Alan Coote is the Presenter of Let’s Talk Business, the UK’s largest entrepreneurs show (27 million). His broadcasting career started on the BBC. He has also had a very successful career outside broadcasting helping over 2500 entrepreneurs create and grow their business.
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- A to-do list – Alan’s small business resource
- How to Wind Friends & Influence People – Alan’s top Business Book
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3 Key Points:
- It’s not too late to start your entrepreneurial journey.
- Think big and start small.
- When a business is not generating money, it’s time to let it go.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:12] – Alan realized he wouldn’t be rich or famous
- [01:28] – He had a late mid-life crisis
- [01:57] – Alan started and sold a radio station
- [02:27] – Alan founded his business 4 years ago
- [02:54] – Value Bomb Drop: The playing field is changing. Established businesses should think like they’re start-ups–think big and start small
- [05:59] – What is something you’ve changed your mind about in the last 6 months? Partitioning my business away; you can’t hold on to things that aren’t making you money
- [07:12] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: I created this beast (radio station). How am I going to pay that bill?
- [10:02] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Alan talks to this man and discovers he already spent £7M in his app business. You got to plough your own furrow
- [12:02] – Make sure you’re spending your time wisely
- [12:31] – The world isn’t perfect, it’s going to change
- [12:52] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? The future
- [14:03] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Having a family
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Education half hour
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – A to-do list
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – How to Win Friends and Influence People –it’s brilliant!
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter is taken cared of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – I would get Internet access and set up my website, buy stuff to sell there and build it from there…
- [18:33] – It’s fantastic to be an entrepreneur
- [19:08] – Follow Alan on twitter, tweet him and get a 90% OFF his training course!
John Lee Dumas: Alan, are you prepared to ignite?
Alan Coote: I am ready, John. I’m sitting here. Let’s go, man. Come on.
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Alan is the presenter of Let’s Talk Business, the U.K.’s largest entrepreneur show. His broadcasting career started on BBC and he also has a very successful career outside of broadcasting, helping over 2,500 entrepreneurs create and grow their business. Alan, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Alan Coote: Yeah, sure. What I love about that actually, that intro, is it misses out so much. I might have written it, John, but there you go. So, filling the gaps for you, I started, as you said, with the BBC and I realized that I wouldn’t be rich or famous. So, like anyone when you’re really young, your parents say, “Go and get a proper job. Go and get a proper job.”
So, I actually was trained and I got a proper job, did the degree, all that sort of stuff and I get around – skip forward to a mid-life crisis, probably a late mid-life crisis, and I realized actually that what I was doing was really interesting, but I wanted to do something. Now, I guess you wanted to do that at some state in your career, absolutely.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah.
Alan Coote: And I think that’s what drives a lot of entrepreneurs to start, is they want to do something, but I was unsure what I wanted to do. I thought to myself, ‘Do you know what? I was okay when I was at the BBC. I know I wouldn’t be rich or famous. Let me start a radio station.’ What a mad idea that is to start a radio station, but that’s what I did. I started it; it took several years to get going. Then, having started it, I realized that I still wouldn’t be rich and I definitely wouldn’t be famous.
So, I then sold that radio station and I was lucky to sit in Nice in France for a little while, thinking, ‘What the heck should I do?’ I thought, ‘Okay, well maybe I could create something from my experiences of working outside of broadcasting and in broadcasting.’ Then Let’s Talk Business was started. It was a business entrepreneur show and we’ve been going four years now.
John Lee Dumas: Wow, well that’s exactly the length of EOFire as well, so congratulations to us for making it four years. Alan, we’re going to get into your journey a lot more in a couple minutes here, but first, break down what your area of expertise is in this world and give us, Fire Nation, two value bombs, like two things we should know that probably we don’t.
Alan Coote: My expertise really with the startups is, and you’ll recognize this, John, that you’ve taken to this job, I do a very similar job to you most of the time, and you have people in front of you or come online and they’re entrepreneurs, and you talk to them off-air or you talk to them via Skype or via email and you realize actually there are some chinks in these guys’ armor. I’m talking about the people who you’d expect to, and tell you that they’ve made several million and it’s just a story of success, and it’s not like that. It really isn’t.
There’s ups and downs, there’s trials, there’s failures, there’s some successes, and everyone goes through, everybody goes through that. But what I was faced with, I was faced actually with thinking, ‘Blimey, I just wonder if there was a formula for this.’ So, that’s really what I’ve come up with, a formula, at least most of it is there, for actually being an entrepreneur and what it means as we are in the 21st century.
