Need A Business Advisor…There’s An App For That
01 July 2017
In this episode, we talk with award-winning technology entrepreneur, speaker, and author, Dale Beaumont, who has spent the past decade helping small to medium enterprises become more prosperous.
His latest venture…BRiN…a mobile app, powered by artificial intelligence, takes his quest to help sme’s to the next level.
Dale also tackles some of BRiN’s more popular questions that the app receives from its subscribers.
Host: Mike Lynch
Co-host: Leigh Sujanto
Accountancy Insurance Australia: https://www.accountancyinsurance.com.au/products-services/audit-shield
Accountancy Insurance New Zealand: https://www.accountancyinsurance.co.nz/products-services
Chartered Accountants ANZ, Future Inc. Paper: The Future of Work
Mike Lynch: Welcome to episode nine of the Acuity Magazine podcast. Need a business advisor? There’s an app for that. This episode is sponsored by Accountancy Insurance, providers of Audit Shield, the [inaudible 00:00:16] tax audit insurance solution for accountants in Australia and New Zealand. I’m your host, Mike Lynch.
Leigh Sujanto: And I’m your co-host, Leigh Sujanto. Today on the show, we meet award-winning technology, entrepreneur, speaker, and author Dale Beaumont, [00:00:30] who has spent the past decade helping small to medium enterprises become more prosperous. His latest venture, BRiN, a mobile app powered by artificial intelligence, takes his quest to help SMAs to the next level. He joins us on the line now. Dale, welcome to the Acuity podcast.
Dale Beaumont: Yeah, looking forward to chatting.
Leigh Sujanto: You’ve created BRiN, an app that has been dubbed the business advisor in your pocket. What led to this creation?
Dale Beaumont: Yes, so I have been in this space of business advice and education [00:01:00] for the last 10 years. And I’ve worked with thousands of business owners. But if you look out there at the entire landscape, there’s actually 500 million small business owners on the planet. And our research found that only 1% of business owners actually sit down with a business advisor once a month. The vast majority, sadly, are trying to grow their business just through the method commonly known as trial and error. And that’s the reason why so business [00:01:30] owners fail every year.
So what we wanted to do was [inaudible 00:01:34] how do we actually give every person, running their own business, a business advisor? Now, it’s not possible to do that with humans, but it is possible to achieve that through technology. So two years ago we started laying the foundation for what has become the world’s first artificial intelligent business advisor. And as you mentioned, it’s like having a business advisor in your pocket, and it can work 24 hours a day, 7 days [00:02:00] a week. So it’s free download. It’s from the app store. You just type in BRiN, B-R-I-N, on Apple or Android, and you can download it for free, and there’s some amazing resources in the product.
Mike Lynch: So I download the app to my phone. How is this going to help me as a small business owner to be more profitable?
Dale Beaumont: When you first download the app, you actually get to meet BRiN. And BRiN is a AI powered business advisor. So immediately BrIn starts talking to you and starts [00:02:30] encouraging you to create a free account. And then once you’ve done that, then she will begin asking you questions around what your goals are and what you want to achieve. Then she can start making personal recommendations as to different content that may be relevant for your business.
To help BRiN to do her job, I’ve created this library of close to 1,000 TV quality business education videos on all sorts of different topics, whether that be trademarking [00:03:00] or hiring staff, or whether that be about sales, or marketing, or management. There are hundreds of videos that are there. And the software also allows you to create your own custom playlist, which becomes your own personal learning programme.
And you can also switch back and forth between video mode and audio mode as well, which is a really great feature. And you can speed up the pace that you learn. There’s a whole bunch of … There’s about 30 different features that are built into the product, which just really [00:03:30] removes the friction about learning and just makes it so much easier to get the content delivered directly to your phone. And it’s always on you everywhere you go.
Mike Lynch: You’re now looking at expanding the features of BRiN by adding artificial intelligence into the product. What new features will that give us?
