What would it take for you to double your revenue next year? When asked this question, many of us default to the standard hustle culture fare. But is “grinding” really the most effective way to grow a community business?
In this episode, we explore the alternatives with Terry Rice. He is a business development consultant, an Entrepreneur magazine staff writer, and host of the Launch Your Business podcast. On the show today, Terry shares his tactics for earning more and saving time while running a thriving community.
Don't miss this chat because we discuss powerful beginner and advanced tips alike. We talk about transitioning from traditional jobs to freelancing, consulting, and all the way to creating a business. Terry, Jillian, and special co-host Matt go all out with strategies for pricing, networking, and building expertise.
We also look at the evolution of online communities and uncover the best ways to meet the increasing demand for high-quality and meaningful online connections.
This conversation is a true deep dive into building an online presence with the best tools and mindset in place. Listen in on this epic session to learn more!
Terry Rice is a Business Development Consultant and Staff Writer at Entrepreneur magazine. He's also the host of Launch Your Business, a podcast that helps entrepreneurs make money, save time and avoid burnout. His previous experience includes internal consulting roles at Adobe and Facebook.
Based in Brooklyn, Terry is an instructor at New York University, speaks at business development events on behalf of Amazon and Google, and has been featured as a subject matter expert by Good Morning America.
- Find out at TerryRice.co
- The Solopreneur's Fast Track course
- Connect with Terry on Instagram and LinkedIn
In This Episode
- Transitioning from a traditional job to running a business
- Escaping impostor syndrome by not being an impostor
- Pricing your services as a consultant
- How to build an entrepreneur network
- Step three: Profit!
- Leveraging affiliate marketing as you're building a brand
- How Terry doubled his revenue by working fewer hours
- Why demand for community is outpacing demand for content
- Why an unchecked ego can hold you back
- Connect with @TeamSPI on Twitter
The CX 069: How Terry Rice Doubled His Revenue during the Pandemic
Jillian Benbow: Hey, everyone! Jillian here, Just a heads-up, this episode contains some explicit language and may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
Terry Rice: Going back to what you were saying in regards to not being the star of the conversation, I was tempted to do that. Someone would ask a question, when someone else would answer, I'm like, "Oh, you're stealing my show."
But then I realized, "No dude, that's what they're here for. It's not just Terry. They know your perspective, they want to hear someone else. You have to check your ego." When have you ever been in an opportunity where you're like, "You know what would make this better? Ego." It never happens. So it can only make things worse, and I realized I had to stay on mute sometimes and let the community support each other, and I was just a curator, not necessarily the expert they needed at that time.
Jillian Benbow: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of The Community Experience podcast. I'm your hostess with the mostest, Jillian Benbow, and today, SPI CEO Matthew Gartland is joining as my co-host, and we're talking to Terry Rice, who is a all-around badass, frankly. Terry is the host of the podcast, Launch Your Business. He's also the founder of Terry Rice Consulting, where he helps entrepreneurs make more money, save time, and avoid burnout. Oh, and he's also the Business Development Expert-in-Residence at Entrepreneur Magazine, like hello. Yeah, so Terry knows what he's doing. We get into how he got into where he is and we just talk a lot about community and how it weaves into the entrepreneurial industry in general and where we think it's going, and lots of great stuff. Enough from me, let's get into the episode. I hope you enjoy.
Welcome to this episode of the Community Experience podcast and I have my faithful semi-cohost back with me, Matthew Gartland, CEO of SPI Media. Hello, Matt.
Matthew Gartland: Hello, glad to be back.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, and we have an amazing guest today, Mr. Terry Rice. Welcome to the show.
Terry Rice: Hey, thanks for having me.
Jillian Benbow: Let's just jump right in. This whole episode came about, Matt and Terry, I think, are pals. They've been talking. Terry, you are doing stuff at Entrepreneur Magazine. You have your own consulting business, you're just kicking butt and taking names so let our audience know, if they don't already know, a little bit about you.
Terry Rice: First of all, I have four kids, so everything else I do is on the side, pretty much, but I'm a business development consultant and that normally involves helping other entrepreneurs grow their brand and revenue. I'm also a staff writer at Entrepreneur Magazine where I primarily focus on creating content that would've helped me seven years ago when I started my business. I do speaking engagements, course creator, and then like I said, a lot of babysitting outside of that.
Jillian Benbow: Hey, when it's your kids, it's not babysitting. It's parenting.
Terry Rice: That's a good point.
Jillian Benbow: Your partner's going to come after you. They're listening. We'll cut it out, don't worry. That's fascinating. How did you get into just business consulting? You mentioned it's the things that you wished you would've known when you started. What had you started long ago? What was your business? Talk us through your experience with running a business.
Terry Rice: Well, it started when I left my corporate job and just for background, I used to work at Facebook as well as Adobe in a digital marketing function, so helping companies like Best Buy, Amazon, Delta, you name it, grow through paid ads. In 2015, I decided to start my own business, and here's the issue. It's possibly very good at your job, but not good at running a business, and I wish someone would've told me that when I first started mine because I was great at marketing, but not good at marketing myself, not having good processes in place, all that stuff.
