Today’s interview will give you a huge dose of inspiration, especially if you want to work for yourself, so you can earn more by working less and let go of your stressful 9-5…
Calem worked in a high-stress corporate role for 15 years and got paid really well for it, but he decided to leave it all behind to pursue a lifestyle business.
“There’s a lot of pressure and we got paid really well for it, but we just knew that wasn’t what we wanted to do for the next 10-20 years,” he told Matt in a recent interview.
So, Calem made the decision to quit his corporate job. Then COVID happened.
Today, Calem and his wife, Jenn, have not only replaced their corporate incomes, but they’ve been able to take 18 weeks out of the year to travel and spend with family.
So, if you want to take control back over your future like Calem…
And KNOW that you’ll be okay, because YOU are in control of whether you work or not, how much money you make, and how much vacation time you take…
Then listen to the interview below and get the insights that’ll help you build a profitable lifestyle business.
See how Calem Koek created a lifestyle business that allowed him to spend quality time with his family when it was needed most…
Matt Raad: Hi again, everyone. Today I’ve got a very special guest, who is one of our amazing graduates from quite a few years ago. I’m really excited to catch up with Calem and hear what he’s up to today. Thanks so much for coming along Calem.
Calem Koek: Thanks for having me again. It’s good to catch up.
Matt: Well, things have changed quite a bit for you over the last few years. You graduated with us a number of years ago. You and Jenn were our Ultimate Champion Cup winner (our star students for the year).
Why Calem and Jenn Quit Their Corporate Jobs to Live Life on Their Terms
Matt: You came from quite a big corporate role, didn’t you? Do you want to give us some background on why you decided to make the big change way back then?
Calem: Yes, so both Jenn and I come from a corporate background. We’d been working in corporate for about 15 years each. I’ve come from corporate HR, and Jenn from a corporate finance background. Both of these were really big, inner-city, fast-paced, busy roles.
We were always looking for answers because we just wanted to get out of that. It’s a pretty stressful environment. I’m sure a lot of your readers can relate to that.
There’s a saying that the nine-to-five people jokingly say it becomes a five-to-nine – you’re just working long days. You’ve got a lot of moving deadlines, and a lot of pressures.
And look, you get paid well for it. But we just knew that wasn’t what we wanted to do for the next 10 or 20 years down the track. So, that’s what made us make the change.
Matt: And the rest is history!
Calem created a Lifestyle Business by building websites for local businesses – even during the world’s strictest lockdown…
Matt: So, what I wanted to talk to you about was the strategy that you took to make money online. You went for the cash flow strategy, because that makes significant money quite quickly. This is the strategy of building websites for local businesses.
It’s a really interesting time to get you on here because (of course) we’ve all been hit by COVID. But you both live in Melbourne, which has the world-record for the strictest lockdown.
Can you explain to us what happened for you over that two years with COVID? Because you literally just quit your corporate jobs right before then, didn’t you?
Calem: Yes, so when we last caught up, COVID was still coming. I was already living the full-time lifestyle business, and then Jenn quit corporate job a month or two after we spoke with you.
So, we’d gone from building the business on the side, to me being able to leave work. I originally started our business part-time and then left work. That’s when we last spoke. And since then, we’ve really been focused on building up the income to replace both of our incomes.
And we’ve done that now! I know it’s easy to skip through this now, but through COVID we’ve more than doubled our income from when we last caught up. To be honest, we thought we were doing pretty well back then, and we were…
Calem has more than doubled his income when others around him are worried about keeping their jobs
Calem: But now, we’ve more than doubled our income. We’ve joked about it a bit, where our big elusive number was making $10-20,000 a month. But today, we are quoting (per job) sometimes $10-20,000 per job.
Matt: Congratulations. Wow!
Calem: It’s crazy to see that happen. And we’re insanely grateful, but amidst COVID, a lot of our old connections (ex-colleagues) are going through a time where they’ve been worried about their jobs. A few lucky ones have dropped back to part-time, to keep their jobs.
But we’ve been able to grow our business and have a peace of mind around it, that we’re okay. And no one is controlling if we can work or not, or how much money we make (or we don’t make) etc. We’ve been able to look after ourselves, which has been really good and we’re very grateful for it.
