How I Started A $1M/Year Productivity Consulting Business

Published: December 9th, 2023
Paul Minors
Founder, Minor Workshop
$120K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
Minor Workshop
from Auckland, New Zealand
started June 2016
$120,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
market size
$250B
avg revenue (monthly)
$104K
starting costs
$11.7K
gross margin
90%
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Word of mouth
business model
Consulting
best tools
Google Suite, WordPress, Canva
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
tips
16 Tips
Discover what tools Paul recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Paul recommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, I’m Paul. I run a consulting business; we’re an Asana Solutions Partner and Pipedrive Elite Partner.

We make money by 1) Charging consulting fees to set up and train teams on how to use these two software products and 2) Reselling the software or earning a commission for referrals.

Our typical customer is a business owner who’s using Asana and (or) Pipedrive to manage their business and who’d like to improve the efficiency of their team. We work with solo operators all the way up to big enterprise clients (and everyone in between).

I started the business on my own. Worked as a solo operator for many years. And now have a team that does most of the grunt work for me. In a typical month, we’ll make about $90,000 in sales from consulting and subscription fees.

paul-minors
My wife and I working from a co-working space in ‘the early delays’

I can’t tell you how much time was wasted on styling buttons and email opt-in forms. But these things really don’t matter.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I first discovered Asana in 2012 when I was working in a marketing role at an e-commerce company here in New Zealand. Being a productivity geek, I took the lead in figuring out how to set it up, and I trained the rest of the company on how to use it. My boss at the time paid me a bonus as it really transformed how we worked together.

A few years later, I had been blogging about productivity for a while but struggled to earn enough to replace my full-time income. I decided to offer Asana consulting services as I figured there must be other businesses out there willing to pay to learn how to use Asana better.

paul-minors

My hypothesis was correct, and within a few months of part-time consulting, I was earning enough to replace my salary. I started offering Pipedrive consulting as well, as I was using this tool in my sales job at the time, and I figured I knew enough about it to offer it as a service.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my employer had helped me to validate my idea, and the experience demonstrated that there was value to be captured in this space. This just goes to show that good business ideas could be hiding in plain sight in a previous experience you’ve already had.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

My support services have evolved quite a bit over the years. First, I did the typical consulting/freelancing thing, which is to charge an hourly fee or fixed price based on the project. This was fine for the first few years while I was still finding my feet. This model helped me to refine my style and understand the common pain points my clients have.

This all prepared me for a big pivot, and in 2020 I designed a support program for each of the tools we offer support on. The programs include video training, private consulting calls with an expert, weekly group coaching, and support via a Slack group. This new model was designed to be a lot more scaleable. But I was only able to design the program and the content for all the video training having spent a few years working with clients one-on-one and learning about how best to help people.

paul-minors
I’ve created a number of video courses over the years. You don't need lots of fancy equipment to get started. Just a simple mic and some pillows make for a budget recording studio

Get to revenue, fast! The fastest way to validate your idea is to convince people to pay you money for your product or service.

Describe the process of launching the business.

What I’ve learned over the years it there are lots of ways you can waste time and things you can do to make yourself feel productive when in fact, you’re not.

I spent lots of time making my website look nice; I can’t tell you how much time was wasted on styling buttons and email opt-in forms. But these things don’t matter. In my case, I just wanted to quit my job as fast as possible, and what I really should have been doing was finding my ideal clients and doing everything I could to get in front of them.

To find my first few clients, I listed my services on Clarity.fm (a dial an expert service). Clients would search for an Asana consultant and find my listing. I even made free calls with friends to boost my listing and get reviews. This was a great way to validate that there was a demand for my expertise.

As I was still working full-time, I had to get up early and put in some work hours before going to my day job. Then I’d come home at the end of the day and carry on. It was a grind, but worth it when I could take my business full-time.

Working in sales definitely helped as I was learning how to talk to people and was getting more and more comfortable with thinking on my feet and addressing people’s concerns. Learning to sell is an incredibly useful skill!

I didn’t raise any money or take on any debt. My business has been fully bootstrapped from day one and I’ve always grown quite slowly and cautiously, only hiring outside help when the timing was right. It may mean I’ve taken longer to get the business to where it is today but I’m very happy not owing any debtors and having retained 100% of the equity.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

To attract customers, you need to be where your customers spend time. For my business, that’s YouTube.

Early on, I asked myself: “What would someone new to Asana or Pipedrive do to learn how to use this tool”. The obvious answer to me was to go to YouTube and watch tutorial videos. At the time, there were almost no videos on how to use Asana or Pipedrive on YouTube so I saw it as a good opportunity worth exploring.

To come up with ideas, I thought about what people would type into the search to learn about. What features do they want to learn about? What problems are they trying to solve? The key with YouTube is to be consistent and post regularly. Once you’ve been publishing for a while, you can then look back at your videos and identify what types of videos do well and get the most reach and engagement.

I cringe looking back at my early YouTube videos. The lighting is terrible, I talk too quickly, and they're just not nearly as polished as they are now. But that’s okay. When you’re starting out, perfection is your enemy.

I’ve kept my marketing pretty focused over the years. Outside of YouTube, I pay for Google Search ads, and I target very specific keywords (e.g. Asana consultant) to help my ad spend go further. I was also very active in building my email list from day one. Email is still one of the highest-converting marketing channels and every new business should be thinking about how to use email.

That’s about it. I don’t do a lot on social media. A lot of advice you’ll hear tells you to go after the latest thing, whether it’s Instagram reels or TikTok. And sure, that might work. But in my experience, I’ve found that focusing on one or two channels and doing them well is usually all you need to create a successful business.

paul-minors
When coming up with ideas for new videos, I think about what someone might search on YouTube related to my topic. I.e. what features or pain points they may want help with

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, the business is very profitable. My biggest costs are the contractors on my team, which come in at around $14,000 per month, and the subscription fees we pay to sell Pipedrive and Asana, where are margin is between 10-25%.

All sales go through my WordPress website, and I use Easy Digital Downloads for the e-commerce back-end. I use Stripe for most payments and pay about 3.7% in fees on each transaction.

This makes the consulting services we offer highly profitable. The margin is around 80%. We don’t have to deal with any physical products or returns. We take payment upfront, which really helps our cash flow.

I have about 35,000 email subscribers and 33,000 YouTube subscribers.

My future plans are quite boring; keep optimizing and improving the business. I don’t care about offering more services or expanding into other tools. My business has continued to grow each year as I’ve continued to refine our processes and operations.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is about the power of staying focused and saying ‘no’ to other opportunities. The more successful your business becomes, the more people are going to reach out and ask to partner with you or ask you to offer services you don’t already have.

As I’ve grown, I’ve had to say ‘no’ more and more in order to stay focussed on our core offering. While it can feel like you’re turning down a good opportunity, these ‘good opportunities’ usually turn out to be a waste of time anyway.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

As an Asana and Pipedrive (affiliate link) partner, naturally, these are the two main tools we use to run the sales and operations of the business. Everything we do as a team is managed in Asana, and it’s where we communicate internally as a team. Pipedrive is my CRM that contains all my contacts and client history.

I’m also a heavy user of Calendly, Zoom, TextExpander (affiliate link), and Zapier. One of my favorite things to do is to work ON the business instead of just IN the business, and if there’s a tool I can use or automation I can create that saves us time, I’m going to exploit it.

In saying that, be careful not to get distracted by every new tool that comes along. My core tech stack hasn’t changed all that much in the last 8 years.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss was the original inspiration for my business. In the book, he talks about the benefits of selling information instead of physical products.

I’m now investing a decent amount of the company’s retained earnings into Bitcoin, and the What Bitcoin Did podcast has been a great resource for learning about this world.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Get to revenue, fast! The fastest way to validate your idea is to convince people to pay you money for your product or service. If you ask your friends and family if they like your idea, of course, they’re going to say ‘yes.’

When you’re getting started, there are lots of things you can waste time on that makes you feel like you’re doing important work (building a website, posting on social media). You can worry about all this stuff later. Early on, you should be coming out with the minimum viable version of your product or service as fast as you can and then go and sell it. Only then will you learn if you’re on to a winner.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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