Taking Risks to Create Impact with Nik Tsoukales, Realtop

Taking Risks to Create Impact with Nik Tsoukales, Realtop

July 6, 2022

One of the keys to being a good leader is to be comfortable with taking risks. That means being humble enough to get your hands dirty, and being prepared for the long haul. In this week’s episode, Nik Tsoukales explains why this, along with getting into the trenches, delegating, and slowing down your sales cycle are essential to running a successful business! 

About Nik Tsoukales:

At the age of 18, Nik began his sales and marketing career as the youngest real estate agent in Boston. Today, Nik is a 3-time INC 5000 winner, the founder of Realtop (one of the fastest-growing digital marketing agencies in North America), and host of the Realtop podcast. He has big dreams for the future, including signing on 100 clients and creating a stronger bridge between the analog and digital worlds. 

Taking calculated risks as an entrepreneur

Taking calculated risks is an essential skill for entrepreneurs seeking growth and innovation. It involves evaluating potential outcomes, weighing the pros and cons, and making informed decisions that balance ambition with prudence. To embark on this journey, entrepreneurs must first identify their objectives and define their risk tolerance. Next, they gather relevant information, conduct thorough research, and analyze the potential rewards and consequences. Developing contingency plans and setting clear boundaries are vital steps. Effective risk-taking requires embracing uncertainty, adapting to changing circumstances, and learning from both successes and failures. By taking calculated risks, entrepreneurs can unlock new opportunities, drive progress, and propel their ventures to new heights.

Episode highlights:

  • Businesses are multifaceted and if you try and do everything on your own, you and your business will suffer. Letting other people take over some aspects of your business from you will lighten the load, which is essential for preventing burnout and building a sustainable organization. (05:39)
  • Get involved in everything! To be a good leader, it’s important to connect with your team at every stage of the business. To connect with people you need to understand what they are going through, and to understand what they are going through you need to have experienced what they are experiencing. (05:09)
  • The sales side of a business is about so much more than encouraging people to buy things. It’s about creating relationships, building trust, and solving pain points. (15:18)
  • Don’t rush your sales cycles. The longer your sales cycle, the more time you have to build relationships with your customers. This is likely to result in a higher conversion rate because when people trust you, there is a greater chance they will choose to work with you. (25:14)
  • When we are operating in “scarcity mode” we tend to try to hold onto every penny, but playing it safe isn’t a good strategy for business growth. Being a successful entrepreneur involves taking (big) risks. (28:51)
Nik’s best advice for entrepreneurs:
“You end up becoming super disconnected unless you’ve been in the trenches with everybody.” [5:35] Be humble enough to do the dirty work alongside your team; it will pay off.

Connect with Nik:

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[00:01:16] A.J. Lawrence: He took a background in mainstream banking where he worked and then built a credit repair company and now has a very successful, a very large current repair company and now has a very successful marketing firm. What I think is gonna be interesting doing interview to pay attention to, especially if you’re in that sort of transition from brute force getting everything done as directly as you can and trying to think about the organizational structure and sort of getting things a little bit more built for the long term is listen to how he looks at these different things. He talks about how early on, his superpower was that he was involved in everything. And I think a lot of us have been in that experience.

[00:02:05] I know I was. And I love the fact that I could code, I could do analytics, I could do PPPC, I’ll add another P there. I could do SEO. I could do all the different things. I could talk, I could cook, I could bake, but the reality especially as you’re growing, there’s a certain point where that no longer has an advantage and it starts actually making things worse for the company.

[00:02:31] And he talks about that and how stepping back was really important. Now he framed some of that and this is then very interesting cuz he knew what the type of growth and the type of effort they were putting in that if he didn’t step back and if he didn’t find the right team, he was going to burn out.

[00:02:49] Now, from my own experience, and then from talking with many other of you, sometimes late at night over some Bourbon. Many of us don’t pay attention to the possibility of burnout, especially when we are doing so much early on, and only when it smacks us straight in the head do we say, Ooh, maybe I should do something.

