All right, three, two, one. Hey everybody Harry Whelchel here today I've got Christian Smutherman and we're going to talk about how Christian went from zero clients, struggling and got his first client at 2,500 bucks in less than 30 days, helping entrepreneurs of color start and grow their own businesses. All right so Christian, why don't I turn it over to you? Can you just share a little bit more about yourself and your business and what you guys do?
Yeah, definitely man. So I launched my company, The Business Accelerator this past year to help entrepreneurs of color launch businesses in a scale to five or 10 K. And you know, when I first started it, it was a lot of fun, but I was doing a lot of work with folks for free, just offering value up front, offering my support, but I was really trying to figure out how can I actually take this idea and the impact that I'm making in these entrepreneurs lives to market and become profitable. And so that's when I was looking for some resources and some support to do that, but I wasn't really sure, which avenue I should take or what path would be the best for me, but I just started seeing some information out there. Your name popped up and I got started and pretty soon things started coming together and yeah, I've been seeing a lot of good results with the business in the last month.
That's awesome. Dude that's awesome. Well, like let's get into that in a minute, but I'd love to learn more about kind of you and your business like how did you decide to get into helping entrepreneurs of color with their businesses?
Yeah, that's a great question. So I started my entrepreneurial journey a while ago, 10 years ago, just in college, I had different ideas, I'd create books and sell the books and I had different products.
What sort of books?
So I'm an illustrator. And so I illustrated my own book and I would print copies of it and I'd sell the copies on campus. I ended up getting a grant in college to start this like nonprofit startup that's focused on education so I was in an accelerator program and just learning a ton about entrepreneurship and how to launch startups lean. So when I graduated from college, I ended up working at an organization that worked with education entrepreneurs and starting up schools and different ed tech platforms. So I just really deep in the entrepreneurial space. Eventually I decided, okay, well, I'm doing a lot of work with startups. I've done some things on my own in the past, but I really want to just be a full-time entrepreneur myself so I ended up quitting my job I had maybe 10, $15,000 in savings. And I ended up starting a e-commerce business where I was selling different bags and other accessories, but I didn't necessarily know what I was doing. And so I quickly found myself struggling, trying to make ends meet, trying to figure out ways to get my product in front of my customers. And I realized that I needed to spend more time educating myself. I realized that I needed to spend more time sharpening my own skills as a marketer and as a businessman before really diving all the way into my own business. So I did that. I invested in myself, learned as much as I could. And I started applying what I learned and seeing results. Eventually I decided, okay, well, I like where I'm heading. And I like where things are going with me, but I know there are a lot of other entrepreneurs out there in a similar place trying to figure out how to make this thing work. And they just don't have the resources, they don't have the roadmap, the blueprint to do it. So that's why I decided to launch my business in order to give people the tools and resources that they need in order to succeed as entrepreneurs.
Sure, sure so it sounds like it was back in college when you kind of got interested in entrepreneurship.
What like why, What caused that to happen? Was there something before then? Did you have entrepreneurs in your family or?
Well, I wouldn't say entrepreneurs in the family, but when I was very young, my mother and I, we would actually organize these family yard sales. And so that's kind of my first taste with entrepreneurship. Because we would go all around the city, putting up signs, marketing for the yard sales, talking to people about it. And then it was amazing when the time came, hundreds of people would come through and they'd actually buy the stuff that we had and I remember we needed to stand out there. It sounds a little cliche, but it was really exciting in those yard sales, were very successful. From there I started my own business at high school it was like, somehow I had gotten a hold of these gourmet lollipops. And so I was the only person who had these. And so I pretty much had like monopoly over the market. No one else had them and I would just walk around school selling them and I would make a ton of money at school selling that candy. And so I sort of had that entrepreneurial bag since I was young and I've always dreamed of having my own business.
So yeah it sounds Did your parents encourage you and they're supportive of all that.
My parents have always been relatively supportive, but they're the types where they're like, just do what you want to do, do what you want, make it work. So.
That's cool. That's cool. Now, when you got the college was like, Did you have friends who were also interested in entrepreneurship or were you kind of like the only one in your crowd doing it?
