In this episode, I talk to Ian Farrar, the Founder & Managing Director of Far North; sales & marketing consultancy with a passion to drive growth in the North-East of the UK’s manufacturing and technology businesses.
Ian shares a very personal story on how he had suffered burnout and got admitted to hospital after a highly-pressured sales role. Now that he has overcome that journey, he has decided to work on his own term but also make it a priority to look after yourself.
Here are just a few things we talk about:
- how burnout can totally shut down your body
- looking after yourself is crucial in business and in life
- the importance of remembering not how much money you make, but how you make it
- how immersing yourself into learning as much as possible can make a big difference in your business
“If any sales people listening to this…cool your jets! Keep the relationship going and you’ll get across the line. People often get messed up when they don’t get that sale. It’s not a ‘no’…it’s a ‘not now’. Just keep going” – Ian Farrar
- Far North
- ‘Crossing the Chasm’ by Geoffrey Moore
- ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ by Gary Vaynerchuk
- LinkedIn (but please add a note as to why you want to connect with Ian…and anyone)
- Business Angel Podcast
Ahmed: And here we go.Welcome to the IgniteRock podcast where, in one week, I interview those who are doing awesome stuff with Word Press and in the other week, I share some steps and advice on making the most out of your online business and career. Thank you for tuning in. And now, let’s get straight onto the show.
And here we go everyone. It’s going to be a good one today because I have Ian on the line who has a lot of experience in different things, but of course, there’s so many things we can talk about in terms of Word Press. I’m going to start off with Ian. Thank you very much for your time. I definitely appreciate you sharing your moments, your journey, your wisdom.
I guess we’re going to start off with … Just tell me a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you’re from and how did you get to where you are today?Click Here to Show Transcript
Ian: Well, thanks so much for having me here Ahmed. No pressure, that was a bit of an intro. Wow. Right. Okay, well, I guess you could say I was a sales professional. I predominately worked in sales across engineering and tech companies. I originally trained as an engineer actually, but I quickly discovered that calculations weren’t for me. Basically, I just wasn’t very good at it. What I found was, that I because a commercial engineer, so very much a relationship person.
Joined the Tantrum team to try and win large bids.Within that role, I was always a digital champion. Ultimately ended up on the board of a software company. Interestingly enough, that company had its own website builder, which we’ll make it into later on, which they’re self-offered. That was something I could sell alongside our other products. But yeah, so a sales professional, sold across the U.K. and
Within that role, I was always a digital champion. Ultimately ended up on the board of a software company. Interestingly enough, that company had its own website builder, which we’ll make it into later on, which they’re self-offered. That was something I could sell alongside our other products. But yeah, so a sales professional, sold across the U.K. and the Middle East, Asia.Something I speak about quite a lot is
Something I speak about quite a lot is burnout because I sold that quite severely. Ended up in hospital, many tests, lots of medication. Fool me once, shame on me. I did this three times. Burned out a few times, collapsed, all down to workplace stress to be honest.
A couple years ago I was approaching 40 and I thought right … I said, “I’ve had enough.” So I quit. I kicked myself out of my corporate job. My wife wasn’t too happy when I got home and told her I’d done that. Two kids and a substantial mortgage later, but I had to do it. It was just something that was an itch. In terms of being an entrepreneur I knew that was … I think I had a … I think I was testing all the way through my career, in terms of work with engineer and software companies that I knew that there was a commercial gap there. Some great tech companies, some great British engineers companies, for example bought commercially. A little bit of a gap there, so I thought, “Right, I’m gonna fill that gap” and I never looked back.
Ahmed: Wow, so many things you went through there. What a journey. Wow. There’s so many things that people talk about. One trend is that you have to work 18 hours a day, you have to hustle, you have to kind of like, don’t sleep. So many people take pride in surviving on two or three hours of sleep a night because they just work, work, work, kind of thing. But, you know, you have experienced yourself, three times, that it’s not such a good idea, and you suffered burnout. How did you feel about that journey? What happened there and what caused you to hit that brick wall?
Ian: Yeah sure, I can certainly [inaudible 00:03:38] that for you. What caused it? Well, I guess, being in a sales role, obviously you have targets … You’ve got targets to hit. You’ve got annual targets, monthly targets, and it was just … I’m pretty conscientious, I’m pretty driven, I’m full on, and if I’m gonna do something I go full on. It was just a matter of wanting to hit those targets and, I guess I was a good sales guy for a company because I wasn’t having to be man-managed. I was my own driven person.
The downside that comes to that is that you push yourself incredibly hard, and actually from a sales point of view, you’ve kind of got your commission spent before you get it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a sales role Ahmed, but I was the kind of guy who said, “Right. If I hit this deal we’re going to Florida, if I hit this deal we’re getting a [inaudible 00:04:27], if I hit this one you can change your car.” It was just drive, drive, drive.
