Call the plumber, your business has a $#!% blockage!

This was to be the February Newsletter but the CloudBleed fiasco took over!
I want to start this year with a better system, so we’ve installed new newsletter software. It wasn’t “needed” but I heard from some of you (notably people using regional Telstra services – what the hell, Telstra?!) weren’t getting them. There’s no point me getting all preachy saying “you should know” about some of the basic tips and reader feedback, when you haven’t got a clue what’s been said in the ILS newsletters 😉

I’m also changing things up by answering your questions FIRST – we might even go back to monthly Newsletters if you prefer the Q&A format…

1. Carol Jennings, QLD
(Carol is a stay-at-home-mum to 2 who is starting a custom furniture business tailored to special needs kids)

Hi Trent. Im not sure if you remember me it has been a long time. I attended your business workshop in October 2015 and I felt like the prize student because I already had 4 modules completed with you so it feels like revision, thank you it’s my first time as teacher’s pet!

I am embarrassed because I remember you suggesting WordPress but I went with a custom coded website that a local guy said I could use as an App on iTunes and Anroid markets. Now all 3 aren’t working :((

The work was done in January 2016 but he says I have no warranty. I know I should have followed your advice but could you or someone on the list help me. esp if there is someone in the North Brisbane area.

Hi Carol,
Firstly thank you for agreeing to share your story with “the class” it helps me help you as well as everyone else with one reply.

I do remember you – you were very outspoken and I think I mentioned you don’t need to worry about having plenty of enthusiasm for your brand! I hope the furniture is selling gangbusters!

Now for the website and app thing.
Firstly, don’t worry – I think it’s great when someone decides to go in another direction because this business is YOURS, not mine. I recommend WordPress because if you don’t like the direction it’s taking it is easier to find someone who can come in and take over your needs quickly and it’s more affordable because you usually don’t have to start from scratch.

BUT but but I need to tell you two really important things!

1. There is no warranty on a website or software!
If you look at the disclaimer on the box of any piece of software in a retail store, it’s very specific about warranty because, just like buying a book, you are not actually BUYING the software. You are “buying” the rights to use something that belongs to the author.

OMG is this a scam?! This should be in Trent’s Scam alert!… right?
Actually no.
The main reason software doesn’t come with a warranty is understandable (although at first I was angry about it until I understood) is that things around it are changing all the time and the makers of the software can’t foresee these changes.

e.g. When you buy a toaster – as long as you follow the directions (and don’t put a knife in it while using it) you’re covered by the warranty because the world doesn’t really change.
But as soon as software is “born” the world around it is changing! Apple, Microsoft and Android are coming out with patches and security fixes and updates and upgrades that are not predictable or foreseeable. Can you imagine if you go downstairs to get toast and suddenly the bench is 20cm higher, the fridge has moved and some guy is explaining that you now have to hop on one leg while plugging the toaster in – or it just won’t work? Can you imagine the toaster company being able to pay the legal bills for someone hurting themselves while hopping on one leg?

That’s the world of software.

If you take a look at your course notes, you will see a section that starts with the the heading “Calculator to charge your correct hourly rate” Just beneath it is a section about business maintenance and how I mention that just about EVERYONE remembers to maintain the physical aspects of their business, like stock and machinery, but few allow for software or Internet maintenance and this causes a constant mental state of surprise and shock when things go wrong.

I mentioned that every new business should allow at least $100/month as a BASIC allowance for maintenance for a one-person enterprise. Put it away and pretend it’s not there until you have a software problem
(Don’t panic; If you go with a smaller brand Internet provider instead of Telstra, you should have 30-50% of that amount covered just in savings)

I recall you have a carpenter friend who helps out with the furniture and you mentioned you were looking at getting laser cutting and 3d printing done. You should either double or triple that monthly “disaster allowance” because those are two areas that often have unforeseen changes, especially as 3d printing is such a new technology.

2. Web Apps
An important point about what that “local guy” said about your website being an app on both mobile platforms.

