Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

Cole Humphus Shares How To Rapidly Scale Without Losing Profits or Lifestyle


Cole Humphus

Cole Humphus is the Founder of Rapid Scale Group, which helps online course creators, coaches, and consultants increase sales without relying on social media or large teams. Over the past seven years, Rapid Scale Group has helped over 200,000 customers and built a multi-seven-figure-per-year business.

From corporate finance graduate to wedding photographer to entrepreneur, Cole has experience in various fields and knows that success requires the right strategy, action, and people. Previously, he was the Founder and CEO of Cole’s Classroom, an educational resource and community for photographers.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [1:56] Cole Humphus talks about shaping his first business — and the ad platforms that helped him grow exponentially
  • [9:07] What caused Cole to sell his business, and how did he achieve a strong exit?
  • [15:22] How Cole got connected with the buyer of his company
  • [18:27] Cole’s predictions for the future of content development
  • [21:24] The secret to creating a successful monetization strategy and how Cole crafted his first photography course
  • [29:17] Why Cole chose to pursue consulting instead of building a subscription-based business
  • [36:09] What are you doing wrong in your business that may be draining your energy and profits?
  • [41:45] The exercise that all leaders should complete

In this episode…

What does it take to build up an online business and achieve an optimal exit? According to Cole Humphus, buyers aren’t just acquiring businesses for revenue — they’re acquiring all of the business components that you’ve built along the way.

Inspired by his work as a wedding photographer, Cole created a business that offered educational photography courses. After successfully selling this business, Cole has some advice: in order to scale your brand, it’s vital that you diversify revenue streams, leverage the lifetime value of customers, and strategize to turn niche traffic into a brand. What other tips does Cole have to help scale a brand without losing profits?

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Cole Humphus, Founder of Rapid Scale Group, to talk about his strategies for growing and exiting your brand — without sacrificing your passion or lifestyle as an entrepreneur. Cole walks through his own journey of developing and selling his business, talks about various digital monetization strategies for content sites, and discusses common mistakes that could drain your energy and profit.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.

There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your every-day broker—they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.

If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.

Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on their website. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!

What are you waiting for? Quiet Light is offering the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:07

Hi folks. It’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Joe Valley  0:29

Hey folks, Joe Valley here. Thanks for joining me on another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. Before we introduce our guests today, I want to give a shout out to our friends over at Niche Pursuits. Niche. You know everybody pronounces that different let’s just go with, I’m trying to be fancy right now y’all know that I’m not fancy. It’s Niche Pursuits. All right. I’m from Maine. That’s how I pronounce it. Our friends over there introduced us to Cole Humphus who we’ve got as a guest today. If you own a content site, and you want to grow it, you want to get really niche down, go over to nichepursuits. com, they’ve got a great podcast as well. So I just gave away a guest name Cole Humphus is an entrepreneur has built, bought and sold multiple businesses and seems to know all of the people that I know in the industry. So welcome to the podcast. Cole, good to have you here.

Cole Humphus  1:20

Thanks a bunch, Joe. I’m really excited to be here.

Joe Valley  1:23

I think you know, some of these folks better than I do. I’ve been around a lot of folks that I see that are commenting on your LinkedIn profile and whatnot. But you’ve been on stage with many more of them than I have. But enough of that, let’s talk about a little bit about your background. We were just chatting about Cole’s Classroom that you built starting in 2012. And then you get kind of tired of it over the years trying to figure out what you could do. So give us a little bit of background about yourself and what you do.

Cole Humphus  1:53

Yeah, yeah. So you’re right. The first my sort of first soiree, I guess, into online business and websites and brand building was a site that I made called Cole’s Classroom, it was photography education. I was inspired to do that site after i Well, let me just start by interjecting. I have a corporate finance background. So the furthest thing from photography, and while I was in corporate finance, I decided on a whim to teach myself photography, so I can earn some extra money doing weddings alongside of my, my nine to five day job. So now that you have that context, that’s how the whole photography,

Joe Valley  2:33

wedding photographer. Yeah, I’m looking, you worked for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems? I mean, talk about geeking out that’s so far from being a wedding photographer,

