Mike Munter: Hey, Randy, how’s it going? Good to see you.
Randy Kirk: Very nice to be seen—no, I’m sorry. Nice to see you as well.
Mike Munter: You and I met, several years ago when I was looking for some Google business help. You had all of these nice videos that you had produced, and you were nice enough to take my call and really sort of take me by the hand and teach me about Google my business.
Randy Kirk: I remember it well, and then all of a sudden, over the years, the script has been flipped. I’ve been talking to you about micro-workers and all kinds of other things that you do that are completely foreign to me. I’m like, wow, that could work. Yes.
Mike Munter: Yes, well, you and I are both entrepreneurs. I know you have a rich history and you were just mentioning to me offline that you are launching two new businesses just this week.
Randy Kirk: True. I’ve decided—my wife was kidding me the other day because I was mentioning some other profession that I’ve had. Of course, if you are an entrepreneur early, you end up having potentially many professions. I thought, I need one more profession like I need another hole in the head, but as of Monday, I am now a youtuber so I guess I’m an influencer and a YouTuber as of Monday.
Mike Munter: Cool.
Randy Kirk: And that’s the latest (laughing).
Mike Munter: Well, that would be fun to talk about, but maybe before we hop into that, can you just give us a little bit of history—what is some of your work experience?
Randy Kirk: Yes, I claim that I’m the most interesting guy in the world. Well, at least, I don’t know if I’m interesting to your listening audience, but I know that I’ve had the weirdest career, maybe in history. Undergrad psych degree, graduate UCLA law degree, but never practiced a day, opened a bicycle retail store between my first and second year of law school in order to pay the bills. I went from there to importer/exporter, manufacturer, manufacturer’s rep, manufacturer’s rep to wholesale and manufacturer to retail, then ad agency eventually for 28 years.
I was a plastics manufacturer in the United States, successfully manufacturing bicycle squeeze bottles, and printing on them. And it became the largest such manufacturer in the world with 5—over 5 million bottles a year. Then when I sold that business, what does every good manufacturer do when they sell their business?
They become a consultant. Of course, they do! So for the last 13 years, I consulted with about 300 plus businesses. Most of them would say, “he was a good guy.” There were a few that would not, and then I’m starting a couple of businesses—and then all that time, over all those years, I was also writing books.
Now I have eight or nine business books, three of which have been published in the last three years. The most recent one is about Making Money Out of Thin Air. That one is all about how to use your financial reports, your profit loss, and your financial statements and your reporting—using all of that in order to make more money, even if you don’t increase sales $1. But in fact, you can use your reporting in order to help you increase yourself.
Anyway, that’s the most recent and starting three years ago, I opened a mastermind group and I found that to be the most fun thing I’ve ever done—out of all those different things. In the course of starting the mastermind group, then it was two groups and then it was three. We also opened a business referral group called E team, a business-to-business referral group.
Mike Munter: What did you say it was called?
Randy Kirk: E team. There is a team referral network, which is a known brand. We took a piece of that—we worked with the team people, and we opened a division of that called E team, our executive team. That is only business to business referral, meaning no business to consumer people in there. So we had that business and we had the mastermind business, and then we had the consulting business. And we had the all the books and I was marketing all of them independently.
Each book—each of the three books, those were all three marketing, the E team was all marketing, and all of these things were being marketed independently. Then it occurred to me one day, they were all for the same customer. They were all geared toward small business owners, typically under 10, certainly under 25 employees was my niche.
They all have the same problems and they are all dealing with the same issues. So how could I market to all of them with one format, one media? Well, it turned out to be two. Thus, the YouTube channel is called small business daily and therefore as it notes, it’s daily—every day there’s a 20 minute program—every weekday. And that’s been going since Monday and then simultaneously I put together a website called Freebusinesshelpnow.com.
