#014: How to Build a Successful Business with Your Boyfriend with Kate Erickson

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Welcome to episode 014 of The Blogger Genius Podcast. My guest is Kate Erickson, from Entrepreneurs on Fire. In this episode, Kate and I discuss how to build a successful seven figure business, which is what she did with her boyfriend, John Lee Dumas.

Kate calls herself Implementer in Chief at Entrepreneurs on Fire, the podcast and business she started in 2012 with John Lee Dumas.

Kate and I discuss the benefits and challenges of working with your significant other, how to start a podcast as a way to start a business, and the value of mastermind groups. Even with all her success, I love how down-to-earth she is. This episode is definitely worth listening to!

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Transcript – How to Build a Successful Seven Figure Business

Intro: [00:00:03] Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by Milo Tree. Here's your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian: [00:00:10] Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the show. Today, my guest is Kate Erickson. She is the Chief Implementer at Entrepreneurs on Fire. For those of you that don't know, Entrepreneurs on Fire is a podcast Kate and her significant other, John Lee Dumas, has started this podcast, I think, back in 2012, and they have grown it into a seven figure business. So welcome to the podcast, Kate.

Kate: [00:00:41] Thank you so much, Jillian. I'm excited to be here.

How to start a podcast as a way to start a business

Jillian: [00:00:43] So I want to say that I met you at Podcast Movement last year, and I took your course. You had a day-long course. You and John taught people how to start a podcast. It is because of your course that I now have a podcast, so I feel like I need to say thank you.

Kate: [00:01:04] That's so incredible. You're so welcome. I'm so happy that you were able to be a part of that. That was the first time that we've ever run a workshop like that at Podcast Movement. So I'm really happy to hear that. Congratulations on your podcast.

Jillian: [00:01:15] Thank you. And I'm loving it. I'm really loving it. So would tell us how you and John started Entrepreneurs on Fire, and did you think it would turn into what it has turned into when you initially came up with the concept?

Kate: [00:01:31] So we started Entrepreneurs on Fire in 2012. So you nailed it right there in the intro. Actually, John and I were both working corporate jobs.

Kate: [00:01:43] He was in commercial real estate, and I was working in advertising and marketing at the time. He actually came up with the idea to start a daily podcast where he would interview the world's most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs.

Kate: [00:01:56] He wanted to do a daily. He came to me with this idea. He told me that he wanted to quit his job to pursue this dream. I wasn't really too sure what a podcast was. I wasn't super entrepreneurial so I don't really understand like the vision of how this would become a business. Nonetheless, I was very supportive.

Kate: [00:02:17] I told them that I thought it would be such a cool idea. And knowing John's drive and his work ethic, I knew that he was going to make this a success so he quit his job. He started the podcast, and I continued on in my corporate job because we weren't generating revenue from the podcasts.

Kate: [00:02:39] Within six months, he had kind of gained some initial traction and momentum. He started having a lot of listeners. He started having people reach out to him and ask if he offered one on one coaching. He started inviting sponsors on the podcast.

Kate: [00:02:56] At that point, I think that he had a vision for what this could become, and he invited me to join the team. That was about month six that I came on board, that I joined the team. We started talking about creating online communities. We started with a mastermind that was 100 people.

Jillian: [00:03:21] So people signed up for the mastermind or...?

Kate: [00:03:26] Exactly. That was the very first thing that we were like, "Can this work? Are these questions and these things that people keep coming to us with saying that like they wish that they had a community of people who understood the journey that they were on, and they wish that they could ask others for feedback?"

Kate: [00:03:47] Just these recurring things that people kept reaching out to us with was kind of like our first delve into, can we create a community that solves this pain point, this problem for people.

Kate: [00:04:01] And I think that maybe even then, I don't know that we thought that Entrepreneurs on Fire would be what it is today but we certainly, day by day, were checking back in with our vision, our mission and being like, "Okay, we are on a path that we want to be on, and we should keep going. We should continue doing this."

What is a mastermind group?

Jillian: [00:04:23] And so when you started your mastermind series, for people who don't know, can you explain what a mastermind is?

Kate: [00:04:29] Sure. So it could take many different forms. I mean a mastermind could be as few as two or three people, or it could be as big as like hundreds of people. It's essentially you and a group of people who have the same vision, the same mission, the same type of goals.

Kate: [00:04:47] For us, it was bringing entrepreneurs together so that they can bounce ideas off from each other, get feedback and support from one another. In our case, we also provided some tools and resources, a membership site with some video tutorials and stuff like that that could help people on their entrepreneurial journey.

Kate: [00:05:07] So depending on what industry or niche you are serving, the mastermind could look very different but in essence, it's people coming together to support and hold one another accountable.

What is it like working with your significant other?

Jillian: [00:05:18] I like that. So I have to ask this question which is what has it been like for you working with your significant other? For people who don't know, my partner is my husband.

