Start with PROFIT, then work backward. Here’s how...
November 5, 2020
“If you’re talking about growing your business, your #1 focus should be on getting the cash register to ring.” In this episode of Entrepreneurial You, I wax nostalgic to Heneka Porter about my twelve years of false starts after my short-lived success as a teenage cell-phone flipper.
You might have heard that I was once the largest publisher of Amish romance novels on Kindle, but projects I started that never even launched include a local jobs website and a lyrics database! I love Heneka’s takeaway from this—my 7-figure success proves that even if you are where I was, moving from one failed business to the next, there’s still hope!
We also talk about:
- How to exploit every small and unique advantage you may have in the marketplace.
- How cruises suck, and I have taken an embarrassing number of them.
- The time I thought I was a teenage Bill Gates.
- How many books it took me reading before I knew more than my high school business teachers.
About the Show: Heneka Porter is the host of Entrepreneurial You.
Hey, it's John Lee Dumas of EOFire! and it's the Entrepreneurial You, the show for dedicated Caribbean Entrepreneur seeking daily inspiration. Brought to you by Author, Speaker and Award-Winning Entrepreneur Heneka Porter. You must be prepared to ignite.
Dylan Ogline: If you own a business, your true number one priority should be providing your product or service to your customer. But I don't like to mention that because that's like telling you to breathe, I shouldn't need to tell you to do that. Beyond that, if you're talking about growing your business, your number one focus should be on making the cash register ring. Bringing in customers and actually getting them to pay you. So, we'll just work backwards from there and look at what is the most simple, single thing I can do to bring on more customers. All these extra things, a website, a logo, wasting your time trying to get public relations or whatever. Are all of these things necessary or do they just help that one single thing?
Heneka Porter: Hi, this is Heneka. I'm so glad you took the time to stop by today. In Jamaican parlance: Wah Gwaan, mi glad suh yah deh yah. This episode is sponsored by henekawatkisporter.com, as well as the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Now on henekawatkisporter.com you can visit us for blogs, resources, books, online podcast courses, podcasts and more. If you are new to the Entrepreneurial You Podcast, be sure to check out past episodes with guest such as John Lee Dumas, Patrice Washington, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Amy Porterfield and a host of other game changers.
Today's episode is with Dylan Ogline. Dylan is a high school dropout from a small country town in Pennsylvania. He started his first business when he was 14, selling cell phones. In 2016 he scrapped 10 plus business projects and started focusing on one single thing: Digital Marketing. Tired from struggling, getting no progress and working from his freezing basement, not to mention nearly a million dollars in debt, it was an uphill climb. Turns out focus was the key. Four short years later, he built Ogline Digital into a seven figure agency generating over a million in sales three years running.
Dylan is now a leading expert in direct response, advertising and business growth. He has now turned his focus to helping other people to start and grow their own hyper profitable digital agency. Of course. I'm really looking forward to this conversation that we're going to be talking about, which is by no, you know, it's no secret, right, The secret to success - focus. Welcome. Welcome, Dylan.
Dylan Ogline: Hey, thank you so much for having me.
Heneka Porter: And it is my pleasure to have, you know, before we dive into what we're going to be talking about today. What, if anything, have you heard about Jamaica?
Dylan Ogline: Oh, man, you just threw a curveball at me.
Heneka Porter: Yeah, I know, I did. And we talked about everything else except that in the pre chat, right?
Dylan Ogline: Yes.
Heneka Porter: Yeah. I wanted to get that honest reaction.
Dylan Ogline: You know what? I believe--What is the capital of Jamaica? I should know this.
Heneka Porter: Kingston. That's all right, Kingston.
Dylan Ogline: I'm pretty sure I've been there. I've done I've done a lot of traveling and unfortunately, most of my Central America, Caribbean and all that jazz traveling has been on cruises, which I don't recommend, it's terrible. But I'm pretty sure I've been to Jamaica and several other countries all around that area, and I loved how happy and energetic the people were. That's what I know about it so far. Man, you really threw a curve ball at me.
Heneka Porter: Okay. No, that is true. That is actually very true. We are very energetic, very full of life, very loving people. So, yeah, you got it right.
Dylan Ogline: Okay got the right answer.
Heneka Porter: Yeah. All right. So, I pretty much gave the story away in the introduction of you, right?
Dylan Ogline: Yeah.
