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 Yaro Starak, the founder of entrepreneurs-journey a great website where he offers down to earth tips and advice for internet entrepreneurs.
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Without further ado, let’s begin!
How Unusual Is Yaro Starak?
Entrepreneurs are famous for starting up businesses. Yaro Starak is famous for starting online businesses. As an 18 years old kid, he started his first online business [a card game business] in 1998 as a university undergraduate in Australia and later sold it for $13,000. His second online business was a proofreading and editing business called better edit which linked clients and editors.
Today, he has made over $1 million from his online businesses. The very unusual thing about Yaro’s approach to business is that he did all these without any full time employees. He basically works with part time contractors/freelancers on a project by project basis.
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’ve been an entrepreneur, predominately an online entrepreneur, since the late nineties when I was in the middle of my university degree. I owned some successful websites, some not so successful, and in 2005 started a blog. The blog lead to writing free reports, releasing three training courses and meeting all kinds of amazing people. Today I still manage the blog as my main project and am working on a new project, CrankyAds.com, an advertising platform for bloggers.
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business?
It’s been completely unpredictable, but wonderful. Early on I did business because it was the only option – I couldn’t get a full time job because that was my definition of torture. Now I do business because it’s the best way to live your life – completely in control of how you spend your time, how much money you make and you can be a positive influence in the lives of many other people.
3. Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Nothing specific. I think the dot com bubble period in the late 1990s was definitely a major influence on me because it showed me that the internet was this amazing playground for business, which in my opinion was a much better place to do business than in the bricks and mortar world.
4. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
I really only had one goal – experiment until I found something that worked. Initially I played with hobbies, but as I built sites that became popular I discovered I could make money too, which I began to focus on so I didn’t need a job.
5. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
I think that is the ideal, but not always as linear as you would like it to be. Sure it’s great to get paid to write about subjects you love, but what if there is no money in what you care about? It doesn’t always work, so sometimes you need to find a function – a role you can perform in your business that you love, that is not necessarily what the business is about. For example you may love testing advertising methods using statistical analysis software. You can apply this love to almost any online business, even one that focuses on selling a product you don’t necessarily love.
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?
I don’t have a specific goal other than being a positive influence on everyone who comes in touch with my work. I think writing is a wonderfully powerful tool for positive change, so I’d hope that my writing can continue to do this long after I am gone.
7. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
Entrepreneurs are the ideas people. They come up with better ways to do things or new ways to do things that other people then benefit from.
8. How are you changing the world through the business, products or services you create?
Much of my focus right now is helping other people leave their dependence on a job to have more free time. It doesn’t need to be about becoming a millionaire, but if you can make a few thousand dollars a month online with a blog, that’s enough to free you from the job trap, leaving time for family, passions and travel.
Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY – The unusual execution of business best practices
9. What would you describe as your secret formula for business success?
It’s not really a secret. Come up with ideas, pick the ones I think will work, find people doing similar things and doing it well, learn from them, and then keep testing until something meets my three main goals -
1. Consistent income
2. Free time
10. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
I look within the realms of influence I currently have and then spot needs. In particular, my own needs, or my own frustrations with the solutions currently available. From there measuring viability is all about creating something and see whether people like it, and if they do, if there is a viable business model behind it.
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?
I have no close mentors, but plenty of people I study from the comfort of my audio player on my phone. I learn a lot from interviews of successful people and simply experiencing what others have created.
12. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
For me the 2-hour work day format has worked well. As long as I manage to complete two hours of productive work a day I move my business forward. Some days I do more, but as long as one core task is completed I’m happy. The important thing is to identify what tasks matter. I’ve always been good at doing this simply by knowing what pieces of the puzzle we need in place to know whether something will work.
Until you get out there and market what you are doing you won’t really know anything reliable about its validity. More often than not, my daily tasks revolve around tasks that are directly about marketing or closely linked to it (like creating content). If you do things that bring attention to your product or service, that’s when you really learn about whether it will work.
13. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
My system has always been simple. Talk and teach and build up an audience by helping others. Do all of this for free and make sure you give 100% – don’t hold anything back. Then when it comes time to charge money for something, or to recommend something that people can buy, they trust you.
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?
I’ve never sought funding and never had full time employees. That’s not necessarily a statement that I wouldn’t seek funding or employees, but in the past I’ve had very elegant business models that leveraged my content and required only me and a few contractors to bring in more than enough money. I’ve always believed in the power of simple business models. I’ve also leveraged one successful website and the cash flow from it, or from selling it, to start my next project. Although I rarely spend any money beyond paying my technical contractors. Keep it simple and start small.
15. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers would you recommend every entrepreneur work with?
That really depends on what business model you are following. In my case I’ve been in the information publishing business for a good chunk of the last 10 years, which means things like website hosting, aweber for email newsletters, wordpress for blogging, contractors for technical issues, etc.
16. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
In most situations in the past I’ve looked at the competition and similar businesses to see what they charge. Then I’ve come up with some basic calculations to estimate how many sales I expected to make and how much money that will bring in. From there it’s just a case of getting out there and putting something up for sale to see how people respond.
Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS – Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for unusual entrepreneurs
17. 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.
Well most people ask to take a look at my website if they haven’t heard of me before, so take a look at www.entrepreneurs-journey.com for my resources on how to start a profitable website.
Thank you for the interview Tito!
You’ve met Yaro, 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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