Erin Smith – Host of the Entrepreneur Summit
Erin Smith – Host of the Entrepreneur Summit
Show Notes & Links:
- The Dallas Entrepreneur Summit – Tickets & Info – Use promo code “Guest”
- The Dallas Entrepreneur Summit on Twitter – Use hastag
- Erin Smith on Twitter
- The Starters Club
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley (amazon)
- Ann Handley on Twitter
- Joel Comm on Twitter
- Cheri Garcia on Twitter
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco on:
Scott Ellis: Welcome to the Frisco Podcast, I’m your host Scott Ellis and this week my guest is Erin Smith founder of the Starters Club and organizer of the Entrepreneur Summit. We’re going to have a great event happening right here in Frisco on March 24th, so be sure to go out and get your tickets. Listen in to see what Erin has to say about the conference and what you’re going to get out of it.
Thank you for being here Erin, welcome to the show.
Erin Smith: Thank you so much for having me, happy to be here.
Scott Ellis: Always good to have you, we are going to talk about two things today. One is your main business, the Starters Club. Which I definitely want to hear more about because I think it’s something that will be of interest to many people in Frisco who are business owners. Then we’re going to talk about the Entrepreneur Summit that’s coming up on the 24th. There are still tickets available, right?
Erin Smith: There are still tickets available.
Scott Ellis: Okay, it’s a killer lineup of speakers. If you haven’t gotten your tickets where can they go get them? Let’s just go ahead and tell them right now.
Erin Smith: EntrepreneurSummitDallas.com, if you use the term guest for your promo code you’ll get twenty percent off.
Scott Ellis: Oh look at that Frisco, already giving you a deal. All right, so let’s talk about the Starters Club a little bit and what you do there, and what that does for business owners.
Erin Smith: Yeah, so I have kind of a funny history of entrepreneurship. To start I grew up on a farm, so I worked all the time. Holidays, summer vacations meant more work, and when I graduated college and was offered a job I asked for thirty five thousand, they offered me forty two at Anderson Consulting at the time. I thought I was rich, I got holidays off, I had vacation, I never knew people would use vacation. I had no desire to ever be an entrepreneur because corporate America was just the best thing ever for me.
I ended up switching jobs about a year later, I got recruited by another consulting firm. It was right in the early 2000’s when the consulting thing started all falling apart. I luckily got out before the layoff happened because the whole office was shutting down, but I read a little book Called “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki and said, “Wow, I’ve been spending every dime I’m making.” I had a house, I had a car, and no savings. I knew that literally if I went to found a job I would have lost everything. I said, “I need to start owning, I need to learn this whole owning thing.” I went to school at night to learn real estate, sort of investing in real estate, started learning the stock market, investing in stocks. Then I met what I thought was the love of my life, bought a second home in Dallas, moved out here from Phoenix. He needed to work for the summer, long story short he’s working a PHD, and I love animals. I’m like, “Let’s start a pet sitting business, this kind of looks fun, we’ll just do it for the summer.”
Well, I found an in, and I found a different angle because I treat my animals like they were my kids. Even still with kids, my dogs are very spoiled and I wanted a very specific service to provide people. I wasn’t like everybody else, we charged a hire price but you got a higher service. I found this entrepreneur bug that I really didn’t find investing, I didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur, but I started hiring. I literally hired my first employee, came home and Googled, “How do I hire an employee,” I had no idea what to do. That was my journey, I built that up, I sold it, I started a second business and I sold that. What the Starters Club is, is it’s teaching people how to grow your own business no matter where you are. A lot of people feel like they need to do the next Instagram, or Facebook, and do this massive start up in order to have success.
