In this episode, Oli Billson, a marketing and business growth expert who specializes in direct response and marketing automation, reveals the key ways to move the needle in business – and keep it moving. Elliot and Oli discuss how the lessons learned through competitive sport can be both beneficial and challenging when utilized in entrepreneurship. Listen in to hear a highly sought-after business consultant share why working on yourself, maintaining a routine, and focusing on your goals is critical to both personal and business success.
3 Key Points
- The lessons learned through sport greatly benefit business – but also challenge a competitive mindset.
- The strategies implemented to grow to one level of business are different than the strategies needed to grow to the next.
- Have a clear vision, mission, list of priorities, and goals to get to the next level in life and business.
You quickly realized then that you have to think now, actually, I need to take myself back to school. Learn to stand the I need to be more disciplined, more structured, and I need to work within my unique ability. Those who live a high performance life have figured out how to consistently bring their best, their they're game to the most important areas of life. On the AGM advantage podcast, you'll get to peek inside the mind of the world's highest performing individuals so you can learn and model the mindsets and systems that allow them to bring their a game every day with your host, Elliot Roe.
Speaker 3: (00:40)
Welcome to another episode of the a game advantage. I'm your host, Elliot Roe. This episode is brought to you by primed mind, my mindset coaching app designed to prime your mind to perform at its best when it matters the most. To download and try it for free. Visit a game, advantage.com/primed this week's guest is Oli Billson, a marketing and business growth expert who specializes in direct response and marketing automation. All. He started his first business when he was just 15 and has gone on to create four, seven figure plus businesses both in digital and brick and mortar world. He's also a regular speaker at the biggest marketing conferences in the world and a highly sought after consultant for business growth and marketing. We had a great conversation about moving from sports to business and what it takes to take your business to the right level and the importance of daily routines. I'm excited for you to hear it. So let's jump right in. So Oli, thank you so much for coming onto the show.
Speaker 1: (01:39)
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 3: (01:41)
You started in the business world at 15 years of age, so how did that come about?
Speaker 1: (01:46)
Well, prior to to that, I kind of fell into actually starting a business then because I, before that had had a, I say a tennis career. It certainly felt like that at that time. I'd started playing tennis from a, from a very young age, I think I was seven or eight years old I guess I'd had a natural talent for it. And so I played tennis from, from that age at quite a high level up until when I was 14. And I was lucky enough to travel, well, different parts of Europe at the time playing tennis and I'm enjoying myself doing that stuff. And I guess I got to a point where I just kind of done so much, so young and I needed to put my energy into something else. So I was just turning 15 actually. I remember it very clearly and I feel, well I'm starting to lose my love hair for, for playing tennis and what else do I enjoy doing?
Speaker 1: (02:44)
And I enjoyed building computers and that was another kind of passion of mine and so made sense to just start building some computer Israeli. And I didn't no it at the time, but there was actually a bit of demand then for these custom build computers. And I started to find out that people actually, that's what people wanted. So I built what they wanted, gave it to them and sold it to them. And then it sort of escalated so well that then that kind of, just through a weird chain of events spend meant that I was exporting some computers to the far East of all places, which you can imagine the the conversations around the kitchen table at that time and moment and dab like what these DHL of Hammons arriving for. So that's truly, that was my first [inaudible] and say having a business and getting money and selling stuff or anything and it's something I always find quite interesting. You know, starting so young in taking things seriously. You started with sports and then into business. What sort of impact do you think it has that you didn't go down the normal route of you get the nine to five job, you're looking for the next promotion, you know, there's actual freedom from a very young age and sort of pressure to perform from a young age as well.
Speaker 1: (04:01)
One of the things I found was there's a lot of benefits that come from having kind of an education in sport and transferring some of those things over into business. There's a lot of benefits and a lot of the choose for that and especially when you play sport at a very high level because it kind of conditioned to you. But then as you quite rightly mentioned, that comes a point then when that competitive nature also take so your friend can actually create quite a lot of internal conflict for you when it comes to growing your business, which of course has lots of different elements to it. What does that really mean? Well, from my standpoint it means that you have to continue to work on yourself to move the needle and obviously at 15 years old, and I wasn't great at everything, I was good at some things and I was good at the technical side of what I was doing, but I didn't know all these are the things and that was always my request.
Speaker 1: (04:59)
You know, in playing sports it was always too to know every aspect of what I was doing and to train and to continue to develop in all of these different part until you've kind of got a complete package and you're playing at a very, very high level. But with business it's very difficult to do that. It's very difficult to get all of these disciplines and to perform at a high level, especially when you've got such a lack of life experience. Anyway, it's [inaudible] young age and the truth is, you know, I actually from getting started at 15 I actually thought that I might go down a different route and I actually went to university for that exact reason cause I actually didn't know if I was good enough to make it in the business world. And so I went to university for a year and in that year I was kind of identified as being a potential prospect for a big bank.
