Welcome to another Small Business Update this time with Nathan Littleton, former child business genius, from Future Visions. We first met him back in September 2011, 8 years after he started working for himself, and he was still going strong in October 2012. Then we updated in November 2013 and found him planning to diversify more and with a book on the way. Here’s where he planned to be by now: “I love speaking on stage, so the more I can do that, the happier I’ll be, and I’d like for that to be a bigger part of my income in the next year. Also, I genuinely see The Hub as my legacy. It’s the one product/service in my business that I can say is: 1. unique, 2. has a clear market need, 3. truly works without me. With that said, a big portion of my marketing efforts will be invested in making it available to as many businesses as possible.” Let’s see how those grand plans are going!
Hello again, Nathan. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
My main goals were to develop my brand as a professional speaker and build that part of my business, and to develop The Hub as a product which could be sold and delivered without huge involvement from me.
I’ve established myself as a speaker and there’s still work to do secure more higher-paid speaking gigs. The Hub has sold well, but the market has dictated that it be a higher ticket price one-time sale rather than a subscription. I’m OK with that, but I’m still keen to build a monthly recurring revenue in my business, so I anticipate that will come from managing regular email campaigns for clients (this still represents the biggest recurring revenue in my business).
I’d like to have been further along in those goals, but the proverbial happens and there are lessons learned along the way to make the next year the best yet!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
For the most part, the business has stayed the same. It’s healthy and is growing steadily, and I’ve been working to refine what I do to ensure that I’m working on the projects that are most profitable, most enjoyable and the least hassle!
When I wrote my answers last year, I’d had the basis of a book in mind and had a good portion of it written, but had let it slip for so long that I didn’t have a solid deadline or timeframe in mind to get it published. At the start of 2014 I got focussed on it and dedicated the time that was needed to complete it, and with your help, it was published by July (the book is “Delivered: The No-Nonsense Guide to Successful Email Marketing“). The sales figures have been good, and it has done the job I wanted it to do – to elevate my position as an email marketing expert.
I’m currently developing an Entrepreneurs Bootcamp programme for schools which will fill the gap between what the Business Studies curriculum teaches and the knowledge that is really needed to run a business. That’s what I want to be known for when I’m sat in my rocking chair looking back at my life.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’m not sure if you could call this a learning, but in May I watched a speech from Jim Carrey. There’s one line from it which has stuck with me throughout the year, and gives me a lift when I’m feeling demotivated or things aren’t going to plan. He says: “I learned many great things from my father, not least of which that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love”.
That’s why I do what I do, and why I’ve done this for the last 12 years.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Consider what you can do that will take you out of your comfort zone. If you’re anything like me, you perform at your very best when you’re under pressure, but it’s just human nature that we’re compelled to take the easier option. Why don’t we do the things we know we need to do? Often because it’s just easier not to do them.
Last month I started an 11-week stand-up comedy course, not because I want to be a world-famous comedian (although… who knows?), but because I want to do something that will take me out of my comfort zone. Being comfortable and plodding along is seriously overrated. [update: he successfully performed a stand-up routine last week – well done, Nathan!]
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
My biggest focus at the moment is to dramatically increase sales and revenue, and I have some big, ambitious goals to that effect. When I hit those goals, I can tick off a few more of my ‘big picture’ goals (my bucket list, what I want from my life and my legacy).
I’m also aiming to have another two books out there this year – a more comprehensive version of my “20 Best Subject Lines” eBook, which has been very popular, and a “Business Lessons from a 12 Year-Old” book to support my work in schools.
All good stuff, and getting towards those goals, which is the main thing. I think passive income from a product we don’t have to devote all our time to is a kind of holy grail for many business people – my book sales pay for my monthly bus pass and sometimes that’s what we’ll get out of that side of things – but every little does count. I look forward to working on Nathan’s new books, too – the two he’s got out at the moment are both really good, and the Email Marketing one has helped with my own newsletter.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.