Yes, you’re dead right. Hustle is … I blame Gary Vee, I’d sock Gary Vee if I could see him, as much as I love him, but, yeah hustle is the term that’s widely used now. I get that, you know, if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re starting your own business you do have to hustle. To be honest, I’ve probably never been as happy, but I’ve never worked as hard as I am now, but I’m working for me and I’m not working for the man. I’m working on my own time, with my own culture, and my own values. So, it’s a different kind of hustle. Do you know what I mean?
Ahmed: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I get you, because, yeah … Gary Vee was the pioneer of hustle. I mean, as much as … I have a lot of respect to what he does, his style does not work for everyone. You shouldn’t really replicate what he does, because he tells you … I think he mentioned it a few times, that you have to work to star that works for you. He mentioned a few times that, you know, “It’s my DNA. I have to do this. I survive well and here’s what I do.”
It doesn’t mean that you have to do exactly the same thing. You just find your own system and what works best for you. Wow, that’s some journey. To come home and tell your wife that you quit your job. Brave man, you know? Brave thing to do. That must have been another moment where you felt like, “You know what? The time was right for me to quit my job and go after my own journey” kind of thing.
Ian: I think it’s a strange one, to be honest, because it was one of those periods in my life where I didn’t over think it. An example would be, I was at work one day and I had become very dizzy. I felt like I had tunnel vision, I could only see out a very small bit of my eyes. It sounds a bit of an extreme description but I just could hardly see. So, I picked my car keys up, shut down the computer, saw my payee and said, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m out here. I’m gone.” Got in the car, drove down the motorway incredibly fast, too fast really. I could hardly see. A bit of a stupid thing to do.
I got on the bottom of the road and it was either left to the hospital or right at home. I was so anxious, and I couldn’t be faced to see anybody, so I took the right turn and I went home. It was a sunny day, I opened the door, all the family were there. Straight through the house, into the back garden. My kids have a trampoline. I lay on my trampoline and I was out for 16 hours. My wife couldn’t get us up. That was it, I just … brain just shut off. When I quit I was in that similar mode, and I knew, if I didn’t quit, I’d be collapsing again.
So, I didn’t even think about it, to be honest, I just said, “Right, I’m done. I’m gone now. And I’m not working three months notice. I’ve packed my bag. I’ve got a box here … in here for photocopy and boxes, all my stuff here and I’m done.”
Ahmed: Wow. That’s incredible. It’s good that you kind of … You knew, yourself, that it was time to stop, and it’s time to do something about it. A lot of people would have just kept on going and work through that barrier and just get on with it. It’s good that you kind of knew, the time is now to stop. I can’t do this to myself, to my wife, to my family, and all these things. Wow. I appreciate you sharing that story. It’s something that we should all, kind of, learn from. If you hit a brick wall, you really need to look about what you should do with that because it’s not worth, you know, hurting yourself or damaging your health just to keep going really. No, I appreciate that. Wow. [crosstalk 00:08:07].
Ian: At the end of the day, you can only be you. So, as a sales guy, if I gave anybody any sort of … Any advice, any guidance, I think sales is a short-term career, in my mind. I think you can hustle hard, you can make a bit of money, but you’ve always got to have that plan of, how do I get out or how do I get into management, or how do I get into direct level, or how do I move a little bit sideways, away from that pressure. You know? I put myself in that pressure for too many years to be honest. [crosstalk 00:08:44]. People might disagree. People might be a sales guy until they retire, but I just couldn’t do it.
Ahmed: But then, I mean, you know. You said it yourself, it’s a short-term career kind of thing, but then you’ve made that step to go to the next stage of your career and start your own business Far North. One thing I noticed, you kind of focus in a few areas. One of the areas that you like to do is that you’re passionate about your home bureau. You’re based in the North East around the South Shield region, and you’re very passionate about helping drive growth for companies in that area. As well as, you said yourself, across the U.K. and Middle East, but you’re very passionate about helping your local business too.
Ian: Yeah, for sure. I think that comes from what I’ve been through. Basically, what I don’t want to say is, corporate companies now, putting too much onto their sales teams. As a business coach, as a sales leader, what I do now is I do master classes and sales courses. I try to change just the way that they approach sales. I don’t know if you’ve been to any sales courses, Ahmed, or if any of the listeners have, but you might have been on the 1950’s style ones.
So, you’ve been told you have to wear your suit like this and you have to act like this and smile and shake hands. You’ve got two of these and one of them as I’m pointing to my ears and my mouth, these very old sales techniques.
What I want to do is refresh that way of thinking and become more of a relationship sales, because that’s how things are sold. We have this “know, like, and trust factor”, which I always talk about. So, before people buy off you they want to know you, they want to like you, and they want to trust you. Then they’ll go along with you. Don’t try and … Gary talks about the Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook doesn’t he? Too many people are going for that Right Hook now.
What I’m talking about with the Jab thing, or sometimes I use the hop, skip, and a jump analogy, is just take your time, build the relationship up and try to help people. Don’t try to sell to them, try to help them. Have a solution. So, that’s my calling now Ahmed, is really to try and get that point across and help sales team have a relationship as opposed to that Right Hook sales that we’ve seen in the past.