[00:03:11] So listening to our guests today talk about what he was doing early on to kind of prepare for that I think is worthwhile because it would’ve made my life so much easier if I had just done some steps earlier. Lastly, I like how he talks about using his corporate experience, working for mainstream banking as the framework for how he was building his organization.

[00:03:38] He wasn’t copying the org chart that he worked under previously, but he was using that progression, hey, you do well, you do well in sales, you get promoted. He took that date basic thing, and he took the concept of the org chart that he was familiar with and then started putting it a little bit more into the prism what was necessary for the company he was building, first with his Credit repair and then later on with his marketing firm. So pay attention to that because I think too often we try and as entrepreneurs push away traditional corporate environments because it’s too unwielding, it’s too big. It will never work here, et cetera.

[00:04:21] But the reality is if it helps us get a little bit further faster, we can always evolve out of it. So rather than flailing our arms and going, what should I be doing? How should I be doing this? Putting this together and trying to do that, I think is pretty important. So really interesting. I think Nik, Nik Tsoukales, is a really interesting guest. So let’s go talk with Nik. He’s the CEO and Founder of Realtop Marketing.

[00:04:56] Hello, Nik. It is really great to have you here today. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

[00:05:01] Nik Tsoukales: Thanks for having me on.

[00:05:03] A.J. Lawrence: I’m really excited because as someone who has had his own agency and sold it, I’m really curious to see how things are now. With the success you’re having Realtop, I’d really be interested in seeing how things are and what you’re seeing in the agency space, because it’s always fun to geek out a little bit around agencies and especially around digital marketing. So thank you again.

[00:05:26] These days with everything that’s going on for you, where do you see yourself on your own entrepreneurial journey?

[00:05:34] Nik Tsoukales: That’s a great question. Ideally I’d like to see an agency that is completely, number one innovative. So I wanna make sure that we’re the guys experimenting with the new platforms that no one’s willing to check out yet, new channels. We’ve been doing some really amazing experiments with TikTok that have just been a grand slam.

[00:06:03] And even our clients are like, whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you doing in TikTok? Are we supposed to be there? What’s happening? We didn’t know, we weren’t ready yet. So I wanna be the agency that’s one step ahead in all of these channels that are coming.

[00:06:18] And the other thing is I’d like to build a more self sustaining agency. And what I mean by that is where I’m more on the strategy side and then my team is fulfilling. My team is handling and managing and deploying. But I’m more of an owner/strategist right now. I’m the guy on the phone with every prospective client, which I cannot honestly say it’s my first love.

[00:06:44] I love speaking to business owners. It’s fun tool and I think you probably feel the same way.

[00:06:51] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah.

[00:06:52] Nik Tsoukales: But I think at some point there’s gonna be a bit of burnout where I’m gonna need to bring in other people and I’m gonna need to maybe step back and let other people be smarter than me and be more, just be sharper than me and do a better job.

[00:07:08] And that’s what happened in my previous business. I stepped aside and discovered, man, there are people that are way smarter, way sharper, way quicker than me. And it was great. I wanna get to that point with this business as well.

[00:07:23] A.J. Lawrence: No, that is very cool. So given that this is another go, when you had that transition earlier, are you feeling sort of dejavu in sort of the growth of Realtop? Given your past experiences, what are you feeling that’s kind of like, oh, maybe it’s the time. You’re in that transition point now.

[00:07:44] Nik Tsoukales: It’s a great point. So I was lucky enough in my last business. So I have the credit restoration company that we grew to a (inaudible) size. But I was lucky enough before that to work in a corporate environment, where as a young guy, in my early twenties, I was able to experience a corporate structure was already built in. So you knew you did well in sales, you moved up to a sales team leader. You did good there, you became a manager. As a manager, VP.

[00:08:16] So I was lucky enough, already kinda have a visual roadmap of what a company should look like and where the owner should be headed and where all the people on the ground floor of the company could actually kind of move up.

[00:08:29] I had kinda an org chart from that great experience.

[00:08:33] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool.

