John Lamerton is a best-selling author; entrepreneur; and mentor to small businesses. He hails from Devon and is a passionate Plymouth Argyle fan. John has just published a new book Big Ideas for Small Businesses and joins the podcast to tell us about the personal journey that inspires the book.
John Lamerton started off as a civil servant and became a self-taught marketer. It was the early 2000s and he read a lot about the dot com millionaires. He registered domain names and waited for the phone to ring. But it didn’t.
He started the business with £100. He learnt how to monetise the traffic he attracted to his sites. All this before to leave the day job at the council. It took him 9 months to earn his first cheque – £13.09! 3 months past time he went part time and 3 months later he started working for himself.
His first development book Internet Marketing for Dummies. Didn’t really help him. He learnt more from hours in forums, asking and understanding questions.
At the time, the press was all over the dot com millionaires. He was 22 at the time. His heroes at the time were only burning VC money. He recognised this and reflects he should have been worshipping at the feet of his first mentor, Clarke.
Ask Ask Ask for advice from a mentor
He was 2 years ahead of John on the journey. John contacted him and said, “Hi Clarke, I’d like to do exactly what you are doing please! Could you tell me how you are doing it?”
Clarke’s answer? “Yes, of course I will”.
The first tip: Find someone who has been there. Book, YouTube videos. PICK THEIR BRAINS. Clarke got the good feeling from seeing a protégé doing what he was doing. The mentor relationship has blossomed into a life-long friendship.
Now their respective son’s ae helping each other on YouTube!
John had a remarkable run and was soon earning £300k a year from the internet. He thought he was God’s Gift to the internet. Branson and Sugar were his idols.
His first hire was 2003 and by 2004 he had 15 staff in 2 offices. He became a full-time HR officer, and he hated it. John left the business in 2005, it was not the business he wanted. He was in full control and he’d created a monster!
What did he learn?
His learnings from that period came down to who he was hanging around with. His contemporaries all wanted to be super-successful internet millionaires. Was he thinking big enough? A potential business partner expected he should be earning £100k per month just from the deal with him. Again, was he thinking big enough? Therefore, he needed to scale, he needed staff, offices etc – WITHOUT THINKING DOES HE REALLY WANT THIS?
He is a now a big proponent of LIFESTYLE businesses. With his meteoric rise in the early stages of his business, John started to forecast what he could earn in the next 10 years. Tens, Hundreds of Millions. The thing is he realised that those businesses are entirely different from the business HE WANTED TO RUN.
Now, he realises, business is about the lifestyle you want, whatever that means to you.
He recalls from Alan Sugar’s book. One line leapt out at him “I never really saw my kids when they were growing up”. He had a 3 months old baby. He realised he was running the wrong business. Branson’s book also had the same absent father comment.
Instead of working 100 hours a week, he decided to change.
Lifestyle. It’s something a lot of male business owners don’t appreciate. His book:
BIG IDEAS for small businesses – John Lamerton https://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Ideas-Small-Businesses-Practical-ebook/dp/B073SJ74MR
John’s book talks about how you can have that work life balance. It’s a fine balance, but it can be achievable. Be there on sports days, assemblies. Share the joys of parenthood, without losing in business.
Work Life Balance
- Working smarter
- Working fewer hours
- Doing the right things
You can achieve a hell of a lot without doing a hell of a lot. 80% of what you achieve comes from 20% of what you do.
John went part time 7 months after his Sugar/Branson revelation. He went from 100 hour weeks to about 25 hour weeks.
John thought I have roughly 20% of the time that I previously had. Let’s apply the 80:20 principle and only do the 20% of stuff that gets me 80% of the results. What he was expecting was he would get 80% of the previously attained results.
What actually happened, was he got 300% of the results because he was ONLY focused on the stuff that matters. He wasn’t checking stats, checking emails every 10 seconds. He only did the stuff that moved the business forward – like marketing.
If you spend 90% of your time doing the 20% of the work that brings 80% of the results, then the compounding effect is enormous.
20% of what you were doing – sending sales emails, networking, SEO (link soliciting), promos to his lists.
