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Episode 17: From Solo Videographer to Full Service Marketing Agency

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

In this episode we interview Jonathan Lauer, who is part owner of XYZ Marketing. We track his progress from solo videographer (living the late night film editing life) to bringing on that first hire to help with administrative tasks and eventually taking on a partner and founding a full service marketing agency. Jonathan shares his philosophies on team building and leadership, along with a few success stories and horror stories too! Viewers and listeners will also be interested to note that our podcast is filmed in Jonathan’s studio with the help of his awesome team of videographers, designers and editors.

SPEAKERS

Liz Sears, Nelson Barss, Jonathan Lauer


Liz Sears 00:01

Welcome to the Business greater than you podcast, where we dive deep into the stories of men and women who have successfully transcended the frazzled solopreneur life and built productive teams with better lifestyle and income.


Nelson Barss 00:13

I'm Nelson Barss, the founder and owner of Utah Independent Mortgage Corp.


Liz Sears 00:18

and I'm Liz Sears, founder and co owner of My Utah Agents.


Nelson Barss 00:21

We're excited for you to listen, interact and grow with us. So please share your comments below. And let's get started.


Liz Sears 00:33

All right, today's episode, we have a very, very special guest. I think this is really fun, actually, because this is at your company that we're filming this episode to interview you about your company.


Nelson Barss 00:45

Jonathan Lauer from XYZ marketing. You are co owner.


Jonathan Lauer 00:49

That's right. Yep.


Nelson Barss 00:51

And we're in your studio. You built this place with your bare hands.


Jonathan Lauer 00:54

That's true. These fingers.


Liz Sears 00:56

It was so fun coming to your grand opening here and just knowing kind of where you came from, because you just like not that long ago moved to United States.


Jonathan Lauer 01:04

Three years ago.


Liz Sears 01:06

Yeah.


Jonathan Lauer 01:06

Yeah. Three years ago, I moved to America. It was Valentine's Day.


Liz Sears 01:09

Oh, my gosh


Jonathan Lauer 01:09

I came to America.


Nelson Barss 01:10

Wow.


Liz Sears 01:12

That's amazing.


Jonathan Lauer 01:12

Yeah, it is fun.


Nelson Barss 01:13

We're glad you're here.


Jonathan Lauer 01:15

Thank you so much.


Nelson Barss 01:15

Yeah. So tell us a little bit. So what what I know about your business. See, I probably met you. It's probably been almost three years ago. You must have been a freshie here in the US. Because


Jonathan Lauer 01:25

Yep


Nelson Barss 01:26

You were doing videography. That's right. And you had you you were showing up at like at my office to film commercials. And you brought all the cameras with you. And you did a great job


Liz Sears 01:37

You're a one man shop


Nelson Barss 01:38

But I remember watching you and thinking that looks exhausting.


Jonathan Lauer 01:43

It was so exhausting.


Nelson Barss 01:44

Packing all that gear around


Jonathan Lauer 01:45

So much gear you have to lug around.


Nelson Barss 01:47

Yeah. What made you decide to start that? And what was it like in the beginning?


Jonathan Lauer 01:50

So I studied photography in college. And in Germany, it's a little bit different how you go to college, you can just bust it out as fast as possible. If you just take the tests. And if you pass the test, you can


Liz Sears 02:01

You're done.


Jonathan Lauer 02:01

You're done. Right, you get the credits, and you're good to go. So I busted out college and within one year, and in that year, I studied photography, but it also took an online course about filmmaking, and videography because I watched a movie, it's called the Theory of Everything. It's such a cool movie. Have you guys seen it?


Liz Sears 02:17

No, I haven't.


Jonathan Lauer 02:18

You should totally watch it. Okay, so good. You should definitely watch it. It's the life story of Steven Hawkins. And in the in this movie, I was cheering for him. I was mad at him. I was furious. I was laughing and just going through so many different emotions in such a short time. And I was like, How was that possible? I mean, I watch Titanic and I'm, I'm just mad at Rose that she wouldn't let Jack on the frickin door. But, you know, it was such a different movie. And I looked into why am I feeling all these different emotions. And it really came down to the obviously answers but like camera movement music, the actors, right, the dialogue and all these different things, right? And I was looking at photography, and I was like, I can't do that with photography. I can't take people on a journey, right? I mean, I always take the example of like, you can always take a picture of a starving child in Africa. And it will be a sad picture, right? And you will feel the story of that child. But what you can't tell is that right after you took that picture, that kid ran off and played soccer with his friends and had a blast, right? You can communicate that part of the story. So I switched over to videography. As soon as I graduated, basically, I just right before I graduated, made that decision that I was like, well, I might as well graduate, right? Because I'm really close to it. But yeah, I haven't used my degree in photography, particularly in a long, long time. So But anyway, I moved to America then right after I graduated, like two months after I graduated, and started my business here. So I started Light Child Media and was a videographer. And I actually met you guys at the BNI that we're part of.


Liz Sears 03:59

By the way, for those that don't know, BNI stands Business Network International. It's a great organization.


Jonathan Lauer 04:05

Thats true. It's a networking. It's a networking group. It's really awesome. I really like it. But I think I was in America for three months. Like as soon as I so


Liz Sears 04:15

Wow. So we did, meet you fresh off the plane.


Nelson Barss 04:16

How did you discover BNI and decide to join?