Cole Humphus  2:45

you must be on my LinkedIn profile, which I don’t really touch. So there’s, if you see the LinkedIn profile, you’ll probably see like the old LinkedIn then like the like, Okay, I should actually like try and beef this thing up to modern day. But anyways, yeah, I was in contract, or defense contracting industry doing cost proposal analysis. So I became really good and geeky with spreadsheets, which ended up serving me very, very well for growing Cole’s Classroom, by the way. So long story short, Cole’s Classroom was really my idea to basically teach people online, the things that I was having a hard time finding online, at the time when I was coming up the ranks as a wedding photographer. And essentially what that really meant was, there was there was a lot of like, pro level people that would were very anti any newbie coming into the field, right? So my whole thesis for Cole’s Classroom is like, hey, everyone’s welcome. Like, I’m out here doing it. Let me show you the ropes too. And, you know, I don’t want to dominate the podcast. So I’ll just simply say, with the background, I’ll simply just say, it was a slow start. I wanted to quit three different times in the first year, because I’m like, I don’t even have time to try and build this online thing. It was the show of Cole, there was no outsourced content writing, there was no outsourced video, it was me doing everything. And I got a little bit of caught a couple breaks with SEO, where a couple articles started taking off. And it wasn’t a viral kind of take off. It was like, Uh, oh, people are actually coming to the site now. And then that’s what led me to create my first course. And that led to the first 100 grand I made in the first year that I monetized. And then at that point, I was like, Maybe we should quit all the other things we’re doing and just focus on this. We did. My goal was to double it that year, and instead, we went to one and a half million, and we continue to double it for two and a half years after that before selling in 2019.

Joe Valley  4:43

What advertising platforms if any, did you use to grow the business?

Cole Humphus  4:48

Oh, yeah, great question. And yes, I don’t think you can really have 10x growth like that in one year without using Ads. And back then it was all Facebook and Instagram you know, in Google ads are great, I’ve been totally digging into Google ads now. But with Google ads, and I mean, Google search, you’re always going to be limited to the volume of people searching for the thing that you’re going after. So if you’re doing a supplement business, you know, there’s, you probably don’t have an issue with not enough people searching for, you know, turmeric or, or, you know, collagen peptides or whatever. But if you’re even for me with photography, especially back to this niche word, and I say niche, too, I don’t like any niche, you know, that’s just weird. But um, you know, any kind of niche, keyword thing, like a lot of times, we were running out of scale, so we had no choice but to really leverage Facebook and Instagram.

Joe Valley  5:46

Would you feel the same about Facebook and Instagram today that you did back in 14, 15, 16? When you’re doing this,

Cole Humphus  5:53

I can’t stand Facebook now. But I will say I think I think the biggest difference is, well, that’s such a good that’s like, this opens up so many great avenues for this podcast. So I’m going to sort of just give a high level view of because I, this is so near and dear to my heart, since I now actively work with so many other businesses. And the landscape has changed so much. So I think the biggest difference is, is the way I explained to people as back then, and I saw this coming. And that was one of the reasons why I wanted to sell the company. By the way, this I mean, this trend didn’t just happen overnight. But the difference between back then, and now is back then there was a lot of people that were able to utilize just one platform, or even just have one sales funnel or one even product. And if you like or half good at all of marketing, there was a good chance that the advertising cost was cheap enough that even if you weren’t like a marketing expert, if your webinar was just like good enough. And if your price point was like big enough, then you probably had a profitable thing that you could simply. And if you were, unfortunately for others, they aren’t as good at math as I am. But if you understood the metrics, you can say, hey, I’m buying traffic cheaper than how much my people are worth, Bada bing, bada boom, let’s go and start spending more on ads. So there’s still a lot of things that you had to know in order to be successful. But the differences now is you don’t have that like, ability to just be okay. Now the people that are winning, you have to be really good at advertising and really good at marketing. And not only rely on one sales funnel, and not just one product. And the reason why simple. Now as ad costs have gone up so much your acquisition cost to get whether it’s a lead, whether it let’s start with click, your cost of clicks are gone gone up, your cost of leads have gone up, and therefore your cost of customers have gone up to therefore your only option is to really get good at conversion rate optimization, and really have the product suite. And the back end offers to make your customers worth more money. So it’s all about lifetime value the customer now which back then wasn’t really as needed.

Joe Valley  8:12

Yeah, you were making money up front on these acquisitions. That I’m just looking at my notes, it looks like you spent 2 million bucks on Facebook paid paid traffic 90% of your revenue was from paid customer acquisition doing four and a half million in revenue 40% profit margin, which is pretty substantial stuff. Yeah. What what happened along the way there? Obviously you quit your day job, and you chose to focus on Cole’s Classroom completely. For those out there listening that, you know, hear that somebody’s got a business that’s growing like crazy. Did you wake up and just say I can’t do this anymore. I want to move on? Why sell a business? It’s doing well, as you are getting smarter, you know that the paid acquisition is getting more challenging, but you’re getting better at it. Most people are. Why sell?

