In this episode, Jim James meets Mark Myers, the Founder of Peak Profit Solutions, a financial services and business advice company. Myers talks about how he transitioned from managing other people's companies to becoming an entrepreneur and founding his own business. He also talks about how he found a niche within the financial services industry by focusing on tax planning and how this niche helped his business stand out from competitors.
Throughout the conversation, Myers shares his expertise in tax planning and how his approach has helped his clients save money and become more profitable, the importance of finding a niche within your industry and leveraging it to provide value to clients, and also stresses the importance of having a deep understanding of your work and niche and how this knowledge can be used to help businesses grow.
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Post-production, transcript and show notes by XCD Virtual Assistants
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The UnNoticed Entrepreneur is produced in the UK by the EASTWEST Public Relations Group.
The Unnoticed Entrepreneur Podcast is sponsored by Prowly. The All in one tool for PR experts.Jim James:
And welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, with me, Jim James. And today we're going to Gainesville, Florida to talk to Mark Myers. Mark, welcome to the show.Mark Myers:
Jim, thank you so much. It's quite great to be here.Jim James:
Look, it's great to be with you because you know, don't normally talk to people about "tax." And it's quite hard to get people excited to talk about tax. But you know, you've managed to get people to think about tax as a profit center. Some of the people haven't done, but also over the last 15 years, you've built your business up to help business owners with their tax. That in itself is fascinating. But what we're going to talk about how you've done that and how you've managed to convert what were traditionally competitors in the financial services area into channels for your business. And we're going to talk about how over 15 years you've managed to really build a brand that brings business to you. So Mark, welcome to the show. Tell my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs, a little bit about you, and then we'll talk about how you've managed to transition from competing with lots of people on a commodity to having a premium value add service where business is coming to you.Mark Myers:
Fantastic, Jim. I'd love to. Thank you so much. You know, the journey has been a fun one. I actually went to the University of Florida. You know, very close to Gainesville, but I moved to New York City, and lived in Los Angeles for a number of years before moving back to the Gainesville area about four years ago. So it was quite a journey in geographic journey. But my undergraduate and master's work was not in what I'm doing right now. It was in health sciences, it was physiology, it was management of businesses, specifically sport businesses. But what I found in my first decade of work and career was that I was really good at running other people's businesses. And regardless of the type of business, whether it be running a high-end health club in New York City or Los Angeles, or running a shoe company, the process was the same. Which was driving revenue, managing expenses, increasing EBITDA margins, and of course, the culture of the business and those that are working in the business. Those factors didn't matter regardless of what business you were in, you needed to do them well. So that was my transition from running other people's businesses in an industry that I had an education in, switching gears and saying, "You know, I'd like to continue to work as an entrepreneur, but not in this space, but focus on what I've learned." Which is how to run a business and how to consult with business owners that potentially need my help in doing certain things within their business that are really important for their business. So that was really my journey. And of course, the last 15 years has been a process in, as you mentioned, you know, jumping to chasm and getting noticed, becoming going from unnoticed to noticed. So it's been a fun, fun journey, thus far.Jim James:
Well, he done that really good. And we're going to cover, you know, a little bit about the journey. But well, as you know, we only have 20 minutes. So we are going to sort of start to talk about how you've managed to get Peak Profit Solutions from being, if you like, a generic, you know, sort of financial services, guidance for businesses in general into something quite specific. You've learned how to niche and you've learned how to leverage that niche. First of all, tell us about the niche, Mark, and your, you know, realization. How did you get to that place?Mark Myers:
Sure. You know, initially, I started as a niche offering in the financial services space with insurance. You know, business owners have a need for insurance, particularly with, you know, obviously, there's property and casualty, there's general liability, but you know, a lot of them don't really think too much into the element, which is key man-ish policies and buy sell policies. These types of things, cash balance plans, that's where I started, which was very competitive space. Even though it's a niche inside the financial markets, not everyone does that type of work. So I chose that type of work, but I was still a commodity within that space. What I realized as I was evolving in this business is that most every business owner that I was working with, in the conversation about what we were doing with their high level insurance planning, because I never managed money, I never wanted to manage money, as far as securities license goes. A lot of them would complain of the tax pain that they had, and that they weren't getting resolved via their CPA. Not to say that their CPA wasn't a skilled CPA. It just, you know, obviously, most CPAs are doing tracking and recording and filing. They're not doing forward looking exploration of the 75,000 pages of tax code to find the coupons, which they are there. So I realized there was an "AHA Moment." This is an area that is unexplored for the most part, by wealth advisors and by CPAs. So now I could turn my, you know, particularly wealth advisors and other insurance advisors that were competitors into channels, because I can solve problems for them that would make them look great, and also give them more value to their clients. Which was finding them more money.Jim James:
Yeah. And that's really interesting that you managed to find, if you like, a niche within a niche. And when you had that light bulb moment that, "this existed." Why was that? Were you particularly involved in tax coding or something? I mean, what led to that moment?Mark Myers:
Jim, great question. And if you think one of the most powerful benefits of insurance is the "taxable nature" or "non-taxable nature of a properly structured life insurance policy." So, part of my conversation in the insurance space was the tax efficiency. I mean, ultra wealthy individuals, you know, you don't have to be ultra wealthy, but utilize insurance to the nine. Because once you fund an insurance policy, if it's structured correctly, then your gains inside of that insurance policy, right? Because the insurance policy can grow cash within it are not taxed, and you can access those gains and the principle without paying tax. And you can pass forward the remaining amount via the death benefit of the cash value to your heirs non-taxed. So really, I had a tax conversation the entire time. But what I realized there was additional tax pain that wasn't being addressed. And I wanted to explore that and I found that there was tremendous opportunity out there to bring solutions to clients that they weren't getting from their wealth advisor. They weren't getting from their insurance advisor, and they weren't getting from their tax advisor or their CPA, or their enrolled agent.Jim James:
Wow. So to some degree you're a minor, Mark. I mean, in the sense that, you know, 75,000 pages of coupons as you call them, which I think we'd find is sort of maybe exemptions or tax credit options. And you've, if you like, mine that as a really a gold mine for your clients, but also for your own business, Peak Profit Solutions, right?Mark Myers:
Absolutely. It's funny you say that because my conversation, particularly when I'm working with that channel that used to be a competitor, which was the "AHA moment," that really has opened up my business significantly, because I'm doing something now that those that I was competing with want me to help them with. I basically, my communication is, you know, for the last 15 years, particularly the last seven or eight, which has been much more intensive. I have a minor's hat on. I am always searching and seeking the coupons and I'm also doing due diligence on them to make sure that they will withstand, right? Because they need to be viable coupons . So it really is, I am a minor to an extent, but I'm also a researcher and a tester of, you know, will this stand the test, right? Because essentially if you're going to apply a tax credit or a deduction that has some type of value outside of a standard business deduction, you want to make sure that it is black and white in the code, and it is defensible. Or maybe there has been use of this application many times in the past and it has proven to be fine. So those are the things that I've been mining for and bringing to pass.Jim James:
Yeah, look, I love the idea and perhaps I should have called it a "researcher" maybe, but mining sort of implies to sort of getting nuggets out. Mark Myers over there in Gainesville, Florida, once you've had this moment, of course, you need to then communicate that, as you mentioned to the competitors, and say that, "You're not a competitor, you are a partner and potentially a source of revenue for them." How have you gone about getting noticed amongst that community?Mark Myers:
Sure. Jim, thank you for that question. It's a great one, initially, it was a little bit challenging. But because my messaging was significantly different, it started to break in. So I crafted a one liner, you know, it was, you know, how to reduce your tax by 50% or more without replacing your CPA, and without receiving investment advice. So it was, "Well, how do you do that?" Because most of the time people will get tax, you know, information from their CPA or their wealth advisor. So how can I get this information without replacing my CPA or getting investment advice? Because some people don't want investment advice from someone new, they already have an investment advisor or an insurance person. So I took that message to the insurance advisor. I took that message to the wealth advisor. I took that message to the tax professional and said, "Are these pains that your clients have? And I knew that they did because I was in that space. And I said, "Well, what if you could solve that problem for them and do it with leverage?" Meaning that you don't have to take an ounce of your time or energy to implement these additional solutions, because that's my business. And I will not step on the toes of your business. So once that message became real, it just call it "wildfire." So now I get CPAs that refer other CPAs to me. I get wealth advisors that refer other wealth advisors to me. And of course, clients will refer clients. Which is a beautiful thing.Jim James:
That's the golden gravy, isn't it, really? Then you're no longer mining. You're just sort of, you're receiving, which is fantastic. Mark, when you talk about doing this to the CPAs and the channels, can you give us some idea or some of the forms that's taking? For example, are you going to seminars? Are you authoring blogs? Have you written books? Maybe you could tell us how you've rolled out that very compelling message?Mark Myers:
Sure. I started with networking. You know, going to business networking events because I knew that they would be a one or two or three wealth advisors there, right? Because there's a lot of people that help manage other people's money. And there's generally at least one tax professional or CPA in any type of networking event that's structured. So I started just going to those and just focusing on speaking to those individuals. Obviously, talking to the masses, because there could be business owners or others that had high tax burdens in those meetings that would like to talk to me. But what I found was focusing on those channels that already had relationships, right? They already had trusted relationships with their clients. Now, I just needed to find the individuals that had a percentage of clients that solution. So that was the starting point. And then, what I realized that there's automation in LinkedIn. There's auto opportunities in LinkedIn to create an automation that actually says, "I want to connect with Tax Professionals, CPAs, Tax Preparers, Bookkeepers and Wealth Advisors, and Insurance Advisors." So I started a campaign that just basically every day it sends out these automated responses because I get to pick in Atlanta. I want to look for people that are in this space and North Carolina. I want to look for people in this space. And every day it just invites them to say, "Hey, Mark wants to connect with you. He thinks that you can work well together. And helping your clients find more money for helping find more money for your clients for them to invest." So that's the key. And now when they start receiving, accepting my invite, then I have a, you know, a kind of a campaign to get an appointment with them. So those campaigns really is, just an enticing little thing. "Let's just talk for 15 minutes. I don't do your work, but I can make the work you do, you know, by finding money that maybe you didn't realize your clients had." So that's really a intriguing thing. So that drip process in combination with just going and finding those key channels was instrumental. And now it's, as I've, I get appointments, you know, generally week over week with individuals, particularly from LinkedIn that are learning about my services and just wanna know more.Jim James:
That's fantastic. Which software are you using on LinkedIn, by the way? That'd be interesting to hear about your experiences with that. Which tool are you using?Mark Myers:
The tool is called "Lead Central." So L-E-A-D Central. And what it does is it allows for me to choose campaigns in any city or state in the United States. Filter that campaign for the individual or the type of person that I want to connect with. What industry are they in? What do they do in that industry? How long have they been in that industry? What kind of experience do they have? And now, I get to send them an invitation to connect them with me with a brief message, right? Which is essentially kind of the enticement. "Why would I want to connect with you?" Oh, that makes sense. I'd want to connect with you. And then, what it also allows me to do is create a series of, I believe it's about 14 messages that will drop into their inbox. You know, every few days, you know, first day, fourth day, 15th day, they start getting further apart. So they're not annoying people, but those messages are just crafted to essentially kind of pique their interest. And basically, they always come to the request to say, "Let's find 15 minutes to chat." So in that process, you know what happens is I've built that pipeline. Now I'm getting lots and lots of connections every week. And then, of course, all you know, autoresponders are going out that are saying, "Hey, this is a little bit about how I can potentially, we can work together and be benefit, and then let's find a time to chat." And that just has created a lot of conversations, which has created a lot of opportunity because now they're saying, "Yeah, I do have one or two or three clients that I love to work with you together to solve their problem."Jim James:
I love that idea of the partnership. And yeah, leadcentral.com. I have it up on the website now, and they specialize in paid advertising on leading platforms, including Google, Facebook, and Instagram, right? That's the one that you're using, I think. Which is amazing. How much money do you need to spend on that, do you think, per month, Mark, to make that worth?Mark Myers:
I spend less than $150 per month. And that includes the, that includes...Jim James:
Less than 150?Mark Myers:
Yeah, that includes the upgraded fee for LinkedIn. Because you need to use "Sales Navigator," which is an upgrade on LinkedIn. I think I have a grandfathered pricing because I started with the company when they first started, quite a few years ago. It might be a little bit more now, but when you add "Sales Navigator," their software, I believe it's less than $200 even currently, but I'm paying less than $150.Jim James:
Wow. Okay. That's fantastic. I'll put the details in the show notes. Mark, when you've got the leads though, what sort of CRM are you using? Are you getting the data off LinkedIn and to own CRM as well?Mark Myers:
I am. I actually have a CRM called "EngageBay." It's pretty robust actually, and that CRMs are very difficult in my perspective to find the right one that works the right way. I mean, they can be very pricey. You know, when you're working for an enterprise type company, you know, you're utilizing generally enterprise CRMs that might not, and just so you're used to really complex CRMs that you might not be able to integrate into your small business, because just their cost efficiency and the complexity. Like Salesforce for example. I mean, it's a phenomenal CRM and platform, but it's very complex and it can be very pricey. So I did a lot of due diligence on CRMs. And what I wanted to do is find one that actually integrated in a marketing component and EngageBay was a very formidable platform. And I've enjoyed using them because I can pull people in from LinkedIn also from people that go to my website that inquire for more information and automatically respond to them, ask them to set up an appointment with me, and then of course, I can send them, you know, assuming they approve, right? Because you can't just send people messages unless they approve. You know, little updates here and there and case studies, et cetera, that help them learn a little bit more about what I do and how what I do will help what they do.Jim James:
Yeah. So, you're integrating the Lead Central with the EngageBay CRM. And are you doing all this yourself? Or do you have someone helping you with it?Mark Myers:
I've been doing this myself. And I would say, Jim, I'm likely doing it at about 50% efficiency with regard to, you know, if I were to truly use all the bells and whistles of Sales Navigator, all the bells and whistles of EngageBay, all the bells and whistles of Lead Central. But with 50% efficiency, I'm at this point I am if I turned it up a notch, I would need to continue to work on scaling my business to make sure that I could handle the incoming workflow. Which is a process that I'm going through right now, which is a a good process.Jim James:
Yeah. Well, it sounds like you've managed to get amplification and scale through automation, which is really, you know, the holy grail, isn't it, for entrepreneurs? You can really get outsized without having to grow the size, which is fantastic. Mark, I know that you originally were in the Army. So you had years serving a country of which, you know, thank you for that. And now you're an entrepreneur and you've managed to keep and build a business over 15 years. I love how you've managed to, you know, go from seeing your, you know, competitors and making them into channels. Is there a piece of advice that you'd give my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs on what's really worked before you in terms of getting noticed and keeping the business alive?Mark Myers:
Sure. I would say, Jim, that earnestly, an opportunity or an avenue that is unique and different than your competitors, but ultimately, do it in a way that you can align yourself with your competitors. That's been the biggest "AHA Moment" for me. When I realized that I could still stay in this industry, I can still help the business owners that I wanted to help. But I could access them through my competitors. So if it's possible, obviously, I don't know if everyone's industry is different. But if it's possible to carve out an area of your business that you can do and not step on the toes of the competitors in your space and actually align yourself with them, now you've got something really special. Particularly, if you're in a commodity-type business, but you're offering a non-commodity within that business that will again, the same people that were competing with you for that business now want to bring you in on a joint work or joint case or bring you in on their business. That has been the set up setting apart process for me.Jim James:
Mark, I love that. And that's why, you know, you've been so successful with Peak Profit Solutions, and I love the idea of you mining in this mountain of 75,000 pages and finding all these nuggets that are helping clients and the people that serve those clients is really a very clever strategy. Mark, if people want to find out more about you, whether they want some advice with the tax coupons or not. Or just to learn from how you've been building your business, how can they do that?Mark Myers:
Sure. If they just go to my website. Its "peakprofitsolutions.com." And on that they'll learn a little bit about me. One of the things that I put place there that is another make yourself accessible. On my website, I allow for people to actually book a 15 minute consultation with me that's completely free. And I let them know that within that 15 minute consultation that I'm likely able to find one or two or three things that they can do to increase their profit via "Tax Reduction." So made myself accessible. And then, of course, they can also find, you know, sign up for a case study. Like, "I want to learn about what you do and show me a few case studies." Even if they don't want to talk to me at that point in time. So that's really how I've been engaging as well, which has been very powerful.Jim James:
Mark Myers, look, you've managed to help me to understand that, you know, tax liability can be a profit center in your words, not mine. Thank you so much, Mark, for joining me all the way from over there in Gainesville, Florida, with me, Jim James here in the UK. Thank you.Mark Myers:
Thank you, Jim James. It's been a fun, fun experience. I appreciate the time.Jim James:
It's been wonderful and I've learned a lot. I just wish you did tax codes in the UK. So thank you to my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs for joining us here. We've got thousands of tax coupons, I'm sure that we could explore too. If you've enjoyed the show, do please share it with a fellow entrepreneur. And if you've got the time, please go on to the play and review. It really helps. The new book, "The UnNoticed Entrepreneur," is now out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. So love it if you could find your way to looking for that book because in there are 50 more conversations like the one we just enjoyed with Mark with other entrepreneurs sharing how they are getting noticed. And until we meet again, I just encourage you to keep on communicating.Prowly:
Now I'd just like to mention our sponsor for this show. The Unnoticed Entrepreneur Podcast is sponsored by a company called "Prowly." Prowly is an all in one software for leveraging your public relations activities. You can boost the media relations game for your business. Find media contacts, send out press releases, and get more coverage while saving time and money on everyday tasks. Check it out prowly.com