Jonathan Lauer 04:19

So I was looking for networking opportunities, because I mean, videography is a very interesting field in the sense of, it's not a cheap expense to any business, right? So you need to trust the person that you're purchasing the videos from, right? So I thought, well, networking is going to be one of the best opportunities that I will be getting in order to get in front of people that I can build that trust with that they would make that expense with me. So that's why I joined BNI in order to get in front of more people.


Liz Sears 04:51

Perfect


Nelson Barss 04:51

It seems to have worked. I mean,


Jonathan Lauer 04:52

It did


Nelson Barss 04:53

You've had lots of clientele and


Jonathan Lauer 04:54

It worked really, really well.


Nelson Barss 04:55

And what was the life like at that time? So at the time, I'm picturing you going Like all day filming carrying your gear all over the valley, right?


Jonathan Lauer 05:04

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 05:04

And then going home and all night editing and then getting up early to go to BNI do marketing. Right. This is the frazzled solopreneur lifestyle.


Jonathan Lauer 05:12

Yeah


Nelson Barss 05:13

I like to highlight.


Jonathan Lauer 05:14

Let's throw some kids into the mix. Yeah.


Nelson Barss 05:16

It's not that way now and we'll get there. Right. But I would love to just learn about, you know, I think we have a lot of photographers, a lot of entrepreneurs want to be photographer or videographer.


Jonathan Lauer 05:26

Yeah. Yeah.


Nelson Barss 05:27

And, and it's like minimum wage work if you're not careful.


Jonathan Lauer 05:31

Oh, yeah. So true. That is so true. I mean, my first year. I just recently looked at the numbers. My first year I made $26,000. Right.


Liz Sears 05:41

Oh cash cow!


Nelson Barss 05:41

And you were working full time.


Jonathan Lauer 05:41

I was working more than full time


Nelson Barss 05:45

That's like, like 10 bucks an hour.


Jonathan Lauer 05:48

Even right. And then you take home. They got the taxes of that. I mean, that number. I don't even want to say.


Nelson Barss 05:54

This is after you bought your equipment?


Jonathan Lauer 05:55

Yeah, yeah. All this all of my equipment. I always bought it. So I got a gig. And I would buy the equipment I needed to get make that gig happen. So really, those $26,000 For the first year, I saw nothing of.


Liz Sears 06:08

It was almost like your second year in college.


Jonathan Lauer 06:10

Exactly. Exactly.


Liz Sears 06:12

I actually made a little


Jonathan Lauer 06:13

and I'm not kidding. Like I ate peanut butter jelly sandwiches for fun one year straight. Because I couldn't afford anything else. I didn't have money to go and eat.


Nelson Barss 06:21

You didnt mix in ramen or anything once in a while?


Liz Sears 06:24

Rice and beans?


Jonathan Lauer 06:24

I mean, it all falls under that category, didn't get more exciting than peanut butter & jelly sandwich.


Nelson Barss 06:31

We can help you with your menu. It doesn't have be better than Peanut Butter and Jelly.


Jonathan Lauer 06:33

I felt like it's pretty good about the amount of jelly because that at least has something sweet in it.


Liz Sears 06:37

Yeah, it's true.


Jonathan Lauer 06:37

Ramen will get pretty boring pretty quick. But yeah, it was hard. And like you again, you throw in some kids into that mix. And it was just running around, just running around. It was it was really crazy. And really, all that changed in the second years was I made more money. But did my life change? No, it was the exact same repetition. Right? It was I didn't have any more freedom. I mean, yeah, freedom in the sense of like, doing the work at 2am. More like, 3 PM. That's about the only freedom I had. But it was it was just what I thought was the right thing to do. Right.


Nelson Barss 07:19

One shift I saw you make sorry, you had a question I'll let you ask it. But you you started bringing people into your home? You you finished a studio in your basement?


Jonathan Lauer 07:28

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 07:28

And I thought at the time, that's brilliant. Because I'd seen you hauling your gear.


Jonathan Lauer 07:32

Yeah, yeah


Nelson Barss 07:33

You don't get paid for that time all the Hollywood setup and take down and


Jonathan Lauer 07:37

It's very true.


Liz Sears 07:37

Yep. So setting up a studio in your home just eliminated that travel time investment.


Jonathan Lauer 07:42

Yeah. And it was great. I really liked having it. At my house. The issue I saw with that was just it was taking a toll on my family. Because like everybody else be quiet at that time. Nobody can be in the house at that time. And it was just taking a toll on my family. And really the best decision I've ever made was to get an outside studio.


Liz Sears 08:01

Yep. Which is where we are today.


Jonathan Lauer 08:02

That's right. Yeah.


Liz Sears 08:03

So what came first, your first hire or the studio?


Jonathan Lauer 08:06

The studio.


Liz Sears 08:07

The studio came first. So you committed to a lease?


Jonathan Lauer 08:11

Yes.


Liz Sears 08:11

When you were still running everything yourself?


Jonathan Lauer 08:13

Yeah. And that was a big risk in in regards to taking on an expense that's going to be continued and that I'm locked in for about for at least three years. Right. So it was a risk that I had to take, but it was a managed risk, because I looked at my finances. And I said, Okay, well, I'm making enough money to where the rent is only taken about 10%.


Liz Sears 08:34

Perfect. Nice. So what point did you decide to hire someone and what caused you to make that decision?


