Welcome to another edition of the Unusual Entrepreneur Interview series. Lately I have been running into several more unusual entrepreneurs whose passion for changing the world and profiting from purpose is totally overwhelming. I recently read about 19 of such unusual women entrepreneurs who are building businesses that MATTER online. Head there and check them out for yourself, they really rock!
So Who Is Our Unusual Entrepreneur Guest For Today?
His name is Larry Keltto of “the Solopreneur life” a totally awesome dude. I ran into Larry in the launch year of naijapreneur back in 2010. He was the very first person to talk about the existence of naijapreneur to his community of Solopreneurs. That’s how awesome Larry really is!
How Unusual Is Larry Kelto?
Larry has been a Solopreneur since 1993 and has been helping several other Solopreneurs build purpose-driven businesses that change the world and profit from purpose™. And just in case you are wondering what Larry refers to as Solopreneurs, here’s his description of purpose-driven Solopreneurs in brief;
- They want to achieve socially significant goals through our work.
- They are hardwired to want to serve.
- They are empathetic.
- They don’t view “net worth” purely in monetary terms.
- They are grateful for what others have done for us.
- They strive to pay forward.
- They want to live lives of meaning.
Enough of the introduction, take it away Larry!
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?
I’m a Solopreneur. I work from my home in Minnesota and I provide coachsulting and resources to purpose-driven Solopreneurs who want to change the world. I provide the coachsulting by phone and email, and I deliver resources via: my Web site, TheSolopreneurLife.com; Twitter; Facebook; and BlogTalkRadio. (I’ll get into the “why” in a moment.)
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business? Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
I was in the newspaper business when my wife and I got married, in 1993. We soon realized that my work hours would not mesh well with married life, so I decided to start my own business. My wife predicted that the business would change its shape many times over the years, and she was exactly right.
3. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
I did not have a grand plan. In 1993, desktop publishing was in its infancy, and I had expert-level writing and editing ability, plus expert skills with a publishing program called QuarkXpress. I believed that those skills were marketable, and they were. I began working with a mix of local startups and established businesses, and my primary service was producing newsletters for those businesses.
4. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
I think passion is one element in a three-part formula. The other two elements are;
1). The market and its needs; and
2). Your skills.
If you can find the spot where passion, the market, and your skills overlap, that’s a great place from which to create a business.
5. 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 mission is to help Solopreneurs succeed in their quests to change the world. In a way, I’m like a teacher — I find satisfaction in seeing the accomplishments of my students/clients.
6. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
I think entrepreneurs drive innovation, and innovation is the source of most human achievement. Entrepreneurs take risks and try new things that other people don’t. So I think entrepreneurs are responsible for the improvement and advancement of societies.
Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY – The unusual execution of business best practices
7. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
It’s not an exact science for me. I basically look at the three-part formula I referred to above: market need, skills to meet those needs, and passion. Often I will measure the three on a 10-point scale. Anything that approaches a 30-point score is going to be an attractive opportunity.
8. 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?
I have a circle of advisors, a group of about six people whom I consult when faced with challenges or decisions. They have had a huge positive impact on me — mostly in the realm of affirmation and encouragement.
9. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
I think time-management tools are very unique to the individual. But I can say that Stephen Covey’s “quadrant” system has worked extremely well for me. Covey introduced the quadrant idea in his book “First Things First,” and I’m at my best when his system is front-and-center every day. The system identifies where you should be spending your time. I’ve learned that the highest and best use of time is on things that are important but not urgent, i.e., personal and professional development; personal health; and building of relationships.
10. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
Profitable customers typically are people with whom I believe I will develop a long-term relationship; recurring business is very important to any Solopreneur because it allows you to spend more time on billable work and less time on marketing.
I have a natural curiosity, a genuine desire to learn about people, so being able to ask questions and sincerely be interested in the answers probably sets me apart.
11. 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?
Funding hasn’t been a frustration for me. Maybe that means I haven’t set my sights high enough! I know how much revenue I need to reach my goals, and I’ve been able to reach them without borrowing. I wouldn’t come to me for finance advice. I have a handful of colleagues whom I turn to — and refer clients to — for finance expertise.
12. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
All Solopreneurs must have an accountant who understands the needs of small-business owners and their businesses.
13. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
I’m unusual. I offer “Pay What You Can” pricing. I have a posted price; along with the option that clients can opt for “Pay What You Can.” It’s something I had wanted to do for a long time, and I finally did it in 2011. For me, my business, and my niche, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody.
Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS – Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for unusual entrepreneurs
14. Since you became an entrepreneur – someone who solves problems for people profitably; what has been your most outstanding accomplishments in the context of business?
I think my accomplishments are threefold:
- Being able to stay in business for 18 years. That’s no small feat, thank you very much. I’ve been able to evolve, grow, and adapt. The world is much different than it was in 1993.
- The relationships I’ve built with clients, colleagues.
- Creating a business that fits both my business and personal goals. I started the business in order to keep my marriage strong, and the business continues to be positive for my family.
15. What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
I had a period of time — when our kids were small — when I allowed myself to become dependent on one client. I think it stunted my innovation and growth and made my business vulnerable. But to be fair to myself, the energy that had gone toward business development was spent on trying to raise our kids.
Eventually, as my kids got older, I walked away from that client. It took about 2 years to get back to where I wanted to be financially.
The lesson is to not become reliant on one client/customer.
16. Where 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.
If you were just starting out today, what would you do?
I’d be a teacher and a high school football coach.
What more would you like to know about the Unusual Larry Kelto? You can ask him further questions below in the comment section and I will be sure that you will get an answer directly from him.
Also, what did you learn from this unsual entrepreneur? What lessons, what philosophy of his strike you the most?
Larry has shared his unusual story with you, now is time to hear from you. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say