Denise: Come back to the Dream Cast. I am your host Denise Walsh. I combine science, scripture, and stories that will inspire you to dive deep, breakthrough your own personal glass ceiling and design a life of your dreams.
Welcome back to the Dream Cast. As you know on the Dream Cast, we talk to entrepreneurs, to basically anybody who is living their dream life. The ups and downs they experienced along the way. They had a dream, they went to pursue it. Even if they didn’t see instant success, they had such a strong belief within them that they took steps anyway. Our next guest is no exception. He is the founder and CEO of whatismyipaddress.com.
He started the website on January 4, 2000 which was quite a long time ago. For the first five years, he actually didn’t cover his internet bill. Can you imagine working on an internet business that didn’t even cover your internet? In 2005, Chris made $30 from display ads and he knew he couldn’t give up. By 2014, he was laid off from his corporate job and faced with that scary opportunity. What do I do next? Do I go head first into the website full-time business or do I kind of go back and get a job? He had a desire in his belly. Since then, he’s aggressively grown his site to generate just under seven figures a year in revenue with no employees, no office, and no inventory. I cannot wait to hear his story. So big Dream Cast, welcome to Chris Parker.
Chris: Hello, it’s great to be here.
Denise: Thank you so much for connecting with us. Most of our listeners are entrepreneurs, maybe they’re ready for a change, and they don’t quite know what to do next. It sounds like you were in that space yourself years and years ago. What was your day job before you started the internet business?
Chris: I had the joy of being in the incredibly exciting life insurance business. I worked for many years as a web developer for online life insurance brokers. I was building their website to give out life insurance quotes, lead gen and all that kind of not particularly exciting, very extremely blue chip low-risk type of business.
Denise: Okay, and how long did you do that for?
Chris: I worked for them for about eight years.
Denise: Okay, and so what drove you to start whatismyipaddress.com in 2000?
Chris: Actually in 2000, I was working for a mail-order computer company. Before really you could buy stuff online, it was all over the phone and via catalogs or some stuff like that. I was helping out with the IT staff in the office there and we had a technical challenge and we needed to know the IP address of our internet connection. I went on the Alta Vista way before Google, and realized, there wasn’t an easy way to find my IP address. I thought, I’m a tech guy, I can put a computer in my home, on my one megabit DSL connection. I can build a website that does that, and that’s what I did.
Denise: So you saw a need and you thought, “I can create that.”
Chris: Exactly. The interesting thing about it, it never crossed my mind in the beginning that it was ever something that I could monetize or make money from. It’s just, let me just put this together and it’ll help somebody else who is in a difficult position and make their life easier.
Denise: Okay. My husband’s an IT guy too. He can whip up websites in a day and things which I don’t have a brain cell for that. You just whipped up your website, you create this but you don’t generate income for five years. Was there consistent work that had to be done with this or was it just kind of out there and hanging out?
Chris: For the first couple of years, it was really just out there hanging out. I put it out there and at some point decided, let me put an email address on there so if people have questions, they can get a hold of me. I started seeing a lot of the same questions over and over and thought, let me let me just type up those questions and create a FAQ page. That way, I don’t have to actually answer those questions anymore. So that was kind of how I started to actually build content for it was, people just asking me questions and me just answering them. When I heard the question enough, it made sense to clean up the answer a little bit and make it available on the website.
Denise: So you kind of developed the website through people’s interaction with it. So for the five years, it wasn’t generating any income but you weren’t necessarily needing it to because it was just hanging out. So what was like the aha moment that you had that this could actually make money?
Chris: The aha moment was two things. I started getting alerts saying that the hard drive that the website was running on was full which made no sense to me because the website it’s like three pages, how can the drive be full. The drive was full from all the logs of people hitting the website. I wasn’t running Google Analytics. I wasn’t checking to see how many people are coming to the site. Wow, there’s a lot of people coming to the site, that’s really neat. Then there is the advent of this wonderful thing called Google AdSense. I could stick a little ad on my site, and they handled finding the advertisers, they handled everything and all of a sudden it’s like, wow, there’s money coming in. this is kind of cool.
