The mindset of an employee versus a profit maximizer

One of our team members asked if they should increase the budget on a campaign from $80/day to $140 a day.
Here’s what I said.

Please choose whatever budget you see fit in your expert opinion.
You’re the pro!

You know our business goals and are best positioned to determine what tweaks to make to maximize revenue at the target ROAS.

Since we know in eCommerce, unlike most agency work, it’s not about a daily budget (which is about managing expenses), but about maximizing profit (at whatever spend maximizes this).

A typical agency employee has the goal to spend exactly $X as the budget– which can be too low if the campaigns are profitable, but too high if we’re wasting money.

So use your pro skills to test and optimize, while we’re here to advise in our areas (me on strategy/optimization), the client on content/financials, Daniel on analytics, etc…

This morning a friend of mine said she got an eviction note, as she was $450 behind on rent

She’s tried so hard for years as an entrepreneur– working diligently to take care of clients, get new clients, and work sleepless nights to do everything.

It’s one inspiring win– you’re on top of the world!

But then some unforeseen disaster happens– a project didn’t come through, a parter pulls a Tristan Parmley on you– and you’re suddenly in survival mode again.

She asked if she should give up– to move into her car, while still running her business.

Maybe go back to corporate America for a steady paycheck.

I’ve seen so many people in her situation– do you feel her pain, too?

You might be just one funnel away….. from bankruptcy and ruin.

This is the moment to find business partners who do the things you’re not good at– since you can’t do everything well.

Nor do you have enough time– plus being tired compounds mistakes, a things you would easily spot when alert, you’ll miss when bleary-eyed.

Problems you would have easily solved, deals you would have won– if you had only delegated to trustworthy partners and a team of assistants.

You hear a lot about “systematizing” your business– usually from people selling a program.

But how about looking at the detailed processes and implementing them, instead of just talking about it?

in 2022, I want to help you systematize– so that you don’t become like my friend here, who is in a desperate situation coming into the holidays.

It’s not sexy, but systems and processes never are.
I’ve assembled a massive cookbook of recipes, covering everything we know how to do, step-by-step.

Comment COOKBOOK and I’ll share it with you.

Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors: What It Really Takes to Build a Successful Marketing Agency

This is a guest post by Nick Jaworski of Circle Social Inc.

Owning a multiple 7-figure digital marketing agency, I never found the typical social media crowd very helpful. There are a lot of smoke and mirrors in the digital marketing world. Fake gurus are everywhere, but even the bonafides have never appealed to me very much.

When I started my agency, I wanted to build something meaningful and impactful. And one thing I learned about impact over the years is that the bigger you are, the more impact you can have.

I quickly realized that the majority of the experts out there were one-man bands. Maybe they had a couple VAs or a Community Manager helping them out, but they’re not what I would now consider to be a large or scalable business.

As I’ve learned over the years, that’s about as far as most people want to go. Whether it’s fear, lack of know-how, or just no interest in taking on the huge amount of work and responsibility that comes with growth, most agencies don’t make it past the 3-4 person stage. 

I’m a big admirer of Dennis and all the work he’s put into helping young people and really having an impact on the world by sharing his knowledge. He also knows what he’s talking about. When I first started my agency, I had so much to learn and, like many in the same boat, scoured the internet for people to learn from.

However, all I ever heard were platitudes like “content is king,” “marketing is about building relationships,” or “tell your story.” From the get-go, my agency was focused on return on investment. What really attracted me to digital marketing originally was the data. The fact that I could tie our work to real ROI, where I could prove our value to our clients.

This is where Dennis stood out. I could tell from reading his content that he had a true expertise helping real companies. That’s why I was very interested in sharing my experiences on his blog as he’s the real deal.

When I entered the realm of digital marketing, there was something glaringly missing to me in the world of social media and marketing influencers I found online. None of them owned large companies with a lot of staff. 

Instead, as I started to network and get into the world of business, I saw all these people running 8 and 9-figure companies, but I never saw these people online. These people led or had built huge companies and most didn’t even have a Twitter profile. More than that, many of their companies didn’t either! That told me that following the online social media crowd was unlikely to be the road to success.

Speaking with Dennis, I wanted to share a real story of what it truly takes to grow a successful agency. I registered my business in 2016, but didn’t actually launch it till late fall, so almost 2017. By the end of 2020, I had scaled it to a full service agency with a consulting wing, marketing wing, over 20 full-time, W-2ed staff, and a national reputation as the foremost experts in our niche. Our largest client does over a billion dollars a year in revenue, while most land somewhere in the $10-300 million range.

That’s a pretty cool success story, but the reality is that it’s extremely rare and it took a tremendous amount of effort, risk, and investment to get where we are today.

This article is not going to feed you a lot of BS about overnight successes and “passive income.” It’s going to talk about the never-ending real work and sacrifice that goes into it.

Unemployed and Starting the Business

I had been a teacher and, eventually, a school administrator ever since I left university. I had developed a reputation as a turn-around guy for schools, someone who could come in and fix failing programs. This led to me being called in by the largest daycare operator in the US to fix one of their most troublesome schools in Indianapolis, IN in 2015. 

That turned into a nightmare. It was in a low-income area with lots of drugs and gun violence. We had just had a shooting at the school less than a year before and now the program was on probation by the state for the third time in less than 4 years and was going to be shut down. My job was to come in and turn it around. 

After a year of 80-hour work weeks, no organizational support, and the challenge of finding quality teachers willing to work in one of the more drug-infested, violent areas of town for $8 an hour, I finally got the school re-licensed by the state and on track to national accreditation.

It was an amazing accomplishment, but I didn’t want to be there. It’d been hell, so I asked for a transfer to a new school. Instead of transferring me, they told me that, since I clearly didn’t want to be there anymore, they no longer needed me. I was let go that day.

