Episode 291: Show Notes*
*We’re bringing back one of our most popular episodes from 2018!
Today on the podcast we have our work husband, Parker Stevenson. Parker is our bookkeeper, our CFO, business adviser, our friend, our friend-enemy and everything in between. You have probably heard us mention Parker throughout this podcast series. He is like the Where’s Waldo? of TCC and an absolute hoot. Today, we are revealing the mystery of Parker Stevenson and are going to be talking all about scaling a service-based business. Instead of teaching you sexy bookkeeping things, Parker is actually going to talk about his own business and give you a peek into some of his own business strategies.
Parker went down the same rabbit hole many entrepreneurs do, where he thought creating a passive online course program was going to be the solution for his business growth and scalability. But you’ll learn in the episode, how they decided it wasn’t going to work for them and why they decided to scale the service side of their business instead. Parker has a wealth of experience and is here to share with you why service-based businesses are severely underrated. If you are a new business owner or in the process of re-thinking your current online business model – this is definitely an episode you won’t want to miss!
Who Is The Mysterious Parker Stevenson?
Parker runs a business with his partner Cory called, Evolved Finance. Their business has kind of been the secret weapon in this industry. As soon as you make a bunch of money, people usually start reaching out because there’s not a lot of bookkeepers out there that focus on the entrepreneur, especially online course creators. He is a niche business and that is something his clients really appreciate. They have not done a lot of marketing and there is a very good chance that you have not heard about Evolve Finance unless you have needed them. Referrals have just taken care of their business, their business has grown from word of mouth. They do bookkeeping for clients, help them over phone calls and help them with their finances through coaching and business guidance. They help with numbers, operations, forecasting etc. They have a team of two people outside of Cory, Parker and Cory’s wife. And they are about to hire a third employee. So, they are slowly growing their bookkeeping business.
How Did Evolved Finance Start Focusing On Online Course Creators?
Parker’s business is rather a niche business. Part of the reason Parker left his cushy corporate job to partner up with Cory was because Cory and his wife were working for a pretty well known business in the online entrepreneurial space and a job opened up for a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping is kind of the thing that nobody wants to deal with and so Cory, his wife and Parker decided to make it their business to deal with it and started their own company. Bookkeeping is not really standardized and so you can take shortcuts and create hacks to make it easier. A lot of bookkeepers in the online space don’t understand how to handle certain processes and certain ways for dealing with online businesses. This was a niche service they already had experience in, so they decided to create their own pricing. Because it’s not only the bookkeeping but it’s the guidance that their business provides and that guidance becomes more valuable the more money you start to make.
Why Parker Decided To Create A Passive Income Branch Of Their Business
Every entrepreneur goes through this. Whether you are new or established. They go, “Oh there’s this opportunity I want to pursue. It’s new revenue so it’s got to be good and we’ve got to be able to make it happen.” So, seeing their clients do so well selling online course and with Evolved Finance reaching capacity. They thought about passing their knowledge on to smaller businesses who perhaps couldn’t afford to work with them and who they didn’t have time to take on. This was in 2016. It seemed like a logical next step for them but they soon realized that it was much like running an entire second business! When you are already at capacity and throw this other piece onto it – as strategic as they were trying to be – it was just too much to run both an actual physical business, together with an online course business. So, in 2017 they decided to partner with a guy, a funnel guru, to help them put together an offer and set up a funnel to reach the people that that offer would make sense for. They worked with him for three months, spent a ton of money, and what they realized was that 1.) The cold Facebook traffic just wasn’t doing enough to warrant the cost and 2.) They didn’t have a sexy topic. The metrics they got back where just not saying that this route made sense! People loved the webinars but it was getting enough people to join the webinars that was the issue. It was a hard sell for the type of service they were selling. And the feedback they kept getting back anyway was, “Well how much is it for you to just do our bookkeeping?” This experience made Cory and Parker go, “Oh duh. The biggest opportunity is for us to grow the side of our business that is obviously already working.”
What Was The Gameplan After Attempting The Online Course Strategy?