Denise: Yeah, because in 2000—I graduated high school in 1999. We didn’t have smartphones, we didn’t have Facebook. It was the world of mapquest and Thomas, one of those…
Chris: The Thomas guide. Yeah, the Tom-Tom.
Denise: Yeah, Tom-Tom. This is a while ago you guys. You kind of had a website up early on so that way when people were actually really starting to use the internet in such a bigger and broader scale, you were the one they found.
Chris: Yeah, I was very fortunate to be early to the game in that sense. There’s a couple of my competitors who have been around that time space as well. There’s definitely an advantage when you’re first to market. There could be an advantage from that I should say.
Denise: Yeah, and the advantage is interesting because you’re first to market, you’re the first one there but we’ve been in our business 11 years and a lot of times they’re like, “Oh, you got so lucky.” but the element of being there at the right time at the right place but then you also saw the vision of it growing. You started to use Google Ads, you started to monetize it. Was there any other way besides Google Ads or was that your biggest revenue source?
Chris: Over the years that has definitely been a large portion of it. The last couple of years there have been some new technology with terms of ad platforms that can kind of compete in conjunction with AdSense which has been really beneficial. I won’t geek out on that too much. Most people are going to go way over their heads and their eyes will delay to open often, nothing like that. But I’ve also done affiliate advertising. So its products that make sense for the audience that if I refer them over to someone and they buy it, I get a little piece of commission.
Denise: Cool. So you first saw a need, you filled it, and then you found a way to make money there. what I think is so interesting about the entrepreneurial journey is that a lot of times you do have to make the choice to leave a safe, low-risk corporate job where you know what to expect and it’s often comfortable, to this more risk filled, the journey is not necessarily clear. It can be a tricky choice for people to make. It sounds like that stable career actually got taken from you and wasn’t as stable as people often give it, right?
Chris: Yeah. The company that I worked for, struggled to the financial crisis. Like many businesses, people stopped spending money. If they didn’t have to spend money, they didn’t. It hurt tremendously the company that I was working for. Whether was good or bad, it was kind of a slow, painful transition in that. it was initially, “Well, we’re going to lay off a lot of the company but we’re going to try to hang on.” so there’s a little bit of that anxiety going on of like, okay, the economy’s really crummy but I still have a job. Okay, I’ll just hold out the difficult economy. And then it was, “Hey Chris, we can’t pay you full time anymore. Can you work part time for us?”
It was an interesting transition. My wife and I thought, “Well, do I try to find another job or is this an opportunity?” and we talked about it and said, “Let’s try it for a while.” and it gave me the opportunity to transition more of my attention to my site hustle to whatismyipaddress.com. The life insurance company eventually came back. I started to work for them full time again. Then they just had that, “We can’t do this anymore. We’re shutting the doors.” that was kind of a startling thing.
Denise: That’s your stable job, right? “Stable job.” really wasn’t that stable.
Chris: Exactly. so my wife and I, we sat down, we prayed about it, we talked about it and it was, “Okay, do I immediately try to…” the side business had money coming in and it was a decent amount of money coming in but it was a question of, could I make more money by doing both or can I significantly grow my business by not doing a regular daytime job and just focusing on my side hustle. We talked about it and decided we’ll give it six months. If I can make some headway and increase the revenue over the course of six months, we’ll look at it and we’ll keep going. So we did that for six months. At the end of that, the revenue was up. I think this could work and so we said okay, let’s give it a year now and did the same thing. After a year and a half it was like, “Okay, I don’t need to worry about a daytime job now. I don’t need to look for a daytime job. I can do this full time.” That’s kind of how that transition went.
Denise: Well I think that it’s so cool because, you were building it on the side with the security of your job. But when that started to take away, you could put more time into it and I think it’s a really cool way to build a side hustle. I know some people need urgency. They need kind of the fear of, “I’ve got to make this work or I will not eat.” but a lot of people also want the security of being able to be creative. You can be more creative when you’re not in that urgent space. So you were able to do a little bit of both. But what I’m so interested in is that you don’t have employees, no office, no inventory. So you’re like solopreneur because you’re doing this yourself. How did you achieve let’s say 6 million consistent visitors per month. That’s a lot of traffic.