I really struggled for the first 18 months but at the same time, that's when my daughter was first born too, and it was unfortunate because I was always worried every day because I felt like her future was tied to the success of my business and I had no clue what I was doing. There were times from her early childhood that I don't really remember as much because I was just distracted by this worry and uncertainty, so that's a lot of what I focus on, is helping people avoid those frustrations, those challenges, again, the uncertainty, so I can just focus on helping people, but not at the expense of their personal life.
Jillian Benbow: I think that resonated a lot. I feel like, Matt, you have a similar story and little kids at home too, so I'd love to shoot it over to you to get your response.
Matthew Gartland: Privately, Terry and I have connected a bunch already, fatherhood and parenting amidst this crazy world of entrepreneurship so yeah, it tracks in. I think it's consistent with a lot of it. It's actually for me now with two little ones at home. Terry's kids, I think, are older. But yeah, there's a real, you could call it a mindset but you could also call it some level strategy, which is, what are you trying to do, if you are Terry, even like me, even Pat's story, which is replacing a traditional job and source of income with something that of your own, are you just trying to build a job, or are you trying to build a business? These are two very different things.
Even in, Jill, our SPI MBA community group, sort of the upper end, this is something that we're talking about actually pretty squarely, which is, it's a great objective to accomplish if you can replace potentially a six-figure income from a really great company, [inaudible] you do a really great job, congratulations truly. But then increasingly, some entrepreneurs don't just want to stop there. They want be able to delegate more, they want to be able to grow income, they want to be able to do different things beyond just themselves and this notion of having a replacement job, and that is then this notable shift in thinking, in strategy, in systems, and all these other things. Even Terry was trying to mention our process, into how do you . Structure and build and grow a business, right?
Terry Rice: It's funny you mentioned that you somewhat gave yourself a new job. My goal when I first went independent was to make as much money as I was at Facebook, which was not a bad salary. I did that by year three, I want to say, but I did not have processes in place. I didn't even realize how much money I was making 'cause I wasn't tracking it properly. At the end of the year I was like, well, I did it, but I was working around the clock. It was just more time for money. I didn't have a good system in place.
And if we're thinking of a business as something we can scale and maybe sell, there's no way that was going to happen with what I had going on, so that's why I had to pause and just reeducate myself on what it was like because man, I would say I wasn't even an entrepreneur. I was more of a freelancer, a very successful freelancer. I was doing well. But I think when you're an entrepreneur, that's when you have those apps, tools, routines in place that can scale, that can save you time. Therefore, you're not wasting your time, energy, and talent on things that maybe you shouldn't be involved with.
Jillian Benbow: I mean, it's scary.I've, a long time ago, dabbled and then quickly went and got another job, and that's what I do. I'm very comfortable working for other people's thing, and I know you help people to really lean into that and make that a business, and I know even actually when I joined SPI, I was still doing some consulting myself. I've never felt more like a fraud just because... I know what I'm doing in community and whatnot, that's my jam, but then you're negotiating money and time and scope and all this. I felt like I was just plain pretend business, frankly, so I'm like, "Yeah, this is my rate." Yep, that's what it is. Don't ask for receipts because it's just a calculated guess based on... I'm curious, your thoughts on people in that role that are dabbling in consulting, what advice do you have? Obviously take your course and we'll get into that, but what advice do you have as far as feeling confident and knowing how to do that well?
Terry Rice: I'll say this, when I first started my business, I wasn't doing consulting, I was doing digital marketing account management. So I was actually running ads, mostly Facebook and Google. At one point I realized, first of all I don't like doing this and if I had a nine to five, I would be directing a team of people that do this. I would not be the person pushing buttons. So what I did is I stopped doing account management and started training people on how to do digital marketing, so I went from an account manager to a trainer and then eventually a consultant saying I'll consult you on how to do it. But there's this one woman, she had a digital marketing agency and she wanted me to consult her on how to do digital marketing, but after a while she started asking me biz dev questions like, "Hey, how do I get leads? How do I maintain them? How do I scale X, Y, Z?" And I helped her out with that, and then she said, "Hey, can you help my husband too? He could really use your services. He's a graphic designer."
And I was like, "I don't know anything about graphic design. I mean, you've seen my website. I don't know these fancy things." And she's like, "No, but you're really good at biz dev. The way you helped me, you can help him too." So my confidence came from feedback from people. And this is not the route everyone can take, but there was something within me that she saw that could be applied to other individuals and that's when I stopped doing digital marketing and to switch to consulting. But I think the best way to find success is to be radically honest about who you are and what you can do. And on a scale of one to 10, maybe you're a three. Great, be the best three out there and be honest about the fact you're three, and then keep on ascending. So you can remove imposter syndrome by not being an imposter. That's the easiest way to do it. And again, that radical honesty, that growth mindset, people see it, they recognize it. And I think some people will realize, "Wow, I'm getting this person at a deal because a year from now, their rates are going to triple and I want to align with them now."