[00:08:34] Nik Tsoukales: And now I kinda have the same thing here. I dunno if my team realizes, but already have the org chart of what we look like at a hundred active clients, 200 active clients, 500 active clients. It’s already in place. And what’s happening right now is everyone in all the different positions they’re sort of applying for their, for the next role not realizing it.

[00:08:57] Even for myself, I’m sort of working towards that next role, which would probably be from client strategist which I’m doing the day to day of, I’d probably move to the head of client strategy/ owner.

[00:09:13] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah.

[00:09:13] Nik Tsoukales: The guy that’s running our, Mark, our day to day client communications will end up probably being the team lead of the group that’s handling client communications and so on, on the operations side.

[00:09:29] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool. So yeah, it is nice to kind of see that echo coming around from your past experiences. Well, given this what’s kind of helped you, do you think, the most in kind on your journey as an entrepreneur?

[00:09:45] Nik Tsoukales: The biggest thing that’s helped me is especially early on, in the infancy stage of the business, getting into everything. Just getting into everything and understanding everything. It’s tough to "manage" if you don’t know what the guys, you have a team that you’re overseeing, what they’re dealing with day to day.

[00:10:12] You end up becoming super disconnected unless you’ve been in the trenches with everybody. So I would say just getting down and dirty. Everything, if there’s a process, understanding of the client response to that process, looking at automatic emails that are going out, the day to day management of the campaigns.

[00:10:31] Too often, I think owners become disconnected and then they can’t even speak on the company. They don’t actually know what’s going on, which alright, it’s kinda cool. You can disconnect, but I would say getting in the trenches early and doing every single role during the infancy stage of the business allows you to even lead better.

[00:10:55] If you’re gonna delegate out a task that you haven’t done, the person on the other end of that delegation, they’re not gonna have that same feeling. Versus someone that’s done the task, they’ve worn the hat, they’ve done it successfully. They know what’s gone right and gone wrong. They’re gonna trust you more., okay.

[00:11:14] So I think it’s important that you can prove yourself to your team. If you’re gonna tell someone to clean the toilet, have you ever cleaned a toilet? Are you humble enough to do it? Well get down there and try it. Mr. "CEO".

[00:11:23] All these titles are so like they call in Nebraska, they’re so fugazy. Get down there and do the job yourself. Get off your ass and get workin that way your team respects you.

[00:11:42] A.J. Lawrence: No, defintely is true. As someone who came up the long way before having my own in my own shops, it is definitely when you can kind of take care of anything. It is that like, okay, now let’s see if I can hand it over to someone else. It’s like, yeah, you move it along. Well where do you see you guys going? Where are you trying to bring Realtop?

[00:12:07] Because the agency space is so interesting now it’s like for the very big agencies they’re having so much. They’re growing, but at the same time, it’s so much turmoil. I find it so interesting in talking with agency owners like yourself, cuz I think there’s so much opportunity, but you have to play with the business model. So where are you guys going?

[00:12:30] Nik Tsoukales: So I’ll tell you where we’re going and actually where we love being. So I see behind you the picture of, I think Brooklyn bridge, I assume.

[00:12:39] A.J. Lawrence: Yep.

[00:12:41] Nik Tsoukales: So we like being the bridge from the analog to the digital world. So people would assume that all of our marketing to get clients is online.

[00:12:51] OK. That’s what you’d assume, we’re a digital marketing agency. What I like to do is go into the analog world. I like going to- the other day we were at the small business expo in Miami, meeting clients or prospective clients face to face in the real world, in the analog world. And they will tell us, Nik, we have a business. It’s established, we get tons of referrals like the old fashioned way, but now we need to go digital.

[00:13:16] So we love bridging the analog to the digital. And there’s no shortage of businesses right now that are still running the old fashioned way and should continue doing that.

[00:13:26] A.J. Lawrence: Sure.

[00:13:26] Nik Tsoukales: But to now augment these wonderful, beautiful businesses with relationships and personalities and face to face and shaking of hands, augmenting those businesses with digital marketing.

[00:13:38] So I would say that’s our thing. Our thing as a digital marketing agency is getting in front of more people face to face, shaking more hands, going to as many expos as possible, meeting people in the real world, and bridging analog to digital. And I would say that is our mission, and I don’t want it to change five years from now.