Heneka Porter: But we're going to take it through, nonetheless. And I want to start with your entrepreneurial journey Dylan. Just give me a little overview of what your experience has been like in all the various businesses that you've undertaken.
Dylan Ogline: Oh, sure. Sure. So, I think you mentioned it in your lovely reading of the bio. My first business was when I was 14 selling cell phones. I guess the short part, it's kind of skipped over almost is the between the ages of what I think I dropped out of school when I was 14 or 15 or so. The period between then and I probably would have been 27 at the time. So, yeah, it was like 12 years of just grinding and getting nowhere. That's the part that just gets skipped over.
Heneka Porter: Okay, hold that thought, hold that thought. Let's start at the beginning. Why did you drop out of school?
Dylan Ogline: Sure. So, I started my first business, like I mentioned, when I was 14 and very quickly, I was skipping school like every Friday. Somehow, I convinced my parents to let me do that so I could work on the business. It was it was growing, I was making maybe like $2,000 a month, which when you're like 14-15 that's all the money in the world. I mean, I was Bill Gates, I was making it rain. And so, I convinced them to let me skip every Friday and then it got to the point where I was like, okay, I definitely want to go down this business route. I started taking all these business classes and where I was from, just like the business classes in my high school, junior high were just terrible. I had read maybe two or three business books and I already knew more than the teachers. I convinced my parents somehow, some way that let me do home schooling. At the time, much different than what it was today, like I personally had to buy the books. I personally had to pay for the school, which was it was like several thousand dollars. I think it was like three or four thousand. And I was like, oh, yeah, this will allow me to work on the business whenever I want and then I can also do school and everything. And they're like, oh yeah, yeah, okay, let's do that. So, I convinced them, didn't drop out at this point. I just went to homeschool, and I never opened any of the books, never took any of the tests and eventually got to the point where I was like, okay, I'm obviously not going to do the work, just let me quit school.
Heneka Porter: Yeah, and fast track to where you were before I got back to that story, got to that story.
Dylan Ogline: Yeah. So, I quit school and then I think it was shortly after that or right before--I'm going to have to say it was probably right after that, my merchant account, my credit card processor shut me down because somehow some way they found out I was under the age of 18. So, that business (snaps fingers) instantly got shutdown. So that started the 12-ish years of just bouncing around from the shiniest object, newest idea to the newest idea. Not getting anywhere. Massively in debt. I didn't know what a vacation was. Was getting nowhere. That led to a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, a lot of terribleness. Then eventually in 2016, I scrapped everything after, I guess I got a lesson from a long-term mentor of mine and scrapped everything and just focused on one single thing, and that was the digital agency work. I took it even further, it was not just that business but also just one service, Digital Advertising Management.
Heneka Porter: Before we get into all of that, I want to kind of get a sense of the various businesses that you would have experimented with and perhaps even some of the successes that you would have had. Just pick one and talk about success. So, it just kind of take us through some of those ideas that you ran with and what was that the most successful thing for you?
Dylan Ogline: I'll answer the latter part of that question first. I wouldn't consider any of anything I did prior to 26. I mean, literally 12 years of just nothing really working that I how I made ends meet was just doing anything I possibly could to make money. A lot of it was just the agency work. So, if you needed a website, I was your guy. If you needed a logo I could do it. If you needed a PowerPoint design or banner design, I could get it done for you. Just always doing like this creative agency type of work. But I was doing everything for everybody, and I wasn't making any money with it. Because of that, I was chasing this shiny object. One of the businesses that actually ended up making like three or $400 a month, I think I had maybe a couple of months where it went over 500 was Kindle Publishing.
I took this this training program where the guy taught--I forget who he was, but he taught how to basically start a Kindle Publishing business. You pay writers like maybe $50 to write a book, you get somebody to make a cover, you target certain keywords, and you sell your e-book for $3.00 dollars or whatever on Kindle. That was one of the things. That that one actually generated money, though, but very little. I also did, I tried creating a jobs website. Like I was creating a website and I don't know why, I don't know why this was a thing, but like an individual website for different cities. So, you would have like--and I forget what the name was like, miamijobs.com, newyorkcityjobs.com and it would just be jobs in that city. Spent a ton of time building it and never even launched. I started a lyrics website like music lyrics. So, and I don't even know how I was going to get the lyrics. I don't even know why I started doing this. But it was like I have thousands and thousands of pages of content and I just have like Google ads on them. And I was like, oh, this is going to be big and it never even launched.
