It seems that everywhere you turn folks are taking their ideas causes and even businesses to the internet. Places that were “brick and mortar” kind of places just a few years ago have learned that their dog grooming accessories, cupcakes, children’s clothing and whole variety of things can also be sold on line. This foray into the internet gives them a new classification of a “Semi-local business.” Conducting some aspects of their business in their geographic local area and some percentage elsewhere.
Speaking as someone yet to launch their internet business (this is foreshadowing, more on this to come soon!) I am intrigued about what makes these Semi-Local businesses tick. It turns out I am not alone. My new friend and successful Semi-local entrepreneur Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing has decided to investigate this very phenomena with a survey. But before we get to that how about I introduce you to Danny.
I met Danny as a participant of Corbet Barr’s Traffic School training program. Traffic School is a place where bloggers learn about how to bring traffic to their blog. Since I started the course I’ve personally seen a 50% increase in traffic to my blog, and I’m not even done yet! Anyway, Danny is an alumni of the program and all the way along he has been very generous with his time and talents to help Bliss Habits become a better blog.
He was just so darn great and then I wandered over to his Firepole Marketing blog and learned: Danny Iny has been an entrepreneur for longer than his entire adult life. He quit school when he was fifteen to start his first business, and has been doing it ever since. He’s a published author, has his MBA, ran a marathon, starts successful businesses, works with corporate giants etc. AND returns all his emails within 24 hours. This man is amazing.
So, when Danny asked if I could spread the word about his fascinating survey, of course I said yes and thought it would be most interesting if we all got know him a bit better and possibly even learn a thing or two about entrepreneurship! SO here we go with the first ever Bliss Habit’s interview!
Danny, what three things would you like my readers to know about you?
Hmmm… well, I’m pretty transparent about who I am on my website and elsewhere on the internet; I’ve written about my wedding, honeymoon, the highlights of my year, and even about the disintegration of my start-up that left me with a quarter million dollars of debt a couple of years ago…. so maybe some things that are a little more personal?
1. It took me the first *decade* of my career as an entrepreneur to get over “impostor syndrome”, where you feel like it’s just a matter of time before someone catches on that you don’t know what you’re doing (but to be fair, for the first few years I really didn’t know what I was doing…).
2. I’m a lot more sensitive than people probably think – arguments stay with me for a much longer time than I’d like, and make it difficult for me to focus on whatever work I’m supposed to be doing.
3. I’m a friendly guy, and really like talking to people. If whoever reads this likes what they hear, wants to pick my brain, or thinks I might be able to help them with something, I’d love for them to shoot me an email.
You are a life long entrepreneur but for some that first step towards working for your self can be scary. What advice do you wish you had before getting started that may encourage some one in this situation? And/or What piece(s) of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
That’s a hard question for me to answer – as you said, I’ve been a life-long entrepreneur, starting when I quit school at 15. I decided to start my own business, but I saw it more as a project than as a career, and didn’t realize that “entrepreneurship” is a thing until much later. I did an awful lot of learning as I went, and the only piece of advice that I would have benefited from was advice that I probably wouldn’t have listened to, which is to be very, very careful with other people’s money. It’s the sort of advice that you just can’t really understand until it’s (hopefully almost, but not quite) too late.
In terms of advice for people starting out, though, I’ve got a lot to say. At the top of the list is to recognize that you’re entering a very high-risk field, and you should expect most of the things that you attempt not to work out. This isn’t meant to be discouraging – you’re going to try a lot of things, and some of them *will* work out. Just don’t get too hung up on the things that don’t work – learn your lessons as fast as you can, and push through to the next iteration.
The other important piece of advice that I would offer is to find people that you trust and respect, and ask them for help and guidance. It’s a lot cheaper, and a lot less painful, to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others than from your own.
What is an average workday like for you?
There’s a lot of variability in this, but usually something like this:
I get up in the morning, take a quick shower, and go through my emails while my wife does the same. Then I’ll take a break, have tea with her, and either walk her to the metro, or go to the gym for a quick workout. When I get back, do some quick cleaning (take out the trash, wash the dishes, etc.), make myself another cup of tea, and sit down to answer my emails – I try to clear my inbox of pending items before doing other things (which is what I’m doing right now).
Once that’s done (ideally by 9am, or 10am at the latest, but it stretches to 11am on bad/disorganized days), I’ll try to do a “chunk” of work; that could be writing a blog post, doing a chunk of correspondence work, or whatever – but basically that’s my prime productive time to make headway on at least one of my projects. I’ll push that plus other little details until I’m too hungry to keep going, grab some lunch (ideally while watching one of the podcasts or interviews that I’ve been waiting to get to), and get back to work in the afternoon. I’m most productive in the morning, so I try to save things that take less mental energy for the afternoon.
I’ll usually go until about 6 or 6:30, at which point my wife will usually get home, and I’ll try to disconnect from work (though I might get back to email or other things for 30-60 minutes later in the evening).
So that’s my typical day, but there are lots of variations; the days will usually be interrupted by meetings (usually over the phone these days), and interviews (which I’m doing more and more of), plus random errands that I have to run. Sometimes the day just gets away from me, which I don’t like – but I’m human, and it happens.
How has working for yourself helped you find your Bliss?
Well, it has given me the freedom to create the lifestyle that I want, while doing things that I enjoy and find meaningful. Not always – there have been stressful times, times when I didn’t know where next month’s rent was going to come from, and times when I had to take clients that I hated just to pay the bills. Every path has challenges, and this path is no different in that regard. But it’s different harder, in some ways, because if something doesn’t work out, then it’s all my responsibility, but also better, because when things work out, I can take a step back (when I remember to do it!) and say that “I made that happen”. It’s a very rewarding feeling – for me, at least.
If you were to start another business, what might it be?
I’m sure I will start another business at some point – I’ve started more than a dozen different businesses over my career, and I’m not that old yet! I don’t know exactly what it would be, but I would expect it to be in line with my strengths, passions, and values – so a business that creates real value for people, but empowering them to do things that they couldn’t do before. Hey, if you’re going to make lots of money, you might as well do it by making the world a better place, right?
Why did you decide to do this survey? What do you hope to accomplish with it?
Most people in the blogging world are looking to diversify their regular income – whether it’s with advertising revenue, or coaching work, or by creating a product, they want to become less dependent on their offline income. The trouble is that while there is a lot of anecdote and hearsay about what works, there isn’t a lot of hard data.
In other words, I could tell you what’s worked for me – but that probably won’t be very helpful, because we’re different people with different strengths, we’ve had different experiences, and we’re in different circumstances.
What you really need is some hard data about what seems to be working, across the board, and while there’s a lot of anecdote and hearsay, there isn’t much hard data about what results a large number of real people are seeing, and how long it’s taking them to get there.
We wanted to change all that, so we created the Semi-Local Business Survey.
The survey will ask you how much of your income is generated locally, how much is generated remotely, and how you came to be where you are today. Your answers are completely anonymous, and will be added to the answers of many others, so that we can see what the real trends in the industry are.
There’s no offer here, and nothing for sale – we just want to gather the data and share it with the community.
So please, take a few minutes and complete the survey!
YES! please take the survey. If you have a business or have even thought of starting one! I for one would love to see the results. As I mentioned, I’m getting ready to launch my own semi-local business and I know this type of information would be most valuable.
Also, if you have a business or are thinking about starting one, Danny’s Firepole Marketing site would be a great place to start!