Saturdays off. So I was delivering courses every single Saturday, and I absolutely just adored working with entrepreneurs. And, and then, you know, I came across the online business model and, you know, it was, it, it was, it was a tough decision, but as of the last, I think it was October, um, I exited Omnipro and I actually set up a business now where I'm helping online entrepreneurs to launch scale and grow information products, memberships, um, and to really what, you know, kind of what I'm trying to do is help people attract perfect fit clients.
Angie Colee (14:43):
Micheal O'Neill (14:45):
Um, so, so that's kind of me in a nutshell, and that's where like a lot, like a lot of, I was kind of talking earlier was through that experience of, I think I've put over a thousand people, 10,000 entrepreneurs through start your own business courses. So at 20, I think 23, I was the largest provider of start your own business courses in Ireland. And we have government agencies that run courses to help entrepreneurs Ireland is built on small business. It's just, it's really high level of entrepreneurship, but there's a government agency that does, and I started working with about seven or eight of the enterprise boards and delivering these courses. And so I kind of vary and, you know, you might say, but how could you get to that point at about 23, 24 when you'd only start in one business, but I just, I just absolutely adored the topic. Um, and it kind of gave me some interesting insights into entrepreneurship and you know, where people can go. But yeah, so that's kind of me in a, in a nutshell.
Angie Colee (15:48):
I think that's great too, you know, speaking to expertise because I think that's a limiting belief that holds a lot of, would be entrepreneurs back, especially from becoming like a freelancer or consultant. They, they think, you know, either I don't have a certification or like you said, you're how old, and you have, how much experience, why are you qualified to teach me and, and look somebody that's one step ahead of you can help you learn that step, right? So they're the expert in that step, just being one step ahead of you. You don't have to be the guru on top of the mountain to be able to turn around and help someone through a problem. And there is such a thing as accidental expertise, too, that really opened my eyes when my mentor brought that up to me, because it was like, if you go through a really rough, painful divorce, and you had a lot of challenges along the way, well, it sucks. But now you're an expert, not necessarily in all cases of, of hard divorces, but you got through it and you can help someone else get through it. And that's accidental expertise. You don't take a course to specialize in that, but you can wind up falling into it. It's, it's fantastic.
Micheal O'Neill (16:48):
It's one of my big thing that sometimes the guru status actually works against you, you know, in terms of delivery, because you've actually gone so far past the point where, of the people you're trying to help, that you don't even see what their next step is, because all the steps when, when you've gone so far, like if you think about a really, really long staircase, when you look backwards, all of the steps kind of just blend into one. Whereas when you're down, when you're a couple of steps ahead of people, you're, you're just after taking them on your trip. Now, I also do not believe in there's sometimes, you know, you see it in the online world where people just always just, you know, pick a topic and go create an information product and become, I don't necessarily believe in that. You have to be able to deliver transformation. You have, you have to be able to get the results for the people that really, really matters at the end of the day. But as long as you can get the results and you do have a process for doing that, sometimes you're, you're you're best person possible in order to help the people.
Angie Colee (17:52):
Absolutely. Like I've compared it to being kind of on a hiking trail, on a mountain, the guru is way up at the top and they can't even see you let alone warn you that like, Hey, there's a rock there that's kind of loose that you're probably about to trip over, or like, maybe get your raincoat out. Cause you're heading up toward the waterfall. Like they can't even see you. They're so far away from you, but somebody that just passed that slippery rock or that waterfall can turn around and shout at you. Like, Hey, watch out, Hey, you need my hands. Like, come on. I'm gonna, I'm going to help you step over the rocks so that you don't fall down. And there's a lot of value in somebody helping you over that particular hurdle. Like just where you are. So I think if you're, if you're using that as an excuse to like, I haven't achieved guru hood, I haven't achieved certification, but can you help someone get a result? That's all they care about.
