This episode features Dave Mason, an entrepreneur, author and coach that has shown how you can create a business while still living the lifestyle you want to live.
Discover why first determining your priorities along with the lifestyle you want is essential before you create the business you need to support those priorities.
Listen as Dave explains exactly how he has been able to create and continue to manage a multi-million dollar eCommerce company (https://www.knobs.co) while only working an average of 15 minutes per day.
If you don't already have a business, then you will want to listen as Dave describes what type of business you should begin and why.
Finally, listen as Dave tells the story of how he handled a customer service problem that arose and how he developed a training system that could take his place within the business and how you can take this method to streamline your own processes.
Episode Action Items:
To find more information about Dave or to learn more about his 'Money Madness Challenge' visit https://moneymindsetmadness.com or you can find Dave's book, The Size of Your Dreams, at https://thesizeofyourdreams.com
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal 0:02
Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal . And today we are happy to welcome our next guest to discuss today's topic generating 20 million and E-commerce working one hour a day. This week's guest entered the E-commerce space two decades ago seeking a lifestyle business where he could live anywhere, work part-time and profit while he slept. Today is an entrepreneur and author and a coach. A big welcome to Dave Mason. Hi, Dave.
Dave Mason 1:14
Hey, Andy, great to be here.
Andy Splichal 1:16
You know, seeking a lifestyle business that allows you to work anywhere part-time and probably asleep. That sounds like a dream of many. But if I'm a struggling ecommerce business owner right now, or if I'm thinking of starting a business, I might be thinking yeah, right. How have you been able to achieve this in your life?
Dave Mason 1:36
Well, to me, I think a lot of it came from really deciding what are my negotiables and my non negotiables in my life, what I really want my life to look like not do what do I want my business to look like? I'd say kind of when I was listing my priorities, and what I wanted my life to look like my business was coming, you're not at the bottom. But closer down to the bottom, it came below where I wanted to live, how I wanted to be spending my time what I wanted to be doing with my family. And so I started thinking like any business that was too intensive, that took too much time. Okay, that was off off my list of possible things I was going to do with myself, I needed to find an answer that would kind of support this lifestyle. It's not that I built the business and oh, it happened to provide for me to be able to live anywhere. I very much first put the priority live anywhere first for the priority to be able to work part-time at the top, and then said okay, what can I create that will allow me to get there.
Andy Splichal 2:31
Now, you started 20 years ago, in the E-commerce space and a lot has changed, then what have you seen that has changed and what has not?
Dave Mason 2:40
The biggest thing that has changed is how easy it is to be putting up a website how I would never advise someone to do what I did 20 years ago and start building my own proprietary platform, right from scratch. These days, it is just so easy to get yourself an account with Spotify or BigCommerce, those are really the to our Spotify. Sorry. So Spotify, yes, Shopify, or BigCommerce. Thank you. And it's so easy to get an account on one of those two and be up and running in hours. That, you know, don't even worry about the tech thing. In fact, I'd say the biggest thing that pushed me to go in that direction was to scrap my whole proprietary platform a number of years ago, and to move over to big commerce, where I am now is the fact that they're just always people making these third party apps that just are built to plug and play with these platforms. And so every time you want to add a functionality, you don't go and hire a programmer anymore. You go and look at these at the app marketplace. And bam, you click you know, install, and it's there and you're paying $20 a month, but you're adding this new functionality. It is so fast and so cheap now. It's unbelievable.
Andy Splichal 3:50
What about advertising today versus 20 years ago?
Dave Mason 3:55
So truthfully, my advertising channels have mostly remained the same, that I've always been, from the beginning that a lot of PPC on Google. And a lot of SEO also, obviously, for Google, what has changed is it's become more sophisticated, in that if you look at something like Google Shopping, now they just take your entire catalogue and they and they put it into their into their platform. And it's a very easy system. And everyone is pretty much treated the same with it. You know, back in the day that they didn't have an option like that. And I almost created for myself something that looked a lot like Google Shopping, I realized that if I have a different ad for each and every product that I've got, I'm gonna get a lot more ad space than my competitors who just have ads for their main keywords. So these days, everyone can kind of get into that whole space of having their entire catalog having ads up around it. But it actually was an advantage to me in the early days that the advertising platforms were less sophisticated because they gave more room for someone willing to do a little bit of coding on the side to hack things more.
Andy Splichal 5:03
Now, if you had to start a business today, what would you do?