Matthew Gartland: If I can throw in, I actually believe freelancing or just services, maybe even more broadly, is a fantastic way to transition from day job or some traditional career type into the broader waters of entrepreneurship 'cause you are then forced to learn and adapt and modify, and that sentiment from Terry, just be radically honest with yourself. Whether you're saying it out loud or not, you're saying internally and you start to figure out, where do I want to potentially specialize in and serve people and deliver value? And then get those feedback loops on, what we would say in almost very economic terms is, the supply and demand loop, which is like, okay, I'm delivering a service. That positive reinforcement is helping confidence, but it's also telling me that there's a market for this and that I'm finding a certain calibration with the rates I'm charging, or I'm getting no pushback at all to my rates. Maybe I'm not charging enough?
And if you lean into it with that level of, I dare say, intellectual curiosity, you can really be motivated to develop the entrepreneurial skills, and not just be chasing money but do it as a real skill development pursuit. You can [inaudible] and quickly start to find these patterns that lead to different levels of success. The big thing that I would say, certainly more from my own experiences, it's not going to be a straight line. You're going to twist and turn and sometimes double back on yourself even a few times. When I start to figure out what is the thing that I want to do, that's not going to be static. It will change, it will grow, and maybe you get to a point where you've built a really great job for yourself and then again, maybe you want something more than that. Maybe your priorities and aspirations change and you want to grow into more of a business.
Terry Rice: One thing you said that really stood out to me is just feeling like you have a good business model, like there's a product market fit, and that's the benefit when I help people who are leaving corporate. I say to them, "Hey, is there something about your job that you did like, or any job you've ever had in your career that you actually did like? Oh, email marketing? Great, let's make that your service because that way, you know you're good at it, so you remove that imposter syndrome, and you know there's a market for it because someone paid you, at one point in time, for it as well." So you remove all those issues, and that's what I did initially. And one thing that I really benefited from is, I was a consultant at Adobe and I knew when companies hired Adobe to work with them, how much they were paying for my time.
It was $300 an hour, and this is back in 2009, and that always stuck with me. I was like, well, Delta's paying $300 an hour to talk to me. That's how much I'm worth. I'm not getting that from Adobe and I'm not dissing Adobe because there's overhead or whatever, but I knew there must be some other people out there who would pay me $300 an hour as well. So when I went independent, I had that number in my head already. I knew years ago that I was worth 300 bucks an hour. It's probably more now. Not everyone has that luxury and that's why I'm glad we're talking about it because the more you can learn from other people who have already successfully done what you're doing, the more time you can save and the more confusion you can avoid.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, yeah. And I know when I was doing it, when I was getting into consulting, being like, "Eh?" Surprise Pikachu face? I don't know. I talked to people in the industry that were at a similar level as me, that I knew had done consulting, and I'm like, "Can we have a money conversation?" And it helped me gauge what was appropriate because you don't want to be like, "It's a thousand dollars an hour." That's just not cool. And learning more too about how have you structured contracts and certain companies as you know will have the way they do it, and so you're going to do it their way if you want to work with them, and it definitely helped. It definitely helped.
But yeah, I think paying attention and being willing to ask people to coffee to be like, "Hey, can I ask you money questions?" and put that out there right in the invite because not everyone wants to talk about that kind of stuff. I'm very fortunate that I have... In the community, we're just sharers. That's what we do. So talking with other people in the community space, we can't wait to talk about it, so I was fortunate to have a lot of really honest frank conversations so I could gauge what what I'm worth, but also what's a fair for both rate, if you will.
Terry Rice: I'm glad you brought that up because my issue was, I didn't have a good network. My network was other corporate people because when I worked at Facebook or Adobe, I was like, I don't need anybody. Here's my logo that validates who I am. I didn't have anyone in the entrepreneurial community or even other industries to reach out to. So there's this almost like an identity crisis I think people can go through when they leave their corporate job, and I think we should bring that up 'cause it's natural, it's part of the whole process. But if you feel like you're the only one feeling this way, then it's like you think there's something wrong with you, but no, it's just a step on the road. And to your point, start joining communities, networks, and I always say give before you take if you can, even if it's just advice on stuff like, "Hey man, I went to your website. Gosh, it's great, but you spelled Matt wrong. By the way, I would love to talk to you about how you came with your pricing." I mean, you get the point, right? Because when you are the gift, you receive the gift, so I always encourage people to give first with their networking if possible.
Matthew Gartland: And it's a great way to start in fact building a certain type of community, which, as an eventual maybe segue, it's like actually community has products that, Terry, you're building towards, that we've been talking about privately. Obviously we're doing a ton of it here at SPI, starting there with just a networking orientation and inclination, and giving value and adding value. Starting to monetize that through services can then be step one to eventually step two and step three, where if you want products, and I think that's the shiny object that a lot of early stage entrepreneurs, I guess we all want. But as far the early stage, you're like, "Cool, I want an online course as my product because this is something that conceivably has infinite scale," or "These days I want community because that's sexy and that looks really exciting, and maybe there's scale there as well. And oh, MRR, that's super cool."
The thing about products, it's really hard to build a product, to launch and sell a product and have to be sustainable if you don't have, at least in my spicy opinion, other things that have preexisted. You have market fit maybe that you've found through services, you've started to expand your network, you have started to build audience by way of free value or very low barrier to entry product, and you're able to do that because you have a service business that's supporting you under the hood, right? It's almost like step one, do services, replace your income, and step two, build an audience for free, do the free stuff. Step three, build a product, right?
Jillian Benbow: Profit.
