Here is our pilot to the Side Hustle Success Podcast where me and my co-host Kevin Taylor talk about our businesses, how we got started and what it felt like to finally quit our jobs. This is the YouTube version, but you can also listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn Radio, as well as at our dedicated website.

If you like the show, then please to leave a rating on iTunes of YouTube and please subscribe. This show will be released every two weeks on a Thursday.

Show Notes

The Side Hustle Success Podcast is a show for anyone who has a product or business idea and wants to go full-time with it eventually. Or maybe you have already and want some inspiration. This show is about product design, entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, free agents, digital nomads and anything in between. If you have a thirst for workplace freedom and want out of the 9 to 5, then this is the podcast for you.

In this pilot episode, Steve and Kevin will introduce themselves and their businesses and discuss what it felt like to finally quit their day jobs.

Kevin’s Businesses

https://www.beamcalculation.co.uk

https://www.steelbeamcalculator.co.uk

Stephen’s Blog

https://stephenhaunts.com

Stephen’s Courses at Pluralsight

https://app.pluralsight.com/profile/author/stephen-haunts

Stephen’s Books on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Stephen+Haunts&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Stephen+Haunts&sort=relevancerank

6 days to air

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2076781/

Startups for the rest of us podcast

http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/

 

If you want to read the show transcript as opposed to listen, then the full transcript is below.

Stephen Haunts:           Looks like we’re about to record our first podcast. Where do we start?

Kevin Taylor:                How about pressing that big red button.

(Music Plays)

Stephen Haunts:           Welcome to the Side Hustle Success Podcast. I’m your host, Stephen Haunts, and I’m joined by my co-host …

Kevin Taylor:                Kevin Taylor.

Stephen Haunts:           This is a show for anyone who has products or business ideas that wants to go full-time on them eventually, or maybe you already have. This show is about product design, entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, free agents, digital name ads, and anything in between.

In this pod episode, me and Kevin are going to introduce ourselves, talk about our businesses, and how we got started. We’ll then answer some questions from the audience and then discuss the topics of how we felt when we first quit our jobs.

Kevin, you run a business called Steel Beam Calculator, don’t you?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I run a SaaS software business. It’s an online steel beam calculator tool. It’s primarily used by building professionals, architects, and surveyors. That’s been running since 2011. Prior to that, had a consultancy business, practicing as a structural engineer. My software business spun off from my consultancy practice.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay. Are you actually a software developer yourself, or are you more on the architecture side?

Kevin Taylor:                Well, i’m a structural engineer, so I’m not in the software side. I’m purely non-technical. My business partner, Nick, is computer programmer, developer. I primarily just do the non-technical side. Obviously, with this podcast, I’ll probably be more emphasizing the more non-technical side, rather than the technical programming side, which is probably a good counter balance to Steve, because you do more the technical side, don’t you? The programming side?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. My background is software development.

Kevin Taylor:                Initially, I’m very, very risk adverse. I think most people think that most people that launch products or they’re entrepreneurs are risk takers. But that’s not how I approach things. It started as a weekends and nights project. I did that for a whole year. Then I started working three days a week, contracting for another company. I did that for six months before setting up on my own. I really managed to de-risk the process. I think a lot of people think, “How can I go from working full-time to being a contractor?” Obviously, that’s very risky. But you’ve got to think, how can you de-risk all of those?

Obviously, now, I’ve gone from freelancing into a product business. Again, I managed to de-risk that, as well. I launched my software product initially as a side project. Initially, I think it was September 2009, I launched my first software product. I just paid … The office I happened to be renting, there was a web design company across the corridor. I got talking to those guys, and they built me my first very, sort of MVP product, which had some success. It generated a couple hundred pounds a month. It wasn’t awesome. What I did then was I started randomly emailing lots of developers in the local area, just to see if any of them would partner with me and a new product, which later went on to be Steel Beam Calculator. Luckily, after many rejections, as you can imagine, just randomly emailing people. This is part called emailing. You’ve got to … if you want to be successful, you’ve got to put yourself out there, haven’t you? You can’t just-

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. How come people rejected you? Was it more around funding and whether they’d have stability over time?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I think … I can imagine most software developers get this a bit, where they get people just come to them with random ideas. If you just called somebody and you don’t know them, unless you’re in a very … happen to be … luckily, the person I contacted, this guy called John, who I went on to form the business with, he was between projects at the time. He just had a bit of free time. He thought, “Yeah, I’ll have a punt on it. It sounded like …” Because also, I already had a track record of having a semi-successful software product, I was able to go to him. We managed to start the business together. I was able to go to John and start this business, and we sort of gradually built up over the years. Eventually, me and John parted our ways, and I’ve got a new business partner called Nick now, and we’ve just launched a new version of the Steel Beam Calculator on Tuesday.

Stephen Haunts:           Oh, wow. Congratulations.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. Thank you. It’s unbelievably stressful, especially with our product, because it is a safety critical product. We’re designing steel beams. Obviously, what we do has to be correct. There’s so much testing, and it’s been so stressful, unbelievably stressful. But I’m glad it’s finally completed, and it looks fantastic. The product’s great. I’m really, really happy with that. We’ve just got to get … we’ve tinkered with little things on it, so we’ve got to get customers used to the new way of doing things. I think there’s going to be a transition time.

Stephen Haunts:           Is the product aimed at architects and professional people in the trade, or is it aimed at, say, regular people like me who might be wanting to build and extension?

Kevin Taylor:                It’s more professionals, but we do have another product, because I’ve got three businesses. One’s called Steel Beam Calculator, which is aimed primarily at building professionals. That’s architects, surveyors, people like that. Whereas we do another product called Build Calcs, which is kind of like a service mixed with a software product. It’s like a productized service stroke software product, and that’s aimed more at consumers. We do that business, as well. Obviously, I do my consultancy business. I still do … roughly about 25% of what I do is my consultancy work. I’m gradually phasing that out, as the products [inaudible 00:05:53] that. But obviously, that’s part of me being risk adverse, is to have multiple revenue streams.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay. You can use the consultancy as a way, basically paying your salary whilst your building the business?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It de-risks it. It’s not like I’ve just gone all in to product. I’m gradually phasing into it. Also, I think it’s quite nice. It’s hard to switch from one job to another job. Flick the switch. I don’t know if you find that, Steve, when you transitioned from working for somebody else, to doing your own thing. Did you find that a gradual process, or did you prefer to-

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I’ll cover the journey in a moment. For me, I’ve been running my business for about three years before I finally quit my job.

Kevin Taylor:                Obviously, it was a real transition. Yeah. I see this is quite common, actually, in most successful people. I don’t think they just instantly, one day decide they’re going to go from one thing to another thing. I think that’s where you become a cropper, because you have this expectation. You can just go from one thing to another thing, but with no track record or history. You obviously have time to build up your audience and your customer base and all this kind of stuff.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I think I’m facing with you. I’m quite risk adverse. I’m married, I’ve got two kids. Have a mortgage, all those things that grown ups tend to do.