Chris: Yup. A lot of it has been having been there from the beginning of the internet and consistently working to make sure that I’m serving my customers appropriately. I know there have been the fans of pop-up ads. These days when you are on a mobile phone and you want to read some more article that’s like three words per page, and you click next page, next page there’s just so many ads it’s obnoxious.
I’ve had to work really hard to balance my desire to make more money with what’s really going to be in the best interest of people visiting the site. If it’s such a horrible experience, they’re not going to link to it, they’re not going to talk about me, they’re never going to come back. I’ve had to make sure that I really think, okay if I were coming to the site, would I be willing to stay here or would I just leave because it’s obnoxious and annoying.
Denise: Yeah it’s interesting even in the website world really thinking what is my customer experience?
Chris: Yes. It’s really been limiting the amount of ads I have, and trying to keep that experience nice and pleasant. Along with trying to provide useful information in a way that makes sense. It’s a really technical lot of the content on the site could be potentially in a really technical vertical. I’ve worked really hard to make sure the content is using the least amount of buzzwords, the least geek speak, the least technobabble and really just explain as much as I possibly can in everyday terminology.
Denise: I think that’s really important because when you’re so immersed in your industry and your world, then those words seem normal to you but they often don’t seem normal to the average stay-at-home mom, or a manager somewhere, or whatever. Thinking about the experience from their perspective changes kind of the layout, it changes the focus. Like you said, you answered questions that were getting asked consistently. It sounds like you were very focused on serving the consumer, and it’s worked out because you’re getting so much traffic that the ads are working. The affiliate stuff is working, and it’s bringing you in an income.
Chris: Yeah, exactly. It’s been a fun transition. It’s fun to try to figure out which I talk about next, and to be able to do that without having to worry about, I’ve got six employees and I’ve got all the legal stuff of benefits, and unemployment and all that kind of wacky stuff that we have to deal with as an employer. To not have that is a certain amount of freedom of not having to work to get the right withholding and the paychecks.
Denise: Yeah, it allows you to stay creative because you don’t have the burden of making sure everybody’s got stuff to do and then making sure they’re actually doing it.
Denise: What are some of the aha moments and learning curves you’ve had throughout the years while you’re growing your solopreneur business?
Chris: An aha moment for my wife in communicating with me, I’m a geek. I had fun running this all out of the house, all the server, all the equipment was in the house. At some point, my wife came to me and said, “You know, if somebody broke into the house and stole the computer equipment. What would happen to the website?” and I was like, “Well, it’s will be gone.” And she’s like, “Do you think it’s the best idea to have that at home anymore?” it’s just being the geek that I enjoyed doing that. But I had to make the decision of like okay, it’s time to get it out of the house.
It’s time to think responsible and maybe it’s a little bit less hands on for me now. But I need to have the security and the safety of it’s in a colocation facility. It’s got power 24 hours a day, it’s got air conditioning, it has everything it needs. Sometimes I have to make those decisions of well, I need to do things for the security and the safety of the business in exchange for—some things are a little bit less fun because I can’t play with it. I can’t touch it. I can’t poke at it which is part of one of the things that I really enjoyed about it. But I’ve got to learn to be responsible, take care of my family.
Denise: Right. As the business grows, things change and being open to change. I know when you’re so focused on something, it can be hard to have your, you know, they say see the forest from the tree. When you’re looking at the tree, it’s interesting to take that mile-high view and be like, “Okay, what’s the big picture here. What’s the next thing?”
Denise: Okay. What other transitions have you made versus the early setup and what it looks like now?
Chris: One of the other aha moments is about a year ago, I started working with a business coach. That realization I don’t know everything about business, and one of the things that he had talked to talk to me after awhile is, “You’re too comfortable. You don’t do things that are challenging for you. You’re never going to grow if you’re not doing things that you’re not used to doing.” and so one of them was “Get on a podcast. Start talking with people face-to-face. Start interacting with people in a different way than just behind your keyboard.” and so that’s been a tremendous help just having someone who thinks about my business differently for me.