OK this is borderline SCAM ALERT material… and it’s annoyingly common.

A “web app” is NOT an App.

A web app is where the website tricks iTunes and Android Marketplace into thinking it is an App and Apple clamped down on these hard last year. They were popular with scammers who said they were App developers and hid behind jargon. Even when they were popular with scammers, they couldn’t adapt to changes on devices and they had to work around the rules to make push notifications work. I haven’t looked into the current situation on Android, but I know that Apple doesn’t allow them at all. I’ve had 6 “App Rescues” since then and all involved this nasty trick.

What’s the answer?
You could sue the guy for falsely claiming he is making two apps and a website, but in my experience most of the smaller deals are essentially done on  a handshake, so you are better to look forward. Plus your time lost on a legal venture is dead money.

So if it was me, I would create a new website with WordPress or a custom PHP website from a reputable local PHP programmer. WordPress will get you up and running faster unless you have great timing with a programmer who is ready to begin immediately.

Don’t try to have all the functions you had before straight away! Just go with the essentials. This is a recovery website and you don’t want to get caught in the trap of trying to make everything perfect (that topic will fill an entire newsletter!)
You will need to be able to:
1. List your goods/services
2. Take an order for your goods and services
3. Take payment for the goods and services
(Stripe is the cheapest and fastest and more reliable than Paypal!)
4. Have a mailing list feature so every client is contactable during the order process and afterwards
5. be visible on Google
6. Advertise for at least one month on Google to kick start after your website has been down!

Notice that Google was last. It’s not your priority. Your existing clients and their needs are the priority! Good luck and if you need our help, give me a call.

2. Jim Adamson, Goulbourn NSW
(Jim is a semi-retied dairy farmer who decided to learn a trade. He bought a lathe at an auction dirt-cheap and has been hooked on all things wooden ever since – He took a business course with me and sells his Rocking-Horses on eBay)

gday Trent
I’ve gotta tell you your manual has dogears on it’s dogears I might need a new one!But one thing I think you said in class that I can’t find in my notes is a good marketing budget if I want to expand from Ebay. Also I added up my hours with your calculator last night and colour me blind I’m paying myself $14 an hour! I think I’m doing that TOO PERFECT thing but my horses are selling well and I have savings so maybe I used the calculator wrong? Happy to have you share this with the group! Thanks – Jim


Hi Jim,

Thanks for your questions and I’m happy to say your reply will be MUCH shorter than Carol’s, mate.

#1. The marketing mix. This works for me in every project I’ve launched. I stole it from my SCUBA days when it the rule about air was “A third out, a third back, a third in reserve”

#1.a. Look at your budget – which should equal the percentage of your savings that if you lost it and never saw it again would NOT bother you. Allocate 1/3 to Google Ads, 1/3 to Facebook or Twitter ads and keep 1/3 in reserve.

#1.b. Watch the results after just ONE week. Which one is moving?

#1.c. Change the wording on both (keeping the old ones safe) and test the next week.

#1.d. Which wording and platform was the winner? Take any available credit you have left (apart from the third in reserve) and put it into the one producing the best results (sales not just hits)

#1.e. Always, always, always make sure you use a customised link to the sales page instead of just your main page (for you this is the item link, NOT your eBay shop profile)

#2. Being perfect and the calculator
Being too perfect is only a problem if you don’t charge for it.

#2.a. Add $50 to your horses, or add some artwork to one horse that takes you 15 minutes or $15 to add but charge $100 on the ticket price as a special edition to “capture” the price of your perfectionism across the board.

I warn people about being pedantically perfect about everything because it kicks the hell out of the Real Wage Calculator! It has the added problems of increasing your stress (you’re never happy with the results), increasing the stress in people around you (they feel like they have to be perfect or to hide anything not perfect from your sight) and meaning the hours you are in business mode end up being as long as your eyes are awake.