Jonathan Lauer 08:40

So what caused me to make that decision? So time for time wise, it was about when my business hit about the two year mark. And that's where I noticed that you know what, these are really not the most valuable activities I could be doing, especially editing and editing as a videographer is consider that low value activity. And I wanted to hire out those low value activities. So I hired my first employee, right around the two year mark. And how that happened is he just walked into the doors and was like, I'm looking for a job. I was like, you know, what? I need one employee. Let me figure out the paperwork, and but I'll hire you.


Nelson Barss 09:25

No idea how. But that sounds great.


Jonathan Lauer 09:27

That's exactly that's exactly what happened. So I just called a bookkeeper and was like, how does this work? She just did all the paperwork. And I was like,


Nelson Barss 09:35

Which is brilliant. Instead of instead of googling how does this work?


Jonathan Lauer 09:38

Oh, yeah.


Nelson Barss 09:38

Do it all by yourself.


Jonathan Lauer 09:39

I was like, Okay, I might have to help, I have to pay run payroll anyway, so I might as well


Liz Sears 09:44

Yeah.


Jonathan Lauer 09:44

Pay someone 50 bucks to do it.


Nelson Barss 09:46

Yeah.


Jonathan Lauer 09:47

Yeah, that's great.


Nelson Barss 09:48

Okay, so tell us about what they did for you how that changed things for you.


Jonathan Lauer 09:51

Yeah. So first, my first employee just handled all the editing. They were just out editing or not. They weren't out, they were in the studio editing. And I would just start focusing more on marketing and doing the actual filming because filming is a rather high value activity as a videographer. So that way I could focus more on making myself. And if we're honest, I'm making myself an employee that makes $200 An hour versus an average of $70 an hour. Right? So that way, just eliminate those lower value activities. And yeah, so he was just editing.


Nelson Barss 10:27

And he came to your home and sat in the studio,


Jonathan Lauer 10:29

No, he was in this studio


Nelson Barss 10:30

This studio. You hired him here.


Liz Sears 10:32

Yeah. Studio first, then him. And I love how you said that you retained the responsibility of doing the marketing, because there's a lot of people that always want to get that off their plate first, but that honestly can make or break a company.


Jonathan Lauer 10:46

It's very true. But I am lucky to where I love marketing. Like I know a lot of people don't like marketing, it has so many moving parts. And there's so much to it. So I would say I'm lucky in the sense of I love marketing. It is all the moving parts and all the data. I'm a very data driven person. And I love looking at the data and just making decisions based off of data. And that's where I would just, I could do that all day and I would have fun. Other people would be like, that's the worst thing ever.


Nelson Barss 11:16

We've had a lot of guests we've interviewed about their first hire and who they hired and what what role they had them do. And I would say it's pretty universal, that the successful ones would hire someone to help with the back end. The fulfillment piece, right?


Jonathan Lauer 11:30

Yeah


Nelson Barss 11:30

It's after the sale. And it's it's delivery of the service or the product.


Jonathan Lauer 11:35

Yeah. And I remember when I would ask you multiple questions, actually about my first hire, like, who should I be hiring and I have asked you so many questions about hiring. And I appreciate all the advice you've given me because it's very true. Yes, you should hire a back end first.


Liz Sears 11:50

Nelson's kind of smart.


Jonathan Lauer 11:51

He is smart.


Nelson Barss 11:53

I just learned that backend is where it really made a difference for me, and I wanted to hire a marketing person first. But I just you know, it'll swamp you. Great. What if it works? That's the worst case scenario.


Liz Sears 12:05

More business for me to do the backend on.


Nelson Barss 12:08

You know, and I think a lot of people don't want to do the marketing. But a lot of the successful ones, you know, we just interviewed Shannon, she's still doing the marketing for her company. She didn't even recognize that she's doing it. And I asked her who does the sales. She's talking about other people, but it's her right. And I think, you know, the business owner, the leader of the team that's natural fit for that person to be the one that's out there driving the sales, that's the highest value activity in many businesses even more valuable than being behind the camera.


Jonathan Lauer 12:36

That's true


Nelson Barss 12:37

Right?


Jonathan Lauer 12:37

Yeah. And by now I'm at the point where I've hired that out as well.


Nelson Barss 12:41

Great.


Jonathan Lauer 12:42

Yeah, I can come I can say I haven't touched a camera in about, like, three to four months. It's been great.


Nelson Barss 12:49

Do you know what's a really good indicator of someone who has a good team? And we asked them if they can come be on our podcast?


Liz Sears 12:54

And they say yes!


Nelson Barss 12:55

They say yeah, I can do that. A lot of them will say I don't, I can't, I don't have time, I can't get away from the office. And then it's almost like self elimination. Like, okay, well, then that probably wouldn't have been a good guest anyway, right. And here we are at your studio, filming a podcast. And you have your team here filming us and editing on the fly doing all this stuff. Every time we come in here. There's six or seven people milling around doing work. And yeah, you're in and out. But you're not always here. And we know we're working in Jonathan's studio.


Jonathan Lauer 13:25

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 13:25

And we don't even see you every time we come


Jonathan Lauer 13:27

That's true.


Nelson Barss 13:28

It's amazing.


Jonathan Lauer 13:29

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 13:29

It's beautiful.


Jonathan Lauer 13:30

So I'm actually reading a book right now. It's called The Hard Things About Hard Things. It's really genius title, I think. But in this book, he the lesson he is going over right now that I'm in the chapter and is like, the worst case, the worst mistake. SEO can make, a CEO. SEO is marketing, thats how much marketing we do here. A CEO can make is making himself irreplaceable. Because if he leaves and nothing, everything is going to fall apart. So yeah, I would 100% agree with that. Big mistake.


