Tim Fargo has run a 2x Inc. 500 business and sold it for $20M. After writing his book Alphabet Success, he accidentally stumbled into a new SaaS business that is bringing in over $300K after just one year.
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- Keep – Tim’s small business resource
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini – Tim’s Top Business Book
- Alphabet Success – Tim’s book
- Social Jukebox – Tim’s website
- Tim’s email
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3 Key Points:
- Being over-focused on one thing may cause you to not see the opportunities that are before you.
- Define what you need when it comes to finding the talent to join your team.
- There is value in affiliate programs, because it can help you focus on growing your business.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:15] – Free Goals Course – A free 8 day course on how to set and accomplish your biggest goals!
- [01:02] – Tim is a dad to triplets; he is also a triathlete!
- [01:45] – JLD says there is an Amazon show titled This is Us about triplets
- [02:08] – Tim has already been on the EOFire: Episode 1069
- [02:29] – Social Jukebox is a content distribution system for social media
- [03:20] – While promoting his book, Tim thought the process of promoting on social media was cumbersome, so he asked someone to make a Twitter program for him to use
- [04:14] – While promoting the book, Tim found out that people were curious about his program
- [05:07] – Tim was so focused on what he was doing that he did not see the opportunity that was opening up
- [05:59] – JLD says that sometimes the path of least resistance is the path you should try
- [06:44] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Being able to find the right talent to fill slots
- [09:22] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: The Twitter app had just been completed and the VP of his other company told him he wanted to retire
- [11:11] – Tim learned he should have had a Plan B
- [12:22] – Gary Vaynerchuk says you should try to put yourself out of business so that you will be prepared
- [13:31] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Launching our affiliate program
- [14:07] – Tim does revenue share with his staff
- [15:11] – Tim contacted someone who builds affiliate programs
- [15:37] – Tim went to Amazon and looked for books about running an affiliate program and contacted people who might be able to help
- [16:36] – Aside from having his own network, those he outsourced to also had their own network and were using ShareASale
- [17:34] – JLD says there is value in taking the administrative tasks off your own plate so you can focus on growing your business
- [18:12] – What are you most FIRED up about right now? – Finding the path to make the affiliate program successful
- [18:42] – It is the key to my goal of having a virtual business
- [19:28] – JLD says the key to having a successful affiliate program is a great product or service
- [20:03] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “My limiting beliefs”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Is there a particular reason you are so anxious to waste your potential?”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Asking questions and listening to the answers”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Keep
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
- [23:36] – Allow yourself to slow down enough to see what is happening
- [24:00] – Connect with him via email
- [24:24] – Tim is giving $20 off a subscription to Social Jukebox for the first 100 people who sign up! The code is fire20
- [25:54] – FireUP – Turn your website visitors into leads!
Tim Fargo: Boom. Let's do it.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Tim has run an Inc. 500 business that he sold for $20 million. And after writing his book, Alphabet Success, he accidentally stumbled into a new SAS business that's bringing in over $300K after just one year. Tim, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Tim Fargo: I'm a dad. I have 17-year-old triplets who are all about to graduate high school, which means that this SAS business is perfect because I'm gonna have a lot of recurring expenses, as they head off to university.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah.
Tim Fargo: I'm actually a triathlete in the middle of a comeback. So, after many years of hanging up my goggles and bike pants and all that, I'm slogging my way back into gear.
John Lee Dumas: Well, as LL Cool J would say, don't call it a comeback, brother. You've bene here for years, No. 1. And, No. 2, triplets? Have you watched This is Us on Amazon yet?
Tim Fargo: No, I haven't.
John Lee Dumas: Okay. So, that's an Amazon original show. It's incredibly well done. Mandy Moore is one of the stars. And it's about triplets, and it's about triplets growing up, and it's an amazing, amazing Amazon original. Amazon is not the sponsor of this show. They just made a great show that I love, so I'm talking about it now.
But, Tim, you were Episode 1,069 of EOFire, so that was 600 episodes ago you rocked the mic. And we were chatting about a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Things have changed since then. That's almost two years ago that we had you on.
So, break down for Fire Nation what your area of expertise is right now, today, as we're talking in 2017.