I would say that I had a couple of friends that were involved. So two of my really good friends and I, we actually worked on a startup together where we got that grant and fellowship to work on our education startup. But other than that, being an entrepreneur is sort of like some people say it can be a lonely road and you find yourself really focusing in on what your ideas are and not everybody gets it. So there are some moments where you do feel like you're by yourself, but I was grateful to have a couple of friends who were involved.
That's cool man. That's cool.
Yeah I'm curious because like when I was, I think my story is similar. I got interested in entrepreneurship in college as well and it's funny, like, I'm glad I did, but like the classes you could take on entrepreneurship in college, it's just, they're interesting and useful and they kind of wet your appetite, but I didn't really learn that much tactical stuff in them. I don't know if that resonates with you.
Definitely. I mean, college, it's just a lot of wonky stuff sometimes depending on what you major in, I was an English major, so definitely wasn't learning anything about business or entrepreneurship,
It's often like a very academic like approach to entrepreneurship, even if they teach you stuff or there's like electives you can take or things like that.
Exactly, and it's not really applied entrepreneurship. It's just theoretical oftentimes. Yeah.
Yeah. It's so interesting, but cool, cool. So bringing it back up to today and kind of what you're doing now, I know you've been at it for started last year, but really hitting your stride now, like getting your first paying clients as you've grown and evolved with the business. Like what do you think makes you guys unique?
Yeah, that's a great question. One of the consistent pieces of feedback that I get from clients is that, we treat their businesses like our own business. And so for me, I pride myself on really giving my all to my clients and ensuring that they feel as if they've got a partner in the work, as they're putting their business together, planning, getting ready for their launch, tailoring their offers, whatever it is that needs to happen in their business. I want to make sure that they feel like they are fully 100% supported, so that genuine commitment and that partnership is what sets us apart.
Nice man. Nice. Yeah that's awesome. It's so important at your stage to really not only make them feel like that, but actually do it because it's just aligning in such good results consistently for people. That's cool, man. So, yeah. So I think you were jumping in on this a little bit earlier, but I'd love to go back to kind of take me back like four weeks ago, six weeks ago before you were working with me, what were you doing and what were you trying to accomplish?
Yeah, I think I was a little all over the place six weeks ago, I had a Facebook group that I was working in, I would go into different communities and just promote myself and I wasn't necessarily getting the traction that I was looking for. I did have a number of clients that I was helping, but I wasn't charging them. I wasn't really charging them. And so really what I was looking for,
Why were you doing that?
I think it was because I just, I didn't necessarily know how to do it. Like I was trying to figure out like, what is my sales process and how do I actually price my services and put it together in a way that, is enticing to someone, but also worth their investment. And I think there was also a little bit of apprehension, a little bit of fear,
Do you think it was just like tactics or was it also maybe some confidence?
I think so. I think it's definitely a combination. Definitely a combination of both, because if you don't have the confidence, then you're not going to push for that payment.
Where do you think the lack of confidence was coming from?
I think it was because, I've had a lot of experience working with companies and letting them know what my prices are and moving forward with that, I think where the lack of confidence came from was, doing that sort of person to person transaction where, okay, now there's like a human being who's investing and they're going to be looking for these specific results and their success hangs in the balance and that's going to be my responsibility. And so I think it's like, okay, there's just much more that goes into this than creating a video for a company. Which is something that I started off doing business wise or editing or doing a voiceover it's totally different when you're helping somebody solve serious issues in their life and their business.
Yeah, man. Yeah so just for those who are listening, just to give some context, like Christian has a lot experience with video making videos and basically you're getting at it it's like before this you've been doing some freelance work, helping companies, large teams, different organizations with these videos. And so it's very different to sell that to a company where they have plenty of money, plenty of cash versus selling to like a solopreneur who is really all in on this. And they're putting like a lot of trust in you to bring you on to help them that's basically what you're getting at.
One hundred percent. One hundred percent.
That makes a ton of sense. Yeah and so, was it that you just weren't, was it both that, like, it was just more responsibility and also like not being certain that what you were going to recommend that they do is going to get them results?
Yeah. I'd say it's more the responsibility piece, there are definitely things and tactics that I was confident in in teaching, but in terms of just having that confidence to say, hey, this is what it's worth, this is what the investment looks like. I wasn't really, I don't think I was ready for that yet. And I needed a push to get there.
