AskPat 252 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 252 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you're having an awesome day, and I hope I can help make it even better, to do that. And to help, we have a great question today from Brooke.
But before we get to that I do want to thank today's sponsor … sponsor, I don't know why I said that. Very popular sponsor on the show actually, I keep getting emails about how great this service is. This is ZipRecruiter.com. This is a company that you can use that is very cool and it makes it very efficient to hire new people for your business. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur and you're looking to expand your team, or you have 50 people or 100 people and you're looking to add more specialized team members. Instead of going to all the different recruiting sites out there, you can go to ZipRecruiter.com, enter your description of what you're looking for one time, and with the click of a button it gets sent out to 50+ job sites, and they screen and find the best job candidates for you. Again, all for free, which is super-cool for you. So, ZipRecruiter.com/Pat is where you can go to make that happen. Again, that's ZipRecruiter.com/Pat.
Cool. Now, let's get to today's question from Brooke.
Brooke: Hi, Pat. My name is Brooke. I've got a brilliant idea for a website that I am 100% positive I could turn into a big financial success. I've looked around; my idea is competitive. There's not really anything else out there being done well yet with this format. However, here's my question and concern. If I get this launched and I start pouring my entire heart and soul into it, all my money, my student loans and everything else, and I start being successful and getting a good amount of followers built up, and a big company sees me or their attention is drawn to me and they say, “Hey, why haven't we done that yet?” They do something similar, but on a way bigger level because they have more money and more support and more experience. They blow me out of the water, and their website is noticed by the entire world before my website has even made it to tens of thousands of people. Have you experienced this, or has anyone come to you with this issue? What would be your suggestion? Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Brooke, thank you so much for the question. I really appreciate it. A lot of people have these fears when they're starting a business, and I think it's very valid. There's a lot of people out there who could potentially take what we're doing and do something bigger with it or whatever the case may be. But, before anything, I would say, don't let that stop you from pursuing your dream and doing this event you really believe in. As I always say, I would much rather live a life full of “Oh, wells” than a life of “What ifs.” But, there are some ‘What ifs' that you can pay attention to when you're starting your business, especially if you're worried about other people stealing your ideas especially if you're worried about a big business stealing your idea.
Before I get to that, I do want to tell a quick story that kind of goes along with the tips and strategies that I'm going to share with you. When I started GreenExamAcademy.com—this was a little site by a little guy named Pat Flynn helping people pass an exam in the architecture industry. It was going extremely well. This was early 2009 and into 2010 and 2011, and even the site now is still pulling in a few thousand dollars a month, which is really cool. But, when I was starting and it was just me, everything was going well, nobody else was really doing it. There were a few other sites out there, but they didn't do it as well as I did. Sounds similar to what you have going on, Brooke. And then something happened. The United States Green Building Council, which is the company or the organization that actually puts on the exams—they actually write the questions that people are going to be having to answer during those exams that they're prepping for—they came out with their own guide that directly competed with mine.
I thought I was done for. I thought I was gone. I mean, why would anybody buy some little study guides that some dude that nobody's heard of before has put together who didn't even get a perfect score on the exam, when the actual company, the actual organization that puts on this exam comes out with the questions and then the study guide that goes along with those questions? Well, funny thing happened. I actually ended up that month, when they released their new study guide, I had more traffic than I've ever had before, and I had more customers than I ever had before. I actually sold more product and made more money when this competitor, this big company came out and started selling a directly competing product.
Why? Why did this happen? This happened because of a number of reasons, and this I knew because I asked. It just kind of blew my mind. I was so worried and ready to give up and quit. I was even potentially thinking in my head, although I never acted on it, of looking for another job because I thought I was done for. But what ended up happening was a lot of these people went to this company to look at their study guide, and it was way too expensive. A lot of people said, “Okay, well, what other study guides are out there? Oh, there's this one by a guy who blogs at GreenExamAcademy.com. This is an actual person that took this exam, and wow! His guide's a little bit cheaper. I'm going to go with this guy. I trust him more.”
And that was the biggest thing. Not the fact that my guide was cheaper, because obviously this company had overhead and expenses to pay and things like that, plus it was a physical guide that they had to buy and wait for. Some of my advantage was you could download it instantly; it was a PDF file and ebook that they could print out right then and there and start working right that day. That was part of my position. But the biggest thing was that people trusted me because I was somebody who took that exam and I was a personality, somebody people could really connect with online, who went through exactly what these people were going through themselves. That's the biggest advantage. The biggest advantage you have over anybody is you.