Jillian: [00:05:29] We started Catch my Party together back in 2009 and now, we've started MiloTree which is our app to help grow social media and now, the podcast. So my husband, he's got my back. I was curious what it has been like for you guys working together.

Kate: [00:05:50] Yeah, I love that you say that he's got your back, because I feel like that is definitely kind of a foundation. It's really amazing to be on this journey together with John.

Kate: [00:06:06] Before we started working together, we had an amazing relationship. We're very much in love with each other but there was always sort of like we would come home at night, and he would talk about his job, and I would talk about my job.

Kate: [00:06:21] There are just certain barriers that are gonna be there regardless because I don't understand his world the way that he does, and he doesn't understand mine the way I do. And starting a business together or becoming partners in our business, sharing a vision, sharing goals and sharing a mission, it has really brought us so much closer together than I think we ever could have been otherwise.

Kate: [00:06:47] It's such a cool experience to have with your significant other, to be excited about the same things and to know exactly how each other feels. I think it's been a really amazing experience in that. It certainly comes with its own set of challenges for sure but every single one of those is so worth it to me to be able to share that with each other.

What are the challenges of working with your boyfriend?

Jillian: [00:07:09] What would you say the biggest challenge is?

Kate: [00:07:12] I would say turning it off.

Jillian: [00:07:14] That's what I would say. That's exactly what I would say. What do you mean by that?

Kate: [00:07:19] We're just both so passionate about what we do. We love our business and our audience so much that sometimes, it can be hard to not want to make sure that you're there for your community.

Kate: [00:07:34] I mean we have so many ideas, opportunities, and things that we could be doing so it can be kind of hard to say, "I've been doing this for 12 hours today. It's time to be Kate and John, boyfriend and girlfriend and have dinner together."

Kate: [00:07:54] We talk about fun weekend plans or like a trip that we want to take together, like it's time to stop talking about business. It's just hard to do because we love it. I'm sure you can relate.

Jillian: [00:08:05] Totally. It starts to kind of blur into stuff. We also share a daughter so that's a good way for us to get off of our business and to go, "Let's talk about her."

Jillian: [00:08:21] I would say this which for us, like just checking in with each other from a more kind of emotional place rather than, "Okay, I need you to do this, and I've got to do this and that kind of thing," to kind of really have like an off switch.

Kate: [00:08:36] Yeah, I like that. I think it's important to kind of have like those go-tos where you can say because that's kind of been like a thing for John and me since the beginning.

Kate: [00:08:44] If I'm ever talking about business and you don't want to, it's like the cord that we pull that says, "No more. I don't want to talk about this right now. Let's be a couple and not business partners."

Kate: [00:08:59] I think that kind of laying that groundwork, and I love what you had said. Maybe it's your daughter that you guys start talking about in order to make that transition back into a personal life. I think it's important to have those cues or to have those things that can help you shift the conversation.

Why do you publish your income statement?

Jillian: [00:09:16] Definitely. So one thing that I really like about you guys is how transparent you are. If you go to eofire.com, you guys show your income statements of how you guys are making money.

Jillian: [00:09:30] You guys are making a lot of money. Can you share why you do that, what you guys learn from that and why it's important for you to share that with your community?

Kate: [00:09:41] So when John first started the podcast and I was still in marketing and advertising, I was kind of in a place in my corporate journey, at the ad agency specifically, where I was helping one of our biggest clients with a re-brand.

Kate: [00:09:59] A big part of that was like really zeroing in and narrowing in on what their mission was, and what they wanted people to say about them when they weren't around. I kind of brought a lot of that home and had asked John a lot of those questions when he was starting the podcast.

Kate: [00:10:17] If you imagine 100 people listening to the podcast, what is the mission that you have through delivering this content and what is it that you want them to say about the podcast when you're not around?

Kate: [00:10:33] We came up with the mission of inspiring millions. That really helped us as we grew the business to stay true to the fact that what we provide should be inspiring for people. That was our goal. For John, a big part of his inspiration was listening to others like Pat Flynn and David Siteman Garland and learning from them.

Kate: [00:10:59] He saw it from Pat Flynn, that Pat publishes his income reports. For John, that was really motivating and inspiring that here's a guy making this happen. He's creating this business. He's creating freedom in his life. He's showing people how he does it.

Kate: [00:11:17] Now that I see the struggles that he faces, the wins that he has, how exactly he's making and spending his money, that's really motivating and inspiring for me. We kind of took that cue from Pat and we said, "I wonder if we were to share this stuff with our audience, it would help inspire them to know that it is possible to run a seven figure business."

Kate: [00:11:44] Lo and behold, that was absolutely the case. We got amazing feedback about it. From that day forward, we were like there's not a lot of transparency in the online world. Why don't we kind of carry that torch and be those people that our audience knows that they can come to us.