Matthew Gartland: And then profit.
Jillian Benbow: Sorry, it was a South Park reference. Phase three is profit.
Terry Rice: You're absolutely right. There's one thing that I would've done differently as well in regards to these different services, affiliates, affiliate sales, because when I first started I was still talking about digital marketing a lot. I was teaching courses at General Assembly and NYU, some in front of like a hundred people a week who were asking me advice about marketing. I should have said, "Oh, by the way, here's four tools I use," and have an affiliate link in there because if some of them have a recurring revenue, I would still be getting paid to this day.
And even recently I put up a post on LinkedIn talking about this online course I took which was amazing and I included an affiliate link, and within a day I sold 24 courses as an affiliate for this person. So if you're just starting out and, Matt, to your point, maybe you don't really know what you should be building yet, if you focus on building an audience, delivering value, nurturing them, you can also slip in a few affiliate references and generate revenue from something someone else has already built and almost capitalize off their reputation for success as you're building yours as well.
Matthew Gartland: Yeah, absolutely. Just to stitch that back into the SPI timeline, that was ostensibly the very first business model of SPI, even before I was formally involved. When Pat built this thing, it wasn't his primary source of income. He had his other niche sites. Most folks listening probably are familiar with that story. So he was buildings SPI as his giveback vehicle to share what he had learned and teach that. And then along the way, after audience started to bloom, he's like, "Yeah, here are certain affiliate links for all the tools that I'm using," and talking about some regularity. I don't think I'd ever thought about it in that way. That's not a criticism, but it's just like that was ostensibly his first business model.
Jillian Benbow: Well, yeah. And what I was going to say is, it's a great way to have content because you can talk about, "Hey, here's how I use ConvertKit to create a segment, and if you want to do it now they've shown you how to do it, it's so easy. Here's my link." And so now you have content that's SEO and that whole side, and we know this, right? Because we have communities of people trying to do these things. People get overwhelmed, and because it is. It's overwhelming. You talk about, "Okay, I'm . Going to go out on my own and do it my way," and then it's like, "Holy shit, there's a lot to do." You can work smartly but once you start, "Okay, I'm going to add an email list. I need a Twitter account. I need a product or a service to sell," all of that, it can get overwhelming.
So I like how you have... It's not the same, but it is. Your starting point is different, but you and Pat, and I would say even Matt, have a similar journey of how you put the building blocks together to create what you have now. And I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, you went from the one-on-one consulting and then you launched your course so you could serve more people in addition to your higher paying one-on-one clients. And now you're at the point where you have courses, you have the big clients, and now you're bringing community into the mix. Is that accurate?
Terry Rice: It is, and I'll tell a longer story. Hopefully I don't ramble on, but my first online course ever was based on Facebook marketing, how to do Facebook ads from this former Facebook employee, it's going to be amazing. So I built the course out and then I realized a week later I'm like, oh, this button in the interface changed. Oh, Facebook had another update. Oh, this changed now too. I'm like, this thing is outdated. It'd been like three weeks, and that's when I learned, if you do want to build a course, either make it evergreen or commit to updating it, otherwise it'll quickly be outdated and you're selling an inferior product. So for my next course, it actually came out of necessity, and I'll break this down. This is back in 2020, which was a busy year for a lot of us, for various reasons, but back then I was doing primarily one-on-one consulting.
But when COVID hit, all my kids, at this time I only had three kids and they were all home every day for 18 months straight. This day in, day out, I could not serve one-on-one clients and serve snacks to my kids at the same time, so what I did is, even though the economy's going crazy, I took two months off from work and built an online course that was the foundation for how I help people grow their business. Took those two months off, self-recorded, and then when I came back, I did group coaching. I did group coaching so I said, "We're going to meet every Tuesday and Thursday from three to four. You can ask me any questions you want, and here's this online course that has the core information you need to run your business. Therefore, Tuesday and Thursday, I'm not teaching you. I'm answering questions and we're having deeper conversations."
As a result of doing that, my revenue actually doubled in 2020 even though I worked about 20 hours a week while caring for three children. That's the power of just being very clear on your message. And I think one benefit I had is, the content in my course, I delivered it live so many times to individuals, to organizations, at schools, so on and so forth, that I felt confident making the course. But I think sometimes people don't do that, and it's assumed they should put information in the course and it's not as helpful as it could be. So that was my experience and what I realized, and I think what we're getting to is, after this accelerator, more or less, that I had, some people just said, "Look, I miss the community we had. What's going on? I'm used to, every Thursday, showing up here and having someone to talk to." And that's when the idea for a community came about, which I'm building out as we speak.
Jillian Benbow: That's so exciting. I just can't help myself as a community builder, do you have a plan? How are you going to announce it and get people to join? Is it paid? Is it part of the course? Thoughts?
Terry Rice: My plan is to learn from other people first. I can't even tell you how I'm going to launch it because I don't even know what it's going to look like yet exactly, so I'm going to practice strategic patience and realize that success leaves clues. We'll see. I can assume there's going to be going to be a free tier or there'll be a paid tier, but what I want to do is make sure that no one ever regrets signing up by just over-delivering value. Same thing with my online course. I look at it, it's a masterpiece. I teach you how to start your own solopreneur business.
