Brenton has matured in his business without many of the dramas that plague other entrepreneurs. [02:09]
James’s guest knew early what kind of life would make him happy, and what wouldn’t. [04:43]
Sports, especially one in particular, kept Brenton level-headed. [05:49]
Is it a one-thing-at-a-time journey, or is there a five-year plan? [10:17]
With such a simple business, these are the sort of things that keep it running. [15:01]
Brenton and James talked a decade ago about OwnTheRacecourse. How much of that still influences what Brenton does? [18:03]
When you don’t need a huge team… [21:40]
Work-life balance is not an illusion. [26:20]
What does the future hold for this swim coach turned entrepreneur? [27:44]
Ten years ago, Brenton Ford was on James’s show telling how OwnTheRacecourse worked wonders for his coaching business, Effortless Swimming.
Brenton has stuck with James’s SilverCircle program all this time, and is back to discuss the results of over a decade’s worth of coaching.
A drama-free maturation
For James, it’s been a pleasure seeing, as he says, this young kid grow up into a family man, and his business grow with him. At no point has he ever seen Brenton burnt out, overloaded, or stressed. He’s basically avoided a lot of the drama people have in their journey.
Effortless Swimming has gone from a small information-based affair to an in-person service to a comprehensive sort of membership. And over time, Brenton has gained leverage in time and other resource.
Brenton is now a dad, lives by the beach, and surfs a lot, which James thinks is awesome. It’s a great example of what’s possible. He’d like Brenton to talk us through the early stages of his business to the present.
As mentioned, says Brenton, he began with an information product business, where he originally wanted to stay behind the scenes. He quickly learned, however, that being the face of the business gained a lot more trust. He quite enjoyed it, too, once he got started with YouTube videos and a podcast, at James’s suggestion.
Along the way, he says, he’d pick up things each month from James’s coaching. And while he might not implement them straightaway, he would when he was ready, with great results. And over time he matured as a business owner.
The business and life Brenton did and didn’t want
Starting out with James, says Brenton, he was clueless. He didn’t even know how to register a business. Today, he runs a very steady, strong company.
He recently came across some notes he’d made a decade before, on what he wanted his future life to look like. It included living by the beach, earning a certain level of income, and being able to surf when it was good. Nearly all the points were ticked off. A huge part of that, he says, was working with James, with whom he’s quite similar in terms of lifestyle. That’s why the coaching resonated. The Gary Vaynerchuk philosophy of grind did not appeal to him at all.
Brenton did an entrepreneurship course in uni, he says. Small business owners would come in, and he knew from looking at them that the 12-hour day, six or seven days a week, was not for him. They looked tired and unhappy.
A sport that made a difference
Brenton is different from a lot of the young guys, says James, who at that age are typically on a search for significance, to look good in the eyes of society.
“You don’t need to be super fast, so much as build for the long term. – James Schramko”
Is it his sports background? Brenton is seemingly more disciplined than most people, and like James is focused on a slower build out than on speed. James has always talked about building for the long term. But why isn’t Brenton out there chasing bright, shiny objects like his peers?
Brenton honestly thinks it came down to surfing. He got hooked on it at 18, loved that feeling of being in the ocean, being outside, away from technology. It moved to the forefront of his mind, getting him up at four in the morning to chase dawn sessions at Melbourne.
He always wanted a successful business, but if the money meant he couldn’t surf when the waves were good, he didn’t want it.
He’s glad now that he thought that, because he can surf when he wants to, and just as importantly be with his family. He sees his two young kids all the time during the week – very important, he thinks, at their time of life.
Brenton is so level-headed, says James. It’s exactly what he hoped for with his program, to help people avoid the corporate hell and nightly grind he experienced. People like Ezra Firestone and Ryan Levesque have benefitted from something similar, but the way Brenton’s applied it, with family in mind, is admirable.
Is there a five-year plan?
James wants to know: does Brenton just work on one thing at a time these days, or is he ticking boxes off some five-year plan?
Brenton thinks he used to have a longer-term plan, but with the business now so consistent, he gotten into running whatever’s working and refining and improving without looking too far ahead. He does look forward more in terms of lifestyle and the like.
He did start some in-person clinics, built them for bigger groups, then refined them down. They now handle smaller groups at higher prices, delivering more value and getting better results. That’s worked well.
He’d had at one time six or seven coaches helping run the clinics, but it lacked the quality he wanted, so he brought it in small.
For about five years before 2020, they ran overseas camps, which Brenton says was really enjoyable.
Amid different products that tied in with Brenton’s market, his membership kept running, and over that time it changed and evolved. Close to a year ago, he shifted it over to 10XPRO, which he’s glad he did. It runs very smoothly.
Over time, Brenton has increased his prices, added more value with his products, and seen revenue steadily grow. He’s not looking now to do big launches. He’s focused more on what’s consistent, which suits his personality and what he’s willing to do in terms of workload.
It’s extraordinary, says James, how much overlap they have in terms of approach. Brenton surfs, he seems calm, he’s got a low-pressure business. People have different goals, and that’s fine with James. He won’t get in the way of someone wanting a $10 million business or a big team or sophisticated business model. He can work with those. But he loves the simplicity of Brenton’s business.
