TMBA 298: A 10 True Clients Business Model Case Study

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A common misconception in business today is that you have to build an audience of hundreds or thousands of people in order to sell something successfully. The fact is, when you’re getting started, you won’t have an audience like that. We have talked over and over again about why we believe in starting with ten true clients. One of our longtime podcast listeners, Sophia Bera, has found great success doing just that. Sophia is the founder of GenYPlanning.com, where she provides affordable financial planning services for people in their 20’s and 30’s. This week we’re talking with Sophia about how she has managed to replace her income in just over two years, why she didn’t agree with some of the practices in the financial planning industry and how she was able to turn that into an opportunity.

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How Sophia and Gen Y Planning have changed the way that the financial industry does business.
  • How Sophia arrived at a ten true clients business model.
  • What Sophia did to land her first few clients.
  • How many leads Sophia is getting every month and how many are turning into true clients.
  • How Sophia hired her team and what she looks for in her team members.
  • Why Sophia is able to charge some of her clients $500 for a single phone call.

People on this episode:

Mentioned in the episode:

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian

Published on 07.02.15
  • http://www.adventurous-soul.com/ Shayna

    Fantastic episode! Will definitely be listening to this one again. I especially loved hearing the progression of what the 1st year looked like, what the 2nd year looked like, and where things stand now.

    Also really liked the point about if you hire good people, it won’t need to be for as many hours/week. I’m 95% ready to bring someone on, so it was encouraging and interesting to hear how Sophia did it.

    Sophia, your enthusiasm and passion for what you do is practically bursting through the mic. Congrats on your success, and I’m sure that some even more amazing things are ahead for you in the coming year! (and if you’d ever like advice or a second set of eyes on creating a course, drop me a line).

    BTW Dan in addition to having more women on the show, it would be cool to hear location-independent entrepreneurs from non-western countries. There have gotta be some DCers, like Tung for example, who can bring an interesting perspective to the table.

    Incidentally, one thing that struck me at DCBCN is that everyone living this lifestyle has such an incredibly interesting story. You literally can’t find anybody who has had a “boring” or “fairly typical” journey. Someone should write a book with mini-bios of us all.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    good point Shayna! Ian and are are exploring bringing on a part time producer to help us coordinate all this info, you are right walking around these meetups there is such a cornucopia of interesting people it’s a shame we don’t do a better job of capturing it. one small thing we are planning is purchasing a ‘in-field’ recorder, it’s a relatively small thing but now we need such friendly circumstances to record a show, Sophia was like “this is how you guys roll 5 years in!?” .. .haha time to up our game :)

    +1 write a book! Taylor’s new book (now free!) does a good job of tracking the progress of many DCers https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010L8SYRG?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

    Regarding Sophia’s business she’s done a great job of differing her own personal income and growing her business, this is really hard for many starting service businesses like this, it’s really hard to keep disciplined financially when you are working so hard for years on end, if you can do it though the payoffs are worth it !

  • Karen Amundson

    Sofia, great episode! I’d love to know more about how you’ve shaped your product-market fit as a services business.”Gen Y” could have many sub-niches. How did you figure out what type of customer to go after?

    I’m growing a location independent digital marketing collective and am halfway to finding my “ten true clients.” So far, I’ve shaped my offerings based mostly on the types of referrals I’ve gotten. But this has caused me to pursue too many different avenues: under-performing mid-sized brands, startups, and SMBs; each with their own challenges.

    PS. Yes, please to more quality women speakers

  • Sophia Bera

    Hi Shayna,
    Thanks so much for your kind words! It was a dream come true to be on the TMBA podcast with Dan and Ian! I love being an entrepreneur and I’m glad my passion was audible on the recording.

    I highly recommend hiring people. It can start with outsourcing just a few tasks per week and slowly build. Soon they might be better at doing your newsletter than you are! (Which was the case when I hired Kali. My newsletter is WAY more interesting to read now!)

    I will totally take you up on the offer to review a course that I do!

  • Sophia Bera

    Hi Karen,
    Great question! I joke that “Gen Y” is about a third of the population and I’m going to have to get more specific in the next few years! I am still working on narrowing my niche. I’ve started noticing some similarities within the clients I’m attracting: tech savvy, independent women usually with sig. others, gmail users, making 6 figures, grad degrees, etc. Now, I’m starting to create an avatar from those qualities so that I can gear my content and branding toward that specific person.

    If you’re interested in doing the same, I would ask yourself: Who are my favorite clients? Who are my best clients? Who are my most profitable clients? How do those people intersect to form your ideal client? Then gear your marketing towards those people. I’m taking Jaime Tardy’s millionnaire Hustler course right now. I highly recommend it. Mention my name to Jaime if you decide to join!

    Congrats on being halfway there to 10 true clients! Maybe once you hit your 10, you can be on the podcast too? :)

    Good luck!

  • Karen Amundson

    Thank you for the thoughtful response Sophia! Cool, I’ll check out the Millionnaire Hustler course. Maybe I have a new goal: do something cool enough to be worthy of going on the podcast. :)

  • Paula McGeown

    Great podcast! Thanks Sophia.
    Such a good point about women not identifying so readily as entrepreneurs.
    Also, really great to hear about a location independent professional services business.
    I am working on a legal services location independent business at the moment and really worried that I should just drop ship scarves from China or something of that ilk instead if I really want to get it all online and free of a particular jurisdiction (I do UK and Australian law).
    Would love to join/start a network of a) women entrepreneurs and b) location independent professional services business owners.
    Know of any???

