Every business starts with a core idea.
You find a need for something— a clever innovation like the next groundbreaking smart robot, a strange beverage mix that will be the next world’s next drink craze, or simply an improvement to existing services that never seem to get the job done no matter where you look. Whatever it is, you decide the world needs it. Then, you take that big leap to start a business for it.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs go through that phase with high hopes but find themselves falling short, for one reason or another, then witness their emerging business crash and burn.
My client Luke Buesnel was well on his way to burning, but fortunately, there was a plot twist in his story, and his business is now on track for massive success.
Luke was fresh from just starting up Story League when we first decided to work together. Story League is his content agency that creates targeted copywriting, podcasts, and videos to generate leads for his clients and convert them into customers.
Before establishing Story League, Luke had a ton of media experience. He was a director at a media agency, a radio broadcaster and producer, and a journalist for several companies. He had also worked with politicians and in corporate too.
Realising that other copywriting businesses weren’t producing great work, he took it upon himself to change that. And for a man of his skill and experience, output delivery was never an issue.
It was running a business that was.
So whether it was by fate or a stroke of serendipity, it was timely that he and I had crossed paths and that he trusted me enough to help him improve his business.
Now, Luke has a strong collection of clients, regular leads, his first staff member, and space for a new one in the near future.
When I first met Luke, I immediately thought that he was a well-presented man who knew what he was good at. But, I also thought he was a bit rough around the edges and pretty abrasive too.
You see, I sent him a video introducing myself further after we met at a networking function. Rather than simply taking in the content of the message, Luke couldn’t help but give feedback on it.
As cocky as it was, he basically said my video was shit.
Jokes aside, what he said was conducive and constructive and it taught me a lot. I knew his delivery needed to be polished, but I saw that he had runs on the board and substance about him.
So we met for a coffee soon after, and I discovered that he was an insanely talented writer that had a lot of potential but was like a deer in the headlights. He had absolutely no idea how to run a business.
The way he responded to my video was an obvious indication of that, plus the fact that he didn’t know what his offer was. So in our chat together, I explained who I am and what I do.
“In that coffee, it just solidified to me that Tristan was a genuine person. We spoke at length about the fact that he’d actually built a business before. That’s telling in the business coaching space because a lot of people do a course and think that's enough,”
“I never felt as though it was a sales process, and as much as it probably was, I thought it was the beginning of a mateship,” Luke said.
And that, it was.
I’m generally not a fan of shared service agreements.
More often than not, they end up one-sided, with one person needing the other one more. So in three or six months, it blows up and comes back to bite people in the arse.
That said, I was more than willing to overlook my distaste for the contra-deal to help out Luke. It was clear that we both had a need for each other’s services, so we talked about how we could help each other and discussed what’s in and out of scope.
“When Tristan came along and said ‘Here's the offer, here's what I can do for you in return, here's why you need me,’ that was an offer too good to pass up,” Luke said.
Working with Luke for nearly two years was a great learning experience for the both of us. He delivered amazing content for me that just kept getting better, all while I helped him organise the processes in his business.
“What I'm realising in business is, until you get to your end goal, there's challenges at every point. So having someone you can rely on, that you can talk to, and who is actually giving you the value back as well is very advantageous, because most people in business are in it for themselves.
“They don't necessarily think, ‘Hey, you know what? Maybe I can just offer guidance and help in some form of capacity,’ and that's one of the really strong things that Tristan has done for me,” Luke remarked.
It was talent and a desire to create a better standard of content that drove Luke to start Story League. But while a desire to do things better gets people into business, it’s not what makes a business.
You need clear goals and a strategy.
“I went into business with the idea to do things better because I came out of the corporate world,” Luke said. “We used a content creation business and were charged 30 grand to have 1 blog post delivered a week. It would come to me, and I’d have to rewrite each piece because it was awful.”
So his business was founded on the message of: “We do good content because most content is crap.”
That doesn’t necessarily resonate with people.