So that is over a hundred pages, over 45 subjects, covering everything from how to hire and fire, to how to open a business, how to sell a business. I mean, everything you can think of and those two together and pointing one another, also pointing to my books and pointing to masterminds and pointing to E team and pointing to everything else that I’m doing, consulting, and you can link us up. So those are my two new ventures that started just this week.
Mike Munter: Well, and I know you’re also doing a little day trading on the side.
Randy Kirk: Oh yes (laughing). I did really well last year. I did so well that I was beginning to think, “I might be like in a special case and maybe I should start teaching people how to do it.” Well until January and February (laughing), then I wasn’t such a genius anymore.
But today and yesterday I’m beginning to look better. Again, I don’t know. Maybe it has less to do with my brain and more to do with market conditions, but I did extremely well last year.
Mike Munter: Yes. Well, it’s no surprise to me that you’re doing the YouTube stuff now because you always—that’s how you first captured my attention. You are so good on camera. Now, you’re taking all of your years of experience and just giving it away on YouTube and on the website.
Randy Kirk: Yes, well, you’re giving the—the giveaway economy has been going on for a good 25 years now. The idea that you give something for free, something that is valuable, that is going to be actionable and useful— that’s been going on for 25 years.
Then, a certain percentage of the population that watch or read your free material will say, “I don’t want to do that.” Yes, thank you very much, Randy, for showing me how to do Google my business, in detail, but I don’t want to do it.
I’ll call you and hire you to do it for me. And that’s been pretty common for 25 years. The YouTube channel and the freebusinesshelpnow.com website, both of those do that. They lay it out and there’s plenty of good information and we will keep adding to it and adding to it. But yes, a certain percentage are going to pick up the phone and say “Hey, Randy” or maybe one of the other vendors are shown on those sites.
Mike Munter: It sounds like you are using it for a couple of things. One, as you mentioned, to cross promote your books, and your other things that you have going on. Then also, like you said, maybe 1 out of 100, 1 out of 500 people will actually call you up and say, “Hey, can you help me with this?”
Randy Kirk: Exactly, exactly. That’s precisely it.
Mike Munter: Has that started happening yet or is it too soon?
Randy Kirk: Well, let’s say that—a very interesting methodology for building a lot of different kinds of businesses is to do what you’re doing right now—is to do interviews. In my YouTube channel, the first 16 days are just me, but starting on day 17, I start doing interviews.
The interviews, when you do an interview with somebody who does the business that would be relevant to the same crowd—now, all of a sudden you have a relationship with that person. It’s more than just a casual relationship.
You have done them a favor—you have promoted them and you have dug deeply into what they do. There’s a reciprocation there. So yes, already the interviews and the outreach that has happened as a result of both the website and YouTube channel is turning into business. Yes.
Mike Munter: Can you give us a little bit of a crystal ball into who you have lined up to interview? Maybe not specifically what industries that they work in?
Randy Kirk: Yes. For instance, there’s one guy who is my—I don’t want to call him my protege exactly. But when I first met him, he was just getting his feet wet in the SEO and Google my business space. As we talked and became friendly, I quizzed him about various topics.
Over the course of a year or so, he got better and better and better at doing it. I turn a lot of my SEO business over to him because I am busy right now. The first—my first interviews will be with him. He’s already got six or seven videos on the website that take you—just like you were talking about, step by step through how to set up a Google my business website and also how to get highly ranked.
He will be on for five days and then I’ve got—I was trying to work on the next one. After that, I want to say it might be a website developer, but yes, it will be all those kinds of things. It will be mostly service providers, a lot of internet, but it doesn’t have to be internet.
I’m actually looking for people who are experts in their field who provide services for small businesses, especially the very small businesses. I’ll be looking for those folks to come on the channel.
Mike Munter: That is awesome. It sounds like you and I are doing similar things almost.
Randy Kirk: In a way—mine is a daily show. There’s the pressure of a daily show and then also there’s as you mentioned or I am sure you are well aware there’s the pressure of YouTube—that you need a thousand subscribers and 4,000 hours of video watched before you can monetize the channel. So getting the channel monetized becomes a whole other story because if you’re going to be a YouTuber for very long, it’s expensive.