Kevin Taylor:                I can relate to that. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           From that perspective, I was very risk adverse, as well, which is why I needed up running my business, quite successfully, for about three years before I eventually took the plunge to quit.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I see how you de-risked that by … I think that’s critical for anybody that wants to go out and do a side hustle project, is do it as a side hustle, so it isn’t your main income. It is a side hustle. I think it’s quite enjoyable. I actually prefer the side hustle to the day job. I’ve always found it’s nice to do … It’s like that shiny object, isn’t it? Where you’re moving on the next new thing. Something you have to be careful, don’t fragment what you should be doing. But it’s difficult, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           I guess one thing that’s a bit different between our businesses, apart from the products that we build, is that you have a co-founder, or business partner.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           It sounds like you have some quite good complementary skills between you.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It does work out quite well. Obviously, my business partner’s very technical. Obviously, I’m technical, but from a structural engineering perspective, not a computer programming or development perspective. I think it’s good to have those complementary skills. I think it works out well, obviously being a non-technical, it’s difficult. I think there’s an added complication, me … If I was a developer … I think it’s a double-edged sword being a developer, isn’t it? Sometimes it can be hard because if you launch a product, you’re launching from the same product that all the other developers are launching, aren’t you?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. With a lot of software developers I know, and myself included. We love to build something, but we’re absolutely hopeless in trying to sell it.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I don’t suffer from that problem, because … I suppose I’m technical, but not that technical, where with you, it’s the product that you built that you’re trying to sell. If you enjoy … If you know how to build something, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to sell. Just because you want to build it or can build it, doesn’t mean that’s what people actually want, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                I guess this is the issue that probably a lot of developers have, which is … I’ve always been more at the coalface in terms of the product and the customers, so I see what their problems are, because I’ve been there and done it. I have a bigger understanding. But obviously, it makes me weak in the technical field. I need that complementary help. I think it works out quite … It adds its own complications, because I think if you add another person, it doesn’t make the business twice as complex, I think it makes it five times more complicated. Each person you add, it becomes harder and harder. I don’t know if you think that, as well, over the complexity of a business?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                I’d run it on my own if I could, but obviously it’s not an option.

Stephen Haunts:           And why I do. I’m on my own in the business I run, so I purposefully don’t have any staff. I don’t want any staff. I just don’t want the complexities of managing people.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           I have a lot of freelancers that I work with. I’ve got quite a good team of people that I use for doing different jobs for me, whether it’s art.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I’m the same, hiring designers and freelancers where we need them. For example, we have somebody that does email support for us who’s another structural engineer, which that was a difficult hire, to hire somebody with the experience that could do it remotely. We have people do marketing and do bips and bops. But it’s … I love being able to do the remote team. I think in later episodes, we’ll mention, for example, the examples given in the book called “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. We’ll mention that in later episodes, because I think that’s a whole episode in itself.

Stephen Haunts:           Very familiar with that.

Kevin Taylor:                But the idea of being location independent. That’s the whole power of having an internet business, is with a traditional bricks and mortar business, you have to be in one location. But what makes internet businesses so valuable is the fact that they’re location independent. You can be anywhere in the world. You could sell your business, not to just a local person, you could sell it to anybody, anywhere in the world. It makes it so valuable. It’s really … That is one of the positive sides, along with all the stress and never switching off, and all those things.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I know that one.

Kevin Taylor:                I know. That’s for another episode, is having this switch off from the day job or the side hustle. It is difficult, isn’t it? As we all know. But now, I think we’re reaching a point where we’ve just got to grow the Steel Beam Calculator business, and give it the full potential. It is quite a niche market, so it’s never going to be massive. It’s not going to be a huge, massive startup. But it’s going to be a nice lifestyle business or it’s going to be a nice, solid, real business. I’m looking forward to that.

Stephen Haunts:           It’s an interesting term that you said, “lifestyle business.” What does that mean?

Kevin Taylor:                Lifestyle business is … The way I would define it is a business that gives you the lifestyle that you want, rather than … some people create businesses to become massive like the next Google or the next Facebook, or whatever. Or something they can go and sell in five years. But mine, the focus has always been more on having … although I’ve not been very successful at it, is to have this nice lifestyle. Sometimes it’s a lot more stressful than you would think. Trying to build and run a business is always difficult. There’s no easy … It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s the hard thing … About hard things, it is difficult.

Stephen Haunts:           A lifestyle business is a business that’s always going to be quite small, but it’s profitable enough to support you, your co-founder?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I’ve always-

Stephen Haunts:           And have a level of growth, but you’re not aiming to be a billionaire, San Francisco, selling unicorns?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I wouldn’t mind being a billionaire. I think I’d be happy just being comfortable, I think, or having the life for me and my family that I want. That’s been more of my … I’ve always been against, I don’t know … You probably got a different perspective. I know you probably had something you worked for [inaudible 00:12:24] you might have that … I’ve not worked for a different company, but that’s something that I’ve always shied away from. I’ve always been very proud of being what they call boot strapped. We’re self funded. We haven’t taken any outside investment. It’s just the money from the customers have generated future growth. It’s not come from anywhere else. We’ve been quite proud of that. We followed a lot of the examples. There’s a company called 37signals. They do a SaaS product called Basecamp. They write a number of books, “Rework”. What’s the other book they do? “Rework” and “Getting Real”. Yeah. There’s a few great books there about the bootstrapping approach. That just appealed to me so much more than the funding.

I think certain businesses have to be funded because of the complexity of that business. But for what we’re doing, this leash product, a smaller industry, we’re quite happy to just bootstrap it.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. The last company I worked for, before I went full-time doing my own business … It’s kind of interesting what you said earlier about how you would email some developers, trying to get them to come on board.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           That’s exactly what the last company that I worked for did. I had a conversation-

Kevin Taylor:                Just to recruit developers?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I had a conversation with the CTO of the business, and he wanted to recruit me in. I was like, “Yeah, that sounds great.” The vision they had for the products was really good. I was really on board with it.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It was interesting.

Stephen Haunts:           But at the time, they didn’t have enough money to pay my salary.

Kevin Taylor:                To do-

Stephen Haunts:           It was actually about two years from having an initial conversation before I ended up joining.

Kevin Taylor:                To get the funding to … I like the idea of the startups are amazing and the excitement of being involved with something new. It’s such a buzz, isn’t it? I think … Sometimes you get sucked up into this crazy startup world. I don’t know if you feel that. But I can see why it’s intoxicating to get sucked into that.

Stephen Haunts:           It was difficult to start with, and then they started to raise more serious funding, which meant they had big investors coming on to the board, which meant there were people that you wouldn’t see all the time making decisions. you get to that point where it doesn’t feel like a startup anymore, because there’s this board of people making decisions, which sometimes don’t quite to fit with what you thought the original vision of the product was.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           I think that always happens, when you have any company and you start having serious amounts of investment companies.

Kevin Taylor:                Things will get corrupted. The values and the missions and what you stood for.

Stephen Haunts:           There’s certain things you have to sacrifice and part of that is the freedom and the vision.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. We did actually consider getting an investment for our Steel Beam Calculator. I was kind of against that because I thought if we took investment, I thought it was like basically writing me out of the business, the way I saw it. Because I thought that … this might not happen. But what tends to happen is the people that are good at starting the business aren’t the people that necessarily can grow it to the next stage.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                I always think, if there was another board involved or other people, in theory, they could force you out. I think you do okay of it, but I think I want to keep the vision mine, and the values mine and what I believe and what I stand for. At least the time being, I think at some point, who knows, if it were to grow, if we needed money to grow the product and we had a particular vision and we needed that money to get to that vision, we might look at it. But at this point in time, I’m happy where we are.