Luke was on the verge of giving up on his business when he would never hear back from people he spent hours in meetings with. It took time but we refined his message, identifying and wording out the goals of his business and what customers can achieve if they work with him.
“There's a lot more power in saying ‘We're a lead generation business that uses content as our vehicle to do it’, as opposed to just ‘We create content so you don't sound crap’.”
Apart from fixing the message of his business, we worked on productising what Story League offers.
Luke started his business with nothing but his desire to do things better, and his skills in journalism and radio broadcasting.
But the leads weren’t coming in and when they occasionally did he could never convert them.
He told me that had it not been for my support, he’d have given up and would be off doing something else instead.
Skills in delivering your services are vital to your business, of course but I had to teach Luke that you also need to have skills outside this talent. So I taught him finance, creating strategies, how to communicate and sell his services— skills he had none of when he first started. I also helped him in setting up a project management system through Notion, invoicing, and generating new leads through LinkedIn and email outreach.
After teaching him all of this, Story League started growing rapidly in the span of just six months.
In that period of time, there came a need to identify his first full time staff member and onboard them quickly.
“I knew the blood, sweat and tears of working with Tristan was worth it when I found my first team member, Reese. While training her how Story League creates content, I asked her if she had any questions and she said no and that my processes and organisation were so easy to follow and understand that she felt like she knew what she was doing from day one. This was a breakthrough moment,” said Luke.
This spoke volumes about how effective the processes and procedures I helped him create to train and manage staff members and clients were. I was very proud of Luke for his efforts and commitment.
Luke also told me that he knew that the system works well, because Reese rarely has to ask for more information on the client briefs he writes for her. That has made Luke more confident when the time is right to find another staff member (and it’s not far away).
“The system is just as effective with our clients. We show it to them and say ‘this is how it works, here's the upfront workshop, here's how we create the strategy, here's how we build that into your content management system’ and etc, and they're very appreciative of all of it.”
But small business owners live or die by sales and Luke needed work.
I helped him to productise his services. Early on, Luke would verbally list down his services: copywriting, videos, and podcasts, and ask his prospects what they wanted.
Here’s the problem: The prospects themselves don’t really know what they want either.
So eventually, they disappeared, and it left Luke feeling as though there was no hope for his business.
We found a way around that.
I told him that we could start planning out content package deals together. Then, he can ask if they’re interested in it, how much it costs per month, etc.
“This has helped me in two ways: One, it makes the potential client understand the value that we offer and what they're going to get in return. And two, it's allowed me to scale to a certain degree because I can now train content creators to be able to deliver the same product for different clients,” he said.
The way Story League is set up now is much more developed than other businesses at a similar point in their journey, and I can only see this getting bigger and better as Story League progresses.
Story League has been racking up a list of new clients and prospects in spite of the current pandemic. And with Luke’s backend processes and procedures in place, it will be a lot easier to grow his business further.
His client base is an impressively unique mix of industries: business coaching, finance, property, health, Artificial Intelligence. Who knows what the next one will be?
And because his services are productised, it can cut through into many more markets and industries since it’s the same process repeated.
Apart from that, Luke, being the writer of my content, is several steps ahead of other entrepreneurs. Not only does he have the 1-on-1 coaching from me; he also has pseudo coaching from all the research he’s done for my content.
That’s made him start thinking outside the box even more, and I believe this will do wonders for Story League, as it continues to scale.
But most of all, Story League gets results. The content they have been creating is generating significant leads for the clients he’s working with (I know if for a fact). What’s more is that the pricing model is where it needs to be and the business is making profit.
And that’s not all. The content Story League is creating for its clients is featured in Forbes, GoDaddy, Smart Company, and other well read online publications.
Being Luke’s business coach has allowed me to witness his growth as an entrepreneur. Helping him throughout his business journey was, is, and surely will remain a fantastic experience.
From just a talent in journalism and broadcasting, he now has every other skill, process, and procedure that he needs to run his business successfully.
Constantly thinking about what the end goal is, how it's going to benefit him, his team, and his clients— shows the growth journey happening within Story League. It’s a small business with a massive future.
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