Cole Humphus  9:01

I mean, on the last cut part of that question, which I really appreciate, you know, it’s there gets to be a point with especially when you are relying on paid advertising, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Because you’re always going to be up against the auction cost anyways. So and Facebook is the auction cost on know that. So like on, let’s take Google, for example. You’re actually bidding on certain keywords on Google search. So the price you’re paying per click is based on the auction of all of the advertisers who are looking to bid on that same keyword. On Facebook, you aren’t bidding on keywords, but you’re still paying what’s a seep what’s called a CPM cost per 1000 impressions. And as there’s more advertisers in all the different niches and all the different verticals, that cost has steadily gone up. So essentially, for a business to be successful, which is a great question you ask In a great piggyback on what we just talked about, in today’s environment, it doesn’t matter if you can be the best thing advertiser in the world, but your business model is still going to be the thing that can make or break you. Because let’s take Cole’s Classroom course classroom was a low ticket business. I didn’t have no $5,000 coaching program, where it’s like, Hey, we’re, we’re 3x on our money. You know, so even if ad costs double, we’re still good. We weren’t good.

Joe Valley  10:28

What was your average ticket?

Cole Humphus  10:31

Well, our average ticket across the board is probably $35. But yeah, that’s it. But as a $49, a month program was our main core product, it wasn’t always like that. But for the last bull since 2016, that was the main product. And I got that to 10,000 Pain members at our height. Wow. But in order to get people into that, we were literally running webinars. I mean, this is the crazy thing I would spend at the height four or $5,000 a day on ads, to get people onto a webinar to literally get them to give me $1, just to try out the just check it out. And most people would never be willing to do that, and literally be upside down. But of course, I knew exactly when they would turn to profit. When I get my money back and how much they were worth in the long term.

Joe Valley  11:20

That’s because you you did math, right, you understood the lifetime value of a customer and how to acquire customer.

Cole Humphus  11:26

And back then it was I wasn’t using Stripe, I was taking downloads and spreadsheets and doing all the formulas. So anyways, that’s what I mean by I think today that people, especially if you’re looking to sell the business, and I’m sure a lot of people listening are like dreaming about one day doing that. A couple things coming to mind. Number one, do it for yourself. And for the potential exit, diversify the revenue streams, number one, like you just can’t have only all of your sales coming from one place. And I know somebody who did that for me. And there’s nothing that I would recommend doing. And there was a timeline to that. And that was one of the reasons why I’m like, okay, things are getting tougher margin, you know, margins are getting thinner. Let’s figure out what to do here. So that’s just one thing for people remember, but to answer your question, Joe. I didn’t really just wake up one day and think it’s time to sell I, I started the process because I honestly was just getting started teaching photography. So it wasn’t. And at that time, I had a team. So I mean, I had a very scrappy team. And it wasn’t a bunch of full time people it was we had great people, but it was very part time. We were high agility, high touch and very cost effective way. But still, I was still connected to it. Even I wasn’t making the the the courses and the products anymore, but I was still connected. I sort of was just over photography. So that was one thing number two, photography, from a DSLR standpoint, which we’re teaching is kind of a dying industry. I mean, so that’s not a cool thing. Ad costs, were only going up conversions were going down. I mean, at that point, we when you advertise that hard your offers start to get a little bit

Joe Valley  13:21

old, when you sold the business was revenue trending up or down or slowing down? What was the situation? Because it sounds to me like everything you’ve said that I as a buyer, wouldn’t pay a real big multiple for this business. But you were probably looking further out into the future. What What was the revenue situation when you sold?

Cole Humphus  13:41

We were in our peak, we were absolutely just on fire. There was no signs per se of it. Going down, there were signs of the great of growth starting to slow given the advertising cost starting to go up. But, you know, the real reason why we were able to get a strong exit was because of the strategic potential. So we were acquired by a software company for photographers. And we had this monsterous volume of customers, hundreds of 1000s of leads on our mailing list. Which by the way, I’m not saying that to say like more is always better, like engagement is kind of crucial too, but we had eyeballs we had traffic right? Even if it wasn’t all coming from SEO, we had people that ultimately could become customers for the software company and instead of them paying a lot a lot a lot of I don’t want to give numbers away but a lot of money to acquire customer. Now they have an opportunity to bolt us into the picture and get customers on an ongoing basis. Way, way, way cheaper.

Joe Valley  14:56

Yeah, and that’s all about strategic buyers when it It’s just a good fit for them. And they’re not just acquiring a job or buying the revenue, or the discretionary earnings of the business with the hope of growing it and having another exit someday they’re acquiring it for what you’ve built, and the customer base and email list and things of that nature. For those who don’t know the difference, just out of curiosity, did you find them? Or did they find you?