What I want to do is I think I’ve … You’ve mentioned what I do. I want to sort of talk about your story, Steve. What your transition was from day job to where you are now.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah, sure. I’ve always been the sort of person that wants to build things and wants to do my own thing. Literally, I’ve got a disaster trail of projects.

Kevin Taylor:                Really?

Stephen Haunts:           That I’ve started and not finished.

Kevin Taylor:                Were you the kid who did the lemonade stand? Were you-

Stephen Haunts:           I never did a lemonade stand. But me and a friend at school-

Kevin Taylor:                Were you the dealer?

Stephen Haunts:           Well, we had a little business, because my dad bought out-

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, that’s cool.

Stephen Haunts:           Back in the day, we had one of those dot matrix printers.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay.

Stephen Haunts:           That my dad brought home from work. We thought, “If we use one of these really rudimentary desktop publishing systems, we can print birthday cards for people and charge 20 pence to our friends.”

Kevin Taylor:                Wow. That’s really cool.

Stephen Haunts:           Which we started doing. That made-

Kevin Taylor:                You’ve always been entrepreneurial in your outlook? I was more … I don’t think … I think I’m more … I’d like to be an inventor, rather than entrepreneur. It’s more my outlook. But I do get that.

Stephen Haunts:           I always wanted to build things. The first business I ran, which I class as a proper business, even though I wasn’t doing it full-time, was I used to be very into music production and sound effects design. I used to produce sample CDs or sample libraries, which were just live pieces of light beats, loops, different sound effects that musicians can add into their music.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. You produced just a CD? A physical CD?

Stephen Haunts:           I started off doing physical CDs, and then I worked with a company who aren’t around anymore. They’ve been sold now. But they were called Sounds to Sample.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay.

Stephen Haunts:           That was one of the first online SaaS platforms where you could go on and-

Kevin Taylor:                You could get sound effects from a library.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. You pay 25 pounds and then you get a two gigabyte download.

Kevin Taylor:                That sounds like a nice business, actually.

Stephen Haunts:           It was. It was actually really good.

Kevin Taylor:                Sounds really good.

Stephen Haunts:           As a hobby business, it was great. It earned a reasonable amount of money. But it wouldn’t have been enough to sustain what I’d need as a salary full-time with kids and mortgage.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That’s always that tricky thing, isn’t it? That’s the problem with side projects. If you never get out … Sometimes it’s nice … it’s probably a life changing amount of money in addition to a normal salary, isn’t it? Or potentially.

Stephen Haunts:           In terms of additional money, it was great. But then, I … because my background is software development, and then from software development I went into leadership and management. I started talking to a company in the U.S. who I still work with now, called Pluralsight. They’re an on demand training company. The best way to describe them is like Netflix for training. You pay a monthly subscription, and then you have access to their entire library of courses.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. How does that work, then? Do you post your courses on there? How is that monetized? Or how is that … logistics of that?

Stephen Haunts:           It’s a revenue sharing scheme. It’s all passive income. What that means is, to produce a course, I go through a lot of effort in making a course. I’m building one right now. [crosstalk 00:18:23]

Kevin Taylor:                It’s not really that … When you said “passive”, you’re thinking that means you don’t have to do anything. But obviously, I’m guessing you are doing stuff, because you’re building new courses and having to make new content and research content, etc.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. [inaudible 00:18:33] Pluralsight. When I first started working with them, I had to go through an audition process, because they don’t just let anyone on the platform to release courses. You have to go through an audition. That process took probably two to three months to do.

Kevin Taylor:                It was quite strenuous, then.

Stephen Haunts:           It’s quite strenuous, yeah. You have to produce a 10 minute course with a beginning, a middle, and an end. And then you submit it, and they absolutely tear it to pieces to see how you deal with criticism.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That’s a good interviewing technique, apparently. I’ve been told.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I did all that, and I got through. I produced my first course. It was a course called “Developer to Manager.” It was all about developers who want to transition into being a manager.

Kevin Taylor:                I like how that sounds like that’s sort of the path that you were taking. I always think the businesses that come from you and your experiences like obviously my … Obviously, I was designing steel beam, so that … my business followed from that, the software product followed from what I was doing. Again, yours sounded like obviously you were transitioning from developer to manager. Obviously, you were describing the process that you lived, really. I think that’s … This is probably key tips for other people who are listening to our podcast. If they want to do side projects, take inspiration from their … what they’re doing.

Stephen Haunts:           Their own work history. Absolutely. The idea for that course stemmed from a blog post I had written the year before which was called “Developer to Manager.” I took the concepts of that blog post and turned it into a course.

Kevin Taylor:                Did you … When you did the blog post, did you get email addresses and things? Or did you get feedback on the blog post that then helped you with your course? Or was there some kind of feedback that you-

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. There’s quite a lot of positive comments on the actual blog post, itself.

Kevin Taylor:                You knew there was something in it, with the comments, the interest. You knew there was something … You weren’t just doing a random course that nobody wanted.

Stephen Haunts:           No, no, no. I knew the idea would be fairly good. I had a good idea in my head of what the course would look like. What I did at that point is, you go for a pitching process with Pluralsight. You agree the course content. By the time you get to signing a contract, you’ve already gone through and pretty much mapped out the entire course, because they want to see that level of detail before you start recording.

Kevin Taylor:                It sounds … I know there’s other sort of companies like Udemy that do … But it sounds like anybody can upload a course to Udemy.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. Udemy is a different model.

Kevin Taylor:                Udemy. Sorry.

Stephen Haunts:           I think it’s called Udemy. I don’t know.

Kevin Taylor:                Udemy.

Stephen Haunts:           I’ve never been sure how to pronounce it.

Kevin Taylor:                That’s the problem with [inaudible 00:20:51], now. I keep pronouncing that [inaudible 00:20:54], or whatever.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. Their model is different. They are a bit more like YouTube, so creators can upload what they want. There’s not really any peer review going on the content. There’s technical feedback.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. Pluralsight is more well vetted than other platforms.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. Every time you submit a module or a course, it goes through a peer review process. You have people check it for-

Kevin Taylor:                It’s almost like you’re a university paper, then? Isn’t it more like, isn’t it? The process?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. In a way. Say you’ve got a course that’s five modules. You have to script all the modules out. Then you have to build all the slides.

Kevin Taylor:                They would read the script before you’d even do the course?

Stephen Haunts:           No. They wouldn’t do that. The script is for your benefit. Then you record everything. I was using a piece of software called Camtasia at the time.

Kevin Taylor:                What happens … say, for example, you record something and they don’t like it?

Stephen Haunts:           You have to redo it.

Kevin Taylor:                Really?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                So they can keep rejecting?

Stephen Haunts:           Luckily, the amount of redos I’ve had to do since I’ve been working with them have been minimal, which is good.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. You must be producing good quality content, then?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I like to … Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                I thought you were going to a Ratner deal. What was it the guy who said about … He said his jewelry was rubbish, and then his company died. There’s a famous story of a guy who was interviewed about his product, wasn’t he? About his jewelry products. Do you remember this?

Stephen Haunts:           No. I’ve never seen this.