Micheal O'Neill (18:42):
And the opposite is true, just because obviously, Angie, I know there's a lot of gurus listened to you because we recognize real. Right. So I, I know, I know there's a lot of gurus out there. It's not that being gurus is a negative. You just have to think, you have to think very carefully, okay. These are all the things that I just do automatically. And it kind of, it's the driving a car analogy in reverse. So you sitting into a car, you don't think about where the gear stick is everything else you will have to literally, you have to take your, you know, your experience and your knowledge, but also position yourself back into what it was like when you were starting off. And it it's, it's, it's, it's not the being a guru is the issue it's forgetting what it was like or forgetting what that experience was like when you were coming through that period is, is the problem. It's just that little bit of removal or not kind of, you know, positioning yourself back to when you were in that position.
Angie Colee (19:39):
Yeah, I've, I've heard that referred to as the curse of knowledge. And I don't remember where I heard that term, but as soon as I heard it, it clicks like you are, I mean, blessed in a sense to have this knowledge that you've won through skill, persistence, training, whatever you've done to acquire a skill, but you've gotten so good at it. That part of it becomes automatic, just like driving a car. And so it gets really easy to go back to someone and be like, okay, well, cool, unlock the door, sit inside, buckle your seatbelt, turn, uh, turn the car on and put it in gear. Realize like, without realizing that you've just skipped about 10 different steps that are vital to this process and someone that has never seen a car before has no idea. Okay. Unlock, unlock. What does that mean? Turn on the, how do I turn on the car? What do I do to turn on the car? Put it in gear. What, what does R mean? What does D mean? I don't know what this means. And a lot of people at the beginning need that kind of reassurance without the judgment of like, oh, I'm sorry. I skipped a step there. Okay. So put, put your little, that shiny metal thing. That's called a key. Put it in the door, unlock the door, pull the handle, open it. Cool. That's the first step. Sit down, pull that little strappy thing across your chest. Put it in the buckle over here. All right. Now put the shiny thing in this ignition. That's the little hole here and turn it this way. Um, and once you get past that little basic step, like the learning curve, they take off pretty fast.
Micheal O'Neill (21:03):
Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's another important point is a lot of people don't want to build a business around that. What seems so, so basic. And a lot of people don't want to go there because they feel, oh yeah, I'd be laughed at, by, you know, all the people who are out teaching all the high strategies. And, you know, if you're into car like drifting or, you know, catching a racing line or whatever it is. And if, you know, very often they're the people who did the very, very basic stuff is what people are looking for. And yes, you know, there's, you don't have more put entrepreneurs. I definitely would, you know, startup entrepreneurs, you definitely would see it. They're probably the people who don't necessarily have the biggest budgets, you know, whereas if you were teaching somebody how to, you know, kind of go around a racetrack and they're big into cars and they spend a lot of money, they probably have the money to pay you. Whereas, you know, somebody doesn't have a huge amount of money. Who's just learning to drive. But if you have the right, you know, kind of what I talk about is your value ascension ladder, which brings people along their journey from not one where literally you have to explain to somebody what a car key is and how do you put on a seatbelt that if you bring them up along the steps, that you can develop a very, very, you know, kind of stable business because you're giving them the next steps to move, move up along. So a lot of people kind of ignore that, that really basic stuff, but I think it's, you know, it can be a good entry point and it can be a good way to, you know, to build and to grow a business.