Dale Beaumont: Yeah. So this is just the beginning. I think we’re only really, like, 5% down our path to achieving our ultimate goal. We wanted to make BRiN … Now that we have become the first, [00:04:00] our next goal is to become the smartest business advisor. So for BRiN to become super smart, then she’s going to need to have access to different software services that you may be using in your business. So what you can do is link BRiN through API to services like Google Analytics, or your CRN system, or even services like MYOB, or Xero, or Intuit, whatever accounting software that you’re using. And basically, then BRiN will [00:04:30] go to work in the background to find opportunities and threats within your business even before you could pick them up yourselves and bring them to your immediate attention. And to say, “Look, this is what I found that’s going on. Do you want to chat about it? And here’s how to kind of solve that particular problem.”
And we’re also building in right now a voice powered component. And so our vision for the product is … You can be driving in your car, and you can get an idea, and [00:05:00] you can then tap on your phone and say, “BRiN, how much money did I spend on electricity in the month of January?” And BRiN will be able to tell you exactly in under a second what that number was. Or you might say, “What was the open rate of my last email campaign?” And again, BRiN will immediately give you that answer. So it’s how to do you do business at the speed of thought. You think about an idea, you just communicate with BRiN, BRiN finds the answers and gives them to you in under a second. So that’s kind of part [00:05:30] of the vision of where we’re going.
Leigh Sujanto: Will an app like this eventually replace business advisors?
Dale Beaumont: Well, I don’t think it will replace. I think that it will supplement, because right now, like a lot of people are saying, is it going to disrupt human business advisors. And I think if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford to have a human advisor, someone helping you in your business, then you absolutely should. However, sadly, though, it’s 1% of people [00:06:00] actually pay for that service and are able to benefit from it. So we’re not really interested in that 1% of the market. We’re really interested in the other 99% that don’t have access to a business advisor. And we’re really interested in helping those people.
Now the truth is, what we hope it will do, for business advisors, is it will mean that they can solve bigger, more important, more complex problems. And a lot of the stuff that is [00:06:30] very straightforward can be put into a video, then they can actually use BRiN as a resource for their client. So if someone actually ask them a question like, “How do I rebuild my website?” Then you can go, “Well, let me just have a look at that for you.” And then you can find a video in our library and go, “Let me send it to you.” So what the product can do is actually add capabilities to human business advisors to make them more capable so they can help their clients with more and [00:07:00] more request.
Leigh Sujanto: You spent the majority of your career trying to help people improve themselves and their businesses, through advice and tips, and now the BRiN app. Could you take us through some of the key messages you’ve discussed that led to prosperity?
Dale Beaumont: I think there’s three things that’s have had the biggest impact on my life and also my business, that have helped me to get to where I am today. Number one was investing in education. And I don’t necessarily mean school and university. While they’re very important, [00:07:30] I also believe that education is a lifelong journey. And I think you should be constantly investing in yourself. So over the years I’ve done courses with all sorts of different people from Robert Kiyosaki to Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brandon Bays, Tony Robbins, and just try to learn as much as I possibly could from all of these experts. So that’s number one, investing in education.
Number two is having mentors and advisors [00:08:00] like what we spoke about having before. Because you can either live your life through trial and error, or you can learn from someone else’s experience. And I know that the latter is actually way cheaper in the long run and way faster to get results by learning from others.
And the third one, the thing that’s had the big impact on my life is association and your environment. Because ultimately, you become like the people that you hang around with most of the time. So if you want to become more successful in business or life, [00:08:30] you’re gonna start hanging around people that are where you want to be.
Mike Lynch: What are the practical tools that every business needs to thrive in today’s market?
Dale Beaumont: I think every business needs to have a good CRM system, So CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s a central place where you put all of the contact information from all of your prospects, leads, customers, and past customers all in one place. And then you can use certain features within your CRM to be able to send unique [00:09:00] and tailored messages to each of those different customer types. If you’ve got a good CRM, you’ll be able to collect leads through opt-in forms on your website, so you can collect data. You’ll also be able to do email broadcast. You’ll be able to build things called nurture sequences or autoresponders. And you can have a shopping cart, affiliate programme. There’s a whole bunch of other features. So every business needs a good CRM. It’s something we could talk about maybe in another interview because it can go an hour just on that.