Mike Munter: And when you say monetize, you’re talking about those ads that we see, which run before and sometimes in the middle of the video.
Randy Kirk: Yes, yes. To do a show like that, I have to have editors that edit it, I have people that are doing other jobs with regard to it. There’s a daily cost to put that show on. You have to monetize the show some way. Ultimately, if I want this to go on more than six or seven months, I probably would want some revenue coming from the YouTube side. Yeah,
Mike Munter: Yes, sure. I assume that the people that you are interviewing, they are not paying to be on the show, at least not at this point.
Randy Kirk: No, commonly, some of them at least will end up being commissioned or affiliate sponsors, so whether they are on the website or on the show, there will be a link. If they go to the link, then I will get some affiliate fee for having directed viewers to that business.
Yes, and I was shocked, but maybe you know, this already, as I started getting into this affiliate thing—it is huge! The big companies, like AWeber, all these people like Wix, they are all using affiliates. I was really blown away by that. There is a big affiliate opportunity out there—if you have a good following.
Mike Munter: Yes, there really is. One of the things in my business, I don’t know if you would really call it affiliate, but its similar—I generate a lot of leads for people who want online reputation management work done.
I used to try to do it myself but then I realized that there were people that were better at it than me. I worked out a deal. If I give them all my leads, my collaborators pay me back a little bit of commission, if they do business. And I have to do some marketing obviously to generate those leads and to maintain communication, but I don’t have to deliver anything.
Randy Kirk: Exactly.
Mike Munter: Which is great because it frees me up to do what I enjoy the best, which is more marketing.
Randy Kirk: There you go. That’s right. Yes, I actually like some elements of execution. But yes, at the end of the day, I’m like you, I’m a marketer, I’m a salesman. That’s where I live. My favorite thing in the world right now is mastermind groups by a lot (laughing).
Mike Munter: So you are still doing the mastermind groups?
Randy Kirk: Yes—we got killed by COVID-19. Fortunately, I also had an Amazon business and the Amazon products I was selling were in the bicycle business and the bicycle business blew up. My sales this year, well, starting in April, my sales year over year were 1400% up month after month. My little Amazon business turned into a big Amazon business. That made up for the fact that the mastermind group got slaughtered.
We went from having three good face-to-face groups to having one good zoom group. Tt’s taken us about—pretty much from then until the last few weeks to really figure out the zoom environment in a way that people are actually leaving those meetings really excited about what happened.
We just had one nights ago, Tuesday night—four hour meeting. People call me afterwards or email me afterwards to say it great and that’s as unusual—to get than kind of an email. We have kind of figured out how to do the online thing now.
We have also been using LinkedIn automated strategies for reaching out to potential members and I have been doing probably a good 25 interviews a week. This is a hard—this is a hard thing (laughing).
Mike Munter: Just based on the volume?
Randy Kirk: Yes, you are doing all these interviews. Then some people don’t show up for the interview. Then some people that show up for the interview say, “Oh, I’m going to come to your mastermind. It sounds great. I’ll be there.” They never show up and they completely ghost you (laughing).
We are up to two really good groups with 8 to 10 in each group. A third group is kind of starting to come together, but it has been way harder than I thought it was going to be. I can’t wait to go back to person to person. We will keep the zoom meetings, but the person to person—it was much easier to build.
Mike Munter: All in Los Angeles?
Randy Kirk: All in the inland empire, maybe 15 miles around Riverside.
Mike Munter: Right. Yes, it’s interesting—something like that because I participated in one or two of your mastermind groups. It’s interesting, we start with an idea, like a mastermind group, and say, “oh I want to start a mastermind group. This would be cool.”
I know people can connect and you do it. Then, after you would get some experience, it sort of goes in a different direction and takes on a life of its own.
