190 Launch a Husband-Wife Business – Richard Fenton

What You Will Hear:

  • Office Romance to Solid Life and Business Partnership
  • Couple lost Jobs, had to replace 2 incomes
  • How to Narrow Down Business Ideas for Startups
  • Launch a Husband/Wife Business
  • Uncertain about Charging More for Your Service?

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More about our featured guest

Richard Fenton is the owner of Courage Crafters. He has been an entrepreneur for the last 17 years, after leaving his corporate training job to pursue his dream as an author and professional speaker. Since then, he has given over 700 presentations and written several books, including the best-selling title, Go for No!

Check out their “Ghost Story”  – Think Life is Precious Now? Just Wait Until You're Dead! Onyx Webb: A Supernatural Soap Opera (“It's fundamentally about a woman who has died. She lives in a lighthouse and she watches people who are alive sleep walking through their lives, not paying attention to what they're doing, wishing their time away. Not taking chances, and it kills her. She would give anything for one more day of life. And she watches people who are just wasting their lives.”)


Full Transcript

[01:01] Joel: Good to have you here and, boy, we had so much fun getting to meet you and Andrea personally when we were visiting in Florida. And we do quite a bit of traveling and every time we're in a different city, we look through our guests and people that have been on the show, and people that we've connected with online. And we just try to meet as many people as we can. And you and Andrea took some time out and we got together at the Drunken Monkey which is actually a coffee bar, despite what it sounds like, and had a great time. So good to talk to you again and I'm glad we got to meet face to face for about an hour or so.

[01:41] Richard Fenton: Great. Thanks. Great to be with you today.

[01:43] Joel: Indeed. You know, Richard, this show is all about the relaunch. And generally, what I ask most of my guests to do… No pressure but, boy, Andrea did a stellar job during her interview. But what I ask most of our guests to do is just kinda zero in on the one relaunch that has been the most transformational or that has been the most significant in their life and then just kinda unfold the story from there. And having said that, how should we introduce and start today's show talking about Richard's relaunch?

[02:19] Richard Fenton: Well, it's really kind of interesting. You say the one big relaunch, and certainly I can point to a single moment, to one relaunch that was bigger than the rest. But looking back on my life, it is a series of relaunches. Some of them large, some of them life changing, some of them small. But every time I've relaunched in any way, I have found that it has reinvigorated my attitude and made me more excited about my life. And so, the whole idea of relaunching I think is something that I'm not trying to get to the final relaunch where I relaunch and then I'm done. I hope I'm relaunching until the day I die.

[03:03] Joel: Absolutely. You know what? And that's a great point because I think, we've had guests on the show that have said something similar to this before, is that relaunching is actually a healthy process. And as you go through your significant relationship or as you go through your business or as you go through your own spiritual walk that you're relaunching into a better next place. Yes?

[03:31] Richard Fenton: Absolutely. And I think the key thing is some people will be in this constant state of relaunch and they're doing it really just out of fear. They're not really relaunching because they're trying to move towards something they really want to do, they're relaunching because they're trying to get away from something that either doesn't excite them or scares them. And I think as long as you're relaunching out of love, and by that, I mean a love of what you're going to do next, you're relaunching 'cause you're moving in the direction that you feel your life should have gone earlier rather than relaunching because you're afraid of failure with what you're doing currently, then I think every relaunch can be extremely positive.

[04:16] Joel: That's a great point that you've put…

[04:17] Dr. Pei: Definitely.

[04:18] Joel: That you just brought up. So what are we gonna talk about? Your relaunch, which one are we gonna kinda zero in on?

[04:27] Richard Fenton: Wow. Well, I'll tell you, since Andrea talked so much about “Go For No” I will probably talk a little bit more today about our current project which is our suspense ghost thriller series with a positive uplifting message, something that we call Onyx Web.

[04:50] Joel: Awesome. I definitely wanna make time to hear about that book and if it's okay with you, Richard, can we do that in the second half of our conversation?

[04:59] Richard Fenton: Absolutely.

[05:00] Joel: Fantastic. Now, I know you've experienced a lot of things in your personal and in your professional growth and development. Let's go ahead and go back into corporate America. You and Andrea actually worked not necessarily side by side, but within the same corporation before you had just…

[05:22] Richard Fenton: Yes, that's right.

[05:22] Joel: Okay. So let's talk about that relaunch and how you were finally able to step away from that and into that next better half.