Nelson Barss 14:00

So we got chronologically to your first hire. He's here in the studio.


Jonathan Lauer 14:04

Yeah


Nelson Barss 14:04

Editing. And then what? Who did hire next?


Jonathan Lauer 14:06

So then I hired another editor, okay, because that's where I was making them doing the marketing, and I was getting more clients, right. And I was out filming, right. But in, in video production, you can think about it in a way of as soon as you're hired, you have about a 10th of the project is pre production, then about 20% of it just filming, and then the rest of it. 70% is editing. So the huge, that's a large, large portion. And in all honesty, you could have one videographer one person that films the camera person can theoretically have five editors if you were to be constantly busy, because there's so much editing normally so much time that goes into the editing process. So I hired a second editor, a second person,


Nelson Barss 14:51

What's the training like for these editors tell us how you train them onboard them. And


Jonathan Lauer 14:55

So how I don't know if this is the proper way.


Liz Sears 14:59

You know what. It's working for you.


Nelson Barss 15:01

If it's been working, that's the right way. And we want to hear.


Liz Sears 15:03

It might not be the way, but it might be a way.


Jonathan Lauer 15:03

So what we did we have an online course that we depend on pretty heavily. And that online course teaches, Premiere Pro, which is the editing software that we use. And so we give our people, the our employees, the courses, and we give them as many resources as they want. If they ask, Hey, I want to learn more about this and this resource, then we'll be like, okay, cool, we'll just purchase you that course. And we will support you in learning these things. But we heavily depend on online courses, and we just tell people, okay, just go through this course. And by the end of it, you should be able to do this job pretty well. And then I just come in and look over their shoulder. And whenever they are delivering a project, I just give feedback and say, Okay, well, you see how you kind of made this cut here? Well, because of how they're looking in the direction that they're looking. And then the next cut, how they're looking in the opposite direction, we have to cut base to cut at a different position. So I teach more of the psychology one on one, because it is my style, right? It's the style of our company. And that's what I taught them in person. But the software I just handed over to online course.


Nelson Barss 16:17

Do you have them watch you work at all at the beginning? Do you show them?


Jonathan Lauer 16:19

Yes, So the first few parts, and we I do have them just look over my shoulder. And that's still a big portion of how we currently train is just look over my shoulder, or


Liz Sears 16:29

Shadowing.


Jonathan Lauer 16:30

Yeah, this looks like we just brought on a web designer, and he was gonna he just looked over Adam's shoulder he was my business partner for a little bit. And we just, I think that most the most important, the biggest part about how we train is very just throw him in. And then we'll just all learn through mistakes. So I think feedback has been the biggest portion of how we onboard.


Nelson Barss 16:54

Yeah


Liz Sears 16:54

Nice.


Nelson Barss 16:55

We've talked about that a little bit about the process that we use in your team and my team for training. And, you know, we think in our world about a skills transfer pyramid, and we talked about, like showing it first, and having people watch us, I'm amazed at how much a good person can absorb. Just by watching just by watching and taking notes and asking questions. And you know, I have some coaches that want me to have a new employee watch for a whole month before they touch a keyboard or a phone. Yeah, that to me is very hard.


Jonathan Lauer 17:26

That's a lot of watching


Nelson Barss 17:28

They get tired of watching, right? They want to they want to get in the fray.


Jonathan Lauer 17:32

That is a lot of time watching.


Nelson Barss 17:33

So we have a whole month before they take the calls. But it's also mixing in classes and things like that. But eventually then we flip seats, right, just like you're talking about. Now they're doing and you're watching, giving feedback. And you're doing that. And that's the second level. So I mean, it's not as formal, but I can see that you're doing the same thing.


Jonathan Lauer 17:52

Yeah,it's definitely not as formal. But I have we have been very lucky in regards to hiring the people who are innovative, and they're incredibly fast to adapt. Like, for example, our most recent hire Alex, our, again, our website designer, he just you have to tell him something once. And he just implements it from there. I dont have to do anything


Nelson Barss 18:10

Thats great


Jonathan Lauer 18:11

you don't have to mention something twice. I've been loving loving that. So and but that's with all of our employees. We just have very, very innovative people who are really quick to adapt.


Nelson Barss 18:21

That's good.


Jonathan Lauer 18:22

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 18:24

Okay,


Liz Sears 18:25

Have you made any bad hires?


Jonathan Lauer 18:27

Yes. How much am I legally allowed to say talk about this here?


Liz Sears 18:31

Well, his name is Franklin.


Nelson Barss 18:34

No names, but lots of details. You can legally do that.


Jonathan Lauer 18:38

That's, I think how it works? Yeah, we have we've made a bad hire. And I think it was just because I didn't I needed the help right away. And I should have waited a little longer to find the right person. But it was just so pressing in time that I had deadlines that needed to be done. And I couldn't do them by myself. So I hired this person that in the long end didn't work out.


Liz Sears 19:07

So what were some either red flags that you missed, or some steps that you didn't take or share, like so other people can learn from your school of hard knocks.


Jonathan Lauer 19:18

So some of the red flags that I noticed were performance, right? It would take him longer than any of our other employees to finish something. By the end of the day, it was like, did he truly make a difference today? And most days, I could say no.