John Lee Dumas: So, let’s really break down two things, Alan, that we should know, that we don’t know, that you know because you’re an expert.
Alan Coote: Alright, so No. 1, here you go: the playing field is changing. Now, that might sound obvious, but here’s some stats for you. Oxford University, very good university, did some research and they said 35 percent of the jobs will be automated away in 10 to 20 years’ time. Now, think about that. That’s a lot; just over a third of jobs will be disappearing. Not only that, Deloitte who are a research organization over here in the U.K, I think they’re over the best part of the world as well, they said jobs that are at the lower end of the scale, so around about $45,000.00, something like that, are five times more likely to be automated. McKinsey, the great research organization also said that the rate of digital change is ten times faster and 300 times the scale the Industrial Revolution. So, I can put that another way for you because I have the maths in front of me. That’s 3,000 times the impact of the Industrial Revolution.
Now, where does this take us? It takes us to No. 2, it established businesses really need to think about what they’re doing and they need to think like start-ups. No. 2b of that is if you’re a small business, you should think big and start small. That, I think, sort of lays out really the whole principle of helping start-ups and where we are in the 21st century, and hopefully just that, if anybody gets to this podcast and they listen to this part and then they go away, I hope that’s given them some food for thought because things are absolutely changing at a huge, huge rate.
John Lee Dumas: On that note, Alan, what’s something that you’ve changed your mind about in the last six months? Because things are changing so fast, so what’s something that you used to believe recently that you just don’t believe anymore?
Alan Coote: One of the things that I’ve realized is actually to partition parts of my business away. They looked like they were good revenue streams, but you can’t hold onto those things. I’ll come back to this a little bit later I think, but you can’t hold onto things that aren’t making you money really, and you’ve got to let them go. So, I had a couple of revenue streams I thought, ‘Yeah, I think this is a great thing. I think it’s absolutely fantastic. Other people seem to be making money that way, but it just doesn’t work for us. It doesn’t work for me.’ So, leaving those things let them go, find something else.
John Lee Dumas: So Alan, I was teasing a little bit earlier with Fire Nation, telling them we were going to get into your journey and we’ve got to that point. So, we’re gonna get kinda more into your background, your journey as an entrepreneur going through the trenches. But I’d like to start with the worst moment. So, take us there to the lowest of the low with your entrepreneurial moment status, and tell us that story.
Alan Coote: I don’t know if people have been into a radio station. They’re fairly dull places to be honest, most of the time. But they have this public persona of being absolutely great fun and so forth. They’re run by people who actually, to be honest, and I am one of them, you may be, John, as well, that like sitting in a box and talking to yourself down the line and hope that someone is listening and they’re gonna interact with you.
But we’re sitting there and it’s the second birthday of this radio station, so it’s took about 2-3 years to get started, we’re two years in, and I’m sat next to a really lovely presenter and I said to her, do you know, I said, “Do you remember Bob and Fred, who used to be here?” I’ve changed their names. She goes, “Yeah, yeah, they left last year.” “And do you remember when we started, we had X, Y, and Z people?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Then I thought to myself, ‘Oh, my goodness, who’s going to be next? Who is the next person to leave here?’ That actually led to the realization when I went back into the office, and I’m running this radio station, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s all these bills to pay. It could well be me!’ So, I created this thing. I created this beast and there’s a lot of moving parts in something like a radio station or any media outlet and you’ve gotta get advertisers, you’ve gotta sell the advertising, you’ve gotta keep the listeners or the readers happy. So, there’s a lot of moving parts to it.
Then I realized actually that if it’s your baby, then it’s okay to let it go. The real moment was I was lying in bed having had this discussion about over our second birthday, thinking to myself, not at the same time, but the same girl by the way, but thinking to myself, ‘Gosh, how am I gonna pay that bill? I’ve got that to come up. I’ve got that to come up. I need somebody with deeper pockets or I need an investor.’ And I was lucky enough to find the guy with deeper pockets than I and I sold the business. As I say, I ended up in Nice for a short while. The station is still going, still flourishing.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, it’s one of those things where we always need to be checking the pulse of our excitement in a business, of our actual business of the numbers. We need to know what’s happening. If you don’t really have a full picture of the health, of the wellness, of the near term future of where your business is heading, it might be too late by the time you look up and say, ‘Uh oh, there’s a well right there in front of me.’ So, just keep those eyes open and make sure you’re always doing check-ins with the business, with your employees or partners, or whatever that might be. It’s critical.
