Richard was already very successful with his corporate career in engineering and in real estate, with multi-million-dollar deals.
But he was always stressed and had limited cashflow to support his young family.
He was looking for something more…something that he could do from the comfort of his own home, so that he could spend time with the kids and earn regular cashflow online.
That goal of wanting more freedom and flexibility lead Richard to retraining with us to learn the digital skills he now uses today to operate a very successful digital agency. He works with a few select clients, charging a minimum of $7,000 for website builds and up to $5,000 per month for ongoing SEO.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW or read the transcript to see how you can start your own digital agency create cashflow to support your family…
See how Richard was able to replace his engineer income and start a digital agency….
Matt Raad: Hi again everyone. It’s Matt Raad here from the eBusiness Institute, where we teach beginners how to build and buy websites. Also, one of the other interesting strategies we teach is helping professionals exit their jobs by starting up a digital agency.
Today’s special guest is one of our all-time star students who has made that journey. He was awarded Student of the Year when he first came onto the Champions program.
I’m excited to have Richard with us today because it’s a good time for you to read his journey. He’s been able to quit his job relatively early in the piece.
So, let’s see how he was able to do that and the specific strategies he followed. Hopefully, you’ll get some fantastic inspiration from Richard’s story.
Thanks, Richard, for coming on today.
Richard: Thanks for having me.
Matt: It was great catching up with you face-to-face the other day in Sydney.
Richard knew he wanted his own business, but wasn’t sure what…
Matt: When you and Catherine first came onto our program, where were you with your business and family?
Richard: I had worked as an engineer for about ten years, and we’d just had our first daughter (she was 12 months old). I was on long service leave for my job and about to transition to part-time.
I knew I wanted to start a business but wasn’t sure what. At the time, I was already building some websites; I had some small ones that I was working on, but I knew there was more out there.
I had done website design before and knew there was more opportunity from a business perspective. So, I was interested to learn more and figure out how I could make it lucrative for myself and my family.
He heard about eBusiness Institute and how you can make money online
Matt: And how did you hear about us?
Richard: It was at an event I went to quite a while ago. Matt and Liz Raad were some of the speakers that were there. It was interesting to hear about how you could make money online.
Matt: Before you met us, you’d already been playing around with websites and building a few?
Richard: Yes, so at that stage, Catherine had already been on your course for a little while.
Matt: That’s right. On the Digital Investors program.
Richard: Yes. Then she recommended I get into it, and I was keen.
I was doing property development at the time, and I didn’t have much time to do extra stuff. But I started and was impressed. And it worked out really well for me.
He chose to create a Digital Agency to help replace his existing income
Matt: I want to go back and look at some of the differences you’ve noticed over the last few years.
But to start with, what are you up to today?
Richard: Now I have my own full-time business called Paramark, which is a leading web design and SEO agency in Parramatta. We do website design and search engine optimisation for businesses.
We work with a small group of clients that we get along really well with. I know them all on a first-name basis, and I enjoy helping their business grow. They’ve been very happy with the results we’ve achieved for them.
Matt: I know you get fantastic results for your clients, Richard. I’ve helped you on a few calls and have excitedly seen some of the results.
Richard now uses his digital skills to work with public listed companies
Matt: I should mention to everyone that Richard is a bit of a legend, a very quietly spoken, humble legend.
But imagine this, he’s retrained with us in digital skills and has actually SEO’ed a publicly-listed (and very well-known) company in Australia?
Richard: Yes, that’s right.
Matt: He SEO’ed two of their pages for them.
Richard: Yes. We worked with Selfwealth, which is a large share trading company. We worked with them about three years ago to help them with the new design of their site.
He combined his new digital expertise with his existing problem-solving skills to create an online business he loves…
Matt: That’s impressive because by trade, you’re an aeronautical engineer, which is a fascinating role in itself.
Richard: That’s right. Look, it’s still analytical, so as an engineer, it’s about problem-solving. You’re trying to work out how to make things perform better.
And that’s the part that I love about search engine optimisation. You’re trying to make something get better results.