You’re talking before about when you’re on the inside you see it the way you’ve seen it for however long you’ve been doing it and you don’t know what your blind spots are. I think it’s tremendously important for people to have people in their lives that have some business experience. You can look at them and say, “Hey, have you thought about this? What about that? Do you think this really is the best way of doing that?” so part of like how things change and looking now, one of the things he’s challenged me about is, “Are you making the best use of your time?”
So I’m looking at starting to writing up standard operating procedures for things that I do that might take me two hours a day. but it doesn’t make me money and to figure out, okay, I know I’ve got no employees, can I find virtual assistants elsewhere in the world so I can offload small tasks that aren’t employees but are contractors to take away bits and pieces of things that distract me from really being able to focus on the big picture as opposed to moving widgets from one pile to the next so to speak.
Denise: Yeah, there’s a lot of ways that you can outsource some of that stuff that doesn’t necessarily have to be you that is not necessarily common knowledge. We use Upwork and Fiverr and Indian outsourcers. All of these people that can help us do some of that manual like you said is time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be you.
Denise: So that’s interesting because then once you start creating some of those systems that frees up your time to do more of the creative fun stuff.
Chris: Exactly. Some of the things that we’re talking about building automated processes that take care of as much of that as I can. Even if I do transition it to somebody else, the portions that can be automated are there’s no sense in having that at 6 o’clock every day, press this button. If I can automate that process, then no one has to press that button. If I go on vacation, then this doesn’t get pressed because it’s automated.
Denise: You are setting yourself up for beach money.
Chris: Yes. I love to travel. One of the advantages and disadvantages of being a solopreneur is that you get to travel, but while you’re traveling, you still have to work.
Denise: Yes. What is it, you’re like, “I’m working from the beach. But I am still working/”
Chris: But I’m working, yes. I’m in Cambodia on a really slow Wifi but there’s stuff that just has to be done.
Denise: Yeah. So how has that been? Like figuring out what pieces of your business are automated, which ones require your time, how have you filtered through some of that?
Chris: I’m starting to look at it in terms of what kind of skill sets out there and how much would it cost to do this. Looking at, there’s a certain amount of bookkeeping that has to be done every month, invoicing, deposits, paying bills and things like that. Does that need my time to do it or can I find someone at tenth of what I make an hour divided by over the year to do it. Guess what, that’s actually their skill set. They’re qualified to do that. But a lot of us is trying to find repetitive stuff that just doesn’t inherently in of itself produce value. It needs to be done but trying to take that stuff off my plate.
Denise: Yeah, it’s really thinking what needs to be me. I mean it’s even asking yourself what do I love? What am I good at? What brings me joy? What are the things that I get excited about? Then outsource the rest so you can stay known.
Chris: Yes, that’s precisely what I need to do.
Denise: Yeah, that’s fun.
Chris: And if you’re a control freak that can be a difficult thing. For almost 20 years, I’ve done the vast majority of this myself. It’s hard to, “You mean, I have to trust somebody to do…” it’s really weird that you get all worked up, these are really mundane tasks. There’s no trust involved but I have to trust someone that it’s going to get done.
Denise: Yeah and sometimes I think training someone can be overwhelming too because, there’s so much in our head that I’m like, “It’s going to take me forever for them to understand it.” but that’s a self-limiting belief. That’s not even true but once you get that off your plate, then you have more brain space to do some of the other fun stuff.
Chris: Yeah. You can only make so many decisions a day, and if you’re making your decisions on what pile do I put this piece of paper or things that don’t move your business forward, then you’re wasting—you’re limiting supply of decisions every day.
Denise: So in 2000 when you started this website to be helpful to other people who might be needing to know their IP address as well, did you have any clue that this would be your full-time gig years later?