[00:14:03] I still want to be the guy that’s doing that cuz I don’t think there’s gonna be a shortage of people that are still in the real world. I wanna have one foot in the real world, one foot in the digital world. And I got my start, doing traditional marketing, doing relationships, networking, handing out business cards, handing out flyers and businesses are still succeeding there. So I wanna be bridging that continuously, forever and ever.

[00:14:33] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool. Well, how do you think you guys, as you keep being the bridge here, as you said so many, I mean, it is amazing where when you’re in the space, you’re like, oh, everyone’s digital. And then when you look at the numbers, you’re like, oh wow, there’s still a majority of businesses that have no real digital presence. As you look to be the bridge and as things move forward and you guys grow, how do you think things are gonna change for the agency and then for yourself?

[00:15:06] Nik Tsoukales: Yeah, I think the fundamentals aren’t gonna change ever. I think what will change are the channels. So, we always talk about, you know, people will say, what do you guys do? Well, it’s the three S’s right. You have the site, you have search, you have social. Okay. Social for us isn’t just social media. It’s socializing with our audience, past clients.

[00:15:28] Search is constantly changing. It used to be Yahoo. There used to be something happening at Bing when it was a thing. And there used to be AOL and now we’re fully focused on Google. At one point, it was all about SEO. Now we’re focused on local service ads and PPC, and there’s a big emphasis on Google my business.

[00:15:47] So I think those fundamentals, those three S’s, the site, search, and social. Okay. Having a beautiful online store, I don’t think that’s gonna change. Maybe websites will change in a way. Maybe we’ll be hanging out in the metaverse and our online stores will be there, but I don’t see that as being different. I don’t think that fundamental is different.

[00:16:11] At one point we’re focused on our retail stores. Now we have our online websites and maybe one day there’ll be web 2.0 or 3.0, whatever it is, we’re gonna be setting up these online stores. So I think it’s gonna be more channels in just being kind of ahead of the game of channels, but the fundamentals will stay the same.

[00:16:32] Search, there are always going to be people looking for what you have to offer and all you have to do is see, we add yellow pages. People went into the yellow pages, searched for a plumber and they found one. And the guy with the biggest baddest ad ,with a nice unique selling proposition, got the call. Same thing’s happening with Google.

[00:16:52] We have an ad. We have a landing page with a unique selling proposition or a pain point we’re solving. It’s all the same stuff. It’s just a matter of the platforms changing. And I guess we’ll see, I think the platforms, I think they’re gonna change pretty quickly. And that’s the thing.

[00:17:09] I’ve seen some companies where they’re focused on, they’ll say, Hey, we’re a PPC agency. We’re just doing paper work, that’s what we are. Or, we’re an Instagram agency. And that scares me when I hear that from other agency owners because guys, your channels are gonna change. There could be one hot trend that changes, that takes out Instagram.

[00:17:34] Mark Zuckerberg could say one stupid thing tomorrow and everyone’s off of Facebook and they’re on to Tiktok, which is already happening. Tiktok just added stories, what does that tell you? There’s an evolution. There’s a move happening right now.

[00:17:53] A.J. Lawrence: I mean the amount of traffic that TikTok has been able to get it. It’s so funny, cuz it was like when my kids started playing on TikTok, I was like, wait a second, it looks familiar. And I’m like, I go and I’m like, oh I was a beta user, but it didn’t seem like anything interesting right back in the day. And now, it’s a monster. But you know, 10 plus years, well, a little more than 10 at this point. Instagram was oh God, I mean 10 years ago. It was pretty much still photo bucket. I can’t even remember what was. It was like just a decade and image sharing and the type of engagement that behavior has changed so rapidly.

[00:18:38] Search behavior. Yeah, you’re right. Search behavior has kept a lot, but at the same time has deepened and sort of changed in itself. The type of activity, but it’s still intention led activity versus discovery. Yeah, that fun couple of guys. I am fascinated now that I’ve sold out of the space, watching it.

