Today I'm chatting with Stephen Pasquini, who I coached back in Episode 1014. He was having trouble with his website and some general overwhelm about moving forward. Today I'm checking back in with him to see what doors have opened up since our last conversation—it's pretty awesome. Enjoy! Stephen's websites are ThePALife.com and SmartyPANCE.com.
This is another installment in the Where Are They Now? series that I'm doing here on AskPat 2.0. We'll be checking in with more entrepreneurs from previous coaching calls in the future, plus coaching calls with entrepreneurs you haven't heard from yet—stay tuned!
Stephen kicks off the episode by telling me how he got his website running better than ever. He's also working with a new business partner—he describes how the partnership began and why it makes sense. Stephen details the growth his business has experienced, why switching to ConvertKit made a huge difference, and why he's more clear-headed and excited than he's ever been about the future. Before we wrap things up, Stephen asks for my thoughts on developing an app for his business and I offer some advice for moving forward. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]
What You'll Learn:
Stephen was stuck with his business, but he took massive action and created more opportunities than ever before. Here's how he did it, plus my advice on developing apps for business.
AskPat 1043 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up everybody? Welcome to Episode 1043 of AskPat. First of all, just happy Thanksgiving and thank you again for listening in. If you haven't hit subscribe to AskPat yet, please do that now because we've got a lot of great episodes in the bank and coming your way.
Today's episode is another Where Are They Now? So, I interviewed Stephen in 1014 about his business. He has a website called The PA Life helping physician assistants, also SmartyPANCE.com, and he helps physician assistants learn how to do what they do. He was struggling, back in Episode 1014, with the technology and the overwhelm of running the business on his own.
He broke through a lot of barriers there, and I'm bringing Stephen back on to talk about some of the things he's implemented since then. And it's pretty amazing what has happened and all that has opened up for him since then. So, make sure you stick around.
But, before we get to the followup with Stephen, I do want to mention and thank our sponsor for this show, the entire year: FreshBooks. One of my favorite companies, not just because they sponsor the show, but because they're awesome. They have an amazing team—I've met them in person at several conferences—but, most of all, their software, it's amazing. It helps me and millions of other small businesses manage our business finances, removing all the headaches that are involved with that. Because, you know, we wear a lot of hats in our business, and the finance part is not always the funnest of the hats. But using software like FreshBooks, we can organize our finances so that we don't have those headaches, and we can run our business like we should. They help you with tracking expenses, the income obviously, the reporting during tax seasons, and also with the invoicing. I highly recommend you check it out. If you haven't yet done so, and you've heard this spot for FreshBooks several times, now's the time to get it.
If you want to get a thirty day free trial to check it out and just see how easy it is to use and how powerful it is, head on over to FreshBooks.com/askpat. Just make sure you use the code “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section to let them know that I sent you there. So yeah, check it out, thirty-day free trial.
All right, now here's the followup call with Stephen.
Stephen, welcome back to AskPat 2.0, man! I'm so excited to get caught up with how things are going, but really quick, how's your day going?
Stephen Pasquini: My day is going great, Pat. It is a beautiful day here in California, and the sun is out, and yeah. Got a lot of work done, it's been a great day.
Pat Flynn: Love it. So to remind everybody, ThePALife.com and SmartyPANCE.com. You help physicians assistants, which is a cool niche to be in, and I'm just very curious to see how things are going since we last spoke in Episode 1014. In that episode, you were talking a lot about the website, and the usability, and just the organization of it, because you really do care about your audience.
You know, you and I have spent more time since that episode getting to know each other a little bit, and that's the one thing that is super apparent with you especially, is that you truly care about your people. And so I'm just curious to hear, how have things been going since we've last spoke on the show?
Stephen Pasquini: Well, Pat, I can't thank you enough because after I got off that show you connected me with . . . I guess I shouldn't say his name, but you connected me with a developer that you, I believe, used. And he helped me out tremendously.