Cole Humphus  15:19

Oh, that’s such a great story. They call we sort of found each other. So the way it happened was, I’ll make this short and sweet, but it is worth noting. I reached out to them, I was their number one affiliate, I reached out to them too, because I was looking for, I was already starting to think about helping other companies grow, and invest in other companies for this, for the exchange, get into an equity piece, an advisory piece to help them grow. I reached out to them got connected with the founder who I had never dealt with before. And then that led to a few interviews essentially, all along, I was thinking this is going good. Like they’re really diggin what I’ve done, and then one day, he said, you know, we actually are in the final stages of raising a lot of capital ourselves. And we don’t need any more money. But we’d actually be interested in buying Cole’s Classroom because we’re really impressed with what you did. So it was a complete like, whoa. Like, like, I still remember the phone call where I was, it was just like, and my defense went up. I was just like, internally like, oh, shit, and then all sudden, it’s set in, I’m like, Oh, this could be good. And a few months later, we had an LOI.

Joe Valley  16:36

That’s perfect, perfect. Let’s pivot a little bit. Because you, you know, you built this not knowing that you had an eventual exit in mind. And then you just got tired of the industry, photography, teaching, and got a strategic exit, which was great. You’ve, you’ve done a lot since then. And one of the things that you talked about a little bit or that we talked offline was about content creation and the challenge of it in some cases, and some of the things that people need to pivot to in the in the coming year. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Because I love content sites, right? I love brokering content sites, they’re full of profit margin, right? So, you know, when we get a lead at Quiet Light, and somebody says they’re doing 2 million in revenue, we ballpark the initial value of the business, that with a lead based upon revenue, not on net income, because everyone gets their net income wrong. Businesses first not sold on net income, as you probably know, at this point in your career, but you know, net income of a e-commerce business or FBA business, vastly different than that of a content, business, right content, you’re talking 80 90% in many, many cases. And I know some people that have pivoted their FBA teachings to content teachings and developing content sites takes longer. And that’s challenging. And a lot of people don’t have the patience just like us. You said, You almost gave up in the first couple of years, more than once, I’m sure. What do you see for content, development changes, monetizing things of that nature in the coming years?

Cole Humphus  18:27

I think the biggest area of opportunity that I I see is, you know, there’s a lot of people who are building outsourced teams, and literally just churning and burning content sites based on niche SEO opportunity. Right. And I mean, geez, there was one that I really was close to pulling the trigger on and buying in the golf space. And it was a pretty good looking asset. But I mean, it was a I had gotten hit a couple times from Google algorithms. Right. And I’m not an SEO like I understand it, but I’m, that’s not my core competency. So that was a red flag. But then on top of that, even the content itself, it was so focused on buying guides, you know, and obviously, the reason why they’re doing that is their main monetization path is Amazon affiliate revenue. So you know, best golf clubs best golf balls, best golf bags for women, whatever. Right. So I think I think that’s okay, like just to play the like website flipping kind of game, but I think where people are really missing the mark is if you already got the traffic, like, like, let’s go in and create an actual course. And instead of just like being okay with collecting your two or 3% from Amazon affiliates, maybe you can start collecting 100% on some of your own courses and start taking the niche SEO traffic and turn it into a actual brand. You know, there’s so so I guess that

Joe Valley  20:06

that’s interesting. I mean, you know, you and Finn’s are is a guy that you got to get, you got to get connected with the owner at some point. But, you know, he’s creating websites on, you know, Blue Velvet couches getting very, very niche, really raised funds launched, oh, I don’t know, 25 new content sites, I had them on the podcast couple of months ago. He’s from North Carolina, part of rhodium weekend good guy. And he’s, you know, building these sites, writing 100 articles, launching them, and so on and so forth, and monetizing them in the standard traditional ways. Now, obviously, there are some sites that you cannot create a course on, right, for sure. I wonder, though, you know, thinking about the cooking sites that we sold last year, and 2021, that probably be the of the, you know, 20 or $30 million in content sites that we sold, I guess most of them were, I’d say at least 50% For some reason or another. Actually, I know why it’s because of Food Blogger Pro, those folks over there to all about the cooking sites and things of that nature. How would you create a course on something like that?