But that's one thing that really stuck with me throughout my career is, I want to be able to post on social media saying one thing or another and never have to worry about someone commenting, "Yeah, but you messed this up," or, "Yeah, but you didn't help me," or, "Yeah, but..." whatever. That's my goal, is just to deliver excellence, and if I can't, then I'll do my best to make up for it. But I'm not sure where it's going yet because I want to be audience-driven. I talked to Pat during one of my podcast episodes about being audience-driven, so I'm not going to be Terry-driven, I'm going to be audience-driven, and I'll let you know where it goes.
Jillian Benbow: That's always so exciting.
Matthew Gartland: But I think we share maybe a common view or mostly that the puck is going in this direction where post-education experiences are more important than ever, from a demand standpoint. People are asking, it sounds like they're asking you, "Hey, I missed this thing. Can you bring it back, and maybe in a different way?" We were just talking with our MBA members earlier this week, Jill and me, just around how, at least again our maybe spicy opinion over here, the demand community feels like it's now outpacing the demand even for content, the demand for education. Now, the hybridization, the assimilation of both I think is the magic sweet spot. If creators and entrepreneurs can build into that and have those components of their business, but in terms of what we're hearing and seeing, especially with here we are on the cusp of 2023 with so much information free and increasingly cheap even by way of online courses, it's like I can get the education piece now in a lot of different ways, from you or from someone else.
There's less gatekeeper than ever around how to do online business well, or how to learn how to do Facebook marketing, or how to do podcasting. There's so many more people now that have that expertise that that's not really the competitive advantage anymore. The competitive advantage seems to be the network, the private networks, the community aspects that people want to connect, not just with Terry and being Terry-driven or Matt or Pat or SPI-driven, but connect with each other in our ability to incubate actual private community, and network seems to be where there's demand and also then our competitive advantage as a business. So I don't know if it's me going spicy crazy there but does that seem to track with your point of view and awareness and what you're trying to build, Terry?
Terry Rice: It's something I noticed even with my accelerator because I would get everyone together, and one person would ask a question and before I could even chime in, someone else would reply. Then they're all talking. Pretty much after a while, all I did was hit record, start the Zoom and hit record and just let everybody go. And that became a selling point, I found your peers. That's what I would say, "I found your peers. It's not just me. You have me in the course, go watch the course, but I found your peers and if you want someone to connect with, not just learn from, but sometimes validate how you're feeling, like, "Oh, I feel like I'm burning out," or, "No one understands me," or, "This is confusing," so on and so forth. It's not the information, it's the customization, it's the application, but it's also the community of people who are supporting you.
And there were times when it got deep on a very personal level. It had nothing to do with business, people talking about their personal relationships and all this stuff. So people are seeking community now more than ever, especially if you're a solopreneur who doesn't have a team. You're trying to find someone else you can talk to besides your friends and your family who might be sick of hearing you talk about stuff after a while or just can't connect with you. So yeah, you're absolutely right, and it's good to see because that's where the burnout comes from. That's where the frustration comes from, is when you don't have someone else to say, "Hey, look, this is normal. Here's what's worked for me," or, "I'm just here to listen." So I think you're absolutely right there.
Jillian Benbow: That's such a good sign.
Matthew Gartland: Yeah, if I can throw you an additional spicy pepper to the mix here, is-
Jillian Benbow: So spicy.
Matthew Gartland: To zoom out for a second, there's these larger than life notions sometimes of being an entrepreneur, being a creator, and then being an influencer. And sometimes these terms get used interchangeably or in a very similar context, and I think that's actually wrong or doing a disservice as we're talking about community building and really trying to galvanize a creation and environment and ecosystem where people want to connect with each other, because then that's not about Terry being famous or being some larger than life entertainment figure who is an influencer and like, "Hey, look at me. I'm rich, I'm famous. Follow my shit, it's awesome." No offense if that's your direction. It's a very different direction, is my point.
For those of us that I think really believe in the spirit of community and want to create a safe space where people can connect authentically, can share deep stuff, Terry, like you were imagining for you, and be willing to open the box and share the good and the bad, and trade those stories and have that be really the value exchange, not just from us to them but within this network effect, then you need to get off your hubris train and be really oriented around them. They're the center. It doesn't matter how famous I am or how many Twitter followers I have or me as some influencer, that's not it. If you want the influencer, celebrity endorsement deals and all that sort of stuff, that's a credible model. It's just a very different model, so go to YouTube and go on Instagram and be internet famous. Do that, it's just a very different thing.
Terry Rice: I mean, talking about the whole influencer thing in general, the more of a following I get, which is not huge, it's enough, the more I realize that's not really who I want to be. And the other day I was leaving Madison Square Garden, MSG here in New York City, and as I'm walking out, this woman's like, "Are you Terry?" And I'm like, "Yeah." She's like, "I thought so," and then she just walked away, and I'm like, "What? What's this about?" I was dumbfounded. I'm like, why is this even happening? And then she messaged me on LinkedIn the next day saying, "Hey, I heard you talk somewhere. Sorry I was being awkward. I had to hop in an Uber real quick." And I was like, "Thank you, because I don't know, am I in danger or something? I don't know what's going on." But going back to what you were saying in regards to not being the star of the conversation, I was tempted to do that within my accelerator program.