My journey has been, you can truly make money doing anything. You don’t have to come up with a new idea, you just have to find an in and do something that already exists and make yourself stand out and be better. The opportunities are endless, and a lot of people just get stuck. I ran into so many people saying, “I have this idea, now what do I do with it?” I have online courses, I do a little bit of coaching, but really teach people how to go from an idea, and then how to create systems, leverage your content with your social media and your marketing, and then integrate that with your product and service and get momentum that way. My goal is once you’re finished with the Starters Club you’re a position that you’re making money, and you can start hiring, and you know how to make the right hiring decisions.
Scott Ellis: You would say that the Starters Club is for people that are at that juncture?
Erin Smith: That was my initial intent when I started the business, when I started the podcast. What I discovered was a lot of people get scared, and then when customers aren’t falling from the sky like they thought would happen, just because they have a really great product or service. They don’t have a good plan, they don’t know what to do next, they don’t know how to get their name out there, and that’s why they have some misexpectations. They thought they’d start this and make a million dollars in three months, that’s why eighty percent of businesses fail within the first eighteen months I believe is the statistic. I think it’s just a lot of not right expectations, and then not a right execution plan.
Scott Ellis: I’m curious about the process you went through in selling your businesses, I assume you didn’t build up like huge monstrous corporations right? These were what most people would consider a small business of some kind. How did you find a buyer, how did you go about figuring out how to price that, what did that look like? Not that most of our Frisco businesses are probably looking to sell anytime soon, but to somebody who hasn’t been through it that’s a little bit of a mysterious process I think.
Erin Smith: You want the person who buys your business to make their money back in a year and a half, typically is what you want to start with. What happened with the pet sitting business was I bought up a competitor. What I did was I was still kind of that entrepreneur that didn’t want to let my baby go, so when I bought that second business I hired somebody to take over that one. We kept them two separate businesses because they were two different services, I just want to have a pet sitting monopoly in the city I guess.
She started doing that and once I was able to trust her I let her take over the higher end one and let her take that over. It just became a position where we’re now divorced, but at the time we were supposed to move in another year. We were in this perfect position that she slowly moved her way in, and we were able to sell it. When I sold that business I wanted a win, win for her. I wanted my clients taken care of, I didn’t want to put her in massive debt for it, so we created a payment plan where we worked on a price and then she paid us over the course of four years for the business so it worked out really well for her.
It was perfect because clients knew her, it wasn’t like, “Huh, Erin and Michael are leaving, now what are we going to do? I don’t know to trust this person.” She really didn’t lose clients because it was just this easy transition. On the next business it was a mobile spray tanning business. I had at one point been in salons and pulled out, but that one was, I’m not going to lie, was kind of a lucky one. I had it for sale, I wasn’t actively pursuing it, just kind of maintaining it while I was working on the next thing. I had it ranked number one in Google, and this girl … This is a true story. She messaged me and said, “I really want to start a tanning business, you’ve done this for awhile, would you be willing to sit down and give me some hints?” I said, “I’ll do you one better, I’ll see you a business, I’m done.”
Sat down with her, and again I wanted the best for her, I wanted my clients taken care of, I wanted to make money off of what I build. We just came upon agreed upon price, and she’s happy as can be with it.
Scott Ellis: Oh that’s good to hear, okay that’s an interesting maybe little side bar, but still a good story to hear.
Erin Smith: Yeah.
Scott Ellis: Let’s talk a little bit now about The Summit, about who the speakers are, when this is happening, just give us the whole brain dump on what’s happening. For everybody that’s out there listening we’re excited because this is happening in Frisco. We don’t get a lot of events like this, I can’t remember any quite like this that have happened her in Frisco. They’re usually down in Dallas somewhere downtown, but this is at the Embassy Suites Convention Center. Just a really fantastic lineup, so fill us in.
Erin Smith: Yeah, so I’ve had success and part of that success has been going to events all over the nation really, and meeting, networking, and just learning. It’s really, really important to me. I have been an entrepreneur here for awhile and I love Dallas, there’s no badmouthing. I speak here, I have nothing against the speakers here, but when you’re in Dallas it’s a lot of the same speakers. You know, okay if I don’t make it to that event I’m going to be able to find him somewhere next month too. I really got sick of flying everywhere, but then saying, “Okay I don’t even want to drive thirty minutes to go to this event but I’m willing to jump on a plane to San Francisco and go here.” I just saw this opportunity where Dallas, Frisco, this whole area could not ask for a better economy, you could not ask for a better place for an entrepreneur.