Cole Humphus  21:19

Well, it doesn’t have to be a course. Right? That’s just one option. Right? So cooking, I mean, this thing of all the different digital monetization strategies or paths that somebody could take, it could be a course, it could be a, an association, slash paid community slash membership, right. And, but and I say Association community, because first and foremost, let’s just all really get clear and accept that humans by nature want to be around other humans, like like communities, online is a very under appreciated Avenue, like close classrooms. Number one asset what became our community? I mean, let’s put it this way. People, people want to hang out with people like them, right? Maybe it’s shared interest, shared hobbies, whatever. There’s a reason I’m wearing my fishing shirt. That’s all I do. Now I go saltwater fishing. So people wear T shirts that they can identify with. And it’s sort of like a stamp of like, you know, I’m a fisherman or golf people, I play golf, right. So there’s so much opportunity, it could be e-commerce, right. So if I have a cooking site, instead of just sent, let, what I would do is, let’s say the bulk of my revenue is these five products. Maybe it’s like, a, an air fryer is probably not the best example. But let’s say it’s this really cool cutting board. And then there’s I got an air fryer over here, and you get the idea. Well, instead of just being an affiliate, maybe you should just go and start thinking about building your own line of cooking boards, or cooking knives or cutlery, right? Like a Sam the cooking guy. Like I always watch him on YouTube. I mean, he has the YouTube channel, his his media that his audience base, but he’s selling T shirts, and he’s selling, here’s our steak knife. And here’s our this, and here’s our that. So it’s not just digital products, it’s just taking the traffic and saying, What are they already coming here for? And how can I get a bigger piece of the pie?

Joe Valley  23:26

It’s interesting. So you know, people get into the content space because they don’t like the working capital requirements of e-commerce. But once they get a content site that’s up and running and generating like I just talked somebody last week, down in Australia bought a food related site for I think $2,000. And now it’s doing $35,000 a month in revenue 90% margins. So she’s making tremendous money. But your suggestion is that she could be making much higher margins if she had selling her own product.

Cole Humphus  24:03

100% Yeah, I mean, that’s how I made my first product just so everyone knows. Earlier in the story. I said, I was thinking about quitting. And then I got a couple of quick hits are some some success with SEO. The first thing that happened was I started seeing people coming in for one of our tutorials, which was a free tutorial on newborn photography. It was literally like 10 newborn photography tips. Well, if you remember from earlier, I did wedding photography, not newborn. I actually had somebody else a friend that I knew who wrote that newborn tutorial. So all the sudden, I woke up one day and I’m like, Whoa, we’re getting a couple 100 people visiting the site every day for newborn photography. Hey, maybe that’s where we should make our first course. Now, the cool thing here though, is they came for a free article, but they were interested in newborn photography and I knew it from Google Analytics, and therefore that’s where we made our first course. And that was a very easy $10,000. In just the first month,

Joe Valley  25:08

how difficult is it to make a course like that? How long was it? What did you use? What? What were the challenges kind of thing?

Cole Humphus  25:16

It’s not hard. It’s as hardest people want to make it. I get such a great question, Joe, because, you know, one of the reasons why we at Cole’s Classroom became as successful as you did is because we were not perfectionist. And we were so agile, and we would wake up with ideas, and we would actually try them and not have all these reasons why we couldn’t do them. So to answer your question on that, first course, I literally met up with her for a drink. I told her, I said, Hey, would you want to go in and now make a course for me? Because you’re you wrote the article, do you want to make a course, we met up and right there at over Happy Hour dinner, whatever it was, we started outlining out what the course would be. I mean, just high level stuff, right? I mean, the SEO people who are making this content is already doing it. Maybe to rank number one on these competitive terms, you’re already doing it. If you have a big pillar post, and it’s like, you know, you know how to I’m not I’m not a I’m not a golfer, but everything you need to know about golfing for beginners? Great, you probably already have all the right headers, and all Google’s already telling you all the shit you need. Just go in now, make videos for it. And then now you have a course. It’s that simple. They just got to then know how to sell it, which of course, you know, you’re going to build your sales page and off. And that’s where the marketing skill set comes into play. Right? Like, but you couldn’t just use

Joe Valley  26:47

the traffic, you’re getting the traffic to that page anyway, wouldn’t you just put links to the course in it? And of course, the link would go to a sales page that would talk about it, because it’s a much higher ticket.

Cole Humphus  26:57

That’s exactly how we did it. Yep, right there in the free article. It’s like, Hey, want to want to really learn how to get become a great new golfer, check out our course right here, just links right

Joe Valley  27:07

out to it. And you’re doing that now at Rapid Scale Group, right? You’re teaching people how to create courses and market them and things of that nature?

Cole Humphus  27:16

I’m not necessarily I mean, I’m actually working in people’s businesses, both from strategy and to some extent implementation. So So yeah, I’m I’m not teaching with a course I am actually working with with as a consultant,

Joe Valley  27:34

or as founders, people that want to grow their, their course businesses, is it just courses that their course creators or other things that they’re doing as well, that you’re helping them with?