Dave Mason 5:09
I'm very into the idea that your first business should really be very much a learning experience, especially in the E-commerce space. I feel like there's a huge learning curve. And so I tell people don't try to figure out what's going to make you a ton of money right off the bat, and no people stress so much about what's going to work for them, what's not going to work for them. In my case, I had no idea that I was going to become a cabinet knob salesman, it really came that way from throwing like a lot of spaghetti on the wall, and kind of following a path of this is working. Okay, why don't I do add more products in that category, this is not working one of my scrap this other category, that I finally led me to selling cabinet knobs. But because I feel it is unpredictable, where you're going to find your niche and where you're going to actually have a lot of success. I tell people find an area where you have a lot of passion, or you have a lot of expertise to build your first website, fully with the understanding that this might not be the website where you're going to make your fortune, this might just be the one where you learn how to use the tools of E-commerce, because you have to go through that process of learning. And as you go through it, you're gonna start seeing where the opportunities are for you and where they're not. But that's the first try to figure that out. And then simultaneously be figuring out this whole new product category and figuring out how to be using all the tools and doing all the advertising. It's just a lot on your plate. So choose an easy area to get involved in, and then grow from there.
Andy Splichal 6:33
So you would recommend people choose their passion, even before like looking at the competitive landscape or what other competitors are doing. But you would think that the passion is more important?
Dave Mason 6:45
I think the passion makes for a very easy first website. And when I tell people this, I'm saying like it's very, very possible, you're not going to be making any money from that. But because it's your passion, you'll have fun, putting in the dozens and dozens of hours you're going to need to to get things set up and get things and get things selling. And that's going to be your passion is going to help you learn all the lessons you need to learn to really get comfortable in the space. Then, once you're comfortable in the space, then take a step back and say okay, where do I really think I can make money? Let me make my next website about that. The passion just makes the learning process easier.
Andy Splichal 7:28
Now most business owners start solo, when do you think is the right time to start to hire and what positions or position should you hire first?
Dave Mason 7:39
So I'm very into the idea that even though you're starting solo, you have to think of yourself not as a one person. You know, team, one person, one person entrepreneur, think of yourself as one person who is hiring who is running, say 20 distinct tasks 20 distinct jobs, your your your accountant, you're the bookkeeper, you're the programmer, You're the writer, you're the salesperson, you're everything. But as you start understanding that each of those tasks you're taking on is an individual responsibility, and has individual set of requirements for it, then you could start seeing Okay, well, this one, I know, it's, you know, taking a lot of work for me, but I know exactly what needs to be done, I can give very clear instructions to somebody else. Let me go and farm that one out. And this other one who, you know, I'm kind of running it more by instinct, I really don't think I'm ready to train somebody else on that it's really essential to the business and it's absolutely dependent on me, Okay, I'm gonna, I'm going to hang on to that one for a bit longer. But start seeing each thing you're doing as, as distinct word, this, the book, The E-Myth Revisited, has this whole idea of you know what, just make yourself an entire organizational chart. And you've got CEO and CTO and COO, and just put your name below all them CEO, Dave, CTO, Dave, whatever it happens to be and the whole chart, but you can start seeing Okay, each of these can be a position. Which one are you not so good at which one are you not excited about which one takes a lot of time but doesn't add a lot to your bottom line. Those are good things to find someone to do.
Andy Splichal 9:13
Now, you're not only an author, but you continue to be active in E-commerce. And I read in your bio, that you've generated over 20 million on E-commerce sales while working less than an hour per day on The Knob Company. So tell us how are you able to run a successful business only working one hour per day?
Dave Mason 9:32
Most days, I estimate that I work about 15 minutes. And the reason I'm able to do that is because I don't keep hardly anything on my own plate. I look at all the different responsibilities that are done in the business and I can see that there's somebody in charge of virtually everything that needs to be done. And I've been very fortunate, especially in this past year where there's been a ton of turnover that none of my staff has actually left. So everyone I'm working with has been with me for years. And they know the responsibilities. And they really only turn to me when there's an emergency, or when something is really out of whack. Or very, very rarely when they see an opportunity, and they want to suggest, hey, maybe we should pursue this. But it really just means there's just not much for me to do everyone's taken care of everything. And so if I get curious about something, if I want to look in a different area, and I want to grow in an area, maybe I'll spend some time in that. But for the most part, there's nothing to do. Everybody's everything that needs to be done, has been given to somebody with very clear instructions of how they can accomplish it.
Andy Splichal 10:41
How do you manage? How do you make sure that they're doing what they're supposed to do? And are you setting up goals? Are you setting up Check? I mean, how are you making? How are you so comfortable that you've been able to completely let go of these different areas?