Angie Colee (22:31):
It's a fantastic entry point too, because I think a lot of people forget that the biggest part of most, every market is beginners. People that just discovered this thing are just getting into this thing. And you could be their guru, despite the fact that you don't consider yourself to be like queen high king, high muckity muck of like guru of gurus. Um, you could be someone else's guru because even if you're saying the same thing that, that has been said a hundred different times, you're the only one that says it your way through your particular set of filters. Like you told the story of being on a staircase. I told a story of being on a mountain and we were both saying the same thing in different ways. And both of those things I think are going to resonate with people. And that's the beauty of this. Like I can teach. I've had a couple of people that consider themselves to be business and confidence coaches on the podcast before too. And I think every time we bring up the point that like, look, this is my colleague, not my competitor. Somebody is going to resonate with Michael more than they resonate with me. Somebody might resonate with Michael and me and work with us both. Like, so the fact that we're here talking about business is a good thing. Cause like there's more than enough work to go around. And when people get interested in the topic, they don't just pick one person and go, that's it. I'm not paying attention to anybody else in my life. I only study this person. I ignore everybody else. Like most people that are interested in a topic are going to buy probably 10 different courses, go through a whole bunch of it. And then fanatics, like super fans take that education to a different level. Like if you've got somebody that's super into knitting, they're going to buy every knitting course out there. They're, they're going to try every tactic and hack to try and get faster, to make better, like, so I mean the point being, it doesn't really matter where you're at again, as long as you can help someone get a results and you can communicate like your vision and your process to them in a way that that really connects. And that's fantastic.
Micheal O'Neill (24:23):
Yeah. And, um, um, you, you mentioned process there. I think that is one of the, one of the key things and it's it's for any of this to work. I think one of the most important things is that you have a process, you have a mechanism, you have something that is explainable and like, you know, the, you have a specific steps that people go through that for some reason, you figured out that this is the best way to do things. Um, and I think that that underlining in order another area where, you know, people who come and try and start a business, just, you know, based on what we're talking about is that they, they have a vague sense. They know how they do it, but they haven't really stepped it up. People love step by step. They love the process. They love to know that there's some sort of plan there for them to implement and to, to get the results that you want them to get.
Angie Colee (25:11):
Yeah, absolutely. And you said something about a while back too, that I wanted to circle back to. Cause I think it's more of an advanced business tactic, but if you're at the beginning stages, like keep this in mind, we're talking about a process, right? And all the processes is you figure out and articulate the steps that you take to do something and to achieve something. I didn't have a podcast process until I created a podcast. And then I had to figure out all the steps and now there's a process. So like it's kind of counterintuitive, but like you get into the work and then you start to notice patterns and then you create a process from the patterns. And that's how this, like, you can't really plan all of these things out, perfectly in advance. Sometimes you just have to go and do them. The great thing about developing a process is if you start working with people, you put yourself out there before you feel ready, necessarily you start working with people. You'll start to see these patterns repeating with your clients. And there'll be asking you the same questions over and over again. And you'll find that the same advice applies to people in two different businesses or at two different stages. And that's where you can start to create these digital products that Michael is talking about because you've got a step-by-step process to walk somebody through, get them a result, and then they've bought something from you and you didn't have to teach it manually every single time. And that's how you start to systematize and grow your business like Michael has.
Micheal O'Neill (26:30):
But from a scaling perspective, if you don't have processes in your business, you are not going to scale. And so, you know, if you and scaling doesn't necessarily mean, you know, 25 50 a hundred employees. It could mean, you know, scaling revenue. And it could mean if you, if you were still, if you were the only person in the business, you still need processes because every time you create a process, the sheer act of measurement of an entity will make it more refined you by looking at it, you're going to think, is there steps I can call out? Are there steps that I can outsource? That's, you know, that's pretty much, that's pretty much what a coach almost kind of does. Is it, the coach looks at what you're doing and helps you call it out. But what you need to do is you need to document, you know, exactly. Okay, here's the steps, here's what I'm going to do. Here's how I do it. Here's how I can do it quicker and keep refining those processes. And that's, you know, the one thing of anybody who has successfully scaled the business, I would say that is one of the things that they have invested in that has brought in the most, the most returns.
