How to build a community with +100k members, with Robert Gerrish
Yuli Azarch | July 2, 2018 | No Comments on How to build a community with +100k members, with Robert Gerrish
Robert Gerrish, is a venture strategist, speaker, author, and podcaster. He is commonly known as the founder of Flying Solo. Robert set up to build a community for others that wished to take control of their work life. He grew the Flying Solo community to over 100,000 solo-business members.
Robert sold Flying Solo in 2017 but he remained involved with them. He is on the advisory board, he writes content for them, creates podcasts and speaks in Flying Solo events.
Robert runs a few other podcasts as well, such as a podcast for a group of bookkeepers, a franchise group and a new podcast called Mellow Brick Road which is for older entrepreneurs.
Today, Robert is in his sixties, back as a startup and happier than ever.
How did Robert build a community? keep reading…
What we discussed on the podcast?
- Who is Robert Gerrish?
- Why was Flying Solo founded?
- Solo business in the world.
- Flying Solo audience
- Traveling lifestyle business
- How Robert grew FlyingSolo’s 100,000 members audience?
- How should you grow your audience?
- What should you do at least, once in your lifetime?
- How to get focus and clarity?
How did Flying Solo start?
Robert founded FlyingSolo about 12 years ago with the intention of helping people who work by themselves. It was directed to the Australian community, but it soon was known worldwide and the community grew to over 100K members in 12 years.
“In Australia, over 70% of small businesses are 1 person (solo) businesses. Those might be freelancers, just people that are very happy to run a small lifestyle business.”
Robert and the other co-founders decided to sell Flying Solo when it was at its peak. Selling the business when it was doing great was the plan from the beginning, they happily got what they wanted.
How did he start?
Who are the solo flyers?
According to Robert, the governments in most modern countries like to think that everybody wants to grow a business and employ lots of staff. Governments will try hard to promote growth, after all, they want to reap a healthy economy and help with employment.
The truth is that the majority of businesses in most modern countries are solo-businesses.
What we are seeing more often is people choosing a lifestyle, where they can work by themselves and do what they want. Thanks to the development in technology they can choose to work remotely anywhere and use support from people overseas. Don’t know where to work remotely? Check out “8 Criteria for Choosing Where to Work Remotely as a Location Independent Entrepreneur”.
“So, there is a lot of people working by themselves and a lot of those people seek some kind of community to bounce ideas off and challenge instructions.”
According to Robert, a lot of the Flying-Solo audience is between the age of 30s and 50s and a lot of them have young families. This particular audience prefers mobility “to be able to take the kids to school, have flexibility but still support the family.
These people are usually in the professional services area, they might be designers, writers, photographers, or architects. They usually do it to have flexibility, freedom, and the ability to work with whom they want, when they want, and the number of hours they want.
“When I talk about lifestyle business, I talk about a business that allows people to live how they want to live. So it is often not, globetrotting around the world, or laying in a hammock with a laptop…
Why are people running Solo businesses?
According to Robert, the main reason people chose to go solo is “freedom”. That is being free from any kind of discipline of working for a corporation.
“I think that [freedom] is the driving force for so many people.”
According to Robert, solo business owners may fall into two groups:
- People over 50. “The largest group of startups are people over 50.”At this age, they realized that they have some other options and they don’t have to work for “The man”.
- People which their career is over. They don’t want to work in their industry anymore or there is no way to find a job. They found a way to go on their own and create revenue.
According to Robert, once you get to the age between, 50 or 60, you need to take some extra considerations. Things as important as, access to health care, access to comfort and the ability to remain connected to the family.
But that is not all, old entrepreneurs may also have few commitments, maybe they are still paying for a house loan or mortgage.
“I remember when I was young and traveling around, I didn’t care where I slept. I could sleep on the beach, or anywhere. And the joy of travel, when you are footloose and fancy-free, is that you can do those things. You’ll find somewhere to sort of crash. Maybe when you are in your 50s, or 60s you are not very flexible on that side.”
After traveling through Africa in the early 1990’s, for 3 or 4 months Robert settled for a while. He wanted to experience life in the countries he visited in a different way. Rather than rushing through places, he decided to remain connected and see real life.
“Traveling is beautiful, wonderful, exciting and for me, there is something truly magical about actually integrating into a community for a while.”
Robert believes that, if you can take work with you, and you really like the place you are at, you don’t have to keep moving from place to place.
Robert did it, 20 years ago. He was traveling through Australia while coaching people online. As long as the hotel room had WiFi connection he was on his way.
“If you are thinking of doing it, don’t think about it, just get on and do it. Is a wonderful opportunity that we’ve got and you learn so much.”
There are things you can do to grow your business while traveling, check out, “6 Things To 10X Your Business While Traveling“.
How to build a community of +100k members
Robert started without social media. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube didn’t exist at that time.
When Flying Solo started, the only real way that the people could communicate with each other, was through discussion forums.
When Flying Solo started publishing articles on its website, they realized that the community was beginning to integrate and grow. They realized that the people were trying to have a conversation.
“We could see, that people were trying to talk to each other, and frankly we weren’t letting them do it.”
Flying Solo opened their forum in 2008. It was a huge success, everybody just poured in, and became active members of the community.
The community has the answer! check Robert Gerrish’s article, for more information on communities.
Today, they have a very busy forum and an active Facebook group.
The reason that they succeeded to build a community…
- They had very clear guidelines: They had moderators to keep an eye on things.
- They stayed out of the way. They believe that a true community is the one that the people build. You are a moderator but usually, you stand back.
“That’s how we see in our community, our job is to make people feel comfortable, safe, and heard. It is not our job to answer questions.”
Talk directly to each community member
Robert recommends starting… with a very small focus.
Usually, when people build a community, they think of a big audience. The problem here is that you are not really heard by anybody. If you are too wide, you will end up having a lot of people that are not really connected… that is not an active community.
The narrower option will usually target a small a small group of people. If you are successful with that narrow target, then you might expand it.
But first work on your laser-like focus.
According to Robert, to build a rich community you need to attract real passionate and opinion-leading people. And they can only be found if you are very specific on your community target.
“You have to make each person think that you are talking solely to them. And when you do that, that’s when you can really achieve some magic.”
In the end is about doing what you love.
Robert gave us his wise advice…
When people say you can’t do something, ignore them, just go on and do the thing that you really want. Don’t just chase money, possessions, opportunities or life partners, look within you and go for what is in your heart.
“Once in your life, and the sooner the better… just start doing the stuff that makes you feel good and makes people around you feel good. In there, I think is where you’ll find your real heart and happiness”
What can you do to find it?
Robert suggests, giving time to yourself. Just sit down with your thoughts, or meditate, or go for a walk and let your mind go wild. Forget the Internet, forget going along with somebody else, leave your mobile phone behind… that is where you’ll find the real answers.
“Too often I think in this day and age, we try and find solutions from other people or we consume more stuff, with stay plugged on the Internet, we take pictures of our breakfast we put it on Instagram.”
Understand who you are, and you going to find where you really fit in.
Robert keeps a saying by himself all the time…
“The time you’ll enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
Thanks, Robert Garrish!
You can find out more about Robert at www.robertgerrish.com.
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