Ahmed: You’re spot on that it’s a very ancient kind of style. You said 1950, it probably is that kind of region. Yeah, it does seem very old fashioned and times have changed, consumers, your clients, they’re getting smarter and smarter. People should think about helping them rather than giving it to them or forcing it to them, that kind of thing. You’re right, building that relationship, developing that trust, is so important now, moreso than ever.
This is online and offline regardless of what you’re doing. That’s why it seems like, whatever you’re doing online, it seems to me that it’s getting a bit more tricky to have that personal relationship, because you can’t replace that face-to-face contact, one-on-one contact kind of thing. At the same time, you have to develop that relationship online as well. I think it’s something that I can see you’re doing quite well, because you are using different mediums, whether it’s your website or it’s your podcast, which we’ll get into in a second.
You also speak as well. I can tell that you heavily focus on the relationship building and management quite a lot, which I agree with you, it’s very important.
Ian: You’re dead right. The mediums are a really interesting one. You mentioned online and offline. It’s interesting, I seen a post on LinkedIn the other day from a sales trainer and they had a similarly sort of twist on Gary’s Jab, Jab, Jab but they said, “Give, give, give, and then take.” I couldn’t help myself, I had to comment and say, “Take? Really? It’s the ask, you don’t take.” That was from a very famous sales leader actually, which I couldn’t help but flay him. Then, I got a couple of emails saying, “Nicely done there sir.”
Ian: But yes, online content is so important. I’ve done a couple videos of late and that’s from people just saying, “I love your podcasts, but would you mind doing a few YouTube videos and talking about …” What have I had? Employee advocacy was the last one I did. And I did. Getting that Know, Like, and Trust factor across, these mediums, such as the YouTube, the podcast, and of course, the website, that helps you get that trust factor across. I was coaching a business here today, and they were saying they couldn’t get one client across the line. What I asked them was, “How many touch points have you had with that client?”.
What I meant by that was my average was 21 in my last role. So, basically, that’s from them reaching out by email, you picking up the phone, having a chat, going to meet them, maybe doing a demonstration of your software, giving the proposal, ringing them back up, asking how it went. Another demo, another email, another phone call.
You’re not going to … Someone’s not going to buy off of five different touch points. You’re talking 20 [inaudible 00:14:06] now. If there are any sales people listening to this, cool your jets. Keep the relationship going and you’ll get across the line. People often get a bit messed up when they don’t get that sale. It’s not a “No” it’s just a “Not now”.
Ahmed: “Not now.” Yeah.
Ian: Just keep going.
Ahmed: I 100% agree. It’s not … just because it’s a “No” now, what’s wrong for … Build it up to make it a “Yes” in a year, two years time, five years time, whatever it takes. Again, it’s a relationship thing and there’s nothing wrong with waiting a year, two years, five years, of “Not now” until it becomes a “Yes”. Because, as you said, it’s not a quick thing and you can’t just force it on people to say “Yes”. It’s amazing that you said as well, that trend of, Give, Give, Give, Take.” I’m not sure about take. Most of the time Give, Give, Give and then they approach you if you want to, or they ask you, or they reach you, or stuff like that. But, you can’t force people to say “Yes” or to take at the end of the day. When it’s right for them, it’s right for them. That’s how I see it.
Ian: Exactly, yeah. But, you know, if they do say “No”, what’s to say that they won’t move roles and in six months time, reach out and say, “You know that time we met last year. Well actually, it wasn’t fit for our business, but it could be a good fit for this business.” They might be straight on and say, “My friend works for a similar business. Why don’t you try him?” So, don’t burn your bridges as well, I guess, is a good thing to think about. Just because someone said, “No”. Thank them for their time, thank them for the journey.
Ahmed: I agree and you’re right. Don’t burn bridges because you never know where that relationship can take you in terms of, not necessarily with that person, but with any of their network. If they have a big network, then they will remember you, hopefully for the right reason as well. No, definitely, so many things I agree with you a lot with.
I just mentioned earlier, we talked about, that you’re also a podcaster and you’re at the Industry Angel, it’s a business podcast, and you talk to different business owners and entrepreneurs. I’m sure you have talked to a lot of people, but I’m curious to know, what has the podcast done for you? We talked about building trust and all these things, but what else has it done for you in terms of talking to these entrepreneurs, and even personally for yourself as well?
Ian: It’s a really good question Ahmed. I started the podcast early 2016, so I’ve probably gone about 18 months actually, because I was busy arranging and planning things at the back end of 2015. It was one of them ones where I sat down and though, “Right. I’m gonna give myself a list of what I want to do next year.” One of them was … for 2016, was podcasting, so I did a lot of research, how to do a podcast, where do you start, what mediums do you use, what the technology is, and I began it. I guess I began it because, when I was working with Far North, it was my own business, and what I liked about it was I could go in any direction that I wanted.
