What do soloists who make six figures have in common? To find out, we asked this week's guest, Mike Koenigs. Mike is best known as the guy who created the Web 2.0 syndication service, Traffic Geyser that distributes over a million videos per week and generates top ranking, web traffic and leads in minutes by sending video content to over 70 video sites, social bookmarking, social media, blog and podcasting directories.
Q. Mike, when you started your web video company did you have a plan in place, or did you just wing it?
A. I had a result in mind, I certainly wasn't winging it. I discovered that when you distribute videos online, they showed up in the search engine results and the quality of visitors that watch those videos and came to the website were three to twenty-five times more likely to buy a product or a service.
As a result, I got traffic and higher quality leads and visitors to my websites. I tried to find a way to automate that because I was paying people to submit my videos for me. I started out with a simple need and desire to distribute my content automatically. We started building closer relationships with our customers and they asked us for more capabilities and features. We set out to become a great video distribution network and have become a full content distribution system and tool.
Q. Looking back, what would you say are the two important personal qualities or characteristics that are most responsible for your success?
A. I think I was born with the ability to move, to do something and to rapidly prototype. I've developed skills by studying and becoming a ruthless student of information to be able to figure out how things work, as well as how to make something happen fast. If I don't know how to do something, I will find someone who does or learn it myself so I can build something, test it out, prototype it and sell it rapidly.
I am also not afraid to say that I can do it or I can figure it out. That has brought a lot of opportunities. I've developed a track record of getting stuff done, making a difference, creating a lot of products and services and I've surrounded myself with an amazing team of contractors. I don't believe that I am a great manager, but I do have great managers now who really are making a big difference in the business.
Q. Have you ever had a mentor or a coach?
A. I have had a lot of virtual coaches; Napoleon Hill being one of the greatest. Also Dale Carnegie and Tony Robbins have had the greatest influence on me.
Q. What was the key motivating factor in your drive and determination to become your own boss?
A. I hate being poor! I grew up in a financially poor environment. I had very few resources and I hated not having access to tools. Fear of an uncomfortable environment; flat out despising the environment I was in and wanting to get out it was a driver.
Q. Was funding ever an issue for you? If so, how did you solve the problem?
A. Since I grew up in an environment with no resources I learned to be real scrappy. All of my businesses started with no capital other than credit cards. When I sold Digital Café there was a period of time when I raised money for a movie - raising money sucks - and I'll tell you why. You can't fire an investor. You can always get rid of a bad customer, employee or partner. Investors are hard to get rid of. I think the process of raising capital makes less and less sense. Instead the question you need to ask yourself is, who owns the relationships with my potential customers and what kind of a deal can I cut with them? If you put together an affiliate or a joint venture relationship with somebody who already owns the relationships and you can actually deliver what you promise, it makes more sense.
Q. What was your most challenging moment and how did you overcome it?
A. I'll just cut to the chase. I went through a rotten divorce. That was probably the worst thing I've ever gone through. Okay. Yeah! Love abandonment and being poor! There you go!
Q. What is the greatest reward in running your own business?
A. Living a life with very little compromise. The sooner you learn how to sever yourself from emotional vampirism the better. I believe a lot of people are running a 20 percent efficiency because they are emotionally drained.
Q. Do you have a top strategy for success that you'd like to share?
A. Read Think and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the Tony Robbins books.
Know thyself. That is the most important thing.
I highly recommend that you take the disc profile which is you can actually do that free at one of my websites. It allows you to determine your strengths and your weaknesses. Also, write everything down. In the past I carried around a mole skin notebook and frequently filled up one notebook every two weeks or so. Now, I have taken on mindmapping on my iPad.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter and better than you are. Notice every single person who is a disbeliever and a negative influence; when you sever the bond with them, your energy will rapidly multiply!
Q. Entrepreneurs are idea machines and that's great. But sometimes too many good ideas can clutter the picture and stop progress. How did you harness your best ideas and bring them to fruition?
A. It's probably one of my best skills; here's exactly what I do.
I mindmap everything. I carry either a notebook or an iPad with me everywhere I go all the time and I'm constantly writing things down. I organize those ideas and I ask myself a simple question: is there an
opportunity here or how can I monetize this?
Always start with the outcome and the result in mind. If it doesn't achieve your big, fat, hairy, audacious goal, set it aside. Opportunities can become diseases if they're not managed properly and I pursue far too many ideas and I try to do too many things already. It's a bad habit that I have to do my best to temper.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our solopreneurs?
A. Read Lynchpin by Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell books, Outliers and The Tipping Point. But the best thing that you can do is sweat three to four times per week. I consistently find that people who fail in parts of their lives ignore their bodies. Without a healthy body that's reasonably toxin free, you're going to have a difficult time performing. Successful people who take care of themselves also push themselves in lots of other ways - emotionally, spiritually and physically. Don't forget that you've got to take care of the vessel that's taking care of you.
In summary, Mike is well read, has mentors, evaluates his choices and makes smart decisions, stays healthy, surrounds himself with smart people and great resources, uses his own money or leverages relationships, looks at the end goal and big picture, and knows himself well. What qualities do you have in common?