Going to events, meeting people, getting their contact info, and then what? Building relationships are easy for many entrepreneurs, the bigger challenge is making such relationships beneficial to business.
Johnathan Grzybowski, a rogue-risk-taker-turned-serial-entrepreneur and host to the #1 business podcast, shares the story on how his venture turned big right on its first year. Being naturally extroverted, he started talking to people and getting to “every single networking event on the planet” for a 3-year period that he built a ton of network of people. This large group was especially useful when he was about to launch his graphic design platform – pitching them the idea, asking for their feedback, and getting them involved and invested in a way.
He does admit that at first, he had to hard-sell his business on every person he meets. Somewhere along the way, he went for more lasting and stronger links by building friendships first.
Johnathan also talks about the following:
-The demographics to focus on when you are just starting up and grow from there.
-The vision beyond revenue.
-The beginnings of his first podcast.
Listening to this young mind is going to be worth it!
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Johnathan Grzybowski, is rogue risk taker turned serial entrepreneur. He is the Cofounder of Penji, which is an unlimited graphic design service without limitations. Penji offers unlimited graphic design at one flat monthly rate.
Johnathan is also the host of the #1 business podcast, Blind Entrepreneurship. His mission with his podcast and business is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs so they too can execute their vision to profitability.
Hello and welcome to yes you can with Brittany Phillips I am Virginia Phillips your entrepreneurial coach.
This is your first time listening to Yes you can. This is where entrepreneurs get inspired and get insider tips on generating leads reading sales and building healthy profits. Today we have just a phenomenal guest I’m going to forego some of the rest of the introduction that I normally do with the podcast because I want to introduce this guest that I have today Jonathan jurors about Skky is a rogue risk taker turned serial entrepreneur.
He is the co-founder of Panji which is the unlimited graphic design service with our limitations. I can’t wait to hear about that because a lot of graphic design places limits you and he says he’s the graphic design place with our limitations. Benji offers unlimited graphic design at one flat monthly rate. Jonathan is also the host of The Number 1 Business Podcast blind entrepreneurship. His mission with this podcast and business is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs which I love that so they can execute their vision to profitability. But there is so much more he does that’s not even in here because his business also has this whole social component to it. We’re going to get into some really great things so we have John here and he has just celebrated his one year anniversary. I know my listeners John want to know how you’ve gotten so successful over this course of the year with your business.
What have you done and how skilled IT so called scaling is definitely a very intricate process when it comes to why we are successful. I can say that the reason why is based off of all of the past failures and minor successes that have added up so much so that we are reaping the benefits of it today I can say that it’s as a business owner if it’s a young business owner out there or even a business owner who may not be necessarily hitting the mark that they want to be in their business.
Everything that you do today right now is going to benefit you tomorrow that benefit that tomorrow may not be physically tomorrow. It could be three months from now six months from now. But it will happen. So I remember a time when I when we first my first quit my job at Apple and to start my first business which was a digital marketing agency.
And I remember there is a three month period Whoriskey three a three year period where I literally went to every single networking event on the planet.
It didn’t matter what the app was it didn’t matter what the app that I was looking at for the events it didn’t matter what Web site I was on. Didn’t matter if it was a Chamber of Commerce big small whatever literally 3 4 years I was going to every single working event. I had no life whatsoever just networking networking networking. And I built a ton like a rolodex or a network of people where if I reached out to somebody they were able to help me out. And you fast forward to several years later where we initially launched Panji. I had an extended network of people that I knew I could rely on to talk to and that has allowed us to grow the way that we are because of all the things that we did in the past.
And so do you advise new businesses to do that kind of have re heavy network to go out to every place they can and meet everybody they can.
I mean it’s really hard to say. I can’t say for certain. It doesn’t work for everybody because everybody has different personalities.
I in my nature is I’m an extrovert so I vibe off of people who have the energy I get energy off of other people when I’m physically able to see them or physically able to be near them or talk to them or whatever it may be that’s that’s how I generate my my energy.
But other people may have different angles.
So I would say it’s a case by case basis it depends on the business.
If datatype like we were a service based business where we relied heavily on interpersonal relationships because they were our clients now we are more like a DAS or a SAS business model where we rely heavily on online communication so we have to change the business up a little bit or we have to change the approach a little so we may not be able to go out and do physical networking but we might be able to do like events and sponsor of the event or we might be able to create an online community and platform that the people might know us about or podcasts like this etc.. So I think it’s a case by case basis really.
So you went out that those few years and you went to every networking event. How do you believe that that benefit to you because I know folks that can go to networking events and they meet all these people they don’t do anything really with that information they don’t benefit from it but it sounds like you found a way to benefit from it. What did you do.
Well I would agree with you 100 percent. I think a lot of it has to could possibly do because of my age. It could be because of my personality I really don’t know. But what I usually did was I found a way to get their information become their friends do some research learn a lot about that person learn about their personalities what they liked to do for x.
I’ll give you like a scenario like let’s just say somebody a guy that became a really good friend of mine. I knew he was like the guy. He was like the leader of the pack so to speak and so I wanted to become friends with him because I knew that if if that one person was able to was able to be an advocate for me and then they would be able to introduce me to everybody else. And so I did research and I found out that the guy really like swimming or surfing. He like going to Costa Rica. He really liked the Eagles. And he was a religious guy. Now I don’t like any of those things. So I mean I’m a football fan here and there but mostly I don’t do any of that stuff and I just kind of had a conversation like Oh yeah man like in the terms it’s called gassing the person off like oh like I saw that you did this and I saw that you did Dad like what was it like. And how did you do it. And tell me about your experience. I went to Catholic school and you know tell me about your faith and etc. etc.. So just that prior educational understanding and knowledge from their that’s when he was able to see like respect. And so just if you were to amplify that one scenario and times it by a thousand that’s kind of the approach that I was able to do and get in front of these people and then become friendly with them. So it was it took a really long time to do that. But you know that base was definitely a good ground for people to know that I’m a credible human being and whenever I were to throw a product out there or service or even an event or a in philanthropic aspect of what I believe in they know that I come with a high credibility and quality.
I think that’s brilliant that you are going do these networking events and you’re not pitching them you’re not selling to them. Your idea is to go ahead and get interested in them get a good relationship from them so that you can earn credibility. What are you then.
No it wasn’t always like that though because I will always be in the very beginning I totally pitch to everybody because I was a hungry hungry entrepreneur.
And so I totally totally pitch people in the very beginning. But you know trial by fire I look like an a hole. Most the time when I like Hey man by my Web site where you know that doesn’t work. So you have to tweak your your message over time.
I think that only you tweak your message but I think you you mature in who you are as a business person and a business owner and what you are after you really see what is more valuable to you. And I think when you’re not working do you see a much further range of what you can get out of a relationship than maybe what you can get out of a quick sale.
Well I would yes I would agree with that. I would. I would also say that the large majority of the people that I’m friends with none of them are really clients. I mean here and there some maybe you like a few but for the most part the it’s the people that it’s like it’s like advertising with people the minute somebody says that they need something. You know they know who to go to. It’s like those types of things. And then and here’s where it gets really good. Then you have the social proof to do it. So now you have to take that personal relationship and it’s kind of like actually the way that we the way that we connected like I think it was like on an online platform. And I made a comment and you became friends with me and I became friends with you. And then now you saw my stuff. Right. And you knew that you knew that we had a one year anniversary party. So if you were to make that relationship with so many people and then you’re constantly promoting your success or even just constantly promoting about whatever the heck you want to be put on your social platforms. The more that you are able to then post on a personal level you get a new friend you get a new follower that even if they don’t know exactly what you do they at least know you seemed like a good person.
And I’ll tell you there are so many of us that I’m one that always thinks that we could do better at that. We’re not doing enough people want. I don’t have enough social proof I’m one of these people that go to an event and loved the events and then leave without pictures. You make it an intent to showcase the folks that you’re with.
Making sure that they know that again they’re important to you. But I want to get into the conversation. We talked a lot about relationships but what do you do with their relationships. How do you take those relationships to scaling the business because that’s where a lot of people fall flat is they meet a lot of people. They’re great people they’ve got a great network but they’re still not making sales or building their business.
Yeah I would say that for us in particular the relationships are probably a testament to that like a quarter of the actual business. The rest of it I would maybe even smaller than that like in a third tent. I don’t know but that’s how we got our initial base of customers. So we’re a online platform and we’re an online service so people go onto our website they fill out the form they sign up they pay in and they get access to our unlimited graphic design service so the initial friends was our base of customers you know maybe it was like 40 or so and then from that base we were able to have a little bit of I guess resource of money in order to really start to scale which is like hire somebody in order to do like e-mails and then put money towards advertising and host events and sponsor events and get into the press like this. All these things start to trickle based off of the initial base but you need to have that base first before you make the second step. So that is something that like when it comes to just making the relationship better. I mean there’s so many things that you can do. But I think the first step is how can you grow the base and what we did was we actually asked people for feedback and so we prayed before we launch Panji.
We were very cautious because we didn’t want to launch something and then look like a fool if it didn’t work. So we actually ask close to like 150 people for feedback and said something like hey we’re thinking about doing this. Could you give me your opinion and your advice. And then they returned with a response and they became a little bit invested in the company because they had a say in this. And then we asked them for feedback and what features would you like. And then imagine if you were to receive something and say this isn’t the BSA this is really real facts and say hey you helped us create this feature about the messaging portion because he thought that was important and we want to thank you for that. And you know in thanks we’d like to offer X to you in order to make sure that you’re job that you can use this because you helped us with that. So I mean those are like some small little things to get people invested. You could take relationships to so many different levels and it depends on the business. But if you make them care about what you’re doing then they will in turn want to be a fan of yours because they help you and you in turn help them. I hope that makes sense.
It totally makes sense to me. I’m a little blown away by you say these are small little things because for most folks they are not small little things. Let’s first start talking about the fact that you asked more than 100 people. There are people that won’t even as their coach questions. What what gave you the for lack of a better word the gumption to go ask 100 people were they selected were they like mom and dad or did you go out in ask some very powerful people for reate for feedback.
Yes. So I. OK so here’s something that people should know. I can give zero F’s about hearing the word no. Because so I am this person. Maybe it’s my personality. I’m still trying. I’m also part crazy. Who knows.
But if you can just throw away the the fact that you’re going to be rejected like I personally don’t. I’ve heard no so many times that I don’t care if that person says no. So I’m just going to ask anyways and maybe I’ll sorry CBS but I’m going to ask in that one at a 10 person says yes. Then you move on over. But I’ve I think I’ve just built this and this is something I would recommend for the people to build buildings into your world of just constantly hearing the word no whether it’s like this might sound silly but like asking in my opinion like in my case asking a very pretty female out for coffee or something like that or didn’t feel that rejection of them saying no right. If were if if you say Hey can I get coffee with you. And it’s like a high business professional who’s like way out of your league just ask anyways and then when they come up with no then you know OK it’ll hurt your ego a little bit. But but what happens if that person says yes or what happens of that girl or woman or man or whatever says su. That’s an opportunity. So I just heard the word no so many times and I actually celebrate knows because I know that if I hear a notion one step closer to a yes.
Well and we hear that all the time but people still won’t take that leap you decided that you needed to take that leap if you were going to build your dreams which I love the fact that that you did that.
So let’s talk a little bit more here you talk about these stabs of of being if I can read my notes starting with the base and then kind of moving up the there to Hosteen and sponsoring events.
I think people sometimes get those backwards like they want to show up in the world so they want to start by sponsoring events but they don’t have a base so they’re sponsoring and nobody knows them. Did you draft up this kind of ladder for you in your business as to when it is ok for you to start hiring additional people. When is OK for you to start hosting events. When is OK for you to start sponsoring them we did draft that.
But it was all wrong. Every every prediction and every thing so to speak that we that we came up with we were 100 percent wrong. I’m going to answer the question in a different different light rather than having what I think a lot of business owners do is they cast a net and they cast a net too large for example we we didn’t want to just focus on start. Right. Like if you look at our service you could pretty much determine that anybody could use our service like graphic design. Everybody needs graphic design but are those the people that actually need it like are those the people that actually can do that we can connect with on a level like if we had a billion dollars like in IBM or like Uber or Facebook or yeah we could probably get an or an apple we can get in front of these people and have a worldwide marketing campaigns but I would probably say that your next 100 customers are directly within a five mile radius of whatever it is that you’re selling. And so if you can become really famous within your geographic location and then be able to replicate that model in a different city in a different state or whatever it may be that is the ultimate test to your marketing and to your branding and to your your sales process. And that’s exactly what we’re doing now. Yes we have a global audience we have a national and international like sales and company. We have sales and all these different countries. But I would say that a lot of our focus and a lot of our energy is in our geographic location. Now if if other people find out about us. Sure that’s that’s a benefit. But we are very focused on the types of people and the avatars that we that we’ve created for our business and I hope our listeners are listening to this John who has built this incredible business in a short time frame.
Talks about becoming famous in your local geographical area and he talks about being five miles within your home famous. And that doesn’t always come with being on podcasts or being in social media. Sometimes it comes. And Americans might be a little fearful of this by walking down the street. Girls get outside and say hi to your neighbors write your book. Well yeah I mean you know go get the local newspaper go to the grocery store. Go walk to the coffeehouse whatever it might be. People will then begin to see you out and about in their community and they begin to care. You have also amped that up a little bit because I know there is a social component to your business. Why did you all decide to add in a social component to your business.
It’s just who we are. My background in which I am very it’s a very personal thing for me is helping the next generation of entrepreneurs be able to create profitable businesses. That’s a part of the reason why I created my podcast. My co-founder started as an economic development organization that helps students obtain jobs in underserved communities. So the combination of like what I believe in the combination of what he believes and allowed us to kind of add this social element. And the minute that we are able to care so much about the livelihood of others it just opened up so much opportunities for us because we’re not just a company that creates revenue. We’re a company that creates jobs that gives opportunities to people that helps our community. And you know sometimes depending on who you talk to the sales is just a byproduct of that and then there’s other times where the sales is the product of all that so it’s just a social mission it’s just really something near and dear to our heart. And I think to somebody listening it’s like oh well you know they created a social mission and they are successful now yet to make sure it’s not if it’s not you then don’t do it don’t create a social mission just because it’s it’s cool do it because you believe in it and that’s what we believe in and we want to help other people succeed. There’s actually a question that we ask every single time that we hire somebody and it’s what is your dream and what can we do to help you get there. And we have to be okay with both of those answers right. With both of the answers being I want to be an entrepreneur and I’m learning from you. We have to be okay with that and then we also have to be okay with the other answer which is like I want to grow within the company and do X Y Z. So whatever those answers are we need to make sure that we’re looking out in the best interest of the other person that’s giving their life literally their livelihood to work for us.
And when I listen to that what I hear and I hope our listeners are hearing is this is ingrained into you. You are not building your business around this idea of it’s a hot topic to have a social component tear your business you are doing this because it’s who you are. My question is is how much does that social component drive you to come in as you say and do is second shift on your day job which is building this business.
Elise on that I think about on a routine basis is like what does this person have to do in their day in order to be where they are you know what is the how long to take them to get thing here today. What obstacles are they have to overcome at home. What is their living situation like and ultimately helping all of that. But I think just thinking about the other person I think is just really important for a leader in order to grow. At one point the small business to now. Now for a very rapidly growing company. But I just constantly thinking about the other person on the other end I think it’s just a really good way to kind of run your business because it just kind of has the empathy and understanding about just about experiences.
And I I fully agree with that. I think some of the best leaders and companies care more about their people than they do care about the next sale and that’s what I hear you saying is that you’ve built this culture within your your company and that culture helps drive you to bring in more sales. But it’s not the reverse. It’s not the more sales that drive the culture.
Yeah I think it’s a pressure too because like if if I if I’d do something wrong or if I make a mistake then that mistake is so costly that it could help people lose their job. So I need to make sure that I work the hardest in that I’m the one that’s doing the latest and I’m the one that’s staying up at night and I’m the one that’s making the sacrifices and my co-founder.
Because this is this is on our hands.
If if something goes wrong and so we need to do our due diligence to make sure that everything we do we’re constantly moving the needle forward even if we got hit so hard that we took 10 steps back as long as we end the day with just a little bit at least forward progress.
That’s that’s that makes all the difference.
It does. You know I’m looking at that time and you and I wanted to talk a bit about this podcast Do you have. That’s the number one cop pod. It’s called Blind entrepreneurship. If you need to know where to find it I’m sure you can go to almost any downloading subscription and find it. If it’s the number one podcast but why did you decide to add in a pod cast component to your business model.
So we actually had to we actually have two podcasts now which they all answered tell you about at the end.
But the part that my podcast actually started before Panji existed so I’ve been doing it for about two and a half years and I kind of looked at myself in the mirror and I said well I really like helping people. So what can I do in order to help people but also help myself. And so entrepreneurship is probably one of the most depressing lonely jobs that you could ever obtain in your life. It is not all rainbows and unicorns like you see in on social media it freaking sucks some days. The highs are highs and lows of lows but you know that’s another conversation for another day. But I created the podcast because I wanted to meet new people and I wanted to expand my network. I knew that my time was limited because I was spending a lot of time driving and networking and stuff and there’s a lot of things that I can do in between all that and so what if I could translate that to digital and I could optimize my time better. That’s why I created the podcasts originally was for to network and then I started talking to people. I started learning and I was like Holy crap I got I can actually solve a lot of my business problems in this. And so then I started putting guests on the show and asking them questions that I was struggling with at the time. So it was like you know how do you do Facebook ads or how do you how do you network and etc etc. And so then these people are becoming my friends. And now the podcast has shifted.
It’s in a different way where it’s more topical. Before it was like origin stories but now we’re talking about like really hard tough things. And so that’s why it’s now blind entrepreneurship because everybody has been blind in their business at some point. And so my hope is that if you go to the podcasts and listen you can pick up something and actually cure your blindness and business for that moment. So that’s the one podcast the second podcast is actually being is a podcast that’s integrated into our business. And so in addition to all of the things that we do we are a very diverse group of people there are 35 people in our company and there’s only two white guys and I’m one of them. So everybody else is extremely diverse from all walks of life and different backgrounds and things like that. And so something that is really important to us is to constantly explore diversity. And so Sakinah who is our director of partnerships actually is the host of a podcast called Shades of success that highlights the deep backgrounds of people who are the different shades of success for people in their community who are experts and leaders within their community and they come on and they share about what it is that they do and how they do it. So that’s something that like we’re just really proud of. I’m personally proud of that podcast because it’s just a cool way to get that one get the name out there. PANJI but make these tell these amazing stories of people who are true leaders within their community.
I just don’t even know what to say to that. I love that so much people that listen to me know that I embrace diversity. I moved away from a city that didn’t have enough diversity to me it was too segregated as to do with the way the city was built. There was going to have to be a whole lot that I would have to overcome to gain any ground with that. I’ve moved into a transient place where there’s lots of diversity here. I love love that you have embraced that within your business. There’s quite a bit of research that talks about diversity enhancing the ability to be successful and I don’t want to overlook that on this podcast. That diversity might be one of your secrets to the success you’ve had the first year. And the fact that you didn’t give up on your blind entrepreneurship podcast because you started this business. Also to me speaks volumes as to who you are as a leader. I appreciate that.
And I’m not even a cly. So this is how he builds businesses as people he makes these kind of relationships with folks like me and we we grow to to know and trust him.
But you know as we approach the end of this podcast John I want people to understand just a little bit more about your business. We know you do marketing and we know it’s one flat fee but what kind of marketing do you do because it’s kind of a large field.
So we only do we offer unlimited graphic design so we don’t necessarily do the strategy we don’t do the the like the thought process in order to execute your your vision.
But we do the graphic design piece so if you need like a logo or a web design or app design or pitch deck or sell sheet or you know Instagram means whatever the heck you need when it comes to graphic design we do that on a monthly basis for as long as you wish.
Three hundred and forty nine dollars a month. You can cancel any time. And we deliver as many graphics as we humanly possibly can in the course of a month and we just do it repeatedly again.
I I think the fact that you’ve taken the normal business model and twisted it Tirone applied these things like the diversity culture applied things that are just a part of your thread that social component the fact that you build your businesses off of relationships and develop this incredible culture within your business. I think leads to my year one of these businesses that have succeeded their first year many businesses don’t. In America at least in America they fail you. I hope our folks will reach out to you have you help them build a a great platform in terms of branding with your graphic designs. It’s very powerful to have that expertise behind their business. You are bringing that piece in in ways that other companies aren’t. You’re right here in the U.S.. So I want our folks to be able to find you how do they find you they can just go to Pangia SEO.
It’s DNJ ICAHD SEO and you can learn as much as you want on the website. A lot of the questions that you probably have going on in your head right now just listening to us. They’ll probably be answered there.
So as pendula CEO and if they are answered there I am certain you’re going to be able to reach somebody that good to add to your questions. John thank you so much for coming on tonight.
I will make sure that people can reach you. I’m going to tell our listeners though. We’ve reached that time of the podcast that I say I hope they’ve enjoyed today’s interview and that you’ve learned about how to succeed in your business the first year. What are some of those things that you need to do to move that business forward and build that foundation that John talks about.
Also notes links to the episode as well as our social media links and John’s links can be found at AOL. E Now dot com slash podcast.
As always the best part about this show is the listeners because we wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you for joining us. We also ask you to download the podcast subscribe to the podcast and give us your feedback. John says it’s an important part of building our business the way we need to be building it. John once again thank you very very much for being here.
And we will be in touch my friends laughs. Thank you so much for having me.