If I wanted to take my kids to school in the morning, I could do that. If I wanted to start my day with a swim, I could. If I wanted to work until midnight, from seven o’clock in the evening, I could that. That’s what it’s all about, having your own business. And, I thought, “You know, yes I can dedicate a day” and you’ll know all about this Ahmed, in terms of how long it takes to record a podcast, find guests, edit it, put it up there on your various iTunes or wherever you’re at.
It’s a commitment and you’ll see many podcasts … There’s a term you’ve probably heard called pod fade, where a podcast will start and then it will fade off, average around about eight potentials, or fade away and never come back. People realise it’s actually a pretty big commitment. I’m about 55 shows in now and I feel like I’m not gonna fade. [crosstalk 00:18:06].
Why I started it was really because I had such an interest in various different people, different genres, and I just thought, “Now I’ve got this platform, I can reach out and speak to these people.” An example would be Geoffrey Moore, who wrote a book called “Crossing the Chasm.” Huge rockstar in the marketing world. I badgered the hell out of Geoff’s PA to get a hold of him for just half an hour, that’s all I wanted in my podcast, but I got it, because I use a lot of Geoffrey’s techniques in my coaching. He has a value proposition template that I often use. It’s a bit like an elevator pitch for your business and I thought wouldn’t it be great to actually have spoken with Jeff and say, “I use this concept” and actually, I spoke with Jeff.
I spoke with people like James Kitchell who climbed Everest, cycled the world, and rowed the Atlantic, just because I thought he was bloody interesting and I was wanting to hear from him. Yeah, I guess selfishly, now I’ve got this podcast, I’m just so interested in people and what they’re up to that I want to bring that to my audience. What does it do for me? It gets me speaking to people I would have never had the opportunity to speak to. People on the other side of the world, and I’ve actually created quite a large network now.
Two weeks ago, I was actually in London with one of my guests. She wants to launch a company and I facilitated a day with her team to help her launch this company, just from the fact that we had half an hour together on a podcast. So, yeah, I jumped on a train down to London and, from the North East it takes a few hours. I was there by 9:00 and got on at 6:00 or something … 5:00. Yeah, had a great day together, just from the podcast.
Ahmed: Wow. And that’s something that you never really think about when you have a podcast, about what other things that you can get out of it for your business and stuff like that. The great thing is, it happened quite naturally. You didn’t force it. You didn’t sell it to her in terms of say, “Oh, by the way, I have this business. Let us know if you need help.” It just came naturally, which is the best way of doing it. I love that.
Obviously by building all this content online and having it on your website and [inaudible 00:20:26] and directories. People can connect with you. People can understand you more, your personality, and it gives you better credibility. There’s so many benefits of having a podcast.
At the same time, I agree with you 100%, it is a commitment. Recording it, prepping it, finding the guests, and even after that, get the transcription, put it online, and editing and stuff like that. It’s a lot of work and a lot of commitment, but if you do it right and if you enjoy it, it can be quite a powerful platform for a lot of people. It’s a very good point.
Ian: It can be, and hats off to you, my friend, because you’re doing it full on correctly from the outset. The thing with podcasts is there’s what you find is, just like anything, you polish it up, you get better, but you’ve started 100% from the outset. You know? Even down to the reminders that you use … About to take place, tomorrow, in the next hour, here’s an overview of what we do. Here’s my website. Here’s the link to … And a few guests. You’ve done it right amazing from the start. Well done with that!
Ahmed: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I feel like, this is only episode 21, so I’m not exactly as ahead as you or as advanced as you, but I don’t want to give up now. You have to commit to it just like anything in life. You can’t just start and expect immediate results, success. You gotta build and build. As you said, it kind of connects you with different people. You talk to people and I have benefited from that myself in terms of building a relationship with people. I appreciate your kind words. From an expert like yourself, I love it. I do appreciate it.
Ian: You’re right. It does get you in some … Just quickly, in lay with that point, a little bit. I was actually involved in an online growth bootcamp. 20 experts speaking for 45 minutes on a YouTube video. Then you pay $200 for a licence to listen to all the speakers and you’ve got the links for a lifetime supply of being able to watch them over and over again. I took part in that, purely from the podcast. Someone reached out, “I like what you do. Will you get involved in this.” Keep going my friend, because you never know where it’s gonna lead.
Ahmed: I will. Thank you for your motivation. I like that. I need that brief … You know, in this early morning show. Thank you, I appreciate it. You’ve obviously, you have to get into WordPress eventually because you mentioned to me earlier, before we started the call, that you quit your job and then you started to build a website in WordPress with absolutely no prior experience whatsoever.From that journey, you now provide that service to your clients, in terms of building and developing a WordPress site, which is pretty amazing from … when you go from viewer to whatever you are. It’s pretty impressive. What was your first experience with WordPress and how did you come across it, and why did you choose Word Press in the first place?
From that journey, you now provide that service to your clients, in terms of building and developing a WordPress site, which is pretty amazing from … when you go from viewer to whatever you are. It’s pretty impressive. What was your first experience with WordPress and how did you come across it, and why did you choose Word Press in the first place?