That was the last straw. I’d been in education and working for other people for nearly two decades. I was burned out. So I decided to start Circle Social.

I started it out of my house in-between caring for my daughter. We had just $2,000 in the bank and my wife was only making $10 an hour, so we couldn’t afford daycare. Circle Social was off to a pretty inglorious start. I was writing 1,500-word blog posts at $10 a pop under the company moniker, but really I was just a freelancer, since it was just me and these were piece-meal projects.

You see, nobody starts a business charging high fees. Most who do are quickly realized to be frauds by their clients. Their business may limp along for even a couple years, but eventually folds. To succeed in business, you have to charge less than established competitors while delivering more than they do. This helps you build a reputation so that, one day, you can actually charge real fees.

We did the same thing when I started the consulting wing. We took on our first couple clients for free. In fact, it actually cost us money as I had to fly myself and staff to their facility. Then our next consulting clients we did at cost. Then we charged a little bit extra to make a profit. Now we charge $250 an hour for consultations and make a significant profit because our level of expertise commands those rates.

With the leadership team of one of the largest providers in the country at the time for one of our consulting trips. 

Anyway, in order to get the work done at the time, my daughter and I would go to these free open play sessions at various churches around town. Most were only open for half a day one or two days a week.

So I had an entire schedule worked out of which church we went to when. While my daughter ran around and played with the other kids, I’d get to work writing blogs.

Of course, she still wanted to play with me a lot and I was responsible for most household duties, so I could only get so much done. The rest I would get done at night after my daughter had gone to bed.

Working for Cheap and Working for Free

Now, I had actually run for-profit marketing campaigns before. At most of the schools I ran, I was responsible for marketing. While working as a teacher abroad in Turkey, I’d learned how to build a personal brand online through Twitter and blogging.

It was a skill I brought to the table for my employers.  At one of my schools in Chicago, due to the success I was having with organic social media, I was given an actual budget for ads since Facebook had just opened up their advertising platform.

This was back in 2014 when CPMs were under a dollar and you could call them up and get a Facebook representative to help you out even if you were only spending $500 a month. I turned our $500 a month in $50,000 a month through new enrollments. 

Still, this had been a short run. Shortly after, the executive team was fired, costs were cut, my budget was eliminated, and we were back to “free” marketing through phone calls and organic social media.

I definitely had more marketing experience than most, I understood how to use social media to grow a business, and I understood the value of paid media vs “free” organic. But could I really help other businesses grow? I didn’t feel right taking other people’s money unless I knew I could do it.

So on top of my blog writing, I studied everything I could get my hands on. I took all the Google, Hubspot, and Facebook certifications that were out there. More importantly, I reached out to a couple contacts who had small businesses. I told them I’d run their digital marketing for free for a couple months in order to validate my approaches.

This was critical. Before I charged anyone any money, I did months of free work. I was basically surviving off of unemployment and the little bit my freelance content writing was bringing in every month. This got me positive reviews, a couple referrals, and the confidence to ask for money, knowing that I’d be giving them their value back and more.

Our first office in a co-working space. There were only four of us at the time. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

We took our first monthly retainer client about three months after I officially started working on the business. Our first retainer fee? $500 a month! We now have clients paying us as much as $70,000 a month. It’s always amazing for me to look back at how far we’ve come.

I also want to make clear here that we do an incredible amount of work for $70,000 a month. Sometimes you see these people that talk about charging high rates, but it’s only because they’re gouging their customers. At $70,000 a month, I’ve got 15 staff working on that account, all with very high levels of expertise, and we’re running very sophisticated, multi-channel campaigns with some of the best creative in the industry. 

We don’t charge more because we can, we charge more because we’re delivering a level of value and service that no one else can. We also deliver results above and beyond anyone else in the field.

For example, with this client, we cut their cost per client acquisition by 80% within 2 months, literally saving them millions of dollars a year in ad spend.

For another one of our clients last year, we brought in $15 million dollars of revenue through a combination of cost savings and revenue growth. Paying $840,000 a year and getting a $15 million dollar return is a damn good deal.

Invest in Yourself and Your Business

Building the business was a slog. I didn’t take a day off for 3 years. Even today, we’ll take month-long trips. We did Turkey a couple years ago, Italy last year, and a National Parks road trip this year.

But I still worked a ton on those trips. As a business owner, you don’t really get a day off, not if you want to grow your business and deliver the results your clients deserve.

There are no overnight successes, no sitting on beaches and “earning money while you sleep,” just years and years of hard work until you’ve got the flywheel spinning to the point that it becomes self-sustaining.

Passive income? I don’t know anyone running 7-figure businesses that doesn’t spend the majority of their week working.

Do you know how much I paid myself in my first year? $30,000 before taxes and that was working 60-80 hour work weeks. I could have worked at McDonald’s and made a better hourly rate! But if I hadn’t put that work in, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Building a business is an investment in the future, one you won’t see returns on often for years. 

All this crap you see online about someone opening a business and then “hacking growth” or “finding the magic marketing funnel,” it’s all BS. Every once in a while, people get lucky. But the reality is that 80% of businesses fail in the first five years.

Moreover, a really good rate of business growth is 15-20%. So, if you made $30,000 in year one, a realistic revenue for the next year would be $34,000-$36,000. That’s why most people don’t own a really profitable business until they’re 10 years in or more.

Investing money as well as time is important for success. There was so much I needed to learn about business, taxes, leadership, growth, etc. So I started going to a lot of business events and meeting business owners and executives.

They always wanted to meet at some nice restaurant where a meal and drink came to $30 or more. At the start of the business, we barely had money to go out to McDonald’s, much less me pay $30 for a burger and soda at some fancy restaurant.