Got it, totally, cool. So, well, when you were like thinking about looking for help yourself, looking for somebody to help you, did you know at the time, like had you diagnosed and you're like I need help with my confidence and being able to be comfortable with this responsibility or were you thinking, I don't know how to get leads or was there some other problem that kind of like motivated you to look for help?
Yeah, I think it was honestly a holistic thing. I was thinking to myself, all right, I need to figure out how to get leads that, I can actually make a sale on. I also need to develop a sales process and the sales process I've been using for the other side of my business, which is video marketing is probably going to be a little bit different than when it comes to working with these solopreneurs. And I also wanted to be within a community and get support where I knew that I would have somebody that I could go to who can help me and answer questions I mean just push me and encourage me. So I was really looking fo the holistic support.
Okay, cool. And were you trying to get that like in other ways or were you trying to solve those issues in existing methods?
Yeah. I'd invested in other programs and I've invested in myself over the years to learn but I think a lot of the things that I did invest in, I didn't necessarily see results with them. Like there were some positive things I got out of it, but it didn't answer the questions that I was really seeking to answer. And I don't know if it actually gave me the confidence and the skillset to really go out there and make things happen the way that I wanted to.
Okay. Yeah. So was it just that maybe it sounds like what you're saying is that the content of things or advice that you've gotten wasn't what you needed in the past? Was it just that, or was it like that those other aspects like support community encouragement, things like that.
Yeah it was both, I think that, oftentimes you can get involved or invest in a program and then you just don't get the support that you expect, on top of that if you don't have the the training to feel confident to move forward, you're not going to have this. You're not going to have the results that you're looking for so I'd say it's a combination.
Were you feeling like frustrated at the time? Had you gotten to kind of the end of your rope at all?
Yeah, I'd say that I was very frustrated, I had very specific goals that I wanted to hit very specific metrics for my business that I wanted to hit and I wasn't hitting them. And so I got to a where I was like, you know what I need a solution. I need to figure out how to make this work because my current methods are just not resulting in the outcome that I'm looking for.
Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Were you frustrated with like both like the current things that were trying different programs you're in, or were you frustrated at all with yourself as well?
Oh, definitely frustrated with myself. I think oftentimes as an entrepreneur, you can find yourself in these cycles where you're just spinning your wheels and you think you're doing things that are productive, but it's really just busy work and there's not really a method or a science behind what you're doing. And so yeah, I was frustrated with myself because I wanted to really get into a systematic way of growing my business rather than just meeting and hoping and working and not really having a plan of how it's all going to come together. I knew I needed a better approach.
Totally man, yeah and it's funny like some things when you're on your business, they're busy work at certain stages and at other stages there what you need to do. So it's so hard to figure that out. Because you can see you're modeling somebody else. You're like, well, this is what allowed them to be successful, but it's not working for you. Sometimes it's very hard to diagnose that.
So, where did you first hear about me Christian?
I saw that someone posted that you helped them with their business on Facebook. And so, and I actually saw multiple posts and I was like, huh, who is this Harry guy? And then, I think I checked your page out. And then I saw a sponsored ad and I was just very intrigued. So I ended up going to your website, learning more about your business. And I was really impressed with what I saw. So, I just studied a little bit more and just sort of watched for a while. And then I decided, okay, you know what? I'd like to have a conversation and see where things go.
Cool, was there anything in particular that kind of piqued your interest?
Yeah, I think what really piqued my interest was the way in which you, well, one, I think I saw the results that you were getting for clients. So that definitely stood out to me. I was like, oh wow. Like these clients are definitely getting results working with him. And then the way that you framed your offer was really strong to me. Because I'm like, oh wow. All right, so he's teaching people how to do this, how to leverage happy clients. This is very interesting. I would love to have clients that are speaking positively about my work and sharing that. So that piece of it definitely attracted me to your service.
Nice man. Nice. Was there any like specific client, or do you remember anything about their businesses or anything that you were like, oh, that's interesting to me or you enjoyed their interview or anything like that?
Yeah. I think one person I remember is Victor. I can't, I don't remember his last name.
Yeah. Victor Jerisak. I watched his very interesting story. There were a couple other folks whose names I can't remember at the top of my head, but I definitely watched a couple of the interviews and I was really impressed with the feedback that they were getting, with the feedback they were giving, it was all like very compelling.