Ian: So, like anything, to be honest I’m a bit of a control freak so if I do something I want it to 100% and I don’t want to deal with nobody else. If I want to try and share, or learn, or talk about it, you’ve got to understand it. That was … I knew I needed a website.I have the luxury of quitting the job and not being able to … Not needing to work straight away. I had a few months off and during that three months I let things sit and resonate and digest in my mind, where I wanted to take things. Business coaching was something I wanted to do. From that, and let’s … You know, I’ve talked about that Know, Like, and Trust factor, you needed a platform, so I thought, “Right. Let’s have a look.”
I have the luxury of quitting the job and not being able to … Not needing to work straight away. I had a few months off and during that three months I let things sit and resonate and digest in my mind, where I wanted to take things. Business coaching was something I wanted to do. From that, and let’s … You know, I’ve talked about that Know, Like, and Trust factor, you needed a platform, so I thought, “Right. Let’s have a look.”
I literally just jumped onto YouTube and just watched a bunch of videos on what’s out there. I knew there was various cheaper-end of page builder websites. I didn’t want to go down that rout because I knew, if I built something, I wanted to build with growth in mind. I didn’t want to have to redo it over again. I invested in a great hosting service, I don’t know if you want me to say who or what, but a great hosting service.
Ahmed: You can share the hosting service if you want to.
Ian: So I use Siteground, and they’ve been great for me. What I liked about Siteground was, their support was just what I needed at the time. I dipped my toe into WordPress, got a good theme, I actually used Beaver Builder and I used Ultimate Add-Ons for Beaver Builder. Basically, that let me do anything that I wanted to do. I watched a lot of tutorials, joined Facebook groups, forums, and just learned how to use it on my own website.
Anything I didn’t know from a technical point of view, Siteground helped me out. So, if I wanted to back up my website, and set up my emails, buy a domain … You know all these DNS and all this sort of stuff was just new to me so they really helped me through that. After a couple of months I was getting quite good at it actually and I was approached by a couple of companies and said, “Would you do my website for me?” I was like, “Yeah. I didn’t really set out to do that but yeah. Let’s do it.” So, ten websites later …
Ahmed: Wow. [crosstalk 00:26:06].
Ian: I know I’m a little bit crazy but yeah. Do you know what it was? I was just enjoying it, Ahmed, because I was in a lovely kind of position where I wasn’t in sales anymore. I wasn’t getting pushed and driven, and I just liked playing with WordPress. I’d sit in the evening and just tinker away. If I didn’t like this, I’d move it over here and it had become quite interesting to me. Yeah, That kept me going for a while from a financial point of view. Building websites for people.
Ahmed: Wow. And the fact that you didn’t even expect to do that in the first place. That’s pretty impressive. Ten websites later, that’s amazing. To go from something from scratch to helping other people. Siteground is a very popular Managed WordPress Hosting provider, and very well known in the industry. It’s something that I also recommend. I use WP Engine but Siteground is also, I hear, very good. The support is excellent.For those who don’t know, Beaver Builder is a page builder. They have a function where you can almost drag and drop a certain style of your website to make it look how you want it instead of going through a designers and stuff like that. It does give you the option to build a website yourself. That option is available to anyone, which is pretty cool.
For those who don’t know, Beaver Builder is a page builder. They have a function where you can almost drag and drop a certain style of your website to make it look how you want it instead of going through a designers and stuff like that. It does give you the option to build a website yourself. That option is available to anyone, which is pretty cool.
What you said makes sense, in terms of, you had that few months break, after you quit your job, where you were learning and you watch other people YouTube and you experiment. I think it’s spot on, what you said about you kind of tinker with it. You play with it. You kind of break it and then learn from it and grow with that. If it wasn’t for … Even my experience. If it wasn’t for coming home from, whether it’s a uni or school, or even in my previous jobs, coming home and just play around with Word Press, just to understand it better, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Just like you said, so many times, you just go into it, almost in the deep end. You learn, you watch other people, you experiment with it, and you never know, you might actually become really good at it. It doesn’t have to be WordPress. It could be absolutely anything. It’s amazing what you come up with at the end of all that experience and playing around. You actually kind of built a business around it, as well, which is pretty cool. So, well done for going in, full steam ahead, without even backing out. You just go for it. I like that.
Ian: Yeah. Definitely, my tenacity is probably a strength, but even things like being in the Facebook group now and asking people, “How do you do this? Is anybody doing that?” Then you’re getting a bit of CSS sent through and you’re talking about PHP and I’m like, “Alright, okay. I’ll try it then.” I’ve just done a WooCommerce site for somebody with quite a big shop on. I’m sending tickets now to Beaver Builder or WooCommerce saying, “Hey, you should be doing this guys. Can you change this? Can’t you tweak that?”.
Ian: This is from a novice.
Ahmed: That’s incredible. You can just have your own, you know … Even separate work for this business yourself.
