I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick McFadden, founder of Indispensable Marketing. Patrick consults and speaks about how effective marketing eliminates the need to sell and the importance of choosing your customers with care. Patrick has been mentioned in Inc., named as a small business thought leader by American Express Open Forum, and interviewed by the Wall Street Radio Network, among others.
How would you tell your story?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. Growing up, we were the first family in the neighborhood to have a membership to Sam’s Club. I remember walking into the store and saying, “Wow! They’ve got an assortment of different candy in one box. I could sell all this candy around the neighborhood.” My little brother said, “Oh, we can just eat it!” And I said, “No. You’re thinking ‘consumption.’ I’m thinking ‘distribution.’” So that was a pivotal moment for me. I realized that my mindset is totally different than my brothers.
As I started selling candy around the neighborhood, it created a problem. Kids were throwing the wrappers on the ground. I remember coming home one day and there was a notice from the property management company. It said, “We don’t know where the abundance of trash is coming from, but it definitely needs to stop.” The management said that it occurred most often over the weekends: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I went to the management office, knocked on the door, and said, “Hey, would you pay me to pick up the trash?” They agreed. That right there showed me that I thought differently, and was another pivotal moment for me.
When I came out of high school, I worked for an engineering company. At the same time, I also worked on entrepreneurial ventures. I knew that I had to make a decision about which path to take. I read a book that talked about different work models: You could be a consultant or coach, a distributor or the owner of a business, or you can just pick the work that fits your life.
So, I asked myself, “What, of all the things I’ve done in my life, are the things that I really enjoy? What things really fit my skills, dreams, passions, and abilities?”
Marketing came to the forefront. I like selling stuff, I like solving problems, and I love change. After working for a while, the engineering company came to me and said, “What do you want to do with your life? We’re willing to pay for some of your college expenses.”
I knew that I didn’t want to spend four years getting an engineering degree even if the company were willing to pay a portion of it. I didn’t have the desire to put into that line of work. I thought that one of two things is going to happen. Either I’m going to get fired, or I’m going to have to quit and pursue the thing that I love and enjoy.
I let my manager know that I have been exploring marketing on the side, and I’ve seen great results for clients. I wanted to stay with the company, and my goal was to do marketing for the firm. My manager said, “Write up something that you could do for the company.”
So I did. I wrote up my proposal. It took about 90 days to get into the office and pitch my idea. When I did, management told me that I was better suited for the mechanical department, and there was no way that I was going to be moving into the marketing department. And that’s when I put in my notice. And made that leap.
What did you consider before taking that leap?
Before taking the leap, I knew that I was jumping into another type of work model: to be self employed or a business owner.
I considered the following factors:
· How will I bring value to my business relationships?
· What are the things that I can do for free?
· Where is my income going to come from?
· How did I want to earn my income?
I also had to consider things like health insurance and retirement.
The key factor came from a book I read. The book shared that when you have a full time position and a side entrepreneurial venture, if you are bringing in revenue from your side venture that is half of your current day-job’s take home pay for 90 days straight, then if you jumped into the entrepreneurial venture full-time, you could double that revenue and earn what you need.
Once I was able to bring in half of my take-home pay from my day-job for 90 days, I saw that as the financial signal that I could make that leap and leave my day job. And I did.
But you know, in all business, you have up and down years. The first two years were good, then I had a down year and had to recalibrate my business. I had to reinvent my firm, and think about new ways to serve the market. I created new marketing packages, and transformed the firm into a marketing specialty firm rather than a general consultative perspective.
What helped you get through the downturn in the business in that one year?
Hard work, passion and the desire to not work a fulltime job. I always say — once you taste it, once you become a free-range chicken, it’s hard to go back. It’s difficult to go back to a corporate setting.
I’ve always known that I am meant to own my own business, and I know that I have something to offer the world. I know what I have to offer is valuable, and people will pay for it. I just had to structure my business in a way that makes sense. For me, what helped was simply not giving up.
It also helps to be generous. Often, when you feel you are lacking, it’s hard to be generous with your time, your resources, your information, because you already feel like you do not have enough. You are coming from a place of ‘lack’. But it’s so helpful to be generous.
