On this episode Josh speaks with Steve Nixon from StrategySamurai.com and FreeJazzLessons.com. They talk about some tips in hiring and Steve shares how this successful FreeJazzLessons.com site came about.
Steve Nixon has sold over 30,000 products and growing daily. He achieved financial independence in 2018 and many people have asked him how he did it.
So, he is sharing everything he learned to get to where he is today.
His mission to share with you what it REALLY takes to build a wildly pro table business with real customers, big pro ts, real fans. Steve is going to show you how to do it while living life on your own terms.
In today’s episode you will learn about:
- How to run a successful business with virtual assistants
- How to hire for unique abilities
- Мarketing automation
- How to build a high margin info products business
Narrator: Welcome to “Cracking the Cash Flow Code”, where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when an emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you’ll have a sale ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and we’re with Steve Nixon. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Today, we’re going to offer talking. Steve has two businesses. One is freejazzlessons.com. We kind of want to figure out how you make money with free jazz lessons, but we’ll get into that later and strategysamurai.com. I assume that’s on business strategy, but we’ll also find that out too. But when I bring Steve, I want to start talking off about the wonderful world of virtual assistance. We are recording this in the middle of the Coronavirus so that’s probably a good topic to start with. Let’s bring Steve on.
Hey, Steve, how are you today?
Steve: Josh, doing great. Thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here.
Josh: My pleasure. Great having you here today. Let’s start with the wonderful world of virtual assistants. Obviously, you’re running your business that way you said you have to US based ones. I’m assuming the other two are not US based.
Steve: Correct. Yeah, exactly.
Josh: Many people I talk with especially in the blue collar world, so why can’t use virtual assistants? I need hands on. That’s actually not true. There’s an awful lot of jobs that all businesses have that really don’t need to have somebody sitting next door to you. When you start doing this and you started hiring people to work with you remotely. What was the biggest challenge that you came across when you started?
Steve: Well, that’s a great question and really good place to start with. There was a lot of challenges to be honest with you. The first thing was, how do I leverage this person’s time? How do I make sure that they’re doing a good job? What are my expectations have done? How do I know that I can trust them? I wouldn’t say that I’m the most natural, amazing manager in the world, right?
Josh: By the way, there is no such thing as a natural manager. It doesn’t exist.
Steve: Exactly. So how do I communicate well to make sure that we have a team camaraderie going on? We’re moving in the same direction? How do I make sure that the money that I’m investing is actually being allocated to the right place even to begin with and I’m actually having more on the right projects to begin with? What it started with, and I and I got this from a great business coach that I was working with.
We talked about writing down everything we do over the course of a couple weeks just jotting down everything we’re doing over the course of a couple weeks when it comes to business, but even checking email, or checking a text message from a client. Anything at all and then categorizing what we call A time, B time, C time and D time.
A time are your big money generators. They’re either making massive cash flow for you right now, or they’re huge leverageable activities they’re going to be something that could be really big wins in the future. B time are like, we’re servicing a client and want to make sure this client is going to be happy continuous cash flow. C time is a little bit more maintenance and D time is what we call delegate or delete entirely.
So what we started doing is when we had this all written out, as we said, “Okay, how can we delegate delete the D time? C time, how can we make sure we have systems in place so that we’re really giving this to our VA so that they can succeed with it and even going as far as what can we do move from E time to have our VAs to be able to take care of that. It required a lot of planning, a lot of thought, but business is a game of intellectual sport. This is where everything starts from begin with.
Josh: When you hire your first virtual assistant, did it go well?
Steve: Oh, man, I love that question. No, everybody screws up their first hire, right? What do they say? You got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find prince charming. Well, no, actually hired two or three and first one was horrible second one was okay. They had some internet connection issues. There was a lot of excuses and just communication issues in general.
Third one got better, but I would consider more of a B minus player and then boom that fourth one was one that really was successful. They’re still with us today. Honestly, I know this probably is what people want to hear, but making those mistakes helped me identify that fourth first.
Josh: Well, the truth is, we all make mistakes and we need to stop beating ourselves up when we do. We need to ask ourselves a key question which is, what did I learn?
Steve: So true. I love the way you put that. Yeah, exactly.
Josh: The truth is, without a good hiring system, you’re only going to get it right 25% of the time anyhow.
Steve: No truer words have ever been spoken. Even still, I’m still dialing in my hiring system just the everyday as I’m learning. I have a lot of weaknesses as an entrepreneur. I have strengths as well. So just figuring out who’s going to work best with me as well. It’s always this learning process.