Thanks So, like let's talk about, kind of get into the wits for a minute. So, I'm sure there's been a ton of stuff you've been working on, so we don't have to do like every single thing play by play. But since we got started together like, what are one or two things that have been really helpful in terms of getting that first client at 2,500 bucks?
Yeah. So I'd say, the main thing is just having like a very straightforward process to find clients, connect with them and then actually bring them into the sales process. And I think that one thing I learned and that you're very good at, is providing that structure and that framework. And I think oftentimes, entrepreneurs were going into business without that. You're all over the place. You're less anchored. You're less confident. But when you have that system in that process, it just gives you so much confidence and you're really grounded. And you're able to project that when you're having conversations with your clients. So it's almost like, the confidence that you wish you had, you now have. And you can really believe in your ability to serve them. So that's one thing. And then the other thing.
Super interesting like the. Sorry to cut you off, but like, just to talk about that for a second. I haven't really thought about that, but like basically one of the main things that we communicate in our marketing and our sales process is confidence.
And it sounds like what you're saying is basically having that structure, that framework, like it's something that you could rely on rest on and then that gave you more space to communicate more confidence.
If that makes sense.
One hundred percent and really articulate your offer in a compelling way.
That's cool. I like that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just to add onto it, I'd say just the support within the community, I'd need to do a little bit better coming to the calls and things of that nature, but I'm always in the Facebook group learning from other people. So that community has also been very very positive and I've connected with other folks and done sales practice and things like that. So that's been really helpful.
So you've been like reading a lot of the threads and conversations and stuff like that.
Thanks man. Has there been anything, so in terms of more like sales, marketing, mindset, tactics, collecting proof, anything that's like surprised you or you were like, oh, like that was more important than I thought, or I didn't realize that was going to be needed or anything that was like interesting or surprising to you.
Yeah, I think what was surprising to me is how, when you really understand the Legion process and you start making these genuine connections, how receptive people are and how when you do it the right way, you really can build strong, positive connections. And I think too, I've also been learning that like not everything is about trying to push someone into a sale it's really about authentically building like a value-based relationship and then seeing where that goes. And if it makes sense to work together then great. But that's been interesting, just that relationship building piece. And then with the marketing, I'd say another surprising thing is like how little you really need to get started. Like, you don't need all these fancy widgets and you don't need a fancy website, when you really hone in on what's important, you can make a lot of progress quickly.
Yeah, yeah let's talk about the Legion for a second. Like when you went through it and kind of went like through the content, did you immediately get it or did you struggle at all at first like kind of really understanding that like prioritizing the relationship over looking at them as a lead or something like that.
Yeah. I think that it's still something I'm working through because you sometimes will have that instinct to look at them as a lead or like, oh man, I really want to make a sale.
You get thirsty.
Yeah and so you have to sort of manage that. And I think that over time I'm learning more and more that move away from that because it's not about that. And so it, it has taken time for me to to internalize that.
Have you started to build more and more of a sense of like, how, like certain messages you say or you don't say how you engage with them like can make all the difference between them going ice cold and then being like super warm and wanting to to continue talking to you. Have you noticed that yet?
Yeah there's an intuition that begins to develop. Like I've seen that if you're too aggressive, that turns people off, you really want to position yourself as someone who's genuine and genuinely wants to add value rather than like, oh, I'm trying to sell you something that turns people off in almost immediately.
And do you feel like, what allowed you to kind of develop that intuition quickly? Did you have anything from your background, or your experience that helped all along with the training and the advice I'm giving you?
Honestly, I think the training and going in there and seeing it happen,
Seeing it work.
So quick, real life experience in application will teach you quick.
Yep. Yeah. I'm wondering I was like kind of fishing and maybe it's wrong, you mentioned that you studied English and I wonder if like people that read literature that are trying to like, are been trained to like read between the lines and analyze stuff then when you're writing your own copy in this way, the messenger, you're not just like unthinkingly, like firing off blasts, you're like re editing it. You're thinking about how this is going to be read and received anything there at all.
A hundred percent man like every message I send, I'm very contemplative and reflective about it. So, I definitely don't just fire things off. And then even if I don't get a response or, something's going wrong, I'm analyzing that conversation and I'm thinking about okay, what did I say and how did I say it that resulted in this response or lack of a response? So you're dead on, that analytical nature is definitely there when I'm having conversations.