Randy Kirk: Yes, ours is modeled after Vistage, which is the largest—by far—mastermind company in the country. They have got thousands of chapters. The difference between us and Vistage is Vistage is eight hours long, so the whole day. The afternoon is given over to a professional speaker that they pay a lot of money to come in.
But the morning is pretty much identical. We do a couple of hours with one company on the hot seat where all we are talking about is their company for two hours. Then we spend the other two hours dividing up the time between whoever else is there that day.
And that’s a very good methodology for people to get actionable things done in a very quick second and have a group that is going to hold you accountable—who actually gets your business because we all do the same things.
But unlike Vistage, we don’t do the afternoon part. Now, on the online zoom groups, the new ones, we are shrinking it down to two hours. But we do all of that for $200 a month where Vistage charges like $1800 a month. There’s a big difference between the two, but I am beginning to see why they charge $1800 a month because the cost of acquisition is high.
Mike Munter: Yes. Well, it’s a lot of work that it goes into organizing it and that people don’t realize.
Randy Kirk: Yes, exactly.
Mike Munter: And plus leading it, that is not the easiest thing in the world to lead and create the value.
Randy Kirk: Yes. I think that the best part for us has been that I leave every meeting feeling like I’ve learned—that I got my $200 worth and I am the guy running it (laughing)! I’ve learned something in that meeting that I can immediately take action on.
If people who come into it with the attitude, not what can I get out of it for me, but what can I put into it for everybody else? They will usually get the most out of it because teaching always—we learn more from teaching than we ever learn from being taught.
Mike Munter: Well, that seems to be a theme that you have hit on. The theme is that that you have to give, to get. And it really is a great model, even if you are like a mechanic, if you started making a bunch of videos or started a blog and gave away, taught people, eventually you are going to start, that is going to turn into revenue somehow. I’m not sure exactly how.
Randy Kirk: It absolutely does. There are millions of people out there. I have, one of my clients has a bike shop. He gets more hits on the videos I do about him discussing the differences between tires and differences between derailer sets or whatever. He gets more hits and views on that kind of stuff than the lawyers get for something on how to get divorced.
It’s just, it’s amazing how many views he gets. Obviously, now he has shown how professional he is—he has shown his knowledge. He’s shown that he’s a good guy. It’s amazing how he’s got people driving 15 or 20 miles and passing five bike shops on the way in order to come buy a bike.
Mike Munter: You probably get this an all the time. People call us and they will say, “oh, I saw your ad on YouTube.” And when they say that—I know they saw one of my videos because I don’t advertise on YouTube. But it really gives us a chance to connect and develop trust easily.
Randy Kirk: Right, yes, trust that’s the whole theory. I was just talking with one of my clients today that in print you don’t get any bad body language. You don’t get any personality at all in print, except maybe if it’s written well, written funny. You go to radio and at least now you’ve got the voice. So now there can be the enthusiasm. There can be the energy, there can be the passion, there can be— that’s a good voice.
I know my wife, she chooses what she reads or listens to on Audible based on the reader, not on the content, but so it could be the voice. Then, you go to television or video. Now you are getting almost everything you would get in a one-on-one situation in person. You are getting body language, you’re getting the energy quotient is even more obvious, the passion, whether the person is real. Yes, video is the future—businesses that are not creating videos are behind the eight ball.
Mike Munter: Yes. Well, it’s a lot of fun too.
Randy Kirk: Yes, it is. It can be—most people are pretty shy (laughing).
Mike Munter: Let’s bring it back to, as we are winding down the interview, I want to bring it back to what you are doing now. You are just getting started. Do you have a plan? It sounds like you have a pretty elaborate 16 day plan. Then, then you will start the interviews. Do you have revenue goals for this? Do you have—how much have you written out?
Randy Kirk: Yes. I highly recommend that every business have a revenue plan (laughing), have a budget, have an opening the door budget, have a plan, have a goal. I’m in the unique situation—actually there’s, this will be interesting, I think to your audience listening. There are a lot of folks right now, they are going into small business that already had a corporate career, military career, police career, or something like that, they got their other 20 years or 25 years.