Josh: Yeah, one of the challenges you’re going to have and I can’t resist doing this because I always do it. But one of the challenges you’re going to have is the people you really need to hire are going to have opposite skills from you.
You’re going to find them very challenging to work with, unless you learn to respect them as people and their skill set and what it brings to the party. You never want to hire a bunch of clones who are you because then you just created all those weaknesses aren’t being addressed.
Steve: Correct. I agree with what that for sure. Absolutely.
Josh: One of the things I like to see people do is have a simple hiring system in place which is values based. One of the other challenges I see businesses have when they’re first trying to hire people is they’ll hire based on skill, but not based on values. When you hire based on skill, there’s a very good chance you’re going to hire what I call brilliant jerk.
Steve: I can’t wait here you’re going to go with this one.
Josh: What a brilliant jerk is a brilliant jerk is somebody who is really, really confident at what they do, but they’re impossible to get along with and they destroy everything around them. You spend more time fixing bruised egos, and people are mad. They get in your way all the time. Instead of you spending almost no time, because they’re really, really, really confident, you’re spending way more time with your worst employee because you’re trying to manage relationships all the time.
Steve: I completely agree. There’s an EQ aspect to it as well, emotional of just being able to, how’s their communication skills? How do they handle conflict? One of the things and I probably shouldn’t say this, but Heck, you know what, I’m going to keep one of my interview secrets here, Josh to your audience, right?
Josh: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Steve: There’s a wonderful, wonderful book that actually—we use our framework for hiring with. We’re still dialing it in terms of our own categorization, but it was a great templating system. It’s called who. I’m sure you’ve heard of that book before, right?
Josh: What’s it called?
Josh: Nope, no.
Steve: Okay, well check it out. We can talk more about it, but it basically gives the system for hiring and starts with the high level of what exactly looking for, who is the ideal candidate? What are the outcomes you want from an emotional standpoint, but also from a workflow standpoint? Where do you want them to be? Then again it has a whole rating system and also whole interview system. We use that as the framework for how we handle most of our interviewing and hiring, but you always have to personalize things.
You can’t just do everything exactly as it is because it’s your personal business. You’re dealing with individuals here, but one of the things that we do is, we’ll test out over the course of an interview to— we’ll criticize a candidate and we’ll tell them they made a mistake just over something small. We want to see how they react to that. If they get hyper defensive, or they don’t handle it emotionally well, they’re not going to last with us.
It doesn’t matter how great they are at that particular skill. That’s to quote what you said earlier, that’s a values thing that we’re not going to be aligned with. Because, again, quoting you from earlier, Josh, we all make mistakes. They’re just learning opportunities. People are so defensive. It’s going to take a long time, a lot of heartache to quote you out of that.
Josh: It really takes less time than you think. Believe it or not, I mean, my experience is the first four or five times you don’t get upset at somebody when they make a mistake. They’re going to wonder what’s wrong. They’re going to wait for the other shoe to drop, but if one of your core values in your company is personal responsibility which it is with mine, I actually just did a video on saying I think it needs to be for all companies because you can’t run a company without it is that when people are being personally responsible, and they’re rewarded for that then magnifying or telling you about their mistakes becomes something they do because now you’re on their team to help them solve the problem.
Instead of saying what did you do wrong? The question that’s a right question, in my opinion is, what system can we look at that needs to be adjusted that’s going to make it easier for you to do your job the next time you have to do this?
Steve: I like that and that creates a safe space. Then it becomes it’s not a problem with you. It’s a problem with the system itself. I like that. That’s a really good strategy.
Josh: One of the things I always like to see with people is the turn the org chart upside down, where in other words, although somebody might be working for me, it’s my job to make their job easier. If I can do that, I’ve been a really successful manager because if I can make your job easier, which is always developing a better system then you’re going to do your job faster, more efficiently, and our company becomes more profitable. This is not rocket science. This is really pretty simple stuff that everybody needs to be paying some attention to, at least in my opinion.
Steve: I agree. I agree. I like the way you look at it. There’s this concept that a lot of people subscribe to is servant based leadership.
Josh: It’s called servant leadership. Robert Greenwood actually developed that and it was really sort of first put into the faith based communities. That’s where it was first introduced.
Josh: It’s now expanded past that my job as a manager is to serve you as an employee with the understanding that my employees are only going to treat my customers as well as I treat them.
Steve: Right, right.
