ANR recently interviewed controversial entrepreneur and best-selling author of “What I Didn’t Learn at School But Wish I Did” and business and life strategist Jamie McIntyre.
We wanted his opinion on what he believes it takes to grow companies rapidly in a fast-changing world despite major setbacks most entrepreneurs inevitably face.
During his two decades as an entrepreneur, McIntyre has built over a dozen companies, a majority of which generated million dollars plus revenues, several $10 million plus companies across education, media, property, agriculture and a recent start up valued at $100 million USD.
ANR: Jamie, what’s a good way for a company just starting to be able to grow rapidly to $1 million plus revenues?
Jamie: It’s a great question and there are many factors that come into play regarding what it takes to succeed in business. There is no exact recipe or formula that will work for all businesses and industries, however, there are certain marketing strategies and certain fundamentals that will work for most businesses and industries.
I can certainly speak from experience because I’ve had both successes and my fair share of failures and setbacks. Plus, I have learnt from many millionaires and billionaires on what it takes to succeed in business and investing. However, to be a successful entrepreneur in the long-term, you must be able to deal with the business cycle. From when the business is starting out to when it gets its major momentum and is growing rapidly to when it matures as a business with steady stable growth or even when it’s in decline.
You only have to look at Apple as an example. Despite its initial success to become a multi-billion dollar company, if Apple hadn’t reinvented itself, it would have failed because at one stage it was close to bankruptcy. Steve Jobs had to be brought back into the company he was dumped from to innovate and create new products such as the iPod, which became a major seller. However, he realised that if he did not continue to innovate and create new products- even if the new products would cannibalize Apple’s existing products, then other companies would take his market share. The iPhone ultimately cannibalized the iPod, but it led to Apple’s biggest success so far. Innovate or die was Apple’s mantra and a reason why it’s the massive success it is today.
ANR: Is there an organising principle you base your business philosophy on?
Jamie: Yes absolutely. My organising principle for business success is based on two rules. Rule number one: you must add value. Rule number two: you must make a profit. The balance of these two organising principles is critical.
If you just add value and don’t make a profit, then you won’t be in business long enough to be able to continue to add value. However, if you just focus on making a profit and not on adding enough value, your business won’t be around for very long. Most people think profit is a dirty word, yet for a business it is critical to make a profit so that it can continue to provide the product or service to the marketplace.
ANR: Businesses that are just starting out or even existing businesses, what are some low-cost ways they can rapidly grow their sales?
Jamie: I think the fastest way is to focus on adding value continually. The biggest mistake most businesses make is trying to close a sale on the first date, so to speak. Nevertheless, it’s far better to develop a relationship over time until trust is built and your prospect is more comfortable doing business with you and has also been educated about the benefits of your product and service.
ANR: Can you share an example of how this could work?
Jamie: It’s simple, rather than having a telemarketing team cold calling people that don’t know who you are, you would be far better off having an online social media campaign that offers something either for free or valuable content in the form of an article or video.
Firstly, this attracts the people that are interested in the knowledge or information or expertise you are sharing. It then makes it easy for them to become involved in your business by simply opting in for free or liking a Facebook page. Those following you on social media will be able to regularly access your value-added content or expertise. This enables you to rapidly build up a database of potential future customers and allows you to develop an ongoing relationship where you become a trusted advisor or authority in your industry that followers can now rely on to continue receiving worthwhile value added content.
So, this could involve simply giving away a free report, free eBook, an article, content, free video, free sample or any other information.
ANR: I would assume due to use of social media that companies could potentially grow their database and following quite rapidly these days without a large marketing budget. Is this correct?
Jamie: Yes, absolutely. This is where it becomes exciting by having your brand or business set up with a proper sales and marketing funnel that is based around social media and online digital campaigns. Plus, a focus on adding value by providing content and expertise for free can attract a very large following and build a large database quickly, which in turn can lead to a lot of future ongoing sales.
ANR: Is it true you built up a database of over half a million that opted in based on the same strategy?
Jamie: Yes, I started this strategy well before social media even become the norm. At the time, it was much more difficult. I simply focused on adding value by giving away initially free VHS videos, which were quite expensive and free hardcopy books to educate people about the things I had learned. My primary focus was to help educate others and make a positive difference. Making money was a secondary consideration. However, because I added so much value, in turn many wanted to become clients and many of my companies grew quite rapidly because relationships were built over time and people wanted to be involved in the various products or services my companies had to offer. Over the years, this has enabled my companies to generate as much as $60 million PA in revenues over many diverse range of companies.
ANR: Recently, some of your companies and brands suffered some significant brand damage when targeted by the ASIC in Australia. How do you think such setbacks affect the long-term durability of a brand?