Now Alan, let’s kinda do a little bit of a shift and let’s talk about one of your greatest a-ha moments. You’ve had a few of these, but take us to the moment of one of those and walk us through that story.
Alan Coote: So, here I am sat in front of a guy who were chatting with and he proudly tells me, he said, “I’ve got this great app,” and I think, ‘Fantastic, we all should have a great app.’ He says, “Yeah, this is a fantastic app. It’s gonna change the motor insurance industry,” and I believed that it would. The next conversation I have with him was, “How’d you go about this?” “Oh, I’ve been working for years,” he says, and he owns several companies, some of which are in aerospace. He’s alright for a bob or two. I said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how much have you spent on this,” thinking that I know somebody who can do apps. We all know somebody who can do apps. He then says, “I spent £7 million on this app.”
John Lee Dumas: What?
Alan Coote: I know. £7 million on an app.
John Lee Dumas: And is that pounds, because that’s –
Alan Coote: Yes, it is! It is pounds, so what’s that got to be? The exchange rate is not so good as we speak, but nevertheless, that’s still a lot, what, $10 million?
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, it’s a lot.
Alan Coote: It’s a lot by anyone’s imagination. I realized then actually that he probably didn’t know as much as he let on about starting a new business and I probably knew more than he did. That’s an a-ha moment because you talk to people and it doesn’t matter who – you’ve had some fantastic people on your podcasts, absolutely brilliant, and I listen to them and I think, ‘Yeah, great,’ and I’m good go with some of – but you have to filter. Not all of it is right for you and not all of it is right. So, you’ve got to plow your own furrow.
John Lee Dumas: Plow your own furrow. That sounds pretty British, but I think we can understand what he’s talking about, for sure. So, what I really want to make sure that we’re taking away is, Fire Nation, we talked about in the last little chat that we had about the worst moment that Alan had and the takeaways from that. You have to keep your finger on the pulse of you, of your business, but you also have to do the same thing with other people and you have to vet them.
You have to say, ‘Hey, if I’m going to go into partnership or take advice or model after X, Y, or Z people, I need to make sure that they actually know what they’re talking about,’ because it is that full process because all you have it time. Your time is your most valuable asset. Make sure you’re spending it wisely.
Now Allen, those are my takeaways from your worst moment, your a-ha moment, basically make sure that you’re definitely keeping your finger on the pulse of your businesses and everything that’s going on, and then also on other people that you’re taking advice from. But what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your stories?
Alan Coote: The world is imperfect. The world is gonna change, as I mentioned. There’s some very significant things that are gonna change and that gives lots of people opportunities. Be careful, just filter, as you probably said. Just filter what you get and make sure it works for you.
John Lee Dumas: Alan, today, right now, what are you most fired up about?
Alan Coote: You know, I’m really excited about the future. I’ve got to say, with all of these things that are changing, one of the things that we’re talking to people – and you know, I think you’ve done this several times yourself, John. We’ve spoken before, and you found something, and you go, ‘Blimey, that really works! That absolutely works.’
John Lee Dumas: Well, I don’t say ‘blimey’, but I get what you’re saying.
Alan Coote: No, you go, ‘Hey man, that really works!’
John Lee Dumas: ‘Hey dude!’
Alan Coote: Okay, even that. In Puerto Rican, whatever it is, whatever lights your fire. It is that moment when you go, ‘Actually, I’m now talking about something that I’ve never talked to anyone about before. And it’s been in my head, I’ve conjugated it, and now I can see that they’re engaged. I’m gonna do some more of that. I’m gonna do some more, some more, some more.’
Do you know that one of the things that we’re talking about now on the show, we’re talking about through our consultancy, we’re talking about as startups is the massive change that’s gonna come and hit us through digital and it was so, so exciting because it levels that playing field. We can all play and we can all take part.
John Lee Dumas: Well, what’s also so exciting, Alan and you, Fire Nation, is that we’re coming up to the lightning round so don’t go anywhere. We’re gonna take a quick minute to thank our sponsors.