But I did it anyway. It meant sacrificing in other areas, but some of the most valuable knowledge I learned early on was from these meetings and networking events.

Then, in our second year in business, I decided to invest $10,000 to work with another agency who was willing to share some of their systems and processes with us. That was a HUGE amount of money for me as we still weren’t making very much overall.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned so much with their help. That $10,000 paid itself back 10-fold that year alone. Of course, I didn’t give my money to just anybody. It wasn’t some random guru online claiming they could help me scale to a billion dollars (In the entire US, there are only 135 companies valued at over a billion dollars. That’s valued at, not annual revenue. That’s .00054% of the 25 million businesses in the US. So when some guru talks about helping you build a billion dollar business, it’s time to walk away. Almost nobody does this. Remember, only 0.3% of Americans make a million a year in annual income. 99.7% of people don’t even come close, so this is not a realistic goal).

These guys were up front and honest with what they could provide and made no claims as to what we might be able to do with it. All they said is they could help me build the foundational systems we needed for growth and it was our responsibility to take it from there.

You get out of your business what you put into it, both in terms of time and money. If you’re cutting corners, always trying to get the cheapest deal, or trying to do it all for “free” by doing it yourself, you’re not going to be able to grow your business. At the same time, you have to research well and understand the risks as not every risk is worth taking.

Investing in Relationships

Another thing I did to make our business standout is I actually went to visit clients and paid for it all myself. Why? Because nobody else did this and I knew it would help us better serve them. If I could see their businesses in action, then we could create better campaigns. Did it cost us a couple thousand dollars per trip? Yes. Was it worth it in the end? Absolutely!

On a sales trip. I brought my daughter along on this one as I’ve always been a strong advocate of her learning the business young. She was 6 in this picture. We spend 1-2 hours a week together working on some aspect of the business from her helping manage her own Facebook ad campaigns (she has a successful page of her own), to helping me with interviews or sales calls.

Nowadays, due to our prominence in our niche, we get tons of sales calls from other vendors. They want to partner with us. “We’ll send you referrals if you send us referrals,” they say. I have no interest in those kinds of people. I would never refer a business to someone I know unless I can vouch for them and trust them. Our reputation is far more important than some tiny referral fee or the fact that they may also refer us business.

Relationships and reputation are everything in business and the worst thing you can do is sacrifice them to make a quick buck. We actually refer out business all the time.

I’ve made several businesses a couple million dollars in contracts last year alone. But it’s only because I knew the caliber of their business, I trusted them, and I knew they’d take good care of the providers we referred them to.

Hiring the Right People

Another way to invest in your company is by hiring the right people and delegating out work so you can focus on business growth. Circle Social hired its first employee 3 months after we started. It was a pivotal moment for me when I realized we could leverage my expertise and their time to create a profit while also helping a client. 

As I’ve continued to grow the business, the second we have the revenue for it, I hire in a new staff member to take something else off my plate. This allows me to focus on business growth.

I also hire when I think we can solve a client need or do something better. We built out our Creative Department this year because I wanted to give clients better graphics. Nobody had ever complained about the stock photos we’d been using, but I’m obsessed with quality. Once we had the revenue, we started hiring that team so we have a designer, videographer, and creative director. Our client campaigns standout much more than before.

My goal is to either hire experts or have the training systems and processes in place to bring someone in and make them an expert. Both require time and money. Hiring good people takes forever! They are so hard to find. So you have to look long and hard. I’ve had employees cost me a lot of money in bad decisions. 

We’ve lost clients accounting for tens of thousands in revenue a year. I even once had a paid media specialist put an extra 0 in a Google Ads campaign so we were spending $3,000 a day rather than $300. Luckily, I caught it within 3 days, but that was our fault. I called the client immediately, let them know what had happened, and sent them a check for $9,000.

At the time, that was a huge amount of money for us, but I did it because it was the right thing to do and it was our mistake. Moral of the story – hire slow, hire well, and always have quality assurance systems in place to catch mistakes.

Hiring those with less expertise is quicker, but not necessarily less difficult. You have to spend a lot of time with them and you also need to spend a lot more time on quality assurance to double check their work, like the lesson I learned the hard way above. Last year, we invested in building out an online training library. It has cost us over $50,000 so far and we’re always adding to it, but it’s worth it as we now have the best training in our industry. This makes my team better, which then allows us to deliver better results for our clients. 

Even with all this, we still have people that don’t work out. I’ve had to fire 7 people since starting the company. That’s not that many, but firing people is never fun. You, your other staff, and your clients deserve the best staff you can afford though. If a person isn’t working out, then they have to go, and the sooner the better.

And firing people is expensive! I ran the numbers last year. Between the recruitment costs, training costs, and wages and benefits paid to the team member, it costs us $8,500 per new hire. So when people don’t work out, it really hurts. That’s one reason I like to hire slow when possible.

Nowadays, since we can offer higher salaries, I’m looking for great talent, not just average talent. Our most recent termination was someone that was doing an OK job. I’m paying too much money for an OK job. So we let them go and brought in someone to do an excellent job. 

To run a growing business, you have to be willing to make the tough decisions. You have to both lead and manage people. The more people you have, the more difficult it gets. Being part of a growing company is not easy. Our systems and processes change constantly. What worked for us three months ago, doesn’t work today. And the bigger we get, the longer things take to implement.

We recently rolled out a new project management program. It took us three months! First we have to demo the programs, trial them, decide on the right fit as a team, come up with a roll out schedule, create the trainings and training schedule, train the staff, then finally roll it out. Things get more difficult and complicated as you grow, rarely easier.