So, Brooke, when you come out with your business idea, I would definitely make sure that when you do this, you put as much “you” into it as you can. I don't know if that's going to be possible or not; I'm not exactly sure what this business idea is, but when you do that, nobody can copy you. Sure, they might come out with something similar and they might do something similar to what you do, but nobody will be you. There's a business out there around you. There's a lot of people out there who will connect with you and what you do and what you have to offer because, simply, it's you. That's why I'm big on putting my personality out there, by being Pat Flynn online, by sharing bits and pieces of my life and my story with people. Because people can truly connect with that.
Now, I definitely wasn't the first person to start blogging online about generating a passive income and blogging and entrepreneurship, but I was the first person to go put myself out there as much as I did, and do. A lot of people have been doing that now and have been noticing the benefits of being authentic and transparent online, which still boggles my mind that that's something new. I can't believe that was never really something people thought of doing before. I mean, why wouldn't you want to be yourself online so people can connect with you? Because you know what, people connect with other people online. So, that's your big advantage there, Brooke, is you. So, whatever you can do to put you into this business idea and brand, have that be the case because nobody will copy you.
There's some other things that you want to do. If it makes sense, you want to patent your idea if you can, getting into the legal a little bit. For example, if you have an idea for a specific type of software, for example, that does something specific, you can patent that idea. Obviously, you'd have to talk with attorneys and patent lawyers and people like that to make that happen, which can get costly. But, that's something you definitely want to do. That way, if a big company comes in and says, “Hey, we're going to do this and do it better than you,” you can say, “No you're not.” Right? Same thing goes with trademarks. That's something I've been learning a lot about lately is trademark issues and IP, intellectual property.
Another thing you could do, and what I would recommend, is, you had mentioned putting everything into this, your student loans and things like that. I would just make sure that you realize that … I don't know what, again, this business is, but you might not have to put everything into it. I mean, I would put everything you can into it, but I also wouldn't make sure that if this were to fail that you'd be on the streets. Obviously, that's typically not going to happen. There's always somebody going to be there to support us and things like that. But there are ways to get things funded and grow and create exposure and authority for yourself at the same time. Perhaps this is something that calls for a Kickstarter campaign. I don't know, just thinking out loud for you, Brooke, and I would love to hear everybody else's thoughts about this.
So, if you have anything to share or add to this conversation, head on over to Twitter and use #AskPat252. That's #AskPat252. So if Brooke puts all her resources into this idea and a big company does it too, how's she going to deal with that level of competition? Now, hopefully I've given you some inspiration in terms of where I'm coming from and what has helped me when the competition has come. Also, I like competition; I like when competition comes, even if it's from a big company, because that means, “You know what? I need to figure out what it is that I can do to beat them. Just because they're a big company doesn't mean they're going to beat me.” Perhaps this company comes out and they just make you look even better, sort of like what happened with me.
So, beyond you, Brooke, and what you have to bring in terms of your personality and who you are to this product, also think about what can make your product stand out from any other future competitors out there. What is it, really, that you have that's going to be your unfair advantage, and thinking forward, your unfair advantage to everybody else who comes out? You want to get to a point where you say, “All right, competitors, come on. Bring it on, because I got the best thing out there for you.” That's how I would approach it. And of course, protecting yourself legally, if that's aligned with what you're doing as well. So, Brooke, I hope that answers your question and it gives you some ideas or inspiration. I'd love to hear what everybody else thinks about this as well. Again,#AskPat252, that's the hashtag on Twitter; #AskPat252, and let's help Brooke out.
Brooke, thank you so much for the question today. I look forward to hearing more about your business idea and what you have going on. I'd love to hear from you again in the future, and perhaps we can get back on the show and help you out even more. An AskPat t-shirt is headed your way in the meantime. For those of you listening, if you'd like to potentially have your question featured here on the show and, like Brooke, get an AskPat t-shirt sent to you for free, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com. You can ask right there on that page using the SpeakPipe widget, which allows you to use any mic on your computer, whatever you have handy, even your internal mic. Just want to hear you; we'll get to your questions as much as we can. A lot of questions are coming in, and we're getting to as many as we can. One per day, five days a week. Won't be able to get to all of them, but I get to as many as I can for you.
Lastly, I'd like to thank today's sponsor, which is ZipRecruiter.com/pat. Again, a super-easy and convenient way to save time and money by using their service to help recruit more people for your business if you're looking to do that. So, instead of posting on different job sites, one at a time, and then going to each of the job sites, one at a time, to see who has applied and who the candidates are, you can use ZipRecruiter.com to just make it super fast and easy and convenient for you. And it's totally free. Go to ZipRecruiter.com/pat and you can go ahead and check it out there. So again, ZipRecruiter.com.
And lastly, I'd like to end with a quote. This quote is from Jim Rome, and this is one of my all-time favorite quotes. You've probably heard of something like this before, and that is, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Ponder that for a little bit. Who do you spend the most time with? Cheers, take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
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