I first came across Brent when I read an article he wrote on SixRevisions, called “What it’s like to sell your web design company”.
This interview dives deep into that story… What led him to sell his web agency of 13 years, the process of finding a buyer and making the transition — and convincing his business partners and employees to make that transition with him. And the aftermath of the sale, focusing exclusively on products, and re-building his company with renewed energy and focus.
The keyword here of course is FOCUS. A quote from Brent’s SixRevisions article that really resonated with me was:
“I realized that focus was at the root of all major successes, and that most failures are due to a lack thereof.”
I kinda feel like right now, I’m hitting on that same moment of clarity in my business. I wrote about it in my last blog post, called “Stop Starting. Start Growing”. Basically, I’m finally coming around to the idea that can’t pursue more than one path — or one startup — at a time. When I lack focus, I feel like I’m just treading water. Exerting lots of energy, but not making any progress.
As I wrote about in that blog post, I pulled out of the agency I had started with my friend and office-mate, Clint Warren, because it distracted me from my primary focus, which is building Restaurant Engine, and sharing what I learn in the process here in my podcast and blog.
By the way – in case you were wondering why I kinda took a 4 week hiatus from this podcast – well, I had kid! My wife and I welcomed our daughter, Emma, to the world on March 2nd. She’s our first and I couldn’t be more excited, happy, and a little bit unsure of what the next few years have in store… Definitely a “learn by doing” experience, this being a Dad stuff. So I just wanted to share that with you.
Hit the play button above to hear the interview, then check out the key takeaways below. Leave your thoughts in the comments!
1. The mindset of web agency clients vs. customers of info products.
Many web agency clients tend to see hiring an agency as more of a chore than something they’re excited about. While the agency owner and team present exciting ideas and ways to leverage the client’s web presence, all the client is focused on is the price tag. They don’t share in the excitement of those possiblities.
Customers of an educational course, on the other hand, are hungry for that knowledge and they’re driven to better themselves and level up their business. That’s what makes creating and selling educational content so inspiring and motiviting — the customers place such a high value on it. Brent talked about how some of his customers would send him 6-page emails pouring out their feelings and aspirations related to his products. It’s hard not to get excited about running a business that has that type of impact.
2. “Bring content marketing to your target audience”
Not every business has the luxury of selling to an audience of web-savvy folks like us, who frequent blogs, Twitter, and podcasts. Brent’s advice to me, when I talked about how my product focuses on the Restaurant Industry, was to bring content marketing to them. In Brent’s case, he publishes interviews with his target customers.
3. The careful process of pitching the change in direction to partners and employees
It’s easy for a solo entrepreneur to shift gears and try a new direction. But when you’ve got business partners and employees who count on you, and count on the strength of your business for their paychecks, it requires a very delicate approach to pitch a drastic change in direction.
I like how Brent approached it, in a very methodic, step-by-step manor. Step 1: Lay it all out for himself. He described how he spent most of his trip thinking through it all first. Step 2: Present it (and convince) his partners. He described how this was a difficult process. Step 3: He spoke to each of his employees one-on-one to get their temperature and determine if they’re willing and the right fit to come along in the new direction.