[00:09:30] But the second one is, then, every business needs what I call a knowledge hub. So it’s a place to store all the intellectual property, all of your processes, all of the systems, about how your business actually runs. So that is really important. Sometimes people call it like a company intranet where if someone goes, “How do I do this or how do I do that?” Rather than coming and having to talk to you, the business owner, and taking half an hour of your time, having to explain it, only to do the same thing again next week and the week after. [00:10:00] They can basically go and get the answers to the questions that they need without taking up your valuable time. And it means that everyone’s following the one way of doing things, not everyone making things up as they go.
And then this third thing every business needs is some project management software, and that’s to manage all of the task, all of the to-do’s, all of the activities that you do on a daily basis within your business. Because once you’ve set that up properly, what you can do is create templates [00:10:30] for a lot of those projects, a lot of those task, and they can be preloaded in. That saves you a lot of time and money in getting things done.
Leigh Sujanto: You’ve got an 8-word motto that you claim will change the very way we work and live.
Dale Beaumont: Yeah, exactly. So this is a big tip. It certainly changed my life and hopefully it will change our listeners lives as well. What everyone should do is get a card, and then write down these eight words. And them stick them on your desk, and then [00:11:00] look at it every single day, multiple times a day, in fact. So these are the eight words, it’s, “Will I ever have to do this again?” So I’ll say it one more time. Will I ever have to do this again? Now the reason why those words will change your life is because as you’re working, there’s series and types of task that you do.
One is one time task, where you just do them once and once, and you never do them again. And then the second type of task is repeatable task, things that you may have to do sometimes again in the future, maybe next week, [00:11:30] next month, or next year. It’s something that you’re going to need to do again. Anytime I catch myself doing one of those repetitive task, what I do is I start building a system. Now, the fastest way to build a system is just record your computer stream and just talking over the top of doing exactly, and just do what you’re doing, just explaining it as you go.
If it’s something which is kind of like, I don’t know, making a coffee, then you’re gonna [00:12:00] pull out your phone and video it. Or sometimes it’s a list of steps, and so you might start quickly writing down a checklist. But whatever it is, what you got to do is capture that, because if you keep doing repeatable, mundane kind of tasks, then you’re never going to actually really be able to grow your business, because you’re too busy working on just the maintenance for your business and keeping it running.
What you need to do is start documenting [00:12:30] all those systems and putting them into a central location, like we spoke about before, your knowledge hub. And then you can start to assign those repeatable task to other people. They could be staff, locally, that you have, or another topic we may talk about later on is outsourcing, to places like the Philippines, whereby you can dramatically reduce your cost and also increase your productivity. But they’re gonna need to have a track to run on, which is why you need to stop doing systems and the sooner, the better. [00:13:00] It’s very difficult now to compete unless you are embracing outsourcing. So big believer in helping clients to do that. In fact, we’ve got a whole course that we run now that teaches business owners how to embrace virtual assistance.
Mike Lynch: Through the BRiN the app, you’ve answered thousands of queries to help small businesses succeed. Let’s cover some of the more popular questions for our listeners. The first one, I’ve got a great product idea of service. [00:13:30] Is there a way I can know for sure if I’m onto a winner?
Dale Beaumont: It’s very important to make sure. A lot of people they do. They have idea for a product or a service. And they go, “Okay, now I want to try and launch this business.” But before they … That’s kind of like in many ways putting their car before the horse. Before you actually create a product or a service, you should find a market that you want to serve, so a segment of the market that [00:14:00] has a problem or a challenge or an issue. Then what you do is work back from there and say, “What type of products or services can I develop to solve those particular problems?” Otherwise, what you end up doing is building a product that no one actually wants, so no one asks for. It would seem like a good idea to use, and you thought that it would be great, but there’s just may be not a market for what it is that you’re offering. And it’s always much harder to try and force a product on a market as [00:14:30] opposed to finding the market first and then delivering a solution that people have already asked for.