Yeah, yeah. Like one of my degrees, I don't talk about it much. I did two degrees in college and one of them was religious studies, which is basically like we read, it was always like religion and this. So we'd like Faulkner or like Flannery O'Connor or this that or the other. And it was like we just got trained to analyze things, reading subs, like thinking through it, what is the sub context? And so I think it's so interesting to realize it's often it's partly like the actual content of what you're saying, but the meaning of it, but it's so much more like how you're saying it. Are you using imperative tense and like commanding them or are you being polite and like asking a question, like all this stuff makes a difference.
It really does. And then you mentioned the marketing. So when you say marketing, you mean like websites and branding and all that stuff. And just how like if you can just build a connection with people one-on-one none of that really matters at this stage.
At this stage, yes. Like I spent so much time on my brand leading up to the launch of my business and the brand is cool. It looks great, but that's not what's getting me sales and results.
I remember looking at your website and you have like a very fancy website with like explaining what the program is and you have these videos and all the stuff.
Yup. All the stuff. And it's just not necessary right now. I think I'll get to that point where that's going to be really useful. And I'm glad I have that as a prototype, but really right now, it's the organic, it's the one-on-one connections that that's where I need to be and what I need to focus on in order to lay the foundation for something bigger.
Totally man. Yeah and it's like, it's not an irreversible mistake. Like I think all of us make mistakes and gaps of that nature at some point, like, I think I did too. Like I jumped to coming up with my own brand vouch probably earlier I could have just used Harry Whelchel for a lot longer. And, but like, it's just funny when you're on the other side of this and you're getting leads and you're getting clients, you go back and you're like, oh man, I spent like too many weeks worrying about this stuff but it's hard for people to believe that that's true. If they're on the other side of it, anything else, any other interesting things that was helpful in getting that client or like anything like the actual sales call itself, were you like excited, relieved, surprised that they said yes. Like tell us about that.
Yeah. I was really, I was surprised in a way, but then I could see like why it happened, and I think the way that you teach sales and the way that the framework and the structure that you give it's just, I think what I've found is it's a really perfect blend between emotion and logic. And so you're just sort of taking people through this like logical process, but then at the same time, you're connecting with them on an emotional level. And so I could see that the client was bought in before they said yes, but still when it actually happens, you're like, wow, that really just happened. But it was an amazing experience.
That's awesome man. Well, how's it been so far are you guys knocking stuff out?
Yeah. Things are going really well. Just getting things up and running. So it's been, I think this is the second week. And so the first week was really getting clear on the goals and the objectives. And then we got to work and things are moving smoothly. So I'm excited to see where the client goes and the results that he has. Cause I think it's going to be big and it'll be great for me as well.
And you're, I feel like, we're both business coaches, but like some of the stuff you're doing, it's different, you're working on like this like workshop method to generate leads.
Definitely, yes. So one teaching some organic things, but also teaching people how to leverage their skills, to create value based virtual workshops, where they can really connect with large numbers of people and showcase their expertise.
Nice man. Well I think that'll be a good point of differentiation for you when you crack that and get a case study around that.
Yeah. I'm excited, I'm excited.
So do you think that like, we've talked a little about the business we've made the sale. Do you feel like any other areas of your life personally, professionally have improved?
Yes I think that my focus has definitely improved. This whole process has forced me to get really organized very much like all my calendar, getting things systematized. And so I think that's kind of where I'm at right now it's just really getting my life systematized so that I can consistently make progress and get results.
Nice man. That's good, yeah. It's amazing like, do you feel like you feel like some of the systems are becoming like unconscious habits yet or is it too soon to tell?
Definitely unconscious habits like the amount of times I check my calendar, just unconsciously, just stick things on there. Once I have a conversation, stick that on there, send this link, do what, it just becomes a part of your daily life and you don't even think about it, and it gets to that point, yes for sure.
That's good yeah. It's like, I like to use the metaphor of like, it's got to be like brushing your teeth and it's just amazing how, if you can build the right habits, that's a lot of what separates, I think some of the most successful people than others is they've just spent time building these habits and then all the stuff becomes unconscious for them.
So going back to like the beginning, us getting started together, our sales conversation, why did you decide to do business with me?