At first someone would ask a question, I felt like I had to be the one who came off mute and answered it. And to be honest, sometimes when someone else would answer, I'm like, "Oh, you're stealing my show." But then I realized, no dude, that's what they're here for. It's not just Terry. They know your perspective, they want to hear someone else. So to your point, you have to check your ego. One of my favorite books by Ryan Holiday is called Ego Is the Enemy, and he said, if you think about it, ego has never improved any situation ever. When have you ever been in an opportunity where you're like, "You know what would make this better? Ego." It never happens. So it can only make things worse, and I realized I had to stay on mute sometimes and let the community support each other and I was just a curator, not necessarily the expert they needed at that time.
Matthew Gartland: Yeah, agreed.
Jillian Benbow: It's a hard balance.
Matthew Gartland: Yeah. Jill, I was going to throw it to you if I can ask you a question, which is, as a community builder and the resident community expert here for us, I see this as a very different muscle. It's a weaker muscle compared to other muscles, at least for those of us that have been online for a longer time when the technology was different, the incentives were different, the way that Twitter worked was different, the way that Facebook worked was different in 2010 and 2012, and now here we are on the precipice of 2023, so we developed different muscles only because we had to, because the technology constraints were different, the incentive patterns were different. Now, in terms of market forces and other things at least I think are true and I care about, like oh cool, we had to develop new muscles and we can't just take the old ones and apply them in a new context. And you've been in these waters for a while. Do you see it similarly, or how do we do that sort of shift in terms of skill development?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, I think technology has evolved in a way... When I think about the early 2010s when I was just getting into community management as a paid thing and you worked for like Facebook or you worked for companies that had a large engineering and dev team that custom built a place, and so just by the nature of that, there wasn't this one-to-many audience structure. It was a like company, it was a brand. And then as time has gone on it evolved to your point of like, "Oh, I have a huge Twitter following. That's my community," which of course, I'm doing air quotes, I'm sure everyone can hear it listening because they know how I feel about using the word community when it's audience.
And so, fast forward, now we have all these platforms where we can do it all. And platforms that have the LMS and the community, it's amazing. It's really exciting. And I think community building, the big secret is it's not that hard. I mean, it is but it's not. A lot of it is relationship building. It all boils down to human connection. And something one of you said earlier, I think it was you, Matt, that being an expert anymore is not the competitive advantage. I had a snarky comment that I held back, but I'll say it now because I've got the mic. There's a lot of bullshitters out there too. There's a lot of terrible people that have no business that just took a course and then turned around like, "Now I'm going to make a course about this thing I barely know about."
But I think it's becoming abundantly clear who is doing it for the right reasons, just like when you get roped into this course that tells you you're going to be a millionaire overnight by this secret and the secret is just getting a lot of people to buy that person's course so that they can be a millionaire. Once you realize this is all stupid, this isn't real, it's the same with community. And so Terry, what you were talking about, actually caring and saying this isn't the Terry show, this is the people in the accelerator show, and being able to take that ego and sit down when you need to, and really just spending time talking to people in your course, in your community, that's the big secret. That's the sauce. Anybody I think can do that.
And so 2020 was such a huge boom for community and my big prediction was, when the world opens up again, however you consider that, communities are really going to struggle. We'll have a shakedown and the ones that are good, the ones that matter will survive and the other ones are going to fall away, and it's happening. The people who care and actually give a hoot about their community and the people in the community and are spending time investing in that. Terry, to your point with creating a course, you can make more money working less if you do it well, if you're strategic about it. I think that is what's important.
Terry Rice: One thing that stands out though about imposters, because it happens to me all the time... I'm on LinkedIn and someone's like, "Hey Terry, let me help you monetize your LinkedIn following." And you'll look at the person, they have like 14 followers and no likes on their last 20 posts and I'm like, "Seems like maybe I should be helping you." But with the community, to your point, you can't fool hundreds of people into joining and staying in a community unless you're delivering value so I think it's a really good way to vet people who are really actually helping people as opposed to someone who just had this idea 'cause they read a book about it or whatever. So that was a really good point, and I think it also matters why you started the community.
If you started it just to make money, it's going to seem like a chore-
Jillian Benbow: Good luck.
Terry Rice: But if you're doing it to actually help people, you won't mind answering questions and curating conversations and doing all these live talks 'cause it's fun. But if I go, "Man, it's three o'clock again. Damn, I got to do a stupid thing," that's not going to be enjoyable and you're going to burnout, so I think you really have to be clear on your purpose before you even think about what the structure of the community is. Are you going to enjoy talking about this stuff all the time or are you doing it because someone said it's an easy way to make money? Because it's not if it's taxing on you.
Jillian Benbow: It is not an easy way to make money. You can make money for sure but anybody selling something saying get rich creating a community is in the snake oil section. No, no, no, even though like I said, you can be very strategic about your time spent in the community and what you're doing so you're not 40 hours a week or even more, you're still going to be working hard. Hopefully it's fun, to your point. I naturally love community building so I enjoy it. I would say if you don't, and Terry you said this but I'll reiterate it, if you don't enjoy that, don't start a community because that's what it is and your members will see it, like you're not that slick. They'll see it.