Angie Colee (27:35):
I love talking about this too, because I think there's especially with creative entrepreneurs, which are people that I talk to a lot and I helped them with freelancing, which I love freelancing as an entry point into this, because it, it helps you take advantage of a skill set you naturally have. It's a low overhead. Like you can just get a laptop and a strong wifi and start looking for people that you can help. Um, I mean, you can start a business tomorrow, if you want to do it, that doesn't mean that you're going to be a millionaire sitting on the beach tomorrow. There's a lot of hard work ahead of you. You can get started easily. You don't have to spend a whole lot to get started, but then eventually you're going to want to just like Michael said, if you start noticing patterns, if you're developing systems and processes for the things that you do, write it down, record a video of yourself doing it. And then that way, when you get to a certain income level and you start in a certain busyness level and you start to get overwhelmed, you can bring somebody on and hand them a document or a recording and be like, could you do this for me? Like, I've literally laid out all the steps and you don't have that in your head and you're not the bottleneck anymore. And that's how growth happens.
Micheal O'Neill (28:41):
Yeah. And I'm like, just because, you know, you can use an example for freelancing. Um, and just because you're, you're a copywriter, like say you're a copywriter and you're freelancing. So you can go and you can work. You do, you know, you do a job, whatever, and the job gets good results. And then you go on to the next one, you get more good results are better or worse if you actually have processed out, you know, how you went about it and the copy, what didn't work. So you get results from the first campaign. You got results from the, you know, the second gig. Now it's not just about, you know, the scalable business as well as that. There's a huge learning in, okay, well in building your own internal patterns and then building refining your own skills and honing your honing, your craft.
Angie Colee (29:24):
And I wanna, you know, I, at the risk of people interpreting this, as I rubber stamp, I use the exact same process with everybody. And I think that's because you don't have to reinvent the wheel just to be a successful business person. You shouldn't make this harder than it already is. Uh, and if you find a pattern that works for you and like 80, 90% of the time, this thing absolutely works, or even more keep using it, the easier it gets for you. Technically the more profitability you're making, because the more work you can take on it, you could bring people, train them in your method, make even more money. Like don't make it harder than it has to be. That's going to be my big rant someday. I'm going to get up on my soap box. But like yeah rubber stamp this shit. Don't be afraid. Use the same process you put, put the same framework, create a template. If you're a writer, uh, create a stencil. If you're an artist and you can just make it different for everybody. And they're still going to get a ton of value out of that.
Micheal O'Neill (30:19):
Exactly. In fact, I would say that, you know, okay, as a coach, as a copywriter, if you don't have those elements in place, it's actually a form of negligence because you're not bringing your, you're not bringing your knowledge and your learning forward. And if you were always starting, I'm this isn't about some people that look, oh yeah. Well, if I just have a template and I change in other words, or I changed or whatever. Well, you know, is that an honest day's work? Absolutely, absolutely. You know what it has to be because you know, what you're doing is if, as you said, if you get a result, if you get one result, when you need to document that and you need to have a business is all about consistency. If you can't deliver consistent service to, you know, kind of on a consistent basis or consistent product so let's not forget the product and et cetera, if you don't have it, you don't have a business and your business is going to go into demise. So that's part of what kind of processes and systems and this documentation of learning on everything that you do builds and go for it. Yeah. It's not sexy. It's not, you don't want the bright, shiny marketing technique or the, you know, the kinds of the, the, whatever, the email sequence, that's going to have people falling over to give you money. But this is what real business is. And there's a lot of non-glamorous and a lot of stuff that goes into building a successful business. And you know, it can't be, it can't be all winning awards. And, um, out of, out of gallon lights.
Angie Colee (31:44):
I know I laughed so hard. Well, cause you know that I'm on this, uh, this digital nomad journey for at least a couple of years. And I keep, I get, I get a lot of people that are like, Hey, share more of your adventures. And I'm like the adventures that I'm having, I'm sharing the rest of the time I'm working because somebody has to pay for this trip. And like, I mean, if y'all keep bugging me for photos, I'm going to start doing like, Hey, snap of myself doing the dishes, hashtag digital nomad live. Somebody's still got to wash the dishes. Like there's some unglamorous parts to this, even as I'm going out and having fun and seeing new places and eating all of the food, like that's just life. There's some unglamorous pieces of it that's business too well. And I liked what you said about, you know, just this anxiety that some people have about. Is that an honest day's work. If I kind of rubber stamp this, if you save yourself steps, absolutely. Like guys, big manufacturers, design entire machines to be able to like create parts very quickly versus having someone carve it out by hand. Anything that you can systematize helps you go faster, pulls you out of the day-to-day grind of the business and lets you look at the big picture. It's good stuff.