Josh: Here’s a trick question. I always ask people at seminars when I’m doing some teaching, I said, “Who’s more important, your customers or your employees?”
Steve: Well, you’re putting it into a binary. It’s not a binary isn’t either or. They’re both important. They’re the same thing, both on the same string.
Josh: So I will ask you that question, who’s more important, your employees or your customers?
Steve: That’s a question you got to pay attention to both. Again, it’s not an either or it’s both—
Josh: They are both important. Who do you have to pay more attention to, to have a successful company?
Steve: My philosophy is that if you are constantly taking care of people and doing right by people and that’s your mission especially from the marketing perspective, all the way through a funnel, but also just purely on it. Treating people right. The golden rule that should be in all aspects of your business internally and externally as well.
Josh: Absolutely, but here’s my experience. If I treat my employees well, they’re going to go out of their way to make my customers feel incredibly valued. I have to work a lot less hard keeping my customers happy if I work hard to keep my employees happy.
Steve: I like it. I like it.
Josh: Of course it is a chicken in the egg and the answer is both, but if I was to say, who’s the chicken and who’s the egg? Well, the chicken is my employees and the egg is my customers.
Steve: Right? Right.
Josh: You have to lay an egg first and then—
Steve: I like that. It’s a good metaphor.
Josh: By the way, there’s a book which was written probably close to 40 years ago by again Robert Half which is Robert Half International. In there his method of hiring is called Robert Half on Hiring. I don’t know if it’s even in print anymore, but it is the blueprint I’ve been using for hiring people for 40 years. Before we started using it, we would have a 35% success rate for hiring. After we started using, we had the discipline to actually stay with it. We got up to an 85% success rate with hiring.
Steve: Not bad, not bad at all. 85 is industry leading.
Josh: We were really good because we became very clear about our values and our clarifying statements around our values and what made us unique as a company. We were interviewing for values more than we were for technical skills.
Steve: I like that. Yeah, that’s cool. I have to check that book out.
Josh: Technical skill is the entry level. You have to be able to do the technical stuff to work with us, but I don’t care if your technical skills are the best in the world. If you don’t get 8, 9, 10 on values across the board, I can’t hire you.
Steve: Right? Exactly.
Josh: Because you’re going to destroy the company or you’re going to make my life miserable which is like destroying the company in my opinion. Tell me about your jazz site. I’m a music guy and I love music. What is free jazz lessons actually do?
Steve: Yeah, great question. We serve jazz piano students who want to learn expert level jazz piano in the comfort of their own home. We have customers and students all over the world. We actually have been monetized for over a decade now. We have all kinds of different coaching programs and home study programs and different aspects of this art form from blues to improvisation, licks, learning how to play cocktail piano. How do you do a performance, gigs, how can you just impress your friends at home, shindig party you’re having.
Josh: Right, right.
Steve: You ask the question. How do you make money? Well, we have a lot of paid programs, and many people choose our papers, but we also have a ton of free content. Nowadays, a lot of people know, you should put out some free content for people, maybe you can attract people in but we’ve been doing that for 12 years already. We have a ton of ton of ton free content out there on different topics. If people want more, they can invest in our more detailed home study programs to be able to do that, but once or twice a week, we’ll put out a new blog post with helpful tips 100% free for the audience.
Josh: So 12 years ago, nobody was doing online businesses. How did you decide to take your business online?
Steve: You want the off the record story or the in the records story?
Josh: I always like off the record.
Steve: Alright, let’s do the off record since nobody’s actually listening to us. Nobody will ever hear this. It’s like we’re recording this out on the internet here.
Josh: No, we’re not recording everything.
Steve: Exactly, no, all jokes aside here.
Josh: As long as it’s not blue language. I’m fine.
Steve: I’ll keep it PC.
Steve: So I have a touring musician for a lot of years. I played with some fairly well known people that show your audiences for tours and gigs with B.B. King and Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland and Grammy Award winners.
Steve: I’d really nice successful performance career. I did really well with that, but I was getting a little hard to travel. What I remember my vision as a childhood wasn’t to bust my hump making $65,000 a year. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because there’s a lot of nobility and hard work. I still am a huge believer and working hard, but it only had me one day when I had to go to the doctor and he saw me for 15 minutes. He charged me what I made per week.
I said you know what, something’s not right here. I work just as hard my craft as this guy. He deserves it. He’s saving lives. I understand I’m out there performing and offer a different services society, but I just said, “I’m tired of touring. Obviously I’m in the wrong financial system right here. How can I fix this?” I was off on a gig in. We had a couple days off in Vegas and I pull up to a friend’s place who I’d been friends with earlier. We pulled up. I hadn’t seen in a few years. We basically pulled to a mansion. I was very surprised that that is, “How do you do this?” He says, “Well, I kind of learned this internet marketing thing.”