So on that episode I had said there were a lot of problems I was having with the membership site. And this is a really big problem that was really affecting the usability of the site. Since then, he actually helped me out tremendously. We had fixed the problem, and he's fixed other problems for me too.
Pat Flynn: Oh, great.
Stephen Pasquini: And we've had just a tremendous amount of growth. I've got a new partnership on the site, so really excited about that. I'm now working with a branding expert, Christopher Beltran is his name, he's phenomenal. Really excited for this year, to see what happens and where we're going.
Pat Flynn: That's really cool. So let's talk about this partnership. Talk about that: Where did this come from, and what does that all entail?
Stephen Pasquini: I think it's part of being present in a community, because what I found is that as you do more and more of this, instead of having to reach out as much, some great people just reach out to me. So this is a PA as well, he's been a practicing PA for thirty-four years, he's an ER Physician's Assistant, and he contacted me. I respect him tremendously, he's been in the field for a long time. We formed a partnership and we're now bringing live video to the membership site along with a bunch of different audio, and just trying to figure how that's all going to happen right now. But, yeah, that's really exciting, and that's kind of where we're headed. This, at least for 2018 and the foreseeable future.
Pat Flynn: That's amazing. Now, was it an easy decision to partner with this person? Because, partnerships are kinda like marriages. You're going to be working together for a lot of times. Was there any, if you want to call it dating, where you're kind of figuring each other out? Or did you just jump right in?
Stephen Pasquini: Oh, gosh. That's a good question. Yeah, it was really a hard decision because I've been a solopreneur for a very long time. I've had affiliate partnerships since I started online business, but having a real partner was scary.
But, I think . . . We talked. So, we got on the phone. We talked it out, and I really trust this individual. So at the end it was a no brainer. There's still a lot of contractual stuff that I just am not good at, so maybe my next step is trying to figure that out as well.
Yeah it's scary, but I think to grow you just find that doing things on your own, you're never going to be able to get to that point that you did if you work with a team. I think that's almost always the case, so I'm really excited about it.
Pat Flynn: That's really cool and now, you had mentioned when you found this person that this person actually found you, and reached out to you. I'm curious, from your perspective, why do you think this person reached out to you to form this partnership?
Stephen Pasquini: That's a great question. So, Joe Gilboy is his name, and he has taught in-person board review for a long time, and he has been struggling to be successful in the online world.
Pat Flynn: I see.
Stephen Pasquini: And I think part of that is because he's been in that real person-to-person business for so long. And I have been doing very good at the online world, but not very good at that person-to-person building and the in-person review.
So, it was just kind of a marriage of two people who needed similar . . . They're different things, right, but we had similar goals. So, he found me through my blog and what I was doing online. And I knew of Joe through what he was doing in California, specifically, so it was just a really great combination.
Pat Flynn: That's really fantastic. What is one thing that you both do to keep the business going? So when you add a person on, it's like, okay, it's not just you making all the decisions. It's both of you making the decisions. So what does that work routine look like, for you to check in with each other? Is it every day? I'm just curious how that works.
Stephen Pasquini: You know, that's such a good question, because I still don't know what the right thing is. I think we're still trying to figure that out.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, yeah.
Stephen Pasquini: We've been playing email. Joe is somebody who likes . . . He likes to talk on the phone a lot, and I think that's his way of communicating. Sometimes I'm more—I like email and chat. So I think I'm trying to find that good way so that we have the same communication. So we probably talk on the phone I'd say once or twice a month, and then we do a lot of communication, sharing files through Dropbox, and then through email now.
But I think probably the best thing moving forward is to check in by phone at least once or twice a month, always, and then always stay in communication with what each of us are doing. But I think we're both trying to figure that out, because neither of us have really had partners in this space, in this way, before. So I think we're still teasing that out.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I think that's really great. I think when a person hears “partnership,” it can go to a point where you're like, in the same office every single day. Or it could be . . . And it sounds like it's a great understanding of each other. Once or twice a month isn't a ton, but you're able to utilize the expertise and the knowledge of the other in order to grow the business at whole, which sounds like what is happening, which is fantastic.