Chris: I never thought it would even be possible for it to be a full-time gig. Even throughout from then until now, there’s other businesses that I tried to do, the spin-up and had some limited success at them. But I kind of ran across the inventory issue so to speak. I had a website that allowed people to find like just the exact Bible that they were looking for. But it was hard to run that as a side hustle because I’d get home at night, here’s what I need to order. I’d order it. I couldn’t have it shipped to my office where I was working for somebody else so I had to go somewhere else, pick it up, go home at night, pack them. At lunch go to the post office and it was like, this is a lot of work.
I’m running around and I’m working an extra four or five hours a day, my weekends are tied up doing this. Maybe I made an extra $1,000 a month but it’s a big hustle when you have the inventory. So I actually switched it over to Amazon had launched their affiliate program. Well, I’ll just use the affiliate program because then I don’t have to do any inventory myself, just refer them to buy it from Amazon. I don’t know how many people are familiar about this. Amazon had this really big concern about sales tax in California.
It was saying look, “Amazon, if you have affiliates in California, you need to collect sales tax on all your sales to anyone in California.” And Amazon’s response so that at that time was, “We will shut down our relationship with every affiliate based in California.” So overnight with no notice, anyone who is an affiliate based in California lost their affiliate business with Amazon basically with I think we have less than 30 days notice.
Denise: Especially if that’s a big revenue stream for you, that’s a shock.
Chris: Yeah, luckily it wasn’t for me. But for other people that was their livelihood, they had staff and they had all sorts of people based off of that and it kind of disappeared overnight. It can be challenging.
Denise: So not only did you start this business, but you’ve started several business. I think once you have the entrepreneurial bug and you see that there is tons of money to be made in this world if you create something of value, you can’t go back. I remember when we quit our job I was like, the worst thing that could happen is that we go back to work. Now I’m like, that is the worst thing that could happen. So you probably have a lot of tips for other budding entrepreneurs who are kind of getting this bug as well. So share with us a few other things that you have learned.
Chris: So I’ve learned a lot about privacy and just online safety. Over the years of having to hear stories of people who they’ve fallen victim to a scam and had their life savings swindled away from them. Being vulnerable, I had someone approach me claiming to be an advertiser. I recognize the name of the company, this is great company to work with, I signed up, did all sorts of stuff. Integrated them into my ad platform right in December where there’s the best ad revenue. Two weeks into it, the recording system started to get flaky. Three weeks into it, it stopped working at all. So I emailed the guy, “Hey, we’re fixing it.” another week goes by and I’m like, something’s just not right here.
What had happen is this guy had taken the website of that real company and put one up with the .net instead of the .com. he made it look exactly like it but just changed it to his burner phone number. because I didn’t do any due diligence because I thought I knew who I was dealing with, I lost thousands of dollars of revenue to this guy’s scam.
Denise: Wow, the energy that someone would put into something like that.
Chris: It baffles me. My immediate response was, I’m going to war. I’m going to hire a lawyer. I’m just going to make this guy’s life miserable. Luckily I thought better about that and said, there’s better efforts that I can put my time, and effort, and my emotions into rather than chasing this character down. I need to come up with standard business practices that if I have a new advertiser, there’s this checklist of things that I go through. Where are they located, is there an address on their website, is there a phone number on their website, how long have they been in business. Just kind of this checklist of no matter how excited I am about potentially working with a company, I’ve got something to keep myself in check so I don’t make a stupid decision.
I think that’s a great thing whether you’re working for a huge corporation or yourself having those business processes in place help you when you expand and you now hand it off to somebody else. You’ve got your business processes written down because you’re using them for yourself so you know that they actually really work.
Denise: Yes. Unfortunately, we do learn a lot of these lessons the hard way. It’s one of those things where you’re like, “Well, how can I make lemonade out of lemons? Now my business will be better because of this experience.” and good thing it was only three or four weeks.
Chris: Yes. Luckily it wasn’t—I mean, you never want to lose money. It wasn’t a devastating amount of money. I would have to pay way more for lawyers anyway. I’m sure they’d never find a bank account and give it up. It would never work out.
Denise: What else yes? Tell me more.