Is OwnTheRacecourse still an influence?
Now Brenton has had success on YouTube, and James has seen some of his Facebook content go viral. Brenton’s struck a formula. In their first episode together, though, they were talking about OwnTheRacecourse – does he still have some of those elements? Has it changed much in a decade?
The biggest change, says Brenton, is social media has become the place people go for everything, and websites less so. That said, they still have their own website, and they still post there. And people are checking Facebook or Instagram for it.
Brenton will typically produce a five to 10-minute piece of content a week, and a podcast. The content will go on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, sometimes spliced up by his team to be platform-specific.
Sometimes, you couldn’t guess which platform it will take off on. But, says Brenton, the thing that comes from doing the content is you get all these opportunities come your way. He’s had Olympic swimmers and professional triathletes come to him asking for advice and for him to work with them. And he gets podcasting opportunities.
The underlying thing, he says, is publishing content, being an expert, being consistent, and importantly, being honest. When you’re honest about what people can expect, you resonate with and attract the right people.
The people who come to Brenton’s clinics, for example, know exactly the things he’s going to teach them about, and they know the approach he’s going to take, and it’s just a much better fit when they get there.
“Have clear and honest marketing to attract people. – James Schramko”
In short, says James, Brenton is good at what he does, and has clear and honest marketing to attract people. He has a fairly simple system for providing value, either online or in-person. It’s a nice blended business that’s working out great for him.
And that’s what attracted Brenton to James’s coaching early on, says Brenton. At the event where he saw him, James was the only speaker who seemed genuine. There was no hard sell and bonus this, bonus that. Twelve years later Brenton hasn’t heard much from the other speakers there, and he’s glad James’s honesty has led him to where he is.
How big a team is Brenton’s?
How many team members has Brenton got?
He’d say two and a half. He’s got a husband-and-wife team from the Philippines full time, and the husband’s sister doing support on weekends. They don’t need any more that that, and he’s had them for three or four years now. A great team, says Brenton. He found them through James and his wife’s service, VisionFind.com.
“Your team are not not cogs in a machine. – James Schramko”
Taking James’s advice, Brenton has met his team in the Philippines, and plans to visit again. They’re real people, like James always says, not cogs in a machine, and treating them accordingly has helped massively in keeping them around.
What was the tipping point, asks James, that prompted Brenton to get a team?
It was the support tickets, says Brenton. They were anxiety-producing.
That was the absolute first thing James outsourced, too.
Then, says Brenton, it was the backend work for the clinics and moving people around – people transferring clinics or canceling. Brenton didn’t want to deal with that.
Then the other team member does the backend content stuff. Brenton will make a video and send it to his team member, who’ll post it, and a podcast and all that.
They added someone to do support on the weekends, so people would get an answer within 12 hours and there’s be no backlog on Monday.
You can’t really lose by out-servicing all of the market, says James. If people can get a response from your support team seven days a week, that’s such a great way to invest some money as you’re growing. If you don’t support people properly, they probably won’t buy from you.
Achieving the work-life balance
James has watched Brenton’s revenue increase each year, enabling a better lifestyle. And from Brenton’s Instagram James has seen the work-life balance his student has struck.
Some big entrepreneurs say there’s no such thing as work-life balance – you have to choose. But James contends you can absolutely have it all. And the one thing Brenton’s said that resonates deepest with James is his spending time with his kids. No money can put a price on that.
Nobody listening to or watching this episode should have to miss out on their kids if they apply themselves, and they have a good product or service, and they want some help.
What’s in the future for Brenton?
Where does Brenton see himself when he and James next chat? (And hopefully, it won’t be another 10 years from now.) What will he be doing in his business?
Same as they’ve always done, says Brenton, continuing to grow the membership, because that’s the most scalable thing. And he’s excited about a couple of new courses and such that they’ve got coming up. To him, that’s the thing that allows you to have the time to do what you choose to.
If you’ve got that recurring income, you can basically decide whether or not to run clinics or camps and those sorts of things. Brenton is looking at maybe setting up one or two camps this year, maybe something around before their Maldives trip.
Then there’s one or two products that he’s either helping develop or that he’s working with another company on. A few opportunities have come his way related to swimming, but in the sort of more product space.
But basically Brenton just likes being at home, running the business and choosing to do what he likes with his time. He’s tried to take as simple an approach to business as possible. There’s so much to think about, he says, so many different moving pieces. But in reality, it’s really just a couple of key things that will make a difference going forward for people.
That’s one of the takeaways, says James. Have a simple business model. Decide what your focus is going to be and ignore what everyone else thinks your goal should be. Beyond that, have a good website platform, focus on the marketing channels that work well for you. Be realistic about what can be achieved. Keep your team fairly trimmed and don’t over complicate it. And also, get someone to help you along the way if you feel you need it.
If you are a swimmer or a triathlete wanting to get fast or more efficient, Brenton’s service is at effortlessswimming.com.
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