Cole Humphus  27:45

Yeah, great question. I mean, obviously, my, I come from the digital background, but I have a handful of clients, stemming going across from software, to b2b services, to content and info products. So you know, a lot of it the once again, remember, we were saying earlier, the difference between then, and now is Back then, people didn’t have to be an expert in every discipline of digital marketing today, if you want to grow. And if you don’t want to just be one of those people who just sits and waits and hopes that the business grows a little bit every month or day or week, you got to be very savvy. And there’s a big disconnect with companies that want to grow and realize that they have the need, but don’t have the budget to hire a quote team. And by the way, I say it like that, because I don’t think you should have a big team. I don’t think you need a big team. That’s the whole point of Rapid Scale Group is you can be very dangerous and very cost effective. And and I mean, dangerous in a good way we can. So that’s how we help. And by we it’s really just me. So it’s sort of my passion project.

Joe Valley  28:50

It’s interesting. So yeah, I guess you just answered the question because it’s a passion project. But you know, you’re in a position with knowledge and experience to create another business with recurring revenue, and help a wide scale of people. Instead, you’re choosing to consult with a much smaller group of people talk to me about the personal reasons for that, right. You’ve been through the large scale what why consult versus build something that’s subscription based?

Cole Humphus  29:22

Great question. Right now, this is the best way that I the easiest way to say it as succinctly as possible as this this isn’t the first thing I’ve tried since exiting the business. I’ll just say that and I’ll explain some of the other things in a moment in why I sort of put a kibosh to them and what I’ve learned but this was a result from pivoting courses, a course launch I did that turned to coaching that then turned to services. So that’s one piece of the puzzle. But the other piece is I’m kind of able to live the semi retired life now. And what I mean by that is, as we talked before going live, I mean, I got a four year old and a one year old girl. And those are absolutely a big priority of my life. I also have a recently retired dad who likes to go fishing, we grew up fishing together. A year and a half ago, I bought a nice saltwater fishing boat. We live here in San Diego. And when the fish are biting, we’re out there fishing. So that being said, there’s a nether massive sliver of my life that is related to growing businesses. And in particular, it’s not only limited the marketing, but just that entrepreneurial spirit combined with my digital marketing background and skills and all of that stuff, that for a long time I was suppressing. I was only in parent mode. Not only only but you know what I mean, there wasn’t any entrepreneurial like Avenue or channel for me. And I realized I needed that. So I needed to do something, because I was still waking up thinking about it. And I just had no one to help and no one to share it with. So the consulting right now, it is a very lucrative way for me to get paid very good money for not a tremendous amount of time, I don’t want another full time job yet, or ever, to be honest. When I go and acquire my next business, I’m not going to be the operator, been there done that, right, I’m going to acquire a business. And I’m always looking, by the way, I’m all that’s why I’m so familiar with quiet light, which is my first place I go to look. But you know, I haven’t found the right property yet. I haven’t found the right business. That’s where I’m going to go all in on that. So what’s the ideal property your business you want to buy? It is tough. And I’m only paused because I depending on like every six months, I kind of changed my criteria for different reasons. And I guess I’ll give a quick overview of them. I love still the idea of content sites, because there’s almost every single one is under monetized. All of them, all of them are there, they’re built, they get traffic, for, quote, free, obviously, it wasn’t free took a lot of time, but they get free organic traffic. And then they just are getting just the tiniest bit of money. And I know for me, it’s like I know exactly what I do with that. Let me do everything we just talked about. So I still like content sites, but I haven’t really been focusing on them. Because a lot of them don’t have any team at all. They might have outsourced content writers, but you know, so I don’t want

Joe Valley  32:35

you don’t want to take it on and operate it you need that to me if there’s enough if there’s enough money,

Cole Humphus  32:39

I’m happy to because then I’d instantly put people in place. So content, that’s what that’s my thoughts on content sites. For me. I think they’re great for people who just want to buy me just hold them and hope for the best. But I want to take it and build it into a nice big brand, that then we can sell for a lot more money. Ecommerce I like as long as it’s not FBA, because I want to control the customer journey. So if it’s E-commerce through Shopify, and that kind of those kind of platforms, I like that the thing that scares me with E-commerce is ad costs are going to continue to go up. And now as we’re seeing in this hyperinflation environment we’re in with now here in San Diego Gas is already at six a gallon. It’s not just, you know, going to be on commodities like gas, it’s going to continue to be with labor force. And so So profit margins worry me a little bit on econ, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for econ companies to go from a few 100,000 to like a couple million, even 3 million without much worry and concern for major infrastructure costs and investment. But to take something from 2 million in top line to like 10 and 15. That’s what I want. But I’m also a little bit afraid of the headache factor, and the number of things and people to manage. So that leaves us with SaaS. And and I I would I’m very interested in and I have a handful of people I’ve been talking to that are have some software’s

Joe Valley  34:11

that we may have a SaaS business in the photography niche.