[05:31] Richard Fenton: Exactly. And by the way, if you happen to pick up the sound of the train in the background that was 'cause Andrea and I live on the 22nd floor in Downtown Orlando right by the train station which is actually very beautiful and a lot of fun. Yeah. Andrea and I met while we were both working for eyeglass retailer, LensCrafters. I was a trainer for LensCrafters. Andrea was the manager of one of the largest stores within the company. And I was looking for somebody to work in the training department and everybody said, “You gotta go get Andrea Waltz. You gotta get Andrea. You want somebody who's a really great trainer? Go get Andrea.” Well, I was just…

[06:13] Richard Fenton: So, I had heard her name so many times I decided that I better go meet her. And so, lo and behold, it turns out that I had actually bumped into her a few times. I didn't really realize who she was and then interviewed her for a position and she came on in the training department and she was everything that everybody said she would be. And that was a… It was a much bigger moment in my life than I realized, at that time I thought I just hired a great trainer. I didn't realize that I was actually recruiting a life partner and creating the life I'd always wanted.

[06:52] Joel: That's a fun story. And so what happened that helped you sort to understand that, “You know what, Andrea? This is something we probably need to step away from.” LensCrafters for both of you has served you professionally and financially very well but you, like a lot of the people in the Relaunch Nation, wanted something more, wanted to experience yourself at a deeper level or at a different level.

[07:21] Richard Fenton: Yeah, well, it's kind of a bit interesting because LensCrafters is a fine company, don't get me wrong. Nothing wrong with the organization. But they are like every other company that grows to a behemoth size organization. And when they finally get so large and they're trying to run everything from the home office, top down, create a program behind closed doors that they think will work in the field and then send out 700 copies of the manual and the people in the front lines are supposed to just implement it. Well, the reality is, it gets very impersonal.

[07:56] Richard Fenton: And what happened for Andrea and I is, we were really nose to nose with the customer, and we have things that we wanted to do, things we wanted to try. Things that we believed in deeply in terms of sales and management and making the customer service experience a wonderful one. And we started talking about all these things we wanted to do and we agreed on everything and we realized we were never going to get those things done within our corporate positions. The only way we were gonna be able to talk about the things we wanted to do and to create the programs we wanted to create was going to be to leave the company, form our own organization and then take our message to the retail world.

[08:40] Joel: So… Yeah, go ahead, Pei. You got your hand up.

[08:43] Dr. Pei: Yeah, so how long did you two talk about it?

[08:47] Joel: Good question.

[08:48] Richard Fenton: Yeah. Great question. Well, first off, let me just tell you that the company frowned on employees dating each other, and it wasn't too long before the word got out that Andrea and I were a ‘thing', that we were a couple. So I think we intended on being there a few years but really it was within one year that we first realized that we were in love with each other. It was very clear that the organization was holding the door open for us. And quite frankly, they forced our relaunch much more quickly than it would have happened otherwise.

[09:32] Richard Fenton: At the time it was extremely scary. ‘Cause I wasn't ready, we didn't have our materials ready and we didn't have business cards, we didn't have anything. And now, suddenly, we were thrust into this world in which we had to make two incomes immediately, overnight from scratch. And in retrospect, I thank the organization very much. Companies always make a joke when they fire people. And we weren't fired but when they fire people they say, “Oh, they've gone on to seek… ”

[10:06] Joel: “We've given them the opportunity to seek better opportunities.”

[10:09] Richard Fenton: Yeah, yeah. Right. To seek better opportunities and quite frankly that's exactly what they did so we're quite grateful.

[10:17] Joel: That's a great story. So how did this come to be because it was very, very urgent for both of you to develop your incomes immediately.

[10:28] Richard Fenton: Exactly.

[10:29] Joel: So how do you do that?

[10:31] Richard Fenton: Yeah. Well, what we did, we figured the last thing we wanted to do was start from a position of creating a program that we thought the market wanted. We really wanted to create a program that we wanted to talk about. And so we made a list of all of these things that we enjoyed speaking on and training about and if we were to write a book, or a number of books and all things being equal with anyone of those books was a success, which one would we actually want to be forced to speak on most often? And we were able to come down to two or three very specific topics out of a list of about 20 different things we could've done. And, literally, we created the world's worst brochure, and by that I mean really, I am not kidding.