Liz Sears 19:36

Wow


Jonathan Lauer 19:37

If he wouldn't have not shown up, nothing would have been different. So those I think that if you can see an employee that where you ask yourself that question is like, has he made any difference in our company's day? And the question, or the answer is no, then I think that's definitely a red flag that needs to be immediately addressed.


Nelson Barss 19:55

I think it seems I think one mistake that you described is just waiting until, it was an emergency to, to get into the mode of hiring.


Jonathan Lauer 20:05

Yeah


Nelson Barss 20:05

It's hard to hire early enough that you can give them that low stress training period that time to get up to speed. And you also want more than one option, right? You want to be able to interview and have three great people to pick from, right. And I think all of that takes pre planning and a little bit of vision and risk taking. Right. So I think we're going to need them by summer. So let's start interviewing now. It's spring. You know, and I do this a lot in my office where we think we're gonna need someone next summer. So let's start the recruiting process. Let's do some interviews, doesn't mean I'm gonna hire anybody. But I want to have some people on the bench. Some people ready to come into the game, when we need them and not start interviewing when we're desperate.


Liz Sears 20:48

Right. Yep. That whole slow to hire quick to fire.


Nelson Barss 20:52

Yeah. Instead of in reverse, quick to hire slow to fire. That's been my problem sometimes.


Jonathan Lauer 20:59

Yeah. It's hard.


Liz Sears 21:01

So how did you handle it?


Jonathan Lauer 21:03

So, I don't think I handled it really well.


Liz Sears 21:08

Leadership! What you weren't perfect leader right out the gate?


Jonathan Lauer 21:11

I wasn't, surprise. But so I think I was, too. I was trying to make it work. I was just trying to make it work, trying to give the training, trying to teach trying to be a resource for for this person. And I was trying to force it to work. And it just wasn't, it wasn't working. So I think it was after three months of consecutively saying this person didn't make a difference in my company. That's where we let him go. And we yeah, we just, I just had a conversation with him and was like, this is not working. So we had a few conversations, obviously, in between, but that we had, like documented paper isn't like your performance isn't where it is and stuff like that. But then, three months, after three months of, again, answering that question, he didn't make a difference in my company. And that's why we decided to let him go.


Nelson Barss 22:06

Sounds like a long, three months.


Jonathan Lauer 22:08

I know I shouldn't have taken three months looking back. It's like there was too many red flags. There was red flags all over in those three months.


Nelson Barss 22:14

And the day you actually decided to pull the trigger and let them go. How did it go?


Jonathan Lauer 22:19

I cried. But


Liz Sears 22:22

It's because you care about people


Jonathan Lauer 22:23

I do. I do care about people. It's it went well, in the sense of I felt relief. And my company was better. And like, I think it improved my work culture. I don't know how well when for him. He cried, too. Yeah, I think it didn't go too well for him.


Liz Sears 22:49

Yeah, well, you can't want somebody's success more than they want it.


Jonathan Lauer 22:52

That's true.


Liz Sears 22:53

And so if you were sensing that as you were going that you were you're trying to make it work, you're trying to help them be successful.


Jonathan Lauer 22:59

I really was I really was. But you can't force people to their luck right


Liz Sears 23:05

No, you can't


Nelson Barss 23:08

Okay, so keep talking us through the story. Because I know we didn't get to the end of the row, you have a business partner now. Right? You have more on your team than just two editors. So tell us more.


Liz Sears 23:17

Did you wait really quick? When did you bring in the business partner?


Jonathan Lauer 23:21

So we so let's see, um, two and a half years in.


Liz Sears 23:24

And how did that work?


Jonathan Lauer 23:25

Yes. And so about, I think it was September of last year. So about six to seven months ago. That's where I decided to open another company. And what happened was that my company was growing. And really what was happening is that we had all these people spending lots of money on videos. And then they wouldn't do anything with the videos. And I was like, well, they're not going to come back. They're not going to be returning customers.


Liz Sears 23:50

Because they are not seeing the value.


Jonathan Lauer 23:51

There's no return, right? There's no return on their investment. Because there's no implementation.


Nelson Barss 23:55

I may have been one of those customers.


Liz Sears 23:59

Maybe...


Jonathan Lauer 24:00

Yeah, that's funny. But what I was, what I was doing, I was I was referring these customers to another person, which was Adam, and he had a company called Revelate Marketing, and he does websites and SEO and ads. So I was referring these people to him, because I, if they can see that video made an impact on their business, they will come back, right. So I was looking at ads more of a selfish way. And I was like


Nelson Barss 24:28

That's smart.


Jonathan Lauer 24:29

They will come back for more videos if they see the value of videos, right?


Liz Sears 24:33

Yep.


Jonathan Lauer 24:33

So I would refer them and then Adam would do the same thing. He would make websites and would do SEO and drive traffic to those websites. And nothing would happen to these companies because there was no conversion factor. Right? Yeah, exactly. So we were just referring business to to each other so much that we're like, well, this keeps happening and happening. Well, how about we talk about merging this? So we talked about it and we quickly realized that there's a way higher potential of growing a larger company because I built Light Child Media to a factor which was making about $250,000. Right? And it was really at its limit. It was like, I mean, yes, I could hire probably more videographers and do all of that. But like, I would have to increase my overhead by so much that my profit margin would have stayed the same and was like,


Nelson Barss 24:46

There's no video.