Tim Fargo: Okay. Well, I'm running a business called Social Jukebox. And what that is, is a content distribution system for social media. So, essentially, you put your content in, and then it distributes that content, and it does it automatically, so you don't have to keep repopulating it.
Now, where I think there's a lesson for your audience – well, certainly a lesson for me and hopefully for them – when I got into this originally and the first time we spoke, a lot of what I was trying to do was promote a book.
So, I'd come out with Alphabet Success. This is July of 2013, right? So, I'm all about my book has come out. This is post-sale of my old business. And I'm thinking, okay, now, I'm gonna be an author, and I'm gonna do speaking and da, da, da, da, da.
So, in the process of doing that, I ended up finding the mechanics of posting on social media to be pretty cumbersome and kind of a time sink that I just didn't think I got any value back out of. I mean, the people who are following you or friending you on different levels of social media don't care how your posts get there. They're only interested in the content and how it relates to them.
So, anyhow, I ended up having someone build something for me. My old VP of IT actually wrote what was initially a Twitter program just for posting to Twitter, but it wasn't for sale. It was just so I didn't have to keep repopulating posts to go out.
And so, I'm trudging ahead. I'm trudging ahead, and I'm thinking, okay, I'm gonna sell books, I'm gonna sell books. And I was selling books, and that was great. But I was getting a lot of questions about the software.
So, the book was a push, right? So, I'm having to try to push this book because people were interested, after I talked about it a lot. But I wasn't pushing the software, but that was getting questions anyhow.
And that was sort of, you know, talk about having an aha moment, it was like, maybe the solution here is to drop the thing that's requiring me putting my shoulder into it full blast all the time and go to the thing that people seem to be natively interested in.
And when I made that distinction and shifted, all of a sudden, we signed up thousands and thousands of people for a free version when we polished it up and put it out for the public.
And I guess my point here, to encapsulate and if it's not clear, it's very easy to get focused in on what you're doing and not see that there's an opportunity, and it's laying just next to where you already are.
And, to me, that's one of the dangers of – focus is a great thing, but you can be overly focused, I would say, where you become myopic, and you're only looking at that one thing ahead of you and going, "No, I have to focus on this. I have to focus on this. I have to focus on this."
And I'm not saying that you should allow yourself to be constantly distracted and look at the next new shiny object, but there's times where the evidence is clear, right, that putting your time into this other thing is gonna be much easier. And I can tell you that I've sold a lot more subscriptions than I did books.
John Lee Dumas: Sometimes, Fire Nation, the path of least resistance is the path to try because there might be a reason why you're able to move in that direction a little easier than the last.
But, Tim, to be honest, you didn't answer the question. So, I'm gonna go back and repeat it, but I'm only gonna give you two sentences this time to answer it. And that question is: What is your area of expertise today, 2017?
Tim Fargo: Don't ask how you're gonna do it. Ask who you're gonna get to do it.
John Lee Dumas: So, how would you describe that as being an area of expertise that you have?
Tim Fargo: I would say being able to find the right talent to fill slots is a definite advantage, and I think there's a temptation to try to put all the hats on your hat rack over in the corner and think you're gonna be able to slay all those dragons when there are already people who do all those things.
John Lee Dumas: Well, how do we find those people then? So, that's your unique skill is being able to find those people, put together these teams. How do we, the listeners, as entrepreneurs, what don't we know that you know, since this is your area of expertise that we should know?
Tim Fargo: Well, I think the first step is identifying that you don't need to be the person. I think that's the first step of expertise is taking yourself out of the path of direct responsibility to get it done. That's the first challenge for very many people, right?
And then the second piece, which is what you asked about, is to take a step back and say, okay, well, where do I find people who do X? Okay. So, if you're looking – like, I use the people that do the development on my software. Those people are contracted through Upwork, right?
I have other people who I know from just my own network that are doing admin for me, doing things for me where I'm looking for a higher level of trust, a higher level of prior experience. So, I think you have to take each thing that you wanna get done, and then you need to define it clearly. And I think that's the key, and it may sound obvious, but the key to successfully finding someone to work with you in any given sphere.
I mean, people may have the technical competence, but there are other things you need. For instance, someone's gonna be my PA. I don't need just somebody that can mess around with Excel and stuff. I need somebody that I can really trust because I have a lot of sensitive data regarding the financials and stuff that I did before.
