I hope you guys are enjoying the brand stories as much as I am. This next brand story literally brought me to tears and gave me new hope in one setting. I feel like a high profile reporter! Like Mary Jane off Being Mary Jane. LOL. Mr. Matthew King of Guidance Please shared his story with me. Here’s what he had to say…
In five words, describe your brand story.
COMBAT PRODUCT LAUNCH FROM AFGHANISTAN.
Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today in your business or career. What was the first thing you did? Next?
I remember buying my first product online in 2004 and being highly inspired to run my own online business in my own niche. Never got around to it until 2008 when I purchased John Reese’s Traffic Secrets course for a mere $200. I created my first website and made attempts at selling my life coaching courses online. Turns out I knew some cool things about driving traffic but still knew nothing about business, so as I lost a good business partner over this business, I continued to drive forward, failed and ended up picking up a copy of Product Launch Formula by Jeff Walker in 2010. It was a big difference to jump from $200 to $2,000 to invest in online training, but I knew this was the answer. The key. This was what was going to make me my fortune. Little did I know, I wasn’t quite there, yet. But a few months after attending the PLF Live Event in Scottsdale, AR, I came up with an idea one morning at 2 am. This was just prior to going to Iraq and Afghanistan (all in one deployment, btw). I jumped out of bed, hopped on the computer and found a freelancer on Elance to create a mockup software app that would ultimately end up being the basis of the business that went viral while I was in Afghanistan a few short months later. So for $200 I had a prototype software app built, and tested it with a few people I worked with, AND THEY LOVED IT! Absolutely loved it, and that was a good feeling.
Two months prior to deployment, I took the time to create one more software app that was similar, and we launched both of these products to a small niche of customers. They ate it up, and the business started to grow. The real growth happened while I was on deployment, though. We had more money because I was getting paid a lot of money to get the software programs developed, and we were able to create multiple software apps to over 10 different segments of the United States Army.
We set up an Autoresponder program to email people about new software programs they could use. We were building an email list, and growing our customer base by the day… that was an amazing feeling… This whole thing was working, and working quite well!
We launched over 6 software apps while in Afghanistan. While I was literally living and working out of a metal shipping container that was strategically placed in a combat zone over 12,000 miles from home.
After coming back home in August of 2012, we managed to launch another 4 software apps to complete the suite, and then launched an even newer type of software service to the SAME MARKET that they could use. Overall, we made a little bit of money, not a ton but what came next was us hiring our first business coach.
After working with him for just a few short months, we doubled our income and had created our first online six figure business. After that, we began adding service based coaching and copywriting to our docket of services, which brought us to yet another level. If it weren’t for that time we spent building a smaller size profitable business in Afghanistan, we wouldn’t have known how to handle a larger business like we have now, and for that we are eternally grateful for all the hours we spent developing and growing our online business.
How long were you running your business or on your career path before you started seeing favorable results? (e.g. profits, speaking engagements, notoriety, etc.).
My wife and I were giving it the old “college try” for over 3 years before we really “got it”, and built our first business. Even then, it still took another 2 to 3 years to REALLY grasp the concepts of what it took to build a real business. Today we have a completely different business than what we had in 2008, and in 2010, and in 2013. It’s ever evolving, but the time we invested in ourselves and in our business have really paid off because our stories are getting out there to the world. People I met in 2013 at PLF Live (who heard our story from Jeff Walker on stage), still come up at different events and remember me because of my combat product launch in Afghanistan!
How did you live through those not so favorable times in the first few months/ years?
No doubt it was hard. Still is. Those “not so favorable times” I don’t think ever really go away, they just become less frequent. Running so low on money that you HAVE to go get a regular job to support yourselves and your business are a pretty big deal. But you get through it by believing with every fiber of your being that God or the Universe will take care of you. And ever single time, we have been looked after. We have always seen the angel of mercy when we needed them the most. Persevere, and never quit. If you want it bad enough, and you’re why is greater than you or anyone you’ve ever known, then you’ll make it. Just keep moving forward one step at a time, and believe that it will happen for you.
Explain a life altering situation that nearly stopped you from starting your business or following you career path. How did you get back on track?
I remember coming back from Flight School with a LOT of money, THOUSANDS of dollars in my bank account, but I was also in debt. Heavy in debt, like over $60k in debt.
I met my future wife, we combined our debt, and made MORE debt by getting married! In fact, I used the money I had from a business loan I had taken out TO GET MARRIED! (seriously, who does that?). .
That big wad of cash I had from Flight School? Down the drain faster than I could track it.
My wife, Karen, (she now goes by the name, Rogue Copywriter), took a job as a case worker just so we could make ends meet… I was working temp jobs while trying to build our business, and we just weren’t making ends meet. We were drowning.
One day Karen brought me an application for a far-fetched $80k a year job in Florida. Humoring her, I applied for it. Keep in mind, we literally had about $400 left in our bank account, and between the two of us, we were losing money. $200 of that, I spent to create my first prototype software app…. . Somehow, by the grace of God, I was offered that job in Florida for $80k a year!
At the time, we lived in Michigan, and the only way we could move was to literally finance the move… So here we are, driving down the road in a rented Penske truck that had to be charged on a credit card… in hopes that my first paycheck from my new job came in time to pay off the credit card. Thankfully, it did.
Among well-known brands, there’s one defining distinction that separate IT from the rest. For example, Coca-Cola is known for their distinctive taste. Although many try to emulate it, it can’t be duplicated. What makes your brand unique? What separate you from others in your business or field?
At the time, we were one of the only players in this niche. But we differentiated ourselves by just plain being the BEST player! I thought we were screwed when we first went into business because there was someone else doing the same thing and offering it FREE! How do you compete with that? But their product really sucked. Hard to use, not pretty on the eyes.
I STARTED my software apps at $10, tested the $5 mark, and back up to $10, $15, and $20 mark and every time, WE WON. People loved our product because we took the time to create a SIMPLE, but EFFECTIVE product that was just simply the best in the market. Having good customer support helped too. It’s the best way to keep the 5-star rating system working in your favor. If you help someone, people have a hard time giving you less than 4 or 5 stars.
Behind every success, there’s an even greater success. Who is and was your biggest cheerleader?
My biggest cheerleader and favorite business partner who has believed in me since day one (most days), is My WIFE! She has supported me not only in my business but as a soldier and an aviator. And somehow we are still together! She stuck with me while I was in Afghanistan (and Iraq), and even today, she runs her own 6 figure business as a copywriter as we continue to run a successful business as a team. Go Karen!
This is the last question so make it good. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Kid, keep it simple. Do ONE thing, and do it better than anybody else. then get it in front of your hungriest buying audience. From there, “success” will take care of itself.
While this was an interview, Matthew just provided us a lesson in business owner perseverance. FREE. If you’re a business owner or professional, you know what I mean. I mean seriously he laid it all out. Please check out Matthew at Guidance Please. Tell him and Karen I said hi!