Episode 8 – Alex McClafferty – Selling his Company to GoDaddy

August 01, 2019

This week, I sat down for a chat with Alex McClafferty, the co-founder of WP Curve, a subscription-based productized service that helps WordPress site owners to fix and improve their sites with unlimited 30 minute tasks, all for one low monthly fee.

In 2016, GoDaddy acquired WP Curve and Alex joined GoDaddy to help them integrate the WP Curve service into their range of service offerings. He’s since left the company and now works as a full time coach with other founders, and is about to launch his Consultant to CEO program.

Sites and Resources Mentioned:

Transcript

Kevin Graham: Hey guys, Kevin Graham here and today on the podcast I have Alex McClafferty with me. Alex is a CEO coach who works with people building businesses around productized services. He was formally the co-founder of WP Curve and now blogs over at productize.co. But to tell you a bit more about him and what he's done in the past and what he's up to now, please welcome Alex McClafferty.
Alex McClafferty: Hey, what's up man? How are you doing?
Kevin Graham: Good. It's always good when I can have another fellow Australian on the podcast.
Alex McClafferty: Well, where I'm at in the US I probably get asked where I'm from maybe three or four times a day. I'll tell them that I'm originally from near Sydney and then I'll get some random questions about kangaroos or my favorite beach. It's good to reconnect to the motherland. It's nice.
Kevin Graham: Right. So now that we've had that little diversion, the listeners who might not know about you and what you've done in the past and now, can you give us a brief rundown on who you are and your background story?
Alex McClafferty: Sure. I co-founded a company called WP Curve in 2013 and we did 24/7 WordPress support. It was one of the early popular products to our service businesses. In 2016, I worked on the acquisition of the company across to GoDaddy. So that was a five month process. And then I took the company across there, scaled that out for a couple of years. And these days I help other founders do similar things, which is either scale their company, sell their company, build a productized service, or just navigate the ins and outs of the daily woes that can be entrepreneurship.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And on that timeline from being founded in 2013 to completing an acquisition in 2016, that's a very short timeline for a company.
Alex McClafferty: It felt like a lifetime. But as I look back on it, it was like a blink. It was really just like a wrinkle in time. So when you're in it, every day feels, you know, when the days are long and sometimes tough, it feels like it's never going to end, and now I look back on it and I was like, “Wow, that was only three and a half years from starting from absolutely just about nothing to having a really significant financial outcome and getting to go across to a listed company.”
Kevin Graham: Yeah, and I mean, especially when a lot of the other entrepreneurs I've spoken with previously on the show, like some of the ones who've done physical products or been on Shark Tank Australia, et cetera. They've had long periods of five or seven years of just, from coming up with the idea through getting all the patents and trademarks and beginning the process of working with factories in China and all of that. So to be started and finished in three and a half years is quite an interesting and short little journey there.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, and I'll tell you none of it was, I guess, conscious, as in when I look back at all of the different things that were happening around the business, I can really quickly identify what was going on, and hindsight is definitely 20/20. Probably one of the biggest influencing factors for us was that we were riding the wave of WordPress, and WordPress at the time that we started was powering about, I don't know, 19 or 20% of the internet, and I think today at powers probably like 32 or 33%.
Alex McClafferty: And so, that market had a huge inflection point as far as the compound annual growth rate. And when you get into a market like that, whether it's Amazon or WordPress or something else, sometimes the growth takes care of itself. And I think in a lot of ways that business continued to grow in spite of some of the things that we were doing.
Alex McClafferty: So, with that comes some humility, because I'd love to say that I'm such a brilliant person or we were such a brilliant team and we had it all figured out, but we were basically building on top of this base that was just growing around us and doing a lot of the work for us.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. I think the stats now are even like 35-ish percent of the web that's powered by WordPress.
Alex McClafferty: And you couple that with the fact that it's pretty old technology, people are running different legacy versions. There's built-in like conflicts and issues that people are going to have because of the ecosystem and the scale of it and, you know, the different moving parts of it. It just lends itself to supporting the service that we provided.