Jonathan Lauer 25:25

Yeah, that doesn't make any sense, right. So I looked into how can I grow this bigger and that really was merging our two companies was the step because we could bring on higher clients and larger clients, we can bring on higher, bigger projects, right. So that's what we decided to do. We ended up forming another company, XYZ marketing. And now we're 50/50 partners in that.


Liz Sears 25:25

Why the risk?


Nelson Barss 25:50

Awesome. I think it was a great move.


Jonathan Lauer 25:52

Yeah, it was.


Liz Sears 25:53

Alright. So you hired your first editor, you hired your second editor? Is that when you teamed up?


Jonathan Lauer 25:59

So. Yes, it was when we started to team up. And then he had an employee, an SEO expert. And then we merged, we hired another videographer. We hired a writer.


Liz Sears 26:10

Oh, question for you really quick. Because this kind of happened with us is that when we merged, and we brought our employees with us, I swear I was treated a little bit like the stepmom that they didn't know if they should like, and vice versa. So did you feel like a stepdad to his employees? Or did it come over okay?


Jonathan Lauer 26:29

I'm already a step-dad at home. No, I don't think that I felt that way at all. I think it was went pretty well. I think they


Liz Sears 26:37

Good merger growth for all of you.


Jonathan Lauer 26:39

Yeah. That went pretty well. I couldn't pinpoint why it went well, or not. It just luckily did. But yeah, so we merged companies, we brought on another videographer, we brought on another writer. And then we brought on a social media expert. And then we brought on another web designer.


Liz Sears 27:02

Nice. Yeah. So how many total do you have now? The two of you plus?


Jonathan Lauer 27:06

So the two of us and then a team of seven?


Liz Sears 27:09

Wow!


Nelson Barss 27:10

A team of seven. Are they all full time salary, or some of them commission only, 1099?


Jonathan Lauer 27:15

So they're all full employees. W4


Nelson Barss 27:19

Two


Jonathan Lauer 27:19

Two. That's right.


Nelson Barss 27:24

Same thing


Jonathan Lauer 27:24

Again. The bookkeeper does all that. But yeah, they're all W2's, we have two part time. And then the rest is full time.


Nelson Barss 27:32

Okay. Very good.


Jonathan Lauer 27:33

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 27:35

Can you contrast for us your life, your lifestyle and your balance now compared to say, a year ago? Tell us how it's changed.


Jonathan Lauer 27:45

So I wish I could give the amazing answer of like, oh, it's way better. I think I have more more freedom in the sense of like, can I go somewhere really quick? And like, do something? Yes, I can definitely do that. Like, if my son is sick, and the school calls and I can go pick him up? That's not a problem. Right. But in regards to working, I think I still work the same amount in because our business has grown so fast. That now I'm playing catch up with building the systems, making sure that employee handbooks are there, right. Like I'm building the culture of the company. So am I working working less? No, basically the same amount of hours. But I think my happiness is the biggest factor. Like I'm working on the things that make me happy, right? Like, again, I'm comfortable with data. And I love data. So I'm working on the things I want to work on versus like, I hate editing, I just hate editing. So I would, again, it's 70% of the project. So it takes up so much of my time. And now I don't have to do that. It frees me up to do things that I want to do.


Nelson Barss 28:57

I love it. Yeah.


Liz Sears 28:58

Nice. You talked about building the culture. How are you doing that? What is your culture?


Jonathan Lauer 29:02

I'm totally the wrong person to ask. Because it's really relaxed. We are


Liz Sears 29:08

That's not a bad thing, though. Because every single business has its own pulse. And culture and pace.


Jonathan Lauer 29:13

It's very true. so we we love, we understand that marketing, really, a lot of people look at it, and it's like this process driven thing, right. But if, for example, an ad doesn't work, or a marketing strategy does not work, it's because of the creative. It's not it most of the part, it's not because of the system it's following. It's because of the creative aspect of it. Like for example, click through rates are all creative driven. Like regardless of what system you have in place, it will always be creative driven. So we love to embrace the creativity with our employees. For example, we say you can come whenever you want. If you are the most creative at 5am. Feel free to come in at 5am You know, if you feel the most creative the 5pm show up at 5 it's totally cool. Obviously, We all have deadlines and deadlines are important. So when deadlines are there, I'm sorry, but that has to go out the window and we have to finish what we need to finish. But when the when we're all good on deadlines, then you can come in whenever you want, you can take a break whenever you want, we have I feel guilty for saying this, but we have a TV that we have just smash bros at all times.


Liz Sears 30:22

Oh my gosh, Smah Bro's is hilarious.


Nelson Barss 30:23

I think it's required at a marketing agency. Video games.


Jonathan Lauer 30:23

We play we play Smash Bros here quite often, just to give us a creative break.


Liz Sears 30:31

It's funny how your brain sometimes just needs to get into a space that you control and you know, all of the parameters to, and it's challenge but it's still like, you can know what to expect. And it's fun. And things like that. And then just getting your brain to move down that path.


Jonathan Lauer 30:47

Yeah. So we we play Smash Bros as an office quite often. And just in order to give ourselves a little break, or just whenever we had a stressful week, just so we can all wind down a little bit. And just that way, we


Liz Sears 31:00

That's awesome.


