Catch Frank Felker on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:19] And it's an amazing day and we're here back in the #PirateBroadcast™ making sure that you have some value, maybe a few nuggets of knowledge, something you can take away, inspire you, motivate you and create something good today. So today Frank is in the house. He's a pirate today. Welcome pirate, Frank, how are you doing my friend?
Frank Felker: [00:00:40] I'mdoing great, Russ, thank you for having me.
Russ Johns: [00:00:45] And we discovered Frank, that we both enjoy music. We enjoy the production side of music and creative process and everything else. However, some of the things that we want to talk about today are in a process that you developed over years of experience as an entrepreneur and developing and working with and coordinating with other entrepreneurs called M cube and I want to dive into your journey, how you got here and what you're doing now. So when was your first entrepreneurial experience? Can you think back in the way back machine and grab an item off the list?
Frank Felker: [00:01:29] Yeah. Way back is right, Russ. Many people or other experiences in my life, I can actually pinpoint the date. It was February 22nd, 1974. So coming up on 50 years ago my mother decided that what our hometown needed was what she called a store that sells copies and so she opened the first copy shop. I don't know for what radius it was around the same time the Kinko's was founded on the West coast. It turned out my mom was known as Toby, that Toby had a great idea. And so over the years, the the shop grew and eventually we took on a printing and a number of other things and. 20 plus years later, that place actually generated over $1 million in top-line revenue. Which is even to this day, that was back when a million dollars was real money. We struggled, we really struggled mightily for about the first 10 years or so. And so that's where it all started.
Russ Johns: [00:02:32] It's and you pointed it out. Entrepreneurship is not necessarily the smoothest road in the journey. One of the things that I love about it though, is the opportunity to wake up and decide what we have, what we get to focus on. The entrepreneur, a lot of entrepreneurs start out, maybe like your mother, with this idea that I can do something, here's something I can do. Here's the value that I can add, or here's a skill that I have and they go into it with that skill. Based on their talent in that arena, not necessarily the talent of the business itself. So there's some things that we have to learn along the way as well. So is that your experience in your journey?
Frank Felker: [00:03:17] Precisely. And I would differentiate between the words, talent and skill for example, you and I were talking about being musicians earlier. I'm not a talented musician. It was a hard realization to come to. I am
Russ Johns: [00:03:30] I'm not a talented musician, either, Frank you're in good company.
Frank Felker: [00:03:34] Well over time though, I was able to develop skills in certain areas where, you know, and so the difference is talent is something you're born with and skill is something that anyone can develop. The more talent you have, the easier it is to improve that skill. And the less you have the harder, but I've identified six different skill areas. I call them areas of mastery in entrepreneurship that people need to focus on. And all of us will be better in some than we are not at this. It's just the way it is. Nobody's going to be perfect at all six. But what I try to do is bring to your attention all six of them and let you think about it. Oh, I can see where that's an area where I'm costing myself money or causing myself trouble. And so in any event, last thought I want to leave on this point is you said that sometimes people start a business because they bring some skill or some talent to it. And that's usually I use the example of oh, a Baker who opens his own bakery or a hairstylist who opens his or her own salon or in my background, a press operator, printing press operator opens his own print shop. And what they discover is that running a print shop is an entirely different thing than running a printing press and that's where they run into trouble and this is where the six M's can help them.
Russ Johns: [00:04:57] Yeah, I wanted, before we jump into that, I just want to remind people that. Everything you do and this is important to understand is everything you do, you can work to improve on and improving your skills and the diversity of your skills as you grow into your entrepreneurial journey is going to be absolutely critical. Whether it'd be in a business acumen or, financial side, all of these elements. And I think that it'd be really great for you to share some of the experience that you've seen and the processes that you've developed to help business owners recognize the things they, the things around the corner that they haven't necessarily understood yet. Take us away on that.
Frank Felker: [00:05:42] I'm sure you would agree, Russ, that we all learn best from our mistakes.
Russ Johns: [00:05:47] Yeah.
Frank Felker: [00:05:48] That's how I became an expert.
Russ Johns: [00:05:54] The pain I've had in the past is the fuel I need for my future.