Kevin Taylor:                It was called Ratner’s, and they used to do very cheap jewelry. He basically said his product was rubbish. Then it just completely coiled his business. I’m not going to do that. But the products we produce are really … especially the new product that we just launched is really good. I’m sure yours is really good products.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. The viewership of my courses has been fantastic. Obviously people have the opportunity to rate the courses and leave feedback, as well. That’s all been very positive. But what I found is, when I did the first course, it took me about four months to make.

Kevin Taylor:                Wow. That’s a real commitment then?

Stephen Haunts:           It is. I was doing all in my own time, in the evenings. I often had to sacrifice evenings to do it. When I got to the end of it-

Kevin Taylor:                Sometimes it’s more fun doing it that way. I always like that. Obviously, [crosstalk 00:22:54].

Stephen Haunts:           It was quite stressful at the time, because I’ve never done video editing before. There’s a lot of skills that I had to learn.

Kevin Taylor:                It’s hard, because I actually started my businesses before I had children. But I wouldn’t like to do it … Did you have children when you were … have any children?

Stephen Haunts:           Yes.

Kevin Taylor:                I’ve got one little boy, but he’s-

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I had both of them at that point.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That’s a challenge, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           It was only four years ago.

Kevin Taylor:                That would have been more of a challenge than before children.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. But I released the first course. Got to the end of it. Once I submitted it, I actually said to myself, “I’m not doing another one.” That was too much.

Kevin Taylor:                Really? It was too much? It was too painful?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. But my wife said, “Well, you’ve done one. You might as well do a second.”

Kevin Taylor:                I think sometimes you forget how painful things are, don’t you? I’m like this. Same thing with children. You forget. You have one child, “Oh, this is so hard work. I’m not going to do it again.” And then you do it anyway, don’t you?

Stephen Haunts:           I did the second course, which took about three months, and it was easier, because I had all the skills I had learned from doing it the first time around. I felt like, “I will do a third.” I did a third. Now I’m currently working on my 14th.

Kevin Taylor:                You’ve got into the groove then, haven’t you? Yeah. I’d love to watch some of the content. Obviously, I’m not in Pluralsight, so I’ve not seen the content. But I’d love to have a look.

Stephen Haunts:           The way it works, in terms of monetization, when you pitch a course, you agree on an upfront fee, which they pay you once you turn the course in. That’s to help compensate you for the amount of effort you had to do to build the course.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That initial … so you can cover the bills whilst you’re building the course.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. The rest of it is revenue share. They have a big pot of money, whatever that may be. We’re actually not allowed to say any of the figures. But I can divulge any of that. They’ll have a big pot of money. Then, based on how many minutes are being viewed of your course and the percentage you agreed on your contracts, every quarter you get a slice of that pie.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, every quarter? It’s a long wait then, isn’t it? You get royalties of the pot that’s there.

Stephen Haunts:           We get … Yeah. It gets paid the month after the end of a calendar quarter.

Kevin Taylor:                Is that based upon how many times people look at your content? Or how many minutes?

Stephen Haunts:           It’s based on number of minutes viewed.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, is it? Okay. Yeah. So that’s a percentage of the overall-

Stephen Haunts:           If you think about how artists on Spotify get compensated, it’s a similar model to that. They get paid per stream.

Kevin Taylor:                Yours is per minute, then.

Stephen Haunts:           Per minute that’s played.

Kevin Taylor:                The more … The other thing is, the way that you understand that you market your product is you do lots of conferences. Is that … Can you tell us about that?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                How you … obviously I know … That’s the other thing. If you launch a product, it’s how do you get it out to people? How do you get that story? Do you blog?

Stephen Haunts:           Pluralsight’s marketing efforts are really, really good.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay, yeah. So they do help.

Stephen Haunts:           I don’t technically have to do public speaking to get people to watch my courses, because people just naturally come and search for my courses. I’ve done topics that are quite popular in software development, so people will naturally, organically find the courses on the platform.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           But what I started doing is, I knew I wanted to do public speaking, mostly to get over my fear of public speaking.

Kevin Taylor:                Do you know what? I’m terrified of public speaking. I’ve never done any public speaking.

Stephen Haunts:           I spent a year doing small user groups around the country.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           It’s safer in smaller audiences.

Kevin Taylor:                If I was going to do public speaking, I’d probably start with a podcast and then work my way up. It’s okay, it’s not that scary. But I think to talk in a room with three people, I find that a little bit scary. But a whole room. I guess, do you build up and then you start with a few people and then a small-

Stephen Haunts:           You build up and practice. Then I got invited to a large conference in London called NDC London. That was my first proper, big conference.

Kevin Taylor:                How many people were there?

Stephen Haunts:           I think it was about just under 200 in my session.

Kevin Taylor:                Wow. I’d be scared.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah, I was terrified. If you watch the video back on YouTube, you can see I’m nervous.

Kevin Taylor:                Were you shaking? Don’t talk to me.

Stephen Haunts:           You do really well. At the end of the talk at a major conference, they vote on the talk. They have a card system. Green cards, yellow cards, and red cards. Green means they like it. Yellow means there’s nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t for me, and maybe I knew the material already. Red means they hate it.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, God. That’s brutal, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           The majority of my cards were green. There was a few yellows, and no reds.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, wow. Fantastic.

Stephen Haunts:           People obviously seem to like the content.

Kevin Taylor:                I’d be gutted if it was a room full of red.

Stephen Haunts:           But the scores you get from those, like ratings, obviously [inaudible 00:27:02] whether the conference is going to invite you back or not in the future. Luckily, they’re inviting me back. Naturally, when you’re … you’re doing the talking on a particular subject. At the beginning and at the end, you just say, “I do work for Pluralsight. You can go see my courses.” Most people in software development are probably Pluralsight subscribers now. The company’s got that big and got such big penetration.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. There’s going to be someone in your target audience that’s going to be a good percentage of those people that are … So they’re going to go on and watch your courses and that.

Stephen Haunts:           These days, when I do a major conference … because I’ve got access and analytics dashboards, so I can see what’s going on.

Kevin Taylor:                That’s analytics within Pluralsight?

Stephen Haunts:           Within Pluralsight. You tend to see a bit of a bump when you do a conference. But it’s keeping your name in people’s minds.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. How do you fund attending conferences? Do you get paid to attend? Or do they cover costs?

Stephen Haunts:           No. The professional conferences, generally, apart from the ones in the U.S., which seems to be a bit different. But generally, they pay your airfare and accommodation.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           Which is fantastic. If I’m going to do a conference in Norway, for example, they’ll pay for the flight to and from Norway.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That’s really-

Stephen Haunts:           They cover the cost of the hotel. Sometimes, I’ll stay out for a few extra days, but you have to pay for the hotel yourself at that point.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay, yeah. Just for a bit of sightseeing. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           Just to go … If it’s somewhere I’ve never been before, I like to stay out for a few extra days.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah, cool. We’ll have do our own, at some point, conference, won’t we?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. The Side Hustle Success Podcast Conference.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I think that’s quite a while in the future. But, yeah. Something to think about.

Stephen Haunts:           From that, then, Pluralsight is where a large portion of my income comes from. Since then, I’ve started writing short books, as well.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay. Do you drive income from those, as well as the Pluralsight courses?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. The income from that is kind of growing, at the moment. It’s nowhere near what I get from Pluralsight and some of the other things I do.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           But I started doing that. I’m trying to build up a book publishing business, and I started teaching in person workshops, as well.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, wow. Fantastic.