Heneka Porter: So, I want to say to my persons listening right now, that if you're feeling confused and frustrated and just going from business to business and helping here and helping there, all isn't lost. Because we're going to find out more from Dylan about his successes and what he's currently doing now. So, just so that you have some hope, just don't feel disheartened, all isn't lost.
Dylan Ogline: It can certainly feel that way, that's for sure.
Heneka Porter: Yeah, right? When you're going through it feels that way. Like there's never going to be a light at the end of the tunnel, the sun won't shine and you're just in this dark place. But, what have you learned throughout that journey besides the main thing that we're going to be spending a little more time on, Dylan? What have you learned throughout the time when you've been experimenting with all these ideas, some of which didn't even launch?
Dylan Ogline: I'm going to say two things. Looking back on it now, of course hindsight's 20/20, I took two things away from it. One, which, of course, we're talking about is focus probably. There's a saying, "The man who chases many rabbits catches none." That was me. None of these things ever launched and that was me chasing so many different rabbits, so I never caught one. It wasn't like they failed, they just never got off the ground. Or if they did launch or if I did actually get things going, like I wasn't that good at it because I was chasing so many different things. So, the lesson for me, the first and the biggest lesson which we can talk about more later, obviously, is focus.
The second lesson, which I tell in the form of a story, because, you know, I mentioned like at the end of 2016, I scrapped all these projects and just focused on the agency work, just focused on digital marketing. The reason for that is I got this call from a long-term mentor of mine and this was like end of end of 2016. We catch up and I lie to him and I said, "Yeah, things are great, things are beautiful. I got all these things going on, things are great." And he sees through the BS and he sees through that I'm lying to him. He calls me out on it. And we get to talking. And okay things suck, things are terrible, I'm not making any money, I'm barely making ends meet, blah, blah, blah. And eventually gets to the point and he says something to he says, "You need to stop trying to build an airline and instead focus on drilling for oil." Which is kind of silly, but what he goes on to explain to me then is like all of these business ideas that you're focusing on are low margin businesses like the Kindle Publishing or the lyrics website or the jobs website, is that you're going to have to be like the best in the world at those things to make really good money.
And he compared it to an airline. He's like, "You know, the airline industry is notoriously difficult for people to make money in. So, you could be the best businessperson in the world, but still lose money on an airline because it's just a difficult industry to make money in. He's like, instead focus on businesses that are high margin businesses that you could be just okay in or just good at, you don't have to be the best in the world and you could still make money." So, he's like—at the time, I don't think oil is as profitable now—but at the time he's like, "You know, you could just be okay in the oil industry and you're going to make a ton of money. You don't need to be the best in the world with that. If you're the best in the world, you're going to make billions." So he's like, "Figure out the business that with all these projects you're working on, what's the one that's high margin? What's the one that if you focus on it, you're going to be able to actually make money, like good money? And if you end up just being okay with it, you still hit your financial goals." Those were the two main things. So now I don't even look at a project unless it's--well, now I don't even look at other projects, but I wouldn't unless it was high margin.
Heneka Porter: Thanks for sharing that, Dylan, because that's exactly what I was going to ask you next. You know, what was that turning point for you? And so, you've shared your turning points. But I know many times, you know, I've had a eureka moment before and perhaps my community can relate to this having these eureka moments. But once the novelty of it has worn off or, you know, you're not implementing immediately, like I think Mel Robbins, talk about that five second rule where, if you if you don't immediately act on an ideal, then chances are you never act on it. Right? If you if you had five seconds to pass, you perhaps never act on it. So, what was the timeline between you getting that eureka moment from your former mentor, calling you out on your BS and you actually dropping on of these myriad of things, bright, shiny objects that you were involved with? And I want to say distracted by it because they were really distracting you from what you're actually doing now, which is making you money and causing change, positive change. So, what was that timeline for you?
Dylan Ogline: We were having the conversation a November night in 2016. I remember I was walking outside my house, in the front of my house, whenever I was having this conversation with him. I remember what I was looking at as is he's he was telling me this advice. It was it was cold, and I went downstairs--like literally that night we hung up off the phone and that night I went down to my freezing basement office, where I didn't even have a chair, I literally sat on a bucket because I couldn't afford a chair. Sitting on a bucket in my freezing basement office, I just sat at my computer and just went through everything. Like the Kindle, I mentioned that. I kept that project going, but I didn't focus on it. It was like, okay, I'm going to scrap any ideas I have on it, it's still making a couple of hundred dollars a month, so I'm going to let it let it run and if it if it dies out, it dies out. Anything that's not making money, I just literally deleted the folder. Just delete, delete, delete. Just got rid of all of it. Emptied the recycling bin on my computer and just--
Heneka Porter: You were serious, dead serious.
