John Lee Dumas, the host of the award-winning podcast 'Entrepreneurs On Fire', explains why he prefers to keep a small workforce, urges small business owners to document their journey, and talks about what makes his podcast an A-Lister.
John Lee Dumas is the founder & host of Entrepreneurs On Fire, an award-winning podcast where he interviews inspiring Entrepreneurs to help his listeners on their own Entrepreneurial journey.
John launched his podcast in September 2012. Since then, he has done more than 2,200 podcast interviews and hosted several entrepreneurs including Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Brian Tracy. The show was named Best of iTunes in 2013, and it generates 7 figures in revenue annually.
Small and Efficient Team
Many of our listeners who start out building sites, want to grow their business. John, however, managed to do that in a very particular way, growing his business yet keeping the team small. How did this happen? Was this his strategy?
“It’s intentional. Myself, Kate, we’ve always had this desire to run a team. We want people on our team that are working for us and with us, but we want that team to be small, we want that team to be lean and we want that team to be highly net profitable. So we’re just very intentional about the people who we bring into our organization. We’re very intentional about the jobs they’re doing, about everything that we have going on because we really want to make sure that hey, if we’re working hard and if we’re making money, we actually want to keep the money we make. Now, I’m not going to name names because I would literally name every single entrepreneur you’ve ever heard of, but at the end of the year they look at their profit and loss margins and they’re just like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ After expenses, after payroll, after ads, after taxes, ‘Where’s the money? Where’s the money?’
They’ve worked so flipping hard all year and a lot of people just have nothing to show for it. And that just wasn’t going to be me. I was going to run a business that was 60, 70% net profit margin and we have consistently for 70 months in a row now maintained that profit margin. We moved to Puerto Rico three years ago to take advantage of the incredible Act 20 which means that we pay a total tax of 4%. No state, no federal, 4% and if your jaw just dropped, go ahead and Google Puerto Rico, Act 20 and you can learn and read all about it. And that’s our focus. And so when you’re intentional and you’re focused on something, that’s what’s going to result. So our results are putting a lot of money in the bank at the end of every month, at the end of every year, building up a massive war chest, not just making a lot of money, but keeping a lot of money. That’s our focus.”
The Challenges a Small Team Faces
At Elementor, we scaled from five employees to over 80 within 3 years. In general, it allows a business to run larger enterprises. But as we previously mentioned, John has chosen a different path, working with a small team. So we were curious to hear which challenges he faced and how he faced them when dealing with it all on his own:
“Just to even further clarify, even those companies that are bigger than us and do make more money than us, don’t keep nearly as much money as us. It’s just a reality, period. So the challenges are 100% there. I mean, we have to say no to a lot more things. The fact that this is just a very small team, there’s just six of us. If there were 60 of us or 600 of us, we’d be a lot bigger. We’d be able to say yes to a lot more things. Guess what? The reason why Gary Vaynerchuk is Gary Vaynerchuk right now and is much more known than I am and has a much bigger following than I do and commands much higher speaking fees than I do, is because he has 17 full time human beings that are 100% focused on making him a bigger deal. I have zero, I have zero.
So hey, that’s just two different paths. He built 1000 person company and that 1000 person company is doing what it does and he’s probably taken a good couple $100,000 salary a year and that’s great. And then he’s probably making really good money on the speeches and all the other things that he’s doing. And he’s been very fortunate with Uber and other investments that he’s made. But I can tell you right now that overall I’m very likely putting way more money in my pocket at the end of every year than Gary Vaynerchuk is. But that’s not his focus. That’s not his goal. That’s my goal. His goal is to become a bigger deal, is to have a bigger audience. He’s playing a long-term game, which may or may not work out, and it really looks like it’s going to work out and I’m really happy for him. That’s the game he wants to play. I would never want to have 17 people on my payroll whose sole jobs is it to make me a bigger deal. That’s just not what I want.
And that’s kind of the moral of the story is, what do you want? You’re listening. You see what I am on one extreme, you see what Gary is on his extreme, what fires you up more? That’s what you should be going after. That’s what you should pursue.”
Document Your Journey
John is totally transparent when it comes to his business’ earnings, as he regularly publishes his revenues on eofire.com/income.
We asked him what he would recommend to a smaller business owner who would like to be transparent, too?
“This is the best time to do it. There’s one word, it’s called document. You need to document your journey. Yeah, you’re at the bottom, but guess what? That song, started from the bottom now I’m here, people want to go on that journey. They don’t want you to just appear at the top because they’re like, ‘Who’s this person? What silver spoon did they get? What lottery did they win?’ People want to join you on the whole journey. My first income report from 2012 to 2013 was a one-year income report where I made $27,000 like that’s below minimum wage for the number of hours that I was putting in over the course of that year. But guess what? People saw me at that price point. They’re like, ‘Oh wow, this guy is showing it.’ And then the next month we did a $100,000 that was our kind of hockey stick that happened for us at month 13 and then we started publishing monthly income reports from that point going forward.
And that’s what you need to do. You need to document. Yeah, you’d make $12 last month. That’s what I made in my first month, document it. You made $4,000 the 16th month, document it because people are going to be like, ‘Whoa, you went from 12 to $4,000 how’d you do that?’ And oh, by the way, people can resonate with $4,000 a month. It’s going to be hard for people to look at my 400k this month of revenue and resonate with that because it’s just pretty crazy. Those are big numbers. And so document your journey now.”
Putting in the Reps
How did John manage to bring his podcast to A-Lister level?
“I put in the reps. I’ve done it 2,230 podcast interviews for Entrepreneurs on Fire. I’ve done 1,000 interviews on other people’s podcasts. I did a weekly live Webinar for years and I still do live webinars. I put it in the reps. Simple end of story. Anybody that wants to get good at anything, any way, shape or form, simple, you put in the reps over time and you’re not going to be good at day one or day 100 but by day 1,000 you’ll be good.
And what are the skills that made him reach the top? John replies:
“Transparency. Just letting people know how it is from my perspective and letting them know my perspective may not be your perspective and that’s great. You need to be you. What fires you up? What resonates with you is what I’m saying resonates with you? Great. Then do those things. Is what Gary says, does that resonate with you? Great. Then do those things. There are different people that you can look up to and admire and say, ‘You know what? I like what this person stands for. I like how this person talks the talk and walks the walk and I like what this person’s accomplished.’ Find that person who is currently where you want to be. You resonate with that, follow them. They’ve left breadcrumbs. Every success story has breadcrumbs. Follow them.”