Ian: Well, indeed. What I found was, when I was business coaching and helping people. I’ve had many gaps in the business and what they needed was, sometimes a new brand, a new logo, a new brochure, and then a website. I thought, “What’s the point in subcontracting the work out? Let’s bring it in house and we’ll deliver it.” I can do it at a good time scale but also a good price at well.
Ahmed: It makes sense. Yeah. You provide that package to your clients, to offer a variety of things from the brand and brochure … Als websites as well. That leads me to my next question. Why do you use WordPress for your clients? There must be … Your experience obviously played a massive part into it. Why do you use it for your clients and what are their general feedback about using it for their own business?
Ian: It’s a great question. In my experience, my last few roles, we’ve had web designers come in, so agencies that pitched to us, with all bells and whistles, nice flashy websites, but the usability wasn’t very good in them. You know, the CMS wasn’t very good in terms of being able to edit a picture or some words or put a blog on there. WordPress, now, is just so simple that anybody can use it. What I do is, as you’ll probably do yourself, is lock down the user so they can’t break anything. Quite a small user level, and they feel really comfortable in adding blogs now.I guess the thing of WordPress was that usability, but also the plugins that were available. There were some awesome plugins so, quite often, clients would say, “Can I do this?” And I’m like, “No, but we’ll get a plugin that can do that.” Plugins have been amazing. It’s just things like WooCommerce that I touched about earlier. That free plugin can put a shop up there that people can use and run their business off, no problem at all.
I guess the thing of WordPress was that usability, but also the plugins that were available. There were some awesome plugins so, quite often, clients would say, “Can I do this?” And I’m like, “No, but we’ll get a plugin that can do that.” Plugins have been amazing. It’s just things like WooCommerce that I touched about earlier. That free plugin can put a shop up there that people can use and run their business off, no problem at all.
For free, so for me, yeah. Easy to use, and plugins, and obviously the hosting that I mentioned earlier. Just having that 24/7 support there, was just amazing for me, just to have that … Actually I broke a website recently. I was playing with a code in the back end. I was getting a bit cocky, Ahmed, I was-
Ahmed: Oh dear, we’ve all been there.
Ian: And just literally jumped on Siteground, jumped straight on the support, told them what happened. Okay, no worries, we’ll recover it from the back up and no problem. Ten seconds later we’re back up again. Whereas If you’re on your own, I would be very worried about that.
Ahmed: I agree. You should be very careful. Especially if you wanna play around with PHP and code and stuff like that. Yeah. You need to make sure that you have all the resources around you, especially back up, in this case Siteground offers that back up opportunity and bring it back up again. Yeah. If you have those kinds of resources and all of the foundation is set, it allows you to build from there. It’s a really good point there, using a well- known host provider, whoever it is.And, if it’s Managed WordPress Hosting, that’s even better. It can make a world of a difference in terms of your business, make your job easier, any technical problem is easier, and yeah. It’s above the average cost of a host, but you get what you pay for. If you pay for a really good host, it makes a whole lot different to your business. I definitely agree with that as well.
And, if it’s Managed WordPress Hosting, that’s even better. It can make a world of a difference in terms of your business, make your job easier, any technical problem is easier, and yeah. It’s above the average cost of a host, but you get what you pay for. If you pay for a really good host, it makes a whole lot different to your business. I definitely agree with that as well.
Ian: And, I think the thing, the beauty about WordPress for me. My clients, I don’t want my clients to keep coming back to me to ask for help, “Can you tweak this for me?” I don’t want that. I’m busy delivering courses and coaching.So, the beauty of WordPress is that they can do it themselves. It’s going to be free because they’re not coming and asking me, then I’m having to charge them an hour or twos work. They can just do it anytime they want. To be honest, they can’t really break it. If you set the user levels really low and they’re just putting a blog article on there, once they’ve got used to it, they’re not going to break it. It’s fine. So, yeah.
So, the beauty of WordPress is that they can do it themselves. It’s going to be free because they’re not coming and asking me, then I’m having to charge them an hour or twos work. They can just do it anytime they want. To be honest, they can’t really break it. If you set the user levels really low and they’re just putting a blog article on there, once they’ve got used to it, they’re not going to break it. It’s fine. So, yeah.
Ahmed: Unless they do something drastic, then you’re right, there’s no reason why it should break down or whatever. There could be something that’s not their fault, something’s gone down in the technical perspective, but yeah, you’re right. It should be fine. It should run smoothly. That’s what other people think is that when they want a work website, they feel it’s so complicated and so hard, or it’s not for them, or they have trouble using it. My next question would be, what advice do you have for anyone who are having trouble with using WordPress, or even starting it? What advice would you give to these guys?
Ian: Well, you’ve got to do your homework. Like I say, I did a lot of YouTube tutorials, lots of reading, lots of watching. Just like anything in life, you’ve got to put in the time and nothing comes easy. Just do your homework and, I guess just reach out. I’ve joined some Facebook groups, which are closed groups, and just cards on the table, “Look guys, bit of a novice here. I’ve done this. I broke it.” Or “How can you do this?”