Dave Mason 10:59
So I'd say it happens, little by little, that I wound up letting it go. So here's a good example of an area that I gave up too much control over, and really learned my lesson on. So early on in the business, I had really a fabulous customer service person. And he was just in charge of everything. And new people would come in, and he trained them in what needed to be done. And even after he left the business, the people he had trained were still around. And they trained the next generation of people who are coming coming after them. And there's been years of their bunch of turnovers that we're still several generations away from this original person. And I had been so used to not really looking at this customer service area, they didn't worry about it, everyone in customer service, they kind of manage themselves, they trained the new people, everything was going fine. Until a few years back, we were in actually Costa Rica, we were on a family trip down there. And early on, I had three customer service people working with me at the time. And I'd made the decision with my two senior customer service people that this third person, they told me, You know what, she really wasn't holding up her end, she wasn't so strong, we should let her go. So we let her go. And we immediately went and looked for somebody new to hire. And we hired we hired somebody new. And then a week goes by. And one night I check in. And I have two emails waiting for me one each from my to senior customer service people. One of them was fairly routine, this woman letting me know, by the way, she's got a family reunion coming up, and she's gonna be taking some time off. Fine. She had vacation coming to her anyway, no problem. The other one said that this woman who I'd known had been dealing with cancer. Previously, she said, you know, my cancer came back with a theory, I need immediate emergency medical leave for an undisclosed period for and I don't know, it might even be permanent. And suddenly, I found myself having gone for a week earlier, I had three seasoned customer service people. And now I had one brand new person. And two senior people were both gonna be gone at the same time. And I quickly went and, and hired somebody. But I was in Costa Rica with poor internet and I wasn't really around. And the so one senior person was gone. The other one wasn't really around to do much training only for about a week before she had to leave herself. And I had my own family things going on. So I kind of turned a blind eye to it knowing things were probably bad at a certain point. I was looking at what was going on in the customer service. And it was just, it was awful. This new guy I had hired and barely trained his resume, it seemed great. And he was literally telling this one customer oh, you should probably go to a competition. Instead, I have no idea why he was setting them up. But he was horrendous. And I started writing like these emails back again, see the chat transcripts they're having with customers, I'd see so many mistakes. And I start sending these emails saying no, don't do this, do that instead. And there's this woman who'd been hired a couple of weeks earlier, when we'd fire that that first person like she was so used to these things being very calm, and orderly. And all of a sudden, she was getting angry email from me after angry email from me and she was getting fed up and this other guy had to I fired and it was just a total mess. And I realized sending long emails to people letting them know all the mistakes they were making was not really the way to go.
Andy Splichal 14:34
Right! right! Yeah, people. It's hard to keep employees for too long doing that for sure.
Dave Mason 14:40
Oh, yeah, there was a total disaster, total turnover. And I stumbled and I decided to do something else. Instead, I had a real awakening moment. Okay, it's time for me to stop turning a blind eye to me to my customer service team. And for a period of a few months, I read every single transcript of every single chat we have with the customer. And when I noticed something that was not right I wouldn't write to the customer service agent and let them know I wouldn't write this long e-mail. Instead, I'd go into a creating a knowledge base. I'd create an article, I'd say, say, better. So yeah, so first, I just write it for myself. When this question "A" comes up, you know, here's how we don't want to handle it. Here's how we do want to handle it. And then I'd say to the person, by the way, you know, if you could just go read this article, and then send me back, what would be a new response? I'd appreciate that. So I'd sent just a one sentence email. And I tried to make sure that at least 80% of the emails that I sent to everybody were positive, say, hey, after each chat, I'd read it to chat, I said, Hey, great job, even if they're only doing a soso job, trying to make them positive, whenever they miss something big. I'd read an article on it. And then I'd say please go read that article and send me a new response. Well, this became the process of really, by doing this, gradually, as these issues came up, we soon had a knowledge base on virtually every single question that every customer could ask, which meant that the next time we hired, we didn't have people just kind of sitting in and listening in on other people's calls, or trying to have a download from one customer service person to another customer service person, and what comes up, we had an entire training manual there. And we also had very clear expectations, you're gonna be doing chats, you're gonna be having somebody senior to you going over the chats. And when you're, when you're not quite in line with, with our whole knowledge base with the will the way we like to handle these questions. They're gonna say, by the way, please go and review this and send us back a new response. And then if in the new response, they still didn't get it, then we'd okay then we'd like get on the phone and explain it and try to talk it out and make sure that figured out why they weren't getting it. But usually, they'd read it, it's oh okay! ow I get it, here's how I would have responded to that differently next time. And, and this just became a whole way they are our training time plummeted. Our standard of customer service care went through the roof. And it all came from from noticing this problem and saying, all right, I need to have a really strong, robust system that can handle all this training and they can handle they can make sure that our quality is staying the same. Because I don't want to be that that employer who is on top of my staff is making things they're looking over everybody's shoulder. And now the whole point was to be having this lifestyle. That's right, right, I needed to have a system that could be stronger than I would have been myself.