[11:24] Richard Fenton: When I went to meet Andrea's father and he said, “So, what are you kids gonna be doing for jobs?” I said, “Well, we're starting our own company.” I said, “Look, let me show you the brochure.” And I saw the look on his face. I mean, it was… I mean he was frightened for us and he should've been. But the interesting thing about that was…

[11:44] Joel: Is that when the shotgun came out of the closet or…

[11:47] Richard Fenton: Well, I have to tell you and I mean he… Well, he was… In the big scheme of things he was very gracious and gave me a chance which was nice.

[11:56] Joel: Yeah, yeah.

[11:57] Richard Fenton: But we mailed out this horrible brochure, followed by a 64 page… We called it a book, I guess it was more of a booklet, and we sent it to companies and we said, “Read this book. If you like the book, you'd love to have us in as trainers. And if you hate the book, you'll hate having us as trainers.” We just figured, let's not try to fit any square pegs in any round holes here.

[12:24] Joel: That's brilliant marketing copy, by the way.

[12:26] Richard Fenton: Well, thank you. And, it worked, and it worked. Now, it didn't work immediately, it took five months before we got our first client, but when it worked, it worked. Because we got a phone call from one of the largest retailers in America and they basically said, “Hey, could you send us recordings of your program?” I said, “Well, we don't have recordings yet, we're really new.” They said, “Well, could you send us like a transcript?” I said, “Well, we really don't have a transcript, we're pretty new.” And they said, “Do you have a business card?” I said, “Not yet, we're really… ”

[13:04] Dr. Pei: Seriously? Oh.

[13:05] Richard Fenton: Yeah, seriously. And they said, “Well, we like the program, so we'll hire you anyway.”

[13:11] Joel: Wow!

[13:12] Richard Fenton: And that really taught us something. The right message for the right market, at the right time. When someone has a problem and they need the problem solved, and you have the solution, they will take it in almost any package you deliver it in.

[13:27] Joel: Or no package, which is…

[13:28] Richard Fenton: But if you have the wrong message, it doesn't matter, you can pretty it up all you want, they aren't going to buy it.

[13:36] Joel: That's a great point, right there. If you have the solution no matter what it looks like or even if it doesn't have a physical shape, because you pretty much didn't have anything other than your passion, and your desire to share your solution.

[13:52] Dr. Pei: So did you search or research any… What's that called, market research to see if your message is gonna be welcome? ‘Cause I can see when anybody wanna share the message they're passionate about, we have to package in a way you think the world will need, how did you go about doing that process?

[14:17] Richard Fenton: Right, well… I have nothing against market research, so I don't wanna be, I don't want any of your audience to misinterpret what I'm going to say next. But market research can help you but it can also lead you down some very dark alleys, and…

[14:34] Joel: Okay, what do you mean?

[14:36] Richard Fenton: What I mean is that you can start out by saying, “Okay, I'm gonna study the market. I'm gonna figure out what the big problem is.” So let's say Andrea and I had determined that the big problem was in the world of retail was negotiating leases with landlords and mall operators. And, wow, is there an opportunity. Boy! Market research shows that we can make a fortune doing negotiation training for retailers.

[15:03] Richard Fenton: Well, first off we didn't know anything about it, so the start up time was going to be significant. And secondly, we didn't like it, we didn't care for it, we didn't wanna talk about it. So our delivery of that product to the market, for what we did, for the speaking, training, writing business, I think, we would have gone out there and I think we would have fallen flat and our message would have been extremely, extremely boring and I don't think for one second, we would have been successful.

[15:33] Richard Fenton: So we trusted our gut enough to be able to say, and keep in mind, we had some experience, we had some experience in retail. It's not like we were completely flying blind, but we knew what we were passionate about, and we said, “Let's not try to create a message for some mythical audience that we don't know who they are, or where they are. Let's create a passionate message that we know we can deliver better than anyone else and trust that our audience will find us.”

[16:02] Joel: And, that's exactly what's happened.

[16:05] Richard Fenton: Yes, exactly.

[16:05] Joel: And, continues to happen. Awesome. Great points there. Let's fast forward a little bit and then we'll move into talking about your most recent book.

[16:15] Richard Fenton: Sure.