Jonathan Lauer 31:01

We have people that want to work here. Right? I am pretty confident in saying that every one of our employees likes working here. Right? So that's one of the biggest things we do we just embrace the creative and creativity of everybody in the creative process. Everybody has a different creative process. If you need to go out for a walk in order to be inspired. Definitely do so. We have a pond right next to our studio. And we have one of our employees that in the summer. He goes out fishing, just whenever he needs a break. Right. And I think it's just a it's a very relaxed kind of vibe. Until deadlines are due. Yeah.


Nelson Barss 31:39

That's awesome. That sounds like a nightmare to me. I don't know how I would. I don't know how I would exist in that kind of world. I mean, if I was an employee, I'd be fine. But You know, as you know, especially, you guys do have constantly projects that need to be worked on. But I guess maybe it's just a level of trust.


Jonathan Lauer 31:44

Yeah? Oh, definitely. We trust our employees a lot. Yeah.


Nelson Barss 31:58

Yeah. It's awesome.


Jonathan Lauer 31:59

Yeah. And they're very dependable. Every single one of them is very, very dependable.


Liz Sears 32:03

All right. So in your growth, your company, what's your next kind of improvement focus or growth focus that you have right now?


Jonathan Lauer 32:10

Yeah. So right now, it's all about putting systems into place, so we can improve efficiency. And then the next part is going to be sales, sales, just focusing on sales.


Nelson Barss 32:22

Focusing on sales? Or are you going to hire someone that just does sales?


Jonathan Lauer 32:25

Probably both.


Nelson Barss 32:26

Have you thought about that?


32:27

Both. Yeah, we've talked about it multiple times. I feel like I've been so busy. And again, this is not the answer I would like to give. But I just feel like I've been so busy with sales that I haven't had time to look for salesperson. It's kind of like, I understand I have to sharpen my saw. But I'm so busy cutting down trees that I can't cut, sharpen the saw. So again, I'm still stuck in that little bit of that business owner perspective and like still like the job kind of thing. But I'm trying to remove myself. And that's what sales would be fixing. Because, again, in business, I always say like 95% of business problems are sales problems. Because how many problems could you fix with more money? Right?


Liz Sears 33:19

Exactly.


Jonathan Lauer 33:19

So 95% of our problems are money problems. So that's why we want to improve sales. So that way we can fix the other problems with money instead of time.


Nelson Barss 33:30

I think I can relate to where you're at. Because it's like, I think Stephen R Covey uses this in his book about you're in a pit. And you're, you're getting attacked by alligators. And you need to use your shovel to dig a channel out of the pit, but you can't because you're using your shovel to hit the alligators.


Liz Sears 33:30

Perfect.Yeah.


Nelson Barss 33:50

And it's like, how do you this is the quadrant two versus quadrant one is urgent and important. And that's where you live? And trying to get to a point. This is where I think every business owner wants to spend more time in the important and not urgent.


Jonathan Lauer 33:50

Yeah. Yes.


Nelson Barss 34:05

And you know, extricating yourself. We use that word last last episode, too. Yeah. Because we talked to Shannon who never ended up in the pit. She never she started out of the pit from the very beginning. People like you and me. You build the lighting. Most entrepreneurs build the business around themselves, and try to slowly take pieces away that they're doing and it's a struggle.


Jonathan Lauer 34:24

It is a struggle


Nelson Barss 34:25

It's long patience. but you're doing a great job of it. Look at how many things you've already offloaded from your shoulders.


Jonathan Lauer 34:31

Oh yeah, It's been great. It's been really, really great.


Nelson Barss 34:33

Yeah, that's awesome. Good.


Liz Sears 34:36

So if you had a piece of advice to give to your team or something you wanted to say to them, what would that be?


Nelson Barss 34:40

Oh, to my employees?


Liz Sears 34:41

Yeah.


Jonathan Lauer 34:42

Ooh, that's a good question.


Nelson Barss 34:43

Because they're listening. They're all over there.


34:46

They listen to this part about six times. You know, I just the piece of advice I would give. I think it's more regards to anybody is that As you build, as you build yourself, life is going to become so much easier. I think there's a saying, and I'm probably gonna butcher it. But if you make life hard, life becomes easy. If you make, if you make your, if you try to live through life easily, life will become hard. And I think that's a lot with everything, like, personal development is so important. And as you are putting yourself into a growth zone, yes, there is no comfort, but you will grow so much more. And I always I've always said that, ever since I've been 18. I said, there's no growth in the comfort zone. And there's no comfort in the growth zone. And I think that is so hugely important to understand in life. Coming from Germany, our culture is very different in regards to work and personal development. And like, just being willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to accomplish something. It's very ingrained in our in our culture. So when I came to America, it was very different for me to see that people aren't like trying to stay in the comfort zone as much as possible. Right. So I would say just seek discomfort, seek growth.


Liz Sears 34:53

I love that. That's really good advice. I


Nelson Barss 35:26

I love that or at least don't be afraid of it.


Jonathan Lauer 36:19

Yeah. Yeah. Don't be afraid of it.


Nelson Barss 36:20

Go towards it and embrace the fact that it's going to be part of your growth. And yeah, that's great.


Jonathan Lauer 36:27

Yeah.


Nelson Barss 36:28

All right. Are you ready for our rapid fire questions?


Jonathan Lauer 36:30

Let's do it.