Andy Splichal 17:31
Now besides The Knob Company, you've also written several books can can you tell us about your books?
Dave Mason 17:37
Absolutely. So I have two books in the area of biblical fiction, I happen to be an Orthodox Rabbi, I'm on the side. That's, that's my whole spiritual side of my life. I spend time every day studying, studying my traditions. And I got really into the whole world of the prophets and wanting to read a Harry Potter type book set in the world of the prophets, I have a series called The Age of Prophecy . But then I've got two books that are also novels but much more in this business and personal growth space. And I love teaching through stories. So I've got the book called The Size of Your Dreams , which we call Thinking Grow Rich meets Dead Poets Society, it literally teaches you how to how to accomplish your goals, how to set bigger goals, teaches all these really practical steps for being more effective in your life. But it's all taught to a novel taught in a high school classroom. And the other book is called The Cash Machine. And both these books I wrote together with my wife, The Cash Machine is actually a love story that teaches hundreds of financial lessons, we're trying to give people financial literacy through a novel and we I never actually thought I'd write a love story but money is so tied up with relationships, I was reading together with my wife and we're struggling to get our heads around money and making a lot of dumb financial choices. It was a big barrier in our relationship and it's been one of the top causes of divorce across the board. So it really became natural that our money book became a relationship and money book. And that one is just our way of helping people become financially literate not learning necessarily how to make more money but how to make smarter choices with the money that they do make.
Andy Splichal 19:16
Which one of those two has been more successful?
Dave Mason 19:23
The Cash Machine came out later, but has been certainly downloaded more more often than The Size of Your Dreams.
Andy Splichal 19:30
No I meant besides between the the money educational and the religious fictional.
Dave Mason 19:37
The religious okay. Since you I'd have to say the certainly the biblical fiction came out first. That's what really got me to start writing was just this desire to be teaching to be teaching this.
Andy Splichal 19:53
So that was your passion?
Dave Mason 19:54
Yeah exactly. That was a real they're all they're all my passions. The.. Like The Cash Machine came about, because I saw I was making dumb financial choices because despite all the money I was making, I wasn't doing intelligent things with it. So I felt like okay, if I write a book about money, I will have to get myself an education in order to teach things to my readers. So that was the motivation for writing The Cash Machine. But the biblical fiction was really it was an area that I was very fascinated at. And and that's really found a place in and I'm obviously Jewish, but in both the Jewish and also Christian religious circles, it's found some leadership amongst monks, non religious circles, as well. But I've really been much more successful in, in religious circles, both in Judaism and Christianity, picking up that book, and really wanting to delve into and figure out like, what was this world of the prophets all about? You know, to me that the Bible was written for people who were living at the time, and there are so many things that just are not explicit. Because they were, they were evident to someone who was reading it at the time. But for us, you know, with our iPhones and computers and internet, we live just in a different world we can't relate to the way they ate, the way they dress, the way their their daily lives were I wanted to create a book that really filled out all this fullness of what the life looked like back then. And also titled The Spiritual Truths about Prophecy.
Andy Splichal 21:21
How does The Cash Machine compare to Rich Dad Poor Dad?
Dave Mason 21:27
I would say Rich Dad, Poor Dad is of all the books I read on money, and I've read a ton of them. Rich Dad, Poor Dad was, I would say the best of them. I was really when I read the Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I was like, Wow if I read this a decade earlier, I would have made totally different choices in my life. I'll say the Cash Machine goes into a lot more areas than Rich Dad Poor Dad does. There's only one area where I think I disagree with Robert Kiyosaki and the entire book, in that he's a huge fan of gold. And I'm not, I'm not a big fan of gold. But we I bring it up. And the thing I like about a novel is that you can have different characters represent different points of view. And so we bring up we have golden discussing the positives and negatives of it amongst these characters, but Robert Kiyosaki is teaching some very powerful principles. The Cash Machine teaches a lot more areas, with the idea that I just want to expose people to a very wide array of areas of burn money knowing that if any of them strike them as like, Okay, I need to learn about that. There are so many tools online where they can go delve into it, but they might not have even heard about it, to even think about researching it. So where's it Where's Rich Dad, Poor Dad goes into fewer areas and gives over kind of like big principles.
Andy Splichal 22:44
Now with The Cash Machine, I see that you offer a 21 day challenge involving Money Mindset. Can you tell us more about your challenge?