That's a great question I could just tell that you were genuinely committed to the success of your clients and that you had a lot of confidence and belief in your system and your program. And I could feel that through the conversation, you also gave me so much great feedback and that really built trust, for your brand and for your work. And so to me, it was a no brainer. I saw the testimonials, I saw the results you were getting for others. And then the conversation I had with you solidified that. And after that, I was like, you know what, this is the guy, this is the guy I want to work with.
Yeah was there anything that like kicked you over the fence or was it pretty, pretty smooth once we were talking.
I think it was pretty smooth man. Like I had been in conversations with other folks and I just didn't like it. I didn't like the conversations I was having. It felt salesy, it felt pushy. It didn't feel that way when I was talking to you, it was genuine and I was like, okay, I think this is it.
Cool man. That's awesome, well thank you. I'm excited for you man. There's more to come for sure.
For sure man, it's just putting in the work, putting in the work.
So this may be a silly question to ask, but like would you recommend others and work with me?
Oh, definitely 100%.
Who do you think would be a good fit in particular?
I think just in a general sense. I don't know if I could think of anyone off the top of my head specifically.
Oh yeah so not like specific names, but like, yeah like what types of coaches or consultants or what type of professionals like personality wise, skills wise, take it any direction you want.
For sure. Definitely coaches, consultants, service providers, anyone who has a business that's about helping improve the lives of others. Somebody who might have a really great idea, or it may even have had results in the past, but just doesn't necessarily know how to bring it all together in order to really grow their business, make bigger impact and connect with more folks. I think if you want that kind of a business where you're genuinely improving others' lives and making authentic connections, then those are the types of people that would resonate best with your business.
Cool man. I like it. That makes sense. I think I'd add like, as we think about you and your story, like, I mean you didn't have sales with this business yet. You had been wanting to do this and taking time, but I think what made you able to get success so quickly was you already just had like some business experience. You'd done some freelance work with your videography. So you under understood like some of the mechanics, but you needed somebody to show you how to do it with this specific market that you were going after. But it wasn't like, even though you didn't have any clients yet you weren't starting from zero zero. You had valuable skills, you had good communication skills. You just need someone to help you position it and learn how to sell it better.
So if someone's listening, why should they take action right now.
If you want to succeed and win in your business and you know that you're just missing a piece or there's just something that's not clicking, I would recommend take action and, work with somebody like Harry, who can give you that push and the structure and the strategies that you need to actually get results. And I'd say people, people need to take action if they actually want to see something happen. I think for a long time I was taking action, but not in the right way. And I realized that, you know what? I've got to actually make more of an investment in myself and then work with somebody who really knows what they're doing so that I can get to the next level.
Awesome man, I like it. I think that's a hundred percent true. It's hard for a lot of people to ask for help.
A hundred percent, It's hard.
It's very hard. So what would be your number one piece of advice for coaches and consultants?
Every coach needs a coach. Every coach needs a coach.
Why do you think that is? Why do you think you need like somebody to give you advice and kind of perspective on what you're doing?
I think there's always going to no matter where you're at in your business, your career, your life, there's always going to be someone who's more advanced than you. And there's always someone who can show you how to do things better. And so I think oftentimes we rest within our own power and we rely too much on ourselves. And if you look outside of yourself and break out of the ego, you can learn a lot from other people. So I think there's always room to grow. And the fastest way to grow is to connect with a mentor or a teacher who can really give you the keys to success.
Awesome man. Yep. Yeah. It's and I would add, like, I think part of it it's like other people can teach you more stuff or more advanced, but it's also like we just get so close to what we're doing, that we can't see maybe blind spots or gaps or things that we're missing.
Awesome man. Well, this has been so great, Christian, thank you so much for catching up with me, sharing a bit about your story, really excited for you. What do you think is next for you in the next 30 days?
Well, my goal is to land a couple more clients and just continue to make impact, I want to grow and keep putting, everything that you've taught me to work and just seeing results that's all I'm focused on.
Awesome man. So if people want to learn more about you and your business, like where can they find out more about you online?
Yeah, well they can go to my website, christianSmutherman.com. They can add me on Facebook, Christian Philip. So just hit me up, I'm around.
All right, thanks so much we'll talk soon.
Thank you, Harry goodbye.
All right, peace bye.
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