[16:17] Joel: When Pei and I are working either with a person one on one or with a group of people, and I'm sure this happens to you and Andrea as well, there is a period of time where people go through a lot of learning. A lot of learning, or a lot of relearning, and you know what I'm talking about here, Rick. Learning about their potential, their possibilities, their value, sometimes even learning about their worthiness. What were some of the things that you and Andrea learned or relearned about some of your possibilities, potential value as you were learning this as you went?

[16:58] Richard Fenton: Wow! That is a really big question and a very loaded question. I will tell you this, if you were to have asked me to rate my confidence of whether… With all of this stuff I'm talking about, passionate message, and all of that stuff, if you were to ask me what my confidence level was in relationship to our chances of success, and success meant that in a year, we weren't gonna have to look for another job with another large corporation, I would've put success at about 30%. I figured we had about one in three chance and its probably what the industry average is for people who start a new business, I didn't think that we had a greater chance of success.

[17:46] Richard Fenton: But I really was fully prepared to go out, give it my best shot, and go back to work for someone else. But I didn't wanna die thinking, “Boy, you had that chance. There was that moment where you could have given it your best shot,” and we said we were gonna give it our best shot. So we started out… And I'll speak for myself here, more. I think Andrea's even more confident than I am in many cases. I started out really doubting whether we were gonna be successful.

[18:16] Richard Fenton: So I was pretending to be confident. It was the “fake it till you make it” path to success. And the reality is people will interpret… There's a lot of acting that goes on when you first launch a business. You pretend to know everything. You pretend to have all your ducks in a row. You pretend to have a bigger company than you really have. You pretend to have more clients than you really have. I hate to use the word lying. I prefer the word marketing.


[18:50] Joel: Nice. Nicely done.

[18:53] Richard Fenton: But the reality is, and it's really… That's what every startup does, but I did not expect to succeed. So the biggest surprise, the biggest surprise was that our first major client that we signed was one of the five biggest retailers in America and they took us, like I said, with the worst brochure and a terrible book. And after we went out and delivered, we delivered nine sessions for them around the country to all of their different regions.

19:24 Richard Fenton: The vice president pulled me to the side and he said, “I've got a little bit of advice for you,” and I thought, “Oh, boy, what did I do? Did I screw up?” And he said, “Increase your fee.” He said, “We almost didn't hire you because you charge so little. We thought, ‘What could we possibly get for such a small fee?'”

[19:40] Joel: Wow. Now okay, that is a brilliant point that you make because what a lot of people do that are starting in business, and you know what, I'm guilty of this too, is they charge peanuts and then they justify it to themselves or at least I did saying that, “Yeah, but I'm just starting. Yeah, but I don't have any experience. Yeah, but I need a client or I need to put a butt in the seat.” And, well, what happens and what almost happened to you but luckily it didn't is you undervalue yourself right out of gigs that would have paid you more.

[20:24] Richard Fenton: Yeah, completely. And it had never crossed my mind that the client was valuing us higher if we were charging more. I thought they were looking for the deal. I thought every client was out there looking for the, “What solution can we buy from the lowest priced vendor?” Kind of like the United States government, you know? And they weren't, they weren't. Now, there is a limit to what you can charge. I'm not saying that the upper end is endless. There is a ceiling somewhere up there but it's almost always a lot higher than you think it is.

[21:04] Joel: Right.

[21:04] Dr. Pei: So how many foes did you increase afterwards?

[21:10] Joel: Yeah, hold on. What are you… You don't have to give us dollar figures but if you think about your first paid gig and then your next paid gig…

[21:19] Dr. Pei: By percentage.

[21:20] Joel: What's the difference?

[21:21] Richard Fenton: Yeah. Well, I don't mind giving dollar figures, especially the numbers when we first started. Andrea and I were working in corporate jobs where we were each making about $50,000 a year in salary, so I valued myself as being worth $1,000 a week. That's what I thought my time is worth. So when we launched our training program and we were charging $2,500 for a three hour workshop from where we were coming from income-wise, it seemed like an outrageous amount of money. They were gonna pay me two and a half times more than I was making for a 40-hour week and I was only gonna have to go and work for three hours so I thought I'd priced myself to the moon.

[22:05] Richard Fenton: And when he said, “Increase your fee,” we immediately, the next week, increased it to $3,500 and we found that there was no pushback from anybody it didn't matter. And then, we went to $5,000 and $7,500 and we just found that… And once we got to about $10,000, we found that every time we doubled our fee, and when you get into that range you lose about half your clients. But that means that you're working half as much and making the same amount of money so you still have a lifestyle.