So, all that stuff needs to be outlined before you even start looking because the more clearly you define something, the more easy it's gonna be to find it, right?
John Lee Dumas: All right, Tim, let's shift. You have done some things in the last couple years. You've had some struggles. You've had some great successes. What has been your biggest struggle? What would you actually define as your worst moment that you've experienced in these past two years since we last talked? Take us to what you consider that moment is, and tell us that specific story.
Tim Fargo: Well, we'd just finished getting the Twitter app wrapped up and out, and we actually had launched the payment gateway. And then I was having lunch with this guy that was my former VP from the old business that had written the software, and Len just announced to me that he was retiring. Well, I mean, when there's two people in the business, 50 percent of my staff, so to speak, was leaving.
And this actually relates to what I was talking about because this is somebody who I trust so incredibly. Len is somebody I've known since when I graduated college and have worked with many times in that intervening period.
So, trying to find that new person to fill that gap, that was – first, I went through all the stages of grief, I guess. But I really needed to sit down and think, how am I gonna do this, and really learn to accept, in this particular case, that I wasn't gonna find a new Len. You can't replace a 25-year relationship with a great "Help Wanted" ad.
John Lee Dumas: So, Tim, looking back that that experience that you had, what would you have done differently leading up to that to maybe prepare better? I mean, specifically what I'm looking for are just a couple of – not even just a couple; I'm actually gonna narrow it down to one for you – just your greatest takeaway.
What's the greatest lesson that you learned, going through that experience of losing essentially half of the employees at your business or half of the people that ran your business in just one fell swoop like that? What's the greatest lesson learned?
Tim Fargo: I should have had a Plan B. I mean, Len's in his 60s, right? So, it wasn't like, hey, we'll be doing this for the next 40 years. I mean, looking back, I should have had a Plan B.
John Lee Dumas: What would have been a Plan B? What would that have looked like?
Tim Fargo: I think we could have brought somebody in as sort of a contract person while he was still feeling more engaged. We could go through all the mechanics of it, but I think realizing from the onset that it would have been good to have somebody else in the event – I mean, because in this case, at least I had the announcement, and he helped me find someone else. But if he had just said, "I'm out of here," I would have really been stuck.
So, having a clear path to a Plan B for anything − and I think in any area of anyone's business, if there's something – if you can see that there's a silver bullet that could kill your business if this thing goes wrong, and it's something that is within the realm of realistic probability, you really ought to have a plan for overcoming that.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, something that Gary Vaynerchuk says all the time, which I love, is, you should be trying to put yourself out of business every single day because it's so much better for you to put yourself out of business, so you can figure out how to shore up those defenses or make a shift or an adjustment than somebody else.
What would have happened if the taxi industry had been trying to think of ways that they could be put out of business, and they weren't so ill-prepared for Uber, and the same thing with Airbnb and the hotel industry and all these things. So, try to put yourself out of business. By the way, that might have you come up with your greatest idea to date. I mean, you just truly never know.
And speaking of greatest ideas to date, Tim, again, let's really narrow this timeline to the last couple years because you've been working hard on Social Jukebox and doing all of these different things. What's been your greatest idea that has come out, that aha moment in the past couple years that you really think would be an interesting story for Fire Nation?
Tim Fargo: Well, the idea that I'm working on now and I'm super, super excited about is we just launched our affiliate program. And the reason I say I'm excited about that, I mean, I'm taking a much different path than a lot of other people that I see with similar type SAS businesses where they start building a big team of people who actually are employees.
What I'm doing is trying to leverage these kind of relationships where I'm gonna look where my goals can align with the other person's. So, I'm super excited that what I'm gonna do is share my revenue with them because other people see what you do in a different way, right?
So, I could go into the market, and I can develop content that'll drive people to what I do, and I've done that and will continue to do that. But there are other people who will approach it in a much different way.
And I think the idea – I mean, I've heard people kind of down-talk affiliate programs. And, to me, you're closing yourself off, for one, I mean, just like the raw relationships you don't have. But the approach other people may have, you may learn quite a bit.
It's like a massive AB test because there are all these people who have a much different perspective on the marketplace than you might. And, so far, we've signed up over 100 people in just the last week.