Kate: [00:12:01] That we're going to answer their questions and we're going to be open and honest about what it's like to run a business because ultimately, that's what we're trying to inspire them to do. If we're not sharing the ins and outs, the pretty and the ugly there, then we're not really doing our job.

How Entrepreneurs on Fire monetizes their business

Jillian: [00:12:17] I was just looking at your site and you break it down. It looks like four different buckets. You guys make money via sponsorships so that, I'm assuming, is sponsorships for the podcast.

Jillian: [00:12:29] You guys have an online community for other podcasters called Podcasters Paradise which is where you have like a bunch of tools and things like that. Am I right?

Kate: [00:12:44] Yes, it's a membership site with video tutorials.

Jillian: [00:12:49] Exactly. And then you guys do affiliate revenue. You guys have found companies that align with your audience, that you guys believe in and then, you sell. You get an affiliate fee if somebody buys that and then you guys created your journals. Can you talk about what your journals are?

Kate: [00:13:09] Sure. So right now, we have two. We're working on our third which is really exciting. The first journal that we launched is called the Freedom Journal.

Kate: [00:13:18] It's how to set and accomplish your number one goal in 100 days. A year after that, we launched the Mastery Journal which is master productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days. Both journals are very intentional.

Kate: [00:13:31] It's a day by day guide and accountability partner for people who are trying to either set and accomplish their number one goal or become more productive, disciplined and focus.

Kate: [00:13:45] What we've done through the journals is try to give people a daily layout that they can follow to start making a habit out of saying, "Okay, if I want to accomplish X in 100 days, what needs to happen in the next 10 days for me to be 10 days closer to that, or if I want to become more productive and disciplined and focused, how do I need to be setting up my days in order for that to happen?"

Kate: [00:14:10] So these journals are really meant to guide people through that every single day to be able to accomplish things. Both of them were born out of struggles and questions that our audience was coming to us with.

Jillian: [00:14:24] That's so interesting. Again, when I took your workshop, you guys gave a handout. It literally went step by step-by-step in terms of how to launch a podcast. All I did was go step by step-by-step, break it down and then ultimately, I was able to do that.

Why small goals matter when starting a business

Jillian: [00:14:41] I'm a big believer in small goals, small achievable goals everyday and then eventually, you look back and you're like, "Oh my God. I did it." It's just about sticking in there even when it's tough.

Kate: [00:14:57] Yes, definitely. I think that that's just what a lot of people need. The online space can be really overwhelming when you're trying to start a business that there's a lot of things going on and different things competing for your attention.

Kate: [00:15:12] Sometimes, people just need a guide to help them. That's what we tried to do in that workshop that you were in, Jillian. That is what we try to do with all of our content really, to give people a path and a guide that they can actually take and implement so that they feel that progress, and they see that progress because we need that.

Kate: [00:15:30] As entrepreneurs, we need to know that what we're doing is making a difference and that it's leading us somewhere because otherwise, you just get frustrated and feel like giving up.

Jillian: [00:15:40] Right. You talk a lot about systems. I think, in your own podcast, you had a whole year talking about building out systems. So if you're a blogger, what would you say some of the first systems you would want to put in place?

Kate: [00:16:01] I would say, as a blogger, definitely kind of a system for content curation and creation would be a big one because I know, for me, I'm a writer as well and I do our blog at Entrepreneurs on Fire.

Kate: [00:16:14] In the beginning, a big struggle for me was deciding what content to create and knowing that that was the right content to create. I think that there's certainly a system or a process that you can put in place to not have that feel. It's such hard work all the time. I also feel like repurposing content is a big one.

Kate: [00:16:37] As a blogger, I think it's important to understand that even though you love to write and publish written content on your site, that there might be a whole huge audience out there that is never going to read a blog so being able to repurpose out content on social media, through podcasts or through videos to meet your potential audience where they're at is really important when thinking about the growth and visibility that you could have for your business.

Why repurposing your content is important to grow your business

Kate: [00:17:08] I think there's definitely systems and processes to be made and the repurposing category as well.

Jillian: [00:17:13] How do you guys at Entrepreneurs on Fire repurpose your content, for example?

Kate: [00:17:19] A great example would be our blog. When I create a blog post, every blog post turns into a podcast episode. If you tune into my podcast, Kate's Take, you have a blog post that you're referencing which is directly how I create that podcast episode, so it becomes audio.

Kate: [00:17:38] Also, from that, I create social media content. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, you will see the content being shared on all of those platforms. It is really just a matter of taking one single piece of content. It even starts before the blog post too.

Kate: [00:17:58] That blog post might have been created out of an email conversation that I was having with somebody where they asked a really great question that I took a lot of time to answer.