But this also allows you to build a defensive moat around your business. Because it’s hard, it’s unlikely another agency will be able to build and scale to the same level to compete with us.

These days, there are three layers under me. I have my VP, then the four department leaders, then frontline staff. I couldn’t tell you what most of the frontline staff is doing on a day-to-day basis since that is all delegated to my leadership team. It’s hard to let go. As the owner, you want to have your hands in everything, but if you hire the right people and provide the right training and guidance, you can delegate a lot of that responsibility. 

Following the Data and Focusing on Customer Results

Data is the foundation for everything. If you don’t have data, you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Circle Social has over 2 billion dollars worth of data in the behavioral health space, more than anyone else as far as I know.

We have this through our consulting and marketing work because we get very involved with clients. We don’t just run their campaigns, we partner with them to help run their businesses, so we have P&L data going back years from some very large companies. We have benchmarks for CPC, CPL, CPA, RoAS, timelines for SEO builds, timelines for paid media builds, cost on website development, strategic allocation per channel, conversion metrics, salary ranges, startup costs, etc, etc.

Then we have all of our internal data. We know how long it takes to write a 1,500 word article for SEO vs PR vs paid media. We know how long an infographic versus in-article graphics take. We know how much time management spends on QA versus training versus implementation. 

This allows us to get results for clients while controlling our costs. In the marketing world, there is a ton of fluff. For different projects in the past, we’ve partnered with marketing VPs from Disney, Hewlett Packard, and other big companies in our niche. They often talk about branding and messaging, but have no clue how to tie that to the bottom line. I find a lot of agencies are like that.

They’re vendors.

They spit out content and campaigns, but couldn’t tell you how or even if it’s helping their clients. They certainly couldn’t tell you which channel is driving which stage of the customer journey and how to allocate budgets appropriately across them to get result X.

That’s what we do. It’s what helped build Circle Social in the beginning. We were different from other marketing agencies our clients had worked with in the past. We were transparent, data-driven, and as focused on results as they were.

So there’s a lot of fluff in some generic marketing platitudes like “tell your story” but there is also a lot of BS in the supposed technomagic of various platforms that you hear spouted by various gurus. Facebook has no magical algorithm. Google Ads has no magical algorithm. They certainly have algorithms, but they’re pretty dumb. 

Marketing campaigns don’t fail because you don’t understand the algorithm, they fail because you’re targeting the wrong audience, delivering the wrong message at the wrong time, not building enough trust before encouraging action, or because you think that some magic marketing formula is going to solve all your problems. 

Nike, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, think of any big name brand in the world. None of them built companies off of marketing funnels and algorithms. They built multi-billion dollar companies by delivering on their promises surrounding their product or service. They then learned how to leverage marketing to amplify their growth, but their marketing certainly didn’t create it. 

As we tell our clients, marketing amplifies the good and the bad. If you have a poor product or service or, even worse, if you lie and exaggerate in your marketing so that your message doesn’t match what you actually deliver, your business will fail. 

We don’t even use the algorithm in our Facebook campaigns. It actually gets it wrong for us more than it gets it right. We have much more success with broad awareness campaigns because we know who to target when with what message. 

Real companies are built through trust and reputation. I didn’t scale Circle Social to multiple 7 figures with marketing hacks. I did it by providing best-in-class services that get results for our clients. Nowadays, our reputation speaks for itself. I haven’t done a sales call in 3 years.

All of our clients know who we are before they call us and have often been following us and our content for six months or more before they make first contact.

Once they call, they’re rarely calling to test the waters. They’ve already decided they want to work with us and just want to know how much and when we can start. 

That’s how good marketing works, and it takes a ton of time. We made a decision after our first year of business to focus exclusively on the behavioral health space. It took us four months from when we initially made that decision to getting our first new client in the space! And, as already mentioned, our typical sales cycle is around six months from when clients first encounter us.

I don’t even track things like CPL for us because it’s nonsensical. Clients consume so much of our content across so many different channels and such a long time frame that it’s meaningless for me to worry about our CPL on LinkedIn vs. Facebook vs. Google Organic.

Finding Our Passion and Purpose:  Niching Down

I always tell our clients it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, and that’s us. Behavioral health is maybe 1% of the overall healthcare space. Because we made it our exclusive focus, we do it better than anybody else out there, and that’s not bragging. We are far and away the best consulting and marketing agency in our space because it’s all we do, we’re so committed to it, and now we have more data and experience than anyone else. 

This has contributed to creating a moat around our business. If some startup wants to come in, there is no way they’re going to amass 2 billion dollars worth of data and hands-on experience with over 100 facilities across the country. And the expertise we’ve built off that can’t be matched. We have a head start that is unlikely for anyone to ever catch. 

Our passion also makes each day a pleasure. My agency is unique in that we’re not selling clothes or used cars or real estate. We’re genuinely helping connect people to care that will potentially save their life. It’s very meaningful work. This focus keeps me passionate about what we do so I don’t see work as work, and it’s the same way for the team. Everyone that works at Circle Social has a passion for behavioral health. 

So many agencies try to be everything to everyone. They just end up spinning in circles, always struggling to find the next client because they have no reputation in a particular niche nor any specialized expertise. If you were in an accident and needed an attorney, would you hire any old attorney or would you hire one specialized in injury claims? Marketing is no different. Great marketers are specialists.

If You’re Willing to Put in the Time, Work, and Money, It Can Be a Rewarding Ride

80-hour work weeks, no real vacation for 3 years, difficult client calls at 10pm on your Saturday nights, and investing time and money in the risks of building something successful. That’s often what it takes to be successful.