[00:19:05] All right, so you guys are kind of gonna keep experimenting. Do you see, and you are looking to bring on more team players, bring on more intelligent people? Not intelligent people, but bring on smarter people and bring, you know, build up. How else do you see like your activities as an entrepreneur changing?

[00:19:30] Nik Tsoukales: Whew. Personally I seem to go through cycles. I think if you were to track my last 20 years as a professional, I’ve noticed a few cycles. I could probably watch it on a chart where I get into, you know, I was in sales when I was 19. From then, I really hustled hard and then got into management and then I went to a new role. I went back into sales again and then management and then sales and then manage. So I seem to have this up and down.

[00:20:09] I think subconsciously something happens to me where you know, as much as I want to delegate out the roles, I think I personally seek interactions with others in communication and meeting, which really is part of the sales role.

[00:20:28] So I’m sort of starting to acknowledge that I need that. And when I started this business, I had sort of delegated myself out of every role in my last company. And I just wanted to like talk to new people, I wanted to get into sales again, I wanted to create new relationships again.

[00:20:50] So I think now that I’ve acknowledged this, I think I’m gonna stick around as long as I can in some way, shape or form, even when I’ve delegated out my current position as a strategist, to creating relationships constantly, maybe at a different level. Maybe they’re gonna be trade groups I’m more involved with, maybe they’re, you know, I’m gonna be looking to go to maybe bigger companies, get onto a few boards.

[00:21:20] But I think I need to acknowledge the fact that I need to be constantly communicating and making connections and making friendships. Personally, I get this amazing satisfaction from it. And every time I’ve delegated myself out of a sales role, I found myself missing it and actually being a little depressed without it.

[00:21:43] A.J. Lawrence: It’ s fun when you can kind of, because you learn early, from the difference of selling to being in that role for your agency, it’s like, oh, you’re learning what they need. And you’re finding ways to make it happen. And that like ongoing discussion I always loved of like, well, what is important to you? Not the typical like, oh, tell us what you need. It’s like, oh, understanding your customer’s business and then exploring it and finding ways to bring your stuff to there. To me, that’s the most fun you have in this space.

[00:22:24] Nik Tsoukales: I wanna, I think we should add to that too. You know, when I say sales, especially for the listeners out there, one would assume sales is getting out there and sort of pushing a product or a service out to people. And I’ve never seen it like that. I’ve always thought of sales is something a lot more natural, creating relationships and friendships and building trust and what you just mentioned.

[00:22:53] Just from being around people, finding out pain points that people are happening. Let’s say specifically in this category, which is business owner, and then just simply trying to solve those pain points. That for me is sales. It’s not, hey, I got a service or a catalog with a bunch of things I want you to buy. Lemme go out there and do sales. I don’t think that’s sales. I think that’s, I dunno what that is, but you know, I love solving. I love solving pain points for anybody, but especially business owners, because I can empathize being a business owner, all the pain that comes with that role.

[00:23:31] So if I can help a business owner solve any of that stuff, marketing tends to be the biggest thing, how to get more customers, that seems to be a major. But if my client came to me and said, Hey, I’m having trouble payroll. I don’t know what do about some technical thing. I found this amazing journey helping people solve those problems, do even things that having nothing to do with marketing or sales.

[00:23:57] A.J. Lawrence: It’s funny you bring that up and given that you did have an experience as a salesperson before you had your own businesses. I also, and what I felt was, when I was pure "salesperson" early in my career, it was like, you must do X, you must do Y. Dot this, cross this. And it was, you really felt like you were constantly pushing and just trying to wear people down.

[00:24:25] Yet, when I found, when I then had my own shop, then it was like, oh, building the relationships, getting to know people, as you said, that kind of like deepening the trust and kind of learning and just the whole fun stuff of what we do. Then all of a sudden, some of the things of build this, do this, cross this, track this, started to make more sense. After there was that like, oh, the human part first then.

[00:24:56] Nik Tsoukales: Yeah.

[00:24:57] A.J. Lawrence: I feel like you really, you know, kind of talking to him, that’s the thing you’re enjoying here.