They have a pension or they have a working spouse that’s covering the medical insurance and maybe making 80 or a hundred thousand dollars a year. It doesn’t really matter how much money they make at their venture. They are not really covered by it—the rest of that. And I’m really old. I even have social security and a working spouse, a university professor no less.
The money is really not the object. Yes, I like making money. I am very competitive and that’s my reward—seeing the dollars go up or seeing that it’s making money. But the real reward and this one is, is knowing that the show works, that there are people that listen to it, and they get value out of it.
My most famous book is When Friday Isn’t Payday. This sold, I don’t know, now it is probably in the 35,000 copies or something like that. It was originally published by Warner business books. That book—I’ve had people say, “It sits by my bedside.” Or “I got this from you, when I read that, Randy.” There is no way to add that up and monetize it. You can’t, it’s not like a trophy. It’s not like money. No, it goes right into your heart.
I would love to have people sending me an email because my email is everywhere. I don’t hide my email. I would love to have people emailing me as a result of the show or as a result of the website or any of the books saying, “Oh my gosh, on page 65, that really made the difference for me.” Yes.
Mike Munter: You have certainly been an inspiration to me over the years. I am amazed at how many things you can do. I probably haven’t even tapped into all your expertise yet.
Randy Kirk: Yes. You only say that because I’m your doppelganger. You are like that yes. I’ve got all these 700 things that I’m working on simultaneously too (laughing). And so, yes, we are alike in our, what do they have the word for it now? Squirrel? Oh, there’s an idea (laughing).
Mike Munter: That’s how it feels. That’s how it feels sometimes. Well, my last question and I think I know the answer, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Are you willing to be a mentor?
Randy Kirk: (laughing) My partner in mastermind is a coach. He holds people accountable. He doesn’t do any execution. He just says, “oh yeah, this is what you should do. Now go do it.” And when we talk next week, you should have done it. I hate holding people accountable and I love to execute.
My theory of life is slightly different than a coach, which is where mastermind comes in. Instead of me mentoring for 200 hours a month, I would rather have a person come into the mastermind environment and be mentored there.
Yes, sure, we can have offsite conversations where I’m mentoring. In fact, we even offer it, they get an hour a month free from either Craig, my partner, or myself when they are a mastermind member. The mentoring can take place as a sidebar to the mastermind, but mentoring somebody directly, it’s not in my personality.
Mike Munter: Well, the fact of the matter is you are mentoring a lot of people by just making videos like this, the ones that will appear on your channel and your website. So thanks a lot for your time today. It’s great to talk to you, as always.
Randy Kirk: I appreciate the opportunity to be on your program.
Below is Randy Kirk’s original Inspirery Interview from January 2014. It’s always fun to compare people have progressed over the years. Enjoy!
Above is Randy Kirk’s original image submitted along with his 2014 interview.
Randy Kirk opened his first business at the age of 7. His great grandmother had been supplying him with Christmas card and all occasion card samples to sell for 50¢ a box with half going to her. It was clear to him that he could do better by buying direct and also offering personalized cards.
From that moment on, there was never much doubt that Kirk would be an entrepreneur. Degrees in psychology and law from UCLA provided the credentials to open doors. While still in law school, Kirk was traveling the Western Region for an importer setting up territories and calling on potential buyers in 22 industries.
Too restless and filled with ideas to work for someone else, he struck out on his own at 27 and has not been employed since. After selling a medium sized manufacturing business in 2007, Kirk is enjoying working from home as a marketing consultant and writing his ninth and tenth books, due for publication in early 2014.
One of the most difficult problems facing Kirk these days is the restraints of consulting. While he is able to use the creative juices to make product recommendations, adapt packaging, open up new distribution channels, and find ways to communicate his client’s products and services, hardly a week goes by that some new idea distracts him from the immediate tasks in front of him.