These days, I’m not just growing my own business, but we help many other businesses, both large and small, grow theirs. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it is always, always a challenge. You think it’d get easier over time, but it actually gets more difficult. There are nights I pass out at 8:30 pm, just exhausted from a day that started at 6am and didn’t end till when I fell asleep. I’d had to cram in lunch and dinner in the 5-minute increments between phone calls. 

It’s not always like that. There are definitely weeks where I only work a traditional 40 hours. And my business is in a place with an excellent team and solid systems and processes that I rarely have to work a weekend anymore. But we only got to that point by investing blood, sweat, and tears for years beforehand. You make a lot of (often expensive) mistakes along the way, but, if you learn from them, they only improve you and your business in the end.

The more you grow, the more challenges and responsibilities that come with it. I worry about my team every day. I’m not just responsible for myself, I’ve got 26 staff that depend on me for their incomes, their retirements, and their healthcare. And not just them, but them and their families.

And, of course, we have the clients to think about. Between actual execution and our consulting, we oversee more than a million dollars in marketing spend a month. That’s a lot of responsibility!

Most small businesses fail in the first five years because it’s so hard. You have to be willing to keep going after mistakes, after losing a lot of money, and ridiculous amounts of pressure and stress. It’s just not worth it to most people, very understandably. 

Whatever technique the latest gurus are peddling isn’t going to save your business or help it take off. Good techniques certainly make things easier, but the core of any business is its ability to consistently deliver on its promise related to its goods or services. Reputation and compounding success is built upon that consistent provision of differentiated quality. 

Nobody ever built a successful business, agency, or course by “finding the right audience” or “creating amazing ad copy” or “figuring out the algorithm.” Once you have a product or service worth buying, these things will absolutely help you scale, but the execution in the delivery of that differentiated product or service is what matters. If you don’t have something worth buying, then amazing marketing will just create a whole bunch of really angry customers who work to tear down your business through bad word of mouth and online reviews.

I remember I bought some stupid Facebook audience finder software online one time from some startup firm. Don’t even remember the name of it. But it was terrible and I asked for a refund, which they refused to give. I wrote bad reviews all over the entire web.

This was two and a half years ago and I just last week got some person reaching out to me asking for confirmation that they shouldn’t buy the product. I’ve had over 50 people reach out to me in that way and you can just imagine how many didn’t reach out, but read the reviews and decided not to buy.

By not creating a quality product, and then refusing to refund me, a single customer, this small company has lost and will continue to lose thousands of dollars. Be smart and put your customers first or it will cost you far more in the end.

Business isn’t a math formula or paint by numbers, there is no “lead faucet” to automate your business growth just like there is no road map to follow that works across the board at all times, regardless of how many gurus tell you there is. You have to think about business and marketing like a game of chess. If you just copied your opponents’ moves, you’d lose. If all I had to do was copy some other successful model, I would have built a coffee shop that grew to rival Starbucks. I know what their stores look like, where they get their products, what all their marketing campaigns are. But knowledge of all this doesn’t mean I can build a multi-billion dollar coffee company.

Like in chess, success is dependent on outmaneuvering your opponent, adapting to a constantly changing environment where what worked last game won’t work this game, where each move creates an entirely new realm of possibilities and obstacles. Circle Social has succeeded because we put our clients first, are always innovating, and always investing to make ourselves and our work better than the day before.

I hope my story helps others out there as they look to start or grow their own business. It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely worth it. What makes it worth it for me is the impact we have. Yes, it’s brought financial success, but, more importantly, we have an outsized impact on improving the entire field of behavioral health. 

We help people better understand addiction and mental health issues through our marketing campaigns for clients. We help connect people to quality care. And we have CEOs, private equity firms, investment bankers, and clinical directors call us for advice and guidance, affording us the opportunity to dig into our data and our expertise to help them make the field more effective for everyone. 

If you’re interested in contacting me, the best way is through LinkedIn. I share a lot of free advice on there every week. I also recently did a podcast on building a successful company through passion, purpose, and profit that might give you some helpful insights. Just a head’s up that I don’t do free consults for those starting off or struggling to grow, but I am always open to casually connecting or engaging in a more formal consulting arrangement.

Good luck out there!

Here’s How Josh Nelson Helped Me Grow My Business In 7 Months.

The following is a guest post by Amir Khela, CEO of Canadian Web Designs.

Having watched 70-80% of the public content and reading his book and attended few webinars of Josh Nelson’s, I’ve been applying what Josh has preached over the last 7 months I’ve been following him. 

Firstly, Within 3 weeks of following Josh’s content, I self-published onto Amazon my first book: How To Double Your Sales Online.

However, it being so early, I made the first rookie mistake of not niching down further.

You can see from my website that I’ve always been a generalist. In the last 7 months, I’ve made a lot of changes and many of which I learned from Josh.

Secondly, another credit to Josh Nelson is the introduction to Mike Michalowicz via his podcasts, which I later picked up the book Profit First, and today I’ve already applied its principles. 
It will take a while to adjust towards profitability, but it was certainly a great first step towards it.

Thirdly: I am wrapping up a package for fulfillment, which I’ll use to further niche down. I am training my virtual team on it and in the next 2-3 weeks I will be stopping one-off projects as Josh recommends.
And only offer 1 core package (with an upsell and downsell) for $950, $1,450, $2,450.

I can list many more things I’ve done because of Josh, but to wrap this up, fourthly, which is also due to Josh, is to start webinars and pushing out content.

I have seen Dennis Yu’s content as well, indirectly.
I really liked the video on Clubhouse and I do not own an Apple product, so I am waiting for my fiancee to be able to get into the app- I’ll be using her phone to do what Dennis recommended in the webinar!

You might have a domain addiction– having a .club domain doesn’t mean you have a business.

Here’s the biggest problem with domainers – they go crazy and buy all the domains. 

