Joe Kashurba started a web design business in high school and grew it into an agency with clients around the world. He went from charging $300 to $30,000 for websites.
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17Hats – Joe’s small business resource
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz – Joe’s top business book
JoeKashurba.com – Joe’s website
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3 Value Bombs
1) Identify who your ideal clients are and setup your services to address their specific needs.
2) As the owner of your company, YOU get to set the rules.
3) Compete with the value of your product or service instead of the price.
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[00:47] – Joe recently got engaged and has two businesses: his digital agency and one in which he helps others grow their businesses
[01:41] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Helping freelance web designers and agency owners 10X their businesses
- He helps freelance web designers and agency owners identify their ideal clients, core services and most powerful marketing channels to grow their business
[03:09] – Joe has a 4-step process for 10X-ing your business:
- Identify your ideal clients
- Develop a small set of core services and package them for what those ideal clients need
- Get one marketing strategy working
- Scale that up and do more of that marketing strategy
[05:23] – Worst entrepreneurial moment: Joe was a web designer throughout high school and college. At the end of college, he was part of a startup that fell apart and he did not have a job after graduating. Joe ended up moving back into his parent’s house and struggled for a long time
- His worst moment was when he decided to combine his dying startup business with his freelance design business
- A college friend asked Joe what he was doing combining the two and he decided to end the startup company
- Joe realized that with both businesses, he was competing with price rather than value
- Joe was also not doing any marketing for either of the businesses
[08:50] – Greatest AH-HA Moment: Joe was at a conference and was overwhelmed with work. He was talking to someone who owned a white label digital agency and asked how they handled the clients who wanted to make changes to their advertising campaigns
- The person said they did not allow any kind of changes
- Joe realized he could set the rules and tell his clients what they will and will not do
- After the conference, Joe standardized his pricing, decided what projects he wanted to work on, and only offered specific products
- The business was simplified and they went from the traditional freelance model of doing everything for everybody to a nuanced model of having a small menu of core services
[11:14] – JLD says we can be good at a lot of things or great at a couple of things
[12:23] – If you are a service-based business, you have to realize that it is your business and you get to set the rules
[12:53] – What are you most FIRED up about right now: A Facebook group that Joe created for those who have joined his program
- People are connecting and working together in the community and Joe is excited to see it grow
[16:07] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Myself—my fear and my indecision”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “You have to set goals and you have to look at where you want to go; but, on a daily basis, you have to focus on the daily actions”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – To start every single day with a 15-minute activity that will move the business forward
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – 17Hats
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
[20:41] – Simplify your business
Joe: Absolutely. I’m ready to roll.
John Lee: Joe started a web design business in high school and grew into an agency with clients around the world. He went from charging $300 to $30,000 for websites.
Joe, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Joe: Absolutely. So, I guess right now, I live in Pittsburgh. I just recently got engaged, so I live with my fiancé. And let’s see, business-wise, I have two businesses. I have the digital agency, which started as a freelance web design business in high school. Has now grown into a digital agency that’s completely virtual. We have graphic designers and developers, and project managers and the whole business is virtual and everybody works from home.
And then on the other side, I have, about a year-and-a-half ago, I started another business where I’m working with other freelance web designers and digital agency owners to help them grow their businesses. So, that’s the other business I’m working on right now.
John Lee: So, with everything you have goin’ on, what would you say your area of expertise is?
Joe: My main area of expertise right now, you know, especially with this business where I’m helping other web designers and agency owners, is really helping them 10x their businesses. And I say Tenex specifically because I think sometimes people need to step back and actually think about 10xing their business. What would you do if you have to 10x your business?
Because if you just think about growing your business a little bit, you know, if you wanna grow your business 10 percent say, that’s all about doin’ more of the same things that you’re already doing. You know, grinding a little bit harder. But when I tell somebody, you know, “How are you gonna 10x your business?” It allows you to think about, you know, big picture things and what major shifts would have to happen in your business.
So, anyway, my expertise is helping freelance web designers and digital agency owners really identify those ideal clients, those core service offerings and sort of those most powerful marketing channels so that they can go from having a business that’s stagnating to a business that’s growing really fast and actually 10x their business.