[00:25:02] Nik Tsoukales: It’s funny cuz I tell prospective clients this too. So when we get on the phone with a prospective client, someone could be a client or a business owner marketing and I’ll spend a good half an hour just talking to them and becoming friends and finding out their story. And then marketing will come up and then I’ll tell them, Hey, listen, this is how it works. I’m not gonna ask you for any business. I know that’s contrary to every sales book you’ve ever heard, but I’m not gonna do it. But I’ll tell you this. I’m gonna find out a lot about you. We’re gonna become friends and I’m gonna give you a lot of value. I’m gonna educate you on how you yourself can grow your business using digital marketing. I’m gonna literally give you the handbook detail A to Z. And I’ll never ask you to do business with us. And I I’ll tell them.

[00:25:55] But what ends up happening is the more I give you, the more you’re gonna ask me or wanna ask me how you can use my services. And it happens every time and they get it, they get a kick outta it. They’re like, you’re kidding me. I’m like, yeah, watch. I go watch what happens. And I’ve really been doing this lately.

[00:26:13] Where I will never, at any point in time, ask someone to do business with us. I will keep educating. And when there’s silence, I’ll say, okay, let’s look at another thing. Another thing you can do to grow your business. And I won’t even end the strategy session. I don’t have a cutoff point. I keep going. I will go for two hours.

[00:26:33] And what ends up happening is it creates this massive demand and want to do business with us. Cuz the trust that we’ve built in the law of reciprocity is so evident. That trust is so huge that people can’t go anywhere else. They wanna do business with us. So we don’t ask people if they wanna use our services.

[00:26:59] It’s I know every sales book says, you gotta ask, you gotta ask. I’m like, no, I’m not gonna. I don’t wanna. If I haven’t given somebody enough, if I haven’t given them enough where they’re gonna askhow much their services are gonna cost, how it works or simply they can sign up and use us, then I haven’t done a good job yet. I have to keep educating and it works like a charm every single time. It makes people feel great.

[00:27:30] A.J. Lawrence: Nope, I agree. I like that process a lot. I used it a lot back in the day. Well, how long, cause I know like for me it took a while before I kind of became comfortable. Cause that was my natural thing.

[00:27:43] Like, Hey, let me just figure out the problem and we’ll talk about it. But to make it something that actually worked within organization for us to grow and get clients and stuff, it took a while to fit. I kept falling back into the formal sales process. How long would you kind of talk about that experience for you? Like, oh, I’m supposed to be doing this, but this feels better. And how did you make that work for you?

[00:28:09] Nik Tsoukales: Do you mean the transition from being the guy selling and taking the clients to the point where you’re maybe delegating that?

[00:28:17] A.J. Lawrence: No, no, no. Where you’re feeling like, cuz the idea of like going in and just talking with clients about ways they can grow and what they can do that takes a level of confidence and takes a level of experience that a lot of us when we were early may thought, oh, this would be the smart way to do it, but it’s not how it’s done to then get back to that point of like, Hey, let’s just talk about the ways that you should go and do this.

[00:28:48] That takes, you know, especially to then use it to help you build your company. It takes a- it’s not 1, 2, 3. There’s, at least in my experience, there was a transformation, there was processes and stuff. I’ll support it. You know, how did that go about for you to now make it work?

[00:29:08] Nik Tsoukales: I started looking at, so I track a lot of data and I started looking at the amount of proposals I was sending out and how quickly I was sending out those proposals from the initial call. First essentially just studying our sales cycle. And I started seeing the proposals I was sending out quickly, 80, 90% of those, they just weren’t, they weren’t biting.

[00:29:37] It was very transactional. Hey, I wanna do this Google stuff, what’s your price, let me know what it is and they’ve moved on. And when you do that sort of a thing, you commoditize your service. You’re not special. And then I looked at the clients that were signing up with us and those that I was courting over the course of two weeks, three weeks or a month, a longer sales cycle. 70, 80% of those people I was speaking to, they wanted our services. So what does that tell you?