Nelson Barss 36:31

Okay, we've got a list of five questions here. And we ask this of every podcast guests, and we got to get through them in one minute. So I'll try to keep my mouth shut. Okay. Number one, what is your


Liz Sears 36:31

Rapid fire. You're already failing. You didn't keep your mouth shut


Nelson Barss 36:43

In between questions. I'll keep my mouth shut. And after you say you're very interesting answers. I will not get excited about them.


Liz Sears 36:51

It's going to be tough for us.


Nelson Barss 36:54

Okay,number one, what is your favorite podcast?


Jonathan Lauer 36:57

Follow him. It's a podcast about the Scriptures. And this year, it's gonna go through the Bible.


Nelson Barss 37:02

Very cool. What is your favorite business book?


Jonathan Lauer 37:07

How to Win Friends and Influence People


Liz Sears 37:09

Classic, love that book


Nelson Barss 37:12

How many hours a day do you work? And how many hours a day do you want to work?


Jonathan Lauer 37:15

Currently, I work all the hours of the day. I work I would say about eight, eight to nine hours a day. And I would like to work about three.


Nelson Barss 37:25

Sounds nice. Who do you really look up to in the business world as a role model? And why?


Jonathan Lauer 37:33

Elon Musk


Nelson Barss 37:35

Elon Musk, you kind of you kind of got an Elon Musk vibe. I don't know what it is.


Jonathan Lauer 37:40

I don't know if that's a compliment or not. Depending on how you view Elon Musk.


Nelson Barss 37:46

And why?


Jonathan Lauer 37:47

I think he's just kind of the no BS kind of guy. And just does what needs to be done.


Nelson Barss 37:51

Yeah. And what is the one best piece of advice you can share with our audience? About growing team growing a business.


Jonathan Lauer 37:53

Um, this is gonna have to be a minute?


Liz Sears 37:53

No


Nelson Barss 37:54

Go for it.


Jonathan Lauer 37:54

Again, that's what would be short one. . So there is a principle that I just recently learned about. And that's called drop and give me 20. And it's, it's comes from the military, right? Like you have to be able to, in order to be in the military, you have to be at any given point be able to drop and do 20 pushups, right. And until you're at that point, you're don't really have a place in the military, right? Until you unless you can, if that is, that is one of the few requirements you need to be able to do in the military. And I think it's the same in the business world. If you are not able to drop and give me 20, then you don't really have the, the proper abilities to be in business and at the position you want to be at. For example, if you want to be graded, doing being on camera, well, you have to drop and give me 20, 20 videos, right? Until you've done 20 videos, you don't really have the position to talk about videos at all, and like give your feedback about videos, because you haven't done it enough in order to make a decision in that space. If you haven't, then I'd say work with at least 20 clients. Again, you don't really understand quite the processes yet behind working with businesses. So just as if you get frustrated in business, just understand, all you have to accomplish is reach the 20. And then you will be way better off and you will be in a way more comfortable position, you will be not as frustrated anymore. Just understand. It will only take 20 Until I understand how this works. So.


Nelson Barss 39:33

I love it. And carrying the analogy further like drop and give me 20 becomes pretty easy. Once you've been in the military for a while and you've been doing that


Jonathan Lauer 39:41

Exactly right. Because like if I were to now tell you guys like would you be able to handle 20 more clients right now? Yeah, totally. Right. Absolutely. Right versus


Liz Sears 39:46

Yeah


Nelson Barss 39:48

Sounds Great.


Jonathan Lauer 39:49

Versus when you guys started right? You're like 20 clients right now. Yeah, exactly. Right. But now you have the systems in place and everything to handle 20 More Clients


Nelson Barss 40:00

Well, we appreciate you, I would love to have a chance to check in with you again in the future, maybe in six to 12 months. I know you're going through huge transitions right now. And you're putting together all kinds of things and sounds like you're well on your way to the to the dreams that you have. But maybe down the road, we can check in again and see how everything's gone.


Jonathan Lauer 40:17

I'd love that.


Nelson Barss 40:17

Okay


Jonathan Lauer 40:17

That would be great.


Liz Sears 40:18

Perfect.


Nelson Barss 40:18

How can people get a hold of you if they'd like to work with your company?


Jonathan Lauer 40:23

Oh yeah, so you can look on our website, that's XYZmarketing.XYZ. And then you can just email me personally, at J@XYZ marketing.XYZ. And I did the J because I've never had a short email in my life.


Liz Sears 40:39

Literally just the letter J


Jonathan Lauer 40:41

Just J, because I've never had a short email and I was like, I want to short email


Nelson Barss 40:45

XYZmarketing.XYZ, which is pretty cool, too. Okay, good. Well, thank you very much, Jonathan. Thanks for joining us.


Jonathan Lauer 40:52

Thank you. Thanks for having me.


Nelson Barss 40:55

You've been listening to the business greater than you podcast with Nelson Barss. And Liz Sears. Our mission is to help lenders and agents like you.


Liz Sears 41:03

If you're either already a full time realtor or looking to become one and you desire to be highly successful. If you're both a learner and a doer, a hard worker and a total team player. We would love to chat with you about joining our team visit us at businessgreaterthanyou.com.


Nelson Barss 41:17

If you're a loan officer or would like to be one, we have a path to help you learn the business and develop the skills needed to lead a high performance origination team for better income and lifestyle.


Liz Sears 41:27

And lastly, if you would like to work with either of us, we would love your business.


Nelson Barss 41:31

Do you have a question for a future show? Would you like to be considered as a guest on our show? If so, please call or text our listener line at 801-871-9130


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