Matthew Gartland: Terry, you have an amazing personal track record, boots on the ground building, your business. You also have this really fantastic vantage point, potentially higher altitude or wider just being a part of the Entrepreneur community staff writer. I'm curious what you are seeing from that-
Jillian Benbow: No big deal, by the way.
Matthew Gartland: No big deal. I'm curious what you're seeing from that vantage point around some of these themes, because it's talking still about how do folks build and grow their own thing across that landscape, the entrepreneur landscape. What are you seeing there in terms of these patterns, if at all, if there are patterns, around where is value going? How are we codifying that value into different creations, different product types, and is there a continuity there of thought around a more community-based element?
Terry Rice: One thing I'm seeing is a large influx of individuals who maybe don't have a community trying to get coverage, and what that tells me is they're in trouble, because otherwise there wouldn't be this uptick. There's always a demand for publicity but when I see so many people saying, "Can you please put me in this magazine?" that tells me that there's an issue. But at the same time there's more of a demand for not just learning about communities, but the tools that will help someone build a community, the benefit of joining a community, how to even interact successfully within a community, because you can be in some kind of online group but if you don't know how to interact, you're not going to get the benefits. Maybe you're an introvert. There's literally people saying how can an introvert network online? There's a lot more demand for that-
Jillian Benbow: I can help with this, but go ahead. I'm an introvert, believe it or not.
Terry Rice: I think you should because for me, I'm like, this is the best way to do it. You're just typing in front of a computer, no one can even see you. It's not like when I was younger, you had to actually go places and talk to people and if you didn't like them, you had to find an excuse to go to the bathroom again. But that's what we're seeing though, is just a lot of people saying how can I build this community, this connection? That's one thing that was missing in 2020, was connection, and we created it more or less but it was kind of thrown together in a non-thoughtful way.
But I think the overall thought is where I want this, but just not in the way that was thrown together during the pandemic. I want it to be more stable, more beneficial. And as we see more people leave the workforce especially, for one reason or another by their own choice and because of layoffs... Think about it, if you worked at Twitter, you were used to having all these really smart people around you to help you with X, Y, Z. Now they're gone. So I think the people that are new to entrepreneurship, whether it's their decision or not, they're craving it. And I think, to your point, Jillian, that's where we're going to see a huge influx in 2023 as a result of this change in the marketplace.
Jillian Benbow: I feel like we should make a community.
Terry Rice: Is that your takeaway?
Jillian Benbow: This is where my head always goes. I'm like, we need a network community for all the people that are thrown out with the wash right now. Yeah, going back to what I was talking about earlier, having a network of people, not even necessarily in the same business industry but just in community, has been my lifeline for the last decade plus.
To your point with what happened at Twitter, I can imagine. Especially how it happened, it actually reminds me, I've been in a similar experience and we actually made a rogue slack group and connected. It's also just a tip for anyone who works at a company, make sure you got people's phone numbers, you know?
Terry Rice: Let me ask you a question. Do you see a value in creating in-person opportunities for your community? So let's say it's a major city, New York, Miami, so on and so forth, are you seeing a demand for that as well? Because that could be a fun way for people to meet in person.
Jillian Benbow: I'm seeing a demand for it when I look at what other communities are doing, but also what members want. And it depends wildly, right? But especially in the business side of community, entrepreneurial communities, whatnot, a hell yes. And I think a lot of it, the pandemic took that away from us and we appreciate it a little more, and now it is nice to get together. And I would even say, in new ways, so not even the "Let's all meet up" style at a coffee shop and do a mastermind. It's not even that. It's "Let's go meet at a park and throw a Frisbee around" and make it more casual, like making things fun again. But yeah, I'm absolutely seeing that. It's something that we talk about for Pro. With a global community, it's tricky because when COVID's high in one place, it's not in another, so just trying to figure out how would this work?
Could we have members host events? Is it just for members or is it for members and potential members, or just friends to come and do something? Is it a workshop? Is it social? It gets overwhelming quick but it all goes back to, if your community's asking for it, that's a big sign right there. But yes, all that to say yes. I think we're in this hybrid new world where we know that everything digital all the time is fatiguing in its own way, and so we yearn for that getting back together in person but we want to do it in different ways. We don't want to go back to the same, same. I think it was Fast Company but I could be wrong, but it was an article about, can we just stop with the cheap conference swag already? You get caught up in the moment you're like, yes, I do need 10 squeezy balls that say whatever company. And I think that's a good example, like an adjacent example of we want to go back to conferences, but don't even make this stuff. Just stop. Let's shift how we're doing this.
Terry Rice: You know what's funny? I used to do trade show marketing at a previous job, so I was that guy at all the conferences and the swag, that was always a big thing. What should we get? And the smartest thing I ever came up with was a cellphone holder. It would hold your cellphone on your desk so you can see it when it goes off and that's something that we keep, but I always thought to myself, we're paying like $20,000 to be at this conference. If you just gave me that money for my ad budget, I could do a lot more with it. And looking back now, based on this conversation, if we were smart, we would've built a community.