[00:30:16] The longer you’re willing to invest in educating your customers and establishing trust, the higher the conversion rates will be. And once you get a decent pipeline of prospective clients, prospects, you’ll actually end up spending a lot less time prospecting because you’re closing percentages are far higher.

[00:30:38] The problem is a lot of people get into business. And obviously the owners are usually in some sort of a sales role and they want get a quick close, get a customer, get up, you’re there on the phone, get signed up here. And what happens is they speak to their first 10 people, they burn their pipeline in trying to get a quick buck. There’s no trust established.

[00:31:02] And even if someone does end up doing business with you, the churn is very high cause you haven’t laid that foundational groundwork of trust. So I would say, to any young agency owners out there, I know you want these quick funnels, I know you want these quick signups, stop commoditizing your services.

[00:31:23] Stop worrying about price, and spread your sales cycle out longer. Your churn will be far lower. Once you build your pipeline, you’ll actually see your closing percentage will be sky high. And then in addition to that, you’ll get more referrals versus having to go out and pay for marketing for your marketing agency.

[00:31:46] You’ll be far, far more profitable as well. So take your time, invest in educating your client, make them the hero, stop being the hero.

[00:32:00] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool. So yeah, to other business owners and specifically agency folks, what’s something that you learned the hard way? A mistake or just something you now in hindsight realize, oops. That you think the rest of us can learn from.

[00:32:17] Nik Tsoukales: One thing I learned the hard way is, looking back and I know we’re not supposed to have regrets, but regrets are good. That’s how you learn. So you should have regrets but make them constructive.

[00:32:28] But I would say not playing aggressive enough, not taking bigger risks. Bigger risks being, putting more money in marketing, more money in experimenting with new channels, more money in high end video production in commercials.

[00:32:48] Every business decision in every business investment is in some way, shape or form people kinda categorize it as a kind of a gamble. Right? Cause it might not pay off. I would say, I didn’t gamble hard enough. I wish I had invested more and didn’t play it so safe, especially when I was in my twenties when I had the bandwidth to take more risks. And again, when I say risks, I mean risks in investing more in growing my business.

[00:33:21] A lot of times, you start a small business and it’s so hard to become profitable for six months, a year, two years. You’re just like, you’re living off a fume. So once you do get some money, you tend to still be in a scarcity mode where you trying to keep every single dollar.

[00:33:39] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah.

[00:33:39] Nik Tsoukales: And you never graduate from that infancy to adolescence or adolescence to maturity in your business because you’re so scared to reinvest some of those profits. Cause now you’ve been told hold onto every penny. I wish I transitioned from adolescence to matured faster and more aggressively.

[00:33:57] I’ve noticed the theme as well from working with business owners, guys that are doing a couple thousand in revenue up to people that are doing 50 million in revenue. There’s one common theme. It’s not education. It’s not smarts. It’s not even hard work. OK. It’s the guys at 50 million and a hundred and above, they’re willing to gamble and invest and go bigger in their experiments in their business. Every single time there’s some magic.

[00:34:29] A.J. Lawrence: No, no, I really agree. If you’re able to bring to bear your own capabilities to shape your risk profile, little bits aren’t going to change that much for you.

[00:34:43] You need to kind. Yeah. The more you bring to bear to create an opportunity, the more you have to be willing to feed it, because that’s the only way you’re gonna really change out, create outside’s value. No, that is very cool. Well, now that you are looking at creating outside value since we got you here, how, yes you’re looking at what you’re going to be doing at Realtop, but how are you looking at what success means for you as the entrepreneur, separate from the company?

[00:35:18] Nik Tsoukales: Oh, I can quantify it. I’m pretty simple, I’m kind of a numbers guy. We would love to be working with 100 clients, a hundred really awesome entrepreneurs. I have the luxuries anyone would ever want, you know. I’ve had the nice cars and homes and the trips, I’ve done all that stuff. I’ve been blessed with all that, and it’s all fun.

[00:35:50] But I don’t think that’s a priority. I just wanna work with more business owners and just build a community of business owners that that I could feed off of. And it’s a selfish thing. My clients don’t realize that I really do feed off of them. I’d love if they could feed off of me and then eventually create a community.