Chris: Use an automated offsite backup service. I hear a lot of people say, “Well, I’ve got a backup drive right next to my computer. Once a week I hit the button to copy it off to that drive.” well that sounds like it’s a really good idea. There’s two fundamental mistakes about that. One, nobody remembers to actually hit the button to back up on a regular basis. You get busy, I’ll do it tomorrow and a month goes by, you haven’t backed up your computer. The second thing is, let’s think worst case scenario, your house burns down. Well, your computer was in the house and the backup was sitting right next to it. How is that really actually provide you any safety whatsoever?
So there’s lots of services these days that will do online backup. it’s insurance so to speak for $50 a year, $40 a year or something like that you can have your entire computer backed up, all your documents, everything that you need to run your business. It’s up in the cloud and you can get it back almost right away from anywhere in the world if you need to get back to it. I remember someone that I had done some consulting work for. The CEO’s computer crashed. It was like, okay, how valuable like that $60 per computer per year, how valuable is that CEO’s time? Luckily they were able to recover the drive but it took two or three days for that to happen. So they lost all of the CEO’s productivity for a couple of days. He didn’t know what his meetings were. He didn’t know who he was supposed to call back.
Denise: So much of what we do is online and saved online. It’s kind of like if you lose your phone you’re like, “Now I’m lost.”
Chris: Yes, exactly. The thing number two, use a password manager. These days, everything on the planet is getting hacked. If it hasn’t been hacked yet, it will get hacked and you always have to just assume your accounts are going to get compromised, someone’s going to figure out your password. If you’re using the same password everywhere, once they figured it out, they’re going to try every bank on the planet. They’re going to try every social media platform. If you’re using your same email password everywhere, now they’ve got access to your email. Password managers are free. Everyone should be using it.
Denise: Which one do you recommend?
Chris: I use 1Password. I know Dashlane is popular as is LastPass.
Denise: I think we use LastPass and that’s something my husband sets up because I wouldn’t have thought of it myself. It’s so helpful.
Chris: Yes. Once you’re used to doing it, it’s no big deal. You feel that freedom of, I don’t have to remember passwords anymore. I don’t have to remember if it was an uppercase, or a lowercase, did I put an exclamation point at the end, or too long because it required two special characters. You don’t have to figure that stuff out anymore.
Denise: I think that so many times if this seems foreign to you, and you’re like I don’t know what that means or what this is, everything is learnable. This is one thing I’ve learned over the years is that there’s a lot of times I don’t even know what that means, or what that looks like. But you can search, you can Google and once you learn it, you know it. It’s not hard, it just might be new. If you haven’t looked into it, definitely do. Because, once you have it installed like you said, it’s easy to use and it can get you brain space back.
Chris: Yup and it just takes that niggling fear. You don’t wake up in the middle of the night going, oh my gosh what if someone got into this. If you want to find out if your passwords have ever been compromised, there’s a website called Have I Been Pwned but instead of an O it’s a P the hacker terminology. This guy has put together this database of all these massive breaches. You type in your email address and it’ll say, “Oh, that was part of the Adobe breach back in 2013.” so if you use that same password anywhere else, you better change it.
Chris: It just kind of goes to show you like how many things get breached and how quickly.
Denise: We’ll put that website in the show notes below for you guys too.
Chris: Yes, I will definitely send that to you. Number three, this is a little harder for some people but enable 2-factor authentication. It’s one of those really geeky terms. That’s the, you type in your password and your bank text you another code to put in. that’s really important. Some people do it on everything. I’m not such a fan on doing it in everything in your life because then you’re just constantly where’s my phone, where’s this, it can be a little disruptive. When it comes to banking and financial stuff, if you can enable 2-factor authentication, absolutely do it. If you’re super famous also, do it everywhere.
Chris: Somebody’s going to get into your stuff and it just means you have to have your phone and the password. It just reduces the chance of someone getting your accounts. Even if your phone gets compromised, or your computer gets compromised. It’s one more thing that they have to figure how to deal with.
Denise: Yeah. I just did that with my Amazon business account. It’s one more step, it’s just one more step. It’s smart to do just to keep that barrier.
