Mark Thompson: Hello, welcome to today’s episode, I am joined here by Aidan Booth. Aidan is a full time internet entrepreneur. Started his first site over a decade ago, back in 2005, fast forward to today, he recently launched a program called 100k Factory, of which he sold over 5.5 million dollars in sales. He teaches people his system for how he goes about building an online business. Aidan has that rare ability to travel all over the world and he lives what many people call the internet lifestyle. Aidan, thank you so much for joining me today.
Aidan Booth: Hey, it’s a pleasure to be here, it’s always good to catch up with you.
Mark Thompson: Cool, well, let’s start from the beginning. If you could give me just a quick rundown of how you got started with building your online business?
Aidan Booth: Yeah, sure, so I think first I will tell you the why, because I think as important as the how, is the why. I met my girlfriend, who is now my wife, I met her about 13 years ago. It was during the ski season in Lake Tahoe in California. When the ski season finished she came back to Argentina, which is where I live these days, she is from Argentina. I went back to New Zealand because I had another one year of University left. So we were separated by about 10,000 miles. I wanted to come to Argentina but I didn’t speak Spanish, I didn’t have a work Visa to be able to live and work in Argentina, and it wouldn’t get me a job anyway because I couldn’t speak Spanish. The natural thing for me to look at was an online business.
The very first thing I did online was I started selling SD cards, camera memory cards. I would buy them from a wholesaler in Hong Kong on E bay, and then I would resell them on the New Zealand version of E bay. I didn’t make a huge amount of money coming in, but it was enough to ignite this kind of idea in my mind that something like that could work. I did that for a while, and then I showed up to Argentina, and I couldn’t really do that model anymore because it was hard to import things into Argentina, so I went back to the drawing board, investigated, learned about ad-sense sites and affiliate sites and just kind of through trial and error started making little by little money from them and then just kind of expanded from there.
Mark Thompson: Okay. Fast forward to today, are you still doing ad-sense sites, I know you’re still a product creator with 100k Factory. If you can just tell me about fast forwarding to today, what’s the distribution of the revenue that you generate for your online business?
Aidan Booth: Yeah, my online business is actually divided into about 4 or 5 different areas, and each area is kind of like a business by itself. For example the online training and online marketing sort of coaching space, that is what 100k Factory falls under. Then we’ve got some certain software which we develop and sell to small business, that’s a small business of it’s own. We’ve got another business which is about helping local businesses market on the web, that there is kind of a business on it’s own. Each of these businesses has it’s own structure in place with it’s own CEO, really just management, and they all kind of contribute fairly evenly. Another one of the big businesses that we focus on a lot, and I’m personally involved in this a lot is E-Commerce, selling physical goods online, not just on Amazon, but also on our own E-Commerce stores, so we do that, I mean we still do ad-sense, we still do affiliate marketing as well, so it’s a bit of a mixture but we’ve got 4 or 5 sort of main businesses.
Mark Thompson: Okay, so you’re doing a little bit of everything. Tell me how do you manage this, I mean do you have a physical office, do you have a virtual office? How does that work?
Aidan Booth: The way that we do it is, what we like to set up is for each business to have we call it a CEO, but it’s really just someone who wakes up every morning who is worried about what is happening in that particular business. Let me use E-Commerce as an example because that is one that is probably easy for people to understand. We have a CEO of E-Commerce, and they have every morning their one concern which is how is the E-Commerce business working? Are we advancing? Are we progressing along the plan? And what can be done to make sure that it happens? We try to hire people in key places and those people, those CEOs steer the ship, if you like. That means that I can be more removed or disconnected from certain business models. So we’ve got three or four different businesses that I’ve got absolutely no involvement in because my business partner oversees them and then each one has got a different CEO or someone steering the ship. I think that has helped us stay on top of things and be able to live this lifestyle.
As far as having an office, we don’t have an office, well we do have a few offices, but I have a business partner, Steven Clayton, and he is located in Key West, he works on his own down there. I am located in Argentina. I work on my own down here. We have a small office in China for five people, and we do a lot of product inspection and things like that there for our E-Commerce business, and then we’ve actually got two offices in Pakistan, believe it or not. It’s not one of the most typical places to outsource, but we’ve been doing it there for 5 or 6 years and we’ve got teams of developers and support staff, and we’ve even got an accountant over there as well. Yeah, it’s all pretty much run remotely at this point.