Speaker 1: (05:52)
It was M KPMG if you don't mind me saying. And so they kind of approached me and they said, you know, we'd be quite interested in you coming into our graduate scheme. And it was quite an elite program. But the whole process of like going through the, some of those interviews in my first year completely put me off this idea of coming into the corporate world. It seemed very rigid and very strict and it completely threw me off it so much so that I ended up actually quitting and dropping out of university after my first year threw in the towel or the opportunity of going to work for corporate bank at the time or having the graduate scheme at least [inaudible]. I just made that decision and kind of a distinction back then. I was going to figure it out and I was going to figure out how on my own and I'd probably never work for anybody again, which no, I'm 34 years old now. Never worked for anybody since.
Speaker 3: (06:49)
One of the things that I always find interesting with athletes who've been very high performers coming into the business world is, well, especially as sort of a game late tennis where you're, you're playing on your own, it all comes down to you. How do you feel when you bring on staff and perhaps they're not the same level that you are or they're not willing to give it quite the a hundred percent because it is something that I've had athletes mentioned in the past that you know, sometimes people in real life aren't quite as driven as these competitive athletes who wants to reach the very soul.
Speaker 1: (07:19)
Well that's very true. I think that I've definitely struggled with that. A point in my business early on after I dropped out of university I, I kind of got into building my business portfolio as it is today and there is no way I could have built some of those businesses without people. And in the early days I kind of had an expectation of those people as you mentioned that they would [inaudible] they like me, I thought that, you know, employing people would just be like cloning may and I expected that they would be [inaudible] investing in themselves. They would be open to self-improve. I just saw everybody was built the same way and it was difficult for me too, get my head around that people are different. And there are different profiles of people and that kind of coolest me then too. Think actually I need to adapt may and that then will help me get less frustrated and will allow me, if I can crack that code, then actually I can find more people to act within their unique ability. Well, I would classify myself as kind of like a, a full stack person. Almost like some people talk about developers like being a full stack developer, you know that they're good with lots of different programming languages. You know, there's a lot of things that I can do. I think that's the same with a lot of entrepreneurs building a business up from scratch. You have to be good at lots of different things and if you have the expectation of other people, you quickly realize that [inaudible] doesn't quite work that way. Yeah. You mentioned they're working on yourself. How did you go about learning to deal with other people who perhaps aren't, you know, following that same philosophy as you and was it coaching that you were doing? Is it reading books? Is it just sort of trial and error?
Speaker 1: (09:12)
Mm. Well, it's interesting because right up until this year, I've actually never had a a coach. I guess it's not the thought, I'm not coachable. I think that before having a coach before then, I definitely wrestled with things a lot, lot more because I was trying and testing things out and I was seeking out information and resources too, be able to solve some of those problems. The thing is is that that's pretty normal when you're trying to sell the marketing problem. These, you can genuinely find those things out there. I actually find it quite, I actually found it quite difficult to find resources out there that were about [inaudible] delegating and processes and systems and scaling a business beyond GA. I actually found that quite difficult to find and you know, for me a lot of people think that what got them to say maybe a million dollars in turnover is the same thing that's going to get them to like 3 million, well 5 million and it's not.
Speaker 1: (10:19)
There's a different mindset that there's different tactics and that should be, there's a completely different strategy to these kind of different growth curves. So you know, if you're just starting out, you're trying to make your first hundred grand, then that's one of, that's one strategy in this that attack tactics. If you're trying to go from underground to a million, that's another set of tactics and strategy from a million to multiple millions and multiple millions to eight figures. There's different things to consider. I didn't understand that at that time and that's one of the reasons why I actually earlier this year decided to, yeah, coach, because I needed that support on making some of those decisions more so than ever before. Just in terms of the growth of our business.
Speaker 3: (10:59)
What sort of impact has that had?
Speaker 1: (11:01)
It has had a huge impact, but in a completely different area that I thought it would. I thought that to the point where our businesses now are [inaudible] way [inaudible] in the UK and in America and I spend a lot of time in America and we've scaled very quickly and we have [inaudible] a team of 27 people that are full time. I thought that it was really going to be more about, okay, so how do I get to the next level of like leadership leading these people? That seemed like a very obvious thing to hire a coach full. What I didn't realize was was the, the impact that it would make on me would actually be more personal. In fact, my life in general as far as my personal life is concerned. My life outside of work is now actually a lot more balanced. I'm spending more time with my children.