Micheal O'Neill (32:55):
And I think it's another common misconception, especially in the freelance world or in the service world where, you know, people are paid for time and are sorry where people think that they should be paid by time. No you have to break that link. You're not paid by time. You're paid by your results. So what results are you going to get? And I don't care. Like, you know, if, if, if, if I'm hiring you Angie to do something for me, like, I don't care if it took you 10 hours or a hundred hours, all I care about is what are the end results for me? And what do I get in my business? And you know, a lot of people struggle with this because the hourly rates are, you know, the known prices are the yardstick, which a lot of people judge, you know, kind of the, the inputs and outputs. But you know, I think it's a lot of it is a mindset for the individual business owner as well to get into, no, that's not how I run my business. I run my business based on the value that's provided.
Angie Colee (33:54):
Absolutely like one of my favorite stories to tell on that score was this time I wrote three emails that did ultimately $8.4 million in sales. And they were not fancy emails. They were not long form emails that took me months to write. Like I would say all told it was under 500 words for all three emails combined. The first one started with a very, uh, very bad dad joke, but I loved it. It was like it was a re-engagement series. So it was people that were subscribed to this list that hadn't opened emails in like six months. And we sent them this re-engagement campaign to try and get them to shop more in the stores. This is when I worked for a big retailer. Uh, and the first I hope you laugh as hard as, as I am like the setup that I'm building to the first email starts with this joke of, we miss you like a power tool misses a battery. Can we reconnect? Just a stupid joke with a coupon offer to go shop in the store? And all of the rest of the emails continued that way. They're short, they're sweet. They're to the point, come back to the store. We miss you and tracking them through their loyalty accounts when they redeem this coupon $8.4 million in sales.
Micheal O'Neill (34:57):
And I hope you were being paid on percentage of revenue generated maybe five, 7% maybe
Angie Colee (35:03):
Fuck no, I was an employee. So of course like they, they took their money and then they yelled at me for having the audacity to bring them money because I didn't get it approved first. I just brought them money. But that just goes to show you how sometimes corporates can get mired down in ego and it's better to be on your own. But like when I tell people that story, especially the freelancers that I coach, I work with a lot of writers and they're like, well, but you know, isn't it too expensive to charge like $500 an email, a thousand dollars an email. I tell them that story. And then I'm like, okay, how would, how much would you pay for an $8.4 million email sequence? Because I'm sure not charging like $200 for each of those three emails, just because they were short, they weren't. Value like, oh my God.
Micheal O'Neill (35:46):
No, it it's looking at it. And it's, it's so high. And I suppose the, the one thing, I suppose, the one thing that people need to yet need to balance out, it's literally what is that value? Because, you know, I do see the other side as well. And I see people who are probably not qualified who can not get the results and they just say, you know what? Um, and, and here here's a crazy thing. Like I went, I did an event with a very well-known, um, trainer on public speaking. So flew over to, I can't remember if it was Florida or somewhere like that. And we were going and there was, you know, a whole sections on delivery, everything else. And then it was the business of speaking. And this guy, literally, he just came straight out and said, and he said it. You know what I mean? Just like in the, in the speaking industry, there's different levels. So it could be like a $2000 keynote speaker or a $5,000 or a $9,000, $20,000 amazing people up in increments of like five. And this guy who was saying, you know, the biggest, the best way to increase your speaking rates is just double it. And you double it. And the next person that comes to you instead of saying $10,000, and you say $20,000, not alone, are you a lot of people think, well, there's no way anybody's going to hire me with $20,000. Actually, if you get the right people that are more likely to hire you at $20,000, they are $10,000 because they see what I will get 20,000 worth of value. Now, those sorts of clients are unusual to come by. And, but I do think that, you know, you just, you do need to add value. Okay. What is the level of value I can deliver? And then, you know, I mean, you do, you do want to have it fair and balanced, but you don't want it all falling back on you where you're shouldering the burden of doing the work and not getting paid. What is, um, what is justified for you to be paid?
