In July of 2013, my business, JDB Business Solutions at that time, was a little over a year old. By the average new business standards I had a very successful first year, making more than I had in the CPA firm I worked at previously. But a large portion of that money came from working as an independent contractor taking over an older tax preparers client base. It was an awesome advantage to have that sure money to rely on the first year, but I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to continue doing for more than another year.
On the night of July 10th, I was laying in bed at around Midnight, looking at my wife who was pregnant with twins at the time, and wondering how in the world I was going to make this all work. I was confident in my ability to do taxes. I was passionate about helping entrepreneurs get their finances in order and minimize their tax liability. What I wasn’t confident in was my ability to find clients. I had a nice website and some business cards and no clue how to get either of them in front of an audience.
The Email That Changed Everything
About a month before this, I had discovered a fairly new podcast called Entrepreneur on Fire, where the host, John Lee Dumas, interviewed a new entrepreneur every day of the week. I instantly fell in love with the show and picked up some great tips I used in my own business. And as I laid there listening to another episode that night, I had an idea. What if I could be a guest on Entrepreneur on Fire? His audience was my target audience and if they heard me talk about my tax business specifically targeted to them surely I would be flooded with people wanting to pay me to prepare their taxes!
So before I could talk myself out of it, I fired off the following email to John Dumas:
LOVE EO Fire. Listen to it every day.
If you are still looking for guests I would love to be on the show sometime. I am 29 years old and CPA and I started my own tax and small business consulting practice last year and have had a lot of success in that year, immediately making more money than I made in an entire year working in a CPA firm.
I also think I could give a lot of good advice to your audience as my practice specializes in new and aspiring entrepreneurs, so I see a ton of people in their shoes every year.
If you think it would be a fit let me know and we will set something up. Thanks for the inspiration you provide every day!
While I was hopeful of hearing back, deep down I figured he probably got hundreds of emails a day and mine would likely be lost in the shuffle. So I shut off the laptop and tried to put the fears of the future away long enough to get some sleep.
Not even an hour later, still unable to sleep, I picked up my phone and checked my mail. This is a terrible habit of mine. I check email at least six or seven times throughout the night, every night. I’m guessing it’s a problem for a lot of entrepreneurs. But this particular time something exciting showed up; a response from Mr. John Lee Dumas. I tried not to get my hopes up too high thinking it had to be an automated response. To my surprise, it was from John himself. And what he said completely blew me away.
John explained to me that Entrepreneur on Fire already had plenty of guests lined up for the show and that they were booking out almost three months in advance. He may have me on eventually, but it wasn’t needed at the moment. But then he said the part that almost made me fall out of bed. While he didn’t need guests for his show, what he did need was a CPA. His business had just recently began earning serious income and while he had talked to a few other CPA’s, they were all much older and had no clue what a podcast even was. He was looking for someone younger, an entrepreneur, someone whose business could grow with his. If that was me, he said, he would love to set up a chat to discuss.
If that was me?!? Ha! That was me to a T. So I woke my wife up so excitedly I probably nearly put her into preterm labor and explained that everything was about to change in my business. That turned out to be an understatement.
The Power of Reaching Out
Needless to say, I accepted Johns invitation to chat, ironed out the details on a working relationship with him, and here we are almost a year and a half later and I’m more involved with EO Fire than ever. John has become a friend, a mentor and someone who drives a hell of a lot of potential business my way. And his life and business partner, Kate Erickson, has become just as much of a friend and mentor. Seriously, I have no clue where my business would be without the two of them. I even rebranded my entire business as “CPA on Fire” to even closer link my connection to them!
Now one of my most frequently asked questions is how I ever hooked up with John and Entrepreneur of Fire. I used to tell people it was just a lucky break and I was fortunate. And while that is certainly true to a point, I’ve realized I’m doing people a disservice by saying that. By attributing it completely to luck, I’m minimizing other peoples chances of doing something similar. So instead, I’d like to offer two reasons that I think helped me not only secure this relationship, but also make it so profitable for both of us.
1. I took the first step and reached out- This part may seem simple, but how many of us actually reach out to people we might consider “famous” or above our current level? Sure, most of those types of people you reach out to will never respond. You don’t need them to. All you need is one for it to change your life. The more you reach out the better chance you find that one.
2. I never charged him a dime- In the entire time I’ve been working with John and Kate, I’ve never charged them a dime for my services. My friends and family thought I was absolutely crazy for this. Truth be told, for the first few months I thought I was crazy. But now? I’ve gotten at least twenty times the value back that I could have ever charged them for my services. And not only do I give them my services for free, I make sure I do a damn good job at anything I do for them. I’ve saved them tens of thousands of dollars in taxes over the year and a half we have worked together. As a result, they have faith in recommending me to their audience.
So if you are where I was on July 10th, 2013, laying in bed wondering how your business is going to make it, my suggestion is to reach out to anyone and everyone who could not only help you, but that you could help first. You never know when it might pay off big time.