Dylan Ogline: Yeah, I was dead serious. I had reached that tipping point where--I mean I was spending years working and working all the time, getting absolutely nowhere. So, I literally just that night, stayed up until two or three in the morning and just scrapped absolutely everything. And then I took it even further with the focusing and just relentlessly focusing on the one thing. I was like, okay, the digital agency, that's my oil, that's drilling for oil, that's my oil company. But then I took it even further and I said, okay, I'm just going to focus on digital ad management because it's scalable and it's high margin. And then I had to stop myself because I'm like, okay, I need to get a logo and I need to get a website and I need to get a corporation set up, I need to do all this stuff. And I was like, no, like none of that stuff is really going to matter, I need to relentlessly focus. I didn't even set up a website. I didn't set up a professional email or anything like that. I didn't have a logo. I didn't have any of that stuff until earlier this year. It was just relentless focus on the thing that was most likely going to get me to my financial goal.
Heneka Porter: What you've described in terms of the many things that you were doing a lot of creatives go through that challenge, right. The bright, shiny objects and you don't know what to choose because your babies, all your babies are beautiful.
Dylan Ogline: Yes. That's a good way of putting it.
Heneka Porter: Yeah. What was your emotional state while you were saying--I mean, because I know immediately when your former mentor would have shared it with you? You would have felt like, yes, it's the right thing to do, he's making sense. But even while you are going through the process of getting rid of all these other beautiful babies, what was that like for you? Did you find yourself even though you were doing these things, deleting the folders, emptying your rubbish bin, your trash? What was that process like for you? Did you feel any kind of reticence? Did you have any reservations? What was it like?
Dylan Ogline: To be honest, it was something that felt freeing. It felt like I was letting so much weight off of my shoulders so, it felt good. It's tough to put into words. But I will say that I always had this nagging feeling like I'm not getting anywhere and I'm focusing on all these different things. I mentioned earlier, hindsight's 20/20. It's one of those things where the answer was right in front of my face. I was just I didn't have that bird's eye 30,000-foot view of myself to see what was so obviously the problem. Because I was so blinded because the problem was right in front of me.
Heneka Porter: Now, you also said something which is quite important, and you can very well miss it if perhaps if you're not experiencing it yourself, that you didn't bother to focus on getting like a website and doing all of these things until lately. And I find that many times, perhaps it's a way of distracting us or we are thinking that we're doing stuff, so we have the tangible proof of the website of the marketing stuff. We're very good at that, you know, painting that picture. But the real business that would make us money, we're not focusing on, we're focused on the glitzy stuff. Now how important is that? Or how important was it for you to not pay attention much to those things at the onset?
Dylan Ogline: Absolutely mission critical. Because I tend to be a perfectionist. And even if people aren't a perfectionist, I hear a lot from people who are starting their own business, things like, I've spent the last six months building this thing out or writing content or doing PR or doing this and that. And it's like you don't even know if you have a business yet. So just relentlessly prove your product market fit, prove that you actually can build the business and whatnot. And the truth is, what you'll realize, is that most of the fluff, the stuff that's not necessary, like there was stuff that you thought was mission critical in the beginning. It's like you don't need that. Just focus on getting people to give you money in exchange for your product or service. Because then that verifies that you have product market fit.
Heneka Porter: And that you actually have a business, yeah?
Dylan Ogline: Say I had gone and I had built out a website and then I get business cards and then I do this and I do that. And then I start, oh, I got to get press out there. So, then I start doing all the and then I'm like, oh, I need to I need to write a case study and I need to do this. And then I go to actually sell it to the marketplace, the digital management service, and everybody is like, no, we don't actually need that we need search engine optimization services or whatever. That pivot is going to feel uncomfortable because I just spent all this time building all this stuff out. If you don't have that weight on your shoulders, you can just quickly adapt to the marketplace.
Heneka Porter: So, how did you get your first clients without all the trappings of your website, your logo and all these beautiful things?