But I’ve always liked marketing and sales and the artistic side of it too. So, those three things go really well together.
Matt: And you’ve done so well.
Why Richard’s agency works so well with larger businesses
Matt: So, once you learned your digital skills, you didn’t just stick with building websites for tradies and small micro-businesses, did you?
I remember doing a few coaching calls with you. And I said that based on your area, there are some excellent industrial businesses around there. So, you’ve gone for much bigger businesses that have more employees.
Richard: Well, we have a range.
We still work with tradies. And I enjoy working with them because there are many opportunities there. You can get some really quick wins and get them more local business fast.
But then working with bigger businesses is good as well. I’ve worked with a few manufacturers, and that’s been good. Many agencies wouldn’t really understand how to talk to them or what their product or service is.
One of the reasons they like working with me is that they don’t have to explain everything a million times. I get it, and I appreciate the technical side of it as well.
Matt: I think that has worked really well for you because you’ve got a nice range of clients. As you said, you’re very personal with your clients.
He has been able to replace his engineering income within 18 months from local website builds
Matt: For local website builds, you don’t have to mention any specific client names, but what size website builds do you do these days?
Richard: In terms of dollar cost or business?
Matt: Yes, dollar cost. What are you charging now for website builds?
Richard: We usually start at about $7,000 up to around $12-13,000.
Matt: That’s awesome. And what about ongoing SEO?
Richard: Look, anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 a month.
Matt: $5,000 a month. That gives you a nice recurring income.
Matt: Looking back at your online journey, it wasn’t that long ago you joined us. Was 2019 the first year you trained on the Champions program with us?
Richard: Yes, that was it.
Matt: Then you repeated and did two years with us. Did it take you about two years to replace your income?
Richard: I would say around 18 months. I was able to leave part-time work and go full-time in the business after about 18 months.
Matt: That is brilliant.
Why Richard prefers online businesses over real estate
Matt: Can you share with us what was happening in your life with real estate?
I remember on some calls we did, you explained some of the challenges because of the specific strategy you were following in real estate.
Richard: Sure. We started doing some property development in about 2016, and they’re pretty big deals. For anything small in Sydney, you’re looking at a minimum of $1.5 million to do anything. So, they’re big deals, investments, and debt.
The market came up quite a bit, which helped us a lot. But there was a lot of money that we were putting into it, particularly before we sold out. We were pulling money out of our own pocket every month to pay interest.
And like things do, the first time you do it, not everything goes according to plan. So, it went a bit longer than it probably would have if it were our seventh, eighth or ninth project.
It became quite hard to fund that and run the business and provide for our family. So, it was a bit of a struggle running and doing everything back then.
He found it hard achieving regular cashflow to support his family through real estate…
Matt: Well done on the big risks. Because cash-flow-wise, you’d have to be very careful. You are exiting your job here, but you’ve also got a kid.
I remember when our kids came along, that’s when our online journey took off for us too. It’s funny how I see this across our community, and you’ve seen it too, Richard.
We have so many babies born during the Champions program, and then I think that’s the impetus for people to do really well out of this.
I remember back then, you looked cool, calm, and collected. But did you feel stressed at the time?
Richard: Yes, it was very stressful. And you don’t know when it’s going to end.
We were trying to get this thing through the council and finally sell it. And we didn’t know how long it was going to take.
Every month it was like, “Oh, it’s going to be a few more months.” So, that was quite stressful at the time.
…and realised that online businesses provided a much easier way to achieve consistent cash flow
And then trying to build a business as well, a few things were going on. But we got through it. And at the end, I was like, “All right. Now I’m going to focus a hundred per cent on business.”
And I love property, so we still invest in property. But I know where my calling is now, and it’s been much easier online than any other kind of business I’ve ever worked on.
Matt: That’s why I wanted you to share your journey with us today.
Richard’s advice for people wanting to quit their corporate job to start an online business
Matt: You know a lot of the people in our community, and there’s a lot of people like yourself who are younger.
You’ve made the journey where you’ve quit your corporate job. You’ve done property development, not just property investment, but a full-on development, which is pretty stressful.