Alex McClafferty: So that was a huge opportunity, but again, consciously, I'm not sure that we were like, “Okay, we've got all of these different pieces that we're going to like put together and therefore we'll have this opportunity.” It was more like, “This solves a problem for people and let's go ahead and execute and get it in front of as many people as we can and do a really good job and kind of see what happens.”
Kevin Graham: The other interesting part of that whole product, at least the way I see it, is that it sits halfway between the level of support that most web hosts will provide you, which is hey, some basic sort of troubleshooting to resolve a problem of saying, “It's this thing that's causing your site not to load and disable that theme,” or whatever, and a full-blown like development agency which would come on board and create an entire site for you.
Kevin Graham: Whereas, you guys were somewhere in this middle ground there for people that were mostly DIY who would, you know, go to ThemeForest and buy a theme, and buy or download a few plugins for their site and all of that, but then have some integration issues. So to slot yourself perfectly in that like in-between zone was pretty genius, as well.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, and we did in the early days, in the first probably couple of weeks, we're trying to figure out exactly where our market positioning was. And so, the way that I would explain it to people would be that like an agency probably wouldn't care too much about fixed, like doing onesy-twosy fixes on your website, because they're really interested in big projects.
Alex McClafferty: If you'd ever gone to a freelancing marketplace like e-Lancer, Odesk or Upwork or something like that, the quality and the experience would be a bit haphazard. Say you might find someone awesome or you site might get taken hostage and not have anything done on it for like five to seven days, or will come back even worse than when it started. Or you could go and do it yourself, and that would take you hours to figure out like, “What's the thing that I'm trying to fix? I have to like land some PHP or some HTML, some CSS to fix it. I'm fixing and I don't really have the time or the interest in doing that.
Alex McClafferty: And so, personally, I was of the third camp where like I would use WordPress. I wasn't at all technical, but I was like, you know, good enough to be dangerous and fix some things. And in the early days, one of my quick and dirty validation exercises was, “Do I think there are like a thousand people out there who are just like me who could probably figure it out but just get frustrated and want to move forward without having to jump through 50 hoops to make this site work?”
Alex McClafferty: And that was what got me engaged in the first place, which was knowing that there were probably that many people out there that were like me, and that was a very conservative estimate, and then it was a matter of just being able to get in front of them and marketing to that audience.
Kevin Graham: Let's take a couple steps back and can you tell me about how you got started in your entrepreneurial journey?
Alex McClafferty: Mine actually started when I was like 16, 15 or 16. I was interested in entrepreneurship, I was interested in business, and I ended up doing like a T-shirt printing thing where I like came up with some random brand and then did some blogging and would like shoot videos of my friends and I goofing off and, you know, we would go surfing or party or whatever dumb stuff we were doing, and then we would just like document it and post it.
Alex McClafferty: And so, I did a run of T-shirts and ended up selling out all of the T-shirts and basically like embezzling the profits and drinking all of the profits. and I think this was like 16, 17, which is pretty commonplace in Australia. But, over time, I was just about like educating myself, so I think I got hooked on entrepreneurial books and entrepreneurial people and like love the idea of having, I don't know, being able to kind of choose my destiny and have my own lifestyle and not have to sit in a cubicle nine-to-five, which I did throughout the course of my career.
Alex McClafferty: But it was like instead of, I don't know ... Not instead of, but probably like along the lines of going towards something which was I was either educating myself more, doing something on the side or you know, working on an idea in the background. So that was the jump-off point, really back in the day, printing out tee shirts and goofing off with friends.
Kevin Graham: And I guess when you said that you went and drank your profits, that was probably just marketing expense for the next run of T-shirts, right? You needed more videos.
Alex McClafferty: Well, yeah, again, like hindsight is 20/20. I had lots of people that were interested in what I was doing, but I was pretty shortsighted and was like, “Awesome, what a success, now I'm going to celebrate,” and then I needed to like go and work and go and get like ... I think I was working in a factory or something at the time so wasn't making great financial decisions at that point in my life, but you know, you only have to make those mistakes once.
