We might not be fans of the term personal branding, but there’s definitely something there. Without a doubt, the combination of your personality and expertise can build a great business.
In fact, it’s getting to the point that a “personality” that connects with the crowd you want is required to gain traction online. But that doesn’t mean you need to become Donald Trump or some other bombastic caricature.
You just need to be brave enough to be you. That – plus a generous nature for sharing your expertise – can help you build a small, profitable business without the need for investors or huge financial risk.
And from there, you can grow as much as you desire, based on your income and lifestyle preferences. Join Chris Ducker and me for a lively chat about the beauty of bootstrapping, ending the tyranny of geography, and the sunny future for unemployable types.
The Show Notes
The Rise of the Youpreneur
Chris Ducker: Hey, I'm Chris Ducker from chrisducker.com, and I'm all about helping people build a profitable long-term business based around their brand, expertise, message and the people that they want to serve. And I am absolutely 100% unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one — and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our Free Profit Pillars Course, or choose to sign up for the newsletter only at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com, and take your business and lifestyle to the next level. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Chris Ducker, welcome. How are you?
Chris Ducker: I’m good, my man. How about yourself?
Brian Clark: Not too bad. So you're over there in the Philippines where I am assuming you are enjoying your second cup of coffee at least.
Chris Ducker: Yeah, bang on. Correct, yes, second cup of coffee.
Brian Clark: I can kind of hear it in your voice. That's why I never call you before you've had at least one.
Chris Ducker: That's true.
Brian Clark: All right, let's dive right into it, because the whole concept of the Youpreneur is something you and I have had a dialogue about. It's been a while now, because we were chatting about it before you launched your membership program.
Chris Ducker: Way before.
Brian Clark: Yeah, way before. Then, of course, you joined the podcast network, which is fantastic. I've just been watching with interest, because I think there are a lot of themes that intersect between what we talk about at Unemployable with the power of one or the power of small combined with technology and virtual talent and all these things that are really your expertise.
Yet I don't know that everyone realizes that you run a very grown-up company with over 400 people in your employ. I know this, because you took them all to see Star Wars, which was amazing.
Chris Ducker: Yes, I couldn't help doing that. I'm a very big Star Wars geek. So, obviously, when Disney announced that there was another movie coming out, I instantly wet my pants and then decided I was going to take my entire company to the IMAX theater here. It was quite funny, because very rarely does that happen in the Philippines where somebody will rent an IMAX exclusively, and it's way more expensive than you might think it is even in the Philippines.
When we did it, we got there literally an hour before screening time for registration purposes. The mall had to send an additional 10 security guards, because our employees were so excited, they were getting all geed up and riled up. We had some guy dressed up as Kylo Ren walking around posing for photos and all that sort of stuff. It was a lot of fun. Yeah, a lot of fun.
Brian Clark: Yeah, I saw the video of it and they looked very happy. You won, I think, boss of the century or some other galactic measure of time. Excellent.
What Is a Youpreneur?
Brian Clark: But the Youpreneur concept is very different from that kind of scale. It's interesting to me, and I want to talk about a little bit about your journey. But, first of all, what’s a Youpreneur?
Chris Ducker: A Youpreneur is somebody like I mentioned in my intro. It’s somebody who has a certain amount of experience, a certain amount of expertise, background in one particular niche or area or industry market, who wants to ultimately build a business based around that expertise and what they stand for and the way that they look at things.
I also call it “the business of you,” meaning ultimately that there is no real competition out there once you build that business around you and what you're all about, regardless of what niche you're in. There's no real competition. It's a 100% original. This happened to me, even though I have these larger corporate companies that I own as well.
What I really enjoy doing, Brian, and I know that you're the biggest fan of not doing stuff that you don't like doing, is that I just love the online business world. I'm not the most tech savvy fella in the world. I struggle with a lot of things like learning new softwares and I give up way too soon a lot of that stuff than I probably should do.
But I just love the networking, I love the relationships that I’ve built up through people that I've met online like yourself and other people. And I just love doing business on the Internet. I've got to the point now where I am, after years of hard work, in a position where every morning I wake up and I have made money whilst I've slept. Now, call me old fashioned, but that's pretty bloody wicked. I'm all about just really wanting to grow that side of my businesses rather than the more corporate brick and mortar stuff.