There were significant delays and cost blowouts, all whilst you’re having a family and building a brand-new business that you’ve completely retrained for. So, it was a full-on time in your life.
Do you have any advice for anyone new in that position? Or for people looking to quit their job and might be worrying about the future?
How to overcome cashflow problems when starting an online business
Matt: Obviously, cash flow was a big thing for you guys with a young family. As you look back over this journey, is there some advice you could give someone in that position, do you think?
Richard: I think while you’re trying to get out of full-time work and move into a business, the big trap is the cash flow. That’s because often in business, you don’t make a profit in terms of wages immediately.
That’s probably the thing that hurts the most. People think, “It’s all this money to invest in a business, and then you’ve got to try and make wages as well.”
I’d say the thing that cures that is getting sales. And particularly as an agency, getting sales is a thing that will make it happen so much faster because you get paid straight up. Then you can invest that money into the job that you’re doing.
The faster that happens, the faster you can get paid. I’d say focusing on sales and networking has been the thing that helped me transition from work to business the fastest.
Why sales and networking will help you achieve online results faster
Matt: We heard earlier that you’d done a blend of B2B businesses and tradies. Why do you think you were so successful on the sales side? What have you done there?
Richard: I wouldn’t say I’m the world’s greatest salesperson. I talk to some people that tell me about their sales process. I’m like, “Yeah, I probably should take on a little bit of that.”
But I’ve always liked sales. I’ve been on Gumtree since it’s ever been around, just selling stuff. So, I like the sales process, talking to someone, the negotiation, that kind of thing. I genuinely enjoy doing all of that.
But something that’s really helped me has been reading books, such as How to Win Friends and Influence People.
That book was a big game-changer for me because you go into it thinking about how to network with people and build business relationships. It changes your mindset about how to do that and build rapport.
I found that book quite helpful and definitely inspiring for me. That was a big difference in building some of the relationships that have led to sales and how you go about networking.
Matt: That’s one of those key books that we recommend. It’s had a big influence on my life, which is why we highly recommend it.
How Richard grew his digital agency through referrals
Matt: What about getting your initial leads? I know there will be people reading this thinking, “How did he do it within three years, from zero to hero?”
You’re like Calem in our community (one of our coaches). He says we need to out-care the competition. I would suggest, Richard, that you’re likely very honest and up-front with the businesses you talk to.
You’re saying you think you should improve your sales process. But I bet you get these really good sales because people just feel comfortable and trust you. You know what you’re talking about.
I think that would help you a lot in getting your sales.
Richard: I’ve found a few times when talking to potential clients, where they’ve said, “Well, this person has said that we’ll get this, or we’ll get this resolved in this period of time, and I’ve known that that’s completely unrealistic.”
Yes, you can get sales with some people by just promising the world. But other people see right through that. And even if you did get the sale but couldn’t deliver, that relationship’s not going to last very long.
So, I think being honest is the only way in business. People will see through it sooner rather than later, and your reputation is everything in business. I look at how I can be honest with someone.
How out caring the competition has given Richard amazing referral opportunities
Richard: The way I got my first sales was through networking.
I had my fingers in a lot of different pies. It wasn’t massively intentional at the time, and it’s become increasingly intentional since being in business.
But I was in a few different networks, and I had someone that I knew but didn’t even realise that they had their own business. We did a website for them, and it went extremely well. They gave me an awesome referral sometime later on.
Then another one was actually from the development that we were doing. One of the contractors was talking to me about what he did, and what I did, and then referred his brother to me.
That’s been one of my longest-lasting clients, and we’ve been very happy working together.
Matt: Have you found you’ve grown your business mainly through referrals and word of mouth?
Richard: Definitely. We’re focusing on SEO for my website and building that up to get more organic leads. But networking and referrals have been a big thing for our business.
Matt: That’s awesome.
Richard now has big plans for the growth of his online business
Matt: Where do you want to go with this? You’re not really focused on building portfolio sites or anything. So, are you mainly focusing on your digital agency?