John Lee: Well, Joe, I did the math. And going from $300 to $30,000 per website, that’s 100xing your business. So, you’re obviously the man. What do we as entrepreneurs need to know about 10xing, 100xing our business that we probably don’t?
Joe: Yeah. I think it starts with understanding that 10xing your business is more about simplifying things than it is about adding complexity. So, I have a really simple four-step process for 10xing your business, which is the process that I work with web designers on doing.
And basically, that process is No. 1, identifying who are your ideal clients? Rather than working with everybody and doing everything for everybody, who are your ideal clients? And I tell people to get out a piece of paper, write down the top five or ten best clients they’ve ever worked with and ask themselves some questions.
Why did that person work with me? What did they really want? Why did I like that client? And if you do that, you’ll notice some trends and you’ll be able to identify, wow. My top five best clients were all roofing contractors. Or they were all people with this problem or that kinda thing.
And then from there, you can – the second step is to develop a small set of core services offerings and package them up in such a way that they’re exactly what those ideal clients need. So many web designers or graphic designers or people in those kinds of businesses, they just sort of do everything for everybody, rather than figuring out, that ideal client needs this specific service and packaged up in this specific way.
So, you develop some specific offerings. And then step No. 3 is actually going out, getting marketing running, and putting all of your attention on getting one marketing strategy up and running and working. Not doing 10 zillion things, blogging and tweeting and all kinds of things. Getting one marketing strategy working solidly in place.
And then step No. 4 is just scaling that up and doing more of that marketing strategy.
John Lee: Boom. I mean Fire Nation, you were just taken through the Joe Process. And this is a guy that 100xed his business. So, let’s take notes. I love all of that.
Now, Joe, I wanna do right now is talk about what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. What is that moment, brother? Break it down for me.
Joe: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s a tough one because I feel like there’ve been so many challenging moments and things. The worst moment was right after college. So, I did the web design all through high school and college on the side. And then at the end of college, I was involved in the start-up company that sort of fell apart right during graduation week and everything.
So, when college ended, all my friends were getting jobs at Amazon and Oracle, and places like that. And I didn’t have a start-up company, and I didn’t have a job. And I moved back in with my parents. And so that was a pretty demoralizing thing. And I struggled for a long time, sort of half still tryin’ to get this start-up company to work. And that company was doing – I was doing this website builder, similar to a Wix or a Squarespace. And I never even got one client for that.
And then I had the web design business that was just tryin’ to do random freelance work for people and nothin’ was happening there.
And sort of the worst moment when it all sort of hit it’s nadir – I don’t know if that’s the right pronunciation of that word – is when I had the brilliant idea, which was not so brilliant, to basically combine those two businesses. To basically combine this dying website builder start-up with the freelance web design business. And I was gonna all put it under one roof. And it was like you could pay a $100 for a do-it-yourself website or you could pay $250 for a I-would-do-it-for-you website. And it was just sort of that last desperate attempt to do somethin’.
And that was the plan until a college friend of mine literally texted me while I’m getting ready to put up this combined website that, “What am I doin’? I’m gonna muddy up my brand by just combining everything.” And then I was like, “Okay. I need to stop.” And I sort of stopped all that. That’s when that start-up company officially sort of ended. And that was the low point.
John Lee: What I want you to do now, Joe, is just take a minute. Maybe one or two sentences, sum up for Fire Nation exactly what you want us to take away from that story?
Joe: One massive mistake that I made was that with both businesses, I was competing on price rather than competing on value. So, I kept lowering the price of that website builder, hoping people would buy and kept lowering the price of my websites, hoping people would buy. When really, I needed to focus on providing value to people and solving their problems.
And then No. 2 was I wasn’t doing any marketing for either of those two businesses. And it’s funny, I remember when I was in that moment. I was just reading the E-Myth. And I was all in this idea of working on my business, but really what I needed to do was I needed to work in my business. I needed to just go out and do marketing and build websites, and keep it really simple. Rather than trying to build all kinds of new stuff.