    And thanks Dan and Ian, my favourite podcast still after a few years of listening.

    Paula

  • http://www.jennavanleeuwen.com Jenna VanLeeuwen

    Great episode Dan and Ian. I also appreciate hearing another woman doing great things out there in the world.

    Specifically, I really enjoyed hearing her thought process about how she structured her services. Very smart!

  • Paula McGeown

    I forgot to add to the list of entrepreneur friendly initiatives in Europe – there is this in France:

    http://www.frenchtechticket.paris

    A fairly lengthy application process but it gets you a visa, a work space and about 12,000 euro (if I remember that bit correctly). Seems suited to start ups that are already launched.

  • http://www.howtobearocketscientist.com Brett Hoffstadt

    I loved this episode! Thanks guys! Incredibly valuable and enjoyable to listen to.
    You asked for more guest suggestions so here is one: Anthony Fasano has turned his engineering background into on online and offline career coaching business. I’m a big fan and admirer of what’s he’s done as another engineer. Here’s his website: http://engineeringcareercoach.com/
    When I find or think of more women for you to interview I will definitely pass them on too. Hearty agreement that more of them would be awesome for us all, even us men. Thanks for the great program!!

  • James Mathison

    Inspiring! Sophia you’re right, you really do ‘have this thing down’. I’m going to come back to this episode for ideas, for sure :-)

    What you said about the benefits of Skyping as opposed to in-house visit made my ears prick up, because recently I’ve begun to see the value of in-person work, especially with your team, and I’ve met a few people who have got massive productivity and quality spikes from their teams when they visited them in-person.

    One guy I met here in Cracow decided to drop all his remote teams and centralise in one place, because the work was such a higher quality that way.

    What do you say to that? Do you think it’s all down to the ‘quality’ of the team members? Or is it something to do with picking young travellers who are accustomed to maintaining relationships over Skype?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    hey Brett thanks for the suggestion! and thanks for listening.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thanks Paula!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    cheers me too!!! Love the business here.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    thank you Paula, not aware of a group specifically focused on those issues, I’ve met a lot of people who have had a similar idea ya know like doing some ecommerce shop instead of focusing on services, but have seen many do really really well with services and focusing on what they do best. certainly legal services for location independent entrepreneurs is a huge growth market! :)

  • Christopher Justin

    Great episode! Love the clarity shared by Sophia, and you guys were spot on with your questions as well. Keep it up.

  • Sophia Bera

    Hi James,

    Great question! I think that the first few years, a virtual team can work really well while you’re low on cash flow and you only need people on a part time basis. As your team grows and you begin to hire more FT members, I really start to see the value of in-person teams.

    I think a lot of it depends on the people you hire as well. Some people really value remote work and are more productive when they are free of distractions and aren’t getting interrupted by coworkers every 15 minutes. Others really like going to an office and being able to asks questions in person as they come up instead of having to schedule a phone call or use Gchat.

    I love working virtually but as my team grows I think I will need to explore this topic as well! Thanks for bringing it up!

  • Sophia Bera

    Hi Brett,

    Thanks so much for your awesome feedback! I’m really glad you enjoyed the episode and it’s exciting to hear that others are looking forward to more women on the TMBA podcast!

  • Sophia Bera

    Hi Jenna,

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you found my business model helpful! It’s always nerve wracking sharing financial details because you feel like you should be so much further along, but knowing that it’s helped other people makes it worth it!

  • Sophia Bera

    Hi Paula,

    I totally think you should keep going with the location independent legal services model! Rachel Rogers in the U.S. is doing that. You can check out her site here: http://rodgerscollective.com/. I think she even has a program teaching others how to run virtual law offices.

    Come to the DCBKK event and we can hangout!

  • James Mathison

    Thanks Sophia,

    Oh yeah, of course, the different preferences of the workers out there – super important.

    I suppose the process of hiring someone, whether for remote or local work, should always include some time going through their goals, making sure that the position will help those goals, so that they’ll be excited to get to work.

    Unless you just want someone to tweak a logo, it would probably be overkill for that, heheh :-)

  • Michael Clara

    Hello Sophia. I really appreciate your need to break the stagnation in this industry. It’s well past time someone did.

    But I think it may need to go even further.

    Could you help us understand why isn’t there a performance-based compensation model for financial planning? My planner should earn x% of what my assets earn – rather than getting a percent of what I invest, or a flat fee. I would be much more inclined to sign up for financial planning if we shared the risk and reward, rather than the financial planner being assured consistent income while I hold all of the risk of the market.

    I’m very risk tolerant, but when the market takes a downturn, I want to know my financial manager is smartly assessing their managed assets and shifting from declining investments to stable or improving assets. I want to know their skin is in the game too, rather than knowing they’re still going to get their fees even if they let it ride. Some planners seem to be okay with simply “setting and forgetting” my investments – and that’s not okay with me.

    Is that a legit point of view? Am I missing some critical nuance?

    Thanks again for your disruption.

  • Kyle G

    Love this! I’ve been shopping for a virtual personal tax preparer who can rival HR Block in price and audit protection, and have been frustratingly unable to find one [the tax-in-a-box virtual services are a hair more expensive]. Huge opportunity for someone.

  • http://multimediabychris.com Chris W

    I just joined! I was attracted to Hustlers a year ago, and she did a 7-day challenge the competition and accountability helped me a lot. but hearing the mention of the program here made me believe in the investment. If you can pull it off, I’ll be there helping wherever I can / studying!

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