You know that feeling when you’re completely immersed in an activity, beyond the point of distraction? Time feels like it has slowed down, your senses are heightened, your mind’s usual chatter fades away, and you are at one with the task at hand. Some people describe this feeling as being “in the zone.” The more scientific term, popularized by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is being in the flow state.
For some people, this flow state occurs when they are speaking, coaching, consulting, or creating content. Sharing their expertise with the world and empowering others is what they love most. But most thought leaders spend far less time in the flow and more time trying to move their business forward.
SpeakerFlow helps experts streamline their business by providing the systems, strategy, and community needed to support them. That way, they can spend more time in the flow state, focusing on where they’ll make the most impact, and less time on busywork.
Systems at the Root of a Successful Business
Taylorr Payne and Austin Grammon founded SpeakerFlow because they wanted to help experts leverage systems to stay in the flow. They believe that running your business doesn’t have to be a grind as there are ways to automate and streamline less-impactful tasks.
“There are two ways to fund your business: time and money. One of those can be created and the other one can’t. And if we can spend time where we’re doing the most impactful work, not being down in the weeds of guesswork and daily minutiae, then we are ultimately going to be on a faster path to success,” Taylorr says.
To cut down on that guesswork, SpeakerFlow has identified three core pillars that are important to an expert’s business: sales, marketing, and operations. These pillars need to unite to provide a solid business foundation. Marketing generates highly-qualified leads, sales follow up with them until they complete a purchase, and operations help deliver an amazing experience. That then kicks off referrals, bringing in new leads that continue the cycle. It’s an engine that allows your business to work.
Taylorr says, “We don’t work with large enterprise companies who have this entire engine in place already. We help small businesses or solopreneurs set up the foundation of their business. Rather than getting them these complex and magical strategies, we give them the basic, not-so-glamorous (but strong) strategies that it takes to market well, sell well, and operate well. Our mission is to provide resources for systemizing all three pillars and for every question that an expert might have related to those.”
SpeakerFlow offers both software and coaching services. Taylorr says most people realize they need a system to run their business – but they don’t necessarily know why. SpeakerFlow gives them the system and then educates them about these foundational pillars.
Every Job Brings You One Step Closer to Creating Your Startup
Taylorr studied chemistry, fueling his love for science, processes, and systems. “But I found out that the lab wasn’t for me,” he says. “I’m very extroverted and was looking to solve big problems. I realized that entrepreneurship was the direction I wanted to take, but I didn’t have the skillset or knowledge on how to build a business. What I did understand was that I would need to learn how to sell. So I got my first entry-level job in sales.”
His co-founder Austin was his boss at that first sales job. They were generating retail leads for stores that they would sell to them at a premium. Taylorr quickly became the top performer at the office and Austin followed closely.
Taylorr says, “We were then tasked with building new locations around the nation. It was our job to hire the team, train everyone, and then find a manager to keep everything going. Together, we trained over 500 salespeople and made our clients an additional $25 million in revenue from our generated leads.”
Even though Taylorr and Austin were successful, they weren’t their own bosses. They were still working for a company that wasn’t their own. Taylorr says, “We got to the point where we realized it was the end of this chapter in our lives. Austin and I both left our jobs and parted ways at that point.”
Austin went to work for a software company that was dabbling in the speaking industry, and Taylorr joined an ecommerce company as a marketing director – but they remained friends. Taylorr says, “That job allowed me to blossom into marketing and understand all the aspects of generating business online. We turned that company around to do about $1.9 million a year in revenue with a team of three and everything was automated. That got me fascinated with how to build systems inside a business that provide a feedback loop to tell us what’s working and what’s not, so that we can eliminate the guesswork.”
Taylorr then started his own marketing agency using everything he learned, as well as his background in science. “The scientific method says that if you have an idea, you test it, you get data, and then you iterate based on that data. You don’t make any emotional decisions. It applies really nicely to business, because if we can understand our data and what systems are working in the business, then you can uncover how to improve.”
There’s a Science to Running a Company
Taylorr’s agency was working with all sorts of clients, from ecommerce stores to mom-and-pop restaurants. However, the marketing process of content strategy, lead capturing, and partnership that was successful for all the other businesses was not having the desired results for people in the thought leadership industry.
He found that speakers, coaches, and consultants are often micro-businesses, with a solopreneur at the helm or a very small team of fewer than three people. They didn’t have foundational business systems in place, including a CRM, email marketing tool, automation software, and so on, that are there to make life easier. Everything was being done manually.
So, it wasn’t just about using specific lead generation or marketing strategies, but setting up a system to manage it all. Taylorr says, “There was no way to iterate on one thing over and over again long enough to understand what was working and what wasn’t. They were trying silver bullets or shiny objects with large promises, when what really matters is consistency and understanding what’s effective – and then doing more of the thing that works.”
“Once we identified this, we understood that there wasn’t really basic education around running a small business. And this applies to many verticals, but we loved working with coaches, speakers, and consultants because they want to change the world in their own way. We understood the value of building a company that caters to this niche,” he says. And that’s how SpeakerFlow came about in 2019.