So, it was a little bit longer than a few sentences, but I hope it’s helpful.
John Lee: It’s definitely helpful. And what I kinda want you to move into next is, one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date, I mean obviously, you’ve already shared a couple of great ideas. But what’s that epic “ah-ha” moment, story, that you can kinda walk us through that we can potentially apply the lessons learned into our businesses?
Joe: Especially when you have a service-based business, there’s sort of this idea that you have to do whatever the clients want. And one time I was at a conference, and this was after, after I was already making, I was probably doing maybe $10,000 a month as a freelancer at this point. I had some contractors I was startin’ to work with. But I was overwhelmed. I was completely overwhelmed and that kinda thing.
And I was at this conference in San Diego and I was talking to somebody there who owned a white label digital agency, where basically they did digital marketing behind the scenes for advertising agencies and things. And I asked this person, “When clients want these changes to their advertising campaigns, what do you do? Or do they talk to a project manager? How does that work?”
And this person said somethin’ really profound, which was, “We just don’t allow those kinds of changes.”
And it was this huge “ah-ha” moment that the answer wasn’t necessarily finding some way to be able to fulfill every possible thing a client could want. It was as the business owner, I can set the rules and I can say that we just don’t do that.
And this set off this whole chain reaction in my mind where I started basically to take control of my business. And I remember flying back from that conference with a notebook with a moleskin notebook and that was when I standardized all of my pricing. I made a list of all the kind of projects I wasn’t gonna work on. All the kind of projects I did wanna work on. Standardized the prices, and went from being a “do anything for anybody” things, having a very small set of productized offerings.
And after that was when I was able to start bringing in project managers because the business had become so much more simplified. And that’s really when I [inaudible] [00:10:18] from what I like to call the “traditional agency or freelance model of doing everything for everybody” to sort of this very nuanced model of I have a small menu of core services that have set prices and this is all I do. And the business is very, very simple.
John Lee: So, Fire Nation, what I wanna say is this. We can be a generalist. We can be good at a lot of things. Or we can be great at a couple things. And when you chose those couple things to be great at, you can start charging a premium for those services.
Like for me, it was just podcasting daily. I just wanted to become great at that. What is it that you wanna become great at? I love that core – think you said go to one of the people has [inaudible], it’s the problem with the race to the bottom, now that means like the bottom for pricing, like the Squarespaces and the Wix of the world that Joe talked about earlier, the problem with the race to the bottom is that you just might win.
You might win that race and guess what? You lose. Because now you’re just basically charging nothing. And by the way, you come in second place, then you triple lose because you’re trying to beat down the prices and now you’re not even gonna win that. You can’t be the Walmarts of the world, Fire Nation. You can’t beat the Squarespace of the world. So, don’t try.
But you can be the best. You can be premium. You can be just custom to make that stuff happen.
So, Joe, what do you wanna make sure our listeners get from your “ah-ha” moment?
Joe: Yeah. I think what you’d mentioned is really important for everybody. About identifying that one thing you wanna be great at. But if you’re specifically service-based business in that situation of doing everything for everybody and letting the clients dictate the process, I think the biggest thing is just realizing it’s your business, and you get to set the rules.
You walk into a restaurant and you either sit down or you wait for somebody to seat you based on them setting the rules. It’s your business. You can set the rules and dictate whatever that process is.
John Lee: Joe, what are you most excited about right now?
Joe: The thing I’m most excited about right now is actually a Facebook group. So, we have all these web designers and agency owners that we’re working with and I’ve wanted to do this for a while and finally set up a private Facebook group for everybody who’s gone through our program. And the first time that we’ve sort of connected up those people.
And I’m just really excited about that because with only just getting it started, people are already connecting and they’re setting up their own calls and working together on things. And I’m just really excited to see how that community goes and to actually see a community to grow for the first time like that.
John Lee: Love that. And Fire Nation, if you think that you’ve been getting fire bombs dropped up on your head of value, you have been. And we got some more coming up in the Lightning Round after we thank our sponsors.
Joe, are you ready to rock the Lightning Rounds?
Joe: I’m ready to go.