Recurring Income allowed Calem to Grow his Lifestyle Business
Matt: It’s just phenomenal to see your growth. And like you said, you’re in control of your own destiny now. And isn’t it funny, you are doing these corporate website builds now.
I wanted to mention too – you both work with us as well. In addition to running your own business, you’re one of our top coaches with our students because you’ve been in there doing it for yourselves.
Another thing I just want to touch on – it must have been quite a bit of a mind shift for you over these last few years. You used to dream of earning $10-20,000 a month. Now you charge that amount per job and that’s recurring income too, isn’t it? That’s for ongoing SEO services?
Calem: Building up the recurring income has been a huge change for us. Previously, the ongoing recurring income used to make up 10% – 20% of our revenue. Now it’s about 80% of the pie and then the pie’s a bit bigger now.
But being able to build that recurring income has been a real game changer.
“We probably wouldn’t have been able to do that, had we not taken that first step, which was getting ourselves out of work and replacing the income through our digital skills.” – Calem Koek, Elevate Websites
Calem has grown as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur by Out Caring the Competition when dealing with Big Businesses
Matt: Ah, so now it’s just gone like this. You’ve hit the graph and you’re taking off. And how do you find working with those big clients now? You know, charging anywhere from $10,000, $20,000 a month to help them fix up their website or do ongoing SEO or getting content for them. How do you find working with the big guys?
Calem Koek: It’s obviously taken a big shift in mindset, which we’ve spoken about. But as we’ve grown with that, it’s just become insanely rewarding.
A lot of these bigger business have worked with a lot of agencies out there. And unfortunately, there were a lot of cowboys in this space. But we’ve been in a position, where we just care about their business.
We care about them, and what they’re doing etc. But we really just want to exceed their expectations and really out-deliver on everything they’ve ever experienced in the past. And try to re-instill their faith in the digital marketing industry. This industry is a good one – it’s just that, unfortunately a few businesses have been burned along the way.
Matt: It was you, Calem, that came up with the UPS (unique positioning statement) in our Champions community. You said, “We out-care the competition.” And we all love that. don’t we?
That’s what you and Jenn live by, as all of us do. And that’s obviously become your competitive advantage.
Building the Digital Skills to Work with your Ideal Clients
Matt: So today, you’re doing these bigger website builds. But, when you started training with us, you essentially started at ground zero didn’t you?
It’s not like you’ve got these massive, big digital skills from day one or anything like that. You had to do the hard yards and learn from scratch with us.
But you really excelled with your digital skills. And because of that, you can personally help these bigger clients and therefore they love coming back to you month after month.
Calem: Exactly. So definitely, the out caring piece is really important. They’re really buying us, and we have to deliver a really good service.
But having these bigger clients now; there’s a lot more to what their business does, and we’re just able to go really deep with them. And it’s not official, but I just see ourselves as an extension of the business. It’s really just working in partnership with them.
It’s not just about – we get money and give them something in return. I really think we do get to work hand-in-hand.
Why Calem chooses to work with corporate clients, even though he quit the corporate life…
Matt: And you’re finding that these businesses are way more recurring. Basically, once you do a good job with them, they’re going to be with you for years.
Calem: That’s right. And it very much comes to that approach.
When you do work with smaller business (and we do still work with a lot of solo operators out there – they need a good service too!), they can get knocked by the headwinds a bit.
Especially in the last two years, they batten down the hatches and put their cash away, and I understand that. They come back when times come good.
But with these bigger businesses, they factor that into their operating rhythm, and they need constant marketing done. So as long as we keep doing what we’re doing, they’re there and we’re just working with it.
It is just a lot steadier and more stable, working with these bigger businesses.
The Importance of Laptop Lifestyle for Calem and Jenn
Matt: If our readers are interested, you can read our previous interview that we did two years ago with Calem and Jenn. And you’ll realize that the reason these guys set this business up was for the laptop lifestyle.
So don’t be thinking, “Calem’s all about the corporate world again, because he works with big corporate clients now.”