Angie Colee (37:34):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you said something important that I want to unpack for people too, which was just to, especially, I mean, this applies to freelancing. This applies to any business. If you set a price out there and someone accepts it to challenge yourself next time to double that, or at least raise the price and see what happens, treat it like an experiment where you're just testing the price out to see where your floor is. And the cool thing is, is once you say I'm a $20,000 speaker and someone pays you $20,000 to do a speech, what's the likelihood that you're going to go back to charging people five grand, 10 grand, not likely once you make that one sale at that new price, you're going to, it's going to change your perspective. Something's going to click and you're going to be like, okay, I need to find more people like this. It's amazing
Micheal O'Neill (38:20):
If you're not told on a regular basis that you're too expensive, you're too cheap. Yeah. And that's, that's, that's, that's the, that's the, the fact of it. And you know what it is, it's a, it's an unfortunate trap that, you know, I think especially freelancers get, get into it. Like I haven't, you know, we'll have him work with so many entrepreneurs. You definitely do start to see I'm probably the creatives are the ones which are most likely to fall into that trap, you know, around products and around stuff like that. It doesn't because it's very justifiable. I've got like X impulse, why it costs me this much to get in there's X number of costs. You know, with a product business you're basically operating on percentages, but it, it does. It's such, such a hard and delicate balance for people in creative industries where there's no real benchmark. And sometimes there's not even, you know, it was great that you could see the direct outputs of a campaign sometimes that doesn't always happen like that.
Angie Colee (39:16):
Yeah. That's true. Or you don't know exactly what, like there's, uh, there's a whole bunch of other things that went into that email campaign. It, wasn't just my stupid dad joke about, uh, power tools and batteries. Um, but you know, like the list of people that we sent that to had to be right, the offer had to be right. It had to go out at the right time to reach them. They had to open the email, like a whole lot of other things had to happen to make that successful. So success never happens in a vacuum. And I think that's kind of a great thing to point out in terms of, you know, these, these creative campaigns, but in interestingly enough, with, so like my mom is a baker for instance. And when she was struggling to set her prices with her rum cakes and she sells these little, of course they can't see me, but me talking say they're like four inch diameter, little mini Bundt cakes, rum cakes soaked in rum.
Micheal O'Neill (40:05):
I absolutely love that podcast. And guys, if you've not listened to this yet, please go back. Was it podcast number three or four?
Angie Colee (40:12):
It's number two I think.
Micheal O'Neill (40:13):
Go back to podcast number two and listen to that. It's just the sweetest, most wholesome podcast you can imagine.