Mark Thompson: Interesting, yeah, I actually have a few developers in Pakistan. Most people don’t tend to look there but, that’s very interesting. You’re from New Zealand, you live in Argentina now, you have the ability to travel all over the world, I know you travel at least few months out of the year. I need to ask you because most entrepreneurs are control freaks and they want to have their hands on everything and for you it seems to be the complete opposite. It’s like “let me put together some sort of process and system in place and have someone manage it.”
Aidan Booth: Yeah.
Mark Thompson: You just manage the high level. I would assume when you were starting out as an entrepreneur you wanted to have a hand on everything. How did you get away from that?
Aidan Booth: I think it just became an necessity, and you’re absolutely right. For the first four or five years I would say when I was starting my online business and it was growing, I did have my hand in everything, but what inevitably happens is you end up running all over the place and propping everything up and kind of keeping everything afloat without making major strides forward in any one area. I think we were forced to get to the point where we were like “We need support in key areas if we really want to progress.” You can grow your business to maybe like 7 figures a year just by yourself, and you being involved in a lot of different things, but if you really want to go to 8 figures a year or more, than it’s pretty important that you do disconnect.
We create standard operating procedures in our business and anything that I don’t need to be doing myself I try not to do. It could be the smallest thing, like setting up a webinar for example, if I’m running an online training webinar, that’s something that I could do that myself in probably a few minutes, but that’s ten valuable minutes that’s gonna make me lose focus on something else. I can send an email in two seconds and I can have someone else set that up for me. That’s kind of a small example of how I have been able to overcome the micromanage way of doing business.
Mark Thompson: Yeah, How do you find that sweet spot? Knowing which things that you should handle personally and which things you should delegate out to your staff?
Aidan Booth: I think it evolves over time. When you are starting up your business, you’re obviously managing everything, and you might get to the point where you are doing ten or twenty thousand dollars per year, right? Not a huge amount, but enough to be able to hire a staff member or begin to outsource things at least. Then the first thing that I began outsourcing was content. Ten years ago I was building websites that had a lot of content on them, and that was just plain easy for me to outsource. As you progress and your business grows, those things do change, but I think what we’re doing now, like I mentioned we have a CEO who manages each of the different business and they identify what is needed to hit certain objectives, and we just fill in the gaps.
Mark Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Aidan Booth: The things I try to focus on and I would definitely recommend other people who are growing a business focus on is kind of the overall strategy. You want to be steering the ship towards a destination, but you don’t want to be running around the boat, pulling up the ropes. As a metaphor to explain that. I think every business is different, but if it’s possible to be outsourced, then you should do it, a huge thing that I had to overcome was thinking that I can do it better than someone else, so I should do it or the quality is going to slip. In reality, millions and millions of highly talented people out there who can do it as good as you or better than you and those are people that you want on your team.
Mark Thompson: Yeah, I remember when I first started out I would try to create a logo and I would spend maybe 8 to 10 hours sitting there trying to play with Photoshop which I knew nothing about when in actuality if I knew what I knew today then I could pay someone $30 and they could spend 20 to 30 minutes and they could create a nice logo for me and I wouldn’t have to sit there and rack my brain about it.
Aidan Booth: Yeah, another way to think about that, another little trick that you can do, because it is complicated at first. Let’s say that you earn $52,000 a year. So you’re earning $1000 per week in your business, and let’s say that you’re working five days a week, so you’re earning $200 per day. Now, let’s say that you’re working ten hours per day, so if you’re earning $200 per day and you’re working 10 hours a day, that means you’re earning on average $20 an hour. Any task that you can outsource for less than $20 an hour should be outsourced, because if you’re doing it, then you’re doing a task which is not really worth your time to be focused on. Then as your business grows, instead of doing $52,000 a year, you’re doing $520,000 a year and you’re still working these ten hour days, then all of a sudden, your value per hour is not $20 an hour it’s $200 an hour, so any task that you can outsource or pay someone else to do for under $200 an hour, assuming they can do it to the required level, then it makes sense to do it because then you can focus on building your business.
Hopefully that example wasn’t too complicated, it’s kind of hard to explain.
Mark Thompson: I think it’s a great tip, just really being able to understand how much is your time worth to you and your business and if you can find someone who can do it for cheaper then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. One thing that I used to do, I used to do a three day exercise where I would write down everything, all the main tasks that I was doing in my business and how long it took me. Then I would separate them by what are tasks that are revenue related tasks, and what are non-revenue and anything that is not necessarily generating revenue for my business, I generally try to find a way to outsource it. Is that something that you try to do?
Aidan Booth: Yeah.