Stephen Haunts:           Which is good.

Kevin Taylor:                You’re doing in person training courses, in addition to the online training that you do?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I was doing the Pluralsight stuff for just over three years, until I eventually decided I need to cut the shackles from my job and go and do this.

Kevin Taylor:                How was that? Was it scary? Obviously, I’ve seen that obviously developers are usually well paid, traditionally?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I was giving up a good salary.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. This must be … It’s scary. How did you feel about that? Having to … was it a relief, because you don’t want to do the day job anymore? The commute, and all that kind of stuff? Was it getting to you? And the bureaucracy of being in a company? Or was all that stifling and you were happy to get out of it? Or was it something that you just, “I want to do my own stuff.”

Stephen Haunts:           If you can imagine every single emotion and feeling that you can have at the same time. It was joy, it was fear.

Kevin Taylor:                I don’t know what … I can [inaudible 00:29:49], because I built up a certain part of money so I knew I’d be okay for a certain amount of time. Did you do this?

Stephen Haunts:           I did that, as well. As we said before, I’m very risk adverse. The money that I got from Pluralsight, I stored in my business bank account. I didn’t really spend much of it.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I didn’t have a huge amount, but I think I had like six months’ salary, which isn’t a huge amount, really.

Stephen Haunts:           At the point I quit, I had a year’s salary.

Kevin Taylor:                Wow. You knew that for a whole year, you could be-

Stephen Haunts:           That was also to make it less scary for my wife, because she was obviously very nervous about it. I agreed that I would pay myself the same salary as what was with my previous company.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay. You had to generate … that gives you a rocket to really fire you up.

Stephen Haunts:           On this section of the show, I thought it would be good for us to answer some questions from the audience. But, obviously, we’re recording the pilot now. So we haven’t got an audience, yet. I solicited on LinkedIn and Twitter, just explaining we’re building this podcast, and what the podcast was about. Does anyone have any questions that they’d like to ask two people that have successfully built their own side hustles? I’ve got two questions here. We’ll start with the first one.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay. Fire away.

Stephen Haunts:           We’ll see what your answer is.

The first question is from Jethro on Twitter, and he asks, “What’s the most difficult challenge you face in going independent? For example, managing finances, customer expectations and sales?”

Kevin Taylor:                This is … I think this is like very question. It always … I’d like to say it depends. Hiten and Steli, after they do a podcast … I think it’s “The Startup Chat”. They always said, when giving advice, you should always say, “It depends”, because obviously it depends on your situation, your context, etc.

But I’ll give you my opinion on it. It might not be relevant to Jethro, but I think it’s important that you de-risk. So managing finances like some of the tactics that we’ve just discussed would help, in terms of managing your finances. Building a pot of money before you go, before you make the leap into doing your side hustle full-time. Perhaps, also, like building up an audience or building up your product or sort of … That’s going to help with managing customer expectations, is they know what to expect, because you’ve already started. Then you can build from that. I think sales, again, it all follows.

What are your thoughts on this, Steve?

Stephen Haunts:           In terms of running the business and finances and all that sort of thing, I was already quite well experienced with that, because I was running the business for several years.

Kevin Taylor:                I think it’s almost like if you’re asking these questions, I don’t think you’re ready to really start. It almost like I’m thinking that you need to … You shouldn’t be worrying about the finances because you should have that in place.

Stephen Haunts:           For me, the most difficult challenge, it wasn’t doing finances, because I had already done several years of that, and I’ve got a very good accountant who helps me out.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay, yeah. I always think that the accounting is relatively straightforward. It’s more the getting customers and making sales is the hard. That’s just kind of admin stuff that you can find.

Stephen Haunts:           The audience and revenue that I generate from Pluralsight is consistent, and it’s growing. I’m able to … Never say never, but I’m able to roughly predict what is going to be at the end of the month. That’s good. I think probably the most difficult challenge is … When I first went independent, that’s when I decided, “I’m going to try and do this book publishing business.” I’ve written seven short books. They’re short books, between 80 and 100 pages. They’re not really long books. It’s designed to just focused on a subject and give you the information that you need.

From that point of view, that was something completely new for me. I’d never done self-publishing before on Amazon. I had to learn how to do that. I’ve got to learn … Are the books going to be any good, for a start? Because I had never written a book before.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           I’m dealing with freelancers who are doing cover design, copy editing, and all that sort of stuff.

Kevin Taylor:                A book’s probably quite hard, because you do so much up front work without feedback from customers, aren’t you?

Stephen Haunts:           The hardest part is selling it. With the work I do with Pluralsight, it’s a ready made audience. They do lots of marketing of the courses that get released. It’s easier to promote that. But when you self-publish on Amazon, you’ve got to do it all yourself. For me, I’d say sales is the hardest part.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I would agree. I think like managing finances. I hate doing things like that. It’s difficult for somebody like me to do … I find bookkeeping really boring. From the start, I’ve always had a bookkeeper.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay.

Kevin Taylor:                I have an accountant. I outsource all of that. I always have done, because I don’t enjoy it. I want to focus on the things that I enjoy, which is the structural engineering side, and building new products, things like that is what I like to do. The managing finance is quite easy. I think you’re probably right. I think it’s that getting customers and keeping customers and making money, making sales is the hard bit, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           Absolutely. Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                Especially if you’re technical people like us, as well. I think it’s even more important.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I don’t have a marketing background. I don’t have a sales background. Probably the most experience I’ve got in that area is I’ve tried to read books on it.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           But that’s probably literally it. In terms of finance and bookkeeping, I use some pretty good software. I use a package called Xero.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           X-E-R-O.com.

Kevin Taylor:                I’ve always been a bit lazy.

Stephen Haunts:           That directly links to your bank account, so as transactions come into your business account, they appear in Xero. You categorize them, you tag them.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It’s probably easy with your business, with it being Pluralsight online. It’s easy to manage, isn’t it? In that respect.

Stephen Haunts:           Once a month, I pull out a box of receipts and start taking photographs of them and filing them. It’s not that big a deal, in a financial way.

Kevin Taylor:                I think the actual managing the finances is the most straightforward bit. I think the hard bit is making sales and marketing your product and then selling it. That’s the hard bit, isn’t it? But I think you can make that easy by doing the research up front and starting the business as a side project before you actually launch it, and seeing whether it’s going to fly.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay. The second question we got is from a guy called Paul, and this is from LinkedIn. It says, “I had an idea some time ago, but I was put off by legal considerations. That is, I didn’t know what the relevant laws were around my idea and whether I would be in breach of them if I proceeded. I’d be interested to hear how you deal with such questions when laying out a chunk of money for a solicitor.” Or, without laying out a chunk of money for a solicitor.

Kevin Taylor:                What I’d like to say is, we’re not lawyers or solicitors. So obviously, we can’t really give too much legal advice.

Stephen Haunts:           Yes. We can give opinion, not legal advice.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. This is opinion, not legal advice. If you do need legal advice, I recommend that you speak to a lawyer or a solicitor. First of all, again, it all depends on what the business is. I always think, though, that you tend to find if you’re a very small company, nobody’s really interested in suing you, because there’s just no money in it. But if you became a bigger company, that’s when it becomes more critical, or the idea really starts to take off, because then people will start looking to get money off of you.