How is the business doing, your membership and all that stuff?
Stephen Pasquini: We've seen a lot of growth over the last few months, and I'm not sure how much of that is cyclical, still, because it has kind of been just a real growth period over the last, I'd say, three to four months. We take our board exams kind of at this time, in September and the end of August. So that could be it, but I'm really curious to see—we've just been really growing a lot. So that's good and that's really amazing.
And I also wanted to thank you too Pat, because you got me onto ConvertKit. And I've moved all my mail email from MailChimp over to ConvertKit, which was frightening, but I did it, and I've redone my entire email series because of you Pat. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]
I think that has really been a huge part of the growth that I just forget about, because I kind of did it and set it and forget it. But, I think that's been a big part of the growth, too.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, that's amazing. Why would you say that that's been helpful? Like, moving over to ConvertKit—and by the way, for everybody listening, I'm an advisor to ConvertKit, I'm an affiliate, so I love ConvertKit. But I'm just wanting to poke more at this, because I'm just curious about what about ConvertKit . . . Not for the sake of, “Let's get more people buying ConvertKit.” But, just in terms of how it's helping you, what has it been able to help you do that you weren't able to do before?
Stephen Pasquini: Yeah, and I have no connections to ConvertKit so mine is truly out of . . . So with MailChimp, I had . . . And if anybody's used it for a long period of time before, when you have sequences in MailChimp they just get lost. So, I had these sequences up there forever, and they were all out of order, and I didn't know quite what to do with them.
So you connected me with ConvertKit, and their team took all my email subscribers and moved them over, and then put them into sequences that are all drag and drop. So being able to move my sequences around, and get them targeted, and to tag them—it was just a game changer for me. And now I can go in and really take a visual look at how my sequences run, and I was just able to build them out so much better, and they're just converting so much better, and the user response is just better. So yeah, it's been a great move, and I'm a big fan of ConvertKit now, too.
Pat Flynn: That's cool. We'll clip that for them or something. I'm noticing kind of a pattern here, with what's happened since 1014. You know, you have this partner on board, which is a huge decision. You decided to hire a server side guy to help you with the membership site and a lot of the backend stuff on your website: That's a huge step. You made a switch from one email service provider to another, which is not an easy thing, and a very scary thing. You also said you hired a branding expert, which is a big step.
I don't know if you were always taking these big leaps and big strides in your business, but is that a recent change, for you to pull the trigger on these bigger ones? And has one led to another? Because you're just like, “Wow, that wasn't as bad as I thought.” Or maybe you've always been taking big leaps like this. I don't know, I'm just curious to know your thoughts on my observation.
Stephen Pasquini: Well, I think part of that is having a little more of a steady income stream that I can actually use to build some of these things with, too. So that's been helpful, and I've been able to hire out things as well. But I think I'm really more all-in and more excited because every time I get an email from somebody excited about what we're doing and how it's helping them with their things, that, as you know Pat—I know this is how you build your entire brand, which is why I'm such a fan of yours—hat just drives you to do more and to do better by your users. And I really appreciate them so much and I want to build things that are better for them. So I think that's really inspired me this year, is that feedback from my audience.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, that's huge. That's absolutely huge. It just reminds you why you do what you do, which is often hard to remember when you're so deep in your business. Which is awesome. So thank you for sharing that.
So I'm curious, what is the next big sort of lever that you're going to pull in your business?
Stephen Pasquini: Well there's a couple of things, and last time we talked I know I was even telling you about what I was going to do with my day job, because I still work as a PA. So, that's been a great thing too. So I just switched jobs, and I have something that I'm really passionate about that I'm doing in medicine now too.
Pat Flynn: Good for you.
Stephen Pasquini: So I think that's been a huge, huge thing as well. So I'm working part-time in an area that I'm truly passionate about, and I'm very, very excited with that.
Pat Flynn: Were you part-time before and then moved to part-time again? Or were you full-time moved to part-time?