But the reason why I zone in on this so much is because it became quite evident to me back in 2012, when I really started to build out my own personal brand online after being online for a few years, that I was known as this “outsourcing guy and Vas” and all sorts of stuff. But there were so many other people talking about lifestyle design and the four-hour work week, this, then that, and VAs and everything.
I just said, “You know what, I'm not going to be known as the VA guy. I just want to be known as Chris Ducker.” So I really focused in on building my brand and being consistent with the way it looked, consistent with the content that I was publishing, and everything that goes along with that. And it opened more opportunities for me as an entrepreneur than I've had in the last 12 years working for myself within a matter of a couple of years.
I'm just a big, big advocate of having that personal brand built out and that mindset of helping people based upon what you know and how you want to help them.
Become Somebody’s Favorite
Brian Clark: Yeah, it's interesting, of course, speaking to people who do have subject matter expertise. They do know what they're doing in one context or another, and yet they're not quite sure how to go about it, how to, I guess in Copyblogger terms, leverage that authority by sharing, of all things, as opposed to traditional concepts of authority where it's bestowed upon you.
Now you have to earn it, but in the act of doing so, at least in my experience, and I think the same is true for you, the return is exponential.
Chris Ducker: It is, absolutely. It's like a very good friend, a mutual friend, Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, he put it to me perfectly. We were sitting having dinner one night at an event and I was talking to him about where he saw content marketing going, particularly on the social side of things. He said something that I will never forget. I've quoted him and I'm doing it again right now. I've quoted him so many times on this, because it's so, so true, particularly with that Youpreneur mindset.
He said to me, “You want to become somebody's favorite. And not just someone's favorite podcaster, but someone's favorite branding podcaster or someone's favorite blogging podcaster.” Kind of almost becoming a favorite, but then niching that down even further as well.
The smaller crowds — man, I'm all about building a rabid following. But I would rather have a thousand people opening every email I send them, clicking on every link that I put in those emails, retweeting every post that I put up on Twitter than have 100,000 people that never pay attention to what I've got to say.
So I'm a big believer of that idea of becoming somebody's favorite, and you can do that easier and faster. Well, maybe not easier, but definitely faster than you definitely have been before in the past.
Recognizing Your Expertise
Brian Clark: I agree with that. I totally agree with that. The thing that always comes up with us with the concept of authority, or if you want to call it personal branding based around expertise, is: “I don't have any expertise.”
How do you respond to people like that? Do you kind of gently steer them away or do you embrace them and try to bring them along?
Chris Ducker: One of the things I like to try, I call it marketing like a magnet. I want to attract the best and repel the rest. That's a tweetable. It literally is a tweetable. I've created images for it and everything.
But I'm a big believer of doing that. My kind of personality and my vibe attracts the right kind of people. And so, generally speaking, I don't need to give that kind of push. I don't need to push people away very often. They'll decide just not to follow me.
But if somebody was to come up to me and say, “I don't have an expertise, how do I build a business out of that?” I would get them to seriously sit down and do some very, very serious soul-searching on that. Because everybody that I meet tends to know a lot about one particular thing that I don't know a lot about. Maybe that's just because of the circles I run in, which means that maybe they need to start running in similar types of circles.
Ultimately, man, I think everybody — I'm not saying everyone's an expert, but I definitely believe that everyone that wants to do something like this has got something of value that they can share. And we all know it.
It’s a time honored legacy of business owners, just solve a problem. You don't have to solve a whole bunch of them. Just solve one very, very simple problem for a select group of people. If you do it well enough, you are blessed with the opportunity to be able to put a price tag on it, and people will be very happy to pay for it.
I believe that the majority of people that say something like that, I really don't think that they've really sat down and thought about it properly enough.
Brian Clark: I agree. I've always said that if you read two books on a subject, you're more of an expert than 98% of the population on that thing. And then when you come to content strategy or whatever the case may be, all you're doing is sharing as you're learning.
You're still a leader to those who are in that 98%, and yet, that just freaked some people out. Really I think those who are ready will eventually leap. And a lot of people don’t. But that’s okay.