Kate: [00:18:07] Thinking like instead of just answering this one person's question via email which I'm going to do anyways but why not leverage that content, turn it into a blog post. Why not leverage that blog post, turn it into a podcast? Why not leverage that podcast and share it on social media?

Kate: [00:18:23] You can kind of start to see a system where you're able to use the same piece of content to stretch it further, to leverage it more. In the process, you're providing value to more people and getting more visibility for your content, your brand.

Jillian: [00:18:40] Right. I like what you said when you said you want to reach people where they're at. I will say I have a podcast, and people will saym "I've never listened to a podcast." You're right. If you can take that and so that person is not living in the world of podcasts but might be somebody who's on Instagram. I love that idea which is don't assume that people are just going to come to you. It's like you go to where the people are.

Kate: [00:19:09] Yeah, and that was my biggest struggle when I first started my blog. I thought that if I started a blog, people would start coming and reading it. I soon found out that there was a lot more work on my end to get the content out there so that people knew that it was there.

Jillian: [00:19:28] What would you say then that you know now that you wished you knew when you guys were just starting?

Kate: [00:19:38] Actually, I think that that realization of needing to meet people where they're at would have been really great to know earlier on because we have so much content on our site that has never seen an audio version, a video version or a social media version.

Kate: [00:19:58] It still serves us and our audience in a really great way because it's there. But it's a matter of whether anyone's ever going to find it.

Kate: [00:20:08] I guess that if I would have known when we first started like this whole idea of repurposing or this whole idea of it's not so much about creating more, more, more, more content, it's about leveraging the content that you already have, that could have saved me a lot of time and potentially gotten more eyes on fewer pieces of content rather than thinking I needed to just keep creating more so that more people would come.

Kate: [00:20:36] That equation being flipped, I think, is an important one to recognize.

Jillian: [00:20:43] Yes. For us, 2018 is the year of repurposing. We have so much content on our original site called Catch my Party, that we realized that thousands of blog posts, that kind of thing and that that stuff is still relevant. A lot of it is evergreen. This is the year for us to go back into our archives, start refreshing what we already have and repurposing it because there's all this lost value.

Kate: [00:21:14] Absolutely. Doesn't it feel great? When I repurpose something, I feel so much better about that piece of content because I feel like it's working for me versus me working for it.

Jillian: [00:21:26] Yes, absolutely. So what is one tool that you use every day in your personal life, in your professional life that you need, that you love?

Why Entrepreneurs on Fire uses Asana to manage their business

Kate: [00:21:40] I would have to say the project management software, Asana. I use that every single day. It's actually the very first thing that I open on my computer every single day when I sit down to dive into work.

Kate: [00:21:54] The reason I love it so much and that I don't feel like I could live without it is I have it set up in a way to where I don't have to think or guess about what I'm going to be working on because I have every single task, every single project, every single due date, every single reminder that I could ever need in Asana.

Kate: [00:22:13] It also helps me work with my team which is really great.

Jillian: [00:22:16] Right. In fact, I've looked into it. How many people are on your team?

Kate: [00:22:20] So we have five people on our team including myself and John.

Jillian: [00:22:23] Got it. And so you can put all your projects in there, and everybody can see where things are. Is that right?

Kate: [00:22:32] Yep. You can assign specific parts of a project to a team member, give them a due date and you can comment on it or leave notes. It's really helpful in that respect that you're able to quickly shoot off like a task or something to somebody else on your team and give it a due date. It just helps keep everyone on the same page.

Advice for entrepreneurs: Enjoy it!

Jillian: [00:22:53] That's cool. Do you have one piece of parting advice for our audience to kind of motivate them through the day, through the year, through the journey?

Kate: [00:23:07] I would say to enjoy it. There's been so many times on my journey where I've gotten either super stressed out, really worked up, really disappointed or really frustrated with something.

Kate: [00:23:22] At the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. We're supposed to be making an impact for our audience and for other people out there. We can't do that when we're frustrated, angry or feeling down about stuff. So enjoy the journey. Appreciate those roadblocks and the times that you stumble as learning experiences. Have fun.

Jillian: [00:23:42] That's great. So Kate, how can people reach out to you?

Kate: [00:23:45] Everything that we do is over at eofire.com. I love to hear from anyone who's tuning in, who is maybe inspired or had a big take away from this episode. My email is kate@eofire.com.

Jillian: [00:24:00] Great. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Kate: [00:24:03] You're so welcome. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Why bloggers and entrepreneurs need MiloTree to grow their businesses

Jillian: [00:24:06] If you're trying to grow your social media followers on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, plus trying to grow your email list, definitely check out MiloTree.

Jillian: [00:24:18] It is the smart pop-up you add to your blog or your site, and it asks your visitors to follow you on social media or subscribe to your list.

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Jillian: [00:24:53] We also offer your first 30 days free.

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