“When your to-do list is 53 items long it is hard to triage that! When your to do list is 3 items long, they are all crucially important but you know that there is one of them that REALLY matters.”
80% of what he was doing – sitting on forums, Facebook, checking stats – getting paid from 150 different sources. He should have just outsourced that, he realised! Instead, make a plan to look at these things less often at a particular time.
John extricated himself from 80% of the things he was doing allowing his children to run into that space.
He found the business didn’t suffer. Working less hours was earning him more money. He needed to accept chaos. He doesn’t respond to emails. Or Telephone calls he wasn’t expecting. He is hard to get hold of intentionally.
He creates a COULD DO LIST every quarter and pulls things off that list every now and again.
None of this has to be done. It is flexible. He documents his ideas and drops it onto the could do. He focuses on the most important thing this week, month, quarter. If it is still on the list in 2 years it won’t get done. It’s not scratching the itch!
THE BOOK & PODCAST
He wanted to do a podcast and tweak and use the transcriptions and use them for the book. He does his podcast with Jason, his business partner.
How hard can it be?
John references Tim Ferriss’s point – “what would this look like if it was easy”
BIGIdea PODCAST – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/big-idea-podcast/id1192243485
It’s a different topic every week/month.
He now uses the transcriptions as a framework for the book. He wanted to achieve for small business owners that aren’t into personal development, that marketing is NOT a DARK ART. At networking events, he explains there is a lot of things people can do without the aid of a marketing agency.
For your average small business, there is some basic stuff to STOP WORKING so hard. Follow blueprints. John has owned 60 businesses since 200 and has picked up many insights from clients he mentors.
What has worked?
This is the key thing he struggled with initially. He was trying to do every job for 12 different businesses. His mentor said, what’s the ONE thing that you need to be more successful. John answered, I need more customers. The mentor said, what had John done TODAY to achieve his one thing of getting more customers? Erm, but he’d been busy…
At that point, he realised he had a business where he could send out an email and get a customer. So, he sent more emails. Instead of 2 emails a month, instantly, he changed the structure of the business and he focused on one business and marketing.
The one thing most businesses do is MARKETING. How could he get customers systematically come in. Not just a one-off sales campaign. Not spamming. Pick up the phone to a few customers each day and ask for more business. He sends emails more frequently.
He does a KNOW LIKE TRUST sequence. John wants his customers to know who they are, to like and trust them. We are a good company, we can be trusted with their credit card. In that know like trust sequence, ZERO selling: instead they talk about football, kids, holidays, golf.
John does a printed newsletter too. People complain when they don’t receive it.
He’d never really used it. He has become famous to a very small number of people. He has created a Tipster for his sports betting company. This real person, is a celebrity. Joe, will be recognised at any racecourse in the country. Even Joe’s amazon delivery guy recognised Joe as the Free Racing Tips guy!
He creates a celebrity of the business owner. What is your back-story? Speak to the press.
John mentioned Charlie Mullins and being a celebrity plumber. http://www.pimlicoplumbers.com/about-us/charlie-mullins
Charlie says in your market – WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION? There is unlikely to be one. Every business owner has a story on what they do, what makes them different and what makes them, them!
Keep going. Apply that persistence to your business. Get a hard no or a yes. Till they buy or till they die.
Think campaign NOT one off promotions.
John is a digital marketer and he says nothing is more effective than picking up the phone and calling his customers. They either buy or tell him why they are not going to buy. That enable him to tweak his advertising. He’ll change his marketing to counter the objections:
I’m not buying…
“because I didn’t know about your money back guarantee.” Fine, we’ll tell everybody about the money back guarantee.
You can counter every objection.
The call makes your business real. A real person. You expect to hear, press one for this, two for that. Don’t be afraid to annoy people by sending multiple communications.
How do get in touch with John?
BIGIdea PODCAST – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/big-idea-podcast/id1192243485
Book: BIG IDEAS for small businesses – John Lamerton https://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Ideas-Small-Businesses-Practical-ebook/dp/B073SJ74MR
Don’t ring him, he doesn’t answer his phone.