I kept saying to myself ‘I’m going to help people for free. I’m going to give away free advice at networking events. I’m going to talk to people on the phone’. It helped, because people then say ‘You helped me with that 15 min conversation. I would love to discuss possible business alignment’. Being generous really got me through the downturn.
It sounds like there has been one principle that has guided your life: Giving even when you feel that you’re coming from a place of lacking. What are some other principles that have guided your life?
1. Make sure you’re bringing value through every interaction.I always want to make sure that every interaction with my company and myself brings value to someone — and I take it to the extreme. I’m obsessed with it. Whether it’s an email interaction, a phone call interaction, a handshake, a wink, a “Like,” or a comment. I want to make sure that every interaction I have, in some way, brings value to that person.
And value may come in different shapes and forms. It may mean me saying, “Congratulations,” or, “I see you out there, you’re making things happen,” or it could be me buying something from someone or listening to a person’s situation. I just want to make sure that every interaction that people have with me and my company brings them value. It could be laughter!
2. Make sure that work is just a piece of the life puzzle.
Work is not the whole caboodle. For many people, their life is their work. If they lose their job, they’re not sure how to continue to go on. I want to flip that and say, “No, work is a piece of the puzzle. In fact, you should first figure out, ‘What do you want your life to look like?’”
If you want your life to revolve around travel, then ask yourself what career opportunities fit the lifestyle that you want. For example, if you want your life to revolve around travel, you can work for Marriot and test hotels in different states and countries. You can travel, and the company will pay for it.
So, figure out what it is you want your life to look like. Make sure that your work is wrapped around your life, and not your life wrapped around your work
What is your advice to “future-proof” your career so that it won’t be obsolete in twenty years?
1. Become an indispensable person.There’s a book by Seth Godin called Linchpin. He discusses the importance and methods to become a person who is missed. If you can figure out how to be missed in every organization that you are in — how to connect people, how to do things that fulfill a gap — you will be missed. Anyone can do it, but it does take hard work.
2. Ask yourself, “What do you want to accomplish with your work?” It’s hard to “future-proof” any job thanks to technology. A better question is, “What do you want to accomplish with your work?”
If I feel like what I wanted to do with my life was to heal the worlds’ pain, then I was say to myself ‘ok, what opportunities are out there? I can be a nurse. I can heal pain by being a counselor, a preacher, a pastor. I can heal by being a midwife. I can heal by being a finance coach, because I want to help people struggling with money’. Then I would pick the careers that allows me to fulfill that calling.
This is a better perspective when it comes to the issue of the future of work. In order to be irreplaceable, you need to know why you are here and what you want to do, and how to apply that. For example, you are in the customer service field, and your industry is slowly being replaced with telemarketers or outsourcing. You can ask yourself ‘Ok, how can I continue to help people. What other jobs are there that will allow me to fulfill this?’ Have that human connection that technology can’t.
What do you stand for?
I stand for hope and what’s possible.
I grew up with a speech impediment. I didn’t have connections, money, and I didn’t go to college. I stand for what’s possible when you put in the work, when you are patient, when you build others up and are generous with your time. When you build a business that doesn’t destroy others. When I speak to people, they often leave energized and renewed
What questions have you been asking yourself as a business owner?
One of my biggest questions is this: How do I continually remove myself from the day-to-day and delegate? Delegation is the key to being a successful business owner. It’s the difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner. A business owner wakes up and says, “I have all this stuff to do, how do I get it done?”
The entrepreneur wakes up and says, “I’ve got all this stuff to do — how do I get somebody else to do it?” And that simple mindset shift is the difference between somebody who creates a job in which they’re responsible for everything and it catches up with them versus somebody who’s trying to create an opportunity where they could hire people and bring other resources into the fold. I’ve been asking myself lately, “How do I continue to delegate and bring others into the fold?”
Christina D. Warner is a healthcare marketer and contributing writer for Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. You can download her free ‘How To Get Into the C-Suite and More: top secrets from CEO’s, political figures, and best-selling authors’