The Evolution of SpeakerFlow
SpeakerFlow started as a coaching company where Taylorr and Austin would systemize the client’s business. The founders would coach them on the best technology to use, help them get standard operating procedures in place, and document everything. Then they would help them find the right people to alleviate the minutiae of running a business.
“The challenge that came with coaching was that we would have to address all the technology questions every time: Which CRM is the best? Which email marketing tool? Which automation software? Luckily we did have that knowledge from our previous jobs, but we were having to reinvent the wheel for every single platform under the sun,” Taylorr says.
For example, if there was a sales process they recommended for a speaker, they would have to rebuild that in whatever CRM they picked for them based on their budget, needs, and so on. This made it difficult for SpeakerFlow to scale. The founders realized they too needed to automate their processes.
He says, “While we’re still a coaching company, we realized we needed to offer an operating system that would serve as a one-stop-shop for clients to run their entire business from. It would include every app that they would need so that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.”
But when they were confronted with the idea of building a custom CRM, email marketing tool, and 40 other enterprise-level applications, Taylorr and Austin realized it wasn’t feasible. They were in a very niche market, and would have had to charge their end users a premium.
“Ultimately, it wasn’t financially responsible for us to go and build an enterprise-level suite of 40 different tools. What made more sense was to look for a company that offered this idea of an operating system that we would be able to verticalize for our industry, resell it, and then train on our specific platform. And that is what we did!” Taylorr says.
They partnered with Zoho and developed their own suite of tools and custom applications on top of this platform. It allows clients to centralize their business and use 65 different business applications for $45 per month. SpeakerFlow then trains them on how to implement the entire system and coaches them on how to systemize the rest of their business.
Jumping into the Blue Ocean
“When we started, we had this big vision of how we were going to help experts systemize their business. However, we didn’t know what that service was going to look like. We were swimming in a blue ocean with no other companies to compare ourselves to. Austin and I were both business coaches who knew a lot about implementing technology, but how were we going to structure that into a business?” Taylorr says.
“Blue ocean” is an entrepreneurship term used to describe a new market with little competition or barriers standing in the way of innovators. It refers to the vast empty ocean of market options and unexplored opportunities. The opposite of that is the red ocean where cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody.
One of SpeakerFlow’s biggest challenges was figuring out how to swim in this blue ocean and dominate a space that did not exist yet. Taylorr says, “In our case, we’re not just a CRM tool or an automation company, we’re a company that bridges the gap between systems and behavior for experts – and that’s something that wasn’t there before. If you are a thought leader who needs to understand how to run your business, we want SpeakerFlow to be what you think of.”
“This is very much an education process and you have to be comfortable with prospects and clients questioning you and wondering why they even need something like that. You have to be ready to handle these types of inquiries and nurture customers even more so than usual.”
Taylorr also shares that it’s been a discovery process of how they can take something like systems – which generates more money and saves more time in the long run – and bundle it into a value proposition that immediately resonates with people. Your product can be amazing, but if you can’t get your message out there in the right way, you won’t be able to acquire customers.
Taylorr says, “What’s difficult about a proposition like ours is that we need to educate people about the value we can provide them. People will usually ask Do you help me make more money? Do you help me save time? We do all those things, but that’s not all. We teach clients the entire foundation of running their business so that over time they can make more money and save a lot more time.”
“What we learned is that it’s a matter of impact. Experts want their time spent to be the most impactful possible. They want to stay in their zone of genius, the flow state, as long as possible – without having to worry about the time-consuming aspects of running their business. We’ve now woven all of that into our messaging to immediately connect with speakers, coaches, and consultants.”
Creating a Lifestyle
SpeakerFlow has always focused on gradual and steady growth – they don’t want to grow just for the sake of growing. Taylorr says, “We are completely bootstrapped and every dollar the business made had to be reinvested back into the company. It was about five months before Austin started getting paid and nine months before I got paid. And even then, we were still freelancing up until a year ago to supplement our income. Now our income is coming 100 percent from our company.”
SpeakerFlow has grown to a full-time team of six. The company tries to stay on the cutting edge of all things, which has allowed them to hire strong talent (without being able to offer benefits just yet). “We want to create a lifestyle for ourselves and a business that employees love to work at,” Taylorr says.
Speakerflow has a four-day workweek, with 32 unstructured hours that employees can fill in the way they see fit. “The standard nine-to-five is irrelevant in the virtual world in our opinion. Being able to watch your team be human is so cool, like they picked up a new hobby or they’ve been working on a side hustle. There’s nothing more fulfilling than growing a culture of people experiencing life to the fullest extent. On top of that, our productivity is remarkable and people come back refreshed and hungry for work every week.” he says.
With the help of exceptional talent, SpeakerFlow will keep expanding. They collected their millionth dollar six months ago and are close to $1.5 million in lifetime revenue. Taylorr says, “We told ourselves it would be great if we could grow by 30 percent year over year. In our first year, we hit 33 percent, in our second year 57 percent. Our big goal is to grow by 50 percent and hit a million dollars in ARR by the end of 2022, but we will be happy if we hit that steady growth of 30 percent again.”
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