Kevin Graham: Yeah, we've mentioned at the top of the show that you're a coach for people that are running productized service businesses, can you explain that business model a bit more to our audience?
Alex McClafferty: Sure. So the products, our service model to me, and these are some of the, I guess some of the elements that I look for, it's nice that it would have a recurring base, so it's good if you can get a service that is subscription. That's where, I think, the leverage comes into the product, so look for a problem that is recurring.
Alex McClafferty: It needs to be something that excites you, so it's not like some boring thing that you're not interested in. It needs to be something that scales. So, like something like WordPress has a big market and a big marketplace that you can support, and needs to have ... Whatever problem you're solving with your product or service, it also needs to have a cost, whether it's hard or soft. So by hard cost, I mean, “If I don't get this fixed, it's going to cost me actual money,” or soft cost is, “I'm really frustrated and I want to throw my computer out the window,” which is what WP Curve solved for.
Alex McClafferty: It also needs to solve an urgent problem. So there's like some productized services out there that will be good at what they do but don't actually get to a pain point. And so, those couple elements, I think, feed into what a productized service can be. And to put it really simply, you take a sliver or a kind of narrow service offering, and then you can wrap either like a really good marketing approach on the front end of it and deliver it at scale through a team. Or, you could also just do it yourself and just be very good and very specialized in what you do and run your business individually as a production line.
Alex McClafferty: And so, I'm not like dogmatic about the specifics of what is or is not a productized service. It's going to be different for everyone, but those are some of the themes, and some of the patterns that I've seen with productized services that can scale and can, I would say, like support the entrepreneur.
Alex McClafferty: And it's also like a really cool business model cause it's a hybrid between like a consulting and a SAS model, where consulting, you know, you can make a bunch of money really quickly. SAS you can make recurring revenue, but it usually takes you a long time. And so, this sits in the sweet spot and gives you the best of both worlds, which is revenue income. You're building an asset that has some saleable value and get to have your cake and eat it, too.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. For a lot of those businesses they can be started with a very small amount of capital. If I recall correctly, your co-founder, Dan, spoke about like WP Curve being started with maybe 100 bucks or 500 bucks, or something like that.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, it was ghetto, we had in the very early days, it was like the ugliest website you've ever seen with the PayPal button on it, and then it was Dan and the first developer, Andrew, kind of hacking away, I think, for the first 10 customers. And that was the fist, like I want to say couple of weeks of the business. That was basically validating that there was a need which was, don't need to get carried away with a fancy website, don't need to make any significant investments in product or marketing. “Let's just see if this solves a problem and kind of go from there.”
Kevin Graham: Yeah. So that was obviously like early 2013. In that three, three-and-a-half-year journey where you were on board between basically the initial founding and the point of sale to GoDaddy, where do you think the point was that it started to get some initial traction and what would you attribute the success of that to?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, it's a bit of a fuzzy point. So, like where I thought we'd actually started to make it was I ended up going onto ... I was living in the US and we had a client that was a news anchor and works for Fox News, and he invited me out on to the studio in New York to talk about WP Curve. And I was just like, “what is happening? Like why, why is this guy trolling me to begin with? Like, is this actually legit? And then, like why is this interesting? Like, what's so interesting about it?”
Alex McClafferty: But again, I couldn't say it at the time, but the model, the opportunity and the scale, it was like something that was kind of boring as far as the problem that we sold, but it was interesting because of the story and how we did what we did, which was run a remote team and be really good at turning things around quickly. And we were like super diligent about educating our audience.
Alex McClafferty: And those are all things that I think immediately you can't see that you're helping a bunch of people, but then over time, that brand recognition within the space of WordPress and also within the, I guess, the online community of folks that are entrepreneurial, you go into like Facebook forums and those kinds of things and people would be proactively recommending our service whether they are a customer or not.
