Here’s another edition of the Unusual Entrepreneur Interviews and today I am very honoured to have gotten this Unusual Entrepreneur in question. His name is Jon Morrow, the Associate Editor of one of the greatest blogs on earth, Copyblogger.
If you are just joining us for the first time, this is the second interview of the unusual entrepreneur interview series. It is a parade of unusual entrepreneurs who are changing the world and profiting from purpose. Profiting from purpose by changing the world isn’t an impossible dream as many tend to think of it, but a realistic one as many unusual entrepreneurs have extraordinarily proven. It is my life mission to understand the unusual qualities of such unusual entrepreneurs and inspire as many others to profit from purpose by changing the world.
This is the purpose of naijapreneur and the essence of this new category of information tagged “Unusual Entrepreneur Interviews”. In these interviews, I’ll be profiling several unusual entrepreneurs who are changing the world and profiting from purpose. The interviews are divided into 3 parts;
- Part 1: ENTREPRENEURSHIP – these are questions that focus on how these unusual entrepreneurs awakened the Spirit of business within.
- Part 2: STRATEGY – these are questions that focus on the unusual execution of business best practices adopted by these unusual entrepreneurs.
- Part 3: MISCELLANEOUS – these are resourceful recommendations, tools, books, and ideas necessary for unusual entrepreneurs.
If you’re just joining us here and is not yet familiar with our philosophy of unusual entrepreneurs, kindly download our free ebook: The Entrepreneur’s Journey. This is the official manifesto for anyone who wants to change the world and profit from purpose.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
How Unusual Is Jon Morrow?
He graduated from high school at 16, started three businesses by 18, graduating college with a 3.9 GPA by 21, and buying and selling millions of dollars in luxury real estate at 22 without ever being able to see the inside of a single property. Here’s Jon’s unusual view of his life;
“I would rather die doing what I want to do than die in a nursing home bed somewhere watching TV for 15 hours a day surrounded by other people waiting to die. To me that is the scariest thing imaginable.”
There are entrepreneurs and there are truly rare unusual ones, Jon belongs to the second category. He is an epitome of what I refer to as SIGNIFICANT –the art of being different [unusual uniqueness] and making a difference [unusual usefulness].
This is someone who has gone through several seemingly insurmountable problems in life, right from the very moment he was born. He literally conquered death. His life is a living testimony of these two sayings; “where there’s a will there’s a way” and “All things are possible to those who believe”.
I know you might not fully grasp the magnitude of my words, so I am going to say it as it is; Jon is one of those people doctors refer to as physically challenged or disabled. He was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease that progressively weakens the body to the point of complete atrophy, and eventual death.
Meaning, the only part of Jon’s body he can move is his head; from his neck down is paralyzed. But I can tell you this, outwardly Jon might fit such a description due to his unusual ailment, but inwardly, Jon is far from that description. He’s an unusual breed!
You need to read the full account of his story here to understand how much hurdles he’s had to cross to come this far in life. Many so called able people haven’t even done 10% of what he’s been able to accomplish in his 29 years on earth. This goes to say that, in life or business, when it comes to winning, physical or any form of disability is no excuse or hindrance to fulfilling your purpose or destiny. Only YOU can hinder YOU!
Interview Questions Part One
ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Awakening the Spirit of business
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do?, how do you do it?, why do you do it and who do you do it for?
Some people would call me a writer. Some people would call me an Internet entrepreneur. Some would say I’m a professional marketer. All of those things are true, but really, I just focus on helping bloggers get the attention they deserve. So often, smart people with genuinely awesome ideas get ignored, and to me, that’s a tragedy, because the world needs as many smart voices as it can get. I try to stop that from happening, raising those voices above all the other noise out there through the power of blogging.
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business?
Two steps forward, one step back. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been making and selling things, so you could say I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but I didn’t get serious about it until I turned 16 or so. I started my first business as a freelance videogame consultant then, made a decent income during high school, and then I expanded into funding a full-fledged software development company when I turned 18. It failed miserably, of course. I lost over $100,000 of capital invested by family and friends, and failure cost me several dear friendships as well. I waited a few years until starting my next business, this time a real estate development company, and I helped grow it into a $50 million company before the real estate crash, where I again lost everything and had to start over. Every time I’ve had to start over though, I’ve learned extremely valuable lessons, and I’ve gotten closer to building a business that would stand the test of time. In the case of helping bloggers, I think this one will actually last at least a decade.
3. Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Not really. Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Maybe it’s because my father was an entrepreneur and I wanted to be like him, or maybe it’s just my makeup. I’m not really sure, but there isn’t one particular event I can point to.
4. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
Well, I started out with a horrible purpose, which was to prove to the world that I was a child prodigy and reap the fame and riches I deserved. I wouldn’t have admitted that purpose, of course, but that’s what I wanted. It was all about me, and it’s one of the biggest reasons I failed. Nowadays, I’ve matured, at least a little, and I try to make the business about helping people. The more people whose lives I can change, the more successful I believe I am, and that success is accurately reflected in the profit the business brings in.
5. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
I think it’s overemphasized. Yes, loving what you do is important, but it’s not important in the way most people think. Loving what you do has nothing to do with the success of your business. It has to do with your longevity. You can absolutely hate what you do and build a very successful business, but you’ll probably quit or sabotage yourself before long. On the other hand, you can absolutely love what you do and be dirt poor. In my opinion, the smartest thing to do is look for ways you can serve other people, and then ask yourself which of those ways would you like most. That way, you have both, but what’s really important is you do it in that order. Your customers come first, you come second, never the other way around.
6. What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
My personal life mission is to make enough money to cure the disease that is slowly killing me. It’s called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and it’s the #1 genetic killer of children in the world. At 29 years old, I’m one of the oldest people in history with my form of the disease, and there are thousands of children per year it kills. Scientists are very close to curing it though, and the major hang-up is money. Over the next decade, I would like to donate at least $10 million to research, as well as raise another $10 million from other people. If I can do that, I believe that will be enough to cure the disease and save the lives of countless children, not to mention my own.
7. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
Entrepreneurs make the world better. Really, if you think about it, that’s what we do. We find some way the world can be improved, and then we improve it in exchange for payment. In my opinion, it’s the most valuable role you can have in the world, because we are the drivers of progress
8. How are you changing the world through the business, products or services you create?
I’m helping smart people connect with hundreds of thousands or even millions of people who need to hear their message. Eventually, it’s quite possible my students will have communicated with everyone in the developed world.
Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY – The unusual execution of business best practices
9. What would you describe as your secret formula for business success?
Find out what people want and need, and then give it to them in exchange for a fee.
10. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
There are several different ways to identify business opportunities, but my personal favorite is to look for a void in the market where people really have a problem and need a better solution. I then develop that solution and sell it to them. The most important metrics are the size of the market, the price of the average sale, the margin, the passion of market, and the ease at which I can access the market through existing marketing channels.
11. Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
Yes, of course. I think every successful entrepreneur does. In my case, I have several mentors, the most important probably being Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com. His impact on my business has been absolutely enormous. Without him, I know for certain I would be nowhere close to where I am today.
12. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
Well, in the beginning, you pretty much have to do everything, right? You can’t afford to outsource or bring in employees, so you have to do it all, but eventually, as your business grows, you can start hiring people and then picking and choosing what you do. In that case, the most important place to put your time is marketing. Nothing else even comes close to the dollars per hour. Every super successful entrepreneur I know is a master of marketing.
13. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
Blogging, webinars, teleseminars, free videos, free reports, all kinds of ways. For the most part, I promote my products and services through joint ventures where other people tell their audiences about what I do in exchange for a percentage of every sale. I’m also starting to do some advertising as well.
14. Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
Adequate funding is almost never the problem. The problem is inadequate marketing. If you can’t write down in specific details how your business will make a profit within six months, then there’s a 98% chance your business model is broken beyond repair.
15. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
Well, I would recommend you begin outsourcing as soon as possible. My favorite place to find great outsourced workers is odesk.com. It’s a truly wonderful service. In terms of partnership, I recommend seeking out the leaders within your industry and figuring out ways to partner with them.
16. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
I always try to price my products and services higher than the competition. That gives me the ability to spend more money on marketing than everyone else and dominate them. The key is to be able to make a value proposition that justifies the premium pricing. Dan Kennedy has a great book on the subject I would recommend checking out. It’s called No BS Pricing Strategy, I think.
Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS – Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for unusual entrepreneurs
17. Were there any particular questions you expected me to ask that is beneficial to entrepreneurs and I didn’t? Kindly share with us such questions and their relevant answers here.
Jon didn’t give an answer to this question, so I will simply share with you how you can get to see some of what Jon is involved in and how you can stay connected with him online.
You’ve met Jon, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur?
Share your views below in the comment section.
Thank you for your time!
ONE LAST THING!
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