So I would just say, take a couple steps back, and just make sure that you are very clear on who is the market for this product or service. Have you established that it solves a real need or a problem? And something that they’re willing to pay money for, because sometimes people go, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” But when you say, “Do you want to buy it?” Then they kind of clam up or they go, “Oh, no.” Or they make other excuses. [00:15:00] So not only should it be a good idea, but people should actually approve that it’s a good idea by paying for it. Because that’s the real test to me to see if it’s a good product.
So when you’re doing you’re testing … So when you’re talking about this product, and you can then … Once you’ve established a need, and you say, “Well, would you buy it?” And if the person … “Would you buy it like now?” And if the person says, “Yes.” Okay, great. And if they’re getting, maybe, 40 or 50% of people say yes, then you’re [00:15:30] on a winner. But if you’re getting 1 in 10 people say a reluctant yes because they don’t want to let you down, then you should probably rethink the whole business to begin with.
Leigh Sujanto: This is a great one for an existing company. How do I create and maintain a culture of innovation?
Dale Beaumont: Yes, this is an interesting one. So innovation is clearly very important. Matter of fact, one of my favourite sayings is, “You’re either green and growing, or you’re ripe and rotting.” And what that basically [00:16:00] means is there’s no such thing as standing still. You’re either growing or you’re dying. There’s no in between. And so innovation is really important to make sure that you stay on that growth path. Otherwise, if you get too relaxed, or complacent, or starting doing the same things that you did last year or the year before, then you’ll find that you’re actually really on the downhill slide.
So first of all, I think it’s got to come from the top. Innovation can’t come from the bottom. It’s got to [00:16:30] come from the top down. So as a business owner or as a business leader, you need to be leading the charge. Or I think that what you need to … What I do is I read articles around the topics of my industry, around education, and disruption, and artificial intelligence, and machine learning, and different emerging trends in my space. So I can see out past the horizon in terms of what’s [00:17:00] coming over the next two or three years. So having that foresight, I think is really important. Now, you may not choose to act on all those ideas, but at least you know what’s coming so can see it first before anybody else. So I think it’s really good practise, and its takes me no more than 10 minutes a day to scan all of these articles. I use an app call Flipboard, another app called Pocket, and this helps me to curate content around my topic, and I can consume it very, very quickly. [00:17:30] So I think that’s one strategy to start with that can really help you with your innovation.
Mike Lynch: The next one, we would spend several hours on, but let’s see how we go. I’ve got my online website set up, what do I do now to thrive, increase traffic, increase sales, and improve my online marketing?
Dale Beaumont: All right. So, yeah, got a website. A lot of people think that I need to start driving traffic to the website. And while that’s true to a certain extent, what a lot of [00:18:00] people don’t focus on enough, is what is the experience like when people actually get to the website. And because a lot of people think that they have a traffic problem. What they really have is a conversion problem. And what I mean by that is if you’re having people come to your website and they’re not taking action, then we need to solve that problem first. Otherwise, it’s like having a bucket with a big hole in the bottom.
So what we need to do is, we need to look at the real website and we need to say, “What is the main goal of the website?” [00:18:30] Now, in my mind, the main goal of a website is actually to generate a lead. It’s to collect contact information. Because what you got to assume is that 99% of people are gonna come to your website and a vast majority are gonna leave without ever taking action. As most of those people will never come back. So if you’ve got them there, you want to try and maximise that opportunity.
And the way you do that is by giving away something called a lead magnet, which is a free gift, free resource of some kind, and there’s about [00:19:00] 10 different types of lead magnets that you can offer. And these lead magnets then encourage people to actually leave some contact information. And you’re not gonna get everybody, but if you have a lead magnet, you should get 10%, sometimes 20% of people will then leave you with contact information. And then from there, you then follow up through a series of preprogrammed emails which we call autoresponders, to then get someone to know you, and like you, and trust you to the point where they’re ready for [00:19:30] next step.
Now sometimes your next step may be just buying your product or service. Your next step could be an appointment. Your next step could be a phone call. Your next step could be a strategy session or a meeting. But if you then have already built a bit of a relationship with that person, then let’s try to value prior to them spending any money. They’re going to trust you a lot more and be more open to hearing what what you’ve got to say. So that is a couple ideas, but I would say the biggest tip is [00:20:00] focus on getting that conversion right up and then worry about the traffic next.