Alan, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Alan Coote: Yeah, let’s do it.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Alan Coote: Okay, very quickly then, it’s the lightning round. Having a family. You’ve got to look around and you think, ‘I’ve got a young family.’ You’re gonna take some risks if you’re gonna ditch that great job. You’re gonna go and do your own thing. You’ve got to be cognizant of the fact that it’s gonna affect a lot of other people. You’ll have some people saying you’re mad, but make sure you’ve got your closest and your loved ones right with you. It’s not a reason not to do it, but just make sure that you’ve got some money in the bank for the rainy days.
John Lee Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Alan Coote: Here is it, right. This is fantastic. I think you’ll like this. This is an American’s quote. I’ll do this one for you. I’m gonna paraphrase it in English, if you don’t mind. If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Henry Ford, I think, that one.
John Lee Dumas: That was Henry Ford. I don’t even know if you paraphrased it. I think that’s word for word the quote and a pretty powerful one. What’s the personal habit, Alan, that contributes to your success?
Alan Coote: There’s a couple, but one I will give you is what I call an education half hour. Now, I’m not like you. I don’t go out jogging right thing in the early morning. It’s too much effort for me. But what I do do is when my missus gets up and goes to the day job, I actually get up with her at some crack of dawn time and I spend that time in my education half hour. It’s my education half hour. I actually go and find stuff out that’s really interesting and it actually sets me up for the day.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Alan Coote: Yeah, here’s my latest. This genuinely is, I’ve had it just a week now, a week as we speak, and it’s called To-Do List. You can get it at todolist.com. Brilliant iOS, Android, even Windows phone, fantastic. It really is just – you think it’s another to-do list. I love it, I love it! Todolist.com
John Lee Dumas: I’m obsessed with to-do lists in general, so if you don’t have some program like what Alan just said or Work Flowy, which is what I use, you have to get on it, Fire Nation. If you could recommend one book, Alan, what would it be and why?
Alan Coote: Another American one for you and it’s not deliberate because it genuinely is my favorite book of all time, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. If you haven’t got that by your side, I don’t think actually you’re a person that we’re talking to. Brilliant, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing, John. I lent this to my son. My son is 22. He was struggling with something, and I said to him, “Have you read this book,” and I gave him the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. My copy here, John, I thought I’d bring it in. Here it is. I would take a picture of it for you and I’ll tweet it, right?
John Lee Dumas: Yeah.
Alan Coote: It’s yellow. The pages, I’ve had it so long, it’s yellow. It’s not even like a new book. It cost me £2.95 when I bought it, which is what, $4.00 or $5.00, something like that?
John Lee Dumas: Sure.
Alan Coote: Okay, you probably get that at a secondhand store now, but it’s a fantastic book. It’s still going strong, isn’t he? Bought in ’88 or something like that. First published in 1936.
John Lee Dumas: Well, definitely tweet that and definitely throw my handle in there. We’ll put that picture on the show notes page. Alan, this is the last question of the lightning round, but it is also a doozy. So, imagine that you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world that’s identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge that you currently have right now, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Alan Coote: I would actually be setting up a website. I would be paying my few dollars to set up the website and then I would buy some stuff and I would be flogging on the internet. I would build it from there, and I would give myself some targets to turn that $500.00 within a couple of weeks into a $1,000.00, within a couple of months into $2,000.00 or $3,000.00, and within a year, who knows.
John Lee Dumas: Alan, let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Alan Coote: It’s just a fantastic place where we are right now to be an entrepreneur. It has not been easier to be an entrepreneur. You can get into it, really at a low-level. You can have a lifestyle entrepreneur relationship with your business and have a day job. It is just a fantastic place where we’re at right now. You don’t need that much money. I think you just need a few dollars. You don’t even need $500.00 I think, John. So, that’s my parting thought.
If you want to get in touch with me, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, if you tweet me @TheAlanCoote I will do a special for you on my training course, 90 percent discount for all Fire Nation listeners, and I’ll send you the link to our training course for startups and entrepreneurs.
John Lee Dumas: Wow, so cool. Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with A.C. and J.L.D. today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type ‘Alan’ in the search bar and his show on the page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today.
These are the best show notes in the biz. We have time stamps, links galore, Fire Nation. And of course, tweet Alan, @TheAlanCoote, C-O-O-T-E, @TheAlanCoote, and he’s gonna give you 90 percent off his training and you’re gonna be awesome. So, make sure it happens. Alan, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, brother, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Alan Coote: Alright John, I’m tweeting it now. Here we go, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Thanks, mate.
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