Chris: Yeah, particularly if it’s a business function. If you got locked out of your Amazon business account, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? If someone else got access to that and change the bank account number associated with it, all the money went to them instead of you. That’s massively important.
Chris: This is the one that no one wants to hear. Keep all your hardware and software updated. These days, a software is better. If anything offers an ability to, “Do want you want to automatically update the software?” hit yes. Let the software update itself. Anytime your computer says, “I’ve got new updates to install. Do you want me to install now or five years from now?” choose now. There’s a reason why those things are happening. It’s because they found a bug, somebody is exploiting it and if you don’t do it, you will get compromised sooner than later.
The hardware stuff, unfortunately, is more difficult. So that I think is making sure you choose products where you’re not necessarily choosing the cheapest thing, but you’re choosing someone who’s been in the business a long time and they have a reputation of making sure that they’re keeping stuff updated. It’s like, update your router. How do you do that? Those things are more complicated to do. You’re lucky you got the IT guy in the house already. my wife’s lucky I’m the IT guy who make sure all the stuff is updated but just in this modern age, it’s something that we all just have to learn how to do. If you’ve got something in your house internet connected, you’ve got to make sure that the firmware is being updated regularly. Not fun to do, it’s a sort of thing you put on your to-do list and you do once a month just to double check stuff.
Denise: Okay. I do think that in this day and age, I heard somebody say this recently, our brains are growing at a much faster rate than our grandparents because they didn’t have to learn new things all the time. We get to learn new things all the time especially with technology changing. You do want to be within that trend and stay current with it because it’s going to change again. You want to stay on top of it.
Chris: Yeah, and that’s a challenging thing. Stuff just gets replaced and updated. It’s something new that you’ve got to learn every couple of months. There’s some new piece of hardware that you’ve got to have that you need to pay attention to how it works or at least have a basic understanding of what it’s doing and what the risks are associated with using it.
Denise: Yeah. Alright, any more tips for us?
Chris: Last one because entrepreneurs love to travel. that’s why lots of people want to become self-employed because, they want the opportunity to, I don’t want to be living off of two weeks of company vacation time that I can only take in 3-day increments, no less than three months apart. You know, all the wacky HR rules. Use a VPN when you’re traveling. What a VPN is, it builds basically a tunnel between your device and the provider’s network. If you’re in a country that is a little more fussy about social media, and what you can and can’t access on social media, you’ve heard of the great firewall of China blocking access to news sites on things like that.
Some of us just want to be able to access Netflix and our favorite streaming services while we’re traveling. using a VPN is a good way to kind of protect yourself from these fishy networks of, do you really trust the Mom and Pop bagel shop being able to build a good secured network. No, they make good bagels, that’s what you want them to do. Use a company that provides network security to help you keep safe while you’re traveling. There’s hardware solutions like Keezel, and there are software solutions. They can be pretty cheap, they can get pricey. If you want to be careful about what your network is doing, what’s going on in your network, it’s good to use it while you’re travelling.
Denise: Very cool. I think in this day and age, most people want to either have a side hustle that hopefully potentially will grow into their main hustle. Being a solopreneur is like the thing to do. It’s like if you’re going to be on social media, if you’re going to be online, you might as well be making money. Your tips allow us to grow in our business but stay safe in the process.
Chris: Exactly. That’s what we want to do. That’s kind of become my passion these days. It’s really trying to make sure that people are safe when they’re online. There’s too many bad guys out there. We need to be smart about what we do and some basic practices will really make a huge difference in keeping us safe when we’re online.
Denise: Awesome. Well, what are you up to next? Are you continuing to pour into the whatismyipaddress.com or are you branching out into anything new?
Chris: I’m continuing to pour a lot of resources into that but I’m trying to find out, what do I want to do next? If we talk about getting those things in place so that it takes less and less of my time. That way, it will free up some of my time to find something new and interesting. Just like your day job can go away overnight. Your side hustle could potentially do the same thing. It’s always good to have multiple streams of recurring revenue in different verticals, in different places. That way, if something goes wrong in one place, you’re not having to start from zero. You at least have something already going.