What do you do?
While the title on my business card in marketing consultant, there is no way that anyone really understands what that really means. A better title would be part-time VP of marketing for very small businesses who can’t afford a full-time version.
Many (most? Almost all?) small businesses with less than 25 employees have nobody on staff that really understands how to market the business or the products and services offered by that business. The owners are commonly skilled at their craft, but not that gifted at spreading the word about the offerings at their business.
After owning 30 businesses in 50 different market segments, selling to mom-and-pops and the largest retailers in the world on virtually every continent, I ended up with a background in almost every type of marketing, from print to trade shows, product design to distribution channels, and from websites to email blasts.
As a result, whether my client is a manufacturer, lawyer, doctor, bike shop, bakery, or chimney sweep (all of which have been clients), I can draw on a vast repertoise of experience to help them attract business, improve delivery, and increase profits.
How long have you been doing it?
While I have been offering advice through books, articles, and speaking for over 35 years, the consulting business has been open for six years.
What inspired you to do this kind of work?
After writing and speaking about how to run a small business, I thought it would be fun to actually prove that my writing would work in practice.
How do you earn money? Feel free to be as detailed as you want.
I charge a flat fee per month (usually under $1000) for a basic set of services. Some services, such as website development, are extra.
Who is your target client/customer?
I have two verticals, lawyers and bikes shops. Other than that, I’m happy to help anyone from any field. My greatest actual experience is with manufacturing/importing.
What does a typical day look like?
Doing just what I’m doing now. Typing into a laptop. Research, analysis, creating content.
Do you have employees, contractors, or outsourced help? Tell us a bit about your company structure, however big or small.
I only use contracted help. Most is for content creation such as video editing, website development, and online listings.
Is there a trend in your industry that particularly excites you right now?
Google changes the game 6 times a year making me indispensible to any small business who wants to stay highly ranked.
Tell our community about one of the biggest business challenges you’ve faced and how you overcame it?
In 1993, my manufacturing business was hit with a major product problem that was costing us huge sums of money and lost reputation. I had never used an engineer. I put out an ad, then used the exact manufacturing problem I was facing as the test question for all applicants. I hired the one with the best solution. He fixed it, and the problem never came back.
Could you share a funny story or something quirky about your work?
I never wanted to have a boss again. That’s why I ran my own companies. Now, in my favorite company ever, I have 21 bosses.
What motivates you – being your own boss, making a lot of money, helping others, or some other reason?
It has always been about filling needs. I just see needs, and ideas come. Then I really enjoy helping others to success. That’s why I write and speak.
What frustrates you? How do you deal with it?
Bosses that don’t listen to what they pay me to tell them. Sometimes I fire them.
What makes you laugh?
25 year-old progressives who think they know more about what is good for me than I do, but who have no interest in the advice of years of education and experience that folks like me can provide them.
How do you maintain your/your employees’ morale when things are not going so great?
An over-the-top optimism. I earned an optimist of the decade award when I was a part of the Optimist International Organization.
Entrepreneurs tend to work a lot of hours on their ideas. How do you keep yourself balanced?
No time to think about being balanced. I raised 4 kids, active in church, write books, date my wife, take tons of vacations. Just prioritize the important things, I guess.
When you need guidance, where do you find it? Who do go to? Feel free to name more than one source.
Quality Christian friends. I am a member of Fellowship of Companies for Christ International. Also books, primarily with a Christian world view. Tons of online material, including webinars.
What was your greatest success in this business?
I was hired by a 99 year old company that had been in the same family for all those years. They were on the verge of extinction due to a big business mistake they had made. 5 years later their sales are higher than ever and the owner has money in the bank.
What do you hope others say behind your back?
Randy is a solid Christian man.
Are you willing to be a mentor to others who might want to reach out to you for guidance? If yes, how would you like to be contacted?
I do a small amount of mentoring. Through my email is fine.