Richard: I’d say long-term, we want to grow the number of clients we’re working with. I don’t have the goal of being a massive agency with thousands of clients.
I like being able to talk to clients on a first-name basis and talk to them frequently. I think you might start to lose touch if your books get really big.
We’re working on some other things too. We have sites that we’ll be promoting Australia-wide that are a bit of a cross between a content site and a directory site. We’re working on a few things there.
He uses his new networking skills to find these exciting business opportunities…
Richard: But it’s opportunities we’ve discovered (learned about) through some of the clients we’ve already worked with. We’ve also found some opportunities through some of the networking we’ve done.
We’ve just been exposed to an opportunity we’d never have known about if it wasn’t for some of the people we’ve met.
Matt: That is super cool, and we see that all the time in our community.
We give the foundational knowledge, lots of ideas and support, and teach you the digital skills you need. But then you guys go out there and take it in so many different directions.
I know you’re extremely successful in your strategy, and it is very exciting.
Talking to bigger clients isn’t as scary as you might think…
Matt: It’s also exciting to see you work closely and personally with much bigger companies.
How did you find it when you first worked with these bigger companies? Was it scary the first time?
You were talking to a publicly-listed company, and they’re saying, “Okay, we want you to SEO.” And these are high-traffic pages for this company too.
So, what was that experience like for you? Was it good fun? Is it easy? Is it just like talking to a normal person?
Richard: It was good. It did feel a little bit surreal doing some of the bigger deals. But I guess you’re just talking to a normal person, right? So, it’s not like it’s something totally different.
And often, you’re not talking to the CEO of publicly listed companies. It’s often the marketing manager who is just a normal person. So, you just deal with them and try to build a good relationship with them.
Matt: And did you do face-to-face meetings? Because was this during COVID?
Richard: That was during COVID, so we met over Zoom.
Matt: So, you never met them face-to-face, and they were obviously happy with your legendary sales process. That’s impressive, and you must be doing something right! Do you just communicate with them over Zoom?
Richard: That’s right.
This job was referred to me and was a really good opportunity, and everything was done over Zoom. We also had a group Zoom chat so that their web development team could communicate with us, and it all worked. A lot of stuff these days is over Zoom, so it can definitely work remotely.
Matt: That is just unreal.
Why Richard loves the lifestyle of running his own digital agency
Matt: So, I know you had a pretty cool job and did it for over ten years.
But looking back over your digital journey over the last three years, do you prefer this lifestyle to working as an engineer?
Richard: I love it.
It gives me much more freedom and flexibility, particularly with the kids and family.
Obviously, there are challenges in running a business, and it’s not like I spend an hour a week or something in the business. There’s a lot of time involved.
But I’ve got more flexibility about when I work and when I don’t, and that part I really do like.
I also have the freedom to work with who I want to work with. I can choose the clients I want to work with and the people who work with me. And I really enjoy that freedom.
I had a good job before. I enjoyed it, and it was a great opportunity. But I just wanted the ability to have a bit more control over what I was doing. And in business, you’ve got the scope to go as high as you want. That bit I really like as well.
Matt: That’s cool.
The laptop lifestyle allows him to spend more time with his wife and kids
Matt: Does Catherine work with you as well? How do you balance the family and the business side of things?
Richard: She still works full-time in her work. But she does some stuff with me, and we work on some websites together.
Richard: But her main focus is her job right now.
Matt: So, it’s mainly you running the business. And like you said, this gives you the freedom to go wherever you want.
Richard, I’m sure you will do really well out of this long-term. I know some of the other exciting things that you’re working on. And the digital skills you’ve got allow you to open up new websites and ideas online. It’s absolutely fantastic.
You’re also very active in our Champions community, so a big thank you. You help out a lot of our community members with all the tips you’re learning.
It’s just unreal to see your progress, and it’s hard to believe it’s been just three years. So, well done. It’s fantastic having you today. Thanks so much for that, Richard.
Richard: Definitely, it’s my pleasure.
Want to learn more how to start your own online digital agency?
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