Obviously, the product we do, we do an online Steel Beam Calculator, so we’ve had to try and de-risk it, because ours is an important product in terms of safety. It’s a safety critical product, so we’ve had to-

Stephen Haunts:           Good point. Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That’s why certain businesses, it depends on what you’re doing. If you’re doing something that’s not as important as what we’re doing, you might approach it differently. Different sectors might have different … obviously, we’ve had to be really careful because of what we’re doing. Obviously, our terms and conditions have to be tight. Obviously, we’ve go to really make sure the product’s correct, and the way that we market it isn’t … we’re not promising things that we can’t do.

Stephen Haunts:           Is there any specific insurance policies you’ve had to take out?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. For our product, we have what they call Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover, in case we were to make an error in the software. Obviously we do as much as we can. I’m fairly certain that we’ve never had a problem with the products that we’ve launched. But it’s just in case. I think it’s worth having that peace of mind, to have the relevant insurance. If you need … It just depends. What I’m worried about is that somebody puts loads of effort into getting loads of legal advice that costs a fortune, and it’s not warranted for the product that they’re launching. If they’re just doing a really … If it’s just going to be a side hustle project, you want to de-risk it and go with something that’s low risk. I don’t know what your thoughts of this are, at least initially. Obviously, once you’ve got the budget for it, you can spend more on legal fees and improving the concept.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. From my point of view, because my business is effectively training. I take out something called Errors and Omissions Insurance, which I think it’s the same as Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Kevin Taylor:                It sounds like it’s very similar.

Stephen Haunts:           So if I say something in the course, and it ends up being incorrect, and it costs someone a lot of money or causes them a problem in their company, that’s my cover.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It’s sort of … Professional Indemnity is very similar, but obviously, that’s related to a software product.

Stephen Haunts:           There’s not anything safety, concerning. Obviously, with your one, you got the potential of the building falling down.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That is the scary thing about our business, the thing that keeps me awake at night.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. But I’ve never had to pay out for a solicitor or such. I do have to sign and read contracts that I get from various companies. But-

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. We’ve purchased a set of online contracts and things like that. But I haven’t really spent too much on the legal side. We do have the insurance. Obviously we seek help with that. But that’s … I think … I say it depends, but I wouldn’t let it put you off. I’d say to Paul is that, have a look at the idea. If there’s a way you can do the idea without getting expensive legal advice, if you can get the advice from a friend or family or somebody that knows what they’re doing, or speak to the people in the industry. If there is any way you can reduce the cost, that would be the way to go, I think.

Stephen Haunts:           I think what he should really be doing, as well, is a bit of competitor analysis. The chances are, it’s very, very hard to have a completely original idea these days. You want to look and see if there’s any competing products out there that do something similar to what you’re doing.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. There’s a lot of thought in this in there about competition. I think we’re going to do … that’s one of the future topics, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           It is. Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                Then there’s different views on this, where the competition … if there’s competition, it proves that it’s a valid idea or business or whatever. But it depends, like all these things. I think the other approach is that some people like to have a monopoly. They want their product to monopolize their industry. That can happen, as well. It’s a balance, really.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay. In this section of the show, each episode we’re going to tackle a small topic.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           We’ll talk about stuff from our point of view, as well as a bit of factual, and educational.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           But I think on this first episode, because we’ve been talking about what it is that we do for our businesses, we’ve kind of alluded to this already. But I thought it would be an interesting topic to talk about how it actually feels to finally quit your job. What are the emotions that you feel?

Kevin Taylor:                Feel good from the champagne.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. What’s going through your head at the time? You said you had a full-time job, and then you did some consulting.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. We live in Derbyshire, which isn’t … it’s not like London, where there’s loads of opportunities for jobs. I had a steady job working for a local council, local government, working as a structural engineer. It was a steady job, but it was kind of a bit stifling. The bureaucracy was painful. I wanted to dig off and do my own thing. I remember my parents being really upset, because my mom actually cried when I quit my job. It’s just like, “Really?” I felt really bad. But [inaudible 00:41:29]. I think in the end, all things worked out okay in the end. But it was stressful for them, because I think they just wanted … they’re of the generation where you had a job for life. It’s not … I did leave the local government, because when the great recession kicked in, a lot of people lost their jobs who worked for local government. There’s a potential I could have lost my job and been in a worse position. I got out at the right time, so to speak.

It was okay. But I think it is scary. I don’t know. I think quitting a steady job … It wasn’t too bad. We didn’t have children at the time. My wife worked. It wasn’t terrible. We had a bit of savings, so it was kind of okay. But it is stressful. I don’t know how … Was that your kind of-

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I was terrified about doing it.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. You were. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           The thing that made me-

Kevin Taylor:                It’s the fear, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           I put a lot of effort and preparation into this, first. I ran the business for a good three years. I built up a good buffer of about a year’s salary in the business. I had a safety cushion.

Kevin Taylor:                It sounds like you were organized.

Stephen Haunts:           I tried to be organized. The main reason was, my wife was quite nervous about it.

Kevin Taylor:                Does she work, then?

Stephen Haunts:           She does, but she’s very different to me. She’s worked at the … We’ve been together 18 years.

Kevin Taylor:                It helps if she has a steady job, because I guess that de-risks it to a certain extent.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. She’s got a steady job, and she’s worked at the same company for 18 years. She’s been working for the same place ever since we’ve been together. Whereas, I was always different. I think the longest I’ve ever stayed anywhere is five years.

Kevin Taylor:                I think that’s the most I did was just over two years in one job.

Stephen Haunts:           My average was around two years.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I’m similar.

Stephen Haunts:           I was always the sort of person where I’ll go somewhere, I’ll have the impact that I think I’m going to have, and if I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels repeatedly-

Kevin Taylor:                Were you at the point where you thought you’d learn all that you could from that position, or whatever? I was kind of always like that. I used to change jobs every two years or whatever.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. The last company I was at, I was working for a startup. It was the one I talked about earlier. I’ve been talking to them for a couple years. They ended up getting a decent amount of funding. I went to work with them, and I was there nearly a year and a half. It was great fun. Absolutely, I didn’t want to leave because I hated the company. That wasn’t the case, at all. It was a really good company. They’re building a really interesting, innovative product.

Kevin Taylor:                That makes it hard, doesn’t it? If you’re leaving a really interested, well-paid job. It makes the decision harder, doesn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. I got to the point … my wife always jokes that me quitting my job was my midlife crisis, because I quit my job when I was 40.

Kevin Taylor:                You got a sports car. Oh, wow. I’m just turned 40, actually. I can relate to that, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           So she always jokes it was a midlife crisis. But I put a lot of preparation into it, to try and de-risk it for myself and for my wife and family, because I’ve got two kids and a mortgage.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I’ve got that, too.

Stephen Haunts:           Even though I knew … I was at a point where if I had no revenue whatsoever, I could sustain myself at the same salary, for a year.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           I think that’s really important. I think that’s a bit of advice I would give anyone. Whether you have to run your own business-

Kevin Taylor:                It’s sounds like it almost was no risk, wasn’t it, almost? Well, not no risk, but less of a risk.