Mark Thompson: Yeah, to kind of ask the question this way, do you try to focus primarily on things that generate revenue, like business development type of tasks?
Aidan Booth: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, or things that are directly tied to your revenue. A good example of this is lead generation, for example.
Mark Thompson: Okay.
Aidan Booth: If you’ve got an email list, maybe you’re selling software. You’ve got an email list of 5,000 people. If you can build a funnel that bringing in 1,000 people a day or 100 people a day, then that is going to be directly proportional to the amount of money that you make selling your software, so I try to get my hands dirty in those type of tasks. At least, even if I am not doing them myself, they are the type of thing that I want to be waking up every morning and kind of being worried about on a daily basis.
Mark Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you have a partner, Steve Clayton, and how did you meet him? When you were looking for a partner did you try to find someone who was complementary to you or that was someone similar to you?
Aidan Booth: Firstly, how I found him was Steven Clayton has been online for many many years and one of my first big breakthroughs was in using paid traffic, so Google AdWords, and he had a training program many years ago about how to actually do that. It worked out very very well for me and I was able to drive millions and millions of visitors using his training. I reached out to him one day and said “Hey, look, you know, I’m doing amazingly well with this, I just wanted to thank you,” and we built up a friendship. Over a period of about four years we kind of started doing just the odd project together, so maybe we would be focusing on driving traffic through search engine optimization and we would share the knowledge that we got. That’s kind of how our relationship started.
Then, one day his business was in a huge growth stage and so was mine, and he just sort of reached out to me and we spoke about would we want to be partners, and what would that look like? We did and we moved forward on that. If I was having a partner, I firmly believe it should be someone that compliments you, if you’ve both got exactly the same skill set then it’s hard for the partner to bring much more to the table because it’s something that you could do yourself.
Mark Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Aidan Booth: Steve comes from a corporate background, he was Vice President of a Fortune 500 company, so a lot of the different structures that we use in our business and processes, he is very good at that. He is also very good at people management, whereas I have no interest in managing staff. I have no interest in managing employees, that’s not really my strong suit. I would recommend to everyone that if you’re looking for a business partner, and I think a business partner is absolutely one of the best things that you could possibly do, then you try to find somebody that will compliment what you’re doing and is different to you. Also, state the terms up from, you don’t ever want to get to the point where you’re where there is some kind of conflict because there I some kind of misunderstanding. In our case, it’s quite simple. We are 50/50 partners in our business, and it just makes everything very simple. That’s kind of my partnership story and my thoughts on it.
Mark Thompson: Interesting, yeah, I try to do the same thing. I try to identify what my weaknesses are and so I have a partner, Matt Callen and he compliments me in the same way that Steve compliments you. How do you know when you should bring on a 50/50 partner or if you should go the other direction and just hire a contractor, or someone to handle that side of the business.
Aidan Booth: For me, I look at it. If someone is bringing something which is intangible, which can’t really be measured to the table, then I think a business partner is better.
Mark Thompson: Okay.
Aidan Booth: If it’s very, very operational or task oriented, then maybe an employee is just fine. I’ll give an example. We’ve got one business inside our company which has a piece of software which sells to other business users, and we’ve actually got a junior partner who is the CEO of that business, so we gave them a 20% share in that business, and what that means is that they are 100% motivated by the same thing that we are. It’s not that they’re waking up and they’ve got a $50,000 or $100,000 paycheck to go to. They live and die by the success of the company, and they make more money and grow their own income when the company grows, when that particular part of our business grows.
I think in those cases, in that kind of thing, it’s good to have someone to have some skin in the game, so to speak. Yeah, mainly, if it’s something intangible, it’s something hard to measure, or it’s someone who is managing or involved in multiple parts of your business, perhaps say they’re managing staff, they’re helping with software development, they’re doing something else, then it’s not so easy to say that they’re just a cog in the machine.
Mark Thompson: Right.
Aidan Booth: At that point they are more than just a cog in the machine and it might make sense to look at them as a partner.
Mark Thompson: Yeah, that brings me to my next question. You want to live the internet lifestyle, everybody is all over the world, how do you manage these people? Besides just giving them skin in the game, is there any type of process that you have in place where you can makes sure that things are getting done efficiently and effectively when essentially everybody is all over the world?