Frank Felker: [00:05:58] So let me play it out for you. The six M's are. Mission, marketing, money, machine, which is operations or production. And that's the actual running of the business that comes in fourth in priority order in terms of a success factor, a machine is fourth, then comes management of people. And finally is minutia, which is broadly the paperwork, the legalities, the insurance, the taxes, the what have you. Now the money side of taxes is very important, but the filing of the taxes is more than minutia. So minutia is more the admin type stuff and I put it last because a lot of people put it first when they go to start the business. Oh, I gotta have my LLC set up. I got to have business cards. I got to, get my insurance straight and everything. Those are critical success factors over the long-term. But in the short term, they're not going to generate any revenue for you. And that's where you need to start.
Russ Johns: [00:06:57] Yeah I have to agree with you after having started a lot of different organizations, I've always started out with having something, if I can't sell it, it's really not a business. It can be a great idea, this great idea I think I have, and I asked my friends, they say, yeah, sure. It's a great idea. Until the point in which I asked them to pull their wallet out and pay for it, then it might not be that great of an idea. So you have to test a few things out before you put everything else in place. And that's my experience. So walk us through that process and how you do that.
Frank Felker: [00:07:35] That's marketing and honestly, I'm so torn about whether mission or marketing comes first. And in my book I started with marketing. I still list mission first. I wrote a book called unlocking the MQ But I've seen people who even didn't have a mission. Weren't sure why they were doing this still succeed because they were so good at marketing and sales, but let me take them in order, in terms of the definition, mission means why are you doing this? This is crazy. Starting your own business. Did you quit your job? Are taking money out of your home equity? Are you running up your credit cards? Are you causing a lot of friction with your family and your spouse, or, there's a lot of negative aspects or potentially to starting a business. So if you're not clear on why you're doing it, you are more likely to just give up because you don't have that heart behind it. That's going to see you through the tough times. There are a lot of reasons why people start a business. I'm going to show my dad, that I could do it. Even though he said, I couldn't, I'm going to show my boss. Another big reason is I have a big idea and nobody believes in it. And now I need to show other people just have a real aversion to quote, working for the man and they want to run their own show. Whatever your why is, it's critical that you get in touch with it, write it down and put it up on the wall.
Russ Johns: [00:08:58] Yeah. I really resonate with that, Frank, because I did a lot of work for a lot of years, and I've been an entrepreneur. I've had a side hustle my entire life. It's always been something that I've just... that's just my DNA. However, there are times where my family and friends had no idea what I was doing. I tell people, I joke with people because I actually created a large network. I helped create this large network in Houston when I lived there over a thousand people in this network, multiple meetings and everything else. And there was still people to this day that have no idea what I do. In that case, I had a mission and no marketing cause I wasn't marketing myself and it wasn't really my product. And, I did marketing and media and content creation and websites and all of that stuff. And my biggest challenge in business has been making sure that I have a focus on a single thing long enough, Edison versus Westinghouse. Exactly. It's crazy to imagine how you can actually have that much tenacity. Cause one of the things I think a lot of business owners think was how long should I be doing this before I decide not to do it? How much commitment do I need to place in this before I lose everything and have to start over again? How much energy do I need to create and put into this because I believe in the idea versus having other people believe in the idea. So the push and pull is always there. And it's like the analogy that I work 80 hours so I don't have to spend 40 hours working for someone else.
Frank Felker: [00:10:41] And what's important about that is as far as the why, and that maybe that is it, for example, but what I write about is said, if you're working 80 hours now for less money but it's because you hated your job so much, the money you're leaving on the table is the price you're paying for your freedom and for your ability to express yourself creatively in your work. And that's okay. Each one of us is different. But it is important even though we'd all like to be, very high minded money is a very critical why component. And one of the first things I suggest to people considering starting a business, because it is quantifiable and it is a stake you can put in the ground is how much money do you want to take home every month? And then that will inform a lot of your choices because a lot of the things you may choose to do couldn't generate that amount of money, so then you need to look for...
Russ Johns: [00:11:35] Well, the key component there, Frank, is take home. This can make it an incredible amount of money and the owner can still be broke.
Frank Felker: [00:11:48] You got that, right?
Russ Johns: [00:11:49] As you know, revenue is not the same as take home in all cases, it's the thing that you leave it in the pocket is. Is really what it's ultimately I think what people think about, but they don't think about all of the process in between.
