by Bobby Casey, Managing Director, Global Wealth Protection
If you are interested in learning about running a successful internet related business that can be operated from anywhere in the world, Billy is the guy you want to listen to. I hope you enjoy the following interview.
Bobby: Hi, Billy. Thanks for joining me today. I wanted to introduce you to my readers as I consider you to be one of the brightest guys I know. You have an amazing talent for creating businesses that operate very lean using outsourcing and technology.
As you know, my readers are very interested in topics that may give them some insight into building sustainable businesses that can be run from anywhere in the world. I know you got your start at a young age as a professional poker player. Can you tell me how you got into that business?
Billy: I started playing poker in college. I remember when I started I was excited that I was able to make about a dollar a day. I was thrilled you could actually make money with this hobby. As I got more into it and started to learn more, I realized that people were making real money doing this. I kept studying and kept practicing, and by the time I left college I had learned to play pretty well, and was making some decent money.
I did get a job for a short while after graduating college, but thought I’d be better off taking a chance as a professional poker player, so I quit and took a shot. It wasn’t necessarily a huge gamble as I’d already had a good idea of how my game measured up, and what type of effort I’d have to put in to make the income I desired.
The first month as a “pro” I literally made $0. I was playing all the time, and studying any time I wasn’t playing. It was a bit frustrating. I was pretty rusty after having taken the time off for a job in between college, and decided to hire a coach to help get me on track. I made a deal with the coach to get a % of my income that next month in agreement for me playing a substantial amount of hands. It went well, and my 2nd month as a pro I made $17,000, and never looked back.
Bobby: I know you transitioned from professional poker player to web entrepreneur. Tell me about how that transpired.
Billy: After playing poker professionally for about 3 or 4 years, I wanted a new challenge. I was getting a bit bored with poker, since it was really the same thing day after day. I decided to launch a poker training site, since I felt there was a need in the market. I knew I could fill that need.
There were a lot of people in the poker training space at the time we entered, but no one was focusing on super high quality training. It seemed everyone was putting out a huge quantity of videos, but not offering the value they could have been. I decided to put together a very small team of very high quality players, as opposed to what everyone else was doing. We launched in early 2009.
Bobby: Before we go on, I want to mention your blog to readers – Forever Jobless. I love the name of your blog and you certainly live that lifestyle. For those of you reading, I highly recommend you check out Billy’s blog and subscribe. I can tell you I have personally utilized many strategies Billy has taught me. Many of them have become absolutely critical in the way we do business. I think you would find an enormous amount of value from Billy’s ideas and thoughts on business.
So Billy, I know you ran BlueFirePoker for many years, and continue to do so now. I remember you and I talking around 2 years ago about investing and trading, especially with options, but it seems you have taken a different route with your investment strategy. Tell me a bit about how you invest your money?
Billy: Yes, I ended up not doing the big option deal I was considering. I missed out on a huge amount of money from not doing the deal, but as I’ve learned from poker, you can’t be results oriented. :)
I’ve recently been looking into other sorts of investments. I started looking into a lot of angel type deals, but the majority of those deals are pretty silly. The valuations are so insane that a lot of the times the strategy is hoping someone else comes in and pays a higher multiple than you did. In almost all of the calls I’ve had with people doing angel type rounds, I found it amazing that no one once tried to sell me on the profit they were making/were planning on making. There was no talk of making money. They were only focused on raising another round of money at a later date, which would be at an even higher valuation, and selling me the idea that would be where I’d make my money. I come away from most of those calls baffled.
That’s not the type of investing I like to do. Even if the business hits a home run, you probably won’t knock it out of the park yourself because you started out at such an absurd multiple. So, I have zero interest in “angel type deals” but am very interested in partnerships with those companies trying to raise money. I’ve recently been looking into several deals geared more towards a partnership where I help fund it and get involved for business/marketing advice to help the growth.
Bobby: You seem very analytical, which I suppose comes from your years as a professional poker player. You talk a lot about risk. Why do you say it is risky to not take risks?
Billy: The simplest explanation would be; people are so afraid of risks, that they make all of their decisions based on trying not to lose – which is often the suboptimal strategy if your goal is to win.
In other words, if you’re trying to make the best decisions that will help you make a lot of money, making decisions based around trying not to lose money is a pretty sure way not to reach your goal of making a lot of money. People make decisions with emotion, instead of logic. If your goal is to try to make 5 million dollars, and every dollar you make you throw in the bank or into something else you view as safe, well, that’s a lot riskier than making what you may view as a risky investment, because with the “safe” strategy you’re essentially guaranteeing yourself failure in relation to your goal.