Alex McClafferty: And so, those couple, I think, elements that were popping up for us, to me, like seeing like we were starting to get some traction and that was a sign of momentum. But yeah, getting to sit in the Fox studio was where I was like, “Okay, this is legit. Like, we actually have a business here, we have something.” And that created instant trust and when someone would land on our homepage, they'd be like, “Oh, okay. These guys, the real deal, like they've got media coverage, they've got a solid business, they've got a bunch of customers. I'll trust them and I'll pay them.”
Kevin Graham: Just as a side note, do you still have a copy of the video of when you were on Fox?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah. If you go to wpcurve.com/fox, the hyperlink still works to that video and you'll see ... It's like a six-minute clip, and for the first three or so minutes I'm just like super nervous. I'm answering the questions, but just kinda trailing off and not really making ... I'm making a little bit of sense but I was freaking out because again, like real-time, I'm trying to process all of this stuff in my head and be present at the same time, which is a bit of a challenge.
Kevin Graham: Cool. I'll drop a link to that in the show notes, as well. If any of the listeners want to go and watch your deer-in-the-headlights sort of moment there on Fox.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, I was fumbling around with my six minutes of fame.
Kevin Graham: Continuing on with that sort of theme a little bit, can you tell me about an unexpected crisis that happened in the business and how you handled it?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, we had like a bunch of these. One that jumps out to me, and it was something that I was always worried about, in the type of work that we did was ... Because we had such a high volume of sites and we were making so many changes, I had a fear that we were going to blow up a client's site and they would sue us. That was like a real fear for me, because it was as simple as a couple of like wrong mass clicks and next thing you know someone's site's offline.
Alex McClafferty: And I remember I was like shopping for ... I was like shopping for clothes or something. I was down in Market Street in San Francisco, and I get this message from my team leader and find out that one of the client's sites had gone down. It was our fault, like one of our developers broke something and the client was in the middle of a launch and they were spending like tens of thousands of dollars a day on paid acquisition and it was like hitting dead pages and dead links, and it was just a mess.
Alex McClafferty: Managing through that was a fire drill, which was like, “Get the developer, get them online as quickly as possible,” kind of clear the deck and simultaneously like manage the client's expectations and let them know that we're like, you know, doing everything we can to get them back online. But the bigger, I think, the bigger learning from that was having, I don't know, like a stop gap or a fallback, which was having insurance in place should that happen again.
Alex McClafferty: And so, this is where I quickly learned about errors and omissions insurance and having really good terms and conditions, and making sure that your customer actually signs on for terms and conditions, which seems very obvious, but in the early days we had other problems. We wanted to bring in customers, we wanted to build the team, we wanted kind of build the brand and do all these different things, so that wasn't a priority, and then it immediately became a priority.
Alex McClafferty: And ultimately, we solved the customer's problem and got them back online and everything was okay and they didn't sue us, but those types of things that pop up, I like to think that, yeah, only make those mistakes once and then you learn from them and move forward. And that was definitely one, because I remember ... I wasn't having like a heart attack or anything, but I was definitely getting pretty anxious, while I was like cruising around trying to find a T-shirt or a jacket or something, whatever I was looking for.
Kevin Graham: So were there any other sort of big lessons like that? Such as getting the clients to sign up for terms and conditions and having your errors and omissions insurance? Is there any other sort of common tips you could share with the audience?
Alex McClafferty: The other thing that is more of a theme rather than an immediate, I don't know, issue or something that blew up, was that sometimes when you are in the mix and you've got some momentum and you've got some traction, it's kind of hard to see, and especially if you're in what I would call like a not interesting space.
Alex McClafferty: So WordPress support is not super interesting, like it's a necessary problem to solve, but it's not something that people like get super hyped up about and like, “Wow, I'm so excited about WordPress support. Like, this just like sets me on fire.” What happened for us is that we had a really solid business, we had a really solid opportunity, but at the same time we were distracted and going off and starting a bunch of different stuff. And I see it happen a lot with people that are probably like a year to two years into their business and they're over the exciting hump of starting something and getting some initial traction and, you know, signing up some customers and then they're looking to entertain themselves.