Chris Ducker: And that's okay. That's fine. That's absolutely fine not to take the leap. Some people end up being leaders, some people end up being followers. That's just the way of life. It is what it is. That's why the Lakers has only ever had one Magic Johnson or the Celtics have only ever had one Larry Bird. You can’t have a whole team of Larry Birds, although it would be awesome if you could. As a big Celtics fan, it would be great.
The Beauty of Bootstrapping
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. I think Unemployable and Youpreneur, more than once, people on Twitter have said, “Wait, you guys are friends, aren't your shows very similar?”
Chris Ducker: I love it.
Brian Clark: Yes and no. But yeah, I mean, that's missing the point right there. Again, is there a competition between Chris Ducker and Brian Clark that that flies in the face of the concept of Youpreneur? And I think also the concepts are complimentary.
But one thing that I've keyed in on, and again, I don't know what your financing history is with the larger companies, but we're bootstrapped and proud and all that.
Chris Ducker: Same here as well.
Brian Clark: There seems to be a larger movement. Youpreneur, Unemployable are coming out right when you're seeing this backlash against VCs and the angels and the predators in my mind that depend on fresh entrepreneur meat to keep going.
More and more people are talking about bootstrapping and leveraging small and leveraging technology and leveraging virtual staff so that you have an ecosystem or a network that gets things done without needing to scale up tens of million dollars of expense.
How do you feel about that? Is that something strong to you or is it just in line with where Chris Ducker is right now?
Chris Ducker: To be honest with you, dude, I don't know it any other way. I've never had to raise funds. As a business owner, I've never been in debt. I was close to having to close doors four months after I opened the first doors in my first business 12 years ago. But we rallied and we survived. And now we're a multi 7-figure avenue revenue company.
So I don't know any other way. I have no problems rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty, and if I need to do it from time to time… Now, I'm blessed to be able to have a big team around me that does a lot of that for me, so I'm perfectly manicured at all times.
Dude, I'd roll up my sleeves any day of the week and crack on and get stuff done if I needed to. But ultimately, I don't know any other way, Brian. This is all I know. So, this is what I continue to do.
Brian Clark: I’m the same thing. I bootstrapped every company I've started and I don't care if the tide wasn't turning, I'd still be doing what I'm doing. I suspect you're doing this the same way.
Chris Ducker: Quite frankly, it scares the bejesus out of me when I see some of the money that these startups are making with seriously very little real substance behind them from a business perspective. Like really based on silly metrics, a lot of them vanity-based metrics, it scares the crap out of me. For not only the investors, but also the business owners, because they can become quite jaded quite easily I think.
I remember, I'll not mention the name of the company, but they raised all this money recently and then one day they decided to take down all of their social media platforms, to take down their website and drop an email to all of their clients saying, “We're sorry, because of financial issues, we're having to close the business. But we'll let you know what the deal is,” sort of thing. And they were still taking money two to three days before sending out that email. Now you know as a business owner if you're in that position or not, that you don't carry on taking people's money. That's just wrong.
Then the CEO of that business came out a week or so after, after being completely off the grid for the entire week and said that it's a startup thing. It's called churn and burn and all this sort of stuff where ultimately, “We were spending more money than we were making.” And I'm like, “That's not a startup term. That's just really, really bad business. People have been doing that for decades and they don't survive and neither have you.”
I think a lot of the time, people are becoming quite jaded with all these millions of dollars that’s being raised for these tech startups and whatnot. I would much rather know where I am as an entrepreneur. I’d much rather have my finger on the pulse and know exactly where I am.
But bootstrapping for me is the only way I know. So I'll continue with every project that I work on going forward in exactly the same way.
Brian Clark: Some of the ethics, or lack thereof, in the startup game, I don't know how these people live with themselves, but that's a question for another time.
Chris Ducker: That's right. And they don't realize it, because they're all working 20-hour days and living on coffee and whatnot. I think a lot of the time they don't even realize how unethical they are being seen anyway.
The Sunny Future for the Youpreneur
Brian Clark: As someone who, even with the larger companies, has been an advocate for the power of utilizing virtual staff as opposed to the traditional “buy a bigger building and fill it up with more standard employees,” combined with the Youpreneur concept, give us a snapshot of what Chris Ducker sees happening at the intersection of more freelancers, more entrepreneurs, powered by technology and networked relationships.