Stephen Haunts:           To a degree.

Kevin Taylor:                You could have just gone back to work after a year, couldn’t you?

Stephen Haunts:           I could have. I was dropping a very good salary.

Kevin Taylor:                You could have afforded it.

Stephen Haunts:           I could have afforded it, but it’s always a hard one to try and justify to yourself. “I’ve got a really good salary, but I’m also earning good money doing this other thing.” But one of them is going to go, which is the really good salary. I need to try and make that back, or be at least sustainable.

Kevin Taylor:                Did you have any doubts that you would be able to, within a time frame, that you’d be able to cover your salary?

Stephen Haunts:           No. I think … No. I was able to cover my salary from the start, so the amount of money that I get from all the varied things I do each month, is more than what I need to pay myself in salary.

Kevin Taylor:                Obviously, I suffer from this. Do you still doubt that in the future, you’ll be able to sustain the levels that you’re at now? Or do you think that-

Stephen Haunts:           No, I don’t think so. Things are growing at the minute.

Kevin Taylor:                You don’t have that doubt? I’m always a bit insecure that one day, it could all come crashing down.

Stephen Haunts:           Oh, absolutely. I think-

Kevin Taylor:                It’s never like you get a day off of what you feel restful from. There’s always something.

Stephen Haunts:           One thing I said to myself was, “I’ll quit. I’ll do my own thing. But every now and again, I’ll do some consulting, just to fill up the coffers.” I’ve not done it, yet.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, really? You’ve not had to? How interesting. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           I don’t really want to. But if it all does go horribly wrong, I need to find some other work, I’ll just become a contractor for a bit.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, so it’s not like … I guess you’re lucky. In your industry, there is … being a software developer, there is work out there, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. There is. The thing that’s always worried me-

Kevin Taylor:                It’s an in-demand skill, isn’t it? It’s not-

Stephen Haunts:           The thing that’s always worried me about contracting is that you have to chase a contract, which means you might have to live away during the week, which is not something I really want to do. You don’t have to do that.

Kevin Taylor:                Can you do some … I assume you can do some remotely. Is that harder to get?

Stephen Haunts:           Some you can. A lot of companies like you to be on site.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. That’s more difficult, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. We’re quite close to Nottingham and Derby, so there’s quite a lot of opportunities around the area.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah, there’s lots of opportunities. The worst … I thought … I never thought it was a risk doing my business, because I thought, “I’m a structural engineer. I can always get a job as a structural engineer if it went wrong.” It’s not that bad. The downside isn’t that bad. But the upside is really good.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                I think that’s the advantage from being salaried to being freelance or having your own business, is that there is no … there’s less risk, because you can always … If your business fails, you can just go back and do your day job, or get another job.

Stephen Haunts:           I think if I was to try and sum all this up into a piece of advice, for anyone thinking of doing this, is build the product in your own time. Bootstrap it yourself, build it in your own time. Also, at the same time, try and reduce any debts that you might have, save up a buffer, get your outgoings as low as you can.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. Sounds like sensible advice.

Stephen Haunts:           Really try and prepare yourself financially. But also be aware of how much it’s going to cost you to run a business.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. Also, the other thing that a lot of people … especially if you’re doing consultancy work, especially doing freelancers, you don’t always realize how much time the admin side of the business takes, or the other things like the marketing or the things that you don’t get paid for.

Stephen Haunts:           Especially when you first start up.

Kevin Taylor:                You’ve got to factor that in to your business, as well. Everything always takes longer than you think.

Stephen Haunts:           Absolutely.

Kevin Taylor:                It’s important to think about that. If you’re going to charge and hourly rate, factor those other things that you do in your business that aren’t chargeable into your hourly rate.

But I think there’s some really great points there. I think we’ve addressed a lot of the fears that you may have about starting your own project.

Stephen Haunts:           But I say it’s very common to be terrified.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           If anyone says they’re not terrified, [inaudible 00:48:18].

Kevin Taylor:                I’m still … because we launched this new product on Tuesday. I’m still slightly stressed. I’m gradually calming down. I’m hoping by the weekend or next week I will have got back to normal. I’m still not sleeping great, because I’m stressed a little bit by it. But I’m hoping by this time next week, I’m going to be calm. I’m gradually calming … yesterday was a good day, and I felt a lot better.

Stephen Haunts:           What’s the new version … was it significantly different?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It was like a whole new product. It was written in a whole new design. Sorry, a new language. It was just … It kind of is the same product, but it’s almost so different it’s a new product, in effect. It’s awesome, but it has been quite stressful. I’m just glad that it’s over now. On to the next product. We’ve got a new project we’re working on. We’ll be working that soon. But I think that’s all for this time. We’ll have to get back to you. We’ve got loads of interesting topics to talk about. I look forward to doing this.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

In this final section, I thought it would be quite fun to do and every episode, is where you recommend something. It could be a book. It could be a piece of software. It might not even be related to running a business. It could be something that you watched on TV that you found quite inspiring, which has helped you. It’s just kind of our own sort of personal picks, that you find interesting that you want to recommend.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. It’s hard, because obviously, some of these are personal preferences and what’s applicable to you isn’t always applicable to other people. But these are things that have helped us, so hopefully they will help you, as well. Do you want to give your recommendation, Steve?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. Sure. My one is actually a documentary. It’s called “Six Days to Air”. What the documentary is about is … Are you familiar with the cartoon “South Park”?

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah. I’ll have to watch that.

Stephen Haunts:           What this documentary is about, is behind the scenes of an episode of “South Park”. All of their episodes, when they first come out, are quite topical. If something’s happened in the news fairly recently, they tackle that in a new episode.

Kevin Taylor:                That issue. Fantastic. Yep.

Stephen Haunts:           To do that, they have to be able to write, animate, record, edit, and deliver an episode in six days to Comedy Central.

Kevin Taylor:                That’s crazy.

Stephen Haunts:           This documentary is basically behind the scenes of them building one episode. Is it season 11? It’s an episode called-

Kevin Taylor:                Was it a particularly contentious episode?

Stephen Haunts:           I won’t go into too much detail about the actual contents of the episode, because this is a family show.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay.

Stephen Haunts:           But it was an episode called the “HumancentiPad”.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           Do you know what I mean?

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I’ve not seen the film, but yeah. I can imagine.

Stephen Haunts:           The documentary, it kind of starts off where the creators, Trey and Matt, have just come off of doing a musical called “Book of Mormon”.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           It starts off with them getting all these awards and all that. And then the next day, they’re back at South Park office.

Kevin Taylor:                Really?

Stephen Haunts:           They’re sitting in a room with all the writers, and they’re sitting there thinking, “You know what? We’ve got nothing. We’ve got no ideas.”

Kevin Taylor:                Is this showing the creative process of how they come up with new content and how quickly they do it?

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. It shows the struggle, as well. It’s not all everything’s great, and this is how it all works.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. People don’t see that, do they?

Stephen Haunts:           Literally, half of that six days, they’re struggling to come up with ideas. All the people in the writing room just trying to run … I won’t say what some of the ideas are, because some of them are pretty gross.

Kevin Taylor:                Pretty crude, I can imagine.

Stephen Haunts:           You need a strong stomach to watch the episode. But it’s just really interesting insight of how this creative process works. For example, they had one bit which I found hilarious. They’ve got a lawyer who works for them.