We’re this great place, we’re building these amazing businesses, but we don’t have events that put us on the map, we don’t have events that people are willing to travel here for. Instead of waiting for somebody to do it I said, “All right, I want to plan an event.” I always take something on that scares the Bajesus out of me, ready to throw up a couple times thinking about this so that meant I had to take it on. It’s mimicked off three years ago entrepreneur, and they still do these events. They had an event here, it’s all about growth, and topics that relate to growth. No matter what your business is we all need to grow, we all need to hire, we all need to market ourselves better, we all need to build a company culture whether you’re a company of one, or one hundred, or a million. You’ve got to start figuring that out.
That event, at the time I was an entrepreneur for eight years, just changed my direction of entrepreneurship. I want to be able to provide that too. The day is all focused on business growth, and it was important to me to bring in people that you don’t see everyday, that you’re not going to see in Dallas in two weeks that you’re going to learn from and it’s not a sales day where we’re going to sell you products from the stage, it’s not a day of fluff, it’s a day of I want inspiration, I want you meeting some really incredible people who are also working on building their business, and I want you with takeaways.
Joel Comm, he’s our opening. If you don’t know who he is he’s really big on social media right now, but he sold his second business to Yahoo Games. That’s where he started twenty years ago. I think he’s got the sixteenth hundred website ever built was one of his, and he’s just got a vast background in marketing, in business building. He’s got a great entrepreneurship background. Anne Handley, I’m so excited about. If there’s one business book you ever should read ever is, “Everybody Writes,” by her, and it’s changed the way I write because you all have to tell a story. That’s what business but marketing is, you have to be able to share your story. It’s writing well, but also spinning yourself. I actually gave an example, a lot of times you’ll go through mission statements of companies and you can read ten mission statements, and you have no idea what the difference is between any of those companies because they all sound exactly the same.
It’s how do you share your story to stand out from the rest.
Scott Ellis: What was the name of that book again?
Erin Smith: Everybody Writes.
Scott Ellis: Everybody Writes, all right we’re going to link that up in the show notes.
Erin Smith: By Anne Handley.
Scott Ellis: Yeah, Anne is absolutely fantastic. When it comes to content in terms of content that you’re using to market yourself, market your business, she is hands down one of the best out there. I’m super excited that you got her to come.
Erin Smith: She’s just going to be great. To be honest with you I didn’t know a ton about her until I started researching and found her. I read the book I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is the best thing.” I was so excited. I knew of her, but didn’t study her a lot. Now I definitely, I want to learn so much more from her. Then throughout the day we have a couple panels, one on video. If you are not utilizing video in 2016 in your business you are missing out a massive opportunity.
Scott Ellis: Yeah.
Erin Smith: It’s not just a high produced YouTube video, there’s so many ways to utilize with live streaming and all of that. Another panel on hiring, and then we’re talking company culture. Charles Horton, if you don’t know who he is, he is a massively successful entrepreneur here in Dallas. This close to getting billionaire status, that was his goal by the time he hit fifty. He’s got one year and he’s just built a company to get him there. He’s got a great background, he’s launching his book that day, and we’re going to talk lean startup. I think this is another important topic because a lot of people feel lean startup is strictly for tech, but it’s all about really being in constant contact with your customers so knowing whatever your product or service is, you’re building the right one. Sherry Garcia, Sherry works PR for Mark Cuban, she’s got a vast background in PR. She’s invented a product, and then she also has a app that she just got a ton of funding for. She’s just got a very vast background in entrepreneurship too.