You can buy all kinds of .com domains or .club domains, to reserve or build out.  

The big issue is this: just because you have a domain doesn’t mean that you have a business.  We have to put a national business behind it or tie it to an existing business.

What you’re doing when you hold a Clubhouse room – as Dr. Chris Colgin from San Mateo, CA did a week ago, talking about how chiropractors can integrate ChiroThin – is creating content.

From there, it’s fantastic to cross-post and repurpose into your .club domain, because the .club domain should be the interactive community companion to the live Clubhouse conversations that are in the rooms, that eventually leads to a club that you built, when you apply for a club.

What most people are missing is that you can buy the name. You heard about the domain .club yesterday – how some of these folks were early, and they bought thousands of domains, and turned around and sold them for a few hundred dollars each. They have different tools to put up landing pages and just sell them, and that’s great. 

Mostly, domainers make money on squatting on the value of a high-level name. Someone mentioned that they had, but they also had  Because of COVID, became very valuable as an e-comm play.  Of course, the .club domain is valuable, but it’s going to cost much less than the premium domain – maybe 1/10th or even 1% of the cost.

If it’s a premium domain worth a hundred thousand dollars, you might be able to get the .club for a thousand, and build it up in referrals, community, conversational, mid-funnel plays that can refer to the .com or to anything to the .com, or to your practice, for example.

That’s to build a network.  Anyone who’s doing a Clubhouse should be constantly referring people to the .club because, otherwise, there’s only two other ways to get people anywhere.

One is a link in their bio, which works on either Twitter or Instagram. They don’t allow that.  They don’t allow linking.

And the second thing is the live mention. You saw that I did a live mention, which got us a hundred or 200 people. We just got flooded with all these people.  Notice it wasn’t a landing page, though – it tells people to put it in email. 

Or we could mention the .club.  The meaning of the .club is it’s also basically a vanity URL.  You could say Dr. Chris holds it – go visit me at So why would I do a .club? 

Because the .club is meant to be the Clubhouse version of it.  Instead of, it’s just easier to use a vanity domain.  

It’s the same thing you use with TV and radio, where you have a domain that is a tracking domain or as a landing page for a particular offer or particular community. 

Chiropractors build communities, and that’s how they bridge value out of Clubhouse.

It’s one thing to be on Clubhouse, and make connections and say, “Oh, look, there’s Shawn Dill, and we’re talking live.”

But if you want to drive measurable value, a .club companion is the thing to really monetize and collect community.  Live networking is great, but you can make a clear case because you have the community already. You are driving sales, you can ask them to show ROI in a .club, which no one’s ever done yet on Clubhouse.

It’s the equivalent of the .com land grab 25 years ago or 30 years ago. Remember, these guys are saying the .club is bigger than the .com trap. I don’t think so, but I could be wrong – I still think it’s valuable because they don’t want to have to dump. 

Let’s have something – even if we just have a nothing page right now, and all of a sudden it’s worth something, and it’s nice. It can be indexed by the search engine. It doesn’t mean there’s a lot of content. At least we have something there that at least starts the clock on Google.  

Google basically penalizes brand new websites. A lot of people will say that there’s the sandbox penalty, meaning they’re put in a sandbox for a certain amount of time, because we don’t know if it’d be spammy or whatnot.

The point is, if you’re a new site, you do have some sort of penalty attached to you. So by having this idea that, “Oh, there’s actually something here. We used to start the clock, this domain in a completely brand new suite. If you sit on it for six months, at least you can say, okay, this site at least started six months ago.”

I think of it more as real estate. Imagine that you were in San Diego before it became San Diego, and it was just farmland. You wanted to buy all of this farm, then you get the department for cheap, but then 40 or 50 years later, all of a sudden they’re going to put a shopping mall and buildings.  That real estate becomes more valuable later – which is the whole point behind this. 

That’s what domainers do. They buy all the real estate believing that it might be valuable.

One day, it’s turning around, and other people would say we can monetize it because we can put a big sell on the .club, but then both of those guys are wrong – because the short-term people are going to treat the .club like a .com. 

Why would you have two competing, conflicting properties? 

There needs to be something different about the .club – it’s not just about doing all the .club stuff, because it’s the hot new thing, and you need to grab your name, or otherwise someone’s going to grab your name, so it’s an insurance-protected preemptive kind of right. 

Neither of those extremes is correct. 

I believe the correct approach is that you have the three stages of the funnel, but where does consideration and conversion come in?  Clubhouse has become popular because it doesn’t have the permanence, because of the loud conversation and networking, and the fact that they don’t have video.

It allows me to focus on the quality of the conversation, which drives people in for the quality of the network and the conversation. That’s the crack in ‘Crackhouse.’

It’s just like a relationship. We meet someone for the first time – you go on a first date, you have kids, and then they get married. There’s the progression of the depth of that relationship. 

The next step in the relationship is to get people to a community site on your property. 

That was my post that was on a couple of days ago, about how the shift in 2021 is to move from rented property to owned property. Clubhouse is rented property. They could shut it down. They could shut you down.. It’s great, and everyone’s there – the reason everyone’s there is because there’s never enough. 

You’ve got to get their email address.  You have to get them to your website. That way you have control. We’re on rented land. They can take it away from you. 

So when you have it on your site, then the next logical continuation step is – how do I build community, share knowledge, and preserve the ethos of why people were hanging out with me on Clubhouse?

It’s because I’m sharing these certain things, because I have knowledge, because I want to help out, because this is what I stand for, and this is what I can help with. This is my strategic ask, and this is my strategic gift.  That then allows people, mid-funnel, to decide, do they want to get on a call with me?

Because they want to lose some weight. They want to stop by my clinic. They want to buy my products. They want to do something that’s at the bottom of the funnel. 