Alex McClafferty: And there's a distinction that I like to make, which is like your business is there to be a business rather than entertainment, and so if you're looking for entertainment through your business, you're going to have a hard time and you're probably going to distract yourself or you know, waste your time because you're looking for other ways to keep yourself engaged.
Alex McClafferty: And so you can do that outside of your business, so you can get creative with your marketing or you can get creative with something else, but this diluted focus that pops up, I see it time and time again in folks that are a couple of years in; and they're like, “Yeah, it's like this thing that we've got is kind of working, but I'm just going to kind of go and do this thing over here, and then I'm going to go do that thing over there.”
Alex McClafferty: We were doing that a lot in the first, I would say like 18 months and it was fun and we had a good time and we launched a bunch of stuff and learned a bunch of stuff, but if I was to do it again, I would be like ruthlessly focused on scaling and looking for other ways to, you know, satiate the part of me that wants variety and wants something interesting to tinker with.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And just on that, this podcast is me just having that sort of side hobby of something interesting to play around with and have some fun with outside of the business, because, yeah, I've sort of recognized that same thing of needing to just go all-in and focus on the business, whether it's in a boring industry or not, just to make sure that that hits the ultimate level of success that it can,
Alex McClafferty: And that's a discipline. It's absolutely a discipline to identify that and to put measures in place to address that, versus going off and like doing a bunch of half-cooked stuff and you know, air quotes, “seeing how it goes,” because I think the folks that I see that become really successful in a short amount of time are good at focusing; and when they're working on something, they're working on it all-in, and then they're working on something else and they're working on that all-in and not like kind of half-assing a bunch of different things, and then like hoping one of them comes off.
Alex McClafferty: They're making commitments to, you know, grow and build and everything else. And the same thing applies to an individual. This is the pattern I also see, which is people just like consuming a bunch of different books and content and, you know, like basically drinking from the fire hose of all of this personal development stuff, but never stopping to let any of it sink in. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but these are patterns that I see a lot in people that somehow find their way to me and need help with something where they're trying really, really hard, but there's no plan and there's no focus and they're not really clear on what it is that they're building or what they want to build, the business that they're in.
Kevin Graham: So going back to the WP Curve story now, one of the things that we haven't covered on this show yet is the process of going through an acquisition and being acquired by another company. Can you explain a little bit about what that process was like during the negotiations and then after the acquisition, as well?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah. I can give some shortcuts for people that might, I guess, get to this place, which was my co-founder and I had agreed upon what we thought was a fair multiple for the business. If a buyer was to come along, and was to hit that multiple, then it was a no-brainer as far as the sale was concerned. And so we figured that out probably, I don't know, two years into the business. I recommend people get there much earlier than we did.
Alex McClafferty: So just kind of start with the end in mind and understand what multiple you'd be happy to sell for and then just keep growing the business, look for that exit if that's something you're interested in. But the way that the acquisition kind of shook out was that GoDaddy, they had a strategic gap and I wanted to fill that gap with a service that was in the space of what we were doing.
Alex McClafferty: And so, we were on their radar and they were looking at a bunch of different providers in the space, folks that have been around for longer or had more of like a footprint in the WordPress community, or maybe we're running kind of similar businesses to what we were running with some other elements maybe that were part of an agency, or something like that.
Alex McClafferty: And so, GoDaddy got in touch and they asked us, “Hey, are you guys interested in like looking at a partnership?” And that was, of course, interesting because they've got a whole bunch of customers. My only concern was that we ... I'd kind of lined up a partnership with WP Engine and we were getting a bunch of referrals from those guys, just straight from their support desk. So I wanted to be careful about that and make sure that there wasn't any kind of conflict between those two providers and figure out a way to make sure that we could make both of them fit and both of them work.