Dave Mason 22:53
Absolutely. So well, The Cash Machine teaches a lot of different techniques of what you want to do with money and how you want to be spending it and really investing it and building it. I found over the years that if you've got baggage, you're on money, if you feel that money is the root of all evil, that rich people are greedy, you feel that investments are hard to understand, you're gonna block yourself from bringing money in. Because you don't want to be evil. You don't want to be dealing with difficult things, you don't want to be greedy. So you make sure that you keep money far away from you. So if you have a bad package of beliefs around money, disempowering bunch of beliefs, you're not going to be as successful in building your e-commerce business, you're not going to be as successful and investing your money, you're probably going to struggle a lot with money. So what money mindset madness does? It start off with day one with a quiz about 40 different beliefs around money. What does it ask you to very honestly answer that, and either identify with them or don't identify with them. And you can look at your various beliefs and say, okay, which are the ones that really might be most holding me back? And you score each belief and you could see the ones that get the highest scores. All right, those are the ones that are really blocking me. And then we give you a whole bunch of techniques to really go in and understand. Well, where did that belief come from? Is it something you heard from your parents? Is it they've heard from other people, this is something you'd heard the opposite of, and you kind of rebelled against? How did you first formulate this belief? How is it serving you? And how is it actually getting in your way? And then let's look at that belief and understand it and see if we can actually change it to something that's going to be more empowering. Working on beliefs is really my wife's specialty. And she teaches all these incredibly powerful tools for finding the ones that are blocking you and flipping them around.
Andy Splichal 24:38
Now, who is this challenge designed for?
Dave Mason 24:42
Anybody who spends money.
Andy Splichal 24:45
Well, that's broad. That's broad. Do Do you have any success stories of anybody who's taken the challenge, how it's they've been able to use it to overcome any obstacles they've been struggling with?
Dave Mason 24:56
Yeah, we see people all the time who are really blocked around money. And one famous example actually give. This isn't before the challenge. But we've been giving people these these questions and working with them on them for a long time before we put it together into a challenge. I remember one guy I knew was had so many skills, and was so in demand, and yet couldn't seem to get enough money together. And he's a guy come over and talk to you. And I said, Yeah, you know, come on over. And I was literally like, in my kitchen doing dishes. And he was talking about how he was just struggling, how he couldn't move forward with his business. And I said, you know, just complete the following sentences for me. And I actually gave him the same ones that I'd mentioned as examples. Moment earlier, I said, money is, and he replied, the root of all evil, and said, rich people are and he said, greedy. I said, you know, you think this might be getting in your way. You're telling me that you want help on making money. But you're also telling me that if you succeed, you will view yourself as evil and greedy. And when he understood that, he's like, Okay, well, I'm conflicted here. That's why I'm getting in my own way. If I can look at that, and start seeing all the good things that come from money, and one of the things I said to him, I said, who are the most wealthy people in our community? And he listed off a couple names. And I said, do you look at them as greedy? And he said, Well, actually, no, I actually know a ton of people who, you know, are struggling to make their rent each month and are only able to continue living here and feed their families because they're getting help from these people. No, I actually look at them as among the most generous people I've known. And examining these beliefs and seeing that actually, they weren't really true. Helped him shift them and actually take his business to another level.
Andy Splichal 26:44
So how can an interested listener learn more about you and The Money Mind Mindset Madness, and your books and all that good information?
Dave Mason 26:56
Fantastic. I'd love to share Money Mindset Madness is simply moneymindsetmadness.com. You can get a free copy of my book The Size of Your Dreams at thesizeofyourdreams.com or a copy of The Cash Machine at buildmycashmachine.com. And if you want to check out my e-commerce site, it is at nabs.co
Andy Splichal 27:17
Well, this has been fantastic. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Before we wrap it up today?
Dave Mason 27:21
I'd like to add that I had a lot of fun when I was building my ecommerce stores. And I think that was a core aspect of why I was able to be successful with them. So I really want to encourage all of your listeners as they're going out there. To understand that you're not going to be successful necessarily the first time not everything you do is going to is going to work and if you really see it as having fun and learning new things and experimenting and wow, look at all the new things I get to try and the new apps I get to try and all these things I can learn about that it'd be a great exciting process.
Andy Splichal 27:56
Enjoying the journey.
Dave Mason 27:59
Andy Splichal 27:59
All right. Well, thanks again for joining us today. Remember, if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information connecting with Dave you will find the links in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our all new Podcasts Resource Center available at www.makeeachclickcount.com. We have compiled all the different past guests by show topic and I've included each of their contact information in case you would like more information on any of the services I have discussed during previous episodes. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.