Mike Lynch: So if I run a small online shop, how important is brand to my business?
Dale Beaumont: I think your brand is very important because your brand is basically what people say about you when you leave the room, what they say about you behind your back. And that is really important, like what reputation you have in the marketplace, [00:20:30] and how do people describe you to their friends. So unless you have deliberately gone about creating a brand, what you get is the brand by default. And sadly, often times, those brands … They aren’t very … What people are saying about you isn’t all that kind or it may be just neutral. They don’t rave about. They just say, “Oh yeah, they’re okay but nothing special.” So brands are [00:21:00] something that you can actually influence and you can create by, that you put a bit at a time into it.
Now within the app that we’re talking at the beginning called BRiN, we actually did a series of 12 videos that go into the subject of building a brand in a lot more detail. And they’re all available for free within the app. The series is called Build My Brand. And we interviewed one of Australia’s leading branding experts, and we spoke [00:21:30] about how to come up with your brand strategy, your brand identity, and personality, and then how to use that to influence all of your logos, colours, fonts, your visuals as well, your website, social media, and how to infuse your brand through every aspect of your marketing. So it’s a great series, and if people want to learn more about how to build a great brand, I would say download BRiN, and check out the series that we did which is called [00:22:00] Build My Brand. It’s really great content.
Leigh Sujanto: And before you go Dale, what are your top tips in growing your company and becoming more profitable?
Dale Beaumont: What I suggest that people do … Some people go, just go out there and go, “Oh, I’m just gonna go marketing and sales,” which is great. Obviously, marketing and sales is where a lot of income comes in. But if you do that, what a lot of people do, is they inundate it with a whole bunch of leads. Then often times, they can’t service those leads, and sadly, [00:22:30] they don’t get back to clients or cracks start to appear that damages their reputation, and then it could take them months or years to recover. So what I suggest that people … Even though I love sales and marketing, what I like to do is help businesses to increase their capacity, increase their ability to be able to deliver their product or service to a greater number of people with less friction.
So the way that you do that is by getting back your time, [00:23:00] by getting rid of a lot of the inefficiencies within a business, a lot of those repetitive tasks that we’re talking about earlier, the things that you upload your time as a business owner. So I’m a big believer in helping … I think that 50% of the task that you’re doing as a business owner, you should not being doing. You should be systemized, and it should it be outsourced to your team. If we can do that within the space of three months or maybe six months, to take 50% of your responsibilities off your plate [00:23:30] and onto someone else’s plate, then you’ve got back the most valuable resource that you have in business which is not money but it’s time.
And so what then do, is you then take that time, and you then can redirect that back into growth opportunities. And that could be focusing on your marketing, whether that be Facebook ads, or partnerships, or doing some search ads, or content marketing, or producing some web resources. They’re all great things [00:24:00] to do. Or maybe you’ve got enough leads. Now you’re just gonna focus on selling, and you could be selling one-on-one, which could be slow, so you might start doing group workshops. So you might start doing a roadshow, or live events, or webinars, which can help you to dramatically boost your conversion rate, because you can now sell to many people, not just one person at a time. So there’s a few things in that, but I think that the most important message I want to leave people with for boosting your profits is get back [00:24:30] your time and then you’re profits will come.
Mike Lynch: Dale, thanks for joining us on the Acuity podcast.
Dale Beaumont: Thanks so much for that chat.
Leigh Sujanto: Dale Beaumont is an award-winning technology entrepreneur, speaker, author, and creator of the BRiN app. You can find out more about Dale and BRiN at dalebeaumont.com.
Mike Lynch: And that concludes episode nine of the Acuity Magazine podcast. We encourage you to subscribe to the podcast at acuitypodcast.com or on iTunes. Acuitypodcast.com is [00:25:00] also the place where you can keep up to date with our latest interviews or view the show notes for each episode. You can also email us directly [email protected] There’s lots more ahead on the Acuity podcast. Until next time, bye for now.
Pete: The Acuity podcast is brought to you by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.