Cole Humphus  34:17

I don’t know if I can even touch that one. But right when I could, you can give me a little bit of details and then we’ll decide. Yeah,

Joe Valley  34:24

it’s not it’s not ready yet. And we just had a call on this morning and it may be the advice might be to hold on for another three or four months. But we’ll see.

Cole Humphus  34:32

We’ll see. Awesome things I like about all of it. I mean, that’s the short answer. There’s things and that’s any and let me leave you with this to not or not leave you I don’t know if we’re done or not but, but rather leave the audience whoever’s listening, in my opinion, the ultra for anyone who’s like the altar, ultra aspirational, like I want to build something big. I think the real name of the game is to have all of these things into one, meaning the content side that feeds the E-commerce brand that then not every niche, but some may also have a software opportunity to so then you get the cheaper traffic and the cheaper customer acquisition but then you get the benefit of the lifetime value from recurring revenue from the software. Then maybe now if the bulk of your revenue, you can get on the software now you can trade on a revenue multiple not EBITDA or SDE. And now you’ve built something crazy.

Joe Valley  35:28

Value attractive. Yeah, for sure. But you’ve been through a lot now. Building, exiting now you’re in a great position to go fishing as often as you want and do what every father wants to what to spend as much time with their kids as possible. In terms of what you’ve seen, and the people that you’ve connected with, the people you consult with that are, let’s say in the E-commerce space. And this is this is it’s hard for them to know it going in and in the early stages of a business. But what is it that, in your view causes people to wake up and decide to sell when they’re exhausted, worn out emotionally toast? What are they doing wrong in their business? It totally drains their energy and their profits? What can they pivot to him? What advice would you give somebody that’s in that position now? Or just creeping into that? They don’t even know it yet.

Cole Humphus  36:25

Oh, man, I love that question. Because it’s been the most eye opening for me, as I’ve launched Rapid Scale Group, and I’m actually working in people’s businesses. And it shed light on what we ended up doing really good at Cole’s Classroom that I didn’t really realize was different than how most people operate. And a couple things come to mind. Number one, a lot of people fall into the trap when they’re growing, that they need to build a team, they just instantly go into team building mode. It’s like, oh, I need we need to grow, we need marketing, let’s go and find a digital marketer who can run ads, oh, we need a copywriter, we just go hire a copywriter. Let’s go find an email marketer. Let’s go find a funnel builder. And there goes your profit. Right. And the worst part is, is you you are not a digital marketer. So if you aren’t a marketer, and you’re hiring these people, you have no idea if they’re even any good. You can’t effectively manage them, they can be given you shit work, and you have no idea. Right? So that’s that was the main thesis for why I started Rapid Scale Group was, if you don’t already have the skill, then it’s even hard for you to manage. And it’s not only not as cost effective, but the bigger thing is becomes a time suck. It just drains you when you start have to manage so many people. So I think team building is the area that people get so trapped into. And I think some people feel that like, it’s almost like this badge of honor. Like, I got like, I got a team, like, oh, yeah, okay, cool. I

Joe Valley  38:00

hear people brag about it. Exactly. Other companies are competitors, that it’s funny, because I feel like you’re talking to our CMO, Chris more right now. Because Chris is in meetings all day long. And we’re trying to cut that in half. Because he’s got people to talk to in teams, and outside consultants to manage

Cole Humphus  38:16

it’s exponential, how much more time it takes when you go from having like three people to like, five, and then like, from five to 10. It’s just like, and then what happens is, then companies end up having a bill, okay, we just need more process, we need more SOPs, more process to follow, and then everything will be better. No, because then what happens is everyone you’re spending so much time managing the process. And and and people are spending time making these reports, you’re spending time reviewing the report. So that’s a longer way of saying all of that can be sidestepped if you just simply know what area in the what area in the business to put all of your energy into. So the easiest thing that people need to do is to just take a step back and be like, What is this thing that I’m focused on? Even a needle mover is this project that I’m working on even going to move the needle, whether it’s profit, maybe it’s top line revenue, you’re trying to move? Maybe it’s probably you can’t, you can’t really prioritize both, by the way, maybe it’s growth, maybe it’s we’re going to focus on SEO, and not paid. But too many people right now, in short, are trying to do all the things. You can’t do all the things you can’t prioritize all the things. Trust me, I know, I’m trying to be a great dad, a great husband. You know what I mean? Like,