Stephen Pasquini: I was part-time before, and I was working with in area of medicine which I think at the time was more convenient than really in line with my purpose in medicine. So I feel like now, having that passion, that purpose align there, has really helped me have vision for where I see things going in general for both my business and what I do with my other passion too, which is medicine.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, great.
Stephen Pasquini: So, that I really wanted to develop this year, and that's a challenge. And then for the business side, I really can't wait. We're just finishing up the new branding, and then when we get that branding done we're going to implement those redesigns on the website, and I think from there, finally going to launch the affiliate network that we'll have from our side to bring in affiliates too. Then, really start using this partnership that we have to combine in-person board review with the online board review. And then, hopefully just really a 21st Century board review product.
Pat Flynn: Wow, just so many things, which are all sounding great. How are you feeling with where things are going and where things are headed?
Stephen Pasquini: Yeah, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed when I switched—I switched jobs about a month and a half ago and I felt really overwhelmed.
Pat Flynn: Oh, so still pretty fresh. Yeah.
Stephen Pasquini: It's pretty fresh and I felt, I didn't . . . I was really tired. I was trying to work, and at that time I was doing full-time, and then my online business on the side. Now I've kind of created a schedule where I feel like I have freedom to both do work and build the business in. I feel a much better mental spot than I was just a couple of months ago; I felt very overwhelmed. So now I feel like the path is clear and I'm building a team around me that I can go to.
Pat Flynn: That's great. So to finish off here, and thank you for the update, just sounds like everything's going very well. I'm looking forward to checking in with you, and the new branding, and how those things are going with you, later on. So we'll make sure to link in the show notes to all the places that we shared before—The PA Life and SmartyPANCE.com.
No new websites, no new satellite businesses? Which is often a problem with entrepreneurs, like, bright shiny objects.
Stephen Pasquini: Well, I think when we started I might have had thirteen domains, and now I think I have twenty. So, maybe I keep doing that.
Pat Flynn: Well, I mean, domains are one thing, that's not terrible. I think it's smart too, when you get a just-in-case idea and you get the domain just in case. But I just had some meetings with some friends recently, and we were joking about how many domains we own, and I think I own fifty. Somebody owned 150. So, thirteen to twenty, you're doing okay.
Stephen Pasquini: But I'm starting to bring my kids into this, and they're very annoyed. So maybe . . . You know, when you got a great idea you gotta go with it.
Pat Flynn: They're like, “GoDaddy, no, go daddy, just go get your domains.”
So, what would be, in your eyes, the biggest mental shift that you made in the last six months, or since we last . . . Actually, the episode went up in May, so yeah, kind of about six months since we last chatted. What's been the biggest mental shift for you, to help you progress and feel good about your business, since then?
Stephen Pasquini: Maybe finding some great people to hire. And a lot of that started when you connected me with this developer, and I realized that somebody could take all these problems off my plate for me. And I'd hired before, but I don't think I'd ever hired to that level. And it was worth every penny of what it was, to have that developer do this. Immediately I saw a return on the investment, as far as people signing up, just because it was already more fluid. So, bringing them on, solving my problem with the email was huge, Pat—I don't think I knew how much until it was moved. So yeah. Maybe just finding systems, more than just goals. So I'm finding systems on how to achieve those goals, as far as putting those into motion, and definitely bringing in a team. I'm still building that team; I think it's not there all the way yet. But that's—
Pat Flynn: Who might be the next hire, you think? Or what's next?
Stephen Pasquini: I think still, with my new partner, that's part of the team, I'm not sure exactly what that is totally, yet. And as far as this partnership, I don't know exactly how that's going to form over the next year. So, I think to really solidify that, and then maybe . . . I'm actually talking with the developer again to do the redesign on the site. So, maybe having someone to go to—I think he's going to be my go-to guy for all my tech problems hopefully, in the future.
Pat Flynn: Cool, I'm glad.
Stephen Pasquini: Yeah.
Pat Flynn: Awesome. And to finish off, is there anything I could help you with?