Speaker 1: (11:50)
I've made some commitments that I didn't have before. I'm much clearer on my personal vision, which is a lot more aligned now with the business goals and priorities and I didn't expect that. I thought I'd come into something just from the outset of let's get better at leadership. Let's hire a coach to shortcut that process. Whereas actually is kind of taken a bit of a different route in a very positive way. Ironically. Do you think that may also improve your leadership, the fact that you're more balanced and you know in your day to day life? Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's really where that evolved from evolving to that having two children. I've got an 11 year old and a five year old. Some of the same things that aye struggled with in business actually. It's quite reflective of what I've may have struggled with as a parent.
Speaker 1: (12:40)
So there is exactly the same approach to both of those things. In fact, I would [inaudible] that's certainly very closely interlinked. I'm, what I'm not trying to say is that my, my team members must be like children planning means or that you're going to fire your kids if they don't get the right grades by my kids. Yeah. But what I would say is this, there's definitely things that I've come out of that, that main, that odd thing. Well, I think more mindful as well has been a big thing for me in this, in this process of doing that coaching, which has definitely helped me also become more mindful of my time. Oh well I'm spending my time on as far as the business is concerned as well. And of course time is an extremely valuable thing. And how would you divide your time? You know, multiple businesses, 27 staff, like how are you organizing your time to make sure you make the most of your day?
Speaker 1: (13:34)
Well, I think this is probably like one of the things that a lot of people, especially in today's day and age really struggle with as well. And hopefully what I'm about to say may impact somebody that's listening because again, I struggled with this for a long time I spread myself too thin. I've done all of the wrong things when it comes to this stuff in the past. So I can see it from both sides now. Mmm. Focus is such a big driving force behind getting results and seeing progress that you want and so be full. I kind of go into the maybe the granular of how I kind of divide that time. The first thing that you need to really have is a very, very clear vision of where you're trying to go. And if you don't have that, then it's extremely, extremely difficult to be able to measure anything, even know what you should be working on this quarter, this month they stay, they say hour.
Speaker 1: (14:39)
And so I like to be really clear on division of the business and that's kind of made up and your personal vision that dovetails with that. But from a business perspective, it's very much, okay so well first of all, you need to know why you exist as a business. Pretty obvious, but most people miss that part. So why do we exist? What do we do? You know, our purpose is to empower entrepreneurs to build successful businesses so they can lead live life on their terms. That's the reason why exists. That's never achievable. That's just the reason why we do what we do. So you've got to get clear on that. The next thing you need to get clear on is your mission. You know, what does that look like in pursuit of that purpose? And so that's something that is measurable and is achievable. And so to have a very clear mission and that usually is sort of a three year time-bound statement is difficult to look beyond that.
Speaker 1: (15:31)
So you know, for most small businesses, a three year mission is, is good. And then an annual, a set of priorities. And for some businesses this may only be three main priorities for the year. They certainly shouldn't have more than five but these are like the key things that if we do that this year, then we will be able to get beyond tracking in line with our mission. And then it starts to get interesting. So then you take the priorities and you distill them down into what we call tactical operational priorities, which are quarterly goals. And then from that into monthly smart projects. And from that we go down into our two weeks sprint. So as you can see from that process, right from a long way out, all the way down to a, a set of projects that need to be worked on within a two week time period, we're very clear on why we're doing what we're doing and what that really means, what's the contribution?
Speaker 1: (16:36)
And what are the specific measurements that we need in that process. Then rarely in that two week sprint, your daily disciplines are a big part of actually getting work done. And so I look at what we need to do over the next two weeks and more specifically what I need to do and I break it that down into then four categories. I call it the four PS. The first one is promotion. So promotion is as it would expect, all of the work that needs to be done to make money. Okay? Drive leads, drive customers, and make money. That should be like the first thing that you should be looking at. The most important priority of doing this. So that's the first thing. The next is production. Now these are things that you actually need to create. So it could be content, it could be something that your intrinsic play involved with that you have the unique ability to be able to go and create.
Speaker 1: (17:33)
But you need to go and produce some thing in order to either promote something and go into that category. Or it could be some other things [inaudible] of production. I mean it could be a standard operating practice or something like that. The next K a is what we provision. These are things that you have to do for other people or you have to do for compliance. They fall down the list some way, but you have to do them. And then the final P is called pedestrian. And as the name would suggest, pedestrian is all admin stuff. Things that can be delegated, things that can be passed across to other people and the lower Valley work, so to speak. And I just find keeping it simple with the four PS allows me to segment what work needs to be done and go at it. And from that I break my time down into every night.