People are so helpful, it’s just human nature. People want to help each other. There’s resources out there to do it. Don’t be alone, don’t sit in your back bedroom and pull your hair out. Reach out. Jump on some of these Facebook groups, join some of the forums, watch YouTube videos and smash it.
Ahmed: Love it. Love that. Definitely, I agree with you. I’ve mentioned so many times in previous episodes, that the community is so helpful. Reach out to them and also help other people. It’s just what the ethos of WordPress is all about. Everyone helps each other. There’s no secret. There’s so many articles, and guides, and courses out there, free as well. YouTube is an amazing resource as well. Just search online, you guys can find an answer to almost anything you want if you have some help, you require some help, or you need some assistance with anything, or you just want to learn something new, or you want to advance.
There’s so much resources out there. I definitely agree with you. Do your homework, go home and get studying, even ten minutes a day, half an hour a day of just learning about the basic stuff. It can make a world of a difference after even a few months. Just imagine that. Half an hour a day, after a few months, you could be really good at using WordPress as well. I agree with you on that 100%.
Ian: Now let’s pick up one point you made there about help, and that’s help each other as well, so that’s good. Comment on there, if you can help somebody, put the time in as well. If you’re on Facebook group and you see something, comment.
Ian: Get the comments in there. Help them. Just go comment.
Ahmed: Definitely go comment. Definitely a good thing. Again, it’s “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch my back.” It’s kind of that philosophy in a way as well. You’re right, if you have a solution to a problem that someone is banging their head about, just help them out. A few lines and you could change someone’s life in a way. Why not? You can do that yourself as well. Very cool. So then, what is your biggest strength?
Ian: Well, I think you’ve probably guessed, I’ve mentioned tenacity. I’ve mentioned I’m a control freak. I’ve mentioned I go full on. I just want it. I want it so bad. I want everything and I want it now. It’s probably best off saying what’s my biggest weakness because I’d probably say patience.
Ahmed: You can say that. Yeah, you read my mind.
Ian: So, yeah. I am a little bit impatient because, if I’ve got an idea I just can’t wait to see it unfold. At the moment I’m busy compiling a new sales course and I’ve called it “Selling Like a Rockstar”. With this no more 1950s, we’re going full on. This new sales course, I’m really enjoying it and I feel like it’s gonna be great. I’m just wishing my life away to see it in action because of my patience. It’s just so bad. Yes, I’m strong, I’ve got tenacity, but man I’m impatient.
Ahmed: Okay. So then, I’m just going to bring on, my next question is your weakness. If we’re gonna go with impatience, or we can go with anything else, how do you overcome it? How do you go around it?
Ian: Well, I guess it’s just, understand the journey. At the moment I’m an entrepreneur, as you can see, I founded a business a few years ago. I know it’s a roller coaster of self discovery. I know there’s depths and I know there’s highs and it’s just having the steel, the grit, and the determination to hang onto that rollercoaster bar and just go with it. Yeah. I’ve just got to understand that this is the journey and I can’t push it. I just have to go with it, really.
Ahmed: With a might of a nice sprint isn’t it?
Ian: For sure.
Ahmed: Like anything. Like a lot of things I think as well. As long as you enjoy that journey, that’s the most important thing as well.
Ian: Dead right. 100%.
Ahmed: If you’re going to be on a long journey and you’re going to be impatient, you want it now. Enjoy it. Enjoy that journey. It’s a lot of fun and it’s what makes the whole experience even more fun. It’s something that I think everyone can learn from as well.
Ian: Everyone can change your armour as well. If you’re not enjoying that experience, just change it.
Ian: I know that sounds easy for me to say, but I’ve been in that situation. I’ve walked away from a good salary and a good job because I knew I wasn’t happy. There’s only one person that can change it sometimes, and it’s you. Just go for it. Do it. You’ll not starve.
Ahmed: Look at that. Did you hear that everyone? Gosh. So much motivation today. I feel like I can rule the world now. If we get all sentimental about it, what are you most proud about, with your business?
Ian: Wow. I guess it’s the culture and the values for me Ahmed. I don’t want to do anything that I don’t want to do. I feel quite liberate when I sack clients. What I mean by that, I recently went for a discovery meeting with a business and there wasn’t a cultural fit there. I just thought, “I cannot work with this business.” I watched how they’ll act with their staff. I watched how … Well yeah, it was the staff really, that put me off.
To be honest, I just watched this guy, and he was really off hand and I just thought, “If I won this work, going forward, would I really want to work with him?” The thing with my business is, I’m in control and I can work with who I want to work with. I don’t have to wake up in the morning thinking, “I don’t want to do that. I really don’t want to go there. I don’t want to pick the fault of that guy.” There’s nothing more liberating than actually walking away from a contract.I get quite high on that … Than actually winning work, is actually not taking work. I know I’ve got to pay the bills, but I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do.