Jamie: It varies, as this was an isolated case affecting some of my land banking projects and 128 of my clients. I have hundreds of thousands of clients across my companies, so it must be put into perspective.
Although it was very costly, as I lost over $20 million and potentially that again in lost revenues due to the brand damage. However, I believe, in life we can only focus on what we can control and let go of what we can’t. So, I simply set up a compensation fund to ensure my effected clients will be protected long-term and got on with business and focused globally rather than just the small Australian market. It’s important to understand that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you start to get even a little success you’re going to naturally attract regulator attention eventually, especially if you do business in Australia since it’s such a small market and has anti-entrepreneur agendas pushed by its regulators.
For example, consider Uber and Airbnb. They have attracted massive regulator attention and are subject to constant bad publicity. Yet, it doesn’t stop their brand nor the companies from growing. So, I think it is critical to understand negative publicity and that regulator attention is perfectly normal for businesses and individuals to endure. However, it doesn’t have to have any bearing on the success of the brand long-term. In fact, Uber and Airbnb have continued to grow rapidly despite the negative publicity and regulators shutting them down in certain markets.
In fact, negative publicity can actually give them even more publicity, which can enable them to grow faster. So, for instance the ‘delete Uber campaign’ actually backfired and more people joined Uber instead of deleting the app. Despite the massive negative publicity from homes being damaged/trashed, Airbnb continues to grow at extraordinary rates with over 3 million homes now listed.
Plus, if you have a strong brand and strong relationships with followers built over time, your brand will recover and it will be more durable, as all companies or brands go through major setbacks at some point or the other. For example, United Airlines stock price dropped when the video on security aggressively dragging off one of its customers from the plane went viral. However, in a very short period of time ticket sales have grown and its stock price is even higher today.
People forget quickly or move on, as we are all busy or we accept that companies make mistakes in some cases and/or are unfairly targeted in others.
In fact, for one of my overseas projects recently, I was able to raise $20 million in debt funding quickly and achieve $100 million in US valuation on one of my new companies purely because I stood up to the ASIC and defended my investors. Although the damage by ASIC may have stopped some people from doing business with me or my companies, (perhaps because they read too many newspapers), it attracted others who are willing to back people that have the courage to stake a stand and have the ability to make things happen despite setbacks or injustice.
So, if something that happens to you or your business, it’s ultimately up to you regarding how you choose to interpret it and determine whether it’s a good or bad thing.
Often it’s a good thing in disguise.
ANR: So, you’re saying- would be entrepreneurs should perhaps not be afraid of negative publicity or regulators and just accept that it’s part and parcel of being in business and any set back can be turned into a positive?
Jamie: Yes, absolutely. It’s all about focusing on what you control and letting go of what you don’t. All great entrepreneurs have developed the ability to turn negative publicity into positive publicity and continue to remain focused and grow their businesses regardless of what some lowly paid jealous journalist may think of them.
You don’t go looking for a fight, but soon enough you’ll end up in one and you have every right to stand up and defend yourself. The naysayers or haters are perfect motivational tools to become more successful.
Success is the ultimate revenge, so try to get over things as soon as possible and reframe your perception of how you interpret things.
ANR: Is it true you’ve now set up a team to help other companies and individuals build a marketing funnel and grow their databases and following using some of your strategies?
Jamie: Yes, 21st Century Media is a company I founded years ago. It helps companies and individuals grow their sales rapidly by using these fundamental strategies. Thanks to social media, it enables rapid growth not just for larger companies but even smaller ones and individuals as well wanting to boost their brand awareness and income.
ANR: Is it true you helped one company that hired your 21st Century Media Agency generate over $100 million in sales within 120 days?
JM: Yes, this was a company that was struggling to sell its product, so we did more than what a typical digital media agency would do. I was able to look at their offering and completely change it to make it more attractive and create an information pack to educate potential customers about their product and automate their marketing.
We also helped automate their sales process as well because like many companies, their weakness was sales and marketing. The interesting thing was, we were too successful as we could have sold over half a billion of their product within 12 months, but they ran out of product. Many companies only need to tweak a few things and see massive sales growth. Others like this one needed a complete overhaul, but the results were still fast.
ANR: Is it true some companies have paid as much as $400,000 per month to retain your marketing services?
Yes, it has been as high as that because at 21st Century Media we work on a retainer plus at times a percentage of increased sales. But that isn’t to say we don’t also help smaller companies and personal brands grow their community of followers. We have some companies that only have budgets of $5000-$10,000 per month and we are still able to help them or provide educational programs for smaller businesses that can learn how to apply many of the techniques and strategies for themselves with a small investment.
ANR: Thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts today and we look forward to talking to you soon.
Jamie: You’re welcome. Always a pleasure.