That’s why I always say “it’s risky not taking risks”. The “risks” are actually less risky for you but because of the emotional response most people have to decision making they often fail to realize this.
Bobby: So moving on to your blog. Why did you decide to start this blog?
Billy: I started Forever Jobless for two reasons:
First, I really want to help people. I guess it’s my way of giving back. I enjoy helping teach through my experiences and what I’ve learned, and I do get satisfaction when I give advice about business and making money and hear that it’s helped someone.
I feel there’s a terrible environment in the “make money” space online. There’s a lot of people teaching how to make money online, and very few of these people actually know how to make money. Most of these people only make money selling information on how to make money.
So, all of the aspiring entrepreneurs are learning from people they should not be listening to, and everyone is being taught nonsense (e.g. learn how to sell ebooks to people who want to sell ebooks about selling ebooks). It’s viewed as one of the most crowded markets there is, and while it may be a very crowded market, there’s not a lot of value being offered right now.
Two, I’d like to expand my network. I feel like there’s a lot of people out there I’d love to meet, but have no idea they exist right now, and vice versa. There may be people out there who’d be interested in getting to know me, but have no idea I exist. I’ve pretty much stayed behind the scenes in everything I’ve done so far, outside of a few entrepreneurial groups knowing what I’m up to, and I think it would be beneficial to get to know more people, and have more people get to know me. I don’t really know what will come out of it, but I won’t ever know unless I do it.
Bobby: Why do you think most new entrepreneurs are concentrated on the wrong things and what do you think should be their focus?
Billy: Probably a lot is related to the high percentage of misinformation in the “make money” space. Most people who know how to make money, don’t blog. Most people who blog, don’t know how to make money. So, the majority of information that’s being taught is by people who don’t know how to make money.
Simple math will show the huge majority of people trying to make money online will be going in all the wrong directions, because the chance they happened to land on some information that they should be following is extremely low, and if they did, the chance they’d know that was the person to listen to would be extremely low because it will go against most of the misinformation they’ve heard, which will be the majority voice.
Bobby: As we previously discussed, you started a poker company, you’re now starting a blog, and as you and I have talked about before, you’re investing your money into an e-commerce company, specifically niche stores. Seems like you’re going into areas that are very competitive. Do you think these are getting a bit saturated?
Billy: Most markets get more crowded, but there’s very few saturated markets. There’s almost always a way to offer more value, or offer value in a different way that’s not being offered yet . Maybe it’s a sub-niche within the niche that no one’s focusing on, or maybe it’s a higher quality product, or maybe it’s a low priced substitute where there is none. There’s so many gaps in so many markets, but because everyone’s focused on doing things the same way as everyone else, they often fail to recognize them.
Bobby: In your businesses, you run a very lean operation. Certainly something I wish I would have learned many years ago in some of my own earlier business ventures. Since you are so lean and operate with very few, if any, employees – do you recommend utilizing partners?
Billy: There’s pros and cons to having partners. The only time it makes sense to partner is when the partner brings something irreplaceable to the table. I see so many newbies wanting to partner and they don’t have any skills worth partnering with. “Hey, I’m a programmer with an idea and need a partner”…. so, what they’re saying is they literally bring nothing to the table for a partnership. There’s a million programmers and a million ideas. THEY need to partner because they need someone who knows how to execute/make money. That’s an irreplaceable skill-set.
I’d say the huge majority of the time, people should not be partnering. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. Often people looking to partner are looking to do so in order to make their business make money. If that’s the case, they are often only going to acquire partners who aren’t good either, because someone who knows how to make money will know they don’t need to partner with someone who needs them in order to be successful.
If you’re making money with a business and need money to scale, a money partner is fine. If you’re making money with a business and you need help growing it to the next level and need someone involved who knows business and knows how to market, partnering with a business/marketing strategist is fine. Those are examples when it would make sense. Ninety-nine percent of the time the people looking for partners are looking for the wrong reasons.
Bobby: If I were a young entrepreneur getting started today, what are your top 3 pointers you would recommend to me?
Billy: Gain knowledge. This will be your number one asset going forward, and people rarely spend enough time on it.
Learn from those you aspire to be like, ignore everyone else. If you are taking advice from people who haven’t been where you want to go yet, you are wasting your time.
Build capital, but if the ability to acquire more knowledge is sacrificed by building capital, put off building capital to acquire more knowledge. Capital is much easier to replace than knowledge. Once your knowledge gets to a certain point, capital becomes less relevant in some respects.
Bobby: Thanks for your time.
Billy: Thanks for having me Bobby!