[00:36:13] What I dreamed of is when we have a hundred clients eventually to start building out our own convention or get together, or some sort of a major mastermind seminar that I can bring in our clients, not anyone external, but simply our clients and let everyone contribute to this group and let everyone beat up each other best practices. That sort of thing.

[00:36:38] So that’s where I’d love to be in five years, professionally. A hundred great clients and also the community around the clientele. And then I would say you know, beyond that, hopefully we can build a really amazing agency that not only my kids can eventually contribute to, but our staff, their kids could eventually contribute to as well.

[00:37:02] It’s a nice family environment and that’s where we wanna be. That would be a great, that would be a great blessing.

[00:37:09] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool. No, I think that’s a great aspiration doing that because it takes a lot of work, not just to build an agency, but to build it in such a way that lasts the test of time. And that’s an extra level of difficulty you’re putting on yourself. So that’s very cool. That’s a really good aspiration.

[00:37:29] Well, who should be looking to talk with you guys? With Realtop? What type of companies do you think are best or, should, would be most interested in what you’re doing?

[00:37:42] Nik Tsoukales: Sure. I would say we function very much as a fractional marketing department for larger small businesses. So, when you start the business, you’re wearing all the hats. You’re the marketer, you’re the toilet cleaner, you’re the sales guy and the Ops guy. You’re doing everything. We’ve all been there, but you do eventually get to the point where you want to start building out marketing team.

[00:38:07] And essentially, we end up becoming that marketing arm at a fractional basis. So you might only need to do two email newsletters per month, you don’t need an email guy at a desk all month long. You can on a fractional basis use our agency to do it for you. So any, really B2B or B2C fast growing larger small businesses, that tends to be our niche.

[00:38:34] And then in addition to that, business owners that are successful in the analog world that are looking to go digital. We have become a really amazing bridge for those business.

[00:38:46] A.J. Lawrence: Cool. What would be the best way for them to engage with you guys? Is it go through the site? What’s usually the best path platform?

[00:38:57] Nik Tsoukales: Yeah. Check us out online. So there’s a couple ways you want to communicate with us, some pretty simple ways. One is right online. You can go to Realtop, T-O-P, realtop.com and you can book a free marketing strategy session there. Doesn’t matter if you’re a small or large business, we talk to everybody, we have a good time doing it.

[00:39:14] You can hit me up on my email, nik@realtop.com. Shoot me a note, draw me an email or check us out on Instagram, it is the channel to be at today. Maybe we won’t be there tomorrow cause we’ll be in the metaverse. But for right now, realtopdigital is our handle.

[00:39:32] We put out a ton of educational content on a daily basis that we would be happy if you ripped off and used for your business. It’s part of our sales system. Rip us off then eventually. (inaudible)

[00:39:48] A.J. Lawrence: No, I always like that steal for me and then I can help you make it your own.

[00:39:53] Nik Tsoukales: Yes.

[00:39:54] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool. And we’ll have everything in the show notes and we’ll put it on the social so you guys can find Nik in Realtop straightforwardly.

[00:40:03] If you are looking for that marketing help, I’ve been really impressed going through their site. Look at the material, they know what they’re talking about. It’s always that fun thing when you see someone like, oh wait, they phrase it the same way that it took us a gazillion hours of work to kind of, you know. That fun of like, it’s not just stating, it’s like understanding, it’s that little kind of twist you kind of hear right away when you’re talking to someone who’s in the same space.

[00:40:31] So these guys know what they’re doing. And I think you’ll have a great conversation. All right, Nik. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I really, really appreciate it.

[00:40:39] Nik Tsoukales: Thank you, A.J..

[00:40:45] A.J. Lawrence: This episode of Beyond 8 Figures is over, but your journey as an entrepreneur continues. So if we can help you with anything, please just let us know. And if you liked this episode, please share it with someone who might learn from it. Until next time, keep growing and find the joy in your journey. This is A.J., and I’ll be talking to you soon. Bye bye.

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