Joe Valley  39:39

that’s exhausting. All of that. Really? I mean, if you’re trying to, and I’ll speak from personal experience, right? You’re a Quiet Light has grown 55% a year over the last four years. We grew 85% last year. If you look back, you know, even just three years ago, I think we might have had five advisors, maybe six or seven I can’t recall exactly, but now we have 15 advisors, entrepreneur turned advisors, you know, what is required when we have that many advisors, support staff. We have a CMO who’s got you know, eight, 9, 10, different VAs and consultants and now employees, and then we’ve got the email marketing company, the SEO company, this one that one, it’s, it’s crazy. And if most entrepreneurs that are out there listening are like me, and like Mark, one of our biggest weaknesses, is managing people. Yet here we are yours too. We’re growing like crazy. Which means we think we need more people, which, you know, leads to putting ourselves in a position of not loving what we do anymore. It’s kind of a weird little thing. I don’t do outlook, I’m a man without a tie on, Mark’s the CEO, I get to do whatever I want to do, which is great. under the radar, I don’t matter

Cole Humphus  40:54

what anybody one quick thing on that, I think that is a great exercise that anyone listening? And I’m sure, Joe, you’ve probably done something similar. But you know, I got to that point, too, right? When you’re growing. And you it’s not to say you can’t do you should do by yourself. I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is be very intentional with where you spend your time be very intentional with who you really need on the team. And that in and of it and and be okay with saying no. So the whole idea of like, we needed to grow the business, we didn’t do everything. No, you don’t. I never gave a rat’s behind about our YouTube channel, or Instagram. Because we were focused on and we knew what we did good. And we knew it move the needle. And we did that very well. And that was enough to take us from $100,000 in a year to four and a half million in a year and a nice exit. Now, one exit, one exit oops, one exercise is that I did myself and I have all my I had all my students do as well, when I was coaching was you take a sheet of paper out, this is a team for for hiring, take a sheet of paper out and draw a vertical and horizontal line. So you have four quadrants. And I would literally write on there things I am good at, in one quarter things, I’m bad at the next things I love doing the things I hate doing. And you start putting all the things that you’re doing, okay, into those buckets. And when you’re done, you’re gonna look at it, you’re gonna be like, okay, all the things, I’m not good at anything that I don’t enjoy. Let me find somebody to do that. And what that lets you do is it lets you actually still do stuff that others might tell you, you’re you’re silly to do, and you should hire it out. But if you actually enjoy it, or you’re the best person for the job, then do it. And for me what that looked like was I had somebody who actually managed the ads, but I was still in charge of all the metrics. I was still managing and our lifetime value and doing all that spreadsheet stuff like that, and I loved it. Yeah. So that’s something to keep in mind.

Joe Valley  42:59

Yeah, it’s a good point, you know, in our situation, Mark loves the culture, that we’ve built a Quiet Light. So he is, at this point, really focused on having conversations with the team having, you know, Zoom calls with the team and doing presentations and discussions on certain topics and whatnot. I love the connecting, building relationships like this without side folks, there’s so many other things that we both do, or have done, I should say, over the years that were in those other quadrants that we didn’t really love doing. And we are really good at and we have. And it has required us to build a bit of a team to do that. Right. So all the stuff that Chris does, it’s so detailed, I would fail at it because I hate it. It’s just not my skill set. The stuff that I do. Mark has no desire to do whatsoever. He’s doesn’t enjoy that part of it. And look, I built the team, right, I hired every advisor that we had, for the most part up until you know, the recent four or five when Jason and Chuck stepped up and mentored everybody. So we all we all have to figure that out. And some of it comes with experience call, like you’ve been there, you’ve done that. So have I, but those that have not should go through that exercise. And as we tell our kids, look, we made the mistakes, just listen to a few of them that we made and try to learn from us and go through that exercise. You know, listen, and learn from those that have gone before you instead of just trying to figure out on your own. So I think it’s great stuff that you’ve shared here. How do I how do people reach you? I know that your consulting business is minimal, right? You want to go fishing, spend time with the kids? How do they learn more about you connect with you if they want to and and, and so on and so forth?

Cole Humphus  44:48

Yeah, That’s the best place and by all means, whether it’s just to say hello. I’d love to hear from anyone who got any nuggets from this So, even if you don’t, even if you have zero desire to work late, that’s okay. If you just want to say what’s up, I’d love that. And if you do think I can help you then also reach out because I’ll tell you straight up if I can, or I can’t other than that on Facebook, people can find me. Don’t really go to LinkedIn, because I never logged in there. So I’d hate for you to think I’m ignoring you. I probably just never ever will get the message on Facebook. I will or

Joe Valley  45:27

Alright, sounds good. Cole Humphus. Thanks for your time today. Appreciate it. We’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.

Outro  45:34

Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast subject or guest, email us at [email protected]. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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