As we mentioned, Evolved Finance had reached capacity. Parker and Cory couldn’t take any more clients or calls. Their biggest concern was hiring more team members and having to manage a bigger team. Did they even want to do that? They then realized that there’s no reason they couldn’t hire remote bookkeepers. The whole team didn’t need to be in the office and they created an online training process for their remote employees, as well as training videos for their customers. They have also been working to get over the mindset of “People come to Cory and Parker,” and adopting the mindset of “As much as clients enjoy the calls with us, it’s really about just getting the bookkeeping right and having a team that is proactive.” This was the reasoning for developing training videos and training others to do the videos some years down the road. Yet there is still plenty of room for Cory and Parker to provide the guidance they like to provide, but just do it in a different way that allows them essentially to scale their business. Essentially, Parker’s business came full circle to pacifying only part of the business and still offering services. We hear a lot of the same sales and marketing strategies circulating around the online business world but at the end of the day you have to do what works for you. This is what Parker learnt the long way around.
The Process And Conversation Around Scaling
At first Cory and Parker had conversations about how they were going to re-brand, re-market and approach their new system for scaling. Parker had a background in online courses, web design, podcasting etc and they had been recording courses that did give them a return on investment but did not form part of their long term strategy. Having an established business and cash flow already, enabled them to work on developing their new revenue stream without too much pressure. Cory and Parker had discussions around how many clients they could and wanted to take on. They decided they both wanted a business that down the road, they could sell. They realized the business model they had already developed could sell for seven figures down the road and that they could do this without their clients really suffering. They also discovered that they had processes and values that could be very easily be absorbed by another business more easily. Parker’s key piece of advice is that you have to pay attention to what has worked for you and to what you actually want out of your business and always be aware of how those things are constantly being tweaked, are changing or evolving. Because that is going to give you a much deeper understanding of your business. When real opportunities come up you will then realize them as real opportunities. Rather than shiny things we chase on the surface.
Why A Service-Based Business Is Extremely Underrated
Parker believes that service-based businesses are extremely underrated but there is not enough discussion around how you develop a business model for a service-based business that is scalable and isn’t crazy for the owner themselves. That is why Parker believes people tend to lean toward selling digital products and online courses. There are, of course, people who have success with those but that doesn’t mean that business model is right for everyone. One of the big things you as an entrepreneur have to realize is what kind of day to day do you want? What kind of stability do you want? And there is just more stability for a service-based business most of the time. Selling units of whatever widget it is that you make is just a different type of business to create and grow and is a more advanced type of business to create and grow, than a business selling a service. Parker (and we too) believe this the perfect place to start for anyone else wanting to get into business. 1.) It generates cash flow more quickly and 2.) It actually allows you to learn how the hell to run a business if you’ve never run a business before. Parker’s business is about as stable as any job he’s ever had and that’s because of the nature of their business model. Online courses can be awesome if it’s right for your business but remember there are many other routes you can take!
How Much Money Do You Want To Make?
Parker has noticed his clients don’t often realize the sacrifices they have to make in order to make the amount of money they want to make. This is something you need to think about. How much money do you want to make and what are you willing to sacrifice for it? If you have a family, how much family time are you willing to sacrifice to get the results you want to get? You have to ask yourself what you want and be real about it because a lot of the time a dream is being sold about entrepreneurship. For Parker and Cory, they realized they were just not willing to work another 40 hours a week in order to see their other business (their online courses) take off. You need to answer these types of questions, because only you can answer these types of questions.
Who Is The Mysterious Parker Stevenson? [0:04:22.1]
How Did Evolved Finance Start Focusing On Online Course Creators? [0:07:09.1]
Why Parker Decided To Create A Passive Income Branch Of Their Business. [0:11:22.1]
What Was The Gameplan After Attempting The Online Course Strategy? [0:18:50.1]
The Process And Conversation Around Scaling. [0:28:50.1]
Why A Service-Based Business Is Extremely Underrated. [0:37:15.1]
How Much Money Do You Want To Make? [0:43:50.1]
Solidify your offer.
Make sure you have processes for how you deliver your service.
Have your customers walking away going, “Holy crap this is the best!”