John Lee Dumas: And let's talk about those mechanics specifically, less about the perspective, more about the mechanics. How are you implementing this affiliate program? What are you using for a software? Are you using Ambassador? And how are you finding the most effective ways to bring affiliates on?
Tim Fargo: How I'm doing it is I actually contracted with somebody who builds and manages affiliate programs, and I did that because I don't have expertise in that. I don't have time to develop expertise in that. So, I'd rather negotiate at a rate and pay someone to manage and oversee what the affiliates are doing.
John Lee Dumas: Now, if one of our listeners was looking for a way to do something like that, where'd you go to even find a name?
Tim Fargo: I went on Amazon, and I was reading a book – I looked for books about running an affiliate program, not about being an affiliate, but running an affiliate program. And a guy named Geno who runs Affiliate Navigator, he wrote the book, right? So, I went through and I contacted a variety of people who did things like him, and you just look for affiliate managers, and there are tons of people that do it.
And then, to me, this is just a basic vendor thing. Do people get back to you? How quickly do they get back to you? What kind of questions did they ask you? Did they seem like they're interested in actually moving your business forward, or are they just interested in moving their own business forward?
John Lee Dumas: And once you locked in a person, how did you find more effective ways to actually bring affiliates into your world?
Tim Fargo: I had a ton of inquiries from users already, so that was super helpful. And because I'm using an outside person, I'm latching onto some relationships they already have.
We're using a platform called ShareASale, which also saves a ton of administrative work because, instead of me paying all the affiliates individually, I can pay ShareASale one check, and they distribute that money. They do all the 1099s at the end of the year. I mean, that's a huge amount of administrative work.
John Lee Dumas: Huge.
Tim Fargo: So, I've offloaded that. And then there are other people in ShareASale who are also selling social media type products. So, some of those people are coming across and wanting to sample what we're doing, as well.
So, I mean, there was kind of a confluence of factors. One was getting the manager. The other was, once we looked at a platform, it was finding a platform where there were probably already other affiliates who would be interested in what we were doing, and that was ShareASale for us.
And then I had the existing base of users, tons of people who would ask me, "When are you gonna have an affiliate program? When are you gonna have an affiliate program?" But we just needed the time to kind of put it together.
John Lee Dumas: So, Fire Nation, there's ShareASale. There is something like Commission Junction. There's JVNation. There's ClickBank. So, there's definitely companies out there like what Tim's talking about that do this and that take all that administrative off the plate, which is so key and is what Tim did, so the 1099s, the distribution of all the funds.
You don't wanna be sitting there on PayPal, sending somebody 37 cents for selling one whatever. So, you wanna make sure that you have that streamlined, so you can keep focusing on doing what you wanna do, which is grow your business.
And now, fast-forwarding to today, Tim, what are you most fired up about right now, as we're speaking?
Tim Fargo: I would go right back to the affiliate thing because, to me, finding the path to make that super successful because it answers the question of, how can I build sales for my business without building a huge staff because this ties into my own personal goals for the business. I had a business with over 300 people. I don't wanna do that again.
So, I'm interested in trying to create as much of a virtual business as possible. So, for me, the affiliate thing is key. And we've had initial success. But how do we leverage that up and make sure that the people that have signed up are successful? And that's something we're actively working with them on.
But then, also, how do we continue to make it successful and find ways – what are the key drivers because that will end up being, at least for me, I view that as being a huge part of my marketing engine.
So, it's just right in front of me every day now, so I'm constantly pumped up. And I love getting questions, and people are reaching out to me, and they're fired up to be part of it. So, that's what's kind of blowing the wind in my sails at the moment.
John Lee Dumas: And what's key, Fire Nation, for affiliate programs to work, well, you need to have a great product or a great service or a great fill-in-the-blank. That's where it's gonna work because people aren't gonna sell crap. People can't sell crap. And if you create crap, then it's not gonna work.
So, it starts Day 1, Minute 1, by mapping out and then creating that great product, which obviously Tim has been able to do, which is why he's been able to be successful, get to that $300K number, and of course start bringing on affiliates, etc., etc.