So I consider the .club site mid-funnel – which means if we talk about why, how and what, it’s more about how.  If you’re talking about awareness, consideration, conversion, it’s consideration.

Mid-funnel websites are mainly around buying things, and that’s why .com is ‘com’ for ‘commercial,’ as in people buying and selling things. So if you try to jump from a first touch where they know who you are straight to a sale, some people may buy, but I think most people will be turned off by that. Most people trying to use the .club to sell something.

So let’s say that I’ve found – a major premium domain, and I just started selling. I put up a shopping cart. I put Shopify up on 

How do you think that will do? 

It might do well because you could sell it to whoever is selling Pampers or something, but to all the people it’s not, because you have to build a community before you can get people to buy. If you don’t have authority and parenting and kids and these sorts of issues, you don’t have the ability to drive traffic.  So then the .clubs were nothing, even though it’s a premium domain.

What people are missing is, if you drive traffic and engagement and awareness and community and whatnot in Clubhouse, then your companion .club domain is going to add an extra 30 or 40% value to that because it allows you to capture.  Now you can continue the conversation.

If you don’t do that, then you have to keep doing Clubhouse rooms – which is great, you should still continue doing that – but you have no way to continue that conversation. You have no way to progress people through the funnel.

Then the only way to do that is live conference speaking, which is what Clubhouse is, or manual, ‘hit-me-in-the-DMs’ kind of stuff, which is great for partnerships – but we’re getting customers to provide things.

You need to have some level of automation. That’s what we want people to understand. 

My predictions for the world after COVID-19, 2021, and what lies beyond.

Back in August of 2020 during the pandemic, I had a nice chat with Mark Wagner about our predictions for the next few years.

Image may contain: Mark Wagner and Dennis Yu, people smiling
Mark and I hiked Camelback in 2019.

We’re going to check back eventually to see what comes to pass, and you may find that many are true. A few of them already have.

And in hindsight, you may think this is obvious right now.

The world is basically shut down because there’s COVID-19, and there’s not a readily-available vaccine, but there will be one by summer 2021.

But until then, people have to wear masks and can’t get together in large crowded places. The government will keep giving out stimulus checks because that’s the way to keep the economy from defaulting.

The U.S. government will continue to print money, creating inflation because there’s no way to tax more.

This is because economic output hasn’t increased and austerity is not possible, which is spending less. Those are the three ways of helping out in this situation:

  • Printing money
  • Reduced Austerity
  • Taxing

Printing money happens to every empire. This is the last stage of the American empire before the Chinese empire, which has been on the upswing, takes over.

If you look at Ray Dalio’s predictions, he’s the guy who started the world’s largest hedge fund. He’s looked at eight trends- measures of power, and China is now ahead of us in most of them such as education, financial, natural resources, etc.

And when this vaccine comes out, you’re going to have to get it.

Otherwise you can’t go into places like malls, movie theaters, shopping centers, concerts, and sporting events.

You’ll be tracked via ID if you have the vaccine, which is just a little microchip into your forehead or your neck smaller than a grain of rice, just like a pet ID.

If you don’t do this, you can’t access public places. They’ll say it’s your choice- but look at these celebrities who are doing it.

People will then clamor to be first in line. “It’s not fair that the rich important people get access and we don’t, we should be able to get in line!”, like the distribution of money.

The distribution of money will be tied to it because that’s how you’re going to get your monthly $1,200 UBI stimulus check. It’s such a good thing that everyone’s going to say “We need to keep doing more of it because a lot of jobs aren’t coming back”.

They actually never were coming back because they were done by machines. Increasingly, a lot of retail jobs and the majority of blue collar jobs have been eliminated because machines have handled it.

Now, white collar jobs are the new blue collar jobs, and they’re being handled by AI. People don’t want to acknowledge this- not that they’re completely eliminated, but assisted in / mostly replaced.

That includes our jobs related to things like marketing, being killed by AI.

People will argue, but go ahead. It’s not going to matter if you don’t conform to the system. If you’re not part of the system, you can’t enter public places.

You will be scanned and told you can’t come in, which means you don’t get access to money they’re giving out every month.

Either way, you’re going to have to do this. The number of people that will resist is at least 2%, but as high as 5%, that means 95% of sheeple will go along with it – because what other choice do they have?

There’s no middle class now, so poor people have to go for it because they need money. and the well-to-do-people will say. “okay, whatever, fine, everyone else is doing it”.

They shut down the planet and all the governments, and all the people who are in control are agreeing to these rules.

Now there’s a coordinated world government. If we all agree that “here’s the vaccine and for the protection of everybody,” you need to have a single system that tracks all these users. So now you have one user ID worldwide- like your social security number, that tracks who you are, checks everything about you, and tracks your money too.

All money nowadays is electronic- virtual money, just like WeChat. Those villagers in China or Africa, they’re using electronic payments. They think that cash money and whatever is unsafe and stupid. You go to these villages in rural China and try to use cash, they’ll think that you’re backwards.

It’s funny to think that they’re higher tech than we are, but why not? It’s safer. It’s not biometric where they’re going to scan your eyeball like in the movies. Someone could cut your finger off or cut out your eyeball.

Now, it’s you- you’re the ID, and what’s safer and you’re going to get access to the money.

Since they’re tracking everything, this means all your money is tracked.

One world financial system.

One world database of users.

One world religion.

One economic system.


This is one of everything, because it needs to be safer.

The idea of a country won’t mean as much anymore. There’s going to be fewer wars and whoever is in charge is going to be the proclaimer of peace because it will look like they are solving all these world problems.

Everyone’s going to get together and find that through this one solution, we will solve all these problems because we’re all brothers, we all worshiped the same God under different names.