Speaker 1: (18:26)
I plan the next day. And so I, I set that it's nine o'clock at night and I have a half an hour planned my day and I simply take an open book. There's nothing, no fancy planners or anything like that. And I saw, I'm just looking at my notebook. I know you can't see it, but my notebook this morning was, you know I wrote six 30 right? The dates at the top, wake shower seven get ready Mike coffee, seven 15 meditate, vision seven 45 my task and pedestrian review so that I can push stuff onto my team and then I have the whole day then set up with breaks and everything else in pretty much half an hour minimum increments to 90 minutes cause I find that it's the most amount of time I can focus full all the way to nine o'clock at night when I plan tomorrow today. And I find that that keeps me on track to, to do what I need to do and keep focus from a very long way out, all the way down to a daily plan.
Speaker 3: (19:27)
So interesting to hear because it's something that you do see in so many high performers that they do have those goals set in the future and then they're happy to actually follow a schedule that allows them to get a wealth of things done they need to do to hit their goals. And you know, a lot of people when they think of the freedom of being self employed, don't perhaps realize that a schedule is still probably going to have to be part of your life. You know, freedom isn't like school holidays, isn't it?
Speaker 1: (19:53)
No. Well, I actually think, and this was a big mistake that I made was I always used to think that I could take everything on and it didn't matter what it was that we needed to do. I always thought everything could be achieved a lot faster, a lot sooner, so much faster than it's actually really possible to be done. And especially if I was directly involved with it, I thought that I'm the person that if I just work harder and work more hours and I am the person doing it, then we're going to get some water. And the truth is when you're just starting out and you may be just trying to get to say your first six figures or maybe you're listening to this and you actually have a job and you're looking to get out of the job perhaps, and you're just trying to replace your existing income, you know, that's the mentality that you have because you have to learn quickly and you haven't got the money or the resources to necessarily delegate stuff. And that's okay to do that for a short period of time. But to build a rail business or to build one that serves you well, you quickly realized then that you have to think now actually I need to take myself back to school and understand that I need to be more disciplined, more structured, and I need to work within my unique ability.
Speaker 3: (21:13)
Yeah, and I think like you say, this sort of the, the acceptance that everyone has to have at some point that everyone has a skill set and sometimes you need to find other people with their skill sets to help. It becomes, becomes a key part to growing these businesses. And when you think about sort of the biggest moment in your career, like the moment that sort of you felt really leveled you up or some aha moment that really clicked, is there anything that stands out over that time period?
Speaker 1: (21:42)
I've always being big on actually learning things and then implementing them and refining that until you actually get results for yourself. And then, and more so now in what we do with next level business is then contributing and helping other people do that. Do what you've done based on your experience and how you've refined the things that you've learnt. And I think some people do that the wrong way round. They learn things and then they one to teach those things to other people. But really without them necessarily applying those principles to what they actually do. Whereas I've actually always made a lot more money doing what we do than teach and get. So that's meant that whatever we've learned and why have we picked up along the way from lots of different resources and people we've always done taken that into doing something with it, refining it.
Speaker 1: (22:47)
And then the next level of that then is to come to, you know, the market with something that's world class that we know he's going to get results for people. And that's really what gets me kind of fired up and excited to empower business owners, entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and be successful and as I'll put it, live life on their terms because I've been able to do that. And if I can help people shortcut that time, then I'd definitely be able to help them in many ways in instilling some of these, some of the things that we've learned over time, not just necessarily teaching the, you know, something that they picked up from somebody that they've never used before.
Speaker 3: (23:31)
And if I'm, any of the listeners are interested in finding out more about that, where can they find out about your company and the things that you're doing.
Speaker 1: (23:38)
A website is next level, business.com and on that we have a free on demand training that you can go through, which explains how we of how businesses achieved double digit growth year after year whilst actually working less. We talk a lot about automation and we talk a lot about some of the things that we do and some of the visions stuff that we do as well in there. And it's a cool training to go through and and find out more.
Speaker 3: (24:08)
Well, some stuff. Well everyone go check out the website and what we'll also do is we'll add those links to the podcast page as well so that you're nice and easy, easy to find for everyone here. Thank you so much for coming on today and sort of sharing all of that knowledge. There's definitely some things that you know, the listeners can actually take control of and start implementing in their lives. So, so yeah, once again, really appreciate you coming on and everyone go check all the out.
Speaker 1: (24:33)
Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Speaker 3: (24:35)
So lots of information there from Oli that we can fit into our lives, and especially if you're an entrepreneur, working on your business, thinking about that planning and those daily routines could really make a big difference. I'll be back soon with another episode, and if you'd like to check out my coaching, go to Elliot row.com talk to you soon.