Angie Colee (40:20):
I had to drag her onto the podcast and then she did such a good job. Oh my God. It was amazing. I mean, she does like 12 different flavors of, of rum cakes and she rotates them out seasonally. And when she was struggling with setting her price, I asked her, well, how much do you want to make? And that wasn't something that she knew an answer to. Like she had never actually thought about how much do I want to make? And I said, okay, well, the cool thing about what you do is that since so few other people can do it the way that you do it, the people that love you are going to love you. And so you get to decide, okay, I think I want to charge $7 a rum cake and then really work on making sure that that is a $7 rum cake that people are going to love versus having to set your prices to what you think the market will bear, which is, I think the trap that a lot of creatives get stuck in
Micheal O'Neill (41:10):
And you, you know, it, this, this is, this is a really interesting point and just extending this. I really, I spotted that the were, you know, kind of really three traits that separate successful entrepreneurs from the ones that either just make it by are like, I would have seen so many people coming through. I literally would have had stats year after year, who starts a business who didn't start a business. And it nearly came down to, like I could tell by the questions they asked at the very start of the course, whether they were likely to go and be, you know, end up starting a business and that business. But the positioning of that I think is quite important because people take the first thing that I see is, you know, you have to connect your business to something bigger than yourself. And by that is, most people think, oh, well, I need to go out. And I need to, you know, when we do, we think we're motivated by money and we think we're motivated by so many things that we're not actually motivated by the paper that I've seen are the ones who link what they do to service our, the product that they provide either a, to the transformation that they get their clients. So you wanted, your mom wanted to be that, to be the best rum cake, you know, imaginable. And, and I think if you, you know, if when we go back to and look at like from an evolutionary psychology perspective, we grew up as pack animals where the community, why we basically, how we evolved or that the, the, the Intercommunity help, um, and people helping each other to go along with what, so we're hard wired to do that, to work for the greater good, rather than individual gains basis. You know, that's where the whole theory of reciprocity and social exchange all kinds of come from. Um, so I think, you know, for people who really link what they do to some sort of benefit, now you have other people who are mission-driven. So that's whereby they literally, they're building their business to, you know, for charity, but it's definitely one of the, one of the huge, huge things. And it's so, um, it's, it's subtle distinction where if you're working for your client, and if you, what motivates you is the transformation that your client is going to get. It completely changes your focus rather than am I just filling my own bank account and I might just go on. So I think that that's an absolute, massive, massive point.
Angie Colee (43:31):
Absolutely. And, you know, value and transformation absolutely can be subjective. So like another thing that the listeners can't see is that behind me, there's a very big plaque made on a slice of wood that says fresh out of fucks. And it's got, it's a beautiful little hand painted script and it's got purple flowers and stuff like that. And I think I paid like 80 bucks for that from, uh, an artisan at a local market. But, and she had smaller little that were like three inches square, but this one is like a foot in diameter. It's pretty large. And I saw that and it spoke to me. I loved the colors. I love the message. It ties into my identity. I feel like it represents myself. And that's the value that I get out of that. So I bought that thing. Are there people out there that would never pay 80 bucks for a sign that says fresh out of fucks? Absolutely. They, they think that I am stupid. I think that that's fantastic. And in the past two weeks that I've had that sitting up behind me on my video calls, it's like the thing that everybody wants to talk about. So I've gotten my $80 worth of value. And then some, just from the smile, like you're sitting here grinning, I'm just hyping this sign.
Micheal O'Neill (44:41):
It is the most Angie sign I have ever seen.
Angie Colee (44:48):
I have to remember on certain client calls to be kind of like with my head blocking it. Cause they're like, I don't know how cool they are with the word fucks, but most people understand that this is who I am. And that's why they like working with me the value they get out of me as my personality and the connection and the results that I deliver for them. So like value doesn't necessarily have to be money to tie it back to something you said earlier that, you know, there's more to life in business than just money. There's that identity, making someone feel seen and heard helping someone through a problem. There's lots of different ways to deliver value to someone.