The business is very much for lifestyle and that’s been particularly important over this last two years. Hasn’t it?
Calem: Definitely. Look when we started, we’d always set out to build something that we could take with us anywhere.
At the time we were traveling a lot. We needed to get away from that stressful corporate environment, so we travelled a lot. Went to some great places and we wanted to take something with us. That was something we spoke about last time we caught up.
Calem established a remote team to help maintain his lifestyle business and spend quality time with his family
Matt: The laptop lifestyle. Literally, you run this business on your laptop, don’t you?
Calem: Yes, and our team’s grown over the years. They’re based across Australia, but we can engage with them at any point, anywhere. That’s what it was always about.
But over the last two years, whilst we haven’t been able to travel so much for holidays, unfortunately we’ve had three of our four parents go through some pretty significant health issues. Our laptop lifestyle has allowed us to go back home and be with them for extended periods of time.
When working in the corporate world, we’d only be able to go on leave for a week or two, But now I think we’ve done six and eight week trips. We’ve come back home (because we obviously need to at some point!), but we’ve been able to stay as long as we needed to and not have to rush off when our family have needed us there.
We never knew this would come. But inadvertently with what we’ve built as a lifestyle entrepreneur, it’s enabled us to do that and look after them. We could be with our family and do what was important to us. And we’ve also been able to look after our clients and keep growing our business while away. So, it’s just a real “pinch yourself” moment.
Matt: This is very similar to what Amanda talked about in her interview about how to create a 6 figure work from home career. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.
Calem’s laptop lifestyle has allowed him to spend more than 18 weeks travelling for family, and still GROW his business..
Matt: To give people some context of what this really means, where you can live a laptop lifestyle, and travel around. Over the last year, how much time were you taking away from home?
Because now it just rolls off the tongue, to you and Jenn it’s normal. But share with your corporate friends, how much leave were you actually taking here?
Calem: Yes, I figured it out recently. It was 16 – 18 weeks, which is a third of the year that we were away. Given you get four weeks leave in corporate per year – that’s effectively 4-5 years’ worth of accumulated leave in a year. And that was to do what’s really important to us.
And I’ve got to admit, it wasn’t “keep the business going” in that time either. We were still getting new clients and still being able to grow with our existing clients too. It wasn’t just a whole holding formation. We were really able to keep growing, which is awesome.
Matt: That amazing, isn’t it? To think where you were, say five years ago when you started with us, to now taking a third of the year off to travel and still grow the business with an outsourced team.
You guys are a young couple and starting out in life that way. What an amazing outcome. Your life is so different now. Along with that, you’re also doing some joint ventures with some of the other people in our community.
Calem Koek now helps others achieve the same success with their Lifestyle Business
Matt: Also, you’re working with us here at the E-Business Institute. You’re very active with our community and so a big thank you there. And I take it, you get a lot out of coaching our students, so you enjoy yourself there?
Calem: Oh, very much! It’s just so rewarding to see what people are now doing in just 3-4 months, what we were doing in 1-2 years! It’s just awesome to be a part of that journey.
And I guess, we walked where they’re walking now. All of the things that they worry about, we once worried about too. We’ve been able to overcome and able to share our experience.
And also, how to get out there, how to build a business, how to engage with people. It’s cool to share all of that. And then all the technic bits-and-pieces we work on as well. So yeah, it’s great!
Matt: You do build beautiful websites, Calem. You’re the Divi legend in the Champions community! Even I’ve done some Divi training with you (Basic Tech Training). When I’ve got to brush up my Divi skills, I just grab Calem because he does build such beautiful websites.
I highly recommended using Calem’s website building services that’s for sure. You and Jenn can proudly say that you’re one of the leading digital agencies in Melbourne.
So, a big thank you for coming in today and doing such a wonderful interview. It’s really cool to hear about yours and Jenn’s success. And a big congratulations too, because I know these last two years, like for all of us, has been a challenging time. But you guys have just blitzed it and you’re still growing strong.
Thank you so much Calem, and for inspiring our community and also for looking after our very grateful students as well.
Calem: Oh, thank you. It’s great to be a part of it.
Matt: Awesome. Thanks again, Calem.