In the episode:
What led Nils to shut down a profitable income stream? [04:33]
James further explores the realizations and factors behind his guest’s big decision. [08:14]
What can be changed? Should you sleep on it? And the immense value of whitespace… [11:57]
Nils’ move meant taking $45K off the table that year. And it was perfectly okay. [15:32]
Authority means being an author. Here’s what Nils did with the book he wrote. [19:21]
When you’ve got a healthy email list, what’s a good thing to send them? [23:46]
It pays to have someone knowledgeable check your stuff. [25:42]
This is something you can do today that will pay huge dividends. [29:14]
A lot of people around Nils didn’t know what he was up to, until it came time to tell his story… [33:54]
Nils Vinje first appeared on the show talking about business leadership. He followed that up with an episode on taking his business from nothing to $100,000 in nine months.
This latest appearance is an update, where he shares how he now makes $330,000 in cash collected, just three months since his $100,000 milestone.
“What got you here won’t get you to there. – Marshall Goldsmith”
It’s fascinating, says James, because Marshall Goldsmith says, what got you here won’t get you to there. True enough, Nils had to make changes in his business, one especially involving a profitable income stream. So what exactly happened?
What led to Nils closing a profitable income source?
The first leverage program Nils built was high-end, charging $15,000 a year. It had only three members, allowing him to go deep with each member on the leadership-focused situations they were in.
Nils ran the program for two years, which was great, until he got to a point with his other program, the B2B Leaders Academy, where the subscription numbers prompted him to question things.
Maybe, he thought, the leverage with the Academy was much greater than he was getting with his $15K program, despite the latter being high-ticket.
He took it to James, who suggested he look at a number of things, one of them EHR (effective hourly rate). An evaluation of the 3-member program showed Nils it was at a certain disadvantage, in spite of the income it generated and in spite of the joy he still got from it.
Nils took some notes, slept on it, and made the decision to wind down his high-ticket product, maybe to retool it in the future. He realized it just wasn’t going to serve him as it had before.
Breaking down the decision
James would like to unpack some things. First, Nils was astute to recognize the environment had changed. Then, he says, they pulled out a number of scoring tools.
“You’ve got to eat beans for a while sometimes.”
EHR was one. Then there was byproduct – did the program generate other clients? That wasn’t such a big factor. Then there was joy, which starting out usually is optional. As a mentor of James said, You’ve got to eat beans for a while sometimes.
Then, where did it sit as a percentage of Nils’ portfolio? Five percent, 10 percent, 50?
A critical one was, is it reversible? If Nils turned it off and missed it, how hard would it be to turn back on?
Changeability, sleeping on it, and whitespace
Beyond that, James suggested considering, could the product be changed or tweaked? You might apply the SCAMPER method – reverse the use, do the opposite, change the market, etc.
Then, Nils was absolutely crushing it with his B2B leadership business model. If he could spend his time and attention there and not worry about this other product to the side, what could be possible?
Sleeping on the decision was a great idea, says James. The same could be said of letters. Write them out, put them in a drawer, and the next day if you felt the same, then send it.
When making big decisions, says James, he needs to be well-rested, and he has to have thought it through. So he creates a lot of whitespace in his life, time to just reflect. Space to think things through is critical.
How it felt to drop $45K off the table
How did the decision feel, asks James?
Nils remembers thinking, he’d be willingly dropping $45,000 off the table that year, should he decide to wind down. And surprisingly, it was totally okay. He couldn’t have said that before. But he’d gotten to a point where he had enough control of the situation to give him confidence in making that decision.
“An empty dwelling is better than a bad tenant.”
One of James’s mentors was fanatical about making no compromise. He used to say, An empty dwelling is better than a bad tenant.
James himself has turned off programs. One of them represented $120,000 a year, but was less than 10 percent of his income. He decided it was no longer his business model and closed it down. He was doing just fine then with his SEO business and his coaching. These days, he’s focused on revenue share deals. He even stopped selling his SilverCircle program two years ago.
Having the guts to turn off a perfectly good, not broken income stream to replace it with something better is truly what an entrepreneur is all about, says James. And every time he’s done it, he’s been rewarded big time.
The story of a book funnel
James would like to talk about Nils’s book. His friend Ron Reich has said, if you want authority, you’ve got to have a book. What was Nils doing with his book before, and what question did he bring to James?
Nils initially built a book funnel, selling his book for $10 US. It would ship within the US for free, and internationally for $20 more. There was around a $30 bump offer, a small course with some key pieces of content on the leadership side. Then there was an upsell offer of $199, a bit more in depth on some of Nils’s teachings. And if they didn’t take that, Nils had a downsell offer that was $97, which was just one tiny piece of the puzzle. It was a relatively complex thing.
The easy part was hosting and delivering the thing, thanks to 10XPRO.
Nils ran paid ads to the book over the course of nine months, spending somewhere from $30,000 to $40,000. Sometimes the return on ad spend was okay, and barely breaking even. Sometimes it was absolutely horrendous.