We all need to get together.

Image may contain: 5 people, including Mark Wagner and Dennis Yu, people smiling, text that says 'VENDA'

We’re in this together, and you’re going to see that everyone else is doing it.

You’re going to look like a renegade for saying any of the things that I’m saying here. If you’re hearing this today, then you probably feel like you’re being gas-lit by all your friends who are going along with it.

If everyone else is going along with it, then why aren’t you?

But you think I’m using some logic: some of these things don’t quite add up or some of these things, I can’t believe that we’re doing this kind of system, but it’s economically necessary. It’s physically necessary.

I don’t think it’s necessarily evil either. Is this system evil, is it the Illuminati?

Look at this from an economic standpoint instead of as a conspiracy theory.

I’m an economics guy that says you need to do this because we know when one person who doesn’t comply and runs into the movie theater and, isn’t scanned, it could infect everyone.

You could have everyone complying, then one guy doesn’t. Now a whole stadium of people are now infected again because the antibodies they give you only last for three to six months of immunity. It’s going to be like the common flu where we keep getting booster shots every season.

Even as light as the threat is, the theory still holds true because you don’t need science to convince people of a principle.

If you are government official, if you’re a business, there’s no logical way around the idea that there must be a vaccine. I’m not arguing with whether the vaccine is good or not, or who’s making money. This isn’t like Bill Gates owning some biometrics company.

In order to open up public places, there has to be a vaccine. And there has to be a tracking system for the vaccine. The tracking system will have to tie to financial payments because entitlements like UBI has now begun, which is Universal Basic Income.

That will lead to FALC – Fully Automated Luxury Communism, which is UBI part two.

You can argue about capitalism and whether people are earning it, or it’s not fair, whether it’ll work or not, or whether it’s bad. This is not a philosophical argument, this is economic function. This will happen.

There’s no way to get out of runaway inflation in the United States over the next 10 years. We’re coming out of 2020, and if you’re listening to this in 2030, you know that all this has already come true.

Runaway inflation will continue because the government keeps printing money. Once they print money, they’ll continue to print more money because the consumers are going to want this.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat, anyone who’s elected and in charge will vote for this, because who’s going to want to vote against giving out more $1,200 checks?

Governments always get bigger instead of smaller, and rules never go away- there’s only going to be more.

Remember: this is not anti-government, but a look at economics.

“The Rise and Fall of the Great Empires” by Andrew Taylor is a classic book on every major empire, and they all follow the same path. The U.S. empire is going to follow the same path as the Ottoman empire, and British empire, but mostly- the Roman empire.

Every empire has followed the same path, and we’re in the last stage: they print money. We are the reserve currency, which gives us an advantage. The US dollar is what other countries and a number of other countries’ currencies are backed by.

We will be one world population that is governed together through transactions as part of the system.

The Bitcoin thing is really just a precursor to get people used to the idea that there’s one economic system, and one religion erases cultural differences.

The fact that groups who were once shunned are becoming more socially accepted are paving the way for us all being one in the same culturally. Once there’s mixing, it’s hard to get it unmixed.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to see there’s more opportunity than there ever was. Real estate is being devalued because of virtual cloud kitchens, the Amazons of the world, and pure-play internet players of the world doing well.

This creates a huge opportunity in digital and in local services, but physical real estate becomes devalued because of self-driving cars and delivery.

You’re decoupling geography from production, which has nothing to do necessarily with nanotechnology and 3d printing, that accelerates costs going down, which creates deflationary pressure.

But in the United States, inflationary pressure is going to outweigh deflationary pressure. UBI is going to create this from printing money, not from taxes.

If you’re listening to this wall after 2020, be used to the idea that everything’s coming to you- pumped in.

Your data is being pumped in, along with your money, your blood, your services, your goods, and it comes for free. You will be part of the sheeple, the brave new world, or idiocracy. Basically you’re in the chair. Everything’s being fed to you intravenously and you don’t have to do anything.

And that will create an opportunity for the 1% as entrepreneurs who want to do something outside of this system.

So consider where you are on this path, what your belief is, whether you believe that this series of steps will come true or not- whether you like them or not.

Consider logically whether this is what’s going to happen, because there has to be a vaccine, because governments will not allow people to be in public without a vaccine.

This vaccine has to be tracked, and that tracking system will then tie to a financial payment system. After all, how else are we going to track people?

Initially it will track the “bad” guys, but eventually track everything else. And there will be one good person who appears and puts everything right, saving the world.

But then an evil person will come along as it always happens. The system gets exploited by some evil person who causes problems. They’ll cause problems at an unprecedented global scale, before was there one world database people, one world currency, one world culture.

This will look like the end times spelled out in the Book of Revelation from the Bible- whether you’re a Christian or not.

Consider these events they wrote out in the Bible are from perspectives that are a few millennia old. Those people didn’t have the vocabulary or the understanding to imagine this modern world and the idea of a bacteria- that wasn’t even widely accepted until last century.

So there’s what I think is going to happen. If you look at the calendar, the end of the age is going to be in the 2100s.

I don’t know if we’re heading towards something there – who knows. You could look at the different predictions and say, according to the Mayan calendar, the world ended 10 years ago, or it ends in five years. There’s all kinds of math to get to whatever you want, but we there’s no question: We are heading into end times.

This is not a cycle. Maybe we’re going to find a way to exit the planet and go to Mars, but think about what you are going to do.

This is not a science fiction movie. This is reality. If you don’t know who I am or you don’t believe me, then you could Google me.

If you’re living in fear – living step-by-step and not looking at the bigger picture – think about what has to happen economically. This is not a political thing. This is just pure economics.

Think about what you are going to do and what your life should be like. Given these things are coming, you need to make your decisions now.