Scott Ellis: Wow exciting, so we’ve got some very good speakers. Again, the focus of the conference is on growth for your business. That’s something we can all use, so that should be fantastic. Again it’s EntrepreneurSummitDallas.com, use the code guest and you’ll get twenty percent off the price of your ticket. I don’t even think I knew that when we bought our ticket, I can’t even remember because as soon as I found out and I saw the lineup I went and bought tickets. I was like, “I’m not even waiting.”
Erin Smith: That’s awesome. It was so important for me to bring in different people because I want you to learn. I don’t like fluff conferences, so it was really important to me to put something together that people could walk away from.
Scott Ellis: Yeah, I’m in the same boat. I love going to conferences largely because I like the in person networking and the chance to meet people. A lot of times it’s people I’ve been connected with online for a long time but never had the chance to meet in person. I think you and I only actually met in person, even though we both live in Frisco [crosstalk 00:12:52], fairly recently but we’ve been connected online for awhile. I’ve been connected to Anne forever, I don’t think I’ve ever met her in person so this will be fun. I like events for that reason, but when you go to something that is really high quality and you get a lot out of it just makes it that much better, especially when it’s not a pitch fest.
I went to an event awhile back and the person who put this together will remain nameless. It was an event I was very excited for, it sounded very promising, it was somebody I actually had a lot of respect for. We drove down to Austin for this event, this was a few years ago. The whole thing was just speaker after speaker, pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, sell, sell, sell, sell. I think after the first morning session we just left. I was like, “This doesn’t even interest me, I’m getting nothing out of this.” This is not what is going to be happening at this conference at all. Don’t get me wrong, if somebody’s got a book and they’re promoting it and talking about it that’s fine.
Erin Smith: Exactly.
Scott Ellis: I want to know about those things because like Anne’s book I have not read, I’m going to read it before the conference which doesn’t give me much time.
Erin Smith: Right, it’s an easy read though. You’ve got to read it, it’s so good.
Scott Ellis: Yeah, it definitely sounds like it will be worth while and it will cue you up for getting that much more of what Anne is going to say when she takes the stage. I’m really, really grateful to you for putting this together.
Erin Smith: Thank you.
Scott Ellis: I know events are a ton of work, thank you for doing that. Is there anything else we should know? Anything else to prepare for going into the conference? Is it lunch, or is that separate? Is there a happy hour?
Erin Smith: Lunch is separate, there is going to be a happy hour, working on the final details but there should be happy hour. I think too, there’s one thing that’s really important to me in this one too. I know a lot of people are introverts, I can be the biggest introvert in the world, I don’t like walking into a cold room. It’s not going to be a conference where you learn, and then you step outside and have to go meet people that you want. I went to a lot of conferences in 2014 and really pulled away what I loved from them, but one of the things I want to do is there’s two different times throughout the day where we talk about a specific topic and then the networking is going to be happening within the room talking about a specific copy.
Video, okay now we’re going to take a break, I want you to meet five people you don’t know and talk about video, how you’re going to incorporate video into your business so it’s not awkward, I don’t know these people, let me try to fit into a conversation. Those have been the best conferences I’ve ever gone to when you’re forced to talk to people, and you walk out of there with relationships because that’s where it’s at too with the business. To be in the room with people who have paid money to build their business, you know you’re in a higher scale level of a room.
Scott Ellis: This really is an investment in taking that next step, which follows right in line with what you do with the Starters Club. Thank you again for putting this together, and thank you very much for coming on the Frisco podcast to talk about it.
Erin Smith: Thank you for having me I appreciate it.
Scott Ellis: All right guys the event is coming up on March 24th, that does not give you much time so get out to get your tickets, again that is EntrepreneurSummitDallas.com, use the cold guest, get twenty percent off. It’s going to be a good sized crowd, but it’s not going to be an overwhelming sized crowd. This will be a nice intimate event, great speakers, get your tickets, we look forward to seeing you there. Until than we’ll see you, I guess next week on the Frisco podcast.