Aidan Booth: Yeah, in each arm of our business, in each of the different businesses that we have, we have the CEO or the managing person part of that business to seed out a game plan. We do this on a yearly basis, they build out this yearly plan, and they also build a sort of a shorten version of what they think will happen in next year, so they’ll have 2016 plan, but they’ll also have a 2017 plan. We get that person to state what the objectives are, so we don’t dictate necessarily that we want our software to grow from 10,000 users to 20,000 users, we get them to put it on paper, we get them to draw out a timeline. Then we just meet on a regular basis, for some things it’s once a week, other things it’s once a month, and we just get progress updates.
A big thing for us is always managing expectations and that why we get people on our team to tell us when things are going to be done, obviously we’ve got our own sort of standards that we want to set, so someone saying they’re not going to do something or the growth isn’t enough then maybe we’ve got the wrong person in the job. I think regular meetings, really good plans for each part of your business and a road map of which identifies what the key tasks are on a month by month basis are things I’ve definitely found are really game changers in just being able to maintain a lifestyle while maintaining a big business as well.
There’s book called the 12-Week Year which I’m a huge fan of. I’ve tried all kinds of time management systems in the past and that was one that really resonated with me. I run my whole business and make sure I’ve got time to enjoy my personal life by using short 12 week plans which are tied to a much longer plan as well, if that makes sense.
Mark Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, so if there was such a thing as a typical work day for an entrepreneur, what would yours look like?
Aidan Booth: My best hours are first thing in the morning, I’m a morning person. If I’m really under the pump and I need to get something done, it’s not uncommon for me to get up at 5 am or something like that and pump out a couple of really good hours when I’m under pressure. In a regular week, just a regular work week, what I like to do is just block out the first couple of hours in the morning, maybe two or three hours in the morning I’ll have no distractions and that’s when I’ll be focusing on my key objectives. The key things which are going to drive the business forward. Then I sort of schedule time into my day, maybe a thirty minute or one hour block sometimes thirty minutes in the morning, thirty minutes in the afternoon where I’m just covering all of these miscellaneous things that come up. Maybe you get an email from someone, maybe you get a Skype message from someone, so I’m not like watching them all day everyday but I do have time in my calendar to focus on those.
For me to sum that up, I’ve got a time block in the morning where I’m focused on some key objective, without any interruption, that’s when I get my best work done, and then in the afternoon, the neurons in my brain start slowing down a bit so I start focusing on lighter activities that area a bit easier. Thirty minute block to reply to emails is a good example of one of them.
Mark Thompson: That’s funny, I’m the exact same way, I try to get the majority of the tasks where I need to think the most about I generally try to get done in the mornings. Then in the afternoons, or at night, it’s just kind of busy work.
Aidan Booth: Yeah, exactly.
Mark Thompson: How many hours a day do you typically work, or is there no set schedule?
Aidan Booth: I don’t really have a set schedule. I try to be strict with myself, being an entrepreneur it’s very easy to just do more and more and more hours just because you’re compensated by that, and you’re probably motivated by the things that you get done in your business. I try to maintain very strict finish times, I like to be wrapped up by 5 pm everyday at the latest, and then certain times I’ll just take the day off. Like, it’s not uncommon for me to say, I’m just taking this whole Friday off, and I’ll have Friday, Saturday, Sunday as a three day weekend.
Mark Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Aidan Booth: In other cases we’ll go away and we might take a couple of weeks off at a time, and we’ll do that a couple of times each year just to recharge the batteries as well. I don’t really have a set time, but I do like to clock out by 5 pm each day, otherwise it can become a bit unbalanced and that’s never a good thing.
Mark Thompson: Right. Okay and so, you’re married, and do you have kids, or no?
Aidan Booth: No, we don’t have kids yet, I am married, so my wife and I have been married for about 3 years, we’ve been together for about 13 years. She actually works in our business as well, so that’s an interesting question we get. I work at home, and she works here right next to me, but it works well for us. We’re not at each other. She’s managing some certain things, and I’m doing my own thing, and we’re both looking after our own tasks, so it’s an interesting work relationship.
Mark Thompson: One of the problems I have in being an internet entrepreneur and I’m sure you have this problem as well, or maybe you have some tips. How do you shut down the professional life and just focus on personal life, because running an online business, that’s 24/7 job almost, do you have certain things that you do to unwind and put business aside?
Aidan Booth: Yeah, for me there’s a couple of things. One is I try to get some kind of exercise in each day, and I quite often do this in the middle of the day to break the day up, and this resets and puts things back into perspective, because it’s easy to get bogged down on something and you need an outside perspective. So that could be going to the gym, going to the pool, but I try to do that at least 4 days a week during the work week. I mean as far as making sure that my personal life doesn’t get interfered with our professional life, I think the 12 week planning system that I use is really key, because that allows me to identify the key tasks that I should be focused on at any given day at any give time and it just kind of clears out all of the other distractions. It eliminates distractions.