To me, there's so much doom and gloom about automation killing jobs, and yet the flip side of that for the ambitious, self-motivated person, to me, seems more sunny than ever.
Chris Ducker: It's huge. It's absolutely huge. You talk about virtual staffing. For example, a lot of small businesses don't grow at the rate that they really should do, because of lack of talent within their geographical area, because they want everybody in the same office facility. With virtual staff, you don't have that geographical constraint. So you're really in a position where you can truly hire the right person, the best person for that particular job or that role.
Now, if that person just happens to be on the other side of the world, we don't care anymore. I don't care, I really don't care where people are based on the planet. If they're going to do the job well and I know that they're going to be happy with what I pay them (because I pay people well), then they're going to be an asset to my company.
That right there, just virtual staffing and team building alone has come so far in the last 5 to 10 years. It really does allow that freelancer, that solopreneur, that bootstrapping entrepreneur, it really lends them the opportunity to go ahead and build their business a lot faster.
And we're not even going into the cost saving benefits of offshoring or outsourcing or whatever you want to call it. Because 9 times out of 10, when you hire somebody in another country, particularly developing countries, you're paying a lot less for that person's talent than you would do if it was homegrown.
Now some might add that you're taking jobs away from the local economy and all that sort of stuff. But I call BS on it and I have done for years, because you're a small business owner. 98% of the American economy is based on small business. It's not about big multinationals anymore. It's about Joe the bloody plumber and people like that.
If there’s anything you can do to not only stay in business, but grow your business as a solopreneur, man, jump on that bandwagon any day of the week. Once you start taking into consideration everything from SaaS products that can help keep your team connected better no matter where they are down to productivity, down to everything — online banking. I mean, everything can move so much faster today.
We're in a very, very exciting time, particularly for that Unemployable/Youpreneur type of mindset individual.
Where are things going to go in the next three, five years? I don't know. But I can tell you one thing: I'll be right there and I know you will be. And probably the large majority of people listening to this right now are going to be there as well, because they're doers, they're action takers.
Nothing's going to land in your lap. You've got to chase it down. That's my thing. I say that all the time. You’ve got to chase it down. If you do that, because of all these other little things that you can use to infiltrate markets a lot faster and become a lot more profitable a lot quicker, and not only survive longer but also grow over a shorter period of time, you're off to the races.
I'm more excited about being an entrepreneur today than I ever have been before.
Brian Clark: Amen to that.
Brian Clark: So, speaking of building a business powered by a personal brand, what's next for Chris Ducker?
Chris Ducker: That's a great question. Obviously, Youpreneur is for me the main focus right now. We have a couple of live mastermind events that we're planning under the banner. You don't have to be a Youpreneur member to come along. But obviously, there will be benefits plenty if you are.
Obviously, we have Tropical Think Tank, which is my annual conference that I do each year here in the Philippines. You're coming (which I'm really looking forward to) to speak this year.
And there will be a second book at some point. Probably, second half of this year I'll start seriously sitting down and putting together chapter plans and things like that for that. And it will probably be around the Youpreneur type message, no doubt.
Brian Clark: I would imagine. The first book, for those who may not be aware, was called Virtual Freedom, correct?
Chris Ducker: It was indeed, yes.
Brian Clark: It's a great book, I would pick that up.
Chris Ducker: Thank you.
Brian Clark: Also, if you are new to Unemployable, you may not know that we have a free three-lesson course called Profit Pillars. The second lesson is about people and it is indeed conducted by Chris Ducker. Who better? You were certainly the first guy that came into my mind.
If you would like to hear more from Chris on that topic, make sure you head over to Unemployable.com to register for free for that. Pick up his book, Virtual Freedom, and then we'll just have to see what this next book looks like.
Chris Ducker: Yeah, it's going to be equally as sexy looking as the first one. I can tell you that right now.
Brian Clark: Oh, I would expect nothing less. All right, Chris, I appreciate your time.
Everyone, thanks for tuning in. We will of course have more for you very shortly. In the meantime, keep going.