Alex McClafferty: And as we got into the conversations with GoDaddy, it turned out that, you know, it would make more sense for us to just join their team and to scale what we were doing within their company, then, you know, pick up a bunch of their customers and support them. And part of that was scale because GoDaddy at the time ... I think now that I have maybe 18 million customers when we were talking to them, I think they had like 16 million or something and that's like overall customers, is a smaller segment of that, which is WordPress users and WordPress hosting clients, but there was a huge market and it was basically like their existing ecosystems of customers that we could attach into and sell to.
Alex McClafferty: And so, as we went through the negotiation, a couple of things became pretty clear. One was that I needed to come over to help, you know, steward the transition because I had the entire team kind of rolled up into me, and by entire team I mean the operational team rolled up into me between the two team leaders and then the development team; and then needed someone that had experience with, I want to say like working in bigger companies and navigating the org chart and all of the stuff that you need to do when you're operating in a company of that scale, and I had experience with that.
Alex McClafferty: So there were basically two negotiations that were going on. One was to get us to terms on the multiple for the business. And then the second was that I needed to feel that I was getting good value for what I would bring to the table, because at the time I was pulling a six-figure salary from WP Curse, I was pulling a six-figure salary from a consulting business that I was involved in, and if I was going to go back to a day job, then it needed to be a pretty healthy offer and I needed to kind of get trued up as far as my income was concerned.
Alex McClafferty: And so some of those conversations took a little while to land, but ultimately the thing that really helped get the deal done was I was super active throughout the process, figuring out how to take what we had, what it would look like plugged into GoDaddy and then work ... start to work really, really closely with the team, the existing GoDaddy team who are awesome, and get the business landed. So it was a five-month process, it was really intense and exhausting, but I learned a lot from it and I learned just as much in that five months as I had, you know, the previous couple of years working on WP Curve.
Kevin Graham: And I guess for a lot of people when they think about selling their business, they're thinking about this concept of, “Okay, I've sold it to you,” and then walk away. So for you to then have to go and work for a period of time at GoDaddy, that's obviously not something that everyone would be willing to do. So what was that whole thought process like for you?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, there was a couple of things that were playing through my head. One was that I wanted it to be successful, so I didn't want to just sell it and then, you know, drop the team into a big company and just kind of wander off, because like we were really only just getting started. The scow that we are at and the opportunity we were looking at within GoDaddy was huge and it was a different problem set, which was like, “How do we take the business that we've got and scale up by 10x or more? Like, what does that look like?”
Alex McClafferty: And so that, to me, was a challenge, but I was also afraid of failure. I didn't want the thing to get sold and then for it to get wound up within six months because that's what happens with a lot of acquisitions. If you actually track the companies, there'd been some really, really great companies that get acquired and then you know, six to 12 months later, they just sunset the product and the team kind of folds and disappears and goes on to the next thing.
Alex McClafferty: So we wanted to make sure that was successful. That was a huge motivator for me. We'd built a really, really good team culture and that was something that kind of helped us navigate the ups and downs of the experience, but I had a lot of personal pride and a lot of personal ownership of the success of the business and it was something that I kind of needed to prove to myself and to others that I could do.
Alex McClafferty: And so I had to step up and kind of level up as far as being an entrepreneur and taking ownership of everything that was happening. And again, it was like a huge learning curve, but now I get to help people do that. So I've helped a couple of my coaching clients through their own acquisitions and I'm pretty good at spotting, you know, what the risks are and what is going to happen down the line and get them to a place where they get like really good terms or they're comfortable with the outcome and put them in the driver's seat of the process, rather than feeling like a passenger and just kind of getting dragged along through it.
Kevin Graham: Right. And I guess, as well, because these are life-changing sort of transactions, both, you know for the entrepreneur who's selling the business, as well as in a way for the customer base who are getting sold to a new company, it's like a very important transaction to get right.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, that's typically the biggest financial transaction in someone's life, besides buying a house. So it's important that you get it right, and because emotions are running so high, like impede your judgment. As a coach, I like to get in there and kind of level things out and help the entrepreneur make good decisions and make balanced decisions, rather than letting the, I don't know, the anxiety or the stress, the fatigue, like break them down, because that's what can happen.