I get quite high on that … Than actually winning work, is actually not taking work. I know I’ve got to pay the bills, but I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do.
Ahmed: It must be so, you said it several times, liberating. It must be so liberating and satisfying to be able to be in a position where, if it doesn’t work for you, and your employees, and your business, you can say “No” and walk away. That must be an amazing feeling. I can’t imagine how that feels for anyone to think of a … It makes sense. Why would you want to go back to, potentially, what you were going through earlier in your career, with that pressure, with that push, with that deadline, and that kind of dissatisfaction?
You feel so stressed out, you don’t want to go back into that. I guess it’s a good thing that, because of what you went through in your earlier career, and that stress that was involved, that experience had maybe made you think, “I don’t want to go through that again, and this particular potential client might put me in that position again so I have to say no and walk away, because it’s not worth it.”
Ian: That’s really perceptive of you and that is exactly why I did it. When you get that gut feeling that you’re sitting across the table from somebody and they’re not for you, what’s the point in engaging with them because that two or three instances that you thought, “Wow, they’re not for me” will turn into 23 over the next three to six months when you’re trying to work with them. You’ll see their number flash upon your phone and you’ll think, “Oh my God. Really?” You just don’t want that, just walk away. You mentioned something there, “It must be nice in the position to do that.” I’m not in that position. You know? There’s not an amount of money behind, but it’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you make your money.
Ian: And that’s where I’m at now.
Ahmed: Very good, yeah. I like your philosophy actually. It’s not how much you have, it’s how you make it. It’s a very nice thing to say actually. I agree with you 100%. It’s such a good thing to say. Kudos to you. To have that mentality, and mindset as well, and for your employees to have that in the company environment and stuff.
I definitely appreciate what you’re doing. That’s really cool that Far North is in a position, where they are today, to have that … Not free spirited, but have that environment where you’re not dreading anything, where you’re not feeling like you’re in pain, or you have that pressure of stress or all these things. It’s not worth it in the long run. You know your staff is not worth it in the long run either.
Ian: I think I need to stop hugging trees. I’m getting too much of a hippy.
Ahmed: Well maybe, it’s not such a bad thing is it, because at the end of the day, you’re happy. You’re happy with how things are going. It’s nothing to be criticised about. I like it. I like what you’ve been saying, and everything you said earlier today. You passed down so many things. I’ve learned so much from just listening to you. I’m sure even the listeners will learn a lot from your stuff as well because so many stuff you should learn from your stuff.I really appreciate you sharing all the stories, all your tips and advice about everything. It’s important to know, if anybody wants to connect with you, where can they do that? Where can they find you?
I really appreciate you sharing all the stories, all your tips and advice about everything. It’s important to know, if anybody wants to connect with you, where can they do that? Where can they find you?
Ian: Yeah, sure. I guess the main thing for business is LinkedIn now. I think it’s the number one business to business platform now. What I will say is, if you want to connect, feel free but please add a note. What you probably see a lot of time is, “Hi Ahmed. I’d like to join your network.” We’ll say, “Why? Who are you? What have you got to offer? What have we got in common?” I always say on my sales course, “Make sure you throw that form in.” I’ve got a hashtag that I use, which is called “Noshoutcuts” because people are broadcasting and they’re shouting on social media, and there is no shortcut. We talked about relationships at the top of the show. Let’s start relationships, so yeah, let’s do it. Hook onto LinkedIn, you can catch me on Twitter, Ian_Farrar. My podcast is industryangel.com.
I’ll send you some links, Ahmed, for your show notes if you’d like. Yeah, I’d love to hear from everybody.
Ahmed: That’s great, and of course-
Ian: And, especially. Sorry to jump in-
Ahmed: Yeah, go ahead-
Ian: If anyone has experienced burnout, or if anyone wants to talk through it, or ask any questions of my experiences. I’m all over this, it’s a bit of a passion of mine. It’s my calling, so don’t get stressed out, don’t sit worried. Reach out and share it with me. I’m quite happy to speak to you.
Ahmed: That’s awesome. That’s really cool of you. Thank you for that. I’m sure there’ll be, even for the small number of people going through that, still you can reach out. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing you should hide. It’s a genuine thing. There you are. You have an opportunity to reach out to someone who has gone through it. Ian’s right there at the end of a tweet, LinkedIn, whatever it is. He’s there to help you as well. That’s really awesome and I really appreciate that. Of course, I will put all of the links in the show notes, which is available.
Again, Ian, I have to thank you again very much for your time and for coming on. It’s been really good to talk to you, and I hope to speak to you again soon.
Ian: Thanks very much Ahmed. Great opportunity, and thanks for all the listeners as well.
Ahmed: Thank you for listening to the IgniteRock podcast. I hope you have enjoyed the show. If you want show notes, all you have to do is visit igniterock.com/podcasts. Don’t forget, also, to leave a review on iTunes if you have enjoyed the show. It would make me a very happy guy and I would really appreciate it.In the mean time, let’s rock with WordPress.
In the mean time, let’s rock with WordPress.