Stephen Pasquini: Oh gosh, that's a great question. There's always something you could help me with. You know, I was thinking . . . I know this is off the topic, yes, that I wasn't going to do anything again. But I know you've done an app before, and we're trying to find a way to . . . We have these audio programs that we want to work into our membership site, and we're thinking, this might be best done through an app, like a SmartyPANCE app.
So, I guess, what are your thoughts on this? Should we build an application with all this other stuff going on? Is this a horrible idea to do this now? I don't know.
Pat Flynn: Well, apps are not an easy thing. They require upkeep, especially because there's updates to Apple iOS and other things. So, a lot of the apps that I have built—and we've built over twenty. This was in a side business that I had had. None of them work anymore. So it does require upkeep.
In terms of one for your brand and your members, this is a pretty common thing actually. A good friend of mine and one of my mentors, James Schramko, he has an app for his business, and he coaches people and he has content within that app too. I believe the app came from a white label situation where there's a company out there—and I'd have to go and find the info, and I can forward that to you later. But there's a company, that you essentially—it's templated in a sense, where you can just plug and play your stuff in there and then create your own app that way, versus hiring a developer to create it from scratch.
Obviously, if you have more complicated things that you would want in there that was specific to PAs—like some measurement tools and other things they might use, I don't know—then it would probably have to be a little bit more customized. But there are some cookie cutter apps and companies out there that can create things for you fairly easily that would still add a lot of value to your audience.
So that's kind of where I would start. Not thinking about, “Okay, how can we custom build something from the ground up?”—but what's out there already that's similar, and where did that come from? Are there any companies that make something similar? How is my brand being injected into it? Would it make sense?
And I think the most important question to ask is, well, would it be valuable for your audience? Because if it's not, there's no point in doing it. So perhaps a little bit of market research or perhaps conversations with some of your customers just to ask, “Would an app actually be something that you would use?”
There's also other ways to test that. I know a person who was thinking about creating an app, so they created a mobile-friendly version of the app, essentially off of their website, that would act similar to what the app was going to be. And because it was a lot cheaper to create some mobile-looking pages on the website, they were able to test to see if it was used and people liked it. And they actually found out that it wasn't even being visited at all, so nobody really liked it. So, some testing, some research, but also understanding there are solutions like that, that exist already, that you can just plug and play your stuff in.
Stephen Pasquini: That is such valuable advice, thank you so much.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, and I'll see if I can find the info that one company . . . It may or may not fit with what exactly you're envisioning, but it may. So, I'll let you know.
Stephen Pasquini: No, I really appreciate it. Thank you Pat.
Pat Flynn: Cool man. Hey, one more time from you: Where should people go to see what you have going on?
Stephen Pasquini: Oh, thank you. Yes, we're at ThePALife.com or SmartyPANCE. And yeah, you spelled it great at the beginning there, Pat. It's SmartyPANCE.com, and we have social channels on there as well, and links to pretty much everything you need at those websites. So yeah, that's a good place to start.
Pat Flynn: Awesome man. Dude, keep going, I appreciate you so much, thank you for taking action and inspiring us today, and we'll check in with you later.
Stephen Pasquini: Thank you, Pat, thank you for everything you do too.
Pat Flynn: All right. Stephen, you're amazing, man. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to following up with you in the future. Keep rocking it.
Thank you all for listening in today, I appreciate you. If you haven't hit subscribe yet, please do that now, and a big shout out to everybody who has left an amazing review on iTunes for AskPat, that's super helpful, and make sure you stick around because we've got another episode coming your way next week. And maybe it's already there because you're listening to this in the future, in which case just keep pressing play because we've got a lot of great stuff.
And again, if you want to get coaching from me similar to how I coached Stephen in 1014—and maybe you can come back on in the future too with a followup, after you implement what you need to do—all you have to do is go to AskPat.com and apply there. I can't pick everybody, but guess what? I won't pick you if you don't apply. AskPat.com, and also make sure you listen to the other episodes. I appreciate you.
Thanks so much, I appreciate you, and I'll see you in the next episode. Bye.
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