Alex McClafferty: You get in and you work with a team that's very good at what they do. And by team I mean like the other side of the transaction, which is typically like corporate development; or if you getting acquired by a smaller company, maybe another entrepreneur or a founder who might have run the process a couple other times and knows what to do, and what the inflection points of the deal are.
Alex McClafferty: And if you're going in with no experience, then you know that's where you're going to land the most and that's where it's going to be the hardest, and so I like to side with the entrepreneur and maximize the outcome for them and navigate that. And a lot of that can just be being an ear, being available to them and having them express where they're at and some of the concerns and you know, put things into place and stop gaps and measures that will help them.
Alex McClafferty: So there's like a really human element of that, as well, which is like over and above making a bunch of money or you know, getting a good outcome and making sure that the entrepreneur is happy and healthy throughout the process, and then when they land, they've got a nicely clear head and they can go ahead and integrate the business and take on a completely different problem set, which is part of the fun, right? Like, when you do level up and you get that acquisition sorted, then your world completely changes, your dynamic changes and you've got to adapt and figure out how you can be successful in a completely different context.
Kevin Graham: Yeah, definitely. You've mentioned a couple of times there the coaching stuff. Can you tell us a bit more about what it is that you're doing these days?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah. I work with people in two different ways. The first is one-on-one and I do like either weekly, biweekly or monthly calls with founders, depending on how fast they want their business to grow; so that is something that I try and limit to maybe like a couple of hours a week just because it's pretty taxing and it's not something that I have the ... I don't know, I can't do that like 20 to 30 hours a week, it's just too intense.
Alex McClafferty: And then the other side of it is I'm working on a program and I'm going to give this content away for free, but kind of charge for the coaching, which I think is where the real value is to walk people through the steps to build a productized service, and like all of the things that I've distilled through, you know, the WP Curve days, working with a bunch of different clients who've scaled, you know, their own productized services into seven figures of annual revenue or more, and give those frameworks and those processes away for free. And then ,if people need help and need coaching, then they can come along and join the group and get it on calls and have fun with that.
Alex McClafferty: So those are the two ways that I'm helping people. And then, when I'm like engaged as a coach, I'm a bit of a generalist, so I'm not necessarily like an expert at marketing or an expert at sales or anything else, but I know enough to be dangerous with all of that stuff, and I also have like a bunch of different connections and contacts that I can help founders with and get them landed or I can just ask my network and help them out.
Alex McClafferty: It's super rewarding and sometimes I joke and laugh that I don't feel like it's actually work because I would probably do it anyway. I love talking to entrepreneurs and I love helping them out and it's really personally rewarding, so I love it. It's fun and it doesn't feel like work and that's part of the reason that I want to try and expand the footprint and give some of this stuff away for free and see what shakes out of it.
Kevin Graham: Cool. Yeah, and for that sort of stuff you don't normally see those sorts of courses we've given away for free, so it is very much something that's like breaking the mold and doing something very contrarian to the way that these things are normally done.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah. I have a point of view on this, too, because I think as far as like information products go, often the incentive, like it's a bit of a perverse incentive and by that I mean the person that's selling the course, their incentive is to maximize the amount of revenue that they generate from the course.
Alex McClafferty: And so, that will overrun a lot of other things, which will be the completion rate or the success of the students or any of these other things that, you know, really lead to customer success versus their own financial success. And I've taken a lot of online courses and I'm a huge fan of self education and everything else, but I want to lower the barrier; so you know, a lot of folks that are maybe consulting or freelancing and maybe they're tight on cash, maybe they're, you know, not in the sweet spot to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a course immediately.