Frank Felker: [00:12:05] And we get it a lot in the press even, they'll say the company made $4 million last year. They didn't, they generated $4 million in revenue. They might've lost $7 million.
Russ Johns: [00:12:17] Yeah. How much revenue, how many dollars did they spend to earn that revenue? And how much did they get to keep?
Frank Felker: [00:12:23] You look at a company like Uber or others where they're literally generating hundreds of millions of dollars and they have a virtual company, and yet they're still losing money. Now having looked at their financial statements, but you have to wonder how do you do that?
Russ Johns: [00:12:39] Yeah. Yeah. How do they do that? A lot of people are trying to figure out how to do that.
Frank Felker: [00:12:44] Theyare clearly financial geniuses.
Russ Johns: [00:12:48] Oh, or they're great marketers? I just want to give a shout out Frank and part of the beauty of the #PirateBroadcast™ is the idea and the opportunity to make connections start conversations, because I believe in the business world. You're just one conversation away from getting what you need and today's age and the ability and opportunity to show video and produce results and have a conversation just like this accelerates the idea that we can actually have a conversation with others too. So Jenny Gold. She was just here, she's a pirate. She was talking, we were talking about different products and sales. Howard Kaufman, who was on the show. He's a pirate. We're talking about his products. Jeffrey. Good morning pirates. Finally catching you live today from Western New York. He's right in your neck of the woods, right?
Frank Felker: [00:13:39] Yeah. I'm down there DC.
Russ Johns: [00:13:40] Well East coast. West coast.
Frank Felker: [00:13:43] Exactly right East coast.
Russ Johns: [00:13:45] Yeah. Hello, Kate is here. Thank you so much. Wow. 50 years. Holy cow. The year after I graduated high school. Yes, we're in the time zone. Yeah. Silverfox Talks Darleen out of Florida. Hello, pirate, community and family. Happy to be here, making a few connections, everyone. Mike Baker also in Florida. Do the best you can and get referrals. Absolutely. Jeff great points for starting this morning. Have to have clarity. So true. Sheila Chamberlain budgets. Yeah. Have more conversations. Love the process. Revenue, overhead, she says Sheila. Yeah. Jenny Gold.
Frank Felker: [00:14:29] Sheila, are you a CPA? Because your suggestion start to have to do with money.
Russ Johns: [00:14:34] Yeah. Good evening. I am locked in here in Kenya. Thank you so much for being here in Kenya. So Frank. Give us a little deeper dive into the steps you're referring to when we talk about this process.
Frank Felker: [00:14:48] We will be getting to money, which is number three. And as I say, I list these in order of priority importance to the success, the short-term success of your business based on my experience. But number two, after mission is marketing. And you said it right on Russ. If you can't sell what you're, nobody's buying, what you're selling. You ain't got a business and the marketplace is the ultimate arbiter of whether or not your product or service has value. Now it's not even just whether it has value, but is the value greater than the price you're charging for it. And the price you're charging for it has to be higher than the costs to produce it. So this is where things get a little more difficult, but marketing is in essence, a communication process. You have to introduce yourself to your target audience. There's a process that I refer to as going from stranger, that your relationship with your customer. From stranger to suspect, to prospect, to customer, to client. I could spend all day talking about that. I produced an online course that's called How to Build a Customer Factory. If you want to learn more about that, you can look it up. But in any event, what I have seen is people who had all the other skills, talents, and advantages. Years of industry experience before they opened their own business, working for others they had a good pile of cash in the bank or had access to financial resources. They knew where to hire the right people to run the business and make the donuts. Yeah, they couldn't sell their way out of a paper bag and they lost their butts and lost all their money and a lot of it. And when you lose, it's a terrible thing. And it has great financial consequences, personal consequences in addition to financial. So what I would say is. Most business owners for most business owners, marketing is a mystery and sales is a dirty word. And if, when I use the word sales, you get all gun-shy and start sweating. Then you need to figure out who's going to be selling what it is you're producing, because if it's not, you. You got a problem.
Russ Johns: [00:17:03] Every business needs a sales process, whether it's the business owner, promoting the idea or someone that is assigned the responsibility of selling, somebody has to sell something before anything can ever grow.
Frank Felker: [00:17:16] That's right.