It came to where Nils didn’t know where to go with the book. So he stopped the ads. That was when the B2B Leadership podcast launched, and became the main avenue for bringing people into Nils’s world.
The book was great, got fantastic reviews. But at 10 bucks there was still hesitation on the part of people who might be interested.
James shared with Nils what he did with Work Less, Make More. He gave the PDF version away for free, and had an upsell for the physical and audiobook copies. Nils decided to do the same.
He released his offer in the first week of a new year and was blown away by the number of people who downloaded his book. He got their email address and could build a relationship with them; they got his book – a win all around. Nils got more opt-ins for his book than for almost all of his other marketing. Just having that core asset, he says, one that is true to him and his beliefs and everything, builds an awful lot of trust.
The free book can be found at 30dayleadership.com/book.
The stuff Nils sends his list
So since Nils has built up a sizable list, what does he send people?
That was a big question Nils brought to James, and he’s followed James’s guidance to a tee, as it’s always, he says, felt perfectly in line with who he was. He shares his podcast. He lets them know the B2B Leaders Academy, a subscription-based program to get leadership coaching and training, exists. And he makes them an offer, because they downloaded his book. He gives them a special discount if they sign up, in their first month.
Through a series of emails over a couple of weeks, Nils introduces himself, shares the details about the podcast, adds some value, then talks about the program and about results. Because that’s what it’s all about.
And Nils share stories from his members, one of whom saved five hours a week after just a couple of weeks of implementing his strategies. Or of people who have seen incredible inspiration and innovation from their team because they use coaching skills, which they never have before.
When you have James to check your emails
Now, Nils shared his emails with James, asked if he could have a look at them. What was that process like for him?
That was invaluable, says Nils. If you’ve ever written a sequence of emails to take people through an experience, you can’t get away from the fact that you’re involved in it, and you can’t see your own mistakes.
James cut out probably half of the stuff Nils said. Just be upfront, he said, just be honest, which Nils thought made a lot of sense.
James learned a lot from Bond Halbert and from Drayton Bird, who’d say, just remove the first part of your copy, and you’ll get to the point much quicker. And James doesn’t put himself out there as a copywriter or an editor, but he is direct, and can get to the point. His mentor used to say, What’s the point? If you don’t know, you should stop. If you’re not heading in the right direction, there’s no point taking any action whatsoever.
The power move you can implement today
There’s one thing anyone can implement today, says James. It costs nothing, and when it works it could be the most powerful tip they’ve talked about in this episode.
This would be developing a really powerful hook. It’s the word or phrase you would say to a perfect prospect that makes them want to buy what you’ve got to sell. And it sounds almost too amazing, but when you say this word or phrase, people instantly recognize they have a gap. And because it comes from you, you’re automatically deemed an authority.
In Nils’s case, it’s the simple question, When it comes to the people leaders in your organization, what do you do for leadership development? At least 95 percent plus of the time, he says, the answer is nothing. And that is part of the reason why his program exists.
When people say they do nothing, he can respond, Well, I’d love to tell you about a program that I run that’s a turnkey solution to empower your leaders with the tools to confidently handle any situation. Would you like to know more? And when they opt in and say yes, he shares more.
It’s a very natural way for Nils to identify, Hey, are you already doing this? Most of the time, the answer’s no. Sometimes yes, that’s okay. And if it’s yes, the best part is, he says, Great. Can I tell you about my programs in the event that anybody else in your network is looking for help in this area, and they don’t have the same resources or capacity as you, that you could refer them to me?
So even in that moment, where it’s no, they already do this perfectly, he’s still positioning himself as someone they could refer in the future.
The two-year story that finally came out
Nils was telling James, when episode 890 came out, he had a bit of a reaction from some people around him who had no idea what he was up to.
Yeah, says Nils. When that episode came out, it was time to share the two-year story he hadn’t really shared publicly. He talks about leadership and such, but not much about his business side. He did, however, write an epically long post for him, highlighting what happened from the start of the pandemic.
That was the trigger of kicking into a new gear and deciding to build his business. It was also when his income went to zero in 48 hours, because he was solely dependent on one-on-one relationships, and one-on-one contracts with companies whose discretionary spending froze in an instant when the pandemic hit.
Sometimes, says Nils, it’s not until you’re up against the wall when you say, Okay, this has to change now. That was his bold moment. And that was the point that got him a couple of weeks later to write his book, and then launch it, and then his course, and then turn it into the B2B Leaders Academy, then launch the podcast, then make the book free. Here he is, $330,000 later. It’s kind of nuts.
And again, he says, he wouldn’t be here without James, and he’s incredibly thankful for that. And he wants to share that this is not a business he’s trying to grow and sell and just turn into an asset.
This is his life. This is what he wants to do. He wants nothing more than to help people become incredible leaders by sharing his gift of coaching. And when they experience that, they get great results.
If you want more of Nils, his website is 30dayleadership.com.
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