Micheal O'Neill (45:23):
Yeah. And there's, there's lots of different ways to measure your impact. So no matter what, it'll always come, that revenue is one of the best metrics to judge the impact that you will have, never in your business should your measure of your success be tied solely to financial outputs. You need to, you need to look at, you know, the impact that you are having. And you know, this is one of, this is really one of the reasons where I fell in love with, you know, online, you know, information products, memberships, because seeing the impact that people can have, you know, which ordinarily would have been reserved for like, you know, these, you know, corporate, large corporations and, and training companies, but for people now to be able to take a simple concept, go out. And the way I describe it is, you know, a lot of people think, you know, what do I need to do to make the world better? Well, that's not really a very good question because you can't ultimately, you know, make the, like, like the overall world be a better place. If there's some exceptional people who probably have gone that far to like some Mother Theresa, you know, Martin Luther King. That's not going to be everybody, but you can make your corner of the world a better place. And I think in business, one of the ways that you want to look at it is what is my corner of the world and how can I make that the very coolest place possible for the people who co-habit with me. And that's where I really see. So I've, you know, I've had consultancy and training businesses. One-on-one, I've had, you know, I've been involved in product businesses in software businesses. It's really the, the online businesses give you the ability to create that community. And to really, really, it was really in there where I saw what that is. And you know, what it's funny in, in, in, in everything that I do, I think impact is, is huge. And I think if we have a responsibility, you know, we so far too often, I hear people who sit back and kind of complain and moan about all the government's not doing this or the large corporations aren't doing this. No. How, how are you look on it is no we're responsible. We are responsible to go out and we need to first meet our meet needs. We need to first meet, you know, our revenue potential and, and get it sort of work on if you want to go back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Yeah, absolutely. Go and look at that, you know, whatever, whatever way you want to classify it. But once you do that your responsibility to grow your, to grow your business is to be, to help others, whether it's create employment in your community, whether it's to give money directly to your community. I know one thing that I do is really, really cool company based in Singapore and where they leverage so that for every service or product that somebody buys you. They basically have a platform you can go in and pick different projects. So these aren't big charities like UNICEF, and these are small community where, you know, in Nigeria and they're all fully vetted and you pay a membership to the organization, but literally for everybody works, I go and and say, okay, well, a family in Ethiopia will get like clean water for a year and they can, they can deliver that. And that's, you know, kind of, I, I think that was what I was trying to, trying to get to earlier when you connect the business and your needs to, you know, grow and, and, and, and, and have that bigger reach, if you connect that to actually doing good in the world, I think then your motivation changes completely. And your outlook on business changes completely.
Angie Colee (48:54):
And the fear has a way of taking a back seat when it's about the bigger mission and the people that you can help versus what will they think of me? Like, that's two different approaches and attitudes. And one of the first one is going to set you up for success. The second one is going to keep you playing small and scared.
Micheal O'Neill (49:09):
Yeah. When you are, you know, when one way of putting it is when you are in service, when you are focused, not on yourself, when you are not focused on sitting there all well, if I put my head up, will I, you know, will I, will I get laughed at if, if I expose my insecurities or, you know, the challenges that, that, that I've gone through, like will people look down on me or if you flip that mindset to know there are people out there who I can help, and I'm going to go out there and help those people. And suddenly you don't think about your all those little things that are kind of contributing to, to hold you back. So it's the way I look at it. When you are being of service fear disappears.
Angie Colee (49:52):
Oh, Oh man. That's such a perfect note to end on. So Michael this has been a fantastic episode. I think we need to have a follow-up man, cause like I could keep going for another two hours. I have to shut it down now. So tell us where we can find out more information about you if people want to work with you.
Micheal O'Neill (50:09):
Yep. So it's michaeoneill.com. We'll keep it simple. So that's M I C H E A L O N E I L L.com and boy absolutely Angie, you know, before, before, before we, we, we kind of came on the podcast, obviously. No, I don't like showing up to things, whatever the better. So I jotted down a few notes of some points that I could possibly talk to Angie. We haven't hit the first one yet. So by all means we've plenty, plenty to talk to. Um, and it's been an absolute joy and a pleasure. Um, as I said at the start, um, what you, what you're doing matters, um, and just thank you for being you and just you're awesome. So go get 'em and thank you everybody for listening and hopefully I get to chat to you again soon.
Angie Colee (50:58):
Oh, thank you so much for that, mate. We're going to talk again soon, man.
Angie Colee (51:06):
So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to permissiontokickass.com. That is all one word together, permissiontokickass.com. Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.