When I’m working on my business, I’m super focused, I try to be in the zone as much as I can, and when I shut down, I try to do the exact same thing. In our household, we’ve got an office, that’s where the work happens, it doesn’t overflow into the lounge area. When I finish up I like to put some music on, get out of the house, just try to complete the change, the rhythm that I’m working to and it seems to work quite well for me anyway.
Mark Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Are there any tools that you recommend for running an online business?
Aidan Booth: I don’t have a huge amount of different tools that I use. A few that I do use on a daily basis and several times a day though are really just simple ones. Google Calendar, Google Spreadsheets, we manage all the different parts of our business using Google Spreadsheets, that allows us and our teams to be able to look at the same document without having conflicted duplicate copies and all of that kind of thing. Also, if I’m traveling, often times I’ll just have a laptop, or an iPad, but I can still see the same thing. Google Spreadsheets are really good for us.
If I’m actually training myself on something, maybe I’m going through someone else’s training videos, I use a tool called Enounce MySpeed. If you just search MySpeed in Google you’ll find one from Enounce, and what it does is it allows you to speed up the playback. Which you can also do on YouTube videos, I’ve noticed as well. You can speed up the playback by 1.5, 2 times, or even more. So I can watch a thirty minute training video about something in about 15 minutes.
Mark Thompson: I love doing that for webinars and podcasts, it’s great. If you have a two hour webinar, you can watch it in an hour.
Aidan Booth: Yeah, totally, it’s all about productivity, so that’s a good one. As far as automation and stuff goes in our business, I find that the best way to personally automate most of the tasks that I do is to try to outsource it to someone.
Mark Thompson: Yeah.
Aidan Booth: To create a standard operating procedure that one of my team can follow, and because we have people in different parts of the world you can have people working for you 24 hours a day. You can have someone working in Pakistan in the morning when you wake up, and when they go to sleep, someone else in United Kingdom can take over and then someone in the United States might take over. I find that virtually anything can be automated if you just create a standard operating procedure. Train someone how to do it, and then outsource it. You can do this for an incredibly small amount of money, and it’s quite effective for me.
Mark Thompson: I love it, because I notice so many people are working in their business every single day, they’re just doing the daily grind, and it’s like yeah they’re an internet entrepreneur, but it’s almost like a job to them because they’re not able to live the type of lifestyle that they want too. So it’s really neat to hear your perspective and the processes and systems that you’ve put in place. For people that want to follow you and learn more about what you’re doing, where do they go?
Aidan Booth: They can head over to my blog. I have a blog on AidanBooth.com, it’s A-I-D-A-N-B-O-O-T-H .COM, and you can find out more about me there and what I do and all that good stuff. That’s the best place to find me.
Mark Thompson: Awesome, and we’ll have a link to that and anything else that we’ve mentioned. I know that you’re going to be launching, re-launching 100K Factory in the next few months, is that correct?
Aidan Booth: Yeah, it’s not going to be the same as what we did the first time around. It’s quite different this time around. The first time around we focused very much on driving traffic and we absolutely nailed it, but the monetization side of it was more complicated. This time we think we’ve nailed the traffic part, I mean it’s gotten even better. We’ve also been able to ramp up the who monetization part using a different system, completely different to last time. Which is more effective, more lucrative, it’s faster and it’s like a no money down sort of system. It’s going to be exciting and that’s happening soon.
Mark Thompson: Okay, and that’s an April time frame.
Aidan Booth: Yeah, so that’ll be at the beginning of April we’ll be doing that, and we’ll be working with our members on that, probably for most of the rest of the year and getting them building big businesses. It’s going to be an exciting time, that’s for sure.
Mark Thompson: Awesome. Go to AidanBooth.com guys, I’ll also have a link to 100K Factory when it does come out, so you can check that out. Thanks again Aidan for coming on and talking about your business and your internet lifestyle. I appreciate it.
Aidan Booth: Sure, I mean if anyone has got any questions you can always leave a question on my blog, which you’re going to have linked there, or get in touch with me through that website. I’d love to help anyone in anyway that I can. Thank you for having me today Mark. It’s always a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing you face to face again one of these days soon.
Mark Thompson: Of course, good to catch up Aidan.
Aidan Booth: Cheers man, bye.
Mark Thompson: Bye.