Alex McClafferty: And that's cool. I've got plenty of time and I've got money in the bank, so it's not a huge burden for me to go out and produce something and give it away and see how it helps people, and I'm a huge believer in kind of what you put out kind of comes back to you, anyway. So even if it kind of helps a handful of people and they're really successful from it, that to me is how I measure my success, like the results and the outcomes that I help people get to.
Alex McClafferty: Their success is not my success, but me showing up and doing what I can is how I measure whether I'm doing a good job in the role of a coach; and this is just a method for me to do that, so I'm excited about it, but it's also very different to what you'd typically say, which is like, “Here's my $3,000, $5,000 course and here's some like fake scarcity to get you involved, and here are all these different like you know, tactics and marketing things that I can push to try and like scare you into buying.” And I'm just like, “It's free.”
Alex McClafferty: So if you want to use the content, that's awesome. And then, if you want to work with me in a coaching capacity, in a group of people that are like really motivated and want to move quickly, then that's available to you, so different way of looking at the problem, but I'm excited to see what shakes out of it.
Kevin Graham: Awesome. Just moving on from that and continuing that sort of self-education, improving yourself theme there, what books do you think had the biggest impact on you in deciding to become an entrepreneur?
Alex McClafferty: I can think of a few. The book that set me on the course was the Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki, and I think I read that when I was like 18 or 19 and it just clicked. I was like, “What am I doing being an employee? Like, why would I do this to myself?” Following on from that, 4-Hour Workweek, absolute classic. You can read that book at any point, and you'll pick up something new, and it's also like truly evergreen. Some of the services and stuff that Tim Ferriss recommends have obviously like ... are now defunct or have changed or whatever else, but the principles I just loved; and again, it just like hit.
Alex McClafferty: And then more recently, a book that I'm looking at over on my bookshelf right now, which kind of blew my mind but is more about, I guess frameworks for how to think about what a market does, it's called The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets, and it's all about fractals and patterns and things that we think as humans with our left brain that we can get into a spreadsheet and like manipulate things and it should all fall into line and into a process, ut it looks at the roughness around financial markets and then how that carries through into different parts of business transactions and just our existence. So those are three books that I can think of off the top of my head that I really enjoyed and recommend.
Kevin Graham: Cool. I'll have links to all three of those books in the show notes. Just on 4-Hour Workweek I re-listened to that at the start of last year on Audible, and going through it like a couple years into a business, there was so many things that I pulled out of that at that point and then started to implement in my business. Even if you've been through those books before, rereading some of those books can have quite a big impact on your business, still.
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, I love it, The 4-Hour Workweek, I'm a huge, huge fan of Tim Ferriss and you know, the way that he looked at business and he's a brilliant entrepreneur, so I could go back to that at any point and probably grab something new.
Kevin Graham: So just to wrap it up here now, where can our listeners connect with you?
Alex McClafferty: Yeah, so as far as social media, guys, you can find me on Instagram. My username is Alex McClafferty and I just post stuff, that is, I don't know, things that I find interesting whether it's like murals when I'm walking around or traveling or things that I see in my travels, because I seem to be bouncing around the globe quite a bit lately.
Alex McClafferty: As far as my website for the business stuff that I'm involved in. If you go to productize.co which is P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-Z-E .co, that's where our blog, where the course is going to be hosted, or is hosted, rather, and where you can connect with me if you've got any questions or concerns or anything. And my email is just [email protected]ize.co so if anything in this episode resonates with you, if you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out.
Alex McClafferty: I think you and I, going back a couple of weeks, you know, we just jumped on a call and talked about where you're at in your business and it was fun. I love talking to founders and I love helping them out, so if I can be in any way of any service to anyone that's listening to this, just reach out and let me know and I'll see if I can help.
Kevin Graham: Awesome, and I'll include links to your Instagram and the website and everything else in the show notes, as well, so that it's easy for people to click through and get on there. Alex, thanks so much for your time this morning. It's been great chatting to you on the show and learning a bit more of the WP Curve story.
Alex McClafferty: Thanks for having me, man. I really appreciate it.

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