As we're there, we're not just getting email addresses so we can do some kind of sales. We can say, "Hey, look, you're all in the same industry. We have this online community where you can do this every day without leaving Omaha or whatever." So it goes back to you saying, why are we doing this the traditional way again when we know the benefit of just having an ongoing relationship with your community, not just show up to a conference once a year and giving everybody these stress balls or whatever? My kids do like those though, so there's some value.
Jillian Benbow: When my dad would go to conferences when I was a kid, it was like, "You better bring me all those prizes." And then it was my daughter and then he retired, but when he was bringing them for my daughter, I was like, "Stop it." And he's like, "But you always loved this junk." I'm like, "Well, that's different. I don't want this in my house."
Terry Rice: Clearly though, Jill has a lot to say about in-person stuff and rightfully so. We are trying to figure that out on the SPI side, so hopefully next year we can at least test the waters a little bit. Again, entrepreneurial spirit, what's the first small widget idea of this thing that we can try to manifest and do it locally? Jill's been a great advocate for local stuff. I'm in Columbus, Ohio. We have actually a decent representation of numbers and the greater-
Jillian Benbow: You do. You have a pocket.
Matthew Gartland: Yeah. So it's like cool, I should host something for our SPI members just locally here, either in Columbus or people can drive in from Cleveland or Cincinnati or something like that, right? So yeah, we're trying to figure that out.
Terry Rice: I'd fly in from New York. That sounds-
Matthew Gartland: Would you? You should.
Jillian Benbow: There you go. I want to come.
Matthew Gartland: I got to get to New York again. We'll do something. Jill, it's your show, but we should give Terry the last word, point people in his direction. So, what should we do?
Jillian Benbow: Terry, let's start with this. I want people to know about your course and where they can find that information, just a little bit about that because I think our audience is very aligned with what you're doing, so whether people come and go all the way and do the accelerator or they just want to come check you out, where should they learn more and what can you tell us about the course you're doing?
Terry Rice: Well, my website's terryrice.co, not com. There's a photographer in Indiana who has the dot com and is not giving it up, but if you want some photos taken in Indiana, go to dot com. If you want to learn more about me, go to dot co. My online course is called the Solopreneur Fast Track and my goal is to help you make money within 30 days using the skills that you already have, so things that you learned at a previous job because we then reduce that imposter syndrome and you're more confident going forward.
I just cut through all the fluff, all the noise, all the confusion that a lot of other courses might unfortunately have and teach you all the stuff that I wish I knew when I first started my business, and the most important part is how to attract inbound leads. That way, you're just existing and people want to work with you as opposed to you doing outbound sales, which is when you have all these conversations about your rates and your availability and your expertise. So that's what I do, it's a really fun course. You can get through it in just two hours and start making money within 30 days.
Jillian Benbow: Oh my gosh, sign me up. I'm all for this shift in course and curriculum content where it's not the, "You get 90 hours of content," because no one actually wants that. Two hours, I'm like, yes, I'm in.
Terry Rice: People don't refer or talk about courses they got a good deal on, they talk about courses they got results from, so mine's all outcome-focused. And not to go too forward to it but at one point, I tell you, the easiest way to get leads for your business, the easiest way to get leads, and then they say, "Okay, now stop taking the course and go do that. Don't just keep on watching videos, take action." And then once you do that, you'll have leads coming in and I'll show you how to price your services later on, but don't just take the course and say, "I did it." Actually do something that's going to generate revenue and change your future.
Jillian Benbow: I catch myself doing that, to be fair. I'll be in a course and be like, oh yeah, and now the work part? I'm just going to watch the next video, and you know deep down this is a disservice to yourself. All right, go check out Terry's course and follow along. Where can people find you? Where do you participate on the interwebs? I know they can follow you on LinkedIn. Do you do any other socials?
Terry Rice: Yeah, LinkedIn's one of my biggest and then also Instagram, @itsterryrice.
Jillian Benbow: Awesome.
Matthew Gartland: Well, thank you, Terry. This has been fantastic.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, any final words, Matt or Terry?
Matthew Gartland: We're just going to get Terry back at some point. I'll drag him if I need to. But just really appreciate, Terry, all that you're doing and that you're starting to participate with us. There's some cool stuff I know that we can do together in the future. Thanks for today and we're going to keep it going.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, this has been a great conversation. I would love to have you back. Regardless, really want to hear what you end up doing with community and how that all goes so we'll have to keep in touch, but thanks so much for being on the show today.
Terry Rice: Thanks. This has been great, I appreciate it.
Jillian Benbow: And that's the episode. Thanks for hanging in till the wee end. Make sure to go check out Terry's course and his LinkedIn and his website and his podcast and his articles on Entrepreneur. I mean, so much stuff. So much stuff. Such a delight. I hope to talk to you, Terry, again.
Hope you enjoyed this episode. Give us a shout on wherever you listen to the podcast. Give us a review, that helps us get the word out. And yeah, hit me up on Twitter if you want to talk about the episode, @JillianBenbow. And with that, my friends, I will see you next Tuesday.
You can learn more about Terry on LinkedIn. His website, terryrice.co. You can head over to Entrepreneur Magazine to learn all about his articles there, and of course you can find his podcast, Launch Your Business, wherever you listen to podcasts. Your lead host for the Community Experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday.