“And then I wake up at 7:00 a.m., and I roll over and look at my phone. And I have a notification from Shopify saying that I made my first sale for $149. And I let out this huge, orgasmic noise of relief. I was like, ‘Wow. Everything’s going to be okay.’” — Allen Walton
This episode is by popular request!
In detail, we uncover a real-world case study of someone who built a seven-figure business after reading The 4-Hour Workweek (and other resources, of course).
Two important people joined me for this jam session.
First is Allen Walton (@allenthird), founder of SpyGuy, an online security store based in the Dallas, Texas area. Walton struggled in high school and spent a few years playing video games before his mom made him apply for a job at a local surveillance chain, where he worked from 2009-2011. He became interested in starting his own business after being exposed to The 4-Hour Workweek. In 2014, he went out on his own and started SpyGuy, his current business. He built the business to $1 million in revenue on his own, relying on what he learned in books and podcasts, and it now brings in seven-figure revenue with five employees.
The second person joining me is journalist Elaine Pofeldt (@elainepofeldt), an independent journalist and speaker who specializes in careers and entrepreneurship. She is the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want, in which she looks at how entrepreneurs are scaling to $1 million in revenue prior to hiring employees.
In this episode we explore the specifics of key decisions, helpful tools, early mistakes, and much more, all leading to a business that has exceeded all expectations. I had a blast doing this one, and I hope you have a blast listening!
- Listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear a conversation with an entrepreneur who sold his company for $800 million? — Listen to Braintree and OS Fund founder Bryan Johnson’s rag to riches to philanthropy story (stream below or right-click here to download):
This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. I reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.
People are always asking me what I use for cognitive enhancement right now — this is the answer. You can try it right now by going to foursigmatic.com/tim and using the code Tim to get 20 percent off your first order. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.
This podcast is also brought to you by FreshBooks. FreshBooks is the #1 cloud bookkeeping software, which is used by a ton of the start-ups I advise and many of the contractors I work with. It is the easiest way to send invoices, get paid, track your time, and track your clients.
FreshBooks tells you when your clients have viewed your invoices, helps you customize your invoices, track your hours, automatically organize your receipts, have late payment reminders sent automatically and much more.
Right now you can get a free month of complete and unrestricted use. You do not need a credit card for the trial. To claim your free month and see how the brand new Freshbooks can change your business, go to FreshBooks.com/Tim and enter “Tim Ferriss” in the “how did you hear about us” section.
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Allen Walton:
- Connect with Elaine Pofeldt:
- The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want. by Elaine Pofeldt
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
- Fortune Small Business
- The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss
- Fear-Setting: The Most Valuable Exercise I Do Every Month by Tim Ferriss
- DEAL: Define, Eliminate, Automate, Liberate
- Google Ads
- Google Shopping
- 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly
- Choose Yourself! by James Altucher
- The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime by M.J. DeMarco
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- How to Be a Successful Copywriter: From a Man Who’s Written Million Dollar Emails by Ramit Sethi
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand by Al Ries and Laura Ries
- Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
- Table Top Photo Photography Studio Lighting Tent Kit in a Box
- The Masterplan by Oasis
- Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne
- How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers by Henneke Duistermaat
- In-N-Out Burger
- Dynamite Jobs
- We Work Remotely
- The New One Minute Manage by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson M.D.
- IRCE: Internet Retailer Conference
- Dynamite Circle
- South by Southwest (SXSW)
- Ideal Lifestyle Costing (And Dreamlining) by Tim Ferriss
- Yahoo! Store
- Help Scout
- Third-Party Logistics (3PL): Everything You Need to Find the Right Shipping Provider, Shopify
- Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), Investopedia
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
- Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish
- Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand Story, Litmos Heroes
- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
- Request for Quote (RFQ), Investopedia
- Priest at Center of Hidden Camera Scandal Refuses Church Order to Return by Emily E. Smith, The Oregonian
- Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
- Rossen Reports: How to Spot Hidden Cameras in Hotels, Vacation Rentals, The Today Show
- Adult Coloring Books
- The Tropical MBA Podcast
- How the Coffee Cup Sleeve Was Invented by Colleen Connolly, Smithsonian Magazine
- This Month in NASA History: Winglets Helped Save an Industry, APPEL News
- How Elaine Pofeldt and I first met. [05:10]
- Who is Allen Walton? [06:35]
- Why did Allen make the switch from overworked and under-appreciated employee to entrepreneur? [07:33]
- How did Allen come across The 4-Hour Workweek? [11:51]
- What were Allen’s first steps toward building his own business? He shares early notes about fear-setting and the DEAL framework. [13:18]
- Did Allen keep his full-time job while working on his own business as a side hustle, or did he go all in? [17:32]
- What were Allen’s next steps toward getting his brand and products in front of people in a competitive market? [20:32]
- What books and resources does Allen recommend to people who are trying to carve out their own business niche and be seen by potential customers? [21:57]
- While pulling all-nighters and taking product images for his first website, what albums did Allen listen to on repeat? [27:50]
- What it was like for Allen to finalize his website and make his first sale. [29:02]
- As a married man, how did the conversation with his wife go when he decided to start his own business? [32:12]
- Allen describes his chaotic inventory storage situation in those days and the process between a customer placing an order to having it delivered. [34:55]
- What are ePackets and FBA sellers? [43:22]
- How did Allen select the products that would comprise the majority of his initial inventory, and what human edge did he have over the competition thanks to his retail experience? [45:32]
- What led to Allen hiring his first employee, and where did he look for the ideal candidate? [49:35]
- What Allen learned about managing a team not long after he hired a second employee. [54:59]
- Given retrospective advice from his future self, how would Allen’s hiring process for that second employee have gone differently? [57:42]
- Job boards Allen recommends for finding quality remote workers. [58:42]
- A books Allen recommends to anyone on the path to become a better manager. [1:00:17]
- Aside from hiring an unqualified friend, what other early mistakes did Allen make? How might hiring the right employees help alleviate these mistakes, and where would he find them? [1:01:13]
- Conferences recommended for e-commerce networking that are actually worth a damn, and tips we have for maximizing their effectiveness. [1:04:17]
- How did Allen handle targeted monthly income, dreamlining, and lifestyle goals when he first got his business going? [1:09:28]
- A lot of Internet retailers operate on Amazon; SpyGuy does not. What is Allen’s reasoning behind this decision? [1:12:51]
- Allen wants to begin manufacturing his own products under the SpyGuy brand. What does that process look like right now? [1:15:20]
- Tools Allen has found helpful for automation and greater efficiency. [1:16:45]
- Dire third-party logistics (3PL) problems Allen and I have both faced. [1:20:36]
- How does Allen most efficiently manage his time? [1:23:07]
- What is the criteria for products Allen wants to start manufacturing first, and what kind of customers does SpyGuy primarily serve? [1:26:33]
- Allen tells us about the time his company assisted in a child predator case and the media attention surrounding the event. [1:28:23]
- The mixed blessing of product demand spurred by The Today Show and regrets about SpyGuy’s biggest day of sales. [1:34:12]
- Highlights of Allen’s journey so far he would never have predicted at its start. [1:36:52]
- Podcasts Allen recommends. [1:39:15]
- What does Allen hope to accomplish over the year ahead on business and personal fronts? [1:44:27]
- Final thoughts. [1:47:15]
- Lady Gaga
- Kevin Kelly
- James Altucher
- Bryan Johnson
- M.J. DeMarco
- Ramit Sethi
- Verne Harnish
- Ysrael Bien
- Paul Maloney
- Emily E. Smith
- Jared Fogle
- Antonin Scalia
- Oprah Winfrey
- Naval Ravikant
- Kevin Rose
- Mike Jackness
- Richard Whitcomb
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.