Russ Johns: [00:17:18] And I think it's important, Frank, also, the people recognize that. Sales is not a dirty word.
Frank Felker: [00:17:25] No, it isn't.
Russ Johns: [00:17:26] We all have gifts. We all have a message, you've spent years, decades even honing the craft of being able to share this message and broadcast and create courses and help a lot of people. It would almost be criminal if you didn't put this out there and share it with more people, some people see that as sales. Some people say that as you're delivering gifts to the universe, whatever you want, however you want to position it in your mind. It's a perception. It's not a reality. And you have to realize that you have a gift that you can share and you're not sharing it is, that's tragic.
Frank Felker: [00:18:05] It really is and you have to, I won't name any names, but I had a client in the past who had a tremendous value proposition that virtually any business owner and almost any person on earth could take benefit from. But they were so hesitant to say or do anything that they perceived as being self-promotional that to this day, that business struggles mightily. And it's such a shame because it's a tremendous, the value is tremendous. So just as you said, Think about what what I would say is if you believe that the value of what you're delivering is far in excess of the price that you're charging for it, you said it would be criminal. I think that's a little strong, but I can't argue with it. You're certainly making a mistake, not sharing it with people who could benefit from it. And who are you to stand between them and expanding their life?
Russ Johns: [00:19:01] Yeah. And there's somebody out there. I promise you, there's someone out there that wants what you have, regardless of what it happens to be. There is someone out there and I've proven it over and over again in different activities and adventures in my life. And I suffered tremendously from imposter syndrome and the lack of competence saying, oh, this is something you need. And right now, Frank, the #PirateSyndicate™, I'm producing shows for other people and I'm producing results that people can be seen, be heard and be talked about and build authority in their market and visibility. And that to me is part of the process. It's the number two on your list. It's like in the marketing out there and make sure that you have it in place. If you have a great product that nobody hears about...
Frank Felker: [00:19:56] You and I both probably, I can only speak for myself, but you may well remember when there was a battle between the Macintosh operating system and the early versions of windows from Microsoft and windows 3.1 was just an awful program. It was terrible. And by comparison, Microsoft's operating system was elegant, but Microsoft took 97% of the market share for a long period of time. And the difference was marketing, it wasn't the quality of the product.
Russ Johns: [00:20:25] Yeah. That's so true. That's so true. And I've been on the entire journey for this computer thing, so it's like you watch it and you see it over and over when you learn how to recognize it in the marketing effort and you're saying that's not the best product. It's probably the best marketing, and it really makes a difference. So for the lesson today, everyone, is that going out there, test drive it, if nobody buys it, there might be an issue there. If their message has been tested a couple of different ways and still nobody buys it, look at that. However, if you're not producing sales and you're not asking enough people and you're not having enough conversations, that's a different challenge. So yes, have a conversation before you can get enough information back to understand what the pain is that you're solving. What pain are you solving?
Frank Felker: [00:21:21] That's a very important point. There has to be a problem that you're solving. If there's no pain, there's no opportunity for someone to come in and provide a solution.
Russ Johns: [00:21:31] People run away from pain a lot quicker than they run to pleasure. Buying an Armani suit or a Rolex watch is less frequent than getting toilet paper.
Frank Felker: [00:21:42] What a great analogy. That's great.
Russ Johns: [00:21:49] You have to pick your market, right?
Frank Felker: [00:21:51] Yeah, exactly.
Russ Johns: [00:21:52] That's a lot of people are a select. You just have to decide. Frank, I want to go a little deeper in the process of the business development, you can go point where we have a product we're selling, people are buying it, things started growing. I know for myself, I'm starting at the point where I have to contract people out right now. The gig economy is brilliant for this. It allows you to add some people to the team without having to commit to a full-time employee and everything that goes along with that and scaling companies right now, and especially online and virtual companies right now is a huge opportunity. What are your thoughts on that and how do you grow an organization? Not maybe like Uber, in that fashion without driving yourself crazy and going mad.