[22:35] Joel: It's hard for people, especially if they're conditioned, they have the corporate conditioning of valuing their time. It's like, “Well, employer X paid me this for my time so that must be all that I'm worth.” And then it can get you into that mold. Go ahead, Pei.

[22:54] Dr. Pei: Yeah. Also, I know you were talking about you charged this amount for three hours, but honestly, when you work for yourself there's so much backend work that supported those three hours too so…

[23:09] Richard Fenton: Well, yeah. That is a significant observation because… And I certainly didn't realize just how much time was gonna be spent behind the scenes. We would put 100 hours easy putting together a three-hour workshop for the very first time to get that thing. And then, of course we'd have to tweak it and keep changing it. So, the behind the scenes and just having conference calls with the client and travel, traveling to and from the speaking engagement. So there's a lot more that goes into it but I wasn't thinking that way. I was just looking at the time I was standing there in front of them speaking which was an error in my own calculation of my own worth.

[23:49] Joel: I got you. Good point, very good point. Okay, so you wrote “Go for No” and that book just continues to do good for you. You take that with you to your training events. And then, we're gonna fast forward through that because people can listen to Andrea's interview. Let's go right into your current book, and what brought that on?

[24:13] Richard Fenton: Well, it really was a matter of… One day we were out for our morning walk around the lake here in Downtown Orlando and I don't remember who said it first but one of us said, “Wouldn't it be fun to write a ghost story?” And it was interesting 'cause we just… We stopped, we turned, we looked at each other and it was like, “Yeah.” It was like one of these things where we just went, “That would just be fun.” And it was kind of like going back to that original feeling that we had 15 years earlier when we launched our first go around, our retail training business was, “Let's just do something fun.”

[24:51] Richard Fenton: But this was now really fun because we weren't worried about whether we were gonna pay the bills. Our “Go For No” business is established and we knew we were gonna pay the bills. The question is, could one of us drop off and devote their time to starting this new… And I won't call it a relaunch so much as a side launch, but it's the same thing. We're not leaving one business and going into another. We just said, “Hey, let's do something else that would be a lot of fun without the pressure of whether we have to sell a certain number of units in a certain amount of time.” And so really, we started writing this Onyx Web Series as just a labor of love but it became evident very quickly that there was also a business there.

[25:35] Joel: Gotcha. Okay, can you give us a kind of a nutshell version of the book?

[25:42] Richard Fenton: Yeah, absolutely. This is both a Kindle and a physical series available through Amazon and it's… This series will be 18 books, about a hundred pages each, when it's done. It'll roll out over the course of the next two years and it's fundamentally about a woman who has died. She lives in a lighthouse and she watches people who are alive sleep walking through their lives, not paying attention to what they're doing, wishing their time away. Not taking chances, and it kills her. She would give anything for one more day of life. And she watches people who are just wasting their lives. And so, our tag line to the series is if you think life is precious now, just wait until you're dead.

[26:39] Dr. Pei: Wow.

[26:40] Joel: That is powerful. I could picture… Could you picture that, Pei?

[26:44] Dr. Pei: Well, I can also see this very awesome read for Relaunch Nation.

[26:51] Joel: Absolutely. Okay, so 18 books coming out over the next two years. Definitely keep us in the loop there, Richard, and… So we can get your material out as it comes available. We're big fans of you and Andrea. Goforno.com, that's the place to go. Of course, we're gonna have all the social media hotspots and links to the books on our broadcast, Show Notes. Richard Fen is our guest. It's been a pleasure to have you on. I'm so glad that we were able to make this work. Do me a favor, give Andrea a hug and a kiss for us. We just love you guys. It was a blast visiting you in Florida and the next time that we're there, we're definitely… Hopefully, we can do that again.

[27:37] Richard Fenton: Absolutely. We will go to the Drunken Monkey and we will have seven cappuccinos each and we'll stagger out.


[27:45] Joel: I'm already there. I'm ready to go.

[27:47] Richard Fenton: You got it.

[27:48] Joel: Have a wonderful day, Richard. You're welcome back here on the show any time.

Follow Richard and the Go for No team on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and visit their site.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

1 Comment

  1. joyce Kaiser (@Driftseed) on December 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Love the pricing evaluation.

    “if you think life is precious now, just wait until you’re dead.” … what a great tie in.

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