Now, Fire Nation, we're about to crush the lightning round, so don't you go anywhere. We're gonna take a quick minute to thank our sponsors.
Tim, are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Tim Fargo: Let's do it.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Tim Fargo: For me, it was always a limiting belief, thinking that the people who did that, that being entrepreneurship, were possessed of some special thing. And the reality is, we all have some special skillsets, and it was just me getting in there and trying and finding out, what are you good at and what you aren't good at. So, once I kind of shifted my mindset, I was in the game.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you've ever received?
Tim Fargo: I was in the tenth grade, and I had a teacher take me aside because I was a complete class disrupter and clown. And he said, "Is there a particular reason you're so anxious to waste your potential?"
John Lee Dumas: Oh, that just gets right to the core. That's just not one of those, "Tim, what's your −" it's like, "Are you wasting your potential?" Yes.
Tim Fargo: Yeah, but he nailed it −
John Lee Dumas: Totally.
Tim Fargo: − just even to my personality, where I was like, "What do you mean? I'm not wasting anything." So, of course, then I had to prove him wrong.
John Lee Dumas: Of course.
Tim Fargo: So, it was great.
John Lee Dumas: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Tim Fargo: Asking questions and actually listening to the answers is huge. By asking a variety of people, it doesn't always change my mind, but it may change how I think about it, and it may even just be like a subtle nuance of how I'll do something slightly differently after getting feedback from people.
I solicit a ton of feedback when I'm gonna try to shift and do something new. And every time I've done that, I've been richly, richly rewarded.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Tim Fargo: I continue to use a program called Keep, which is an app on Android. And I think it's not just the app, but the way I use it. A lot of people talk about all the metrics in their business, right? And what I try to use Keep for is like a diary.
I have some numbers in there, but also, what I'm thinking about and how I'm feeling about it and stuff because I find it really valuable to periodically go back and read through that because some things, I was like, "Oh, my God, I'll never overcome this," and you look back, and you're, like, that was just the smallest pebble in the road ever.
John Lee Dumas: Such good advice.
Tim Fargo: Anything that's on your phone, man, is always so nice because, for most people, the phone is something that's always in their hand.
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend one book to join Alphabet Success on our bookshelves, what would it be, and why?
Tim Fargo: I have given more copies out of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Cialdini. Many people have read it, but I would say that I've even gone back to it. To me, it's like a reference tool, just to keep sharpening those skills because the lessons in there are just super valuable. Actually, I just gave all my kids a copy. I think it's a tremendous book.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, it's one of those books that's not at the 40 percent mark in my Kindle because it seems like most business books just kind of fizzle at about 40 percent for me. This one, I mean, straight through to the end, boom, crushed it.
Now, Tim, I wanna end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Tim Fargo: Parting piece of advice is just what I talked a little bit about, and that is allowing yourself to slow down enough to see the things ahead of you and see what's working and what's not working. At least for me, I've found sometimes I'll be trying to go so fast that I'll miss what should have been an obvious thing.
So, hitting that slowdown button every now and then can be super, super helpful, that you're not just trudging ahead, working hard on the wrong thing.
To get a hold of me, I'm on Twitter, @alphabetsuccess, which is my Twitter handle. And anybody that ever wants to ask me a question can always reach me at email@example.com. And, in fact, something I have never, ever, ever done before, but since I'm a two-time guest now −
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
Tim Fargo: − I wanted to give the listeners a special coupon to get $20.00 off their subscription. And I just had this written into the program for this, so I just thought it'd be fun.
So, anyhow, the coupon code is FIRE20, so for $20.00 off, FIRE20. So, we're gonna take the first 100 people. My accountant says we can't do more than that. So, the first 100 people, we'll give $20.00 off to.
But we'd welcome people to try socialjukebox.com. I think it'll save them a lot of time, so they can focus on what's key and important in their own businesses.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with TF and JLD today. So, keep up the heat, and head over to EOFire.com and just type Tim in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore.
Of course, just email Tim, firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget about that $20.00 discount, FIRE20. That's FIRE20 when you sign up for Social Jukebox, and definitely check it out. Fire Nation, if you don't have some kind of social media management system, you need one. It's critical.
Tim, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we'll catch you on the flipside.
Tim Fargo: Thanks, John, I appreciate it.
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