John Lee: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Joe: Myself. At the beginning, at every stage of entrepreneurship, the biggest thing holding me back was myself, was my fear of what people would think of me. My indecision, my fear or investing some money in something and having it not work out. And I just see more and more that entrepreneurship is so much a game of mastering yourself. And maybe that’s probably 80 percent of it. And 20 percent of it is the tactics and strategies.
John Lee: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Joe: You have to set goals and you have to look at where you wanna go. But on a daily basis, you have to focus on the daily actions. And somebody once told me, “What you wanna do is you wanna set the goals and then actually to an extent, forget about the goals and just focus on the daily practices that you have to do.”
And I think that’s really important whether you’re – if you wanna make $100 grand a year or a million dollars a year, that doesn’t happen in one day. It happens if every day, you get up in the morning, you do the daily actions that you need to do every day for a bunch of days. And so, I’m always tryin’ to think about not just the goals, but also, “Okay. Today, what am I doing to get there?”
John Lee: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Joe: You know, one thing that I do religiously is every single day, no matter, you know, the night before is when I decide what this is, every single day, I start with a 15-minute activity that’s gonna move one of the businesses forward. So, that’s the working on the business piece, whether it’s creating a new ad or doing some new little thing, or researching something.
I always do some 15-minute activity. That way, even on the craziest day with all kinds of meetings and all kinds of stuff goin’ on, I’ve carved out at least 15 minutes to do something really, really important to move the businesses forward.
John Lee: Can you share an internet resource that you’re diggin’ right now?
Joe: A SaaS product that I absolutely love and I recommend to everybody that I talk to is called 17hats. It’s basically for business owners that have to wear bunch of different hats. So, it does everything from invoicing to proposals that you can electronically sign, to bookkeeping to it’s a CRM and project management. And anybody that has a service-based business that has to do all those things, 17hats is amazing. Of all the programs I’ve ever seen, it kills the most birds with the fewest stones.
John Lee: If you could recommend one book, Joe, what would it be and why?
Joe: I would recommend, “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz. If anybody hasn’t heard of it, Maxwell Maltz talks about how everybody has an identity or a view of themselves. And that you can’t really accomplish anything that you don’t see your identity as being able to accomplish.
So, if you don’t see yourself as being worth making $100,000 a year or a million dollars a year, then there’s no way you can achieve it in the real world.
So, he talks about doing affirmations and different things like that to sort of redevelop your identity and it’s interesting because there’s so much stuff like, “The Secret” and “Think and Grow Rich,” where they talk about reaffirming all the time what your goals are and what you wanna achieve. And this sorta takes a step back from that and says, “Well, who do you have to be? And who do you have to see yourself as being in order to achieve those things?”
And then you create affirmations to reaffirm that every day. And I always have a variety of affirmations that I’m doing every day, whether that’s to build up my ability to be decisive or my ability to be more confident when I’m speaking, or something like that. And it’s been a really, really important factor in transforming myself into the person that I needed to be to achieve the things that I have.
John Lee: Joe, let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance. The best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say good-bye.
Joe: Absolutely. So, let’s do it. Parting piece of guidance would be to simplify. Just look at your business as something that’s extremely simple. You need a product or service that people want. You need a way to deliver that product or service, and you need a way to get customers or clients. And that’s all there is to it. So, identify which of those pieces is missing in your business and focus all of your attention on getting that piece in place. And then look at which is the next piece that’s weakest. And sort of that’s as simple as it is.
And then in terms of getting in touch with me, on the web design and digital marketing side, if you’re interested in done-for-you services, that website is kashurbawebdesign.com. And then for anybody that has a freelance business or an agency business, they can go to joekashurba.com and learn about how we work with freelancers and agency owners. And we actually have a 90-minute webinar that we do periodically that people can register for.
John Lee: Well, Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you have been hangin’ out with JK and JLD today. So, keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type “Joe” or “Joseph” in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talkin’ about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Time stamps, links galore.
And Joe, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you. And we’ll catch ya on the flip side.
Joe: Absolutely. Thanks so much for havin’ me.
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