The worst part? You will feel justified in the Disney World of “See? It looks the way I like it now” while never actually finishing the really important tasks for  running your business.

I come back the most successful projects when I was being taught by Product launch specialists in marketing books, CDs and SAAS websites…

It only has to do what you promise.

Don’t promise the world.
Remember you can deliver the world in version 1.2 and the best bit; 1.2 will be better because it will be based from the CLIENT FEEDBACK not what ONE person thinks!


3. Jessica K, Sydney NSW
(Jessica is a working professional who is unhappy with what her super promises to deliver when she retuires and wants to develop an idea into an App and website. She asked me to keep the details of her business quiet for now as she is building something and because it’s based on an idea, she feels someone more prepared could jump on the idea. I can tell you that she has no experience in Social Media but I was impressed with her idea and I love that she is testing her market first!!)

Hello Trent, I would like to know more about Facebook advertising and Google Advertising. I have run 3 campaigns to link people to questionaires to help me develop my service but I am more lost than when I began. Help me Obiwan!!

Hi Carol,

It is more than I can really cover in a Newsletter reply as there is no one-size-fits-all response that will give you response. In fact, that is exactly the question I was trying to answer when I ended up hiring someone to help us and then, over time, we ended up realising we had a staff of Social Media hotshots!

Having said that, there are some basic principals that will help you.

  1. Start at the END
    1. Prepare the page where the person will LAND at the end of the process of their click. Make sure the page links to your preferred contact means (phone, email or contact form) in case anything isn’t clear.
    2. make sure you get a second pair of eyes to read the page to make sure they understand it and don’t prompt them or explain anything – just listen and make notes… you will look like Sigmund Freud if you have a pipe handy and give them a deep “Fascinating” comment after each question 😉
  2. Try different hooks to get the attention of people.
    1. Make a list of hook text that you think will capture your target audience.
    2. change the ad text using the list above on a weekly basis.
    3. compare what works (like in Jim’s situation above) and go with it.
  3. Always reduce your audience by areas of interest.
    1. NEVER EVER think “Oh but everyone is interested in this” (Yes, I can see you looking at me saying “But everyone IS interested in this topic” just trust me)
    2. Section imaginary people you know into a list of likes, but make sure they would not just LIKE your idea, they have to feel like they NEED your idea… a 40-50something target market is far better for a how-to-survive divorce ebook, just like targeting 18-25 year olds are the best to target for an iPhone Game.
    3. Aim for the 20% of people that will provide 80% of your revenue. The best of the best. The ones who love it. You can only aim at the right people by fishing with the bait and switching the bait when it doesn’t work until you can paint a picture of your ideal customer.

Good luck!

Some thoughts on those three questions….


There we were, eager minds wanting to learn from the energetic doctor of pschology, Dr Joe Isaak. He showed us again and again in class conditions, that while we can train a business course where everyone leaves knowing the course material – we need to spot the students who take responsibility and watch their faces when you offer them extra material… because THOSE are the ones who will succeed.

Joe was right. EVERY business course I’ve taught has ONE thing in common.

They don’t play the blame game.

When you’re a kid you can blame the ground for slipping over, the sun for being too bright and the grass for not cushioning your bum when you land on it.

But you’re not just a business person now. You’re a business leader.
(OK, OK Donald Trump is a blamer but who wants to turn into THAT?! Give me Branson as a role model any day, at least he’s smiling and enjoys himself! Plus he owns an ISLAND – hello?!)

When you are about to blame something or someone for a problem, pointing your finger… look at your hand and turn it over while pointing… under the surface are three fingers pointing back at YOU.

If you’re in the mood to read about how a complete f$%k-up gave me more lessons than any success – read on by clicking here – otherwise, thanks for reading and I hope the Newsletter helped this month.

We are working with everyone to get through the CloudFlare bug, so please bare with our slower responses until the dust settles…

As always… Everything that I’ve covered in this Newsletter I have learned from you. Share your mistakes. Share your triumphs.


See you in the next newsletter!



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