Frank Felker: [00:22:40] I have a lot of suggestions on that. That's place management of people which includes recruiting, talks, selection, attraction, selection onboarding and development of people. And and in fact, again, I have a course that's called how to hire and keep great people that you can look for. But I mentioned that only because I've given this a lot of thought and I see it as one of the biggest rubs for every business owner, but I do place management as number five, just behind minutia. And the reason why is because until you have everything else ready and you do the example you just gave, people are buying what you're selling. You're pumping out product ad demands for growth are coming in. So then good. You're set to start to scale with people. The number one suggestion I would give is always be open to hiring people who are smarter than you are. One of the biggest mistakes business owners make, and I've done it myself is to be afraid to hire somebody who has more experience than you do. And looking inward, I would say the reason I felt that way, I was afraid that person was going to show me up. That it was going to be obvious to the rest of my staff, that I really didn't know what I was doing. This person knows more about it than I do, et cetera. But when you think about it, would you rather have that person working for you or somebody who's a lunk head that you're just pouring money down drain holes paying their salary? Another thing is very important when it comes to relationships with people who work for you is that all relationships are temporary. No matter what you do one day, your relationship in this at least this manner of relationship with that person will change and they won't work for you anymore. But a lot of times, owners and managers try to hold onto that good person by the throat and then not let them go. But instead, if you would give them everything that they were looking for in their personal life, like helping them with personal development or maybe they want to take guitar lessons or you name it. Whatever's important to them personally, that may have nothing to do with your business. The more you are a conduit to these types of things for them, the longer they will stay with you, all you can hope for is to extend the length of time they're with you and make it as beneficial as possible. I'll let go of that by just giving you a quick example. When I say coach K, do you know who I'm referring to? Shashefski. He's the coach of the Duke men's basketball team, and he's a multiple NCAA national championship winner. And he's coached the Olympic basketball team, very successful basketball coach. He has a rule when he hires assistant coaches, he will not hire an assistant coach unless it is that coaches desire to become a head coach of his own team in the near future. Because that's the level of drive and instinct that he's looking for in his assistants. He realizes coach K knows that person will only be with them for a short period of time, but he will attract the very best, the brightest, the most energetic coaches. And while they were with him, they will help him win. And he in turn will help them learn how to become a championship coach. And after a few years, they're gone. But because his approach is so well-known, there's no shortage of the next coach wanting to come work for him.
Russ Johns: [00:25:58] Coach university is what it's like. They're only there for a couple of years and they're off to their own...
Frank Felker: [00:26:04] just like the players.
Russ Johns: [00:26:05] Yeah. Just like the players. That's a great analogy. And I love the idea of helping people develop their skills. I always believed in hire the attitude, train the skill. And if you can match the individual with what they love and enjoy doing naturally, and you can build a team with bringing people together that love to do what they do and they do it well, and they're better at it than you are. And you can, it's like a great band, because like when it comes together, it makes music, it's the sum of the parts are much more important than the individual. Frank, this has been wonderful. I love the opportunity to hang out with amazing people that have great conversations. We've got a lot of people in the room. Wendy's here. Thank you so much, Wendy. Beloved posse. Howard Kaufman we were talking about earlier. Insightful discussion. Thanks for sharing. Mike Baker says unstoppable. I just really appreciate all of the things. Jeffrey says, so true marketing aspect, being a software engineer for over 25 years. Absolutely. We need all of the skill and talent that everybody brings to the table. You may not necessarily fit in every scenario. However, the experience that you're developing and everything that you've brought to the table, Frank today is from the printing press, the copy store, developing these skills in business from experience, it just, it adds to our volume of knowledge that we can share with others. And that's what the #PirateBroadcast™ is about. So thank you so much for sharing your knowledge today, Frank, and look forward to future conversations.
Frank Felker: [00:27:48] Thank you so much for having me Russ, and I'll leave you with this question. How do you know when you're a pirate?
Russ Johns: [00:27:56] How do you know when I say you're a pirate?
Frank Felker: [00:27:59] You just arghhh..
Russ Johns: [00:28:04] The reality is that anyone that believes that #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree can be a pirate. Thank you so much for being here, Frank.
Frank Felker: [00:28:13] Thanks for having me Russ.
Russ Johns: [00:28:14] But how do people get ahold of you quickly?
Frank Felker: [00:28:16] Sure. frankfelker.com also LinkedIn Facebook, Twitter.
Russ Johns: [00:28:21] Awesome. Thank you everyone. Love you. Have a fantastic weekend and we'll be back again on Monday. Take care.
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