He was selling like financial lead generation stuff at this point. I learned how to do some copywriting and do some lead generation type stuff. I said, “Man, can you teach me how to do this but teach me how to do this with music because this is my gift. This is how I want to serve people.” He said, “Yeah, okay.” So we put together this really basic in about an hour, first version of freejazzlessons.com.
Pulled up a lead generation form through three or four videos each fill in some blanks and some chords. Put on a WordPress page, slapped it up on YouTube, and didn’t touch it again for about two months. I look back we had several YouTube subscribers and several people sign up for the emails. I said yeah right probably spam. This isn’t real people.
Because I mean, who is people sign up for their email list one of their just put something together an hour and a half. I said, “You know what, let me just throw another couple of videos out there.” So put another couple videos and all of a sudden we get 20 more email subscribers. I think it’s going on here. Then I started emailing back and forth with some of these people who were asking me questions and they’re real people. This is real.
Now, I got excited because I’m tired truly now and I started putting out more and more free content for a whole year. Did not monetize for a year and we built the email list up to 1,500 2,000 people. We launched the very first product. It sold out the first hour. Okay, sold out the absolute first hour. I said, “Uh huh. I think we got something here.” Fast forward to today, we have launched dozens of products. We have huge coaching programs. We are now one of the largest, if not the largest jazz piano education website in the world.
Josh: That’s very good. That’s very cool.
Steve: There’s no way I thought that, “Hey, let me just throw a couple licks up on YouTube.” It was going to turn into something like this, but once it took off, I just loved it. Loved it. Loved, loved, loved, it was literally the answer to my prayers.
Josh: I have to ask you who taught you how to do this? Who’s that person in Las Vegas?
Steve: His name is Joe Lilly.
Josh: Don’t know his name. He’s still doing it?
Steve: This is the interesting thing about him. Joe’s definitely an under the radar type guy. He works still in some ways in the financial lead gen space. He’s in, I don’t want to talk too much about Joe because he’s not putting himself out there as a guru or as a marketing entrepreneur, should you be able to find us through our Facebook or LinkedIn. We’re together there, but yeah, he explained the model to me. He is genius.
Josh: Cool. You know, unfortunately, Steve, we’re out of time. You’re a really interesting guy. You’re doing some really interesting things. I think and probably have you back in about six months or so. So we’ll do we’ll go into some other area on what you’re doing on your other business, which is how to do this stuff. I assume that’s what Strategy Samurai is all about.
Steve: I’ll just give the 15 second spiel on that just so people understand what it is. Once I started kind of getting some fame in terms of like building these seven figure funnels, things like that really interested this niche market this jazz piano space. I started getting featured on these marketing podcasts, things like you know Smart Passive Income and Entrepreneur on Fire.
I started consulting all these different entrepreneurs. That’s how we created strategysamurai.com. That’s the story that is like a lot to talk about as far as that goes as well, but I will respect our audience’s time right now.
Josh: Okay, cool. Hey, Steve, if somebody wanted to find you, or find out more about what you’re doing, how would they go about doing that?
Steve: Yeah, visit us at freejazzlessons.com. Get on the email list. You’re just going to start getting tons and tons of free content. We’ve been doing this for years. We’re pretty dialed in in terms of how to help people go from super newbie to like playing songs right away so they can get on the email list there.
If they need help with their marketing and their entrepreneurship chops, they want to see basically how I was able to build that business free jazz lessons as successful it is, check out strategysamurai.com. There’s a contact form at strategysamurai.com. Love to contribute and help your audience in any way that I can.
Josh: Because we were talking about hiring today, I want to make an offer for an eBook I wrote quite a while ago. It’s called Hiring for Unique Abilities. It absolutely describes exactly what we talked about, what our process is to hire people. We went from 35% to 85% success rate in hiring.
There’s a big orange button. There’s a call to action below this video on sustainablebusiness.co so when we go live, if you go to sustainablebusiness.co and you check out this podcast episode, you’re going to see a button below the podcasts window that says, “Get our free eBook“. Click on it. Get it, read it, download it. Let me know what you think. This is Josh Patrick. We’re with Steve Nixon. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to the “Cracking the Cash Flow Code” where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”
If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102. Or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co. Or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.