Dylan Ogline: In my particular case, because I had been doing agency work, I had clients previously, who I had built their website, or as I mentioned building a logo or banner designs. I was doing everything for everybody. So, I had previous clients. I just went back to them and I'm like, "Hey, I'm offering digital marketing management right now." Two or three sentences describing the service and what I think we can do for your business, would you like to jump on a call? That was it. Then I got one client. The first client is always the hardest by all means. But I got the first client and it just took from there. That was it.
Heneka Porter: And I think what is important for us to point out at this time is that it depends on where you are on your entrepreneurial continuum, let me say that. Because for somebody who was just starting business, perhaps that wouldn't have been, the best approach. Right? Somebody who's never done business before, they're going to have to perhaps show some form of digital footprint, have some form of digital footprint, whether it is that they have a beautiful social media page or something. And so, it is important am finding, based on what you're seeing, Dylan, is to understand where you are, the resources that you have in front of you, and what is most important that would get you the quickest result, the best result in the fastest possible time.
Dylan Ogline: Absolutely, yeah. Use the resources that you have available. That's a good thing. I like that. Whatever it might be. And it might be if we're specifically talking about a digital agency, it might be something where your parents are accountants or something, so they own an accounting firm. So maybe they don't become a client, but you can use that as a reference point and be like, I know a little bit about the accounting business so I can target accountants and that can be your niche or something. That's using a resource that you have available to you. It's whatever advantage that you can have in the marketplace, use it.
Heneka Porter: And perhaps do some work for them for free and use that as testimonials and as a sample of what you can produce and so on and so forth. So, I want to have you sum up right here at this juncture in our conversation on the important role, really, our focus. So kind of bring that home. I mean, we would have demonstrated that through the things that you have said and your experience. But bring that home for us, you know, in a simplified paragraph or so.
Dylan Ogline: Oh.
Heneka Porter: Well, the sentence are two paragraphs are scary, right?
Dylan Ogline: No pressure.
Heneka Porter: No pressure there. Right. So you kind of bring it home for us.
Dylan Ogline: If you own a business, your true number one priority should be providing your product or service to your customer, but I don't like to mention that because that's like telling you to breathe. I shouldn't need to tell you to do that, okay? Beyond that, when you talk about growing your business, your number one thing, your number one focus should be on making the cash register ring, bringing in customers and actually getting them to pay you. So, we'll just work backwards from there and look at like what is the most simple single thing I can do to bring on more customers. Like all these extra things, a website, a logo, you know, wasting your time trying to get public relations or whatever. Are all of these things necessary or that they just help that one single thing.
Heneka Porter: It does make sense. Thank you so much. It has been my absolute pleasure talking with you, Dylan Ogline, I really, really appreciate the time that you've spent with us. And so, I'm going to ask you, because I know in our free chat you did talk about a free e-book that you will have at some point. I know by the time this airs, it would be out. So, go ahead and share perhaps the highlight of what it's about. And the link will be in the show notes.
Dylan Ogline: Sure. So aside from my digital agency, I also have a training program called Agency 2.0 where I teach--my goal is to be able to teach anybody who I don't have to know about digital marketing but teach anybody everything they need to know to start and grow their own digital marketing agency. That is all under my personal website, which is dylanogline.com. I will be having you know, you mentioned the eBook, which is The Six Steps to a Six Figure Agency. That eBook is going to be free. I'm sure we'll probably add a link in the show notes to the specific landing page. But if you just go to my website, dylanogline.com, by the time this airs, I'll definitely have some kind of link or something that'll show where you can click and get that eBook for free.
Heneka Porter: Okay, there we have it. Thank you so much. Again, my pleasure, Dylan, it's been a pleasure talking with you.
Dylan Ogline: Thank you so much for having.
Heneka Porter: Yes, absolutely. I really love your story.
Dylan Ogline: Thank you.
Heneka Porter: And thank you, my peak Performa, for tuning in to this episode with Dylan Ogline. I certainly look forward to connecting with you next week. In the meantime, I would love the opportunity to coach you one-on-one to start your podcast, or if you want me to consult with your company, let me know. You can reach out to me by visiting the website, henekawatkisporter.com. There is a WhatsApp icon to the right of the page, just send me a message and it comes directly to my phone. So, I'd be happy to take you on your journey to success. Your successful podcast, you have a voice, you have a message to spread and I want to help you to spread that message.
Now I'll close with a point of hope as customary for the past couple of months and here is it today. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103 verse 1-25. Walk good.