Kevin Taylor:                Oh, God. Yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           She was on the phone to Comedy Central, in a complete dead pan lawyer type, saying, “How may “F” bombs can we get away with in this episode? Currently we have seven. But we were wondering if we could push it to eight.”

Kevin Taylor:                That is crazy.

Stephen Haunts:           Then she’s describing, saying that happens in the episode. It’s very graphic. I won’t repeat it. But she’s reading this out in this room, sort of dead pan, straight voice.

Kevin Taylor:                Like lawyers speak. Dead serious.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. You can hear her conversation with that. “Well, you can’t quite do that. But if you do this other gross thing, that would be acceptable.”

Kevin Taylor:                That’s acceptable legally, but not-

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. If you’re a fan of “South Park”, or if you’re just a fan of the creative process, I’d really recommend watching this documentary.

Kevin Taylor:                It sounds …

Stephen Haunts:           I watched it on iTunes. It’s probably available on other places.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I think we’ll have to do a podcast about the creative process, because that’s hard. Coming up with new ideas is really, really difficult. I think that’s one of the hardest things you can do, isn’t it?

Stephen Haunts:           Also, shows about sometimes, I think, your best work is produced when you produce to constraints. They had a very definite constraint.

Kevin Taylor:                Six days, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           They had six days to get this episode out. If they didn’t get it out, then there was nothing to air on TV.

Kevin Taylor:                Wow.

Stephen Haunts:           If [inaudible 00:52:49], I think in this program, they literally show them with the master tape on the back of a motorbike delivering it to Comedy Central to load it into a machine and start playing it. It was that close to the wire.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. Right to the knuckle.

Stephen Haunts:           But I wanted to recommend it, because I’m really into looking at the creative process. One of my personal favorite things, which is quite geeky. Whenever I buy a film, on Blue Ray or iTunes or Extra-

Kevin Taylor:                I think it’s safe to say you’re a proper geek.

Stephen Haunts:           I’m a proper geek. As well as the film itself, I really love the documentaries and featurettes that come with the films.

Kevin Taylor:                You are a geek.

Stephen Haunts:           Which talk about how they’re actually made that film. I love learning about the creative process.

Kevin Taylor:                The process of how they do things. Yeah. That sounds … I’m going to have to take a look at that, at some point. “Six Days to Air” documentary.

Stephen Haunts:           I recommend it.

Kevin Taylor:                We’ll add that to our show notes. What I’d like to … I’m a bit of a podcast junkie. That’s why I’m super excited to be here, now. Obviously, I’ve listened to so many podcasts, but I’ve never been on one. This is my first. But there’s one particular podcast that I’d recommend. It’s called “Startups For the Rest of Us.” It’s aimed at … probably people like me and Steve. It’s startups for just normal people that have families. They can’t do the whole, “Let’s go to Silicon Valley and get a billion pounds, a million pounds or whatever it is,” funding. These are just phenomenal people who have normal families who can’t live off noodles while they’re starting a business. They’ve got to have real money, like we’ve discussed.

It’s hosted by Rob Walling and Mike Taber. Rob Walling’s one of my heroes, really. He’s done a business called Drip, that’s been really successful. The thing about them, is it’s consistency. They crank out an episode every week, on a consistent basis. I think they’ve done over four hundred episodes, and there’s some great content in there.

The particular episodes I like, there’s on on mastermind groups, and that’s something we’ll mention in a future episode. A mastermind group is, I meet up with two other entrepreneurs once a month in person. We sort of discuss how the business is going how we can improve our businesses and give tips. I find that’s been really, really useful in growing the business. I’d recommend anybody who does [inaudible 00:54:54]. This podcast is a mastermind, isn’t it? To a certain extent.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah.

Kevin Taylor:                Or will become like that. I’d recommend “Startups For the Rest of Us”. It’s hosted by Rob Walling and Mike Taber. I’d really, really recommend that. There’s some great content. Your probably don’t have to watch every episode, because there’s 400 episodes. But perhaps just look for the ones that are relevant to what you’re doing at this moment in time.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay.

Kevin Taylor:                I’d recommend that you take a look at that.

Stephen Haunts:           Would you say that we’re a competitor to that podcast? Or do you think we compliment it?

Kevin Taylor:                Complimentary, I’d say. I’m a big fan of Rob and Mike’s work. I’d like to think that … We can have the British version of startups.

Stephen Haunts:           “Tally ho, [inaudible 00:55:31].”

Kevin Taylor:                Tally ho.

Stephen Haunts:           Tuck away.

Kevin Taylor:                We can be the posh, British version of “Startups For the Rest of Us.” But now, I think we’re probably coming at it from a slightly different angle than they are. But I really do … I also like Rob Walling’s … He did a book, as well, called “Start Small, Stay Small”. It’s kind of like the counterbalance to the whole Silicon Valley funded route. It’s interesting. Although Rob actually went on and had a big business. So it’s kind of ironic.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. What’s that book called again?

Kevin Taylor:                It’s called “Start Small, Stay Small”.

Stephen Haunts:           Okay. We’ll have to add that to the show notes.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. Definitely.

Stephen Haunts:           Brilliant. Wow. Thanks for that. We really have recorded a podcast.

Kevin Taylor:                Wow. That’s one off the bucket list.

Stephen Haunts:           Lots of planning, and here we are. We’ve done it.

Kevin Taylor:                We’ve done it. I hope you enjoyed it, and we’ll be back next week. Is it next week? How often are we going to do these? Is it a weekly basis? Or fortnightly?

Stephen Haunts:           Fortnightly.

Kevin Taylor:                Fortnightly. Okay.

Stephen Haunts:           Yeah. It’s-

Kevin Taylor:                In a fortnight, we should be back with a new episode.

Stephen Haunts:           We can release every two weeks, I think, is a good cadence for us to start with.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. We may increase that if things go well. We’ll see what happens. Or obviously, we want to put out great quality content, so I don’t want to just talk and have nothing to say. I want us to have something important to say. Or something that … I want to help people. I see you are the same, Steve. You want to help the people who listen to the show. It’s not just about us talking about something. It’s, I want to bring value to the world in what we’re saying and trying to help.

Stephen Haunts:           Absolutely.

Kevin Taylor:                If it just helps, say, 10 people move away from their day job, absolutely.

Stephen Haunts:           Whenever I listen to podcasts, the thing I like about podcasts is, for a start, you get factual content. You’re actually learning something. But the bit I always find the most interesting is when it’s based around someone’s experiences and opinions.

Kevin Taylor:                Okay. Yeah. When it’s real. Yeah. Lived experiences.

Stephen Haunts:           That’s kind of what I’m hoping the appeal of this podcast will be. We both run very different businesses, but they are side hustles, things that we started off as pet projects, side hustles.

Kevin Taylor:                As a side project, yeah.

Stephen Haunts:           We’ve taken to become full-time businesses. But the businesses are different, which is why I think it compliments very well.

Kevin Taylor:                Yeah. I think it’s going to be good. I’m just looking forward … we’ve got some great ideas for new topics and also, we’re hoping to get some great customer feedback that we can create episodes and content with.

Stephen Haunts:           With that, I think we’ll wrap it there, and we’ll be back in two weeks time. Thanks a lot, everyone.

 

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