Denise: Now, is this from your business coach?
Chris: No, that’s mainly my wife saying, “Honey, it’s great that we have all this income coming in.” when it’s an internet business, if Google decides, “We don’t like you anymore.” that can shut your business down overnight. You just can’t assume that this one thing is going to stay a money maker for the next 50 years. you’ve got to assume that this will fade away, something new will happen and having multiple things that you do just lessens the risk associated with any one of them.
Denise: Cool. So you’re streamlining this current business. So then you’ve got brain space and time to think and pursue other passions as well.
Chris: Yes, that’s what I’m doing.
Denise: Very cool. Is there anything else that your business coach has spurred you to do besides getting uncomfortable, streamlining some things, and really finding some outsourcers to take the day-to-day stuff off your plate?
Chris: I think part of just working with a business coach has also got me thinking. Helping me think a little bit more out of the box. I used to honestly hate reading business books. I think it’s because I just wasn’t in a place in my life and my business where there’s anything applicable to it. Nowadays, I’ve got books that I’m reading. I’ve got podcasts that I’m listening to. I’m just trying to always keep my mind open to, what are some of these things that I can apply? What would spark some interest? It’s been a little bit overwhelming in the sense of a lot of work.
There’s a program that I’m going to called, The Ask Method by Ryan Levesque. It really teaches you how to understand your customers better. It’s been a great exercise of learning the language that my customers use so that when I talk to them they’re like, “You get me. You understand me.” as opposed to, “Well, you’re just talking in technobabble using your industry language not what real people do.” and so it’s been a great help and hopefully it’ll give us some insight into being able to bucket your customers. This value is important in this set of people so let me talk to them this way. This value is important to this group of people so let me talk to them this way. You can really bucket your people and talk to them in a more effective and more meaningful way.
Denise: Talk to them in a way that not only they understand, but in a way that gets them to take action and say, “I need what you have.”
Chris: Yes. That’s the exact product that I’m looking for. They know it because you’ve communicated exactly what their challenge is. You’ve communicated exactly what the solution is and they’re like, “This is a perfect match.” one of the examples he talks about is even like a golfing business. If you’re 10 years off in the understanding of the age of your audience, you’re talking to the wrong people. You’re talking to baby boomers instead of gen ex for golf. So you’ve got the wrong music references, the wrong car references. You just don’t quite connect as much as you would if you really understand who your audience is.
Denise: Yeah. I think that’s so interesting because when you think of entrepreneurship, it’s a bit risky, it’s kind of paving your own way. You can think of yourself like in a field and you’re like, “Okay, I’m plowing through.” having a business coach helps you pave the path for you. So they can give you ideas. What I love about entrepreneurship is you really are learning how to communicate to your people in a way that gets them something that they want. They already want this product or service and you’re speaking to them in a way.
I was a psychology major and people often ask if I’m still using my degree and I’m like, all the time. That’s what we do. We want to get in people’s heads and think what is it that they’re thinking right now and how can I answer their question so then they really feel that connection. So interesting to me.
Chris: Yes, how can I best serve. By better knowing the people, you can better serve them and better meet their needs. If you could make some money while helping them meet their needs in the process, it’s a great fit. They feel good about it. You’ve helped me so I’m perfectly good in giving you money. You haven’t scammed me. You haven’t swindled me. You provided a service that I find valuable and I have no issue compensating you for that.
Denise: It’s an equal energy exchange. People want to pay for value. When they feel like their life is better, they’re very willing to pay for that because they know that that’s the equal energy exchange. Is there anything else that you want to add?
Chris: I think I’m good. I really appreciate being able to speak with you today.
Denise: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. we know that starting a business and making several pivot points, there are several transitions that sounds like you’re even going through one right now like, “Okay, what is next for me?” and that’s always a fun and a little bit scary place to be. I’m excited to see what you land on and know that whatever it is, you are going to experience success. So thank you for sharing today. All of Chris’s details will be in the show notes and description box.
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